Divinity Vs Depravity
The Cross is the meeting place of God’s Greatness, and Goodness with that of Human depravity. The Son of God confronts all the Powers of Darkness in the most virulent and ugly form. The most violent crime by the creation against the creator was enacted on the hill of Calvary outside the city of Jerusalem.
The seven words uttered from the Cross provide the glimpse of God’s heart, priorities and values.
In the context of death, people generally think of vengeance and revenge. Here, the Son of God demonstrates his divinity and holiness by stating: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).
The highest form of human depravity is expressed by the religious leaders of Judaism. They conspired in the darkness and in night. With their corrupt mind they pay Judas to betray him. False witnesses were manufactured. The Roman Governor is blackmailed to declare Jesus guilty and award capital punishment. The mob is instigated in the name of nationalism to bay for the blood of Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course there were disciples who disappeared in the moment of crisis; slept instead of praying and denied instead of boldly confessing. Like me there are numerous who forget Him most of the time in our day to day lives. Paul writes that we are God’s enemies. (Romans 5:10)
The humanity gave him the most vicious, violent form of punishment – death on the cross. In response the Dispenser of all good gifts offers humanity – love that embraces the whole humanity.
Two criminals were punished along with Lord Jesus in a deliberate attempt to humiliate him. The criminals had an interesting conversation. One was mocking Lord Jesus and the other spoke in favour of him. Also, the thief on the right was in right mind. He asked for forgiveness and place in heaven. When he saw Lord Jesus offering forgiveness to his enemies, he understood who he was and wanted to appropriate the forgiveness, then and there. The faith response to the offer of forgiveness was rewarded. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
In the midst of insane, insensitive and irreverent humanity, there was one who had spiritual discernment and right attitude. The thief has the spiritual senses to discern Lord Jesus Christ as Lord, Kind and His Kingdom. So, he seeks a place in the dwelling place of God- heaven. Lord Jesus dispenses the gift for the thief to be with him in paradise. As Son of God, he opens the doors of heaven for the repentant thief. The other thief demonstrates the lowest of human depravity. Though, a sinner, he does not want to acknowledge that, instead he challenges the Son of God. There is not humility or repentance in the attitude of the unrepentant thief.
Lord Jesus was involved in the mission of redeeming the humanity; however, he was not forgetful of his familial ties, obligation and responsibilities. Family is important in God’s perspective. His concern was for Mary, who had suffered humiliation in his birth. Now she was a widow lonely as he was embracing death. She deserved respect and resources to sustain herself. “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26,27)
Fourth: Spiritual Agony
The pinnacle of Lord Jesus agony is expressed in this statement. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. (Matthew 27:46) The physical, emotional and spiritual agony began the previous day when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. The whole night judicial and religious trials before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod were torturous mentally and physically. The whipping was not only painful, exhausted his physical strength with huge loss of blood (dehydration).
The human depravity is seen the way the whole judicial system was subverted, religious power was misused, people were manipulated, charges frames, witnesses lied as they were coached. The mocking of people around the cross, challenging him to come down or summon prophets to come and rescue him. The Sin was in full display and the spiritual darkness was real. The spiritual price of carrying the Sin of the world was peak at this moment, where he bore the wrath of God on behalf of humanity.
Fifth: Physical exhaustion and spiritual accomplishment
Physically exhausted, emotionally drained, mentally tired and spiritually in agony; Lord Jesus said: “I am thirsty.” (John 19:27) He did not have any food or drink after the last supper he had with his disciples. There was a physical thirst for water. There was an emotional thirst for Love of the Father who has been separated for a moment; earthly friends the Apostles. Indeed, there was a spiritual thirst of redeeming the world. The people around watched the cruel death. The creator of Heaven and Earth was longing to have water.
Six: Exploded bomb
The human depravity to cause pain and agony can extend only until a person’s death. After his death human beings cannot inflict any more pain. Lord uttered: “It is finished.” (John 19:30) The human capacity to do evil cannot go on and on. All their wickedness are exhausted. Lord Jesus physical suffering and spiritual agony is complete. The task of opening a New Way through His Body was complete. The wages of sin – death has been borne. The cost of redemption – His blood was paid. The Humanity thought: ‘He is finished.’ In reality, He has finished the Work of Salvation and fulfilled the prophesies spoken in advance about him. The sufferings and death is once for all finished. There is no more need for another incarnation or atonement. When a bomb explodes, all its power is released and exhausted. The Sin exploded in the Cross and deprived of power to harm humanity any more.
Seven: Choice of Commitment
Satan and his human agents thought that they used all their vileness and power to finish off Lord Jesus Christ. But, it could happen only by the voluntary choice of Lord Jesus to give life. “ No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:18) All Satanic forces, Human ingenuity and cruelty cannot destroy Lord Jesus Christ. His death was His choice to surrender the Father. Luke writes: “Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Lord Jesus demonstrated what he taught and preached. Hatred and envy can motivate a person to harm and kill others. However, greater love lays down the life for others as sacrifice. This greater love demonstrated on the First Good Friday has no parallel in the whole human history. Cross is the place to learn love not hate; forgiveness not revenge; living and giving for others and not taking things and lives of others. The death is followed by resurrection – the natural sequence. The sins of whole humanity cannot overcome the Love of God, Justice of God and Power of God as demonstrated in the Death and Resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ.