b) The Cross of Jesus the Messiah: God’s Supreme Revelation of His Holiness and our Human Sinfulness
When God created Adam and Eve, He covenanted with them. He promised to bless them and care for them. In turn, He expected them to acknowledge Him alone as God and to obey and to serve Him. To show humanity His holiness and His holy will for them, He gave His people The Ten Commandments through the great prophet Moses (see Exodus 20:1-17). Here are The Ten Commandments:
- I am the LORD your God. You shall have no other gods besides me.
- You shall not make idols and bow down to them.
- You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, without thought.
- Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shall you labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a day of rest to the LORD your God.
- Honour your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
- You shall not covet anything that is your neighbour’s.
The Ten Commandments are summarized in these two great commandments:
- You shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart.
- You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
The Bible constantly clarifies the full dimensions of the commandments’ meaning and application. It measures obedience and disobedience not only by what one does but also by what one fails to do, not only by the external act but also by the motive of the heart behind the act. One kills another not only by an external act, a gun or a knife but also by the hatred in one’s heart. Idols exist not only outside of us but also in our hearts. Thus the Bible speaks of covetousness as idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Similarly, according to the Bible:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, ‘Love your enemies …’ ” (Matthew 5:43,44)
“We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (I John 4:19-21)
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)
Are you ready to test yourself, your lifestyle and your behavior in the light of God’s commandments – honestly? Do you think you are a good person, that you always do right and do no wrong, that all is well between you and God and between you and your neighbour?
Yet, more important than what you think about yourself is what God thinks about you! The above commandments are His measure for you to measure your actions; they serve as His X-ray machine to let you see the spiritual condition of your heart as He sees it.
Do you love God with your full heart? Are you more concerned with money, power, wealth, education or some other thing or person than with God? Do you love your neighbour as yourself? Do you love them for their sake or for your own sake? If you cheat, deceive, bribe, covet, steal, quarrel, hate, you know that these are signs that something is wrong with your heart, something is wrong between you and God, between you and your neighbour.
Even more, however, has it occurred to you that when we disobey God and break our holy covenant with our holy God, we also sever our sacred relationship with God, destroy ourselves and even break God’s heart? Yes, because God our Maker is holy and loves us, we break not only His law but also His heart! How, then, can He demonstrate to us the gravity of our sin, our critical need for repentance, His yearning to forgive us, to change us, to make us holy and righteous and to restore our holy covenant relationship with Him? Surely not by repeating old laws or introducing new laws! On the contrary, it is the cross of the Messiah alone by which God supremely demonstrates His holiness and righteousness to us and offers us His decisive diagnosis of humanity’s sickness unto death. How, more vividly than through the Messiah’s Cross, could God reveal His wrath against sin and proclaim that the wages of sin is death!
At the same time, the cross of the Messiah is also God’s remedy for our illness.