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The first of three devotions on . . .


Take a look at the cross. It was the best way for Jesus to die.

The method was gruesome, horrible, painful, criminal, torturous, full of anguish. You could easily make a list of over thirty extreme ways that history has shown by which people were executed. Crucifixion ranks up there among the worst. It was “popular” centuries ago in Europe, Near East, and Far East countries; in Rome, of course, and in Japan, to name another.

If a different method had been used in Jesus’ case–hanging, for example–I suppose “cross” hymns would all have become “noose” hymns. And there would be altar nooses and steeple nooses and nooses worn around our necks (as jewelry, I mean!).

But no, it was the cross. It had to be. The Old Testament foretold it (Deuteronomy 21, Numbers 21, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53). Jesus predicted it several times as, for example, in John 12 when He signified by what type of death He would die. It was God’s will from eternity. It would be the absolutely best way for Jesus to die for our sins. No debate.

And no subtle change or modification. Years ago one writer said that Jesus was not crucified on a gilded, bejeweled cross, in a carpeted sanctuary, with the glow from stained glass windows reflecting softly off His body while the organ played soft lilting music to folks sitting in polished-and-pillowed pews. No, the ugly way was just right–to teach us the terribleness of our sins and the immensity of God’s love for us.

The cross of Christ is the perfect depiction of Law and Gospel. It shows the curse, and it shows the curse removed (Galatians 3:10-13). It awakens from spiritual death, removes the fright of temporal death, and gives complete relief from eternal death. At times it seems strange, but then again it is most marvelous and natural for us to sing hymns like “Drawn to the Cross” and “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

The ugly has become totally blissful. “Lift High the Cross.”

–Pastor Warren Fanning