God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not die but have eternal life (John 3:16, NEB).
The Cross is of God. Before it ever appeared as a visible torture, it was an invisible burden on the heart of God. Man may bypass the Cross, but our Lord would have us look at it from God’s point of view. When we do so, what should we see? First of all:
I. The Method of Atonement. To us this Old Testament term means reconciliation with God, made possible by the death of his Son. Christ took upon himself the sin of the world, and became obedient unto death. He did so to reconcile the world unto God. Thus the Atonement becomes the gateway into the Kingdom.
II. The Power of Surrender. Jesus could have summoned twelve legions of angels to set him free. Instead he yielded to his Father’s will, took the cup, and saved the world. The night he was seized our Lord prayed: “For their sakes I consecrate myself.” That prayer was for his disciples then. It is for his disciples now. Through his giving of himself, we have the blessed opportunity to give ourselves daily, one by one.
III. The Channel of Discipleship. “If any man would come after me, let him take up his cross.” To each of us abandonment of self to the eternal God for the sake of others is the meaning of the Cross. Hence the believer sings: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
IV. The Doorway to Eternal Life. The Cross, writes John Milton, “is the key that unlocks the gate of glory.” “It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29, RSV). Here Paul says it is a wonderful joy to know the Lord, but an even greater joy to have the privilege of bearing a cross, of being a suffering disciple. Only through that shadow can you come into the light of eternal life.
Christ gave himself for us, one by one. His death brings us life, here and forever. This is what God would have us see at Golgotha.
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