The Significance of the Cross.

Glenn's sayings;

 The Significance of the Cross.

I we really comprehend what took place through the cross-work of Jesus ? Many writers have documented the ordeal that Jesus went through prior to and as He hung between heaven and earth. It has been documented in the film “The Passion of Christ,” portraying the suffering Jesus endured. We are well aware of Jesus’ inquisition before the religious leaders in Jerusalem, His trial, the whipping He received and the physical torture and humiliation and death by crucifixion.

There is much about Jesus and the cross that we have failed to grasp and understand.

The appeasement-based view of the cross escapes none of us, we understand it and it goes something like this. Because Jesus was without sin He did not deserve to die. However He submitted Himself to His Father’s desire, and as a sacrifice He accepted the guilt and punishment of our sins. God’s punitive action was to punish Jesus to satisfy the justice our sins deserved. By enduring God’s sentence , Jesus absolved the gilt of our sin and we can now stand justified before a holy God.

This is the view of westernized Christianity, it satisfies our inherent sense of shame for our own sins and failures, but is such a view correct. In the appeasement-based view of the cross we have God as the bad guy executing sentence upon the good guy who is willing to take our punishment. God’s wrath destroyed Him and thus mollified His anger.

Scripture presents a much fuller perspective of the depth of what took place on that redeeming day. The cross-work was a work of that the Father and Son accomplished together, not to appease God’s anger, but a way to redeem mankind from sin because of His love for man. This was an act of  LOVE for mankind, not merely punitive anger against sin. Their plan was not to punish man for sin, but to destroy its power and offer a way for humanity...ALL humanity... to be rescued from the brokenness of sin into a love relationship between God and man that He has always wanted with people. In this there is something far beyond the appeasement theory.

From the appeasement point of view there was absolutely nothing that the Roman soldiers could conjure up that could end Jesus’ life. Nothing they could do would have been sufficient to kill the Son of God.

Jesus was not a victim of the lying religious leaders nor the corrupt politics of His day. Death would come when He was willing to surrender to it. He laid down His life on His own accord, according to John 10:17-18. The cross alone, the acts of cruelty by the Roman soldiers were not sufficient to kill Him. Jesus was without sin and it is only the soul that sins that will die. Since Jesus knew no sin death could not overpower Him. Instead He submitted to death for a greater good. He yielded His spirit into God’s hands and gave Himself over to death.

At any point in the juncture he could have called a legion of angels to deliver Him. That Jesus would endure the agony of the cross with the full freedom to end it at any moment if He wanted to ought to make His cross-work much more appreciative.

I do not pretend that I understand the full mystery of the relationship that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for it is beyond human understanding. But the idea that has been propagated that in some way God was able to separate Himself from the cross does not fit with the teaching of scripture. The understanding of the cross by religions across our land is that God the Father executed His wrath on God the Son while separating Himself from His Son.

This kind of thinking in my humble opinion denies the very essence of God’s nature and also distorts the facts of the cross. Scripture tells us that “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ.” God the Father was not a distant observer, but very much a participant. He did not send Jesus to do what He would not do, but God Himself acted through Jesus to bring about redemption for mankind.

Many have taken Jesus, cry that His Father had forsaken Him to mean that the Father turned His back on the Son and left Him high and dry. God cannot bare to look upon sin, is their explanation, so that when our sins were laid on Him He had to turn away from His Son.

God has shown us from the beginning that He is not does not hide from sinful humanity. Did He hide from Adam and Eve when they sinned...NO, they hid from Him and He sought them out. It is not that God cannot bare to look upon sin, He is continually looking upon the sin of humanity, it is that we in our sin cannot look upon God. He is not the one who hides, we are. God is secure enough to look upon sin and not be tainted by it. He has always done so and He did so at the cross.

God was fully involved in all aspects of redemption, after all it was His plan. The anguish that ripped through the Godhead that day cannot be fathomed by our limited brain function. They were working together, enduring the process necessary to destroy sin to liberate those they love. Jesus was not the victim nor was His Father the victimizer! They together were paying the price for the relationship they so deeply desired with humanity.

