Do not read this. That is, unless you make a commitment to stop and consider the severity and intensity of the action at every point where you read the word STOP. After all, the mystery of the cross cannot be taken lightly.
Scottish churchman and poet Horatio Bonar once said, "Upon a life I did not live, upon a death I did not die; another’s life, another’s death, I stake my whole eternity." The meaning of the cross is both absolutely marvelous and unfathomably unexplainable. That God the Father saw fit to use the tool of two posts going in perpendicular directions on which to crucify the Son of glory — indeed, his most beloved Son — is beyond understanding.
Those two posts upon which the precious hands, feet, and whole body of our beloved and sinless Savior were nailed represent the saddest, most mysterious moment in history. Although the method is seemingly crazy, the ultimate outcome of the act is the most awesome truth upon which all believers can lay their hope.
What occurred is an extraordinary mystery. As A.W. Tozer put it:
“However little we understand it all, we know that Christ’s expiatory work perfectly reconciled God and men and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Our concern is not to explain but to proclaim. Indeed I wonder whether God could make us understand all that happened there at the cross… not even the angels know, however eagerly they may desire to look into these things.”
In the moment of the cross, the perfect Son of all creation was separated from his all-knowing, all-loving, all-good Father for the first and last time in all of time and eternity. “And in the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:45-46) STOP.
In the moment of the cross, the Father laid upon his perfect Son the wrath which is due to all of humanity, in every generation, in every way, in every part of the world, for Every. Single. Sin. Past, present, future. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) STOP.
In the moment of the cross, the perfect Son looked backward to generations before and forward to generations ahead and chose to be the sacrificial Lamb of God. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:5) STOP.
In the moment of the cross, God the Father loved you. In the moment of the cross, Jesus Christ loved you. In the moment of the cross, the Holy Spirit loved you. And the three worked together so that today, as you read this post-Resurrection, you are assured of eternal life. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25) STOP.
Hebrews 12:2 says, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In the moment of the cross, there was the astonishing element of joy breaking through the momentary, excruciating pain of separation and physical torture. Obedience to his all-good, all-loving Father mingled with the desire to reconcile us lowly creatures with the Father and resulted in the most magnificent of all experiences — joy!
That moment of the cross may now be past and our wonderful Savior may now be seated on the throne; however, the severity of it still must put us on our knees daily, even two thousand years later. For it was the most extraordinary moment in all of time and eternity.
STOP and “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you too may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:3)