The cross is vital to our preaching, for it is here that Jesus Christ becomes either the stone of stumbling or the rock of salvation. It is in the cross that man’s sinful pride faces its ultimate test. The atonement is crucial, because it strikes at the very heart of sin – not what a person does but what he or she is, her egocentricity, his demand to own his own life and to be ultimately for his own decisions.
Whatever other responsibilities a person may bear for their own life, there is one we cannot bear – the responsibility for our sin and guilt against God. That, another must bear for us.
James Denney once said that that cross is like the barb on the fisherman’s hook. He told of a friend who had lost his bait while fishing, without catching anything. When he pulled his line in he found that the bait had broken off, so that the fish had taken the bait but escaped.
So, said Denney, “The condemnation of our sins in Christ upon His cross is the barb on the hook. If you leave that out of your Gospel, I do not deny that your bait will be taken, but you will not catch men. You will not create in sinful human hearts that attitude to Christ which created the New Testament. You will not annihilate pride, and make Christ the Alpha and Omega in man’s redemption”.
Adapted from The Christian Persuader.