What Happened at the Cross?

What happened at the cross?  Easy answer – a lot.

Many books have been written and have yet to be written on all that was accomplished on the cross where Christ was crucified. It was the most significant event in human history.  The effects of what happened on those bloody pieces of wood echo throughout eternity.  I could not start to commence to begin to plumb the depths of Christ’s sacrifice in this puny post, but please allow me to hit some highlights.

Your sins were atoned for.  In the Old Testament, the word for “atonement” (kapar – Hebrew) could also mean “covering.” The blood of the bulls and goats sacrificed according to the law of the Old Testament were able to cover sins, but the blood of Christ is able to cleanse them – to erase them like they never existed (1 John 1:5-10).  Because of the blood that Christ shed at the cross, your conscience can be purged of guilt (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 9:11-15), and you can be sanctified – holy before a perfectly holy God (Hebrews 10:10). 

The door to fellowship with God was opened. In the Old Testament there was a tent structure, and then two later permanent structures, that were erected where the Israelites could meet with God.  They each had three distinct parts: the Outer Court (where any one could enter at any time to offer various offerings), the Holy Place (where only the priests would burn incense and offer bread on the Table of Shewbread), and the third section which was called the Holy of Holies.  This section was separated from the Holy Place by a veil – a symbol of sinful man’s separation from God (Hebrews 9:7-8). Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies once a year (Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement) with the blood of a spotless lamb to make atonement for the nation of Israel. On the day Christ was crucified, the veil (layers of cloth 6 inches thick) was torn from top to bottom.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that this was a picture of Christ opening the door to the Holy of Holies through His flesh – giving us the opportunity to commune with the living God at any time (Hebrews 10:19-25).

Victory over sin was made possible.  Since the time of the fall humans have been under sin’s oppressive yoke. When Christ died on the cross, the opportunity to be free of sin was provided. The “body of sin” was destroyed, the “old man” was crucified, and sin lost its dominion over us (Romans 6: 5-14).  We were crucified with Him – crucified to the world and the world was crucified to us.  What was once a symbol of a horrible death became life to all who believe in Him (Galatians 6:14).

The wall separating Jew and Gentile was removed. There is no more any distinction between Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners, white sinners and black sinners, rich sinners and poor sinners, or “great sinners” and “minor sinners.”  The way is open to all.  As the saying goes, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross” (Ephesians 2: 11-22).

Satan was given his “pink slip.”  Until the cross, Satan held sway over every person’s life through sin and death.   Just a few days before He was crucified, Jesus made a startling statement:

Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

John 12: 30-32 (KJV)

At that time, wasn’t Jesus the one who was going to be cast out and judged? True, He would be crucified a few days after He spoke those words, but His crucifixion – by providing freedom from the guilt and power of sin – was actually a judgment on Satan and the worldwide rebellion against God that he had led.  The writer of Hebrews makes it even clearer:

Therefore, since [these His] children share in flesh and blood [the physical nature of mankind], He Himself in a similar manner also shared in the same [physical nature, but without sin], so that through [experiencing] death He might make powerless (ineffective, impotent) him who had the power of death—that is, the devil— and [that He] might free all those who through [the haunting] fear of death were held in slavery throughout their lives.

Hebrews 2: 14,15 (AMP)

Through His death, Jesus rendered the devil powerless and idle in our lives – in other words, unemployed.  Once we receive, by faith, the free gift of the salvation He purchased for us, Satan can no longer keep us enslaved by the fear of death.

That was what happened at the cross. As I said in my last post – what happened to Him there – happened for you. All He purchased there for you can be yours by surrendering your life to Him, trusting Him to save you from sin. Believe me, if you do, your life will never be the same.

The Gospel accounts of the crucifixion: Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:28 – 19:42

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