Two thousand years ago, a bloody execution site in Jerusalem became the heart of everything we believe and hold dear. It’s utterly preposterous to the natural mind, but that’s where God died. When Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23), he indicated that we could take all the archives of Christian wisdom and reduce it to one essential: the cross of Christ.
Behold the iron nails in each hand and foot. Look at the thorns hammered into His skull. Observe His skin and flesh flayed open and scourged raw. He’s gasping and jerking in contorted spasms. People are mocking, and demons are raging. Plus, He’s quaffing the cup of the Father’s wrath against sin.
When the cross is before us, there’s no place else to look.
This slab of wood that’s hosting our Savior’s convulsions is the centerpiece of our faith. It’s where the Carpenter from Nazareth, after a three-year teaching hiatus, returned to His woodworking profession. Taking a beam in hand, He went to work and crafted our salvation.
Why is the cross at the center of our faith? Because it’s at the center of God’s heart.
Center of God’s Heart
To discover what someone feels most passionately about, ask about their highest joys and deepest sorrows. When they tell you, their cheeks will flush, their eyes will flame, and their words will tumble. So go ahead and ask Him, “What do You feel most strongly about? What’s at the center of Your heart?”
I’m persuaded there’s nothing God feels more passionately about than His Son’s cross. Never before or since has anything lacerated His heart so deeply. He watched Him endure unimaginable horror, but more than that, He suffered with Him. And He’ll never forget.
The cross is God’s most memorable event ever. He has deeper convictions and stronger opinions about Calvary than any other topic. Come to the cross and you get God’s most ponderous passions. The cross is our center because it’s His center.
The cross was also Paul’s center, for he told the Corinthian church, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). While in Corinth, the cross was the center of his preaching. Paul affirmed the same preaching emphasis among the churches of Galatia when he asked them, “Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Gal 3:1). It seems that Christ crucified was the center of Paul’s message everywhere he went.
Let’s make it our center, too.
Don’t let anyone swindle you out of the cross. Without it you have nothing, but with it you have everything.
John said they also crucified two thieves that day, with “Jesus in the center” (John 19:18). This much hasn’t changed: We still have “Jesus in the center.” We’re never truer to our faith than when fixated upon our center—the cross of Christ.
I’m calling us back to our center. Preachers, let’s place the cross at the center of our preaching. Worship leaders, make the cross the center of our singing. Songwriters, craft songs with lyrics that laud the Lamb. There are thousands of songs about the cross yet to be written—give them to us!
I call on every precious believer to place the cross at the center of your thoughts and affections. You’ll never graduate past nor outgrow the cross. Put that middle cross back at the center and keep returning to it over and over. Why? Because it’s at God’s center, and is central to everything we hold dear.
Christ crucified is our wisdom, power, vitality, and life. We remember, and we’re coming back. Holy Lamb of God, You’re the reason for everything we do!
This blog is excerpted from Bob’s new book, THE CROSS. For more, go here.