Why the cross

“Why the cross?” Jo Vitale asks attendees of the 2018 Refresh conference in this YouTube video.

As one writer asked, ‘How does one man’s bleeding body stretched on two pieces of wood for six hours of torture and death on a particular Friday one spring outside a city in a remote providence of the Roman empire change everything in the universe?’

Powerful analogies

[Humpty Dumpty] is the story of human condition. We’ve fallen off the wall. We’ve broken into a million pieces, and as hard as we may try, no one can put us back together again … For the Christian, there is one line missing … 'But the King could. And the king did, and the King cried out, ‘It is finished.’

Story of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia): On an island where their worst nightmares become reality, Lucy whispers, “Aslan, if you ever loved us at all, send help now,” and Aslan appeared in several forms and whispered, “Courage, dear heart.” This is built into an analogy of the cross, where Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and is instead met with silence.

I cannot begin to imagine the horrors Jesus faced, in those hours where He took on that darkness, every sick and twisted nightmare that humanity has made into a reality, this dark island we have all had a part in taking.

Cosigning a loan: A friend or relative can agree to pay the loan if someone is unable to pay it, to take on the debt. Someone would only agree to do that if they had a strong relationship. However, that’s what God did to bring us into relationship with Him.

Key points

We have each sinned.

Alexander Solotzenitzen (a former Soviet prison guard): “If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them out from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line of good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

God’s anger is just.

If I love my friends enough that I cannot stand to have them mistreated, then how much more frustrated would a God who loves every single one of more than we can possibly imagine be with the ways that we hurt and wrong and violate one another?

Justice requires sacrifice.

The Fatherlessness of the Son is matched by the Sonlessness of the Father. The Son suffers the dying, but the Father suffers the son’s death.

What happens at the cross is actually substitution, a divine switching with the guilty.

Whether Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient depends on our relationship with Him.

It would be a gross injustice for a complete stranger to pay the debt you owe. The entire premise of cosigning is based on a willing relationship between both parties. For those who reject God, who refuse to be part of His party, it actually does remain the death of a stranger because He is totally disconnected from them. In that situation, although it was freely offered to them, Christ’s death will not cover them.

And that relationship with God is indescribably wonderful.

Johnathan Harris says, “The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, “This is love.” God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, “This is love.”

Powerful punchline

Why the cross? Because justice demands judgment and love demands mercy, and it’s at the cross that we see the justice of God and the love God displayed in full measure.

Scripture references

  • 1 Corinthians 1:22-24
  • Romans 3:23
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • 1 Peter 2:24

Questions

  1. What stood out to you?
  2. Have you had conversations with others on the power of the cross? What were objections your friends brought up, and how did the conversation go?
  3. What are things in your life that you have been tempted to use as substitutes for the cross?
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