Jesus' Death: Six Hours of Eternity on the Cross



A superficial reading of the gospel narratives concerning the death of Jesus will show that He was nailed to the cross at 9 o'clock in the morning, and was dead by 3 in the afternoon. His terrible ordeal, it would seem, was over in a mere six hours.

The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before had been an ordeal in prayer before His Father that we can scarcely understand. The writer of Hebrews comments on this incident,

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered..." (Hebrews 5:7, 8)

Then, too, Jesus had been up the rest of the night without sleep enduring beating, cruel mockery and unspeakable brutality. The next morning, the Romans scourged Him. (Mark 15:15, John 19:1).

Jesus was already greatly weakened when he carried his cross, stumbling, to the place of crucifixion alongside the main public highway, probably just outside the Damascus Gate.

Several medical doctors and forensic experts have written books about the common Roman form of execution---death by crucifixion. Often the process took several days. The nailing of hands and feet forced the victim to push up against the weight of his own body to take a single breath. In the hot sun, terrible thirst ensued and death came in most cases from suffocation amidst great pain. The victim was also naked and humiliated---death on the cross was reserved for the most wretched of all criminals.

Wood was in short supply in Israel in Roman times. It is likely that small trees (such as these olive trees) were pressed into service to handle the thousands of executions. Crosses were stuck into the ground along major thoroughfares to offer maximum public viewing which included public ridicule and scorn. The terrible nature of this punishment helped enforce Rome's control over the Jews whom they hated anyway. In the Law of Moses hanging a criminal on a tree or cross was reserved for the most serious crimes, "And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance." (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

There is much more to the death of Jesus on the cross than the visible suffering, terrible pain and suffering, and the incredible ignominy of such a horrible death for One who was not only innocent but also the very Son of God.

The Cosmic Struggle on the Cross

After speaking of Jesus and his role in the creation of the universe Paul in his letter to the Colossians tells us about invisible events taking place outside of the physical realm, and outside of our ordinary space-time continuum during the dying of Jesus on the cross,

...in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him. (Col. 1:19-22)

The above passage reveals that not only did Jesus take upon Himself the sins of mankind when He died for us on the cross, but He also met fully the onslaught of demons, fallen angels, and all the power of evil forces in the heavens as well, disarming all of them completely.

Jesus' victory over man's greatest enemy, death, is boldly stated in the letter to the Hebrews:

"Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage." (Hebrews 2:14,15)

In speaking to the Apostle John from the heavens, Jesus sent these words to mankind:

"Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." (Revelation 1:17-18)

Jesus, on the cross, also won back any and all claims Satan had on man, or the earth, or as an authority of any kind in the heavens. If, for example, Satan claimed to hold the title deed of the earth (having gained it because of Adam's fall) that deed now belongs to Jesus as one of the results of His work on the cross. (This is known as the "ransom" work of Christ on the cross---it's a topic sometimes debated by theologians, but one that makes sense). Satan's destruction, too, was accomplished on the cross, outside of time. For the final outworkings in history of Satan's we now eagerly are all waiting. What is a completed work in the eternal time frame will come to pass in human history at God's appointed time on our earthly calendars. His unseen and invisible victory over cosmic evil on the cross is yet another reason why Jesus alone is qualified to receive from the Father all honor and power and glory:

"And I (John) saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?' And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the (twenty-four) elders said to me, 'Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered (overcome), so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.' And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne." (Revelation 5:1-7)

Jesus: Great High Priest and Perfect Sacrifice

Two aspects of the death of Christ show something of the mystery of His death and the suffering He took onto Himself for our sake. The death of Jesus on the cross took but six hours as measured in dynamical time. Jesus was, for the first three hours on the cross, our Great High Priest. From noon till 3 P.M., during which time a strange and terrible darkness came over the earth, the High Priest became the Sacrifice.

If we now consider the nature of time and eternity (see Arthur C. Custance, Journey out of Time, Ref. 2) it must surely become clear that what was (for us) three hours' suffering by Jesus in total estrangement from the Father---was for Jesus an event in eternity which never ends. The work of Jesus on the cross, as far as we are concerned, is completely finished. Jesus is not now hanging on a cross. He has been raised from the dead, and sits in heaven, fully in charge of the universe as a resurrected man. One man, one son of Adam, Jesus the Lord is now living in glory and He is in charge of the universe.

But in another sense, if we could step into eternity and view an eternal being such as the Son of God experiencing life---if we could see things from the vantage point of eternity---then we would perceive that a part of the eternal God must suffer forever, outside of time, because of human sin.

The Eternal Sufferings of God in Christ

The statement of Jesus to one of the thieves crucified alongside him was, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) This statement suggests that when He died, Jesus left our time frame and immediately entered eternity. Likewise, the spirit of his companion on an adjacent cross, the dying, redeemed thief also left time and entered eternity when he also died that same day.

The next event in eternity for the human spirit of Jesus was His return to reenter His body in the tomb just before dawn on Easter Sunday morning. By means of the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, He then experienced the complete transformation of His body and His resurrection "out from among the dead." In the time frame of earth, these events are separated by perhaps 40 hours, but in eternity they are an immediate sequence of events, one following another. The dying thief was not raised from the dead at the same earth time as Jesus was raised from the dead. However, in his own (the thief's) consciousness, he stepped out of time to join the general resurrection of all the righteous dead which coincides in history with the Second Coming of Christ.

