Why the Cross?

DAVID GOFF | APRIL 8, 2020

JOHN 18:1-11, JOHN 19:17-30

 

 He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 19:30

 

We find ourselves in the middle of 7 days, known as Passion Week (Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday). As we move towards Friday, the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross comes into view. Good Friday is a somber & significant time in the lives of many Christians. However, for some of us, the cross has lost its significance in our lives. To this, there is a great danger. When we minimize the cross, we miss the beauty of God’s eternal plan, we forget about his love for us, and we cheapen Christ’s victory on the cross. 

 

In John’s Gospel (John 18:1-11, 19:17-30), he helps us to see the significance of the cross, showing us three compelling truths to reflect on.

 

God’s eternal plan

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (18:11)

 

As soon as Jesus and his disciples entered the Garden in Gethsemane - it becomes clear that Jesus was about to be betrayed and arrested. From a human perspective, it looked like everything was going terribly wrong, and Jesus’ kingdom plans were shattered. Simon Peter tries to take matters into his own hands by drawing a sword and cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant. But Jesus doesn’t respond with a spirit of resistance - but acceptance. Instead, He rebukes Peter by stating, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (18:11). It is here we see Jesus embracing God’s eternal plan and facing the righteous wrath of God.

 

John Stott, in his book, The Cross of Christ, describes the symbolism of the cup:

“… the cup symbolized neither the physical pain of being flogged and crucified, nor the mental distress of being despised and rejected even by his own people, but rather the spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world – in other words, of enduring the divine judgment that those sins deserved.” (The Cross of Christ, 78)

 

As great as the spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world would be; still, Jesus submitted to the plan of this Father. What was taking place wasn’t a mistake - but a perfect plan by God. God was in control over all that transpired that Passion Week.

 

A glorious demonstration of love

“Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way” (18:8)

 

The first example we see of Jesus’ love is during his arrest in the garden. After presenting himself as “Jesus of Nazareth” to the officers, he shows great concern for his disciples by pointing out, “… ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way’” (18:8). Jesus offers himself to the officers and pleads that his disciples would be freed. Despite it being the darkest of days, Jesus put his concern for his friends before himself, showing great love.

 

Even while hanging on the cross, Jesus sees his mother, and disciple John, near the cross and lovingly says, “… “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (19:27). While dying on the cross, we see Jesus’ compassion and love for his mother. Even while he was saving the sins of the world, he wouldn’t neglect his earthly mother.

 

Above all other examples, the most glorious demonstration of the love of God is that he gave his son as a sacrifice. In the song, O How He Loves You and Me, the work of the cross is so clearly stated, “He gave His life, what more could He give.” It is on the cross that Jesus died the death you and I deserved. What more could he give than his life?

 

The decisive victory over sin

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (19:30)

In his last words on the cross, Jesus loudly proclaimed these words, “It is finished!” It was a shout of victory. What Jesus accomplished on the cross wasn’t achievable by the repeated sacrifices in the Old Testament. The author of Hebrews affirms this by stating, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). It was only the precious blood of Christ that was valuable enough to achieve the decisive victory over sin, death, and Satan. It completed the work His father gave him. (John 17:4)

We need to avoid the mistake of forgetting about the cross. When we minimize the cross, we miss the beauty of God’s eternal plan, we forget about his love for us, and we cheapen Christ’s victory. During this Passion Week, don’t miss the opportunity to remember what Christ has done for you.

 

Have you ever turned from your sins? Have you embraced Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Putting your trust in Him will be the best decision you will ever make.

 

 

David Goff is the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Washington MI