Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
The scene playing in my mind these last few days has put me at the foot of the cross. I’ve been captivated and challenged by how the greatest display of love was perceived as defeat by many onlookers and how the strongest revelation of redemption was seen as pitiful weakness.
I invite you to join me, so to speak, at the foot of the cross, and consider for a moment the sacrifice of Christ and His choice to save us rather than Himself.
The hour has come. Jesus is raised up in the company of criminals on a hill outside Jerusalem. This elevation of the Son of Man for all to see is not for the purpose of being worshipped and adored. Rather, the King of the Jews, naked and bloody, with nails driven into his hands and feet, receives the scorn and ridicule of those passing by. The gospel writers describe the soldiers, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law as those who “yelled insults,” “sneered” and “taunted” Christ. A commentary note connects the language “hurling insults” with “blaspheming.” With disbelief, they scorn the Son of God.
- Those who had rallied together to arrest, accuse, and execute Jesus looked upon the so called “king of the Jews” and saw a humiliating defeat. No true king of Israel would be weak and vulnerable, giving himself up to die. To them, Jesus on the cross was foolishness.
For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. (I Cor. 1:22-25, HCSB)
- The Pharisees’ belief in Jesus was dependent on Him coming down from the cross. To them, this would be a display of true power. And perhaps, some of them would have been convinced and named Jesus as the Son of God. But Jesus knew the glorious miracle His enemies wanted to see would leave us lost forever. True belief, rooted in love, was only possible if He humbled Himself and gave His life.
- The chief priests called out, He saved others but he can’t save himself! (Mark 15:31) Jesus could have halted the anguish and saved Himself from a suffocating death. It was His life to give. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. (John 10:18) Had Jesus refused “the cup” of God’s wrath, our sin would have remained on us. We would be the ones dying for our sin. In remaining on the cross, He proved the incomprehensible love of God for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)
- The mocking crowd shouted for Jesus to prove Himself and “show off” His divine abilities. In those final hours, a greater display of power was unfolding, for Christ was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5) He bore the punishment to grant us peace, and our healing is found in His wounds. Not visible to the human eye, Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice accomplished our redemption and reconciliation.
As I step back from the cross, the weight of Jesus’ love is staggering. His forgiveness and mercy leave me in awe. The upside-down nature of His power and strength offer the deepest healing any of us could long for.
As the cross of Christ was raised, many turned away in contempt; others lamented the loss of their Savior. The minutes passed as darkness took over the region, and still Jesus remained hanging. And here we encounter yet another “upside down” marvel of our salvation, for Christ did not descend from the cross except into the grave. (Wendell Berry) To the very end, Jesus accomplished what no one expected and made a way for new, abundant life that no one deserved.
Jesus died that we may be forgiven. In choosing to surrender His life, He saved ours. Forever.
Hallelujah, what a Savior.