Recently I had a book referred to me and also heard a speaker talk on the “Essence of the Gospel.” Through the years I have read and heard many beliefs of the most important aspects of the gospel or in other words what is the most important piece, i.e. the virgin birth, the cross or the resurrection. In my opinion most land on the cross being the most important piece of the gospel. They give solid basis because after all it is where the Final Sacrifice took place. Obviously the blood of the Holy One was shed here and indeed it was payment for our sins and covers the transgressions of those who place their faith in the fact that Christ “died” for their sins. There is no doubt that Jesus (the Christ) came for the express purpose of dying for the sins of all mankind, from the beginning of history through the end of the ages. That said, Jesus death cannot stand on its own.
The death of Jesus has significance because of at least two other major major occurrences. First is the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin. This is not an insignificant detail of history. If Jesus was conceived by any other means than the seed being implanted in Mary’s womb other than the Holy Spirit, what we have is a man. Just a man! He might be a good man, a righteous man and an extraordinary man, but nonetheless he would be just a man. It might even be worthy that he felt so much love and compassion for mankind that he would desire to die for them but if he is not from God (Phil. 2) then he is simply a man and his death would be just as worthy and useful as any other man who was a bright light in his community. So is the cross the central component of the gospel? Not without the virgin birth.
What about the other end of Jesus life? What about the part where he died? Again if we just focus on the significance of the cross and the despair of what happened there (not taking away any of the reality or significance), it really doesn’t matter if he stayed dead. What does any of Jesus life on earth or shedding of blood, or tortured to the point of death matter if he stayed dead? Oh, there is significance to it, don’t get me wrong. We are thankful for his death for sure. We are immensely grateful that God sees us as righteous as he looks at us through the blood of the Lamb that was shed for us, no doubt. However, is the death of Christ significant without the Resurrection of the same person? I would say not. No matter how good a man Jesus is or was, if he died and stayed dead he is just like any other person to walk the face of the earth and at the end his life is ended.
The cross is important and has so much significance that we dare not make light of it. In fact my point is the opposite – make much of the cross for upon it our Savior died. Do not neglect, diminish, or leave out the other very important facts however that are just as important. Jesus came from God. He was born of a virgin therefore is is born without a sin nature. He was and is one of a kind and in fact was literally God himself. He was indeed above us in every way and yet was one of us in every way. He did suffer and die such a cruel death after being abused then hung on a cross. Yet the significance of the resurrection gives hope to the cross. The cross means nothing without life after death and it is the giver of life that has power over death. Because Jesus lives now we can too.
So is the cross important? Definitely! Is it important without Jesus being born the Son of God? No it is not. Is it important if that were the end of the story – a really good story that does not have Jesus coming back to life? No! We cannot leave out the resurrection or make it any less significant than the cross.
So what then? Which portion of the gospel is the most important piece? All of it. Each piece uniquely hinges on each other piece. Take one away and what do we have? Just another ordinary man, no matter how good he was. Thank God Jesus was no ordinary man. He truly is the Son of God who came to die for the sins of all mankind and today lives so that we too might live with him in heaven. Is this what you believe?