Why is the CROSS an offense?
A Message by Billy Graham
I want to answer two questions:
"What is the meaning of the cross?" And, "What is the meaning of the 'offense' of the cross?
"In Isaiah we read, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. And the Apostle Paul wrote about the offense of the cross.
That expression, "The offense of the cross" sounds strange to us today. On nearly every church building we see a cross. We have crosses embossed on our Bibles. We wear crosses as ornaments around our necks.
But there is far more to the cross than that. The cross stands for an offense. It is "a stumbling block" The cross has been called the scandal to mankind.
Isaiah, with prophetic vision, wrote, "There is no beauty that we should desire him". What is there in Jesus Christ that we would desire, when we see him hanging on a cross and bleeding and dying?
Paul found that the cross provoked scorn and aroused the antagonism of people. Christ is not always attractive to the human heart, and many people were offended and turned away in contempt and rage.
So the cross has come down through the centuries, passing its unfailing judgment upon the vanities, the prides, the hates, the greed’s, and the self-indulgent pleasures and lusts of people. It condemns them.
The cross says to the world, "You are sinners, and the world doesn't like to hear that. Scripture says that people "loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds [are] evil. Our deeds are evil. They don't want the light to shine on them.
The cross throws a great searchlight on the evil of the world, and we don't like that. We don't want the searchlight of the cross coming into our hearts and showing us, "You are guilty. You are guilty before God."
The cross is an offense because blood was shed there. The Bible says, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [of sin]". Blood has to be shed. God demands that blood be shed so that we can find forgiveness of our sins. The Bible says, "The life of the flesh is in the blood". Blood runs through our veins every day keeping us alive. The life of the flesh is in the blood. So when death comes, blood is shed.
First, it is the blood of covering: "God hath set forth [Christ Jesus] to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the [forgiveness] of sins that are past. That word "propitiation" means covering.
God can take the blood of Christ and cover our sins. When the Israelites shed the lamb's blood in Egypt, they were to put it on the lintel and the two side posts of the front door. When the death angel in judgment came across Egypt that great night centuries ago, God saw the blood, and the death angel passed over that home. No one would be killed in that home by the death angel. That is the reason for the Jewish celebration of Passover. Does God see the blood of Christ sprinkled on your heart by faith?
Second, it's the blood of redemption: "And they [sang] a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. Think of it! Out of every nation, every kindred, all the peoples of the world, those who have come to Christ have come by the way of the blood.
Third, it's the blood of forgiveness:" Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. If Jesus Christ had not shed his blood on the cross, there would be no forgiveness of our sins. We would die and go to judgment and hell. But because Christ died, shedding his blood, God can forgive us. God says, "I forgive you, I justify you. I place you in My sight as though you had never committed a sin." We are just as innocent before God, under the blood of Christ, as Adam and Eve were before the Fall.
Fourth, it's the blood of reconciliation: "Now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Sin separates you and God. You are separated from God, and that is what hell is: separation from God. Think of being separated forever from God, from all that's good and all that's right and all that's clean and all that's wholesome, from all that God is.
That is what Scripture means when it talks about hell.
(Hell is where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.)
But when the blood of Jesus was shed, God provided reconciliation for us. We who are separated from God are enabled to be brought close to God. We can be close to God because the blood was shed for us by Jesus Christ.
Fifth, it's the blood of justification: "Justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. We will be saved from the wrath of God. The Bible says, "God is angry with the wicked every day. We don't hear much about God's anger anymore. We don't hear much about judgment and hell, so people live as though there were no judgment and they live as though there were no hell. But the Bible says, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. We will all stand before God in the Judgment and give an account of our lives here. We will be judged for what we did with Jesus Christ.
We are under condemnation. What we find out at the Judgment is our sentence. To what will God sentence us? We are guilty. That has been established. But when we are justified by the blood of Christ, we are placed in the sight of God as though we had never sinned. We are clean.
