Chapter 25 The Work Of The Cross

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me (John 12:31-32).

In this word our Lord signified what manner of death He would die. With the coming and inquiring of the Greeks to see Him, the Lord answered that His hour was come that He should be glorified, and forthwith the troubling of His soul began. “Now is my soul troubled.”

He was now facing the cross with its unutterable physical pain and bitterest anguish of spirit. The peals of terrifying awe were beginning to ring in His ears. The Man of Sorrows was now to taste the bitter cup and give up Himself—His life, His blood-to make His soul an offering for sin. But this was the cause for which He had come into the world, and there was no other response from His heart of love than to say, “Father, glorify Thy name” (John 12:28). “Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

The Discerning Power

“Now is the judgment of this world.” Men by nature are lovers of pleasure, worshipers of its god, admirers of its vanity, indulgers of its flesh. But the world, with its maxims and principles and fashions is judged by the cross. The love of the world—its foolish vanities, its empty shows, its godless maxims, its defiling pleasures, its lying principles, its soul-beclouding books, and all its idolatrous worship of talent, wit, and falsely called glory—is condemned by the cross of Christ. The Lord’s own discerning eye saw and described its real character. Its nectar is poison and must be avoided. Its touch is that of a viper’s sting and must be shunned.

What profit would it be to hold the scepter of kingdoms, to call the whole race of men our vassals, to look upon everything in the world as private possessions, to revel in all its ease and luxury, to drink the fullest cup of its pleasures, to sit on the highest throne of its honor, to be caressed by all its affection, to be extolled by all the adulation of men if there were no cross of Christ, and thence no salvation for our souls.

This world’s system was judged at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the great body called Christendom there are formalists, externalists, half-hearted Christians, and half-and-half disciples who have never broken with sin, nor separated from this vile world, nor crucified self, nor taken up the cross. Nothing can deliver from the delusion of false notions but a clear view of the cross of Christ. Once we have seen that, we will despise the world which crucified Him.

The Destructive Power

“Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Behind all flesh and blood is the infernal world of Satan and all his hosts—the real driving force behind the sinful acts of man. In the conflict of the cross, Satan showed his total strength, but how could he match the Son of God? Our Lord went to the cross as a conqueror over Satan. He entered into death as into the citadel of the enemy’s entrenched power, to strip him of that power and make men free to rise out of its enslavement.

The actual victory over this ancient and powerful foe was accomplished, not in the resurrection, but in the cross. The resurrection demonstrated that victory, but the victory itself was wrought out on the cross when our Lord flung off all the assault of hell—“And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).

The devil is not annihilated. Indeed, he still reigns and rules over and controls all men outside of Christ. But the Lord rendered him inoperative against Himself and against all those who abide in Christ. He can no longer hold dominion over the redeemed in Christ—no longer bind them with his chains—no longer hold them by the power of death. That power of his has been destroyed with respect to the Son of God and His redeemed ones.

The Drawing Power

“I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.” How gloriously true! Ever since that accomplished redemption on Calvary’s cross, He has drawn men from every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue. It is not the wooden cross which is the attractive power. We must beware of the sentimentality written in such hymns as “The Old Rugged Cross.” It is not the wood of the cross but the Person who was crucified on that cross who attracts—“I, if I.”

Oh, how He draws! Here, where the mind and heart focus upon Christ and Him crucified, and where there is a wholehearted trust in Him, blind eyes are opened, frozen feelings melt, pride is laid low, strong prejudices give place, hearts open, and the Lord Jesus enters. On the day of Pentecost three thousand souls were saved, and so goes the story all through the two thousand years since that blessed work was accomplished.

The pages of our Bible cry: “Sin need not be the ruin of any man or woman!” Here is a Saviour lifted up who draws to Himself with cords of infinite love. He has finished transgression and made an end of sin. No second cross is required on some new Golgotha. His one cross—His one death on that cross—has presented a complete propitiation and brought redemption to our captive souls. Oh, let that lifted-up Saviour be all our praise, and that wondrous, glorious cross charm our souls forever.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

George Matheson