The Opposing Cross
And now we come to the cross. Nowhere is there a greater depiction, or symbol, of the law of opposites than at the cross, and in the cross. Its very name denotes its nature. Any time something is crossed, two opposing directions intersect. We see it in crossword puzzles, we encounter it at crossroads, and we hear it in cross examinations; two directions approach and cross each another. And with the crossing, there is a point of intersection. And at this point, there is a completion…a wholeness…a balance…in that both directions, for just a moment,are contained within this one point. With that thought and from that vantage point, let us now approach The Cross.
The cross. We are familiar with its pattern, we are familiar with its purpose, but are we familiar with its point? Have we ever considered the opposing directions that cross…at the cross? What is fully contained at the intersection of these two beams…and what truths proceed from it? In all we’ve examined thus far, we know that from what God designed, to what He defines, to what He declares, opposites not only exist, they coincide. So why would we expect less at the cross? The instrument that has become the symbol for Christianity is also the symbol that has become the instrument for opposition. For in it, at its epicenter…at its point, the opposing natures of God and man intersect with the destinational beams of Heaven and Hell.
So, just what is encapsulated in the convergence of the cross? First, let’s look at its opposing natures. The cross and its role in crucifixion was recorded through the hand of God long before it was regarded through the mind of man. In Psalm 22, we read a detailed account of Jesus’ death 1,000 years before the event took place. Before crucifixion was even imagined, the image of One hanging on a cross was written for all to read…and to see. In this passage, we learn that Jesus’ bones were out of joint (v. 14), that His hands and feet were pierced (v. 16), and that he greatly thirsted (v. 15). All of these are specific to crucifixion. When we add to this the words of Zechariah 12:10 (“they will look on Me whom they pierced”) and Isaiah 53:3-6 (“stricken, smitten, bruised”), we learn that the mode of Jesus’ death was determined by God, and not by man. So, this leads to the question…why a crucifixion? If it was divinely determined by God before it was corruptly crafted by man, then…why?
To answer that question, we’ll first have to examine the purpose of the cross, for in its purpose we find the intersecting natures of the cross. Why did Jesus come to die? To pay for man’s sin (Romans 3:23). Why was a payment necessary? Because sin brought separation from God and the debt of death (Romans 6:23). Why couldn’t man pay for his own debt? Because the payment could only be taken to the Creditor by the one who owed nothing…by the One who was sinless. Man could not make payment because the sinful cannot enter into the presence of the Sinless. Therefore, a Mediator was needed, One who owed nothing, yet could pay for everything (I Peter 3:18). In this, we see the purpose for Jesus’ death: to make payment for our sins that we could enter into God’s presence.
So, what natures do we see intersecting at the cross, this place where man’s debt requires a Messiah’s payment, where man’s sin demanded a Savior’s death? It is here that sin crossed righteousness, law crossed grace, hate crossed love, and condemnation crossed exaltation. It is at the intersection of the cross that man’s dilemma is crossed out by Messiah’s deliverance, and man’s destitution is crossed over by Jesus’ divinity.
Next, let us examine the destinational beams of the cross. Having made our payment in full, man now has access to Heaven, but only if he accepts Jesus’ receipt. What Jesus paid for one, He paid for all, but all must receive the payment…one by one (Romans 10:9-10). To accept Jesus’ payment is to have life everlasting; to deny it is to receive death evermore. Where the cross beams converge, Heaven intersects Hell, salvation bisects damnation, and life transects death. For the cross in itself is a crossroads. Each one who comes to this cross must choose the way in which he will go. He may trust it and cross over into eternal life or he may deny it and cross under into eternal death. While all roads no longer lead to Rome, all choices do lead from the cross. It is the epicenter of our spiritual journey because everything leads to and stems from the cross. It alone separates man’s eternity into two destinations.
So now we move from the purpose and the placement of the cross to the predicament of the cross, which is this: why a cross…why a crucifixion? The need for sin’s payment may be understood, the outcome of one’s acceptance may be comprehended, but the method of such a sacrifice is difficult to surmise. Why so deplorable a death? Why so painful a payment? Couldn’t the Son of Man’s death have been more…more…humane? Since all things are possible with God, surely it could have been…surely it would have been…if it weren’t for the Law of Opposites. When God established that every action would result in an equal and opposite reaction, He not only set in motion the laws of motion, but He also set in motion the laws of commotion. With this principle, God ensured that the further He pulled in one direction, the farther He’d push in the other direction. Thus, to stretch us to the heights of Heaven, He’d have to pull back to the depths of hell. And, to transport us to the realms of delight, He had to reach down to the pit of despair. From this standpoint, we may now look upon Jesus’ crucifixion from a different perspective: it was unbearable…for our endurance; it was agonizing…for our comfort; it was excruciating…for our pleasure. It was for our glorification that Jesus endured gorification. When Jesus hung upon the cross, He not only crossed sin with righteousness and hell with Heaven, but He also crossed brutality with beauty, pain with pleasure, despair with delight, and defeat with victory. Had Jesus not plummeted to the lowest of lows, He would not have launched us to the highest of highs. It was His plan. It was His process. It was our procurement.
So, what is in the point of the cross, this intersection where two directions converge? It’s where we find two natures that collide, two destinations that converge, two extremes that counterbalance, two opposites that connect, and one love that consumes. May this give us yet another reason to glory in the gory cross, and to confess our most beautifully crucified Savior!