 Notice that phrase: "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." This statement confirms again that time is not a factor in eternity. The death of the Lamb actually took place in time, on earth, at a specific date on the calendar--yet it is reckoned here as an eternal event which has meaning for people who have lived ever since the beginning of time. That is why an Old Testament saint such as Abraham could be born again by grace through faith just like a New Testament saint--even though the tree which would be hewn into the cross of Christ had not even been planted as a seed in Abraham's time! The death of Jesus Christ was an event that can be fixed at a particular set of coordinates in space and time-yet it is also the summit of God's eternal program, utterly transcending both space and time. Thus the cross casts its shadow over all of creation. (Ray C. Stedman, God's Final Word)


In this sense, neither heaven nor hell are yet populated---all believers reach heaven at the same "time." The dying thief, Stephen the first martyr, the Apostle John, and all the rest of us will arrive in heaven at precisely the same "instant," experiencing neither soul sleep nor loss of consciousness nor time delay, whether the interval between our death and the Second Coming is a hundred years or one hour. The thief on the cross, in his own consciousness, will experience arriving in Paradise the very same day he died, as Jesus promised he would. (Of course if heaven is still empty, except for Jesus, from our vantage point in time, the prayer to Mary or St. Jude or any of the saints is pointless. These believers are each "time traveling" in their own split-second interval separating their individual death from the great resurrection of all of us believers. Thus, we all get to heaven at the same "time."



In His sinless and perfect human body---prepared especially as a perfect blood sacrifice for the sins of the world---Jesus suffered terribly in body, soul, and spirit during the long night of His trial. That suffering began with the agony in the garden of Gethsemane and in all the humiliating events of His trial and cruel torture prior to His morning journey to Golgotha. The worst was yet to come. Death by crucifixion is an especially painful and terrible death. It was common in Roman times for crucified men in good health to hang dying on a cross sometimes for days, yet Scripture records that Jesus died within six hours' clock time. Even if He only suffered normal human pain in this ordeal it would have been incredibly severe.

All this pain, however, was but the prelude to His real suffering, which involved being cut off from the Father's love and presence and consigned to carry our sins out of the universe, to hell as it were, like the scapegoat sacrifice of Israel of which he, Christ, is the antitype.

The Scripture records three statements by Jesus during the first three hours on the cross when He served as the true Great High Priest before the Father and four further statements during the time of darkness from noon to 3 P.M. when the High Priest became the Sin-Offering. It was during the latter three hours, evidently, that the sins of all mankind were laid upon Jesus and the Father turned His face away from His beloved Son.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

When contemplating what really took place on the cross in the divine transaction between God the Father and God the Son, we must not think of the sufferings of Christ, terrible as they were (beyond our comprehension), as if they were constrained to a "mere" (endurable) three hours of absolute time. Human beings are basically spirits, and spirits are connected to the eternal dimension. Jesus was not like us in another sense: He had known no sin and suffered the additional revulsion and destruction of being changed from a perfect man into a loathsome, repulsive creature God could not look upon. He became sin by absorbing evil into his own person. The Messiah's sufferings as foretold by David in Psalm 22 can only refer to Jesus on the cross, (see also Ref. 1):

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In thee our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
To thee they cried, and were saved;
in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm, and no man;
scorned by men, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me,
they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
"He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"

Yet thou art he who took me from my mother's womb;
thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts.
Upon thee was I cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help.

Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
thou dost lay me in the dust of the earth.

Yea, dogs are round about me;
a company of evildoers encircle me;
they have pierced my hands and feet---
I can count all my bones--they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my raiment they cast lots.

But thou, O LORD, be not far off! O thou my help, hasten to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion,
my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of thy name to my brethren;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee:

You who fear the LORD, praise him!
all you sons of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
and he has not hid his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

From thee comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live for ever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who do down to the dust,
and he who cannot keep himself alive.

Posterity shall serve him;
men shall tell of the LORD to the coming generation,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
that he has wrought it.
(Psalm 22)

Paul wrote many years later of the "fellowship of Christ's sufferings" and of "making up in his own body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, that is the church." He spoke of "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus might be revealed in us..." He said these things long after Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven where He now rules, His work on the cross having been completed and finished.

Jesus is spoken of in the book of Revelation as the "Lamb slain before the foundation of the world." And Peter writes, "You know that your were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake." (1 Peter 1:18-20)

Without in any way diminishing the work of Christ on the cross as finished, completed, and accomplished in space-time and in history, it is possible to say that a part of God suffers eternally for man's sins. From Scripture we learn that a holy God must ultimately be just. He must remove evil from His presence. Those who have permanently rebelled against His gracious mercy do not cease to exist but remain eternally conscious in a place of everlasting, endless punishment. Since God is omnipresent, He, too, is to be found in hell, sustaining its fires and experiencing its pains. Bible scholar Ray C. Stedman once remarked, "Ultimately, God removes evil from the universe by absorbing it into Himself." The so-called "penal view of the atonement" specifies that a Just God must punish sin and that if Christ suffered our punishment as a substitute He had to bear the full weight of the eternal separation from God that Divine Justice demands and we deserve. In his commentary on the Book of Revelation, Ray Stedman wrote,

