Laying The Foundation Of The Cross

cross of christSometimes the things we think we know the most about can be the things we actually know the least about. The Cross of Jesus Christ is just one of those things. It’s something we’ve read about and heard about, many of us, all our lives. One consequence of this familiarity, is a diminished sense of needing to know more. And so the ancient Christian discipline of meditating on the Cross rises to its deserved place of prominence only periodically through history, usually during times of persecution.
For those in bondage to sin, (isn’t that everyone?) meditating on the Cross is one of the most powerful means of finding permanent freedom and transformation for the soul -i.e., sanctification.
Let’s go back to the first image of the Cross, and what it is all about. Numbers 21:8-9:
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Num 21:8–9 KJV)
How do we know that this event prefigured the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary? The answer is found in John 3:14-15:
"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life."

And later in John 6:40:
"For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day."

And so, all the way back to the day of Moses, we see a picture of God’s provision of saving grace on the Cross. As the Israelites were bitten by the snake (a reference to sin and the embodiment of evil - Satan) and were healed (the Greek word for “healed” is the same word for “saved”), so when we are bitten by the snake (-i.e., when we are bitten by the evil of sin), we have only to look to Jesus on the Cross to be saved. You see, Jesus became evil for us, as it says in 2 Cor 5:21:
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us..."

On the Cross, Jesus took upon Himself all of the evil of the world, temporarily becoming sin on our behalf, (becoming the snake on the pole prefigured back in Moses day), so as to receive into Himself the wrath of God against sin that we deserved. And as odd as it sounded in Moses day, it is still foolishness to the world, that as we look upon Jesus, who became the personification of evil on the Cross, we too are healed - saved from the bite of the snake.
And so, the Cross is a picture of the continuous provision of grace that God has provided through the death of His Son Jesus Christ. And it is this provision of grace, during this dispensation of grace, that gives hope for those who have sinned to the point where they believe they are hopeless. It wrests from Satan one of his most effective tools of bondage - condemnation. Now, for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation!
These are among the most known and understood elements to the Cross and to our shame they have often become truths too familiar and therefore undervalued and underappreciated. But believe it or not, the meaning behind the Cross only just starts there. Let me share with you some of the revelations that await the person who sits alone with God and asks Him to reveal some of the deeper levels of truth that lie hidden behind the Cross.
First, in the Cross, we see the evil of sin.
Jesus was innocent! He was pure and perfect love and obedience. There could not have a been a less deserving object of punishment in all the universe than Jesus of Nazareth. And when you see in your reading of the accounts of our Lord’s passion and in your meditations on those scriptures, your humble, loving Savior suffering the torture of crucifixion, your heart is naturally drawn to Him. In those moments of deeper revelation, a fire of love for Him is ignited. When you see all of the forces of evil coming against the lamb of God, the innocent sacrifice for sin, you become naturally drawn into wanting to join forces with Him. It’s the same phenomena that occurs when watching a news story of the suffering of innocent people. Your heart goes out to them. You want to help them. You love them all the more because of the identification that you find in their pain and the understanding and appreciation that brings to your heart at the thought of them. And so it is when we see the evil of sin coming against the pure and innocent lover of our souls. In the starkness of that contrast, we see more clearly just how evil, sin is and are thereby persuaded all the more not to compromise with it any more.
Second, in the Cross, we see the love of God.
Jesus didn’t have to die on that Cross! He didn’t even have to become a man and live among us. He could’ve just told this rebellious world where to go and washed His hands of the lot of us. That’s what I would have done! Instead, He chose to love us. He chose to temporarily divest Himself of His divine prerogatives and pour out His life in one horrendous cry of love for mankind. And what is more, He asked His Father to pour out all of the punishment of Hell against Him instead of against you and me - those who would love Him in return. And when we see the love of God poured out for us on the Cross, we cannot help but love Him in return. It is then that Romans 5:5 comes true:
The Love of God is Shed Abroad in our Hearts.
It is literally true, that we love Him because He first loved us. The ability to truly love is not resident within our fallen hearts, but must be imparted. This impartation occurs when we stop and take the time to meditate on God’s love for us and allow Him to deepen our understanding of that love.
Third, in the Cross, we see the power of God.
God went as far out of His way as He could to position Himself in a state of abject weakness - not an easy task for a being who is omnipotent! The scriptures tells us in Philippians 2 that Jesus “made Himself nothing”, “a servant”. In Acts 8:32 it says He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. In every way possible, through His silence upon being accused, through his knowingly walking into the lions den, Jesus took for Himself the weakest possible posture that a man could take. He did so on purpose. His weak posture was a declaration of the power of God, because in God’s moment of greatest weakness - on the Cross - He utterly destroyed the power of evil. In other words, God at His weakest is so powerful that evil at its strongest is utterly vanquished. There is no power but God! The power of evil is as nothing before Him. When God decides to move, the contest is immediately over. No evil plan will prosper, no evil person will succeed, no evil devil will gain even the slightest advantage over our God. He is all powerful and the gates of Hell cannot prevail against Him.
When we see the awesome power of God displayed on that Cross, we are drawn to cling to Him even more. We are weak, but He is strong. We are vulnerable, but He is omnipotent and the protector of our souls. Everyone, in one way or another, is drawn to power and there is only one true source of it - God Almighty! In the weakness of His Son, it springs forth and destroys all His enemies.
Finally, in the Cross, we see the genius of God.
You see, Satan thought he had outsmarted God. At the Cross, he thought he was having his finest hour, when in fact, he was having his final hour! At his most genius, Satan committed one of the most foolish acts the kingdom of darkness has ever seen or ever will see. In his grand attempt to destroy the Savior of the world and thwart God’s plan to redeem mankind, Satan did the very thing that brought about the redemption of mankind, giving Jesus His finest hour! In the genius of God, He allowed Satan himself to unwittingly orchestrate the redemption of mankind. It was Satan himself who stirred up the hearts of the Jews and the Romans to crucify the Son of Glory. And in so doing, he became a prime contributor to the very thing he was trying to prevent - the redemption of men to God and the creation to its Creator.
Not only that, but at the Cross, Satan signed his own death warrant! By virtue of tempting men to crucify the King of Kings, Satan by his own hand brought upon himself the judgment of death in its most agonizing and tormenting form - the lake of fire. What awaits him now is indescribable, yet he deserves everything that is coming to him.
And God in His wisdom, robbed Satan of the satisfaction he might have had in killing Jesus, by having Jesus give up His own spirit to death. Satan was not to be allowed the satisfaction of being able to say that he killed the Messiah. At the final moment on the Cross, God took even that Pyrrhic victory from his hands.
When I see the genius of God displayed at the Cross, I am once again drawn closer to Him, drawn to a deeper level of love and appreciation for Him. When I see His endless wisdom at work at the Cross, I am enabled to give up the unanswered questions that I have held before God as conditions for my love and obedience. I am enabled to say, “God, even though I never understand why you allowed this or that to happen in my life or to those I love, I will base my trust of you on the evidence of your love, your wisdom and your trustworthiness already demonstrated at the Cross. I surrender my questions to faith in your greater wisdom.”
Harold St. John once wrote:
The Cross of Christ means nothing until it takes your breath away!
Commit this day, to seeking a deeper revelation of the love, the power and the wisdom of God, by taking the time to read and to meditate on His crucifixion. Let the Cross take your breath away!
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Mastering Life Ministries
This article is reprinted by permission of the publisher.