by Andrew Murray
The Cross the Way to God
Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. 1 Pet 3.18
Christ came to open the way, and bring us back to God. God created us for Himself, that He might be our blessedness and we His; that we might have our abode in Him, and He in us. It is God we have lost through sin; it is to God that Christ would win and take us back. God is more, infinitely more, than salvation, and than heaven: God is the Eternal Life and Eternal Love which longs to live in us, and to fill us with His love & with Himself. For this Christ came; for this He suffered; that He might bring us to God.
The Cross is the only way for human nature to come to God. It is the path in which Christ walked Himself; the path which He opened for us; the path in which we too walk; the path in which alone we can lead others.
1. When our Blessed Lord took our human nature with all its burden of sin and curse, He submitted to all the conditions of our human feebleness, and gave Himself to be and to do all that a true man needed to be and do as God’s creature. That He might show us what it means to be a creature, and how a creature should act; that He might make it possible for us to live as a creature should; He humbled Himself to live the life of a creature. He not only grew and waxed strong; He not only advanced in stature but in wisdom too, and in favour with God and man. Through His whole life there was a true human development. In the gradual opening up to Him of the will of God; in His learning obedience, and being made perfect through suffering; in His life of temptation and suffering; in His preparation for His final sacrifice; in all things He became like us. And so the cross was to Him, as Man and Mediator, the only path by which, in our nature, He could come to God.
The Cross speaks of Sin: it was only as admitting to the full, and bearing the evil of sin, as hatred against God, that man could come to God.
The Cross speaks of Curse; God’s Judgment against Sin; as long as man did not accept and approve that judgment as righteous, there could be no thought of his being restored to God’s presence.
The Cross speaks of Suffering: it is only as, in suffering, the will of God is accepted, and everything given up to it, that there could be union with God.
The Cross speaks of Death: it is only as man is ready to part utterly and entirely with his whole present life, to die to it, that he can enter into, or fully receive into himself, the life and glory of God. All this Christ did. His whole life was animated by the crucifixion spirit. The Cross on Calvary was simply fruit that had been growing and ripening all through His life. All along it had been a protest against man’s sin; a witness to the righteousness of God’s judgment against it; a readiness in everything to give up His will, and bear any suffering, that the Father’s honour might be vindicated; a determination to sacrifice life itself as the only way by which our human nature could be fitted and transformed for the indwelling of God. The WAY OF THE CROSS was the way in which Jesus as man personally walked His whole life through, that as our Forerunner, He might enter in and appear before God for us, ‘being made perfect through suffering, He became unto all them that obey Him the author of eternal salvation’. For Jesus Himself the cross was the path to God.
2. All that our Lord was, and did, as man, had infinite worth. He was not only man but God. As the Son of God and Heir of all things, the world and man had been created by Him, and in Him, and for Him. In virtue of His divine nature, possessing and filling all things, He became the Second Adam, a new Head here upon earth for the human race. As such, His bearing the cross, and entering into God’s Holy Presence, was the opening up of a way in which we too could draw nigh. His death, the bearing of God’s judgment on sin, was the putting away of sin; He made an end of sin. In bearing the condemnation and the curse and death, He bore away the sin; He abolished, broke the power of him that had the power of death, and set us his prisoners free. The Cross, and the Blood, and the Death of Christ are God’s assurance to the sinner that there is an immediate acquittal to each one who will accept of and entrust Himself to this Saviour, and an everlasting admission to Gods favour and friendship. All the claims that God’s law had against us; all the power Sin and Satan had over us; all are at an end; the death of Jesus was the death of sin and death. The path of the cross is the path Christ has opened for us; in it we have full liberty and power to draw nigh to God.
3. In that path of the cross we now have to walk if we are to come to God. The entrance to that path is repentance and faith. As men listen to the charge God’s messenger has against them, ‘This Jesus ye crucified’ and yield to it: as with penitent hearts they ask how they are to be delivered, the Gospel tells them that the cross that reveals the sin has taken it away, and that the Christ against whom they had sinned has in His love won for them pardon and life. The man who learns to know his sin at the cross, learns to know His Saviour there too. Faith in the cross, and its perfect redemption, sets a man at once in the way of life. The path of the cross is the path that brings us to God.
(contd. in Part 2)