Why the cross?

Good Friday. It may sound strange that we call a day of the memory of such a brutal death "good." But the word good fits for several reasons. 1. If not for the cross, there would be no way to know God.

2. Though the brutality of the cross was evil, the Man on the cross was good.

3. The outcome of the cross has the potential for eternal joy.

I said yesterday that I would explain why the cross was necessary. From a purely human standpoint, it just sounds like a good man was given a bad rap, put through a mock trial, and executed by a wimpy judge. But if you get to know the Bible as a whole, not just in parts, you see a bigger picture.

Let's assume for a moment that the stories in Scripture are true. Let's assume the Creation story happened with real people, Adam and Eve, and that through them sin entered the world. And from that point on, every single person born of a woman, in the natural human way, was born a sinner by nature.

I know there is debate on this subject - I'm not here to debate it. Let's just assume that it's true. Could it be true? The Bible says that even a child is known by his actions, whether they are good or right. And one look inside my own heart tells me I'm a sinner. The Bible also says that if you've broken even one law it's as though you have broken them all. (Just go to the last of the ten commandments - Do not covet - and you've got me cold.)

So...if we are truly honest with ourselves, we can probably find sin in our hearts. (For a better definition of sin, scroll back a few days to That Three-Letter Word blog post.) The Bible also tells us that all have sinned...there is none righteous, not even one. (You can find that in both the Old and New Testaments.)

Sin entered the world through one man Adam, but grace and forgiveness came through the man Christ Jesus. Jesus wasn't born in the ordinary way. He was born of a virgin, which meant he didn't carry his father's sin nature. Since he didn't have the sin nature, and could keep the law perfectly without sinning because it was not in his nature to do so (though he was sorely tempted to do so by the evil one), he could fix the sin problem. But the only way to do that was through the shedding of innocent blood.

God had overlooked sin in the past with the blood of lambs and goats, but the sacrifices had to be repeated every year. Jesus came as the perfect substitute to shed his blood once and for all.

Why did blood have to be shed? Because the wages (payment) of sin is death. And without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. I'm quoting Scripture here, not my own ideas.

Do I understand it all? No. But if I could summarize it in a simpler way -

Adam sinned so Adam died. But his death was spiritual and physical. Jesus did not sin so he did not have to die. But He gave himself to die anyway. Jesus' death was physical so that the spiritual death that Adam caused (and we all suffered ever since) could be done away with. Jesus nailed our sins to His cross in a spiritual sense. And then He died to take them away. When He rose again, the slate was clean. (But more on His resurrection on Sunday.)

Why the cross? So we could be forgiven. So we could have our individual slates wiped clean and start anew, and then get to spend eternity knowing the God who stooped down to earth and died that horrible death - just to save us.

I don't understand it. But I do believe it.

And that's all He asks of us.