The Cross: A Spectacle of Evil and the Triumph of Love

I have been meditating on the Cross, and particularly the question of suffering. Why the torture? Then I remembered this very profound meditation on the Cross, written by a dear brother I knew only as “BB”. I edited it slightly for greater emphasis to the question he answers very well.

Why was Jesus tortured so? Didn’t the law simply demand ‘death’ as the wages of sin? Why such a torture and why such pain? Why permit such suffering? We know that God’s wrath is poured out against sin so why wasn’t the lamb tortured?

When we go back in Scripture we see God calling for a lamb to be slain and its blood put on the door of the house where believers lived. Then when He instituted the sanctuary services, at the very center was a little lamb slain. This slain lamb was at the very center of Israel’s worship and reconciliation with God through forgiveness of sins. But we NEVER find the lamb tortured. It was killed as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

So, if the lamb in the OT symbolized the Lamb of God, Jesus, why wasn’t Jesus killed quickly and as painlessly as possible? Why wasn’t Jesus simply slashed with a knife? Wouldn’t that have sufficed to pay for sins? Why did the Father allow such brutality?

We can only understand the reason for the torture when we step back from the cross and realize more was going on at the cross and a death for sins. As important and as crucial as that is for you and me and all who want to be forgiven and live forever, there was something else going on at the cross.

Colossians 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them at the cross.”

We find in this verse the mention of a ‘public spectacle’ of the principalities and powers. What was it that God exposed about evil? What else was going on at the cross that was important to God? What is this public spectacle Paul writes about?

(As well as making atonement for sins at the Cross) …God was also making a demonstration, first of the true nature and character of evil and also of the true nature and character of His great great love for His creatures, angels and mankind.

Now once we see the cross as a ‘public spectacle’ and ‘demonstration of the true nature and character of both evil and love we can understand why Jesus was tortured as He was.

A DEMONSTRATION OF THE TRUE NATURE OF EVIL

Jesus clearly foretold to His disciples that He would as a Good Shepherd lay down His life for the sheep. He said it five times in John 10. Then on His way to Jerusalem He kept telling them that the Son of Man would put Himself into the hands of evil men. This happened in Gethsemane, but not after Jesus had prepared Himself for His trials and tortures by praying until He was strengthened from above.

As soon as they took Him they bound Him. All night long they hit Him and spit on Him. Then they whipped Him with a whip full of bone and metal ripping the flesh. They pressed thorns into his head and then nailed Him on wood to hang in agony until He died.

This horrible torture was a demonstration, a public spectacle of Satan his evil nature.
He first entered Judas to betray Him.
He was in those who tried him.
He was in those who beat Him and whipped Him.
He was in those who mocked him and pressed thorns into His head.
He was in those who nailed him to a tree and in those who stood by mocking Him.

In all of this the true nature of evil was clearly demonstrated and put on display as a public spectacle. Jesus was without sin and was absolutely innocent. The devil had nothing on Christ and this torture completely unwarranted.

Satan of course was putting the human nature of Christ under tremendous pressure to use His divine powers to heal His own pain and deliver Himself from the torture. Jesus was under tremendous temptation to call for 12 legions of angels to save Him. This is why he was tortured so.

THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE TRUE NATURE OF LOVE

The cross was more than a demonstration of the true nature and character of evil and Satan. It was also a demonstration of God’s love that proved without a doubt that He can be absolutely trusted.

John wrote: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1

What is the MANNER of love the Father has bestowed upon us? This “manner of love” was a sacrificial love! What is the greatest kind or manner of love anyone can show? Isn’t it sacrificial love? What greater love could anyone show than a sacrifice that involves death? And how much greater is that love when it involved such torture and suffering?

Here is the way Paul put it:

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7,8

Our God and Father demonstrated for all time that He loves His creatures so much that He was willing to sacrifice His form AND allow Himself to be despised and rejected and led as a Lamb to the slaughter and torture.

“So His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men… I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” – Isa. 52:14; 50:6.

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” -Isaiah 53:10

How did it please God to allow His Son to be brutalized and killed the way He was? It can only be because God wanted to demonstrate the true nature and character of evil and at the same time demonstrate His great great love that can be absolutely trusted.