"All through the Bible we see God's love is manifest to men and women everywhere in urging them to escape this judgment. God in love pleads with people, 'Do not go on to this end!' But ultimately he must judge those who refuse his offer of grace. He says, in effect, 'I love you and I can provide all you need. Therefore love me, and you will find the fulfillment your heart is looking for.' But many men and women say, 'No, I do not want that. I will take your gifts, I will take all the good things you provide, but I do not want you! Let me run my own life. Let me serve my own ends. Let me have my own kingdom.' To such, God ultimately says, 'All right, have it your way!' God has three choices: first, he can let rebellion go on forever and never judge it. In that case the terrible things that are happening on earth, all these distressing injustices, the cruelty, the anger, the hate, the malice, the sorrow, the hurt, the pain, the death that now prevails, must go on forever. God does not want that, and neither does man. Second, God can force men to obey him and control them as robots. But he will never do that because that means they cannot truly love him. Love cannot be forced. Therefore, third, the only choice God really has is that he must withdraw ultimately from those who refuse his love. He must let them have their own way forever. That results in the terrible torment of godlessness. If God is necessary to us, then to take him out of our lives is to plunge us into the most terrible sense of loneliness and abandonment that mankind can know. We have all experienced it to some small degree when we get what we want and then discover we do not want what we got! For that sense of bored emptiness to go on forever, is unspeakable torment."

God Suffers Far More than Any Man!

In reading all these passages it is easy to concentrate on what appears to be "unjust" punishment (from our self-righteous human viewpoint), or at least tragic human suffering. We would like to think it could somehow have been avoided! Most of us shrink from thinking too seriously about these passages knowing that but for the grace of God we would have, and should have, been sent to this terrible fate also.

According to Ray Stedman, a little reflection on the nature of God, for God is love, makes it clear that maintaining hell must be a terrible torment and pain to a God who is self-giving love. He is the Holy One who "takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked," and who "is not willing that any should perish." God must be willing, therefore, to pay the price of His own eternal pain, suffering, and hell so that the few who are righteous, (by faith), might enjoy eternal bliss. Such is another aspect of the mystery of the suffering of Christ on the cross. Most of us are accustomed to thinking that we suffer more than God, and that He surely cannot fully identify with our minor pains and afflictions.

But a loving God who created us for good things surely suffers infinitely more than any human parent when a beloved child refuses the good and chooses the path leading to destruction. Surely it must be grievously painful for a God who is love to be denied the opportunity to give of Himself to the objects of His love. No man can suffer more than Christ has already suffered, nor can mortal man contemplate what is meant by the "longsuffering" of our God (who is outside of time) which will continue, we are assured, at least until the world is changed. "God's kindness is meant to lead us to repentance," Paul writes in Romans, Chapter 2. How great is that kindness!

Our God is a Consuming Fire

The letter to the Hebrews says,

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28, 29)

The same fires which heal, purify and warm the righteous are the consuming, everlasting burnings of Gehenna, (named after GeHinnom, the valley of Hinnom, a garbage dump outside Jerusalem)---where beings who refused to become the human persons they were designed to be must finally endure the "backside" of love, which is hell. They are discarded because they have not been willing to become (by their own life-long choices) what their Designer intended them to be. C.S. Lewis wrote,

"God is going to invade this earth in force. But what's the good of saying you're on his side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else, something it never entered your head to conceive comes crashing in. Something so beautiful to us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left. This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love, or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down, when it's become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realize it or not. Now, today, in this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever; we must take it or leave it."

In spite of our outward circumstances and the downward spiral of moral, economic, political, and social conditions over the face of the earth, the Good News of the Bible is that evil has already been dethroned and its power over mankind and nature broken. The new creation is as inevitable as springtime's greening and blossoming. The loving heart of God our Father longs for us to accept his mercy, his forgiveness and mercy. He has gone to infinite lengths to make provision for us in the cosmic sacrifice of the Son of His love.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." (John 3:16-21

Notes

Crosses in Romans times were usually made from old trees and old branches since lumber was scarce. as noted at the beginning of this article. Hundreds of people were regularly killed slowly and painfully by the Romans in this way--while being exhibited in public . Our modern nicely finished and varnished wooden crosses are far from the horrifically terrible and ugly reality of real crucifixions. When someone violated t he Law of Moses in a serious way and was put to death, his body was publicly displayed by hanging the body on a tree. This was an ultimate disgrace, especially for the Jews. Notice how this reference to hanging on a tree is applied to the death of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus, the innocent, sinless Lamb of God was MADE to be sin for us, and punished for our sins, thus He became cursed on our behalf--suffering the ultimate shame, humiliation and disgrace of being hung on a "tree". (See Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, 1 Peter 2:24, Galatians 3:13).

1. One of the most wonderful passages on this subject is Isaiah's foreview of the Messiah:

"Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. As many were astonished at him---his appearance was so marred beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men---so shall he startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand.

"Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter; and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgments he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

"And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the Righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.

"Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

2. A book by Dr. Arthur Custance on time and eternity is very be helpful, The Complexities of Time. The aspects of time and eternity as they enter into the sufferings of Christ on the cross are discussed in detail in Journey out of Time. See especially Chapter Five, When Time became an Eternity. Custance concludes with the following quote from John Gill (1697-1771), "When He was made sin and a curse...it was tantamount to an eternal death, or the suffering of the wicked in hell. For though the two kinds of suffering differ as to circumstances of time and place, the persons being different, the One finite and the Other infinite, yet as to the essence of these sufferings, they were the same. Eternal death consists in two things: Punishment in the form of deprivation, and punishment in the form of actual affliction. The former lies in an eternal separation from God, or a deprivation of his presence for ever: and the latter lies in an everlasting affliction in the everlasting fire of God's everlasting fire of God's wrath. Now Christ endured what was answerable to both of these. Eternity is not the essence of punishment but it is consequent of the fact that the sufferer cannot all at once bear the whole - being finite as sinful man is finite. And as it cannot be borne all at once it is continued ad infinitum. But Christ being an infinite Person, was able to bear the whole at once and the infinity of his Person abundantly compensates for the eternity of the punishment." An excellent discussion about pain and hell is presented by C.S. Lewis in his book, The Problem of Pain (Macmillan Publishing; New York, 1962).

