Friday, April 22, 2011

Your Name Is on His Cross

Few words speak more powerfully to my heart on Good Friday than these words of the apostle Paul to the Romans: "For while 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 dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6-8).

God shows his love for us … While we were still sinners … Christ died for us

Plural pronouns – us and we. Christ died for us all. His blood covers the sins of everyone who trusts Him for salvation. So when we speak of His death, we can speak in plural pronouns.

But Christ’s death is very personal as well. Christ died for you. Christ died for me. There’s a popular Christian song that’s been sung for years: “When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.” I don’t know about that. I’m not so sure and tend to doubt that John McCallum was on His mind when He died on the cross. I didn’t have to be because His death was large enough to cover so many more sins than mine. But His death is still personal. It applies to individuals who trust Him. And we could put our names in this text: “You see, at just the right time, when John was powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone did for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while John was still a sinner, Christ died for John.” And you can put your name there too.

And that’s why I like a story I’ve told so many times in the past. It’s not a story in the Bible but it’s a story that teaches a truth fundamental to the Bible. It was delivered in the form of a play. Terry Young saw this play in seminary and told the story in his book, Compelled by the Cross.

A carpenter named Simon and his family lived in Jerusalem during Jesus’ time. The Roman government put out bids for the construction of crosses. Some carpenters were quick to bid the job. Simon was reluctant. He much preferred making tables and cabinets. He preferred objects of beauty to objects of torture and death. He had no intention of making a bid. But Simon’s son was learning the trade and he begged his father to bid one cross so he could have the experience of building it. Simon reluctantly agreed. He was awarded a contract to build one cross.

Simon gave his son the job. And his son worked very hard on that cross. He cut the wood and planed it and sanded it and built a solid and sturdy cross. The government paid them their money and took the cross of their hands.

Some weeks later, Simon’s son came running into their home. He was out of breath and his face was streaked with tears. “What’s wrong, son? Why are you so upset?”

“Daddy, are you the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on in Jerusalem today. The Romans are crucifying Jesus.”

“I am aware of that, son. But why does that upset you so? We’ve seen others die on a cross and we’ve seen prophets crucified too.”

“But daddy, this is different. They’re killing Jesus on my cross, on the cross I made in our shop.”

“You can’t know that, son. Crosses all look pretty much the same. You could never be sure that Jesus’ cross is yours.”

“But I can, daddy, I can. When I was finishing the cross I was so proud of my work that I did what artists do when they finish a work. I carved my name on it. And when Jesus fell on the street under the weight of it, I saw my name. Daddy, my name is on His cross.”

And that’s about as good of news as there is. Your name, my name is on His cross. The price He paid with His death, He paid for you and me. What He did covers our sins and makes it possible for us to be saved. As Paul put it in 2 Corinthians: “He who knew no sin became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.”

If you don’t remember anything else on this Good Friday, remember this: your name is on His cross. Jesus died for you.

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