The Surety's Cross
Galatians 6:14
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me…

The death of the cross has always been, above every other, reckoned the death of shame. The fire, the sword, the axe, the stone, the hemlock, have in their turns been used by law as its executioners; but these have, in so many cases, been associated with honour, that death by means of them has not been reckoned either cursed or shameful. Not so the cross. Not till more than four thousand years had gone by did it begin to be rumoured that the cross was not what men thought it, the place of the curse and shame, but of strength and honour and life and blessing. Then it was that there burst upon the astonished world the bold announcement, "God forbid," etc. From that day the Cross became "a power" in the earth; a power which went forth, like the light, noiselessly yet irresistibly, smiting down all religions alike, all shrines alike, all altars alike; sparing no superstition nor philosophy; neither flattering priesthood nor succumbing to statesmanship; tolerating no error, yet refusing to draw the sword for truth; a power superhuman, yet wielded by human, not angelic, hands; "the power of God unto salvation." Let us look at the Cross as the Divine proclamation and interpretation of the things of God; the key to His character, His word, His ways, His purposes; the clue to the intricacies of the world's and the Church's history.

I. IT IS THE INTERPRETER OF MAN. By means of it God has brought out to view what is in man. In the Cross man has spoken out. He has exhibited himself, and made unconscious confession of his feelings, especially in reference to God — to His Being, His authority, His character, His law, His love. The Cross was the public declaration of man's hatred of God, man's rejection of His Son, and man's avowal of his belief that he needs no Saviour. If any one, then, denies the ungodliness of humanity, and pleads for the native goodness of the race, I ask, What means yon Cross?

II. IT IS THE INTERPRETER OF GOD. It is as the God of grace that the Cross reveals Him. It is love, free love, that shines out in its fulness there (1 John 3:16). Nor could any demonstration of the sincerity of the Divine love equal this. It is love stronger than shame, and suffering, and death; love immeasurable, love unquenchable. Truly, "God is love." But righteousness as well as grace is here. We learn God's righteous character in many ways. We learn it from its dealings with righteousness, as in the case of all unfallen ones; we learn it still more fully from its dealings with sin, as in our fallen world; but we learn it, most of all, from its dealings with both of these at once, and in the same person, on the Cross of Christ; for here is the righteous Son of God bearing the unrighteousness of men.

III. IT IS THE INTERPRETER OF LAW. It tells us that the law is holy, and just, and good; that not one jot or tittle of it can pass away. The perfection of the law is the message from Calvary, even more awfully than from Sinai. The power of law, the vengeance of law, the inexorable tenacity of law, the grandeur of law, the unchangeable and infrangible sternness of law — these are the announcements of the Cross.

IV. IT INTERPRETS SIN. The Cross took up the ten commandments, and on each of their "Thou shalts" and "Thou shalt nots," flung such a new and Divine light, that sin, in all its hideousness of nature and minuteness of detail, stood out to view, as it never did before, "the abominable thing" which Jehovah hates. It showed that sin was no trifle which God would overlook; that the curse was no mere threat which God could depart from when it suited Him. It showed that the standard of sin was no sliding scale, to be raised or lowered at pleasure; that the punishment of sin was no arbitrary infliction; and that its pardon was not the expression of Divine indifference to its evil.

V. IT INTERPRETS THE GOSPEL That good news were on their way to us was evident from the moment that Mary brought forth her first-born, and, by Divine premonition, called His name "Jesus." Goodwill to men was then proclaimed. But not till the Cross is erected, and the blood is shed, and the life is taken, do we fully learn how it is that His work is so precious, and that the tidings concerning it furnish so glorious a gospel.

VI. IT INTERPRETS SERVICE. We are redeemed that we may obey. We are set free that we may serve — even as God spoke to Pharaoh, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me." But the Cross defines the service, and shows us its nature. It is the service of love and liberty; yet it is also the service of reproach, and shame, and tribulation. We are crucified with Christ. It is not His cross we bear. None but He could bear it. It is a cross of our own; calling us to self-denial, flesh-denial, and world-denial; pointing out to us a path of humiliation, trial, toil, weakness, reproach, such as our Master trod.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

WEB: But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The Methods of Glorying in the Cross of Christ
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