This is an extract from a book I was reading. It really convicted me, and I hope it does the same to you.
Why the cross?
Because sinners have no other hope.
Why the cross?
Because it is the unassailable proof that we can be forgiven.
Let's gaze on it together. As we draw close, don't assume that you already know and understand what happened there. Come to the cross as if for the first time. In the book When God Weeps, Steven Estes and Joni Earackson Tada give this account of Christ's death. As you read, refuse to let the scene be familiar. Let its reality shock you.
The face that Moses had begged to see - was forbidden to see - was slapped bloody. The thorns God had sent to curse the earth's rebellion now twisted upon his own brow..."On your back with you!" One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier's heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner's wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier's life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to the lungs? Who gives energy to the cells? Who holds the molecules together? Only by the Son do all things hold together. The victim wills that the soldier live on - he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings. As the man swings, the Son remembers how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm - the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless - the nerves perform exquisitely. "Up you go!" They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can barely breathe.
But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl on the spotless being - the living excrement from our own souls. The apple of his Father's eye turns brown with rot. His Father! He must face his Father like this!
From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise those eyes.
"Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped - murdered, envied, hated lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten - fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you EVER held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk - you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolution, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp - buying politicians, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, abused slaves - relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, I loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?"
Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamenessless itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed. The Father watches as his heart's treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. The Lord's stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.
"Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?"
But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, will not, reach down and reply.
The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.
Yes, we have been rescued. We have been saved. Too often the church neglects to mention what we have been saved FROM. We have been saved from an eternity of suffering and enduring the wrath of the Almighty, Holy, Just Lord of the universe, for the sins we have committed. Remember this Christmas what the birth of Jesus means for God's chosen people - salvation from God's wrath. Thank the Lord. Give Him all the praise and all the glory which He deserves. The gracious, merciful Lord saved us unregenerate unworthy sinners from His wrath, through repentance and faith in Christ. Lord, for Yours is the power, the kingdom, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.