Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Cross Work of Christ

When Jesus died on the cross, multiple things were happening through that one event. It's difficult to boil the cross down to one thing that was accomplished there. The cross is the climax of man's existence on earth and the fulfillment of everything written in the Old Testament. There are many different historical and biblical themes that converge on the cross. Here are several things that Jesus accomplished at the cross:

Satisfaction of God – When Jesus died on the cross, a legal debt was satisfied with God. God has a standard of righteousness that must be perfectly kept, and all mankind has failed in this task. As a result, the wrath of God is being poured out on all mankind because of unrighteousness. Though we have failed to live up to our obligations before God, Jesus took upon himself the punishment that our sin had earned. God saw the work of Jesus on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of his people. This is what we mean when we say that Jesus is our substitutiary atonement. Instead of punishing us for our sins, Jesus was punished as our substitute on the cross. It's important to realize how intentional and specific the cross was. Jesus knew exactly what sins he was dying for, and exactly how God's law has been violated in each individual. He didn't just die to make salvation possible, and he didn't just die to be an example of humility or love. He died to pay the specific debts of specific people as a propitiation for their sins. Propititation is a big word that means to turn aside God's wrath – to change God's disposition toward us from burning anger to loving acceptance. At the cross, God exchanged our sin for Christ's righteousness. He took the wages due for our sin, and placed them upon Jesus; and he took the righteousness that Jesus merited and placed it upon us. God's sense of justice is satisfied by Jesus' life and death on behalf of his people. (See Isaiah 53; Acts 4:24-28; Romans 3:23-26; 5:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 2:14-17; 7:26-27; 9:23-28; 10:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:9-10)

Redemption from Bondage
– When Jesus died on the cross, he redeemed those for whom he died by paying the ransom for their deliverance. Jesus told his disciples that he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. At the last supper with his disciples, Jesus said, “This is my body which is given for you.” A ransom is the price paid to release a slave from bondage. When Adam sinned, the world was cursed by God and given up to bondage under Satan and death. For mankind, this means that everyone born in Adam must die – first, because of their relationship with Adam, and second, because of the sin they accumulate themselves. Jesus died on the cross to “buy back” those who are under the curse. Jesus has once for all set free those for whom he died, and they will never again be slaves to sin or cursed because of it. In redeeming man, Jesus also triumphed over Satan and the forces of evil, rendering his temptations and accusations impotent. In addition to the redemption of man, Jesus redeemed the entire created universe from the consequences of the curse. The apostle Paul describes the entire creation as “groaning” under its bondage to corruption because of man's fall. The cross has purchased the entire universe back from the curse. Because it is God who cursed the world as a punishment for Adam's sin, and because it is God's glory that has been offended by man's fall, it is God who must receive the ransom to buy it all back. In the eternal counsels of God, it was decided that Jesus' death on the cross would be a satisfactory payment to free the world and sinful man from bondage. (See Psalm 49:7-9, 15; Isaiah 35:10; Zechariah 3:1-5; Mark 10:45; Romans 8:18-25; Galatians 3:10-14; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13-14; 2:13-15; Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 2:14-17; 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9)

Reconciliation with God – When Jesus died on the cross, he reconciled us to God, or restored a relationship that had been broken since the fall of Adam. Everyone has an inherited natural hostility toward God, and God recognizes everyone as enemies. Jesus mediated between God and man at the cross, taking upon himself the enmity between God and those for whom he died. Reconciliation is closely related to the satisfaction gained by Christ's propitiation and the redemption bought by Christ's ransom. As the wrath of God was turned away at the cross, the channel of God's blessings was also opened to those who had been God's enemies. Since God's justice is satisfied, and man's ransom has been paid, nothing hinders God from granting his people all the blessings of adoption. God brings those who were his enemies into his family as children, and enables us to rejoice in him rather than hate him. He promises us eternal life in a new earth where there will be fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. (See Romans 5:1, 6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 4:1-7; Ephesians 1:5-10; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:15)

Example for Man – When Jesus died on the cross, he provided an example of loving humility and perseverance in suffering. The cross was the place where Christ not only became the substitute, but also the example to be followed by those for whom he died. Jesus is the eternal Son of God, yet he left all the comfort and pleasure of his status behind to live as a man and die on the cross. In this event, he reconciled us to God and he also reconciled us to one another. In the same way that man is a natural enemy of God, man is also a natural enemy of other men. The heart of man is full of hatred and futility. By looking ahead to the reward of Heaven, Jesus was able to endure the suffering of the cross, taking our wrongs upon himself. In doing this, he gave us an example to follow, in that we can also take the wrongs of others upon ourselves for the joys promised in Heaven. (See 2 Corithians 8:8-9; Philippians 2:1-8; 1 Peter 2:2:20-25)


danny2 said...

i'm glad you're back to blogging more regularly

and especially thankful that these articles are the Content you center on!

love you brother!

Nan said...


I love this post darby. How freeing it is to read it! I think it'll come in quite handy in group!

PNassar said...

I really like this blog and have been lead to these thoughts in my recent studies. I am still though not comfortable with the aspects of the question "who did Christ do this for". For "all" people, or those who will believe at a later date. In other words, every human, good, bad, those who will accept him, as well as those who will reject Him. I am simply trying to understand the biblical understanding of who he redeemed and when.


Darby Livingston said...

Thanks for stopping by. As long as our response to Christ is humble thanksgiving for his amazing grace, to God be the glory however he works it out.

Richard said...

"Mankind enslaved for the sin of Adam>" That's a little extremem, isn't it?