Oh, the Wonderful Cross
Monday, November 4, 2019
There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and in Greek. John 19:18-20
We will spend all eternity exploring the chasm of truth relating to Christ’s work on the cross, but in this brief devotional I just want to give you three things the cross represents.
First, the cross is a symbol of endurance. Some hold the delusion that because Christ was God, He didn’t really suffer as a man. Some say He pulled out of the body right when the suffering became too much and He never felt the sting of the whip or the nails or the thorns.
That’s not the picture Scripture paints for us, however. Peter blatantly tells us that “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus felt it all. He endured to the very end, and because of that our eternal security is guaranteed!
Secondly, the cross is a symbol of empathy. This is one of the most significant distinguishing factors between Christ and every other so-called god in all of history. Because Jesus suffered betrayal, denial, physical pain, abuse, abandonment, thirst, and humiliation, He can empathize with our deepest disappointments and sorrows.
That’s why the author of Hebrews says that we have a high priest who can sympathize with all our weaknesses (4:15). Not some. Not many. But ALL. And we need only to go back to Golgotha for assurance of that blessed promise.
Lastly, the cross is a symbol of eternal glory. The author of Hebrews says that Christ endured the cross because of the joy that was awaiting Him (Hebrews 12:2). To Him, the prize of our redemption was worth the painful price.
Passive observers who stood by Golgotha and saw Pilate’s inscription may have thought Jesus had failed. After all, His followers had scattered and His influence was being marred by a cruel, public death. But behind the scenes, demons were fleeing, the gates of hell were collapsing, and the veil between God and man was ripping apart at the seams.
An old writer named Lewis Bayly, whose writings inspired John Bunyan, penned this gripping dialogue in his reflection on Calvary. He writes (my paraphrase):
Soul: Lord, why would You be taken, when You might have escaped Your enemies?
Christ: That your spiritual enemies should not take you.
Soul: Lord, why were you bound?
Christ: That I might loose the cords of your iniquities.
Soul: Lord, why were You lifted up?
Christ: That I might lift you up with Me.
Soul: Lord, why were Your hands and feet nailed?
Christ: To equip your hands for the works of righteousness and to set your feet at liberty.
Soul: Lord, why were Your arms outstretched?
Christ: That I might embrace you more lovingly.
Soul: Lord, why was Your side cut open?
Christ: That you might have a way to come near to My heart.
May we cling to the cross today and all it represents.