The Cross of Christ

As the children of Jacob had to date their beginning as a nation in relationship with God from the Passover night when the lamb was sacrificed for them, so must we in our thoughts continually go back to the Cross of Calvary where Christ, our Passover, was slain for us. We could have had no existence as the children of God, or members of the body of Christ, apart from that cross of sacrifice. There could have been no assembly at all to gather together, and we should have remained for ever the children of wrath, if Jesus had not died. But now we live, and the life that is given to us is eternal life; but we owe it all to the death of our Saviour. We are to be gathered soon, the whole multitude of God's children, into heaven's cloudless joy; but then, as now, we shall date our knowledge of God from the cross, and we shall discover our origin there, and like the sound of many waters our grateful praises shall roll upward, and for ever, to the Lamb that was slain.

Consider Him coming forth from His eternal glory, from the glory which He had with the Father before the world was made: see Him take the place as a Man amongst men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: follow His footsteps along that road upon which no human eye smiled, for it was neither approved nor understood by men — that pathway that "led only to the cross"!

What great purpose was it that set His face as a flint in that way of sorrow? It was the Father's will, and what was that will? It was that we might live; that He might gather His saints together as His assembly now, and have us as His "many sons" in glory hereafter, all conformed to the image of His dear Son, that He might be the Firstborn amongst many brethren. And nothing less than the cross could make this possible; His incarnation amid the lowly surrounding of Bethlehem's manger was not enough: His life of service and sorrow amid the need and misery of men was not enough: His prayers, His works, His tears were not enough. His agony and sweat of blood in the shades of Gethsemane were not enough; all these had their part in the unfolding of the heart of God, and in the making known of His own deep perfections; but if guilty men were to be pardoned, if dead sinners were to live, if He was to build His assembly, if heaven was to be filled with "a multitude of sons", Jesus must die. For "Verily, verily, I say to you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it die, it brings forth much fruit".

It was death as the judgment of God that He endured, the penalty of sin. Two things met at the cross — our sins, and the judgment of God. Our sins — not as we see them and measure them, but as God knew them and saw them in their exceeding sinfulness, and those sins were laid on Jesus, nay, more, He, the Sinless One, was made sin for us, made sin that in His own sinless Person He might bear to the uttermost the judgment of God against sin, and herein lay His sufferings, unmeasured and immeasurable. It was this that made Him say in the garden, "If it be possible let this cup pass from Me", and upon the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?"

Little wonder then that we make the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ our boast and glory, strange that we should ever forget it. How great was the love that moved Him to endure the cross! Love that each of us can take to himself as his very own, and say, "The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me". He loved His assembly and gave Himself for it.