With those two little words a scene of horror opens before us. Crucifixion was one of the most brutal methods of execution used in the ancient world. Yet it was a feature of life everywhere in the Roman Empire.
It was used against non-Roman citizens, the latter having the privilege of being beheaded (a swifter form of execution). Death was by asphyxiation although the victim had usually been weakened by blood loss, often caused by a previous flogging (as we see in the case of Jesus).
It was this terrible experience that Jesus suffered for us. Having proclaimed the kingdom of God and called for repentance, he was rejected, handed over to the Romans and crucified. His fellow Jews saw it as a particularly humiliating form of death and even a curse from God. Why did Jesus undergo this?
He did it for us, to demonstrate how much God loves us, for as he said, ‘No one can have greater love than too lay down their life for their friends.’
But there is much more mystery in the cross than that. In dying for us Jesus became a sacrifice for sin. It was as if, on the cross, he became a kind of enormous sponge that absorbed all the evil of the world. Jesus took it into himself and destroyed it for ever. In taking away the sin of the world he become the true ‘Lamb of God.’
And in being raised to new life by his father, Jesus conquered death and evil. That is why Christians know that even if it is horrible and ugly in itself – a torture instrument – in God’s eyes the cross is a sign of invincible love and a symbol of undying hope.
in the cross of Jesus
we see the cost of sin
and the depth of your love:
in humble hope may we place at his feet
all that we have and all that we are,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen