If there was no Cross, and there was no divine substitute in the work of Jesus on our behalf; if really Christ has not borne our sins and endured that crushing curse; if Christ did not complete our righteousness and has not paid ransom for us; then atonement has not been made. It does not matter anymore because we are surely trapped in our wretchedness. We must face the fact that we are powerless to overcome our inadequacies, and there is no way for us to come from under the massive obstacle of our sinfulness.
The Plan of God in the Cross of Jesus
The Cross was certainly a part of God’s Plan for human wholeness, which can only come from nearness to God since reconciliation with God is essential to human wholeness. It is true that we have all variously gone astray like sheep, each following shamelessly each one’s own way. But the Lord God laid upon Him the guilt of us all (cf. Isaiah 53:6) and the healing that we get is a restoration to the Lord God and nearness to Him (cf. Isaiah 6:10, Isaiah 19:22 & Isaiah 30:26).
In the Lord’s Passion, Jesus was chastened and scourged (cf. John 19:1). On the Cross, He was pierced (cf. John 19:34) and crushed. There, He died a brutal and painful death in our place (cf. Romans 4:25). The Lord Jesus already weighed down by our griefs and sorrows, arrives at His destination to take on our fate. The unbearable weight of our transgressions (symbolized by the nails) crushes Him to death, and our iniquities (symbolized by the spear) pierce Him to death. But the Lord Jesus absorbs the chastening and scourging (the punishment) that is justly ours. He endures all this not only for our sins but for our wholeness and healing.
At His piercing, blood for atonement and water for wholeness and healing immediately flowed out from His side. It is the Lord Jesus who gives us peace (wholeness) that the world does not know (cf. John 14:27), peace (a gift of salvation) that is rooted in reconciliation with God (cf. Romans 5:1). This reconciliation is God’s gift of pardon to the entire human race. It is through faith that you will personally benefit from this pardon so that you are justified.
It is God’s ultimate aim to liberate every believer from the pre-Christian self. It is the Lord Jesus who heals our deep wounds by restoring our relationship with God (cf. 1 Peter 2:24-25). And it is the Lord Jesus who eventually removes even disease (cf. Matthew 8:17). You cannot heal yourself, it is the Lord who heals (cf. Exodus 15:26). You must recognize that in the Lord Jesus, your sins have been paid for and nothing stands between you and God. You must understand what Christ has done for you on the Cross. Draw near to God who heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds (cf. Psalm 147:3).
The Love of God Manifested in the Cross of Jesus
So, if you want to behold the love of God in all of its wonder you must look deeply at the Cross of the Lord Jesus, and see His wounds. See why they are there; see how they got there, and see what they accomplish. With eyes of faith and a heart filled with love, you will agree that you can see the sovereign works that result in the restoration happening:
Jesus is Punished So We Might be Forgiven
The Lord Jesus came to the market place where we have been slaves to sin, and He paid the price for all our sins. He forgave us and set us free (cf. Ephesians 1:7). We are the redeemed people who saw how filthy we were in sin and found out that there is a Savior who redeemed us by dying on the Cross, forgiving our sin by shedding His blood, and rising from the dead that we may be restored. As redeemed people, we are to forgive in the measure to which we have been forgiven.
Jesus is Being Wounded so We Might be Healed
The words of Prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 verses 4 and 5 depict all the brokenness of mankind; from griefs or infirmities of physical sickness and disease to sorrows of physical and mental pain, anguish, grief and sorrow. The Lord is pierced for our break away or revolt from the covenant, and crushed for the perversity or depravity of our twisted and distorted lives. In the Cross of Jesus, all this was taken off our shoulders and placed on His. It is here that the true love of God is made manifest.
The Lord Jesus is punished in order to bring us peace with God, and in return we receive spiritual health. Because of His wounds we are healed and restored to physical and mental health. According to St. Peter, “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (cf. 1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus is Made Sin with Our Sinfulness So We Might be Made Righteous
We must be honest to ourselves and admit we are guilty of wrong and evil thoughts, words and actions, wrong attitudes, and desires. All humans have had an experience of the power of sin, which is gained when we yield to it. The Lord Jesus alone gained absolute sinlessness by resisting sin. Yet, He still suffered its effects. Many times, we choose not to obey God. Only Christ was perfect in every way. He obeyed God the Father completely. This is why He was able to offer His own life, upon the cross, for our sins.
