When I was a pastor in Hawaii during the 1970’s I had a man in my congregation who had come to know Christ out of a very turbulent life. As a young man he heard an evangelist speak about the crucifixion of Jesus and how His sacrifice paid the penalty for the sins of the world. “Look to the cross!” the evangelist declared, and you will be forgiven and set free. As he thought about these words, “Look to the cross!” suddenly, he started seeing crosses everywhere — in telephone polls, in window panes, in block walls. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested in a hold-up and thrown in prison. Now, all he could see were crosses in the iron bars. He gave his heart to Jesus in that prison and was born again. After serving his time he began a new and productive life. When he and his family joined the church I was serving, he had a Christian wife and two beautiful children.
What is it about the message of the cross that makes it so powerful? Paul the Apostle knew. After preaching in Greece on Mars Hill to a gathering of philosophers during his second missionary journey, he traveled west to Corinth. Later, he wrote these insightful words to the Corinthian Church:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified … that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1,2,5)
Paul had debated some of the premier philosophers of his day in Greece, but he returned to the realization that the cross is the key that unlocks a man’s heart. The cross is where the Lamb of God was slain who takes away the sin of the world. When by faith we embrace “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” we experience forgiveness and the saving power of God.
[Read the rest of the article on Reasons for Hope.]