Pondering the Cross of Christ
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:24
Yesterday’s theme was change. We determined that only Christ and his finished work on the Cross can change a heart. Jesus can transform a hardened heart that is torn apart through sin, torn-up through selfishness, and torn-down through suffering. By grace, a shattered, hard, and resentful heart can be made tender, loving, and whole again.
Change is not something that happens once in the Christian life. On-going change is needed to free us from the effects of living in the midst of the fallout of the fall. What do we do? We gaze upon what God has done in Jesus Christ and his triumph on the Cross.
In the reading, preaching, and teaching of the Word of God, we learn and apply the victory of the Cross. In prayer and worship, we experience the Holy Spirit who supernaturally works his cleansing, purifying, and transforming grace. In the sacraments, we meet Christ, he touches us bringing healing, restoration, and deliverance from our self-afflicted pain.
His triumph has defeated our greatest foes: the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. His victory can be applied to every struggle, hurt, sin, and frustration. We do not have to stay trapped dealing with the same problems over and over again. We can be free. We can be free to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit. We can be free to experience and enjoy God’s love. We can be free indeed (John 8:36).
Let us remember what we are, corrupt, evil, and miserable sinners. Let us remember who the Lord Jesus is, the eternal Son of God, the maker of all things. And then let us remember that for our sakes Jesus voluntarily endured the most painful, horrible, and disgraceful death.
Surely the thought of this love should constrain us daily to live not unto ourselves, but unto Christ. It should make us ready and willing to present our bodies a living sacrifice to Him who lived and died for us (2 Cor. 5:4, Rom 12:1). Let the cross of Christ be often before our minds. Rightly understood, no object in all Christianity is so likely to have a sanctifying as well as a comforting effect on our souls.
J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1985), 344.
HT: J.C.Ryle Quotes