Christ suffered the proper punishment that we deserve for sin by dying on the Cross so that God can forgive our sins. When we invite Christ into our lives, God forgives our sins. As Isaiah puts it, we rejoice heartily in the LORD, and exults in Him; for He clothes us with garments of salvation and wraps us in a robe of justice (cf. Isaiah 61:10).
We must turn from our sins and put our trust in Christ so that God can make an astonishing change in our lives; then we will truly be born again. St. Paul teaches that by the death of Christ, we have the righteousness of God (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). We earn a right relationship with God even though we have done nothing to deserve earning it. We can only receive it as the free gift of God, only because Christ died for us.
Jesus Tastes Death So We Might Share His Life
St. John reminds us that a thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy, while Jesus came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (cf. John 10:10). We must each examine our relationships with Adam and with Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47). We know that God created Adam, who became a living soul and had his own life (cf. Genesis 2:7). He was given the freedom to choose whether or not to obey God. He decided not to obey God, and because that decision allowed death to enter the world (cf. Genesis 3:19). All people come from Adam’s family, and all have that same kind of natural life for a temporary period. We know that sin separates us from God (cf. Isaiah 59:2), and we are all guilty (cf. Romans 3:23).
St. Paul refers to Jesus as the last Adam. We become members of Christ’s family (cf. John 1:12-13; 1 Corinthians 15:48-49 and Hebrews 2:11-13) when we invite Christ into our lives and are born again into his family (cf. John 3:3-17). Then we receive the same kind of life that Christ received (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus had a new kind of life (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44); from the corruptible, to the raised incorruptible; from the dishonorable, to the raised glorious; from the weak, to the raised powerful; from a natural body, to the raised spiritual body. As Christ’s followers, we all will receive the same kind of life as the risen Lord— a life that never ends (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54).
Jesus Is Made a Curse So We Might Receive Blessing
Some things we do would make St. Paul react in the manner he does concerning the Church in Galatia. How can we claim to be in clear understanding of the simple truth of the gospel of God’s grace concerning the power of the Cross, and yet still believe in blatant lies (cf. Galatians 3:1)? If we live under the law, we must spend our days under the threat of being under the Curse for breaking the law. And because we all break it somehow, according to the law we are doomed.
The good news is that Christ ransomed us from the Curse by becoming a curse for us. And the blessing of Abraham is extended to all peoples through Him so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (cf. Galatians 3: 13-14). It is not the law which saves us; it is the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ which does!
Jesus Endures Our Poverty So We Might Share His Abundance
St. Paul says that Christians know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ; that for our sake He became poor although he was rich so that by His poverty we might become rich (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9). We understand that Grace is God’s undeserved and unmerited goodness to us; for by grace we are saved through faith, as a gift of God to us. By grace, He has redeemed us from slavery to sin and satan.
The Lord God shows us in the Cross of Jesus, the exceeding riches of His grace toward us, in Christ Jesus. The Cross shows us the quality that endears Him most to us; the glory and the beauty of His life and being is His readiness to give of Himself totally, holding nothing back. We have wonderful riches through our relationship with Him. If we are to share His abundance, we must likewise give… until it hurts.
Jesus Bears Our Shame So We might Share His Glory
We have a family relationship with Jesus because He calls us his brothers (cf. Mark 3:35 & Matthew 28:10). We are not as important as angels who are God’s servants (cf. Hebrews 2:7), or as splendid as the moon or the stars (cf. Psalm 8:3); yet the Lord calls us his brothers. God’s plan to save us involved the death of the Author or Captain of Salvation.
By the Cross, we are separated to belong to Him; we are sanctified— made holy. And so we join His family and have the same Father (cf. Matthew 6:9). In this relationship with God, we receive such honor (cf. Hebrews 2:7). In Jesus, God the Father desires to have many sons (cf. Hebrews 2:10), whom He gives splendid and wonderful light and beauty. Such glory comes only from God; and He gives it to His children (cf. 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 3:1-2 & Revelation 22:3-5).
And there is yet more to contemplate in the Cross. You, Christian, must look to His wounds and see His self-giving Love in those wounds; for by His wounds you will be healed. Then get on your knees and keep your eyes focused on the Cross of Jesus. Look at that Cross and see to it that you do look deeply. Let it come close to you, next to you, on you and even in you, and you will truly find healing in this Cross!