This week’s reading for Reading Classics Together at Challies.com was the second chapter of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, Why Did Christ Die? In a nutshell, Stott says the same thing as Peter does in Acts 4:27-28:
…for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
Stott, of course, goes into more detail than that, explaining exactly who bears the blame (and why) for Jesus’ death on the cross. There are
- the Roman soldiers
- the Jewish people
- the Jewish leaders
And this list should include be me, too.
[W]e ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed, we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we “are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Heb. 6:6)…. [T]here is blood on our hand. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done by us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).
Yet it’s not really as simple as that. Yes, Jesus’s death was caused by human sin and we all share the blame for it, but there’s another way to see it, too. Jesus gave himself up for us; he died voluntarily and according to God’s plan. Stott writes:
On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who crucified him. But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave himself up, to die for us. As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there,” and “He did it, his love took him there.”
And it’s at this second way of looking at the cross that the next chapter will examine. What makes the crucifixion so important that God planned it and Christ voluntarily submitted to it?