Archive for the ‘The Scandal of the Cross’ category

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

April 8, 2010

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