The heart of the Gospel is that through Jesus and His work on the cross as our substitute, God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. The punishment for our mistakes was paid for and dealt with by a substitute, namely Jesus. It's commonly referred to as "atonement" which I like to refer to as "at-one-ment" because of the bond that is made at that time between us and our Lord. The Bible says, while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). That little word "for" in the Greek means "on behalf of." Jesus died for all of us - that person next to you, your neighbor, friend, and your enemies too.
Jesus extended the invitation to us in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would follow me, (down a path of healing and hope I might add) they must deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow me daily." The apostle Paul accepted that offer and later wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in "the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20) Paul did not say "I have made a determination to imitate Jesus Christ" but rather to follow Him in the manner He asked.
Because of the cross, I need to be fully unconstrained and committed (did you notice that Luke said, "daily?"). My primary motivation for living and my nature is being changed daily "into glory" by His Spirit. Paul finishes Gal. 2:20 by adding, "the life I now live in my mortal flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me!" Paul's faith was not a faith in faith, or religion, but in a personal relationship initiated by God. Note, Romans says, it was "while we were sinners" (Romans 5:8).
The inescapable spiritual need each of us has, deep in our soul, is to sign the death certificate of our human nature. We must take any emotional needs, guilt and be able to bring them to the cross where we will find truth, release, and forgiveness testified to and proven by Jesus making a statement of love to the world on the cross.
In just a few days, we will come to one of the most special and holy times of the year - Good Friday and Easter. Come to the cross with hurt you've received. Come to the cross with hurt you've caused. Bring hurt you know someone is bearing and suffering. Bring confessions and admissions of guilt you or someone is carrying that have already been paid for and forgiven. Come with needs that need to be released, burdens and worries that need to be set free.
There is no greater news than that Jesus took our place. "God made him no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness (rightness) of God" (2 Corinthians. 5:21). The Bible says, "If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. Behold (notice) the old has passed away. The new has come!" (2Corinthians 5:17). May we always live under your Cross O Lord, remembering and proclaiming the hope of your cross unceasingly.