In looking at Christ's death on the cross we often find the focus and the emphasis on the hideousness of the death by crucifixion. Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion, was brutal in its portrayal of Christ's death with scenes of scourging that seemed never to end. It was as if Gibson hoped to bring us to Christ in sympathy for the pain He endured and not because of who He is, God Himself.
Yet if you read the Scriptures there are only a handful of verses that mention the brutality. The emphasis is not on the awfulness of His death although the details are certainly laid out for us to read. Instead the emphasis must be on Who died? And why?
This Jesus is not just some nice kindly human being who was born in Bethlehem and lived such an exemplary life that he could die for our sins. He is far, far more. John 1:1-3 points out that Jesus is the Creator God Himself. The disciple John points out in Verse 3 that "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." John 1:10 adds this, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. The apostle Paul states in Colossians 1:16-17 , "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
We're not talking about some simple, kindly human being. We're talking God Himself, come down into mankind, living with us. John 1:14 "And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us...."
As children of Adam we are born in sin. Every one of us. And in our sinful condition we cannot stand before God, neither here nor in heaven. But God Himself offers us Life in Christ. At the cross, our sin penalty was placed on Christ. In exchange, his perfect righteousness was given to us. As a gift. To all who come to Him. To all who believe. To all who are His.
Sometimes I don't feel very righteous. My old sin nature still does battle with the new me. But because of the exchange taken place on the cross, God sees believers as "clean" and "righteous". When we stand before the judgment seat, we have Christ's righteousness as our own. We rest in Christ. (That does not mean that we can live the rest of our lives thinking we need never worry about our daily sin...we are commanded to confess, acknowledge our sins before God and to become obedient to our Lord and Savior, to love Him and to love each other. But we do so because God puts it in our hearts to do so...not because we think it will give us a few extra points in the eyes of God or because we hope to earn some part of the salvation already given us as a gift.)
There are those who point out who put Jesus on the Cross. Jews. Romans. Pontius Pilate. And sometimes we even concede that "we" put Christ on the cross. As if any of us could have done anything of the sort against the Son of God. As if we had that kind of power.
I refer you to John 10:17-18 wherein Jesus himself points out "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."
God is the one who initiates salvation, the one who provides for the fullness of salvation, and who does so on His own authority and for His own glory. Let no man glory in having obtained salvation on his own merit. It is God's doing, beginning to end. Let us bow humbly in thanksgiving before the cross.
Romans 11:33 and 36.