Understanding the Cross of Christ (Part Three)

The cross of Christ is the essence of the gospel message. Its impact cannot be underestimated. To understand the importance of the cross we must see what it meant to Jesus, on a personal level.
First, for Christ the cross represented an inevitable appointment. From the moment God decided on the plan of salvation, Christ was on a clear path to the cross.
Isaiah 53:6 tells us that God “laid on (Jesus) the iniquity of us all” (NKJV). While God “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), Christ gave of himself so that we could have remission of sins (Matthew 20:28; Romans 5:8).
Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane begged that his role in the plan of salvation be removed. While there was never any doubt Jesus would comply, this episode revealed explicitly that Christ had a choice. This made his sacrifice more poignant. We cannot imagine his inner turmoil as he hurtled toward his destiny. The reader can almost hear relief in his cry, “it is finished.”
Second, for Christ the cross represented intense pain. Being omniscient, Christ knew the suffering of the cross eons before its existence. It stood as a reminder of his place in the plan. He was the sacrificial lamb who would be offered for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:7). The anticipation of this moment underscores the bitter turmoil of the Garden.
If we knew the day and circumstances of our death, especially if violent, we would forever be changed. Days and activities would take on a different hue. Christ lived daily with that realization. We wonder how often he contemplated the day of his crucifixion; imagining the sights, sounds and sensations. His keen insight into his own future should give us pause as we realize the depths of his sacrificial love.
We read Jesus saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34). As Jesus looked at them with intense love, he mourned because soon this same people would be sending him to his death. Imagine Jesus looking into the eyes and souls of his betrayer and murderers years before the event. We would, no doubt, be crushed by such knowledge. Jesus took it in stride.
Third, for Christ the cross represented intolerable separation. In Jesus’ prayer in John 17 he says, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You” (John 17:1). Later in the same chapter Jesus tenderly adds, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You” (17:21).
While God and Jesus are different, they are also one. They are bound together in a relationship we can neither comprehend nor transcend. Accordingly we hear the pain of Jesus when he cries out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). At that moment Jesus knew the greatest loneliness he would ever feel. For the first time in all eternity, Jesus was alone. Alone with his pain and his mission.
As humans we think of our selves first. Instead, we must take a step back and see what the cross meant for our Savior. Christ’s mixture of deity and humanity never seemed more palpable than when he hung between heaven and earth, dying for the sins of every one of us.

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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