“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

The Old Testament said, “Cursed is anyone hung on a tree,” implying God has rejected you. The cross beyond being an excruciating way to die by slow suffocation, was a symbol of spiritual shame. The cross is the chosen symbol of the Christian faith. It is an empty cross because when Jesus died on it, He overturned the power of evil by resurrecting from the dead.

Jesus went to the cross so we might have a personal relationship with God, and might know its power in every area of our lives. The cross is where heaven’s love and heaven’s justice meet.

It is interesting how people look at Jesus and Christianity as one of many spiritual options, just one more plate on the great buffet of religious teachings to pick from. Jesus’ credentials make Him worthy to consider: healing the sick, raising the dead…teaching a love unparalleled in any other religion.

Jesus came to earth not only to teach a great set of lessons, but He personally paid the price for our sins. Because He did this, He has claim to a much higher truth than any other religion can give us, because while other religious founders taught some good, none of them ever gave their lives for us.

The cross of Christ becomes personal. Our personality changes as we think differently, caring about people we never used to give a second thought. We sacrifice for others, whether it’s overlooking a slight or a serious offense. This is just part of the lifestyle because we follow Jesus.
Who was Jesus talking about when He was on the cross and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do?” He died for the sin of the world as all of us played a personal role in crucifying Jesus. Christ’s forgiveness was for everyone who has ever sinned. In uttering these words from the cross, our Lord interceded for us, which according to Hebrews, He lived to intercede on our behalf.
Case in point is the thief on the cross. Jesus is dying for the sins of humanity, ridiculed, spit on, while slowly being suffocated to death and He saves one more soul. Yes, even the vilest sinner may be saved.

Then comes the words, “It is finished.” It has been accomplished; it is the end of an era in humanity. Sin no longer has the last word. The penalty of death has been removed. Finished means there is nothing left to do, but enter into the results of Christ’s finished work.

Back in 1988 in Armenia, a father squatted by his son as he was going off to school and said, “Have a good day and remember no matter what, I’ll always be there for you.” They hugged and the little boy ran off to school. Hours later, an earthquake rocked the area.

The radio announced hundreds of casualties so the father made his way to the school yard. Before his eyes, his son’s school was a pile of rubble. Other parents were standing around crying. The father found his way to where his child’s class should have been and began pulling away beams and rocks. An authority yelled, “What are you doing?” The father said, “Digging for my son.” The man said, “The area is unstable” and tried to pull the father away from his work. But the father disregarded him and kept removing the rubble. As time wore on, parents left one by one. A firefighter tried to get the father to stop, but he would not be dissuaded. All through the night and into the next day, the father kept removing the rocks. The next day, parents showed up with pictures and flowers for their children. Towards the end of the day, he thought he heard a faint cry. He stopped to listen, but heard nothing. Then he moved a large beam and heard, “Papa?” There was his son. He yelled, “Give me your hand and come out!” But his son said, “Father, let the other children come out first.” Fourteen kids were rescued from their tomb and finally his son came out. The boy said, “I told the other kids not to worry because you said you’ll always be there for me.”

When sin covered us with certain death, Jesus came back for us. He has promised, “I am with you always!”

Adapted from “It Happened in Jerusalem” by Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis