What does the cross, as a symbol, mean to you? In the first century, when Jesus of Nazareth walked through the streets of Jerusalem, it was the method the Romans had refined to execute criminals. It was a slow, cruel, sadistic form of torture that left the victim begging for death. Eventually, death would come to relieve the sinner of their excruciating pain but not until first ripping away every last bit of life the dying could muster.
While the cross is certainly the final crescendo of Jesus Christ’s life is was really just the device used for His execution. Public executions were always performed along the main road into town for all travelers to witness. It was a gruesome reminder of what awaits the person caught in sin and convicted of a capital offense.
For Jesus of Nazareth, however, while the cross initially looked like a horrible defeat and sad ending to His life, it was what He was born into our world to accomplish. Before giving up His spirit, Jesus asks the Father on our behalf, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. And then the greatest sentence ever uttered from a human mouth, “It is finished.” John 19:30.
But what is finished you might ask? God’s plan for our salvation that was formed before the foundation of the universe was cast. Even as early as the book of Genesis we see God’s promise of a future deliverer as God directs this prophecy towards Satan “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.” Genesis 3:15.
Satan certainly managed to strike at the heels of Jesus while He hung dying on the cross. However, three days later, The Lord would return back to life once and for all removing the sting of death. “For God so loved His world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17.
So why did God’s plan for our salvation require the blood of His Son to atone or cover and hide our sin from God? We are told in the book of Hebrews “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22.
Since the very beginning, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s law. As sons of Adam, we have all inherited that original sin at our birth. Then, as we grow older, we continue to make bad choices, choices that are wrong in God’s perfect sight. The scriptures teach that “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” Sin will cost us something; in the case of Adam and Eve it cost the life of the animals God killed in order to cover the man and woman with tunics of skin.
Now, since the day of Jesus’ death, the world has been under another contact or covenant. No longer does God require the blood of endless animal sacrifices as payment for sin but instead has freely given the blood of His Own Son that does not just cover our sin for one calendar year, but the blood of Jesus Christ takes away our sin forever. John the Baptist would describe Jesus as “ the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, He was presenting Himself as the last and final Passover Lamb. However, everyone throwing palm branches and cloaks on the dirt road was expecting their Messiah to be a conquering king who would overthrow the roman occupation. Instead they got a lamb that was led to the slaughter.
There are entire chapters predicting what the Messiah would accomplish the first time He came; Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Zech 9:9, Daniel 9:25,26, Genesis 3:15, Genesis 22 and Leviticus 16.
Jesus Christ was the complete fulfillment of the very first Passover, where when the blood of the lamb was applied to the door posts and lentil of the front door of the house, the angel of death would pass-over and not destroy the first born male of the household.
Won’t you take the blood of Jesus Christ and apply it to the doorposts of your own heart right this very second? The story is not over at His death because His tomb, which was sealed and under guard, was not able to hold Him. Jesus returned from beyond death to prove that we, too, can have eternal life through His resurrection. He is risen!