Sixth, it's the blood of peace: We have "peace through the blood of his cross. The cross is the only place where we will find peace in our hearts. The only one who can bring peace to this planet of ours is Jesus Christ, "The Prince of Peace.
Seventh, it's the blood of entrance to God in prayer. When we pray, we want God to hear us. The Bible says, "Having . . . boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, we can come boldly to God in prayer. Because Jesus' blood was shed on the cross, we can come boldly into the holiest place, the meeting place with God, where once a year only the high priest could go. We can go there any time, night or day, because the blood was shed for us.
Eighth, it's the blood of cleansing: "If we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. That means that from now on if you sin, and confess that sin and turn from it, the blood will continue to cleanse. Without that blood, the sin would be held accountable to us. Thank God that Jesus died on the cross for us!
The cross of Christ is an offense because it sets forth an ideal of life. The life that we can live here--with joy, and peace, and satisfaction, and meaning--is brought about because Jesus Christ died on the cross. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Christ demands that we live a life of self-crucifixion. We crucify the selfish desires. We crucify the lusts and the greed's and the hate and the jealousy--and all these kinds of things that are in all of our lives. God forgives us. Many of us chafe at the restraint of a life like that of Christ. We don't want to give up what we know his cross condemns.
We look out on our world, and we see hunger, we see poverty, we see social injustice. And our hearts cry out. But we refuse to take up our cross and follow Jesus, so we don't do anything about it. We don't say anything about it. We don't give anything to those organizations that are trying to do something. We just say, "Well, it can't be helped."
Jesus said that we must bear the cross. When we are at school, when we are at work, when we are at home, we are to take a stand for Christ--even though people may laugh at us and persecute us. That is our cross. Our cross is not some disease that we may get. Our cross is not some automobile accident that we may have. Our cross is not some bad thing that may happen to us or to our families. Our cross is to identify with Christ and to take a stand for him.
Many of us want the blessings of Christianity without accepting the toil and the sacrifice that are involved. The offense of the cross often reaches a point of opposition. The Scripture says that they will "deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake.
The Bible says, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household. And that has happened in this century in parts of the world. We know of places where people in homes of Christians report them to the authorities if they pray or quote Scripture. There are Christians who are suffering, but they are standing true and faithful to Christ.
Stand true and tall for Christ, no matter what your suffering is. Some people have spent 25, 30, 40, years in prison because they wouldn't renounce their faith. It is not popular nor pleasant for the old self to die. But that's the road of the Christ-life. No more "I," but Christ.
And the cross is an offense because it is the power of God unto salvation. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
I find that I can preach on any subject other than the cross, and it does not seem as offensive to people as the cross does. I can preach on doing good works, on social improvement, on all kinds of things, and people will applaud me. But when I preach on the cross and the blood of Christ, there is an offense.
The offense of the cross arises chiefly from the fact that the cross condemns every other way of salvation. "There is only one way," said Jesus, "one road, one gate to the Kingdom; and that is by the way of the cross."
You ask, "What do I need to do?" You must repent of your sins. To repent means to change--to change the direction of your life, to change your attitude, to change your mind--and to let Christ dominate your life. Will you do that?
Would you like to make sure that you know Christ as your Savior, as Mr. Graham has written? You can confess Jesus now, right where you are.
You can receive Jesus Christ into your heart by praying “Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know that You are the Son of God and that You died to pay for all of my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead, proving You are the only Lord and Savior.
Right now, in the best way I know how, I ask You to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. I trust You as my Savior and will follow You as my Lord. Thank You Lord Jesus Christ for dying on the cross for me. Fill me NOW with the power of the Holy Spirit and help me to live for You.
In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, would you
email me and let me know? I care about you.
This prayer of faith starts you on the greatest journey one can ever make.
Now that you are born again (saved), you have become a child of God and God has become your heavenly Father. Seek Him every day through prayer and bible studies and join other bible believing Christians which are now your new heavenly family.
God richly bless you as you have opened your heart to receive His plan of Salvation.