Beholding this sacrificial love of our Father and His Son we are astonished and amazed. We sing with the angels who know this ‘manner of love’ better than us since they know His glory. With them we sing, “Glory to God in the highest.”

9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“ You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice:

“ Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“ Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.” -Revelation 5

So let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise and worship with thanksgiving. As long as we have breath, let us praise the Lord!

And let us allow this God full of sacrificial love, willing to do anything it takes for the creatures He loves, to live in us. Let us offer up our bodies as ‘living sacrifices’ that He might live in us which is “our reasonable service”. Let us continue to demonstrate to sinners how much He loves them and how much He can be trusted. Let us walk in the Spirit and the Light so the dark, violent, hateful nature of sin and evil can be exposed and again made a public spectacle as we love not our lives unto the death to the glory of God.

May we desire to know nothing but “Christ and Him crucified”.

“God forbid we glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Galatians 6:14

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14 Comments on “The Cross: A Spectacle of Evil and the Triumph of Love”

  1. Harry Says:

    The part about satan not wanting the Lord to redeem us does not make sense as the word clearly states that had satan know he would not have crucified our Lord

    • Karen Butler Says:

      I have done a word search for that passage I think you are referring to Harry, I Corinthians 2:8, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”, and was unable to locate that word in Strongs. In my ESV Study Bible the notes say the words “rulers of this age” probably refer to the earthly rulers such as the Jewish chief priests and Pilate. But I don’t want to argue.

      So I have deleted this passage,
      Satan didn’t want to see sinners saved and Jesus replace Him as Ruler of this Earth. Satan knew that if Jesus was allowed to render a perfect sacrifice as the Law required of the lamb slain, then it was over for him.

      from the text, as I don’t want to distract from the central point of the piece.

      I remember BB distinctly as a gracious man who loved a good debate, so if someone who knows him wants to alert him about the integrity of his theology, perhaps he will hasten over here to defend his position. And I’ll put it right back in. I would welcome that so long as I’m not involved in the debate. I’m only going to argue when children’s welfare, their very lives are at stake, as in the case of Michael Pearl.

      But I’m out of here, I need to attend to my garden and my own children. And the farmer’s market filled with ripe strawberries awaits.

      • debonnaire Says:

        Hi brethren

        great article !

        the scripture in 1 Corinthians 2 does not say
        that the princes of this world did not know that Jesus was the prince of glory.
        ….. but only that they did not knew the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which should be the same than which Paul speaks in Colossians 1 :
        Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints ,to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

    • onesimus Says:

      Harry,
      It is clear that Satan did not understand the consequences of what he was doing.

      I tend to think that Satan misunderstood what was happening – for the same reason that the majority of Jews rejected their Messiah.
      Their expectation was for a King who would come and establish His Kingdom on earth. They were not expecting someone to come and die.
      Perhaps Satan saw he could prevent this Kingdom being established if he could kill its King.
      What Satan did not see, was that there were two parts to God’s plan; but he certainly found he was mistaken when Jesus was raised from the dead three days later.

      And what of that prophesied Kingdom on earth that caused the confusion?

      That is still scheduled for the future and all prophecy relating to that Kingdom will be fulfilled when Jesus returns.

  2. onesimus Says:

    An insightful article.
    I’ve included a link to it on my blog.

    Tim

  3. BB Says:

    Wow, Karen Butler has her own blog. PTL! May he use it to His honor and glory.

    Thanks to Tim for his kindness in making me aware of this posting.

    As to the issue Harry raised: How much did Satan know about Jesus and what He was here to do?

    He was in the garden was he not when God said that the Seed of the woman would crush his head. So he knew that a human would be born in order to defeat him. How much did he know about HOW God would do it? It’s a good question. It depends on how good a Bible student Satan really is. Did he understand for instance the prophecy in Isaiah 53? Did he grasp what God taught in the sanctuary about a slain Lamb? I don’t know.

    What I do know is that the demons knew who Jesus was and said so. Mark 1:24 “I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” So Satan knew who Jesus was.

    He had to see that Jesus was trusting and totally depending upon His Father when He wouldn’t turn the stone into bread. Satan continued to tempt Him to use His powers but Jesus had to live by faith.

    He had to have heard Jesus tell His disciples that He would be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and rise on the third day.

