The Eternal Cross

Larry Ray Hafley
Plano, Illinois

The cup of suffering was set before the face of Jesus. He knew from the first that he would imbibe its broth and drink its dreaded dregs of bitter anguish. The cross was not a defeat of purpose. It was the purpose. It was not merely stimulated or motivated by public opinion but "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2: 23). The cross was the central reason for His coming; not a stumbling-block in His coming. This the Hebrew writer affirms constantly (Heb. 2:9-18; 9:24-28). Assuredly, Christ came to save, to take away the sins of the world (Matt. 1:21; Jno. 1:29). Hebrews tells how this saving was to be accomplished in His coming, i.e., "by sacrifice of himself."

Jesus was awake and aware of it. As the hour approached, His soul was troubled. Did He exclaim in exasperation, "Why is this happening to me? What went wrong?" No, He did not; hear Him --- "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour" (Jno. 12:27). In other words, "Shall I scream, Save me? No, for this is the purpose of my coming."

The lamb was used in Old Testament shadow and sacrifice (Ex. 29:38; Lev. 1: 10). Christ was the Lamb of God. His blood was necessary to take away sins; therefore, His sacrifice was mandatory. He was "as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Pet. 1: 18-20).

The order is this:

First, Gods eternal purpose included and encompassed the cross (Eph. 3:11; 1 Pet. 1:20).

Secondly, Gods prophets declared "that Christ should suffer" (Acts 3:18). The voices of the prophets were vindicated, not frustrated, when Christ was condemned and crucified (Acts 13:26-39).

Thirdly, Christ came for that purpose "that through death (even the death of the cross --Phil. 2:8) he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2 - 14).

Fourthly, "Christ crucified" was preached as the contemplation and verification of the Old Testament Scriptures. "And Paul ... reasoned . . . out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that (in accordance with the Scriptures) Christ must have suffered," and that He is "risen again from the dead" (Acts 17:2, 3). This was preached in Berea. The hearers "searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11). Result: None of them could find any mention of the cross in Old Testament prophecy, so they threw Paul out of their midst? No, that is not what occurred. Here it is, "Therefore many of them believed" (Acts 17: 12). As a consequence of their study, they saw that it was explained and proven "out of the scriptures . . . that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead," and so many of them believed, and so we believe.

May 11, 1972