The Cross of Christ
The Old Testament contains well over one hundred distinct prophecies about Jesus. If we look at some of the events of Jesus’ crucifixion, we see amazing things take place so that Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled to the smallest detail.
Isaiah prophesied, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed Him not” (Is. 53:3). This prophecy was fulfilled in John 1:10-11 where it says, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own and His own people did not receive Him.”
Isaiah again prophesied, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before it’s shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Is. 53:7). This was again fulfilled in Mark 15:3-5, “And the chief priests accused Him of many things. And Pilate again asked Him, ‘Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.”
Jesus was crucified by the Roman authorities, who were governing Palestine at the time because He was perceived to be a political threat. The Romans allowed a certain amount of rule by the Jews, but they did not permit them to carry out the death penalty, so the Jews did not actually have the authority to put Jesus to death. The only thing they could do was take Him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, and ask him to carry out the execution.
To have the Romans execute Christ was important to fulfilling prophecy because the Jews executed by stoning, while the Romans executed by crucifixion. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 says” And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”
In the midst of the intensity of the darkness, Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” As Christ hung on the cross bearing our sin, the Father turned His back. Jesus took the curse on Himself and identified Himself with our sin, becoming a curse for us, cut off from God. They had enjoyed being in a perfect, blessed relationship before this throughout His ministry, but now bearing the sin of God’s people, He was forsaken by God.
He became a curse for us so that one day we will be able to see the face of God. The hard reality is this: if Jesus was not forsaken on the cross, we are still in our sins. We would have no redemption or salvation. The whole point of the cross was for Jesus to bear our sins and bear the curse that we deserve. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father and endured the curse for us so we, His people, would be able to experience a relationship with the Father.
So, what does the cross of Christ mean to us today? The cross is a great contradiction. Death and life, hate and love, violence and peace, sin and purity, destruction and restoration, defeat and victory. Once the cruellest forms of execution, yet now a symbol of abundant life.
The cross is love. Jesus did not die because it was forced upon Him. It was a choice, a choice made in love.
The cross is also personal. God reached down to us. Christ died so we could know Him; so our relationship with Him could be restored.
The cross is willful humility. Philippians 2:8 says, “He humbled himself”—referring to the idea of lying low. Jesus lowered Himself not only relative to God, but also to other men. He was mocked, falsely accused, spat upon, beaten with fists and scourged. Yet, He was never defensive, never bitter, never demanding, never accusing. He refused to assert His rights as God or even as a human being.
“Becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8), His perfect submission took him all the way to death, because that was His Father’s will. The Father did not force death upon the Son. It was the Father’s will, but it was the Son’s will to perfectly obey the Father always.
The cross is final. We all need the cross; we are all sinners. We don’t have to carry our sins; Jesus has taken them and paid for them. The debt is paid. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:7-10).