The Meaning of the Cross

by Kelsey McKay

Why did He die? How does His death fit into God’s plan? Just a couple of questions I once asked myself and now I know His death was planned by God “In accordance with his own plan God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed Him by letting sinful men crucify Him.” Acts 2:23 And this plan was made before He even created the world. He died in order to pay the ransom for our sins, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; He cam to serve and to give His life to redeem many people.” Mark 10:45. Jesus willingly offered His life as a sacrifice for our sins. No one took His life from him. He came that He might put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

In fact, the death of Jesus was the main reason why He cam to earth. On a number of occasions in John’s Gospel he said that His special hour of activity had not arrived (refer to John 2:4, 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20) But when the week of His death arrived, then Jesus said that “The Hour” had come. The death of Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament (Ps 22, 15, 53). The death of Jesus is emphasized because it is at the very center of God’s plan.

The importance of Jesus’ death is seen by the fact that one third of the Gospels deal with one week in which He died. Without His death, there would be no salvation “Salvation is to be found through Him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.” Acts 4:12. There would be no means by which we could come to God. His death is the major theme of worship in heaven. (Rev. 5:9)

The purpose of the death of Jesus was that He, Himself, would carry the load of our sin and receive from God the judgment we deserve. His death was a substitutionary sacrifice to propitiate God, provide forgiveness of sins, redeem mankind and reconcile human beings to God.

In the Old Testament animals were sacrificed in the place of sinners. This was substitution. In the same way Jesus died as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. He, “The Just” died for the “unjust”. For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually. (1Peter 3:18)

A major significance of Jesus’ death is that it turned aside the just wrath of God against sin. This is what is meant by the statement Jesus was the propitiation for our sins. While on the cross, Jesus endured God’s judgment against sin and satisfied God’s righteous anger against sin. The sacrifice was made to God and His claims were met.

So, through Jesus we can be reconciled to God. Because of our sin, there was hostility between ourselves and God. Jesus made peace by His death. He has made it possible for us to have fellowship and peace with God. “Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

The death of Jesus was at God’s loving initiative, He sent His only begotten Son. When Jesus died, He endured the wrath and judgment of God. He was “forsaken” in the hours of darkness. It was not the nails which were the penalty of sin; it was God’s judgment. The Holy One became sin, the Eternal One died, the One who had been in perfect fellowship with His Father was forsaken. The work of salvation was between God and His Son. This was the death of the Son of God! So, lift up your voice, lay your burdens down and put all your trust in the Cross, for what He died for upon that cross is our salvation.

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