God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
If we could have seen the cross, I doubt that love would have been the first thing to cross our minds. To see a man betrayed, a man falsely accused, beaten, mocked, scorned, crucified — we probably would not have called that love. But sorrow — yes, we could call that sorrow. We could call the man hung on the cross — the object of torment, the bull’s eye of God’s fury, the derelict left all alone — we could call him a man of sorrows. But not love.
We couldn’t call that love until we understood something else — something so important that we’d be astounded to discover it, even confused to the point of embarrassment.
Imagine, if you will, how this might go — that you are standing there, looking at the cross, seeing Jesus suffer. You see the ornament of thorns piercing into his head, and the blood that ran down his face, and you see the abrasions wrapped around his sides from the scourging, and the nails piercing through his hands and feet. You are looking at him in sorrow — how terrible you’d feel for him! That this man was betrayed, falsely accused, beaten, mocked, scorned, crucified, and then, almost out of nowhere, someone walks up to you and says, “Excuse me, but you should know that you were the one who was supposed to be on that cross.”
You must have misheard him, so, stuttering, confused, you reply, “Wait, what? What do you mean?”
The interpreter comes back, “Yes, it’s true. You were the one who was guilty. You were the one who sinned, who turned your back on God, who worshiped lesser things instead of him. You were the one who was supposed to die and face the wrath of God.”
And at this moment, you are stunned. You lift your head and set your eyes again on the cross, on the man who hangs there dying. It’s then that you realize, he has been betrayed, falsely accused, beaten, mocked, scorned, crucified for me. For me? For me! He has done all this for me.
Right Here, Right Now
You stare at him again, and then you feel in the depths of your soul, that in and through all his sorrow, before and beyond all his agony, there is his love — his amazing love.
Jesus has taken your place. He has suffered as your substitute. The fury of God’s judgment that you deserved has been poured out on him. All of the weight, all of the shame — it all has been laid on him. The cross of sorrow is the cross of your salvation. Grace is being poured out. Mercy is triumphing. Your debt is being paid, right here, right now, as you watch this man die. Your debt is being paid in full. The curse of sin is breaking. The tyranny of sin undone. You are being set free.
What do we do here? What could we ever say about such a sight?
Imagine, if you will, the cosmic wonder that floods your soul. At this sight, at this love, you cannot help but cry out, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise and honor unto thee!