Basic Training 3 – The Cross
What is the cross to you? Is it merely a piece of jewelry or is it the defining moment for you life? Most people look to the cross as if it was the end in itself, but it isn’t. The cross was the means to the end, which was the death of our Savior on the cross. The cross itself has no saving power it is only by believing in the person of Jesus Christ, who is God, and having faith in what He did on the cross are we saved.
A Real Father – A Real Choice
I by no means want to make it sound like the cross was a meaningless thing. It was not. It was the worst thing that a father could do, but also the most loving. I am sure God anguished over the idea of His Son dying, but He also knew that He loved His creation and that this would be the only way to restore the broken relationship, once for all.
If you want to get a glimpse of what it was like for God look the story of Abraham and Isaac and the anguish Abraham went through when called upon to sacrifice his son. This is the same as that a real Father who art in Heaven sent His real Son, born of a virgin, to die a real death on a cross because of a real love He had for His creation.
The Cross – A Place of Agony
The Bible account of the beating and death of Jesus on the cross do not even come close to describing how horrific a death crucifixion was. Take the time to read Luke’s version of the events in Luke 23:26-43. Even in this brief account you can get a glimpse of how cruel and heartless this death was. Yet God came willingly and as the Bible says without uttering a word and died for ours sins.
What a powerful piece of history that the God of the universe – Jesus Christ who out of the shear joy set before Him endured the cross, for our salvation and us. Now don’t think for one minute that just because Jesus was God that he did not feel the pain, because He did. If you have ever seen the movie The Passion of The Christ by Mel Gibson you can see portrayed the pain Jesus felt when He was, beat up, spit on, mocked, flogged, carried His cross, then was nailed to that same cross by His hands and feet.
I am not going to go into any detail about describing the actual crucifixion because it causes me shame to know I did this to my Savior, but if you would like to know what it was like get a copy of the Journal of The American Medical Association and look up crucifixion and torture. It is there that you will find the gory details of what it was actually like hanging on a cross.
The Cross – A Place of Wrath
One of the seven phrases or words said Jesus on the cross can be found in Matthew 27:46 where we read that Jesus cried out in a loud voice “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”. In addition to being a place of agony the cross was a place of wrath, because for the first time in history the Father turned His back on the Son
The physical agony of the cross was bad enough but add to that the emotional and mental anguish Jesus suffered and you get a picture of pure anguish. The crucifixion of Jesus is one of the most heart rendering and painful events anyone of us can ever bear to read let alone witness firsthand. Here is Jesus; His creation that He loved so much had turned against Him. Imagine what it would be like to have someone you love so much turns and walks away from you, let alone spit on you and mock you before they leave. Then add to this the complete withdrawal of God from the presence of His Son you can see the ultimate loneliness and despair Jesus went through that. The Bible tells us that god cannot look upon sin so when Jesus took our sin upon Himself, His own Father could not look upon Him. Image the sheer horror at not being able to feel the presence of God. .
The Bible also tells us that at the moment Jesus lost contact with His Father the skies went black. I could only imagine that the grief of the Father was as great as the grief of the Son. They had never been apart and now for a time they would not feel each other’s presence. Now Jesus did not have to do what He did He could of at any time on the Cross said enough is enough and come down of the cross which for us would have meant eternal punishment.
If not for the cross at that moment when we die we would find ourselves in hell, because as it says in Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”. We could never make atonement for our sin. It is only by grace and the love of God on the cross that we are saved through faith and not by works, lest any man boast.
The Cross – It is Finished
In John 19:30 we see the last words of Jesus on the cross, three words that sum up all Jesus came to do, “it is finished”. Some have said that this was Jesus saying that He was dying, others that it is the end of His pain, but the Greek word used here means much more than that. The finished carries with it the idea of a debit paid in full.
Literally Jesus was telling us that He had done it. God had come to earth with a specific purpose in mind, saving His creation from their sin. The last words of Jesus are a cry of victory. The gap between God and man that had come about in the Garden of Eden was now bridged by God’s work on the cross. No longer would man need to sacrifice bulls or goats for atonement of their sin, the ultimate sacrifice was made and now man could go directly to God through Christ. Jesus declared to Satan that he had been defeated, the battle was sure but the victory secure and till death we must call on our Lord.
The Cross – Some Parting Questions
1. Why with the overwhelming evidence of the Cross do you think people still turn their back on Christ?
2. How do you think God feels when He sees people reject His Son even after He did for them?