Theology | 16 comments | 5 min read

3 Lessons from a Brutal Cross

Mar 25, 2024

Mark Vroegop

Guest Contributor

The cross.  

It’s a symbol revered all over the world. We put crosses inside church sanctuaries and on our worship facilities. Some churches are built in the shape of a cross.  

We put crosses at graveyards. You’ve probably seen them on the side of the road marking the places of deadly accidents. 

We also celebrate the cross. We sing about it—“I will cling to the old rugged cross.” We make jewelry in the shape of the cross or use it for a tattoo. 

Truths in the Cross

However, the cross is more than a symbol.  

The cross is the meeting place of God’s justice and mercy. It’s the location of divine wrath and forgiveness. It marks the death of the eternal Son of God. It’s the darkest moment that leads to the brightest hope.  

The crucifixion of Jesus is the turning point of God’s redemptive plan. The cross opens the door for forgiveness. It provides atonement for sin. It ends the separation of God and mankind. The cross is a brutal, nasty instrument by which God demonstrates His love for us. 

Accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion are dark. Death by crucifixion was brutal. After the person’s hands were fastened to the cross beam by nails or ropes, he was hoisted on a vertical beam. His feet were nailed to a small platform. With a badly beaten body and outstretched arms, every breath was difficult and brought searing pain on the hands and the feet.

Death by crucifixion could last for days. 

Above the head of Jesus was a sign that read “King of the Jews.” It appeared that He was cursed by God, stripped of everything, and defeated. 

The cross was awful, and the biblical accounts are designed to help us to see the tragedy of this moment—to feel it deeply.

Three Lessons

The gospel writers also want us to understand the connection between what happened on Good Friday and the plan of God. 

They want us to see the suffering, the pain, and the death of Jesus. But they also want us to know that this is all part of God’s plan—a plan for people to believe. 

With that in mind, what should we learn when considering the cross?  

1. Sin is horrible

As we look at the tortured experience of Jesus and the cruelty of crucifixion, we’re reminded that this sacrifice was only necessary because of the collective rebellion of humanity.  

The cross reminds us about the brokenness of our world. 

Every conflict, every fractured relationship, every scam, every sinful word, every sickness, every virus, and every death point to our need for help—more so than we even realize. 

2. Jesus loves us

John’s gospel states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  

The cross is not merely a symbol of brutal execution; it is the emblem of God’s love for us. The death of the Son didn’t happen by accident. It was God’s plan to rescue us. 

He died because He loves us. 

3. God is in control

Nothing about the cross is by accident.  

At the time, the crucifixion of Jesus looked like a disaster—a complete failure. But underneath the crucifixion is a divine plan. God worked His gracious strategy to open the floodgates for redemption. 

The cross is a symbol of God’s ability to take something awful and make it amazing. A cruel tool of execution became the key to everlasting life. 

This is God’s plan for redemption.  

As dark and bleak and disastrous as this moment looked, God was fulfilling His gracious plan. 

If you need hope today amid dark days, look again to the cross. If you wonder where to look for encouragement and hope, come to Golgotha. 

Because it is there, near the cruel cross, that we see the mercy of God. It is there, at the horrific cross, that we find hope. 

 

About the Author

Mark Vroegop is the lead pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis and the author of three books, including Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament. He’s married to Sarah, and they have three married sons and a daughter. 

This article was adapted from a post originally published on markvroegop.com. 

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16 Comments

  1. Thank You!! I am incredibly grateful. HOW it is even possible, for anyone to NOT believe in the lessons of the Cross-in this truest symbol of the Love of the one true Jesus Christ-of the horrible ugliness of sin in a broken world-of God’s almighty power and control; that are all being represented in the fullest, at the CROSS:
    is now as a new believer, unfathomably mind-blowing, and heart-wrenching me, for all those who are still so terribly mislead. Again, THANK YOU. Praise God for all whom teach true Scripture!

    Reply
  2. I was moved by what you said. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Every sin is evil. My “little, careless” behaviors are dreadful sins that nailed Jesus to the cross.

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  4. Truly, sin IS Horrible to our Holy, Loving, Merciful God! Jesus’ obedience, going to the Cross, ended the separation between God and man! Hallelujah to my Saviour!

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  5. I appreciate the good work you are doing to explain the Bible us to the audience. THANK YOU. KEEP ME IN TOUCH

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  6. Beautiful and Thank you for sharing

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  7. Ever bowed with thanksgiving for our Lords mercy & great sacrifice…

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  8. I spent my youth and early adulthood wondering what was so good about good Friday and along the way it hit me! It was not so good for Jesus but eternal life with Him is sure good for me, so GOOD FRIDAY

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  9. I will be sharing a meditation on Good Friday, and I am blessed by the insights on the cross.
    This has spoken to me as well and i pray it will do the same to others.

    Reply
  10. Moved by the words…

    The cross is the meeting place of God’s justice and mercy. It’s the location of divine wrath and forgiveness. It marks the death of the eternal Son of God. It’s the darkest moment that leads to the brightest hope.

    My heart is humbled and thankful. First to our LORD and also for the faithful service of BSF.

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    • Amen, I share all of these comments. I used yesterday to meditate and have a quiet day.

      Reply
  11. I will never take the symbol of the cross for granted again. Thank you!

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  12. This is a perfect reply for someone in our class who wonders how God can be so cruel to His own Son. She doesn’t yet realize the horror of sin in God’s eyes.

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  13. Hebrews 12:1-2

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  14. Amen! Thank you Lord! Indeed, the greatest love of all! (John 3:16, Romans 5:8) Good and timely reminder! Thank you sir! God bless! Praying!

    Reply
    • Thank You God for loving us so much that You allowed Your Son Jesus to die for our sins. Thank You Jesus for staying on the Cross for our sins. Thank You Holy Spirit for dwelling within the Believer to lead and guide through life’s journey.

      Reply

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