The cross is the absolute highest revelation of God’s heart. In the cross Jesus humbled the active powers of Sin and Death and gifted absolute forgiveness to the world by his sacrifice. We are all invited to encounter God in the cross. The most mature, spirit-filled and joy-overflowing life we can live is one that loves like Jesus does. Jesus lived towards his passion while on earth and reigns from his passion in the eternal realm. The cross is not a one time stand. Not a light switch we turn on when convenient. Jesus is a power receptacle, always on. The dunamis love of the cross is always bursting with life from him.
“The cross is the test of everything,” [Martin Luther.]
What God didn’t do in the cross:
God didn’t protect Jesus’ reputation
God didn’t make sure Jesus died after a long and successful career like Billy Graham or Reinhard Bonnke. Jesus’ career was short and tumultuous, and his death shameful. If our world lasts another 2,000 years, it will still be talking about Jesus’ passion and will have much, much less to say about the church’s greatest leaders.
God didn’t refine his associations
Jesus died between two criminals. He was associated with criminals in his last moments. Framing Jesus between two criminals, who were probably insurrectionists like Barabbas (John 18:40) was like putting Jesus between two men instigating violence and destruction in the riots of today. Jesus died for his “crime” of being the king of a non-violent kingdom. The criminals died violent deaths for sowing violence.
God didn’t protect Jesus with political power
The Father didn’t send and Jesus didn’t ask for the legions of angels at his disposal for a rescue from the cross. The cross is about the hope of resurrection power, not the rise of political power.
God didn’t forsake Jesus
When Jesus said the words, “My God, why have you forsaken me,” he was referring to an entire passage from Messianic Psalm to comfort his disciples. God is trinitarian and cannot divorce himself from himself in an absolute way. The cross is also the deep felt experience of the Father and the Holy Spirit, not just Jesus.
God didn’t solidify the facts
Though there are plenty of solid historical facts about Jesus’ death and resurrection, God wasn’t concerned about making sure the evidence was 100% undeniable. The cross clearly demonstrates the heart of who God is, a concept too big for facts. It is seen by faith, pursued in hope, and experienced in love.
If God didn’t need to do these things for Jesus in his moment of crisis, he doesn’t need to do it for you either. He works out of a bigger picture full of beauty and love.
What God did do in the cross:
Jesus “became” our sin and received our guilt
He didn’t literally become sin, but as a propitiation or substitute, Jesus died in our place. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus also received all the world’s guilt on himself because he suffered and died as the only fully righteous human. (1Peter 2:24)
Jesus began a new creation
This new creation is received by faith, with the spiritual realm invading the physical realm. This new creation moment is like a big bang moment where Jesus swallowed all the poison of evil and exploded with creative life that is expanding the redemptive universe of God.
Jesus broke down every divide
Jesus, the greatest being in the universe, became a man. That could have been called the ultimate downgrade, but Jesus didn’t treat it that way. He crossed the greatest racial and class divide ever. He choose a small tribe of Jews as his special people. Then he came for sinners, not righteous people who had things sorted out.
Jesus brought us into his family
Jesus brought us to the Father. We are children, son and daughters. There is love and belonging here that is perfect. God is amazing in his trinitarian love. It is what makes him completely One God. We can’t love that way on our own, but as children led by his Spirit, we actually can.
Jesus gave us a new start
We don’t start at our cross as followers of Jesus. We start in his resurrection power. We find deep connection in suffering and through this learn how to wield the weapon of the cross. (Philippians 3:10)
There is so much more that God did in the cross. It really is the greatest moment in history and a moment we can take incredible hope from. It is a cross worth talking about.
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