The Magnetic Cross
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 12:32-33 (Holman) AAs for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all (people) to Myself.@ He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die.
Verse 33 was written to make sure we realized verse 32, one of Jesus= most quoted remarks, referred to the cross. This famous reference to the crucifixion highlighted at least three blessed truths about the cross.
One, Jesus= death was beautiful. Christ=s beauty reached its zenith at Calvary. The cross is Christianity=s attraction. It made drawing people possible.
Golgotha captured attention. Jesus won more love there than he ever did elsewhere. The love displayed on the cross draws people=s hearts to Jesus.
Rulers have tried to win glory by killing others. Christ won His glory by the killing of Himself. Empires founded on force have disappeared, leaving only a memory. Christ=s Empire, founded on a cross, continues its march.
We are drawn to heroic deeds of self-sacrifice. We thrill to hear of a life rescued from drowning, of people pulled from a burning house.
Jesus= death entailed more than heroism. The heroic deaths of others are different from His. Socrates= death has no special claim on our affections. Lincoln=s death commands no allegiance from us. There is no Achurch of Joan of Arc.@ Jesus= death is different in that His was a death for each of us as if we were individually the only person He died for.
The cross is the supreme manifestation of love, for on it the best of men voluntarily endured the worst of deaths to provide life for a world of sinners. The love in Jesus= death makes the cross beautiful, yea magnetic.
By nature, we are mired in clay. Jesus, standing on firm ground, puts out His hand to pull us up. Why can we trust His hand? How do we know it is dependable? Because of the nail-prints on His palm. The cross proves His love.
Two, Jesus= death was powerful. Some emphasize His life as a worthy model to follow, and prefer to down-play Jesus= death. They do not want to talk of substitution, atonement, sacrifice, the blood.
They act as if sinners can be saved by Jesus= holy life without mentioning His cross. False. People are spiritually sick. They don=t need a picture of a healthy person as much as they require medicine to remove their diseases.
Plagued by weakness, we need power from outside ourselves to live right. Our sickness is sin; our cure is Jesus= blood. The cross is the universal remedy because it deals with the universal epidemic.
The Bible presents three distinct forms sin takes. Christ relieves us from each. One, sin makes God and people enemies. Jesus reconciles. AWhile we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son@ (RM 5:10).
People want to be sure they are right with God, but by nature are fallen, separated from Him. The tie binding all countries, cultures, and civilizations together is, AAll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God@ (RM 3:23).
Adam-like, people have renounced their allegiance to God. Cain-like, they have fled from God=s presence. Prodigal-like, they have gone into a far country. Pharaoh-like, they ask, AWho is the Lord that I should serve Him?@
The very fact people need to be drawn implies they are distant from God. Our only hope to find God is to accept the peace treaty of Calvary, but by nature we do not appreciate Jesus= death, often living as if it means nothing to us. Since people refuse to come to Jesus on their own, He goes the second mile, condescending to draw us.
The magnetic pull of the cross began with the dying thief, continued with the Roman Centurion, and blossomed at Pentecost. The cross continues to provide hope that people can be made right with God.
Two, sin causes guilt. Jesus bore this load. God Amade the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him@ (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus= death wields the magnetic power of substitution.
Sin was avenged in Jesus= body. This pardoning power of the cross is one of its strongest attractions.
What are we to do with our guilt? Do we fear everlasting punishment for our sins? Does conscience sting us? In Christ our guilt is covered if we admit our sinfulness, confess Jesus bore what we deserve, and accept Him as our substitute.
Jesus died for sinners. Therefore, the way to receive the benefits of His death is to confess we are sinners. We must disregard our merit, and highly esteem Christ=s. If we think too highly of ourselves we will think too lowly of Jesus.
A person burdened with sin falls before Christ faster and easier than one inflated with vanity. Once we sense our sinnership, the idea of a Savior becomes sweet, drawing us to the cross.
Three, sin is a tyrant binding people. Christ dealt with this by paying a ransom for us in His death. AEveryone who commits sin is a slave of sin@ (John 8:34). AJesus Christ, who gave Himself B a ransom for all@ (1 Timothy 2:6).
Held in the enemy=s sway, we need deliverance. Jesus has to pull us, for we are constantly pulled by another force in the opposite direction.
The prince of darkness lures us away through tantalizing lusts. He draws us, entices us to destruction, as fish are taken by bait, as birds are lured by decoys. His arsenal of seductive evils sucks masses of humanity into the vortex of his monstrous whirlpool.
Jesus came to Earth to offer a counter-attraction, to set in motion an opposite current. We need not despair. We can overcome evil through Jesus= death.
The Christ of the cross meets the needs of sinners as well as a glove fits the hand. We find in Him the very things we deep-down desire. His was a death in which we can put our trust and satisfy all our spiritual needs: reconciliation, removal of guilt, redemption.
The third blessed truth of the cross is the aftermath of Jesus= death. He saw the cross not as a period at the end of His work, but as a transition from a narrow sphere of influence to one flooding the world.
Jesus continues to be a personally involved influence in our world. He still has a living connection with Earth. Jesus continues to attract. He not only died our death, but also lives to call us through the Holy Spirit. Don=t think of Jesus solely as One who died long ago. He lives today to help and bless all who come to Him.
When Joan of Arc realized she had been betrayed by the leaders of her own people, George Bernard Shaw in his play has her say, AI will go out now to the common people and let the love in their eyes comfort me for the hate in yours. You will be glad to see me burnt; but if I go through the fire I shall go through it to their hearts for ever and ever.@ The cross accomplished this for Jesus. Through it He continues to go to people=s hearts for ever.
The religious leaders who crucified Jesus thought they would thereby drive people away from Him. The exact opposite happened. Millions march in the parade to Calvary. I urge you to come and join them.
Jesus woos us by soft, gentle influences. He never drives; He always draws.
Even Christ=s posture on the cross pointed to His welcoming us. He was crucified with arms stretched out, as if inviting us all to come to Him. When we feel ourselves being drawn, the wisest thing for us to do is to yield.