The cross symbolizes man’s evil and God’s mercy.
Did Jesus want to die on the cross? No. He wanted there to be another way: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). He accepted the Father’s will, and died for our sins.
Did God want Jesus to die on the cross? No. He wanted another way. (Luke 22:42). God’s original plan was that man would not sin at all. However, Adam and Eve disobeyed him and broke his law. He permitted sin in the garden, and at the cross.
If we had not killed the sinless Son of God, then we might have shown that we did not need a savior. But it was God’s will that events should follow the natural course of our fallen nature, so that our true evil nature would be fully displayed. Our rebellion in the garden reached its full fruition when we nailed God to a tree.
Some people believe that there is some good in some men that allow them to merit God’s favor. But they forget that we are all related by blood, that like Cain we are all descendants from the first man, that we all share the same family tree. In “Adam all die.” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets… You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? [Matthew 23:29-33].
The cross is a symbol of our evil. God did not invent the cross, we did. God did not nail his Son to the tree, we did. Yet through it, Christ overcame sin, death, and the devil.
Now, through faith we become brothers with Christ sharing both his blood and his triumph. “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers … they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10). “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
The cross says much about us, but it says more about God.
This article was first published in my church’s 2001 May newsletter. The picture is of the sun glinting off of the large metal cross on the steeple.