At the Last Supper Jesus explained what would happen to his body and blood on the cross and why these things were important. Foretelling that his body would be broken on the cross, Jesus blessed the bread and broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). His body would be beaten and pierced through so we could have access to the Father and our bodies could be made whole. His followers would be blessed by recognizing and connecting with the body of Christ. His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins and to establish the New Covenant. He told the disciples to drink the cup of wine, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). His blood is the New Covenant, and it is powerful for the forgiveness of sins. His sacrificial death on the cross would fulfill the law which thousands of animal sacrifices over the centuries could not do. This study examines two fundamental benefits of Jesus dying on the cross: redemption and transformation.
Power to Redeem
Though the covenant and promise of blessings, God unveiled his redemptive plan to Abraham. He promised to make Abraham’s name great, to make him into a great nation and to bless him so he would be a blessing to every family of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). Even though the covenant and promise are permanent, God added the law through Moses to cover sin until Christ came (Galatians 3:19). The law provided the standard for attitude and action that God would consider to be righteous, but no one was able to adhere to God’s standard. “No one is justified by the law before God” (Galatians 3:11). Sin always existed, but it was not understood until the law was given. While the law made people aware of sin, it did not offer a solution to the sin problem. The law is unrelated to righteousness, faith and the inheritance of the blessing.
Obedience to the law would bring blessings, but any disobedience would bring the curse. Poverty and every sickness are under the curse (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Since no one could obey the law, all were under the curse and subject to poverty and sickness. The law held men in bondage, keeping them away from the blessings. The bruised and crushed body of Jesus on the cross broke the curse’s hold on all people. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).
Jesus made a way for believers to receive all the blessings promised to Abraham and even the better blessings provided in the New Covenant. Christ was given a better ministry than the old priestly order for “he is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6).
Under the law sins were covered but not forgiven. Covering sins required an endless stream of animal sacrifices. Doves, lambs and bulls were used as sacrifices, but these did not cleanse the people of sin. Every year the high priest had to enter the most holy place and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat of the ark to cover the sins of the nation of Israel. Jesus entered the heavenly temple and placed his own blood on the heavenly mercy seat to purge the effects of sin. “You were not redeemed with perishable things … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The New Covenant of the blood of Jesus offered redemption for all. There is no longer separation between the presence of God and those who believe. He said, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17). When sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus, there is no need for more sacrifices.
Some people who repent and ask for forgiveness continue to have a problem with a particular sin. Perhaps they think some sins, such as treachery or murder, are especially serious. God does not make a distinction between small sins and large sins. Any sin is just sin, and God has forgiven all sin. Feelings can lie. It is important to remember that feelings are in the soulish realm, not the spiritual realm. Repentance and forgiveness are first in the heart or spirit man, not the soulish realm. Later the results of repentance and forgiveness may appear in the soulish realm. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, but the enemy brings condemnation. What seems to be a concern over the past may simply be the enemy bringing condemnation. When people repent and receive forgiveness, their feelings may not change immediately but they will eventually change.
We have used two approaches to help people who are troubled by a particular past sin. The first approach involves going through the process of repentance and asking the Lord for forgiveness. True repentance occurs in the heart, not just the mind. Those people who have gone through a superficial process may need to go through it again with a decision of the heart. We may ask them to write the sin on paper and then throw it away to symbolize the sin being permanently removed. This helps many remember they repented and asked for forgiveness. The second approach emphasizes receiving forgiveness. If people repent and ask for forgiveness the Lord forgives them, but many have not received forgiveness. They can receive forgiveness like salvation by believing in their hearts and confessing with their mouths. “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11:24). Stand in faith that you have received forgiveness, and your feelings will eventually change.
Jesus showed a connection between forgiveness of sin and healing. Four men lowered a lame man through the roof to get to Jesus. Jesus saw their faith and forgave the lame man of his sins before healing him. Jesus said to the lame man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). Then Jesus healed him. He told the lame man to “get up, pick up your pallet and go home” (Mark 2:11). The man walked out healed in full view of all those who were there. Forgiveness removes condemnation and makes a person’s faith effective, putting him/her in a position to be healed. The Apostle Peter elaborated on the connection between forgiveness and healing. He explained that Jesus offered his body on the cross so we could live free from sin and sickness (1 Peter 2:24).
Power to Transform
It is by the blood of Jesus that sinners are transformed into new creatures. No such creature existed before the death and resurrection of Jesus. Believers are baptized into the death of Christ and are raised to walk in new life (Romans 6:3-5). “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The thief on the cross encountered the power of the blood of Jesus. Jesus told the thief, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). He was transformed from a condemned man into a saint dwelling in Paradise.
No one is so hopeless that he/she cannot be transformed by the blood of Jesus. His blood cleanses us from the evil we have done and makes our consciences pure so we can serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14). “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
People have to experience the new birth through the power of the cross before their minds can be transformed by the word of God. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Even those with great intelligence cannot understand the things of God without experiencing the new birth. People who do not have God’s Spirit do not accept the things of God, because they can only be understood with the Spirit’s help (1 Corinthians 2:14). The things of God are foolish to the world. The message about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost, but it is the power of God to those who are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the wise. “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8 NIV). “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NIV). Jesus won complete victory over God’s enemies at the cross.
Jesus gave the mantle of God’s forgiveness to those who experience the new birth, just like Elijah gave the double-portion mantle to Elisha. On the cross Jesus transferred the power of forgiveness to all his disciples when he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). After his resurrection, Jesus explained that the mantle had been passed to his disciples: “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them” (John 20:23). When you forgive yourself and others you become one with God who has forgiven sin. Walk in forgiveness to see God’s power move through you. Forgiveness brings healing on the inside and the outside. You can give God’s healing to others when you forgive them.
A transformed mind will enable you to stay in the peace of God, regardless of your circumstances. Choose to let peace rule your soul. “Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking” (Colossians 3:15 EXB). While you stay in peace, you can call on the God of peace who will heal your spirit, soul and body. “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). He is concerned about the health and well-being of every aspect of your life. Let his peace guard your heart and mind. Trust the Lord so you can rest in peace and receive your healing.
The story of the cross shows God’s wisdom and power. His wisdom revealed his plan through the ages in such a way that no enemy could stop it. The many prophets of old saw glimpses into God’s plan even though few saw the depths of it. The cross is the power of God that brings salvation to a lost and dying world. It was the perfect plan that was perfectly executed. Nothing was lacking in God’s plan of salvation which unfolded on the cross.
The enemies of the cross could never understand this mystery, and they could not stop the mystery from unfolding in the fullness of time. The natural mind cannot understand the importance of the cross. Those who see the wisdom and power of the cross fully embrace it and are forgiven and transformed by it. In turn they can operate in God’s wisdom and power.
The power of the cross redeems and transforms those who believe in Jesus. Their sins are forgiven, and their innocence is restored. They are transformed in spirit, soul and body. It gives life to the spirit man which was once dead. This life is the abundant, eternal life. It enables the mind to be renewed with the word of God, so each person can have the mind of Christ. It heals the body making the person whole. This can involve living in health, rather than just overcoming one sickness after another. Embrace the cross and be redeemed and transformed!