Our culture can tend to talk about the cross in a way that magnifies our worth to God rather than our sin against Him. I’ve seen or heard worship songs whose main point seems to be that God sent Jesus to die for us because He couldn’t bear to live without us. While God’s children are precious in his sight, our value should never be the end of our worship nor the source of our joy.
Of course, every human being has an intrinsic worth. We have been made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Like no other living creature, men and women have the distinct role of representing God to the rest of creation, administrating His rule and care. However, that image is now distorted, corrupted, and fallen through our rebellion against God. We have been tragically separated from the God who deserves our complete and utter devotion, obedience, and allegiance.
The cross is God’s answer to the problem of our sin and separation. It surely demonstrates God’s love toward us in an incomprehensibly profound way that should move us to tears. But God’s love for us flows from the fact that He is love, not that we are lovable. He said the same to Israel:
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deut. 7:7-8).
One of the prayers in the Valley of Vision says it like this (I’ve modernized the language):
Blessed Lord Jesus,
Before your cross I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin,
My iniquity that caused you to be ‘made a curse,’
The evil that excites the severity of divine wrath.
Show me the enormity of my guilt by
The crown of thorns,
The pierced hands and feet,
The bruised body,
The dying cries.
Your blood is the blood of incarnate God,
Its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.
Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price.
When I think that my sins alone required the death of God’s own Son to enable me to have a relationship with God, it produces the right responses of grief, wonder, amazement, conviction, humility, gratefulness, holiness, and commitment to God’s Kingdom. So, the prayer ends:
Yet your compassions yearn over me,
Your heart hastens to my rescue,
Your love endured my curse,
Your mercy bore my deserved stripes.
Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation,
Bathed in your blood,
Tender of conscience,
Triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.
May you triumph gloriously today, knowing that the precious blood of Jesus Christ has paid for your sins – every one of them.