Chapter 44 The Cross Of Christ

The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).

The Lord God, in sending forth His beloved Son into our humanity, has set down a new kind of man. This new man is not just better than other men but altogether different from other men. It is as though God has said—“This is the Man I had in view from all eternity and every man must conform to His image.”

Satan is against that kind of man. So when our Lord was manifested as the prototype of the man who alone could please God, Satan put forth all his skill and power to destroy that pattern Man. That alone explains the terrific drive of evil powers to hound Him to death. It was a tidal wave of evil and all its billows were to sweep over the head of God’s Beloved.

But behind this seeming on-drive of evil there was “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). The cross was God’s plan. It was designed to provide a foreseen fallen man with the means of conformity to His Son, and so a man in whom He could find satisfaction and delight. Only the cross could make that possible.

The Cross Dealt with Rebellious Sin

Sin is the trouble—not sins as such. Sins are the fruit which spring from the root of sin. Sin is something far deeper than our wrongdoings whether of omission or commission. Our sins are only the crop or harvest from the seed of sin. Sin is lawlessness or rebellion against God, and that rebellion was in the universe before man appeared. It began in the heart of one who afterwards became known as Satan, and it took place in the realm where God is. It probably arose from Lucifer’s jealousy over the purposes of God concerning His Son whom He had appointed “Heir of all things.”

Man, by yielding to Satan, identified himself with the same spirit of rebellion and lawlessness. Man became lawless by yielding to the lawless Satan. So this whole matter of rebellion began in Satan as Lucifer and then spread to a host of angels who entered into complicity with him. It then came into our humanity through the wiles of Satan and one man’s disobedience to God’s single command of prohibition. Thus the once perfect and innocent man became a tottering reed. When sin entered, innocence expired. It followed that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

The meaning of the cross is that God, in the sufferings and death of His Beloved, dealt with that rebellion. All sin is really the activity of Satan—not simply our weakness or failing or fault. It is a Satanic working in us. There is a whole system of evil behind all human sin which is rebellion against God. It was for this that our Lord was led as a “lamb to the slaughter,” which is the very opposite of a rebellious spirit. These two elements came in combat at the cross, and the Lamb of God overcame and sin was dealt with.

The Cross Offered a Righteous Sacrifice

Righteousness is the very nature of God. That is something utterly pure and transparent. There is no mixture in it-nothing which needs to be skimmed off—nothing which contains dregs which have to be rejected. From top to bottom God’s nature is clear as crystal and absolute in its purity. God abhors mixtures as you see in the prohibitions under the law. “Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together”—“Thou shalt not plough with an ox and ass together.” These prohibitions illustrate how God hates the mixture of righteousness and unrighteousness. The cross answers God’s demand for righteousness. Thus it was that the Lord Jesus “offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14). There is no blemish in our Lord. The offering of Himself was absolute in its purity, and altogether satisfied the holy nature of God. Here was righteousness and God attested to it.

The Cross Bore a Necessary Judgment

Judgment is more than mere penalty. The best definition is found in Daniel’s interpretation of what God said in the case of Belshazzar when at his drunken feast he saw the handwriting on the wall. First—“thou art weighed in the balances”; secondly—“and art found wanting”; thirdly—“thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:27, 28).

It is this judgment which our Lord bore for us on Calvary’s cross. God dealt fully with all human sin in that cross. Our Lord was put in the place which we deserved and to which we belonged. He was made “sin for us … that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

O Love divine! what hast Thou done?
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree;
The immortal God for us hath died!
My Lord, my Love, is crucified.

Behold Him, all ye that pass by,
The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Maker die,
And say, Was ever grief like His?
Come, feel with me His blood applied:
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God:
Believe, believe the record true,
Ye all are bought with Jesu’s blood,
Pardon for all flows from His side:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified.

—Charles Wesley