Posted in theology

O, the cross!

By Elizabeth Prata

I used to think that God was ineffectual. I didn’t want to worship Him because He had failed in His plan (something about sin, whatever that was) and Jesus ended up dying. Other times I thought that God had to make a Plan B with Jesus dying on the cross because Plan A had failed. These were the thoughts of a lost person. But that was how it looked to me.

Then by His magnificent grace, I was saved. The cross is so central to everything, absolutely everything in life. It splits history. It divides between lost and saved. It demarcates eternal destinations. It is glory or doom, lawlessness or holiness. It is pain and joy, wrath or welcome. O, the wonder of the cross!

As a very new convert, I used to think the cross was just in a few of the Gospels and the rest of the Bible was, well, the Bible. No. The cross is everywhere in the word of God, pointing to it, foreshadowing it, depicting it, or memorializing it. See this description of how important the cross is, by John MacArthur in his sermon Players in the Drama of the Cross, part 1, by John MacArthur:

Because of the importance of the cross, it is previewed in the garden, when God killed a sacrifice to cover a naked Adam and Eve - naked after they had sinned. It is previewed in the promise, moments after the fall and the curse, when God reveals that a man would come who would be wounded by Satan, but who would crush Satan’s head. The cross is previewed in Abel’s acceptable sacrifice. The cross is forecast in the ark that saved eight souls. The cross is seen in the sacrificial animal that was found in the place of Isaac on Mount Moriah.

The cross is in view in the Passover lambs that were slaughtered in Egypt, whose death and blood protected the families from divine judgment. The cross is portrayed in the smitten rock in the wilderness which gave forth water to the thirsty people. The cross is previewed in the serpent lifted up in the desert for healing. The cross can be seen in the action of Boaz, the kinsman redeemer. The cross is anticipated in all Levitical sacrifices.

And the cross is explicitly prophesied in detail in Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and Zechariah 12, even down to the very things that happened to Jesus and the very words He said. When John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Messiah, he said, “He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Everybody knew that a lamb was only useful and acceptable to God if it was killed. John the Baptist knew, then, that the Messiah had to die. They all knew; that was what the Old Testament made clear.

Revelation 13 - and though it’s at the end of the Bible, takes us even before Scripture and before creation - Revelation 13 says that Jesus was “the lamb slain before the foundation of the world,” meaning that the plan for the death of Christ was pre-creation. This is not a good idea gone bad; this is what has been planned from eternity past. The cross alone provides the penitent believer in Christ with the forgiveness of all his sins forever, and the promise of eternal heaven and eternal joy.

Understanding this - the significance of the cross, the sweeping breadth of its truth - no wonder we sing so many songs about the cross, right? The cross and the resurrection is the supreme testimony to God’s goodness, His saving love, His righteousness, His grace, His mercy, His wisdom, His justice, His holiness, and every other attribute. That is why all four gospel writers end their histories of Jesus with the details concerning His death and resurrection; this is the high point of all history. ~end MacArthur

This is Passion Week, the week of the cross. It is a method of execution devised by Romans so evil, so painful, so humiliating, that it was impolite to even mention it in society, never mind die on it. And yet our sinless Savior chose to humble himself, even to death on a cross, in order to fulfill the will of the Father so as to accept His gift of a redeemed Bride.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Romans 10:9).


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.