God Revealed in Jesus Christ on the Cross (Lent Series, Week 6)
Read Matthew 27:32-44
Jesus Christ is God. He is the incarnation – the assumption of human form and nature – of a loving, forgiving, selfless, and powerful God who reigns in heaven and desires all men to share eternity with him. These truths can be found in all of Scripture, in the lives of his followers, and in particular here: in Jesus on the cross.
“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” There’s some truth to this quote by James Lane Allen, an American novelist. If you want to see what people are really like, watch them when life is difficult, when they are in pain, when they are facing death. During the first century there was no greater physical adversity than Roman crucifixion. The role of Roman executioners was not to simply kill you; their role was to make dying a long and excruciatingly painful experience. Their goal was to make you wish you were dead, long before you actually were.
I don’t write this to hyperbolize. I write this to help you understand a kind of pain that very few people have experienced. It was the kind of adversity that rather than reveal your character, could create a new one. Torture will make the most loving and selfless person hate his enemy and experience and spew vitriol as deep and caustic as his pain. This is why the cross does not only lead to the death necessary to save us, but reveals to us the heart of the God who saves us.
Here are the words of Jesus, beaten and bloodied, uttered from the cross on which he died:
“Father, forgive them.” (Luke 23:34)
“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
“Dear woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26)
God not only preaches forgiveness, he gives it. God not only desires for all men to have eternal life, he grants it. God not only commands us to think of others first, he does it.
Hanging from a tree by his own bones, his skin and muscle ripped off his back, and thorns piercing his temples, the character of God was truly uncovered. And the criminal next to him who became the first beneficiary of the new covenant, spoke for all of us to hear, the even more miraculous truth of that painfully revealing event: “We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” (Luke 23:41)
Have you ever known a love like this? It is your sin that leads to death. It is my body that deserves ruthless pain and torture. It is your disobedience that flagrantly mocks the Holy God. It is my sinfulness that causes others pain and leads them astray. Yet it was HE – innocent Jesus – who was spit on, stripped, beaten, whipped, and hammered by stake to the splintered wood of a hastily cut tree. JESUS. Not you. Not me.
This is the character of God revealed in all his beauty. This is the God we serve. This is the God who has saved us and loved us.
Read 1 Peter 2:24….“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
With the emphases I added, what does this verse say about our salvation? Who is responsible?
Check out the first post in our Lenten devotional here.
This was an excerpt from Easter is Coming, a Devotional Journey with Jesus. For all six weeks of Lent devotionals, please download the e-book here.
Spend some time expressing your gratitude to him – in prayer, song, art, written words – or any way you like.
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