What do you think about when you see a depiction of Christ on the cross? Most of us are overwhelmed by the physical and emotional suffering that He endured—the scourging, beating, thorns, nails, mocking, and shame. We are horrified at the cruelty of the Romans and the hard hearts of the Jewish rulers.

But during the crucifixion, far more was happening than the eye could see. God was carrying out His plan to rescue mankind, providing everything we need for salvation:

1. Redemption. Jesus paid the full price of the debt we owed for transgression: death. His payment set us free from bondage to sin.

2. Forgiveness. God could now release us from the punishment we deserved.

3. Propitiation. Christ’s payment satisfied the Father by fulfilling His demand for justice while letting Him forgive us.

4. Justification. On the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, the Lord now declares believers not guilty. Although we will still sin in this earthly life, our standing before God is one of righteousness. This is a legal declaration that can never be reversed.

5. Reconciliation. The sin barrier that separated us from the Father was removed by Christ’s death on our behalf. We’re now God’s children—we have open access to Him and fellowship with Him.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11)

The crucifixion was the only way to rescue lost humanity. If there had been any other way, the cross would have been a grotesque display of divine cruelty. But because so much was at stake, it can truly be called the greatest act of love by both the Father and the Son.

Source: Dr. Charles Stanley