The View from the Cross

During the weeks leading up to Easter, Christians tend to focus on what happened while Jesus hung on the cross, in particular the pain and humiliation he endured. Some books and devotionals urge us to let our thoughts linger on the agony he suffered and even go so far as to suggest literal participation. Self-flagellation used to figure prominently in some sects, though it’s not practiced much today. But some still practice self-inflicted figurative suffering, dwelling on the gruesome details of crucifixion in an effort to get inside the pain Jesus experienced.

Most often, we might picture ourselves there, as one of the onlookers, crying with sadness and disbelief that the Son of God had to go through such an ordeal. Perhaps we feel guilt too, as we realize our sin put him there. While it’s good to understand and appreciate the gravity of the sacrifice, both on the part of the Father and the Son, I would like to look at it from a different perspective, that of Jesus, as he experienced it.

The subject is too extensive to cover everything, but a few things stand out: first, he and his Father had planned it from the beginning. He knew what was going to happen and told his disciples about the suffering he would endure. As some have said, this was not plan B, but always the way to our salvation and redemption.

Second, many focus on Psalm 22, which he quoted: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 22:1, NLT), but they stop there, wrongly assuming the Father turned his back on Jesus because he became sin. In Psalm 18, we discover that God heard his cries for help and rushed to his side: “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me…. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me” (verses 16-19, NLT).

Jesus was never in doubt that his Father loved him and would move heaven and earth (Psalm 18:7-15) to bring him to the “wide-open field” (MSG) or “a spacious place” (NIV) of his resurrected life, at the Father’s right hand (vs. 19).

And last, the cross wasn’t child abuse, as some declare with cries of revulsion, vowing never to believe or trust in a God who would do that to his son. Rather, it was the ultimate expression of love, as Jesus willingly laid down his life for us. The amazing love of the Triune God took him there, kept him there and brought him to the exalted place of Savior and King. The same God who moved heaven and earth to rescue his son from death and in so doing, conquered death for us, moved heaven and earth to save us,  because he delights in us. He will one day bring us to that spacious place of eternal life in his presence – all for love.

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