At the cross of Calvary, God did not focus upon bank fraud, bank robbery, stock market fraud, stage-coach robbery, the stealing of funds from the Jerusalem temple treasury, election voter fraud, the breaking of campaign finance laws, or any other imaginable common crimes…past or present.
Murder, theft, adultery…these were not the topics at issue at Calvary…although all of these…along with all of the sins of mankind… were absorbed by Jesus Christ on the cross.
The main concept at issue on the cross…that God was focusing upon…was going our own way.
It is recorded in Matthew 27:39-43:
39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God.
As the Pharisees and scribes are taunting Jesus to come down from the cross, they are in essence saying: “Come down…form an army…attack and defeat the Romans like King David of long ago…and commence the rule and reign of peace anticipated of the Messiah…and fix our world now according to our ways and thinking.”
But Jesus is not coming down from the cross to create a worldly salvation…not for the present moment…not at that time.
As the skies overhead darken…and the earth begins to gently rumble…at odds on Calvary Hill is the starkest contrast between going our own way versus the non-rebellious, perfect unity-of-purpose consistent within the Godhead of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…the perfect performance of God-sovereignty in action.
The very thing that qualifies Jesus the Son of God to be the King of Israel in fact and in actuality…is what keeps Him faithfully up on the cross…taking our place on the cross for our benefit…without a scintilla of the self-centered pride that would otherwise want to “save face” in-the-moment…to remove the disgrace of being taunted and mocked…while fulfilling His unique mandate and office of being the Passover Lamb of God.
At the cross on Calvary Hill…nearly two-thousand years ago…God Himself articulates the most important concept at issue in all of eternity…namely: Why look upward to Jesus hanging on the cross for a role model…demonstrating utter failure in terms of achieving the first-century Jewish equivalent of the American Dream…according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking?
Why not instead choose the Pharisees and scribes as our role models…as seemingly having won and secured their continued position in the world…standing around the cross and mocking Jesus for His apparent failure and soon-to-be-expected death?
For our modern culture today…this most sublime of questions…the choice between these two options…is as relevant and timely now as it was at Calvary two-thousand years ago.
Can Jesus Christ…the God/man on the cross of shame and disgrace…displaying perfect, sinless, consistent unity-of-purpose to the ancient plan of becoming the Passover Lamb of God atonement for mankind’s sins…performing perfectly within God-sovereignty in-line with His divine nature as the Son of God…can this Jesus Christ in utterly conventional failure while on the cross…three days before His resurrection…compose a better, purpose-filled, transcendent life-script for each one of us…or not?
If we let the negative appearance of the failure of the cross…in-the-moment…dissuade us into thinking that Jesus cannot compose the optimum life-script for us…patterned after the biblical narrative stories of faith…that displaces our ways with God’s higher ways…and that the true optimum life is not and never was about achieving worldly success…then we will opt for the default choice of directing and managing our own lives according to the conventional worldview of going our own way.
If the love that a king has towards His subjects…turns into rejection of this love…by some people…based upon the concept of going our own way…of autonomous individualism apart from the rule and reign of the king…this rejection then turns into something altogether different…something darker at its extreme expression.
Autonomous individualism can turn into a type of chaos that threatens the peace and stability of the kingdom.
“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” (Jn. 15:24)
“They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” (Jn. 8:39-40)
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:21-23)
The divine love that binds together the perfect unity-of-purpose within the Trinity is also the love that enlists us to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus into a God-composed journey of faith life-script…displacing our ways with God’s higher ways and thoughts…in a similar unity-of-purpose within our own unique callings and destinies.
This concept of God being in-charge of the course and destiny of our lives…for the sake of establishing unity-of-purpose within God-sovereignty…as previewed for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…is anathema to the humanistic worldview of autonomous individualism…of going our own way in self-achievement and self-validation.
The brilliantly separated dichotomy of Jesus on the cross…fulfilling perfectly His destiny as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…and the religious elites standing around the cross mocking Jesus for not being the King David deliverer of the nation of Israel suffering under Roman occupation…demonstrating the epitome of the contrasting worldview of going our own way according to the lights of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…is beyond the inventive imagination of human fiction writers.
The relevance and application of these ancient biblical stories of faith…especially the events surrounding the cross of Jesus Christ…are timeless not only because they cannot be repeated again in history…but also because they establish the highest standard for deep and profound truths…that cannot be improved upon…like the modernized remaking of old classic movies.
As our modern culture looks at Jesus on the cross…we either see the Master Scriptwriter living-out His eternal destiny as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…doing exactly what He is supposed to be doing…in the process securing everlasting life for those who will place their faith in Jesus Christ…or we see a worldly failure who will not prove His claim to be the Son of God…by coming down off the cross miraculously and performing like the Messiah that everyone expects…a failure that violates every tenet of the self-sovereignty of going our own way…outside of and separate from the eternal plans of God centered within God-sovereignty.
This is another compelling evidence for the divine origin of the Bible and Christianity…based upon the mere existence of this subtly deep conceptual divide between self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty.
Again, these biblical narrative stories of faith reveal the real truth about God.