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The Cross – More Than a Resting Place for Sin?

When we see images of Jesus hanging on the Cross at Calvary, we are reminded that He died to pay the price for our sins, to take upon Himself the wrath of God that through Him we might be washed clean of the stain of sin. But there is something more that we need to think about when we look at the Cross – the suffering that Jesus endured. The suffering that enables Him to say to us, “I understand your pain.”

The Bible paints a vivid picture of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and there have been numerous television and film adaptations of the event. Countless artists have painted pictures depicting the torture, the pain and the suffering etched onto the face of our Lord and Saviour. Even non-believers are likely to have at least seen an image of Christ on the Cross at some point.

crucifixionAs Christians, we know the significance of the Cross. We know that God the Father sent His Son Jesus to live as a man and to die on that Cross to pay the price for our sins. We know that Jesus’ death bought us forgiveness we could never even hope to earn by our own efforts. For three hours in the middle of the day, the sun stopped shining, and it was during that time that Jesus endured the most horrendous suffering – separation from God.

But whilst Jesus’ death on the Cross and its significance in terms of our righteousness before God is important, there is another aspect of the crucifixion that sometimes gets overlooked or overshadowed – the agony that Jesus suffered at the hands of men in the hours before the crucifixion and during the hours before the sun stopped shining. That suffering was more than just a part of the plan that would lead to the salvation of many.

bloodied-on-crossJesus was beaten, flogged, mocked, spat at, made to wear a crown of thorns, jeered at, made to carry His own cross, humiliated by hanging upon the Cross naked in front of His mother and many others. He suffered greatly, and His suffering was deliberately afflicted upon Him by men He still looked upon with compassion and forgiveness. Of course this suffering was necessary for the redemption of the sins of mankind, but it shows us something else, too.

259427-jesus-christs-crucifixion-reenated-in-czech-passion-playJesus suffered as a man, as a human being. As He hung on that Cross, as He was beaten, mocked and humiliated, He was fully human and fully God. He felt pain. He felt every human emotion appropriate to the situation that He was in, and that makes the message of the Cross so much more than a message of salvation.

When we endure trials, losses, heartaches, bereavements, and despair, we sometimes forget that Jesus suffered too. We think of the Cross as a road to salvation when it is so much more. It is easy to fall away from God when times are tough. It’s easy to get angry with God, blaming Him or resenting Him for the situations that we face. It’s easy to forget that our trials are not caused by God but by the fallen world in which we live. It’s easy to forget that Jesus suffered greatly because of the fallen world in which we live.

emlouise_1339270749_83He understands what it is to feel pain, shame, guilt and humiliation. Better than anyone else, He understands, and that is sometimes the most important thing we need to remember when we look upon that Cross.

People often talk in terms of Jesus being killed by His own people, the Jews, but whilst it is true that it was His own people who clamoured for His crucifixion, the reality is that Jesus endured suffering at the hands of men, that He could offer comfort to us as we endure our own suffering, but He died at the will of God, that we might experience forgiveness  as well as the comfort of knowing that Jesus really does understand what it means to suffer unjustly.

Next time you look at an image of Jesus on the Cross, take a closer look at the message, and take comfort from the messenger.

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