What does the Bible say about the work of the cross? What are the Promises of the Cross? And, what do we need to remember about what Jesus did on the cross of Calvary? We will use the Word to answer these questions about the Word, the work of the cross, the promises, and what Jesus did for us on the cross.
The Work of The Cross
The work of the cross accomplished by Jesus’ death and the continued work of His resurrection from the dead is the most miraculous accomplishment mankind will ever experience. Even time itself is centered on the cross and the resurrection. Jesus’ death on the cross was just one part of 3 days that changed eternity, history, time, and humanity’s relationship to God the Father.
Easter, for me, is tremendously impacting. Jesus tore down the barrier between God and man as well as the barrier between Jews and Gentiles. Salvation and eternal life were made available to everyone who believed in Christ. Easter impacts me because I try to comprehend what Jesus did in those three days and, while I try, I cannot because I don’t know what it was like to take on all sin, to be rejected by the Father, and to be victorious over all of it. What I do understand is what it did for me and for you.
In John 24:44-53, Jesus talked with the disciples after His resurrection. I’ve been telling you this all along, that everything written about Me in the Hebrew Scriptures must be fulfilled—everything from the law of Moses to the prophets to the psalms.
Then He opens their minds so they can comprehend the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Jesus: This is what the Scriptures said: that the promised Anointed One should suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, that in His name a radical change of thought and life should be preached, and that in His name the forgiveness of sins should be preached, beginning in Jerusalem and extending to all nations. You have witnessed the fulfillment of these things. So I am sending My Father’s promise to you. Stay in the city until you receive it—until power from heaven comes upon you.
Then He leads them out to Bethany. He lifts up His hands and blesses them, and at that moment, with His hands raised in blessing, He leaves them and is carried up into heaven. They worship Him, then they return to Jerusalem, filled with intense joy, and they return again and again to the temple to celebrate God.
Jesus brought ‘a radical change of thought and life into the world. Even the disciples later had a hard time believing that salvation had also been extended to the Gentiles. Forgiveness of sin was to be preached to every nation. Then, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit and empowered the disciples to do His will here on earth.
This is Easter. It is the Resurrection of Christ and it is the work of the cross.
Why is the Cross Important?
The only way a relationship between God and man, which resulted in the forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life, could be accomplished was by the shedding of blood. But, it had to be sinless blood and not the blood of animals. God had a plan to allow that to happen – the cross where Jesus’ sinless blood was shed for all.
Acts 13:38-39 NIV, “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
The agony of Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament – God always had a plan!.
Isaiah 52:13-14 NIV, “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
Psalm 22:16-18, NIV, “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”
What was accomplished on the cross and at His resurrection was also foretold.
Isaiah 53:6-10 NIV, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Psalm 22:30-31 NIV, “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”
What is the Message of the Cross?
Jesus repeatedly told His disciples, followers, and others exactly why He had come to earth. He foretold His own death and the reasons for it – these are the messages of the cross.
- Matthew 20:28 NIV, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.“
- John 1:29 NIV, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!“
Jesus Was Our Ransom
Jesus was our ransom. The enemy wanted Jesus dead, wanted to see His blood flow! And, he did but he failed to realize what the outcome would be – he could no longer hold us captive and he lost his power over death and hell. Jesus took our place. And, in the process, He took away the sins of the world.
- John 5:24 NIV, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.“
Eternal Life Became Ours
In addition, the enemy did not realize that, as we were joined with God again, eternal life was ours. We crossed from death to life in Christ.
- John 6:35-37 NIV, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.“
- John 8:36 NIV, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.“
- John 8:51 NIV, “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
Jesus Provided even more for us
Jesus also became our very food of life. We would never be hungry or thirsty for God again. We can be satisfied in Christ. We just have to come to Jesus. He has also set us free in every way! Though we are on this earth, we are not of it because the kingdom of God is in our midst. Death cannot hold us just as it could not hold Him.
He Finished What He Started
- John 19:30 NIV, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.“
He Sent the Holy Spirit
- John 20:21-22 NIV, “Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. In John 14:25-26, Jesus said He would send His Advocate – the Holy Spirit – to be with us and to teach and remind us of His words. This unseen member of the Godhead, who has all the power of the Godhead, was given to us, Jesus’ gift. He is our seal or promise regarding what Jesus did on cross. This too is the work of the cross.
He Established His Body, the Church and Justified His Bride
- Acts 20:28 NIV, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
- Romans 3:24 NIV, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.“
- Romans 5:10-11 NIV, “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Jesus bought the church with His blood. We are His body and Bride with the Holy Spirit as our overseer. We are justified – just as if I’d never sinned – by His grace. Reconciled – the end of enmity and separation between man and God. We are reconciled and saved from death through Jesus’ life.
