At this time of year the focus of much of our worship, sermons and meditation is upon the cross of Christ. We have nothing without the cross, nothing at all. We would all be hell-bound if Jesus had not died in our place. So what should be our response?
The cross should stir great awe at God's amazing love and the Son's glorious work
The angels are truly amazed at what God has done through the sacrifice of His Son. Even angels long to look into these things (1 Peter 1v12). The praise of heaven is "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain" (Rev 5v12). The living creatures and elders (angelic representations of the redeemed) cry, "You are worthy... for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood." (Rev 5v9)
The cross should be a cause of great love adoration and devotion to the Lord. Meditating upon the cross and the love of God for us should cause awe and wonder. The angels who long to look into these things and not even beneficiaries of the cross! We must worship!
Yet the worship of heaven does not focus on the cross as an end in itself, but what the cross has achieved. So we need to be in awe at the love of God ("Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us..." 1 John 3v1), amazed at what the cross has achieved and make sure we enter into it all fully - that we take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us (Phil 3v12).
A few things to consider...
The cross has brought us into the new covenant
Jesus said, "this cup is the new covenant in My blood" (1 Cor 11v25). The new covenant: the law written upon our hearts. We shall know the Lord. Our sins and lawless acts the Lord shall remember no more! (Jer 31v31-34) That is glorious.
But are we living in the light of the new covenant? Are we revelling in the intimate knowledge of the Lord that is ours now because of the shed blood? Are we entering in boldly to the most Holy Place (Heb 10v19)? Are we growing in the knowledge of the Lord? Are we living as those who have the law on our hearts or do we live as if the commandments of the Lord are burdensome (1 Jn 5v3 - when they are not)?
The cross has killed us - and our relationship with the world
I have been crucified with Christ (Gal 2v20). In Gal 6v14 Paul's boast is because the world has been crucified to him and him to the world. Our old self and our sins (Col 2v14) are nailed to the cross.
So - are we living in freedom from guilt? We might sing "Jesus keep me near the cross" (which is interesting since Jesus is nowhere near the cross now - He is on the throne, highly exalted), but still live under a cloud of condemnation. This should not be. Let us (as Dr Lloyd-Jones encouraged) preach the gospel to ourselves. The price is paid.
But also - the power of sin. We have been crucified. We are dead (Col 3v3)! Therefore sin has lost its power. We are no longer slaves bound to irrestibly follow sin's call, but we are sons of the living God, completely free to say "no."
And also - we are no longer alive to this world! We have no longer got to be conformed to it (Rom 12v2). We are transformed and called to be transformers! This is the power of what the Lord has done for us.
The cross has crushed satan
The Lord Jesus has made a public spectacle of the powers of darkness (Col 2v15). The Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth and in that authority we are able to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28v18-20). Are we?
Do we realise He that is in us is greater than He that is in the world (1 John 4v4). The cross has proved His glorious victory. He came back from the grave triumphant. He took the keys of death and hades (Rev 1v18). He is seated upon the throne until all His enemies are made His footstool (Psalm 110v1).
The Holy Spirit has been outpoured
Ultimately the Lord Jesus purchased for us the promise of the Holy Spirit (Gal 3v14). And all of the above is applied to us by the Holy Spirit. The new covenant is all about the work of the Spirit. The law is written on our hearts (Jer 31v33). We have new hearts of flesh and no longer hearts of stone (Ezek 36v26). The Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (Joel 2v28 -in contrast to simply kings, priests and prophets in the OT).
Phil 2v9 says "Therefore God has highly exalted Him." The exaltation was the result of the cross. The exaltation preceded the promise of the Holy Spirit "exalted to the Father He has poured out what you now see and hear." (Acts 2v33)
So we have the Holy Spirit by virtue of the cross. And it is the Holy Spirit that gives us new birth, it is the Holy Spirit that brings us the work of assurance, it is the Holy Spirit that grows fruit in our lives, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that we know when we draw near to God, it is in the Holy Spirit that Jesus baptises us, it is the Holy Spirit that gifts the church of Jesus Christ, it is the Holy Spirit that fills the church with the glory of God.
And He comes because of the finished work of Calvary.
Therefore let us not stay at the cross but enter in to all that the cross has purchased
The greatest response to this amazing sacrifice and everything that has been achieved, is to enter in. Nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to stay gazing at the empty cross trying to stir up emotions in worship. Yes, the cross should break our hearts, and we should be filled with love and awe. However, we should not stay gazing. Rather we should enjoy all that He has done for us.
An illustration. If someone had bought us a huge house, with lots of rooms and gardens, would they be impressed if we simply stood and gazed in wonder at the great price that was paid for it but never went and lived in the house and enjoyed the gardens? I think not. Therefore, let us not only be in awe of the price that was paid. Rather, enjoy all that was purchased. And that brings great glory to Christ.