Glenn Miller of The Christian Think Tank says this in regard to the crucifixion:

"...But at noon, something dramatic happens. The sky goes dark and Jesus cries out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!" The Son is separated from the Father for the first time in eternity...this continues for only three hours...and at 3.00 pm Jesus wills himself to death. He cries 'it is finished' (the Greek phrase actually has a technical meaning in those days of 'paid in full'--it was so used when people were released from debtors prison and their unpaid bill was stamped 'paid in full'--same phrase).

And then he decides to die and gives up his spirit. So those three HOURS are the only slice of time in all of eternity that the Son experiences brokenness in his relationship with his Father.

When I then try to understand 3 hrs vs. eternity issues, I quickly run across the problem of how God 'experiences' time...The old crusty Scholastics sometimes argued that God experienced time all at once, much as a entire landscape is visually experience simultaneously, even though it is quite distributed. If, as they suggest, universe-time is like a mural on a wall that God experiences ALL AT ONCE, and experiences it ETERNALLY (not the old " I'm through with that day, I'll move on to experience the next day"), then the Father is still "experiencing" that grief now...it's a bit heavy, and we tread on shaky ground here (logically speaking), but this experience is slightly mirrored in humans (made in the image of God) when we recall a past experience and 're-feel' the pain or joy therein...

As to the 3 hours themselves, the theology tells us that during those Jesus 'paid for the sins of the whole world' (John the Baptist made this clear when he called him the Lamb, which takes away the sins of the whole world). What did this entail? The concise statement is that God the Father, who had loved/enjoyed/delighted/ fellowshipped with the Son at the most intimate of levels (they actually shared the same essence--the trinity doctrine) for all eternity, suddenly turned his back on His Son, and for three hours poured His awesome wrath out on His Son (instead of on us, incredibly!). So one component was the abandoning His Son (to save the world), and the other was the very active outpouring of judicial punishment upon Him to generate the 'paid in full' comment."


3. For descriptions of the crucifixion itself see A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion, by C. Truman, Davis, MD, Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ by David Terasaka, M.D., and Crucifixion in Antiquity, by Joe Zias

4. Problems in Dating the Crucifixion, from the U.S. Naval Observatory

5. The Crucifixion of Jesus in View of Muslim Theology by Dr. Christine Schirrmacher

6. See How God Saves Us. In a sense, the Christian is baptized "into Christ" before Christ went to the cross, instead of after Christ's resurrection. On the cross, our sins were transferred to the Lord who was our sin-bearer. But at the same time we were also crucified with Christ. This was necessary so that our old Adamic nature could be put to death once and for all. (These specifics are discussed in Romans). Of course there is deep mystery as to the connection between our present-time and eternity and the transfer of our sins back into the past 2000 years to Christ's finished work on the cross. How are we identified with Christ on the cross when long before we were born?

The Agony of Love

by Chuck Missler

Excerpt: October 1, 2018

Surely he hath borne our g(riefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. — Isaiah 53:4–5

Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Scriptures.

The Scriptures were written as a shadow, a dim reflection of Jesus Christ himself — to explain in advance God’s whole plan for the salvation of the human race. The more I study God’s Word, the more I’m amazed by God’s precision. The Old Testament gives us the history of the Jewish people, and it gives us psalms and proverbs and warnings and messages of all kinds, but the more I study it, the more I find Jesus Christ written on every page.

We find this foreshadowing fulfilled with great power in the first feast of the Jewish religious year — the Passover. At the Passover, the people of Israel were instructed to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and strike its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their homes as a sign to the Lord. Wherever the Lord saw the blood on the doorposts and lintel, He would pass over and spare those inside from His last great plague against Egypt. The blood of the lamb protected all those within the house, no matter who they were. Any house without the blood of the lamb was doomed, and the firstborn sons of all those in Egypt were killed that night.

Jesus died at Passover as our unblemished Lamb. He is the One who covers us and protects us from death. When we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, He begins to lead us from the bondage of our spiritual Egypt on the journey to our ultimate rest.

Because of the great significance of the Passover, the Lord told the Israelites to commemorate it every year throughout all generations. God even changed the calendar at that time. The Lord told Moses in Exodus 12:2 to establish the first month of the year as the month of the Exodus from Egypt.

We’re going to explore a topic that is absolutely unfathomable; the death of the Most High God. The story is so familiar we sometimes lose perspective. We are going to explore some often overlooked aspects of the crucifixion of Christ, recognizing the person that was arrested, abused, and murdered was not just a mere man. He was the Creator of the universe. He was crucified on a cross of wood, yet He made the hill on which it stood.

The God Outside of Time

We recognize that the great work Jesus accomplished on the cross was not merely three-dimensional in nature. Most of us are familiar with three-dimensional space: length, width and height. We’re also familiar with time as the fourth dimension, which is why physicists now talk about the “fabric” of space-time. If you have read any of my technical books, you are likely familiar with the concept of hyperspaces — the reality that exists in greater dimensions. Mathematicians and theoretical physicists suggest there might be as many as 11 dimensions in the universe. I will not go into depth, but when we simply realize that time is a physical property, then all kinds of insights about the Bible start to become vivid to us.