    Jesus was going to be arrested and tried and killed. The Jewish leaders wanted Him dead. I believe that Satan had no choice but do everything in his power to cause Christ to fail. His only ‘hope’ was to cause Christ to use His supernatural powers to help Himself, or to call upon the angels to help Him.

    I believe the temptation of Jesus was real. How could Jesus experience such pain the whole time having the power and authority to deliver Himself or just to ease His pain.

    That is why I believe the excruciating torture was of Satan. And it is why Jesus prayer in Gethsemane was so intense. It was in prayer that He found the power to handle temptation.

    Does this help?

    God bless you all one and all and may our Lord bless this blog to His Name’s honor and glory.

    • Karen Butler Says:

      I knew you would ably defend your position! You are so skilled at making difficult points clear.

      Welcome, BB, I am so happy to speak with you again. Thank you for your blessing–and I hope you visit again! You will probably see recipes in the summer months, when I have more time.

  4. onesimus Says:

    sorry Karen,
    I should have added: feel free to delete these off topic comments after you’ve read them.

    Tim

    • Karen Butler Says:

      Tim, (Onesimus)

      Whoops! I misssed deleting your comment in good time. My computer spent the past two days in treatment for malware, whilst we Butlers have been suffering with digestive upset unrelated to taxtime.

      Because I was up with a vomiting little boy, I am too tired to come up with my own words, so here is a trenchant exhortation taken from today’s teaching with Alistair Begg. In dealing with the thorny topic of physical healing, he made this lovely reminder, so helpful to me in my dismay (observing my two good buddies still at it one year later!) Since it is wholly apropos, I transcribe it here.

      “If we read of our… church heroes set in opposition to one another in exegeting texts…

      Here is the principle: the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. When things are cloudy, are not crystal clear, beware of a genius telling you he knows exactly what it means, trying to convince you of his or her view. And rest content that all you need for life and godliness, for pursuing God, and engaging in our encouragement of one another, is made perfectly plain to us in the Bible.

      And finally, when we’ve stopped seeing through a glass darkly, and we see face to face, when we know, even as we are known, then presumably somewhere in this new heaven and new earth… in a way that is really hard to imagine, we’re going to get a chance to sit down with these people and say…”what in the world were you thinking? and he’ll say, “you always were an intellectual pygmy, Begg, and you should have paid attention to my commentary.
      And I’ll say that is definitely true, that is definitely true…”

      Lets live with eternity in mind, and determine to say, that we know nothing for certain, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

  5. BB Says:

    Hi Tim. We have a serious difference of opinion on the future of the nation of Israel. It’s not personal until a personal attack is made. Many believe like you do and you are a good spokesman for the position. Why would that stop me from posting on this blog? I like Karen and her great recipes. 😉

    Bob Brown
    Cape May, N.J.

    • Karen Butler Says:

      BB,

      I think in fairness to Tim, I will say that in the comment I deleted he did not say that you would not want to post here, just that you would not be interested in his good opinion of your post…He actually put this article on his blog.

      He actually said, “And he would probably have no interest in what I thought of the article you posted.”

      I recommend that you two pay more attention to the other’s comments! So in that vein, please read the comment that I made to Tim, quoting Alistair Begg.

  6. onesimus Says:

    Karen quoted: “the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things”

    Very true!!!
    But too often it is the plain things that are reinterpreted to change that plain meaning.
    It is always my aim to accept scripture according to its plainest and clearest meaning.

    When something is not so clear I put it aside and don’t try to force any understanding out of it. I have described my view of understanding scripture by comparing it with understanding mathematics. We can’t expect to understand advanced mathematical concepts until we’ve first gained an understanding of basic arithmetic. We would get into all kinds of trouble if we tried to apply the advanced concepts before the foundations had been established.

    With bible study we are often too impatient and rather than trust the Holy Spirit to give us understanding WHEN WE ARE READY FOR IT – we often seek understanding from other sources and easily fall for someone else’s error.

    I have observed that all areas of major doctrinal controversy arise and are perpetuated when people turn primarily to man’s teaching and get caught up in man’s wisdom. This is usually revealed by constant reference to the teachings of men to support a view being held rather than refering to the clear and plain word of scripture.


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