The cross on Calvary has been a symbol of hope for Christians through the ages. How remarkable it is that the love of God transformed a gruesome crucifixion into good news of how He has saved us and will never forsake us.
When I first went to church, this was the gospel of Jesus presented to me. God loved me so much that He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die on the cross to forgive my sins.
If I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I would go to heaven and have eternal life with Him. Otherwise, I would go to hell and suffer eternal punishment.
My choice as an eight year old was obvious. I wanted to go to heaven and be certain of my salvation. From that moment, Jesus’ death on the cross (and his resurrection) became the core foundation of my Christian belief.
Interestingly, Jesus’ death is not where the story of the cross begins. Jesus was carrying his cross long before he was crucified.
My short stint with Professor James Torrance in Aberdeen started me on my journey to this realization. Professor Torrance described Jesus like this: “He, who was Son of God by nature, became son of man by nature, that we, who are sons of man by nature, may become sons of God by grace!”
And that is exactly where the story of Jesus’ cross begins…
…when the Word became flesh.
The apostle Paul glimpsed this when he wrote of the eternal Son: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”.
Jesus became a real and authentic human being. The cross of Jesus culminated in the cross on Calvary, but began when Jesus became human just like you, and me.
The certainty of our salvation began the moment the only begotten Son of God became a human being in Mary’s womb. Father sent, Son came, and Spirit made happen. The Gospels attest to this. That was when an entirely new relationship and reality came into being between God and man.
The apostle John wrote: “In this was manifested the love of God in(greek-en) us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
In and through the person of Jesus, the whole of humanity was added and grafted into the Triune being of the Godhead that we might live.
And it is by this we know we are saved, that Man is now in source and foundation fully grounded in the Triune Being and Life of God, Father, Son and Spirit.
And Calvary’s cross is the greatest expression of this. In this new relationship between God and Man, through Jesus, God chose to never forsake us. Even at the cost of his only and begotten Son being put on the cross by those he came to save!
Jesus’ cross was reconciling Man to God in becoming flesh, living, dying and rising again. Jesus had to carry this to begin man’s journey of reconciliation to God.
No man before him could or was willing to pay such a price. Only he could and was willing, for it required great and deep love for God and man, much humility and unwavering obedience to God until death, even death on Calvary’s cross.
Paul describes it as: “being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Becoming human is the cross that Jesus carried that we might have the certainty that God loves us, you and me. In the man Christ Jesus, we have the assurance and confidence that God will never forsake humanity, you and me, for God has become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. God has become one with us in and through the man Christ Jesus. And what God has joined in Jesus, let no man put asunder.
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” and “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This is gospel addressing the certainty of our hope in Jesus. This gospel points us beyond signs of miracles and Calvary’s cross to the man Christ Jesus, the Word who became flesh.
Jesus, truly and properly God and truly and properly man, in his one person, is the source, ground and certainty of your and my salvation.
May all be well with you and our soul.