We understand three dimensional reality, because we live in it. We are able to draw three-dimensional representations on two-dimensional sheets of paper. Even children learn to draw cubes and cylinders — or to sketch realistic noses on faces using shading. Drawing three dimensions is relatively easy. However, it’s still difficult for us to comprehend four spatial dimensions, and five dimensions are just beyond most of us. The closest we can get is a shadow of these things.

Let’s say we were trying to explain three dimensions to two-dimensional beings. We might draw a shaded cube on a 2D surface. Another approach might be to unfold the cube, with its six sides laid out flat. Even then, it would be difficult for the 2D people to comprehend a 3D object, since they have concepts of length and width, but not depth.

We are in a similar situation with reference to the “spiritual” realm. We comprehend length, width and depth, and we can even comprehend time, but we struggle to appreciate greater dimensions. A four-dimensional cube called a “tesseract” attempts to portray four dimensions in a three dimensional space. A tesseract can be “unfolded” into six cubes, just as a 3D cube can be unfolded into six 2D squares. An unfolded tesseract was employed by Salvador Dali in his painting of Corpus Hypercubus, expressing the multi-dimensional aspect of Christ’s death. It’s quite remarkable, honestly, that Salvador Dali recognized the multi-dimensionality of the work that Christ did on the cross.

Corpus Hypercubus by Salvador Dalí

Corpus Hypercubus by Salvador Dalí

We cannot fully conceive of it, but I do want to try to understand a little better what went on between Gethsemane on Passover and the tomb in the garden. It was a work that extended far beyond that day in time. The blood of Christ was shed to pay for the sins of those standing at the foot of the cross, but it also paid for the sins of those who lived from Adam until the end of this world. It was a sacrifice that transcended time and space.

We are going to explore those six hours that Christ spent on the cross. We realize that they involved not just six straight hours — but all of eternity. We’re going to explore the most cataclysmic event in the entire universe, one that still directly impacts you and me today.

Gethsemane

Let’s turn first to the Garden of Gethsemane in the early morning hours of the day Christ was executed. We find important scriptural principles between Gethsemane and the cross, and I like to begin in Matthew 26:

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee — Matthew 26:31–32

It’s interesting how often Jesus warned His disciples about His death in the Gospels. He repeatedly told them that He was going to die but would then rise again. They were expecting Jesus to come as the conquering King, the Messiah who would free Israel from Roman rule and take His position on the throne of David. That’s what they were expecting, and this whole business of sacrifice and death didn’t make sense to them. They didn’t hear Jesus, because they could only see the picture they had already formed in their heads. It was only after His death that they finally put it together and remembered that He said all these things in advance.

Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. — Matthew 26:33–35

It’s clear that Peter doesn’t appreciate the brutal truth, the seriousness, of what Jesus has just told them. We can tell that he doesn’t actually believe that his Shepherd is going to be smitten, because in just a few hours he will deny he even knows Jesus. He’s filled with braggadocio right now. “I’ll never be offended! I’ll never deny you!” Peter was a powerful, big fisherman. He was a man’s man, but he was not truly prepared to die for Christ. Not yet.

It’s interesting how we always fail. We are in the most danger in our areas of strength and not our weaknesses. It’s where we have the most self-confidence that we are most vulnerable to spiritual attack. Peter’s strongest characteristic was courage (not caution), but he depended on his courage, and it failed him. Jesus knew this was going to happen and warned Peter, but Peter wasn’t really listening. None of the disciples were listening. They echoed Peter’s self-confidence, yet that same night they all fled, just as Jesus knew they would.

The disciples didn’t yet know their promises were empty. With those empty promises still echoing in their ears, Jesus led the way to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. We think of Gethsemane as a garden of ancient olive trees, their green branches spreading overhead. The word Gethsemane means “oil press”, and it’s appropriate that olives were pressed and crushed there to produce their valuable oil, because the Son of God retreated there to pray in anticipation of His being crushed in like manner. Again, Jesus understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that lay before Him, and the disciples who were His best friends didn’t get it. They recognized that something was wrong, and they tried to stick with Him, but they didn’t appreciate the magnitude of the day. If they had, they would have stayed up with Jesus to grieve and pray with Him.

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. — Matthew 26:36–38

When the King James translators chose the term “exceedingly sorrowful” to describe Jesus’ heart, they did well. Matthew used the word perilupos here, and he could have hardly found a stronger, more intense word in the Greek to describe the depth of Christ’s emotional state. Jesus explains to His disciples that He’s suffering from an incredible grief and sadness. Mark uses the same term in his Gospel, but he also says that Jesus was astonished — ekthambeo .[1] Jesus was astounded, even horrified, by the great emotion that had come upon Him. Luke uses the word agonia, which means “agony.” [2]

It’s through Dr. Luke that we find that Jesus sweated blood. In Luke’s rendering of this passage, we find that Jesus’s emotional agony was so great that sweat as great drops of blood dripped off of Him. Luke was not an impressionable layman, and this is strange language for a doctor to use. These descriptions give us a small sense of the suffering Jesus is working through as He prepares for the solitary experience that had never before been required of any creature — one that would never be repeated.

Jesus pulls aside Peter, James, and John and asks them to wait and stay awake with Him. We can picture this grieving man, the very Son of God, falling down there under the olive branches and seeking His Father with all His soul.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. — Matthew 26:39

We see here the divinity of Christ as much as in any miracle He ever performed. In the greatest of agony, He still placed His own desires aside and entrusted the whole of that terrible day into the hands of God the Father. “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Jesus, God made flesh, submitted Himself wholly to the Father. Some people regard submission as a form of self-devaluation, but that’s not what it is. Submission is an act of trust. With these words, Jesus demonstrates complete confidence and trust in the Father’s purposes despite His own personal distress.

