The Star Leads to the Cross (Part 3)

The star led the Wise Men to the only King who ever voluntarily gave His life for His subjects.  Listen to the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah who predicted some 700 years ahead of time why Jesus would come to earth:  “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted; but He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

Christmas…in order to have meaning…must lead us to the cross.  The angel said, “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  Jesus said in John 18:37 “for this cause I was born”.  He came for the sole purpose of dying as a substitute for guilty lost humanity.  But why?  Why can’t God just forgive and not have all this bloody sacrificial dying stuff?  A Muslim asked me that once.  I responded, “If God just forgave, without punishing for sin, that would certainly be very loving, but where would His justice be?  What would you think of a judge who forgave a murderer or rapist, and completely ignored the crime?  Doesn’t sin demand that a just judge punish it?”  He thought deeply about that.

I continued, “and if God damned us all to hell, well that would certainly be just since we all deserve the righteous condemnation of God.  But where would His love be?  Is it possible that God can demonstrate both His justice AND His love at the same time in order to duly punish sin, satisfy His holy wrath against sin, and demonstrate love for helpless sinners at the same time?”

Yes.  At the cross.  At the cross God willingly took the punishment we deserve.  He took the curse in our place.  He became the holy sacrifice that perfectly satisfied God’s righteous demands against sin.  And His act was of supreme love, so that when God the Father accepted the perfect sacrifice, He then freed and declared righteous all who would put their faith in Jesus.  There was a “great exchange” at the cross:  Jesus became guilty of all that we have ever done or ever will do.  He got what He did not deserve:  the condemnation of God.  In exchange we get what we do not deserve: His righteous standing before God, forgiveness, and eternal life.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:6-8:  “For when we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would even dare to die–but God demonstrates His own love for us in that while were were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

This Jesus who came to earth is in the habit of transforming things.  He transforms a stable into a throne room and a manger into a throne.  He transforms a cruel Roman cross into a holy altar where He takes the place of sinful human beings.  He transforms a tomb–a place of weeping–into a place of eternal hope and joy.  He transforms the human heart and mind with real forgiveness and love and peace.  And He transforms your future–by erasing your darkness and replacing it with real hope and assurance forever.

Posted by Jeff Sanders