"but when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons . ." Galatians 4:4
"who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should lives unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed . . "
1 Peter 2:24

John Beck had been a missionary to the Indians of the far North for some time without making a single convert until the day a rough, rude, chieftain lifted a page on which Beck had written a little of his translation of the Passion Story of Jesus, and demanded "Make these strokes live." While he read the passage Beck saw tears in the man’s eyes and when he finished the Indian said he wanted to know more of what he had just heard. It was then that Beck realized that people only truly see God as they see Him in Jesus Christ.

This is proved in their response to the Cross of Christ. The Cross which has so much to say about the selflessness, courage, humility and loyalty of Jesus is making one profound statement, God loves us like that. It was a demonstration of the unchanging truth that in Jesus there is an attitude to people that is that of God to them. In Jesus the love of God is expressed in terms so that no one can be in doubt of it, through a human life.

We see God in Jesus who fed the hungry, healed the sick, comforted the sorrowing and illustrated to people a quality of life pleasing to God and useful to them. In his care for the friendless and the disregarded He showed how God regarded people and how He cared for them.

The Cross shows us the love of God. A great liner was moving out from the dock when an old clergyman was seen waving good-bye to his son who was off to China as a missionary. One onlooker said as he walked away from the scene,

"I realized that here was not only the sacrifice of the son, but of the father as well."

The great single truth the Church teaches about God is that God is like Jesus. As people see Him on the Cross they say:

"God loves me enough to do that for me."

The love of God is expressed in the Cross. Not to see the love of God there is to miss what is the heart of the Gospel.

Professor James Denney talking to his students on the tendency to minimise the Cross among some Protestants said:
"If I had the choice between such a one and a Roman priest holding up the Cross to a dying man and saying ‘God loves like I had rather be the priest."

God loves like that is the message of the Cross.

In Jesus we see what God is like. In Jesus we see what people should be like in their love of God and their service of people.

Jesus went to the Cross because wicked men determined to destroy "the loveliest life the world has ever seen." On the cross placarded is the destructive power of sin. Peter Abelard made the point that if only people could see the Cross, really see what it means, they would hate sin and adore God.

It took the life and death of Jesus to tell us what God is like. As Jesus lived to serve all sorts and conditions of people so He died for all of them – the Jews who hated Him, the Romans who wondered about Him and the people who ran away from Him when he needed them. At the moment of death He prayed:

"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Charles Wesley put the thought into poetry and song:
"For ALL my Lord was crucified,
For ALL my Saviour died.
Grace for every soul is free,
ALL may hear the effectual call;
ALL the light of life may see
ALL may feel He died for all."

The sacrificial life of Jesus began with the Incarnation and ends with the Resurrection. Calvary and the Cross was not the end. The Christian is not dependent on a man who lived and died but on a Christ who rose again and is "alive for evermore." Paul had proved the reality of that when he said:

"The life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me; and my present bodily life is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Sin disturbs human relationships. The effect of the work of Christ in bringing people together in a common faith is unity for disunity, trust for suspicion, love for hate. The hostility of sin is defeated by the love shed abroad by faith in Christ.

There is this couplet:
"There is no life but by death to self.
There is no resurrection save through Calvary."

Again the hymnist has words on the matter:

"O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be."

Rev. Canon Dr. S.E. Long

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