To make this a punitive act of God that He laid on Jesus for the guilt of our sins misses the main point. Jesus was not just guilty for our sins, He became sin (singular) itself. This is not referring to the acts of sin, but the very root of it...that self-preferring, self-trusting, self-exalting nature that puts itself above God.

By allowing sin to touch His person through the Son, He would be able to prevail in Himself over that which we were powerless to overcome. Through the physical body of Jesus, sin came face-to-face with the power of God. And God prevailed over sin completely.

This underscores the fallacy of any law-based or performance-based approach to God. Jesus became sin for us because we were powerless to deal with it on our own. We cannot do anything that will allow us to get to God...”He did it all! He condemned sin in sinful man” (Rom. 8:3). Notice it is not sinful people that were condemned, but the sin in their (flesh). Thus we are free from condemnation in Jesus because He already bore that condemnation. He opened the gate for all who wanted to be free and to live in the life of the Father.

God’s focus is as much on our sin as He focuses on the power of sin itself, by taking care of the power of sin He provided for us not to be a slave to sin thus breaking sin’s hold on us. The cross was not primarily about exacting punishment; it was about prevailing over sin itself.

God is not about destroying sinful people but about destroying the sin that destroys people. In that sense God’s wrath is far more curative than punitive. His primary purpose is not to hurt us as sinners, but to heal and redeem us from sin.

That is not to say that God’s wrath does not destroy people, it does. God’s consuming presence spelled the end of people’s lives when His need to deal with their sin for a larger purpose overwhelmed their humanity. Wrath therefore, has it consumed sin also consumed the people who had become so ensnared by sin, they were no longer interested in reaching out to God’s mercy.

Let’s look at the words of Jesus, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me”.

From these words that Jesus uttered o the cross religion all over the world conclude that God forsook Jesus at the hour in His greatest time of loneliness and utter despair. What was really happening between the Father and the Son at that precise moment?

Could the faithful one be unfaithful to His Soon in His darkest moment? Did Jesus not say to His disciples that they would all leave Him alone? He then said that He would not be alone for the Father was with Him. If Jesus were speaking the truth, which He was, how could the Father forsake Him? I don’t believe for a moment that the Father forsook the Son. Could it be that there is a difference here in what God the Father did and what Jesus perceived Him as doing? Jesus though feeling forsaken doesn’t mean that He actually was.

When Jesus became sin for us, He entered into the full shame, darkness and bondage of that sin. It is possible that at the moment on the cross when God’s wrath was consuming the sin He had become, He couldn’t even see the Father with whom He had shared fellowship with during eternity. Sin blinded Him and He felt as if God had forsaken Him. But that is difference between the perception of sin and the reality of God.

I am sure that we all have felt abandoned by God while going through some of our darkest moments. But that doesn’t mean that He has left us only that we can’t see Him thorough the pain. The fact is though, God is right there with us going through the tough times. He never turning His face from those who are His. To believe He did so with Christ is unthinkable.

That Jesus felt abandoned and alone shows the depth that He felt our sin. He entered into it fully and for a brief time in eternity the Son knew what it was like to experience fatherlessness. can you fathom how how painful that must have been since He had lived every moment with His eye on the Father.

Unseen though He was the Father was there in the same measure He always had been. But having become sin itself Jesus could no longer sense His Father’s presence. Perception became its own reality to Jesus as He shared in the emptiness and loneliness beyond what we could even fathom. In allowing sin to touch the Godhead, a rift was created in the divine community. The price of our sin was borne in their wounding. How Jesus’ cry must have torn the Father’s heart, thinking Himself the object of separation rather than love.

Shortly after the cry of abandonment He cried the greatest demonstration of trust in the History of the world to the Father He could not see. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”.

The cross stands as the undeniable proof that we are loved. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. The heritage of the cross is a life lived in trust.

On RESURRECTION morning, He broke the bars of the grave, of death and of hell's hold on humanity. Death could not hold Him, He arose triumph and gave us freedom to be His temple and be in a relational journey with Him and with people.

Now we can live has a loved people never to be abandoned by God for He will never leave us or forsake us. We are free to live in His love and set free from the need to appease Him and religion. We are set free to love Him.

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