In the mountains of southwest Pennsylvania stands a cross on the top of Dunbar's Knob at a place known as Jumonville. Anyone from the area simply calls it "The Cross." It stands 60 feet tall. Each arm on the cross stretches out 12 feet from the main shaft. The foundation of the cross was laid in 183 tons of concrete and the cross itself weighs 55 tons. It can withstand 100 mph winds and is visible from 7 counties, 3 states, and over 50 miles away.
I grew up in the area and have made the long, steep walk to the cross countless times in my life. I've sat at the foot of this massive monument, stared in awe at its structure, and sat quietly on the top of the mountain in complete silence and peace. I've also walked there with friends and laughed and played and had picnics. I've experienced so many precious memories at this place and look forward to taking my kids there one day.
Yet, as large as this cross stands in the distance and for all the memories this place holds in my life, they all stand dim in the shadow of what the cross of Jesus means to me. Today, on this Good Friday, I'm reminded that not even 60 feet and 55 tons would not have been enough to hold my sin, let alone the sin of all humankind. Even 183 tons of concrete is not a strong enough foundation on which to build a life.
The cross of Jesus reminds me that I am ...
- Not as good as I think I am ... but more loved than I ever imagined.
- Weak ... but made strong.
- Stained by sin ... but covered by the blood.
- Broken ... but healed.
- Messed up ... but not too messed up for Jesus.
- Accused by the enemy ... but no longer condemned.
- Guilty ... but declared righteous.
It's not that I've done all that much in my life, but there are a lot of things I could seek to boast in ... my performance, my accomplishments, my family, my friends, degrees, my good works, groups that I am a part of, people I've invested in ... there are many things I could use to build myself up, cover my shame, and make me appear to be more than I truly am. But, "may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14a) The work of Jesus on the cross declares me to be loved, accepted, righteous, and victorious. It's His work and His work alone. Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, God never wonders about who I am. God never wonders about my victory. God is never in doubt about any of these things because He has done the work! "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14) He has delivered me! He has transferred me! I am covered by His forgiveness ... no longer condemned. I am His child! Jesus' love repositions me. There is now royal blood flowing through my veins. There is no longer power behind the enemy's accusations. I am transformed by the grace of God. "When I rely on Jesus' finished work on the cross, I no longer have to wonder if God is happy with me or satisfied with me because my identity is no longer anchored in what I do. It's anchored in Jesus and what He has done. It's Jesus' accomplishment, not my own; Jesus' strength, not my own. Jesus' track record, not my own; Jesus' victory, not my own."
Nothing, absolutely nothing, has had a greater impact on my life and the way I live than the grace of God shown on the cross. Absolutely nothing. Because of the cross I am chosen. I am adopted. I am favored by God. It can withstand forces greater than 100 mph winds and stretches farther than the east is from the west. I trust that as the cross at Jumonville stands tall for all to see, the cross of Jesus will stand in our lives and offer hope to all.