Every year when I was teaching, we’d do a forensic study of the Cross.  In vivid detail, I’d describe how excruciatingly painful Roman crucifixion was.  The first school I taught I was an all-boys school.  The boys were fascinated by every detail.  However, when I moved to a co-ed school, the first time teaching this lesson left me stunned.  Halfway through the class, the boys were on the edge of their seats, eating it all up.  But shockingly, I noticed that most of the girls had tears streaming down their faces, cringing and wincing with every new detail.  Being more empathetic, it was sheer agony for them listening to what Jesus went through on the Cross.  At that moment, it struck me in a way it never had before how AWFUL Jesus’ suffering on the Cross truly was.

A few weeks ago, I promised to share several compelling explanations I’ve found for the Atonement—how Jesus’ death saves us from our sins.  And I will shortly, in several upcoming blogs.  However, I want to make one huge point about the meaning of the Cross before doing so.

As perplexing as the Atonement is, right from the start the one thing that no one has had to struggle to understand; the one thing that has never been in question, is that the Cross—if true—is the definitive proof of God’s love for us.  Any God who would suffer this much for us must love us, and immensely so!  As Paul says: “God proves His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  There is nothing more God could do to prove His love for us.

This season, the most powerful episode of Shark Tank—and one of the most powerful TV shows I’ve ever seen—was aired.  It featured three young adult children who were pitching their dad’s idea for an innovative kitchen cutting board.  Their mom had died of cancer in 2012.  Just a few years later, their dad, a New York City Firefighter, developed a rare form of cancer from working in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero following 9-11.  He died in 2016.

As they told their dad’s story, of his utter devotion to their mom, how crushed he was to lose the love of his life; of his dedication to them, especially after their mom died; of his heroism as a firefighter, ultimately making the supreme sacrifice as a result of his tireless efforts following 9-11, all five sharks were in tears.  So was I!

Then, in a never-seen-before move, without any haggling, all five sharks immediately agreed to accept the kids’ offer and pledged to contribute all their profits to firefighters who were sick from working at Ground Zero—and there are thousands of them.

So much of their story was so moving—their gut-wrenching losses, their brilliant resilience.  But what struck the deepest chord was the beauty of their dad’s self-sacrificing life.  It was awe-inspiring.

Of all the images of beauty we see, from magnificent works of art to scenic sunsets to the “beautiful” people of Hollywood, none is more awe-inspiring than sacrificial love, especially when someone makes the supreme sacrifice.  That’s why the Cross, as awful and terrible and horrific as it is, is also, paradoxically, the most beautiful thing possible—it is GOD’s complete and perfect sacrifice for us. 

If true, if indeed the Lord of the Universe made the supreme sacrifice for us on that cross, nothing could be more awe-inspiring.  Nothing could prove His love for you more clearly.

AND…and, what human could have imagined such a thing? 

Throughout all of history, humans are the ones who sacrifice—animals, precious goods, moral effort, etc.—to the gods or God.  Every other religion finds the idea of God sacrificing Himself for humans scandalous or foolish or both. 

Only with the Cross does God sacrifice EVERYTHING for us.  The Cross flips everything humans understand about God upside down. 

Which is another good reason to think this really could be the MINDBLOWING act of a transcendent God who loves us beyond all imagining!

So, why do you think Jesus had to die on the Cross?  How do you think His death takes our sins away?  Or, do you think all this is just too absurd to accept?  Is this what keeps you from believing in Jesus?

Tell me what you think!  You can share your comments and questions by going to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website, and if you’d like to read more articles like this, please “Like” the Raising Jesus Facebook page so we can keep you updated on future blogs, videos, and announcements.

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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