For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Three Aspects of Christ's Cross
John chapter 19.
In John chapter 19 the word “cross” is mentioned three times in three very significant phrases.
The first says: “And he, carrying his cross, went out to the place called the Skull...” (v. 17). The Lord carried his own cross and in doing so, in order to walk with it in tow, he must have embraced it. Carrying the cross is not only to bear its weight, but also to walk embracing it. He did well, without squealing, in the midst of the greatest opposition imaginable. Was the cross too heavy and unjust for him, the cross that the Romans made him carry? Yes, certainly, but it was not the Romans’ cross— it was the one the Father gave him to carry.
The second says: “They were next to the cross of Jesus...” (v. 25). Next to the Lord, at that moment when he died; there were four people - the most intimate. They witnessed how the Lord died on the cross. The cross has an end, which is more than mere suffering: it is death itself. And the Lord died on his cross. While there, many could see him –including his mother and his beloved disciple— but no one could defend him.
The third says: “...so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath...” (v. 31). Once dead, the Lord was promptly removed from the cross for his burial. The cross had fulfilled its task; now, he could be removed from it. There was no longer life in it, so the cross had nothing else to do. The cross deals with the life of man; so, when that life ends, the cross becomes unnecessary.
Beyond the cross is the tomb, where the resurrection is expected. The tomb is the transitional site between death and new life. It is the confident expectation that the power of God is already coming to do his operation.
John's chapter 19 ends with the Lord Jesus in the tomb. It is the end of the process of the cross and of death. It is the conclusion of a work perfectly done according to God's design. But the gospel of John does not end there. Chapter 20 is at the gates. There is no cross suffering nor death. Resurrection is the true end of Christ's cross. And it is also the end of the cross of Christ's disciples.