For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
The Cross of Jesus happened at a precise point in time and history. Jesus gave his life as an offering to the Father for us, to satisfy the claims of Divine justice and the demands of the broken law.
We know this sacrifice was accepted by the Father, because when they came on the third day, to finish embalming him, the tomb was empty, and Angels told the witnesses “Why look for the living among the dead, He is not here, he is risen!” .
The sacrifice of the cross was planned, foreordained, by the Father, from the very foundation of the world. He knew we would fall, and in love He made provision. He knew we would have to be saved, from the destruction of our own sin, and from His Holy wrath.
Everything which God did in the earth among men, was in anticipation of the cross. The calling of Israel, the Temple and it’s services of sacrifice,the ministry of mercy and intercession, the election of a Priestly order, and everything else God did in the time leading up to the Incarnation of Jesus, None of it would mean anything without the cross.
To what purpose, would all of the teaching of the Prophets, the exploits of the Kings and Judges, the worship in the temple… in short everything in scripture… what good would all of that do without the cross? All anticipates the cross, and only the cross gives ultimate meaning to it.
For example, If Israel was created, and given knowledge and light, taught to worship and separated by law, clothing and diet, only to have an improved life in this life, but then to die and to have to suffer wrath for their sins forever, could we really say that God loved them? The cross is the essential expression of God’s love.
What good would the ministry of Jesus be, without the cross, as the culmination of it ? What good would it do to bring His higher moral teaching, and for him to go about “doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the Devil” , if there were no crowning act of the giving of himself on the tree in our place? A healed sinner is still a sinner, doomed and under the wrath of a Holy God. Everything Jesus did on earth pointed towards the cross and it’s fruits.
There is no Love of God, without the cross.
God is Love. Jesus is the ultimate and full revelation of the Love of God, and the ultimate act of Jesus, was his self giving on the cross, as our substitute.
God’s love is inseparable from the cross. There is and has never been any Divine love, other than that which either anticipated and pointed to the cross, or that steady flow out of the cross into history.
The Cross of Jesus is a like a beacon of Divine Love, radiating back , as far back as the garden of Eden and even before he foundation of the World. We see the shadow of the cross in the garden, when the Prophecy of the “seed of the woman” who would come to crush the serpent’s head, but whose heel would be bruised, and in the horror of the first couple being clothed in the skin of a recently slain animal.
In just the same way, the rays of Divine love flow out of the cross into the future and all the way until the end of time and into eternity. Millions of hardened, ruined and stained sinners have been spiritually slain, by the good news of the substitute Savior over the centuries. As soon as they hear it, they know inside that it is true, as Isaiah prophesied that we would,
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.(Isaiah 52:13-15)
We are brought into the very throne room of God, and given a glimpse of the eternal future, in Revelation 4-5, in which we see and participate in the worship of Heaven itself, around the throne of the Lamb. The “new Song” is necessary, for the “old Song” is no longer adequate in and of itself. The “Old Song ” worships God as Creator,
Thou Art Worthy Oh Lord, to recieve Glory,and Honor and Power. For Thou hast Created all things for thy pleasure…(Revelation 4;11)
Why is this perfectly true and right Hymn no longer adequate? Because we have fallen, and need to be redeemed in order to know and worship and love and be loved by God. Thus the new Song, is sung to the “Lamb who had the marks of slaughter”, and is of the blood shed for our Redemption.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9-10)
This is why Jesus said, in John 3:16… God so loved the World… ( he didn’t say God so Loves the World). The way Jesus put it, it implies an action. God did something to love the world.
At one point in time, space and history, God Loved the World…on the cross. it was real, concrete and absolute Love. If you had run your hand up the cross, you would have splinters. It happened on a calendar day, for as we say in the creed, “He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered died and was buried…” , they embalmed him and laid him in a tomb.
Satan hates this teaching because people are deceived already about the Love of God. There is a humanistic, abstract concept of the Love of God, a general, “unconditional” love, that they are counting on, if they believe in God at all. “God is Love, and Love is God”, they carelessly say. They may just as well say, “Peace on earth…” or “Judge not…” or any of the dozen or so other religious sayings which half salve men’s consciences.
This is why my burden lately is to stress that the LOVE of God cannot be disconnected from the cross. There will be no personal experience of Divine love without it, and there will never be another pivotal event from heaven of the same nature. God loved the World once, “In this way did God once love the world, He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever goes on believing in Him, shall not be ruined, but shall go on having eternal life”. ( Paraphrase of John 3:16 as taught by David Pawson).