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. — Matthew 26:40–41

We have all been disappointed and hurt by friends who have failed to comprehend our pain. We have all been in situations where people minimized our struggle and difficulty. If ever a man needed faithful companions to stand with Him, it was here. However, notice that while Jesus is disappointed by Peter, James, and John, He recognizes that they are just tired. His concern is with the battles they themselves will face in the coming hours. He wants them to pray so they can avoid falling prey to the enemy’s devices.

He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. — Matthew 26:42–44

Three times Jesus prays that if there is any other way, if there is anything else that can be done, He desires the Father to find it. Three times He prays this under great duress, and three times He places Himself wholly under the will of the Father. This passage is important to all of us, because it shows us that there were no other options. If there is any other path to Heaven but through the blood of Jesus, then Jesus died in vain. This was it. This was the way it had to be.

All of the Law and the Prophets had been leading up to this Passover, this day of the crucifixion. Christ’s sacrifice had been intended since the foundation of the world, [3] and Jesus repeatedly let the disciples know that He was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. [4] Hebrews chapter 10 explains that the whole of the sacrificial system was put together to present a type, a foreshadowing, of Christ as the pure sacrifice who came to take away the sins of the world.

The writer of Hebrews explains this in great detail, but he sums up the situation in one verse, saying in Hebrews 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” That was the whole point of it. John the Baptist understood this when he introduced Jesus in John 1:29, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Jesus had to die. He had to take all the world’s sins on Himself. There was no other way for us to be saved from our dire predicament.

We suspect that Jesus prayed for several hours that night, but after a time He stopped rousing the disciples and let them sleep. It’s interesting that the disciples could not stay awake for an hour, but Christ’s enemies were able to watch all night. The disciples slumbered until Jesus woke them — when He could hear the soldiers approaching with Judas.

Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. — Matthew 26:45–46

It Started in a Garden

It’s interesting that Jesus began that fateful day in a garden, since it was in another garden that humanity’s trouble first started. We are all very familiar with the Garden of Eden and the events that transpired there, but it’s interesting to compare those events with the ones that took place in Gethsemane that early morning.

In Eden, all was beautiful and perfect and full of light. In Gethsemane, there was darkness, terror and pain. Adam and Eve submitted to the will of Satan in Eden, and in Gethsemane the Last Adam submitted to the will of His Father. In Eden, Adam sinned, and in Gethsemane his Savior suffered. In Eden, Adam and Eve failed to trust God, and in Gethsemane, Christ trusted God implicitly. Adam failed in Eden, but in Gethsemane the Redeemer conquered. Adam fell before Satan, but soldiers fell before Christ. Adam condemned the whole human race, and Jesus won us back. Adam took the fruit from Eve’s hand, but Christ received the cup from His Father’s hand. Adam hid himself, but Christ boldly showed Himself. God sought out the first Adam, but the last Adam sought God. Adam was driven from the garden, but Christ went willingly.

However, there is yet another garden in this picture. Adam fell in Genesis 3, and Christ suffered in Gethsemane, but we find Christ mistaken for a groundskeeper just a few days later in the garden where He rose victorious from the grave!

Betrayal

Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him. He knew it at the Passover meal, the Last Supper. What is especially notable is that Jesus told Judas to go — to go right then. We find that Judas had already met with the chief priests in Matthew 26:14–16 and asked them what they would give him for Jesus. They agreed to thirty pieces of silver, and from that point Judas was constantly looking for a time to hand over Jesus to them. Jesus knew Judas had done this, but He chose that Passover evening to send Judas on his way. Judas had betrayal in his heart, and John tells us that Satan entered into him at that Passover meal.

And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. — John 13:27

Jesus tells him, “Go do it. You’re going to do it, so do it now.”

The irony of this is that the chief priests and scribes and leaders had met about Jesus and discussed how they might kill Him, but they had specifically chosen to not take Jesus on a feast day. There was too great a crowd in Jerusalem during the feast and too much possible commotion.

And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people. — Matthew 26:4

They purposely wanted to avoid troubling Jesus on a feast day, but Jesus forced their hand by telling Judas to hurry up and go. Judas went off to collect a group of men to arrest Jesus that day. He had to leave the dinner, because the jig was up. It was now or never. The Lord is always the master of ceremonies, and it was important for the fulfillment of Scripture for Jesus to die on Passover as the ultimate Passover Lamb, whose blood protects us from death. Jesus is the sacrifice, but He is still in control. As we watch all of this, it’s interesting to discover that every detail is nudged along by the Lord, because He has a destiny to fulfill in a particular way at a particular time.

John 18:2 tells us that Judas knew that spot in Gethsemane where Jesus went to pray. It was a spot Jesus apparently often retreated to with His disciples. Judas met with the arresting party and led them to that quiet place.

