Every Christian receives the following four benefits of the cross:
1. At the cross, Jesus was taking your place.
In Mark 15:6–15, Jesus is sent to the cross instead of the murderer Barabbas. Jesus was innocent and wrongly accused. Barabbas was guilty and belonged in prison. Yet Barabbas went free, and Jesus was condemned. These circumstances give us a clear picture of the substitutionary nature of Christ’s work on the cross. The innocent Jesus substituted himself for guilty sinners like us. The apostle Paul said, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
2. At the cross, Jesus was taking your curse.
When the Roman soldiers were mocking Jesus, they placed a crown of thorns upon his head. In the earliest chapters of the Bible, we learn that thorns were one result of the curse that had come into the world because of sin (Gen. 3:17–18). Furthermore, while Jesus was on the cross, there was darkness over the land from noon to 3:00 pm (Mark 15:33). Like thorns, darkness at noonday was a sign of God’s curse due to sin (Deut. 28:29; Job 5:13–14; Isa. 59:9–10). Jesus bore the thorns and darkness of our sin upon himself at the cross:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Gal. 3:13)
3. At the cross, Jesus was clothing you.
Mark records that when Jesus was crucified, “they… divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take” (Mark 15:24). This was in fulfillment of a prophecy found in Psalm 22:18. These men wickedly took Jesus’ clothing for themselves. Ironically, they didn’t recognize that through the cross, Jesus would be clothing his people! The prophet Isaiah wrote,
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with a robe of righteousness. (Isa. 61:10)
Through his death on the cross, Jesus covered the shame of our nakedness by giving us his robe of righteousness.
4. At the cross, Jesus was tearing heaven open for you.
When Jesus died, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38). This was the curtain that guarded people from the holy of holies, where God’s presence was most concentrated. Because of sin, mankind didn’t have the same access to God that the Levitical priests had. Mark used the word “torn” one other time in his gospel when describing Jesus’ baptism:
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. (Mark 1:10)
Interestingly, Jesus would later associate his crucifixion with baptism (Mark 10:38). At the cross, the veil was torn, giving us access to the heavenly sanctuary.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. (Heb. 10:19–22a)
Episode 133 | Dr. Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez answer questions on sharing the gospel, spiritual sacrifices, and the image of God.