I was talking last week about the triumphs of the cross that are found in Colossians 2; I’d like to consider in my blog today the purposes of the cross that are revealed for us in the book of Galatians. Certainly my thoughts here are not the all-encompassing purposes of the cross, but hopefully, it will give us time to reflect on what it means that Christ died for our sins. Centuries ago a sailor in the southern hemisphere saw a constellation which reminded him of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, so he called it the Southern Cross, which is a name that has stuck down through for centuries. Another man who was a botanist saw a plant with thorns and red paddles like drops of blood; he called it a passionflower. Both the sailor and the botanist were dwelling on the meaning and significance of the cross for each of them to come up with these names. But what does the cross mean for you? Paul writes in his greeting to the Galatians in Galatians 1: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen”. (Gal.1:3-5 NIV). Paul tells us this current worldly system is trying to drag us away from Christ. The evil system is like the undertow in the ocean trying to drag us out and drown us with all its influences. But the cross is just not about a past event or even about a future hope. It is about a present deliverance. So long as we are in our body, we will be exposed to many influences in the present world. The letter to the Galatians was written because some were trying to influence the Galatians to get back under the legal bondage of the law, which entailed renouncing the deliverance that was purchased for them by the Lord Jesus Christ. But Paul tells us that Jesus died to rescue us from the present evil system. “Rescue” has the idea of plucking out or delivering away from the authority of the evil one. The cross is the liberating force because Jesus paid for all of our sins on Calvary’s cross. The emancipation from sins power and influence in our lives is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. Remember Daniels three friends in Daniel 3 were not saved “from” the fiery furnace, rather they were saved “in” the fiery furnace. We too today are in a very evil and difficult place. The cross represents a place of protection because we know that we have been liberated from the power of sin.
Paul states that another purpose of the cross is to fulfill God’s will on our behalf. He says “according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen”. God is the one who has initiated this plan and put it in place for our deliverance. It was not by our plan or our legal obedience to the law that we have been saved. In fact, it is without our legal merit at all because God was working on our behalf. We will glorify God eternally because of the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The glory is exclusively His; we did nothing to earn it or to deserve it, so we will reflect back to God the glory that is solely His for what he is done on our behalf. It is because of what God has done on Calvary’s cross that He is justly entitled to the highest esteem and glory by his subjects. Both the Lord Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father are proper objects of worship and adoration in our daily lives.
Finally, in Galatians 4 we see another purpose for the cross of Jesus Christ, and that is that we may receive the adoption as children of God. Notice what Paul says beginning in verse four, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law that we might receive the full rights of sons”, (Gal. 4:4-5 NIV). This privilege of sonship has been purchased by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. To be a child is to be made a heir and to be made a heir is to be put in possession of all that has been purchased for us by Jesus’ wondrous death on the cross. Redemption makes us servants, freeing us from the slavery of sin. But adoption makes us children of God. What an unspeakable privilege it is to be adopted into the family of God. In the Roman legal system of the first century when one was adopted into a new family all their old debts and relationships were canceled. Augustine Caesar was adopted by Julius Caesar, and he followed his father to the throne. All the rights and privileges of the father had gone to the son. We owe no allegiance to our old masters (the flesh and the devil). The power of the cross means that our total allegiance should be to the Lord Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father. We were by nature children of wrath and disobedience, but now God has made us his children to love and to be obedient. We should seek to be a credit to our Heavenly Father who has blessed us in so many special ways. Let us, who have found our freedom and liberty in the cross of Jesus Christ, go forth rejoicing in God’s kindness to us. To know the meaning of the cross for you personally is to have the hope of eternal life and know that all of your sins and debts have been covered by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful point of knowledge that is a new beginning in our lives. At the end of the movie “Saving Pvt. Ryan” the lieutenant, played by Tom Hanks, whose squad has been decimated in their efforts to rescue Pvt. Ryan tells him as he is himself is passing away, “Earned this!” Jesus does not tell us to “earn this”, he simply invites us to receive and enjoy the gift of eternal life. It is the gift that He purchased with His shed blood. Can I ask you once again, “what does the cross mean to you?”
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo