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The haunting melody of an old hymn echoes in my soul as Resurrection Sunday draws near, its words resonating deeply: “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride” (When I survey the wondrous cross, Isaac Watts, 1707).

Have you surveyed the wondrous cross? You will discover that in the vast tapestry of human existence, there exists a narrative unlike any other—a narrative that holds within its embrace the power to transform, unlock the depths of our being, and unveil the very heart of God Himself. This narrative is none other than the story of the cross of Christ.

From the ancient prophecies whispered through the ages to the revelations unveiled in the New Testament, the mystery of the cross weaves its intricate threads through the fabric of Scripture, illuminating profound truths about God’s redemptive plan for humanity. It is a mystery hidden in the mists of time, yet now revealed for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The Unveiling of Hidden Treasures

In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul unveils this ancient mystery, declaring to the Lord’s beloved, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them, God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27, NIV).

Paul uses the term “mystery” not to confound or mystify but rather to reveal a truth that was once veiled but now made manifest. John Stott, a luminary of the evangelical movement, sheds light on this, stating, “In English, a ‘mystery’ is something dark, obscure, secret, puzzling. What is ‘mysterious’ is inexplicable, even incomprehensible. However, the Greek word mysterion differs. Although still conveying a sense of ‘secrecy,’ it is no longer tightly guarded but rather open… Put simply, mysterion represents a truth previously concealed from human knowledge or understanding but now revealed by God’s disclosure.”

Here, Paul reveals that the mystery hidden for generations past is none other than Christ dwelling within believers, offering the hope of glory.

The Inclusion of All

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul delves deeper into the mystery of Christ, emphasizing its universal scope. He writes, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6, NIV). Paul proclaims that the mystery of Christ encompasses the Gentiles as co-heirs with Israel, united as one body through faith in Jesus Christ. This revelation underscores the inclusivity of God’s redemptive plan, embracing all into the fold of salvation.

The Suffering Servant

Long before Paul penned his letters, the prophet Isaiah spoke of a suffering servant who would bear the sins of humanity and bring about peace and healing through his sacrificial death. Isaiah writes, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6, NIV).

In Isaiah’s prophetic vision, we witness an astonishing glimpse across centuries, foreseeing the suffering of the Messiah who would be “beaten with many stripes” (Mark 15:15). Isaiah anticipated that it would be through these very wounds that our healing would be wrought. Drawing upon this profound truth, Peter draws attention to the voluntary nature of Jesus’ sacrifice. In embracing the burden of our sins upon the cross, Jesus opened the gateway for believers to break free from the enslavement of sin and to embrace a life of righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). Through Christ’s sacrificial act, we are not merely offered redemption but are empowered to live transformed lives, healed by the very wounds that once bore the weight of our transgressions.

Reflections on the Mystery of the Cross

As we reflect on the mystery of the cross, let us not merely marvel at its complexity or beauty but let us also embrace its transformative power in our lives. For in the cross of Christ, we find the convergence of divine love and human frailty, redemption and reconciliation, suffering and triumph.

May the mystery of the cross continue to captivate our hearts, inspire our faith, and lead us ever deeper into the immeasurable riches of God’s grace. And may we, like Paul and Isaiah before us, boldly proclaim this mystery to the world, that all may come to know the hope, healing, and salvation found only in the cross of Christ.

Jeff Gipe is the Leader of Local and Global Outreach at Fellowship Bible Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. His prior pastoral roles include founding pastor of Newport Coast Lighthouse Church, a Calvary Chapel in Newport Beach, California, where he served for 15 years. In addition to serving in Brentwood, Jeff is a member of the CGN Executive Team.