And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. — John 18:2–3

The word “band” in the Greek is a term which means a tenth of a legion — a cohort of 400–600 men. It’s interesting that about 600 soldiers were stationed at Herod’s Antonia Fortress, so that group might have been sent out, but it’s clear the Temple police are also present. This is no small group sent out to arrest Jesus. Yet, the only reason they are able to arrest Jesus is because He intends to go with them. If it had not been part of God’s plan, this oversized party of soldiers would have lost their prey. The next few verses put this in perspective even more than is initially apparent.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. — John 18:4–6

That’s amazing. Jesus says, “I am He,” and they all fall backward to the ground. We miss something in the English, because the translators have added the implied “He” for the benefit of our English sentence structure. In the Greek, Jesus merely says, “I AM,” and the soldiers all fall backwards. This reminds us of John 8:58 when Jesus told the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” We miss the significance of little scenes like this, but the Jewish leaders always come to our aid by grabbing rocks to attack Jesus. They wanted to stone Jesus in John 8 because He was calling Himself by the name of the God of Israel — “I AM.” He was connecting Himself with the voice of the Burning Bush in Exodus 3:14:

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said,
Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. — Exodus 3:14

John begins his gospel by stating that Jesus was in the beginning, and all things were created by Him. Paul affirms this in Colossians 1:16–17, stating that Jesus is the Creator, that He is before all things, and He holds everything together — “by Him all things consist.” Here in John 18, Jesus merely says, “I AM,” and the power in that statement blows down the enemy. In John 8, He walked out of the Temple through the crowd and left the angry Pharisees behind. However, now the Lord’s time has come, and He waits for the soldiers to get back up and do their jobs. Yet, even now He is filled with divine power and authority.

Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. — John 18:7–9

Jesus tells the soldiers to let His disciples go, and they do. Jesus is still in charge. Notice that usually when people fell down before Him, Jesus spoke comforting words to them. In Luke 5:8–10 after Peter, James, and John caught a great number of fish, Peter fell at the feet of Jesus, and Jesus told him not to be afraid. On the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:5–7, the disciples fell when they heard the Father’s voice, but Jesus told them to not be afraid. Here in Gethsemane, Jesus does not say, “Be not afraid,” to the soldiers. This is their time to be afraid and to pay attention. Judas had led a whole cohort of 400–600 men to the garden to collect Jesus, which suggests they had intended to grab the disciples along with their leader. Six hundred men are not necessary for one lowly carpenter. They certainly had intentions of seizing the disciples as well, but Jesus tells them, “Look, I’m the one you want. Let these others go.” Jesus is still the Shepherd protecting His sheep. Jesus offers Himself freely to the band of men, but He commands them to let His disciples go, and the soldiers do so — even after Peter pulls out a sword and starts swinging.

By the way, it’s interesting that John says Jesus spoke in fulfillment of the saying, “Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” It sounds as though it’s a fulfillment of the Old Testament, but it’s actually a fulfillment of something Jesus had said earlier that night in John 17:12. John recognizes Jesus’ own words as prophecy.

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? — John 18:10–11

Here is Peter again, always doing things upside down and backwards. Here he is courageous when he should be calm and still, but later he’s cowardly when he should have been courageous. We know from Luke 22:38 that there were two swords between the disciples when they went out to the garden. Both Luke and John use the word machaira for these swords, and the machaira was a short sword or a large thick dagger about 18 inches long. It was thick, not sharp, designed for splitting helmeted skulls. Obviously Peter was not highly skilled in battle, and he missed by about three inches. I don’t think he was going for the ear of Malchus.

Jesus puts a stop to Peter’s rowdy effort to fight, and He reminds Peter of what He had told them earlier that night. He has a mission from His Father to accomplish here. Again, Jesus was saving Peter’s life, because he could have been killed in any ensuing scuffle. John doesn’t tell us so, but we read in Luke 22:51 that Jesus healed Malchus’ ear before they took Him away.

Have you noticed that nobody ever dies in Jesus’ presence? The woman caught in adultery was not stoned. Nobody perished in the boat in the storms. Peter didn’t drown when he tried to walk on water. Instead, those who had died were raised from the dead, like Lazarus in John 11 and the little girl in Mark 5:41. Nobody ever dies when Jesus is there — until Jesus Himself is put to death of His own volition.

Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.— John 18:12–14

We find here the beginning of a series of unlawful acts taken against Jesus that day. He did not resist arrest, but they bound Him anyway. It was unlawful to bind a prisoner before condemnation, but they did. This was just the beginning of the injustices…

1. Mark 14:33–34  
2. Luke 22:44  
3. 1 Peter 1:20Revelation 13:8  
4. Matthew 5:17John 5:39  

This excerpt is from Dr. Chuck Missler & Dr. Mark Eastman’s book The Agony of Love, available from  K-House.

The Wrath of God Was Satisfied: Wondrous Love in the Awful Cross

The Wrath of God Was Satisfied

Article by  Jon Bloom Staff writer, desiringGod.org The cross. 

What a terror. Extremely, almost inconceivably terrible. It was designed to be that way — to strike profound terror into the minds of any who could potentially be tortured upon one.  Two thousand years removed from the reality of Roman crucifixion and having become familiar with the cross as an abstract theological term, it can be hard for us to emotionally connect with what it really was: the terrible means of Rome executing its wrath upon its worst offenders. 
“The death of Christ was real, and it was really terrible. He was an object of wrath.”
And Jesus was executed on a cross. He was counted as among the worst offenders. His death was real, and it was really terrible. He was an object of wrath. But not just of Roman and Jewish wrath; in fact, not mainly of Roman and Jewish wrath (John 19:11). Jesus was primarily the object of his Father’s wrath — the most just, righteous, and terrible wrath there is. And he became that object willingly, even when his every human impulse longed for escape (Mark 14:36). It’s the very reason he came. 

