The Power of the Cross
In an endeavor to understand more precisely the work accomplished on the cross, I find myself steeped in a world of terrible darkness. Individuals are desperately seeking a sense of belonging through harmful relationships, pursuing satisfaction through the prospects of large checks, and attempting to escape this miserable reality with drugs and alcohol. Locks on every door give the inhabitants an illusion of security from the despair that permeates the atmosphere outside. Families are ripped apart by divorce, cancer, infidelity, abuse, homicide, suicide, and a variety of other tragic circumstances. After decades of hard work, the words of the Preacher ring true for those who have labored: "All is vanity and striving after the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:14). In even the happiest of people, desperation is palpable.
All of this depravity harkens back to a beautiful garden marred by the destructiveness of sin. The one God-given rule was easy enough to follow, yet the temptation to rebel proved impossible to resist. As Adam and Eve stood dressed in the wool God provided, they stared at the pool of blood required to obtain it. As the ground tasted blood for the first time in its existence, Adam and Eve understood the sacrifice required to cover their shame in God's eyes. Yet this tragically beautiful event serves only as a picture of the true salvation to come. Adam and Eve understood the symbolism, as they eagerly awaited the day the Lord would crush the serpent's head through the woman's seed.
2,000 years ago the One was born who would crush the enemy for good. Our shame, our desperation, our rebellion, would all be washed away in the outpouring of His life. Although our "certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us" stood miles long, Colossians 2 tells us He canceled it by nailing it to the cross. In doing so, the power of sin and death that reigned over our lives--slavery to futile attempts at satisfaction--was not only demolished, but publicly humiliated by the Savior's triumphant sacrifice.
As His blood fell to the ground, the just God was able to justify the wicked. We who were removed from God because of our sinfulness are told in Romans 3 that Christ's sacrifice results in our justification through faith. We have been reconciled, purchased, redeemed, by the blood of Jesus.
When He breathed His last, the temple veil was torn from top to bottom, signifying the end of God's separation from man. Christ, who is the mercy seat, covered our sins with His blood; "therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Rather than looking down and seeing our disgusting immorality, the holy God sees the blood of His perfect Son. This radical forgiveness is only made possible by the blood-soaked ground beneath the cross at Calvary. As the ground drank the blood of the only perfect man to ever live, the wrath of God was appeased; as a result, we who were by nature children of wrath can now be called sons and daughters of the King.
The most beautiful aspect of the cross is its merely temporary power to mortally wound. Three days after the wooden beams and dirty nails extracted nearly every remaining ounce of blood from that Jewish man from Nazareth, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords emerged from the tomb with scars on His wrists and the gospel in His mouth, proclaiming release to those long held captive by sin. Those who believe will be with Him for an eternity, forever basking in His glory and grace.
We must never forget the power of the cross. The blood that was spilled was unlike anything ever experienced in the history of mankind. Every Jewish sacrifice bore witness to its significance. The prophets longed to see the day the Savior would say, "It is finished" (John 19:30). That dark day at Calvary produced the single most beautiful series of events ever to occur. All of history leading up to that day and everything since revolves around those bloodied beams and empty tomb. We no longer have to live in desperation, slavery, and fear, "for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).