Most people, Christians and non-Christians alike, know the story of Calvary. The man Jesus Christ died on the cross. He shed His blood to save sinners. This is a well known event and is at the heart of Christianity. But, do we really know what happened on that cross? Was it simply a man getting punished so that we don’t have to? Or did more transpire on that tree?
I’d like to present 7 aspects or statuses of Christ’s death on the cross. These have drastically widened my view of Calvary and deepened my appreciation of the Lord’s sacrifice for me. I hope all enjoy this expanded view of Christ on the Cross and come to appreciate Jesus’ accomplishments even more!
Lamb of God
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
The most well known status of Christ among most Christians is as the Lamb of God. He is the ultimate sacrifice. He has taken away the sin of the world! But exactly how He did this is interesting. It was not simply that someone had to suffer so God’s wrath could be satisfied (thought this is true), but he actually took the literal sins upon Himself:
“Who Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree” 1 Pet. 2:24
If you have ever felt bogged down by an offense or a sin, imagine Christ’s feeling of literally having all the sins of the world “in His body!” This is truly the greatest punishment and torture ever imaginable. Thanks you Lord Jesus for paying such a price! Now our status is not just that of “overlooked” or “okay before God”, but rather He has forgiven us fully, taken our sins from us and upon Himself, and God has forgotten:
“For I will be propitious to their unrighteousnesses, and their sins I shall by no means remember anymore.” Hebrews 8:12
Man in the Flesh
“God, sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh” Romans 8:3
In reading Romans 7, it is clear that in our flesh dwells the problem of sin and inclination toward evil. We are completely trapped in our flesh, unable to please God. But hallelujah God became flesh:
“And the Word became flesh” John 1:14
God became a man and put on flesh, though without sin, so that our flesh might be crucified. This is the key to stop our sinning and have the hope of living in holiness: Christ has already crucified our flesh (Rm. 6:6). It is simply a matter of manifesting this fact, praying that the Lord would apply it to us daily.
“So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 15:45
Our problem is not primarily that we sin. It is that we were born into a fallen race. The race of Adam was fully corrupted and cursed after Genesis 3 and our lives are a manifestation and expression of this fallen race. The good news of the cross is that Christ was the last of the Adamic race. He was the end of the old man. In Him, all of the old man was crucified. This is why we can say:
“I am crucified with Christ” Galatians 2:20
“Our old man has been crucified with Him” Romans 6:6
We are no longer of Adam’s fallen race, but are of the new creation in Christ!
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” John 3:14
This might be the most unknown status of Christ on the cross among Christians today. Just before the most famous verse in the Bible (Jn. 3:16) is probably the most neglected verse in the Bible (above). Here is the Old Testament parallel:
“And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the pole; and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21:9
Christians today don’t allow Satan to have his proper place in their theology today. He is often seen as a nuance who had more of a role back in biblical times. The Scriptures reveal something strikingly different however.
In the garden, man took from the wrong tree. Instead of taking in the tree of life, which would have given him God’s life, man ate from the tree of death, which gave him Satan’s life. This falls perfectly in line with the scriptures:
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” John 8:44
To follow simple logic, why can we say that God is our Father? It has nothing to do with our behavior or even God’s decree, but is solely based on our having the life of God within, allowing us to be His children (Jn. 1:13, 3:6; Eph. 1:5, 13). The reason the devil is their father is because the life of the evil one (or lack thereof) is within them, namely sin.
Sin, which is the nature and life of Satan (read the rest of Jn. 8:44), was injected into us, like snake venom. The Lord’s being lifted up as the bronze serpent, in the likeness of sin but not of sin, allows us to be freed from this venom and live! We have Satan in our flesh, just as the Israelites had the snake venom within them in Numbers 21, but when we look to Jesus (Heb. 12:2), the evil One in us is removed like that of the Israelites.
There’s so much more I want to say about this and 3 more statuses I need to write about, but I’ve used so much space already. I’ll just have to continue this post next week…