Why the Cross? (Part Four)
This Passion Month, we are pleased to post excerpts from John Piper's excellent book, "The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons He Came to Die" (get a free digital copy of the book here). Our prayer is that as you ask, "Why the Cross?" and consider what Jesus accomplished, that it will stir your heart to marvel and worship in light of God's redemption. May God use these thoughts to prepare our hearts, as we look forward to a global remembrance and celebration on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Why the Cross? Some reasons to meditate on...
To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel
Gospel means good news. It’s news before it’s theology. News is the reporting that something significant has happened. Good news is the announcement that something has happened that will make people happy. The gospel is the best news, because what it reports can make people happy forever. What the gospel reports is the death and resurrection of Christ...The gospel is news about facts. And the facts were testable. There were witnesses of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection life. The tragic thing is that, for many, this good news seems foolish. Paul said, “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). This is the power that Christ died to unleash. “The gospel . . . is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
To Ransom People from Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation
Christ died to save a great diversity of peoples. Sin is no respecter of cultures. All peoples have sinned. Every race and culture needs to be reconciled to God. As the disease of sin is global, so the remedy is global. Jesus saw the agony of the cross coming and spoke boldly about the scope of his purpose: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). As he planned his death, he embraced the world. Christianity began in the East. Over the centuries there was a major shift to the West. But increasingly now, Christianity is not a Western religion. This is no surprise to Christ. Already in the Old Testament his global impact was foretold: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you” (Psalm 22:27).
To Gain His Joy and Ours
The path that leads to joy is a hard road. It’s hard for us, and it was hard for Jesus. It cost him his life. It may cost us ours. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) First the agony of the cross, then the ecstasy of heaven. There was no other way...Now what about us? Has he entered into joy and left us for misery? No. Before he died, he made the connection between his joy and ours. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). He knew what his joy would be, and he said, “My joy will be in you.” We who have trusted in him will rejoice with as much of the joy of Jesus as finite creatures can experience.