For This Purpose He Came

Jesus knew what his mission was long before circumstances took their terrible turn toward the cross. He told a Sanhedrin member early on that he had come to be “lifted up” as Moses had lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). He explicitly warned his disciples,
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Luke 9:22)
To a crowd seeking more divine bread from Jesus, he said,
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:51)
And as time drew near for the horrible events to take place, Jesus grew more determined to face them (Luke 9:51), even as his anguish also intensely increased: 
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. (John 12:27)
Jesus had come “for this purpose.” What did he mean? He had come to glorify his Father’s name (John 12:28). He had come “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He had come to express his Father’s and his own love for sinners like us (Romans 5:8). He had come to draw all people to himself (John 12:32). He had come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) by becoming the propitiation for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). 

Divine Wrath Satisfied

The coming of this great Propitiator had been prophesied centuries before:
He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5–6)
And to ensure we’d understand the substitutionary nature of his coming, and whose wrath he would propitiate, the Spirit said through the prophet,
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:10–11)
“Who would have ever dreamed a Roman cross would become a symbol of the greatest love ever expressed?”
The old-covenant-era hearers would have understood what this meant, for guilt offerings were sacrificed to God as substitutes in place of those who had sinned against him, so that the sinners themselves would not bear God’s righteous anger. And the old covenant foreshadowed the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31Luke 22:20Hebrews 12:24), where the great Servant, the great Propitiator, would offer himself as the final once-for-all substitutionary sacrifice in the place of sinners (Hebrews 9:26).  That’s why Jesus came, and that’s what the cross was all about. On the cross, the Father made the sinless Son to be sin for our sake that in Jesus we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus, our Propitiator, absorbed the Father’s wrath against our sin and satisfied it in full, so that “whoever believes in him should not perish” but instead enjoy the Father’s favor forever (John 3:16). As the great song says, 
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on him was laid —
Here in the death of Christ I live. (In Christ Alone)

In This Is Love

The cross. What a terror. The cross of Christ.What a terror and glory. The worst brutality meets the mightiest meekness. Unfathomable horror meets unsurpassed beauty. The most righteous condemnation meets the most gracious pardon. The greatest justice meets the greatest mercy. The fiercest wrath meets the most bountiful favor. And such love.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9–10)
Who would have ever dreamed a Roman cross, one of the worst, most fearsome devices of torture ever devised, would become a symbol of the greatest love ever expressed? For “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” and saved us “from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:8–9).

You in Christ and Christ in You

When any man, woman or child anyone anywhere in the world today places his or her trust in the living Jesus, that person is instantly translated out of the lost world of mankind and placed into the Body of Christ. The sealing of one’s ownership by Jesus is forever certain. Circumstances in one’s daily life may not be changed right away but God’s promises are certain! God is a Person. He has emotions, a mind, a will. He is self-aware and omniscient. He is all about relationships: Knowing and responding to Him, and then serving others matter most of all.

Jumping off of the Ark is not an option. Nearly everyone who comes into Christ will experience changes in his or her lifestyle and all relationships with others will be affected. Naturally we ought to cooperate with the One who came into the world to save us ---by sacrificing his life! “...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). The only safe haven anywhere in the universe is "in Christ."

We may think we love God and are safe but we could be self-deceived. A picture of how God saves people is found in the account of the great Flood in Noah’s day. Eight persons were saved because they sought refuge in a great boat built by Noah. Noah pleaded in vain for over one hundred years with with his fellow man to find refuge and safety in his great ark— Noah is a “type” of Christ. Only eight responded. The world population at the time was probably in the billions--they had a hundred years to respond and they had no excuse.

"Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 

...knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 

But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless."
(2 Peter 3:1-14)

..."God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)

"...if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you." (Romans 8:10-11)

Similar imagery in the New Testament explains what it means for us to be “in Christ.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:3-14)
Every son or daughter of Jesus has a new citizenship in heaven having been both born and adopted into His family.
"...And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:1-10)

As God’s purchased and ransomed children we need to see that God can’t take us “as is” into heaven where He lives. We need an overhaul and much washing on the way. We need in fact to be put to death and raised from the dead! Not a problem for God.

We are especially identified with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection. 

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” (John 12:23-27)

The Fellowship of His Sufferings 

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Pressing Toward the Goal Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.“ (Philippians 3:7-21)

Galatians 2:20 sums up the true identity and destiny of all who agree to follow Jesus --- through the portal of the Cross --- into the splendor waiting for us on the other side.



“...how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord,
and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders,
with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”

(Hebrews 2:1-4)


Hymns

This World is Not my Home 
When the Trumpet of the Lord Shall Sound

The Way of the Cross: Old hymn

"Near the Cross," alternatively titled "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross" or "In the Cross", is a Christian hymn written by Fanny Crosby and published in 1869. 
  
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river
Rest beyond the river Keep me near the cross
I'll be watching, I'll be waiting
For my hope is in Him
I'll be trusting near the cross
It's free to all
It's free to all
It's a healing stream
Keep me near the cross.

Part 2: In the Cross

Reference Articles

The Great Flood of Noah
The New Testament and the Flood
Times and Seasons
Christ in You
The Exchanged Life
How God Saves Us
How Saved are You?
The Universal Plan of God
Dynamic Salvation
The Rebellious but Religious
A Wedding Invitation from Jesus
The Royal Road to Wholeness
False Religion
A Weekend in Jerusalem with Jesus

Portals: Absolute Geocentricity


Originated 1986. Updated March 30, 2019. Revised Version, January 21, 2020. August 28, 2020

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