Seems like a cruel oxymoron, doesn’t it—to put the words glory and cross together. Glory carries positive connotations of splendor, radiance, and goodness. The cross is a symbol of horrific pain and suffering.
But the cross is also “an exhibition of the nature of God” (Oswald Chambers). You see, God’s glory is the fullness of who God is, his nature, and includes all his attributes and characters traits. Many of those attributes were at work when God provided the way of salvation for us. The glory of the cross includes:
“God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Such love is incomprehensible. How could he possibly desire to be in relationship with us? How could he delight in us, frail and self-centered as we are? It makes no sense.
Yet, he sent his Son, Jesus, to take the punishment we deserved and to offer us eternal life. When we invite Jesus into our lives, God takes us from the gutter of depravity and elevates us to the status of beloved children. We are adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5). Incredible!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
What is grace? All the facets of God’s love—his forgiveness, benevolence, presence, peace, provision, and more—made available to us, who don’t deserve it. Grace prompted God to provide a way for us to experience his love—through the sacrifice of his only Son.
Did you notice? God is the one who provided the way to him; we do not have to figure it out for ourselves, and then hope for the best. By God’s grace, he has made salvation (rescue from death) a sure thing. We can know our place in heaven is secure!
God’s grace, put on display at Calvary, sets Christianity apart from any other belief system in the world.
“I pray that…you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe…, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:18-21).
No one can raise someone from the dead except God. When Jesus was resurrected, he demonstrated his power over death, and proved the validity of eternal life, not only for himself, but for all those who believe in him.
But Jesus’ resurrection was not the end of his mission. Read the next couple of verses (22-23) to discover that, after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven, God seated His Son at his right hand (the seat of honor). Now Jesus’ power and authority is above all other rule and authority in the universe.
And someday, Jesus will share that power with us. Those of us who have accepted Jesus into our lives will reign with him in heaven (2 Timothy 2:12). My heart is filled with wonder and awe at such a privilege.
“God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
Faithful to forgive. Faithful to see us through the journey of this life. Faithful to win the battle over evil in the end. Faithful to keep his promise of eternal life, because of the sacrifice of his Son on the cross.
Our faithful God made salvation so simple for us, but it cost him so much.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…He did this to demonstrate his justice” (Romans 3:23-26).
We all deserve punishment, and our guilty consciences confirm that truth. But God made it possible for us to be forgiven and ushered into relationship with him. He declared us “not guilty” because Jesus paid the penalty..
I love the way Eugene Peterson explains it in his paraphrase, The Message: “Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:23-24).
A pure, precious gift; paid for at Calvary. The glory of the cross.
For you. For me.