“If we want proof of God’s love for us, then we must look first at the Cross where God offered up His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God’s love for us.” – Jerry Bridges
The Cross defines Christianity, it symbolizes all that we believe in. Why? Because on it Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to, and then after that death, He rose to life again. We serve a living God who suffered a painful death on a cross for us. Ever since that defining moment two thousand years ago, Christians across the world and through the ages have meditated upon, written about, and thanked God for the wonder of the cross.
On the cross, Jesus was mostly silent. The excruciating pain He endured would have made it nearly impossible for Him to speak. Any utterance would have used the strength needed to pull himself up by His impaled hands and feet in order to take a breath. Therefore, the words Jesus spoke from the cross are significant. Among the seven expressions attributed to Jesus during His crucifixion, three were prayers to His heavenly Father.
As the soldiers divided His clothes and cast lots, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Unsurprisingly, the first words of Jesus show that He was thinking of others until the end of His life. Even while experiencing the horrible pain of crucifixion, He was praying for the very people who caused His suffering. He came to earth for the purpose of forgiving sinners and He loved them and forgave them up until the end.
Another thing Jesus said on the cross was “…My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46) This is the most difficult for the average person to get their arms around. The sinless Son of God who had been, from all eternity, in an intimate relationship with His Father, is now spiritually separated from Him. Some scholars argue that this was the moment when the Son took upon Himself the sins of all humanity, and the Father turned from the presence of sin. Jesus was suffering the pain and separation that we deserve. Regardless of one’s interpretation, Jesus’ second prayer exemplifies the depth of His suffering on our behalf.
Jesus’ final utterance from the cross is also His third prayer, “…Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23:46). Here, Jesus quotes Psalm 31:5 and announces to all His trust in His heavenly Father to raise Him from the dead. Just a few days later, He did. Jesus had to finish the task the Father had sent Him to earth to accomplish, namely to provide salvation for humankind. By living His entire life without sin, Jesus was able to become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. The way of salvation had now been made complete. Jesus was the supreme sacrifice that satisfied the righteous demands of a holy God.
- What does the cross mean to you?
- How do you put the cross in the proper perspective?