Reigning in Life
- Romans 5:17 NIV, “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!“
- Romans 8:37 NIV, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
We reign in life through the gift of righteousness brought through Jesus. What is righteousness? Miriam Webster’s Dictionary defines it this way: “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin; 2a: morally right or justifiable. We obtained this righteousness as a free gift – we nothing to earn or deserve it. After receiving, it is up to us to continue living in a righteous manner, glorifying God in all that we do.
The word ‘reign’ used in Romans 5:17 is from the Greek word basileusousin and literally means to reign over. We are meant for more. We are meant to live according to Kingdom standards, which means being greater servants. Life is not meant to rule over us. What Jesus established is meant to give us all we need for victory over the devil, the flesh, and the world – more than conquerors – the work of the cross.
Crucifying the Flesh
- Romans 6:6-10 NIV, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
- Romans 8:1 NIV, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”
Our old self was crucified with Christ. We acknowledge this through water baptism as we come up out of the water, washed clean. Yet, we still live in the flesh and must crucify, or die to ourselves, daily. Romans 13:14 says to put on Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh. Our battle with the flesh we live in is constant – the old man doesn’t want to give up!
However, as we live to God and Christ, as we put on Christ and take off the old man, we win because we are no longer slaves to sin. Sin may entice but we have the power to say – No! Neither sin nor death have mastery over us.
Giving Us God’s Power
- 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
- 2 Corinthians 13:4 NIV, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.
The foolishness of the cross. For those of us who know Jesus, the cross is the most transforming and powerful symbol of love we could have. The empty cross demonstrates God’s ultimate power over everything in heaven and on earth. Nothing is greater than God’s power and the work of the cross.
In addition to the power of the cross to transform, we were also given God’s power to live with Him and to deal with what we must do here on earth. We aren’t just here waiting to go to heaven. We have assignments to complete, lessons to learn, reconciliation to accomplish, and love to share. We can only do this in His power and through His Spirit.
Peace and Reconciliation Through Jesus’ Blood
- Colossians 1:20 NIV, “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
- Ephesians 2:12-13 NIV, “remember that at that time you (Gentiles) were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
- Ephesians 2:15-16 NIV, “by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.“
Everywhere, the work of the cross brought reconciliation. All that separated man from God and God from man was done away with. Jesus said – It is Finished – gave up His earthly life, and the veil in the temple which symbolized separation of man from the presence of God was torn in half from top to bottom. It is thought that the veil was thirty to 60 feet tall – it was huge. No one is sure how thick it was but it was thick enough that no one could see through it, possibly four inches thick.
It was not torn from bottom to top, it was top to bottom. No human would have been able to reach the top and tear this huge curtain in half, but God certainly could! What happened caused great fear. The earth opened up and souls rose to walk on earth. God’s demonstration of authority, power, and will was complete.
The veil represented the wall of separation between God and man after man sinned. We were blocked from being in God’s direct presence or seeing His face. That separation ended when Jesus died. Now, we can go freely into God’s presence because Jesus, our High Priest, opened the way for us.
Hebrews 4:14-16 The Voice, “Since we have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God who has passed through the heavens from death into new life with God, let us hold tightly to our faith. For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws. He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious, without failing God. So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most.”
This is The Work of the Cross.
The Work of the Cross is Love
- Hebrews 10:12-14 NIV, “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.“
- 1 John 4:10 NIV, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.“
The work of the cross creates awe in us. Why? Why would God have done this? The answer is here in 1 John – love. The kind of love we long for with every fiber of our being and yet can hardly comprehend. We, sinful humans, are made perfect forever by one sacrifice of love. The kind of love that loved us first, loved us when we did not deserve it, and love that was willing to sacrifice what was most precious.
Celebrate the work of the cross
Easter is one opportunity we have to show the world our gratitude and celebration of the cross. While it may seem that we celebrate the horrible ordeal Jesus’ endured, we are really paying tribute to His torment and celebrating the empty cross and the empty tomb. We celebrate the gift of salvation Jesus gives. We celebrate the work of the cross.
Here are some resources for you to help answer questions that may come your way about Easter, why we celebrate it, and some tips on entering into the miracle:
- What is Easter Really About and Why Do We Celebrate It?
- A Remez – Why Did Jesus Say Why Have Your Forsaken Me?
- Praying the Promises of the Cross
- The Unforgettable Easter Christian Tradition (Without the Easter Bunny)
- Redeemed: Easter Devotional Series
- Why the Resurrection Matters
- Forgiveness & Redemption: How the Crucifixion and Resurrection Changed Our Family – Part 1
- Forgiveness & Redemption: How the Crucifixion and Resurrection Changed Our Family – Part 2
- Holy Week Prayers to Prepare Your Heart For Easter
I pray you find hope in the work and promises of the Cross. Click Below to download your free copy of The Promises of the Cross.
**We use verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
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