How do you look at the cross? What do you see going on there when you picture Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross? Do you see a lamb lead to slaughter? Do you see just a man dying for what he believes? Unbelievers may look at the cross and see what I call the “natural” outcome. A man is nailed to a cross. He bleeds out and dies. The same fate would come to us all. Yes indeed, the same fate came to two other men hanging with Jesus that fateful day.
Yet as believers in Jesus, I think we must look at the cross and see the beauty of the supernaturally natural. Like those pictures made with a million dots that after minutes of staring reveal a deeper picture, I think we must focus the eyes of our hearts and minds, to stare at the cross until we see the supernaturally natural beauty of the picture beneath.
So what is natural about the cross. It is this. If you and I get flogged we bleed. If you and I get nailed to a cross bones break, flesh tears, and blood pours forth. This is natural for us. Laws of nature are not confounded by us. Gravity works. Force is applied to hammer and a nail bears down upon us. We get no say. We could scream for our captors to stop, but nature doesn’t pay us any attention. The laws of physics are not challenged by our demands. Laws of motion do not ask for our permission to work. Laws of physics and force and energy work like they should without asking for our agreement.
And then comes Jesus Christ. The one who is fully God and fully Man. The one whom the Bible says:
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossian 1:16-17 (emphasis mine)
In Christ we come to understand, or more closely, come to submit to the idea, that He is continually sustaining His creation. He is at all times sustaining it from falling into chaos and disorder. This mystery is profound. I don’t know how this all works, but we must understand that Christ is central to all created order and that all creation is for His glory and is sustained by his existence. So every natural law bends its knee to Christ and works because he so allows. He causes metal to be metal and blood to flow through veins. He keeps trees growing and holds together the carpenters hand that fashions a cross. He makes cows. He made leather. He makes the physical world possible where leather combined with a forceful movement of bone and muscles can contact skin and split it in two. He made vines and the thorns to grow on them. He made vinegar to taste bitter and not sweet. So the world works and works the way it does because Jesus Christ never stops saying, “Let it be so!”
The Bible also tells us:
“No one takes it [Jesus’ life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:18
So no one can take Jesus’ life. He has to lay it down. He has no sin in which death can make a claim upon him. He must lay it down. He sustains all life, even his own, and it can not be taken from him unless he allows, no, not just allows, but lays it down of his own accord.
So Christ comes to the cross, and though the outcome looks the same as it would be for me and you, what is really going on is supernatural. Unlike us, the laws of nature are confounded. “What do we do when God is struck by a whip? What do we do when He who holds together the molecules that make metal, gets pierced by a nail? Is it possible for a thorn to scar the head of all created order?” So nature looks to Christ for the answer. And Christ declares, “Let it Be So!”
The leather whip bears down on Christ’s back and Jesus says “Let it be!” And then flesh tears and blood flows. A crown of thorns is placed upon his head and He says, “Let it be!” And only then can sweat and blood mix together down his face. Authority is given to a man named Pilot and Christ says, “Let it be!” A legion of angels await a command, and Jesus replies, “Let it be!” and they stand and watch in awe the only time God would die. Metal spikes are placed upon his wrist and ankles, a guards hammer goes into the air and the God-Man says, “Let it be!” And then it punctures his wrist and legs, splits bone, and enters clean through and into wood. A swatch of vinegar touches His mouth and he says, “Let it be!” and it tastes bitter like it should and not like festival wine. Death must ask permission to proceed and Christ says again, “Let it be!” His body is raised and the one who was present “In the Beginning,” is the only who could declare, “It is finished!”
So when we look to the cross, let us not see a man dying on a cross. Let us not see the natural outcome that came to so many before Jesus and to so many after him in that Roman world. Let us see God declaring, “That what was meant to be for you, I now say Let it Be for me!”