When many think about the cross they think about the horrible death Jesus died: how he was whipped and tortured; the nails driven through his hands; the crown of thorns pushed down into his brow; his skin hanging off his body; his lungs gasping for air while He hung on the cross; His life ebbing away. All that is definitely bad-real bad- but if that is all he suffered, well, there have been quite a few men in history who have suffered those types of things. There have been men (and women) who suffered worse than Jesus did that day at the cross. There have been people who have been sawed in two, ripped apart by torture racks, burned alive, body parts severed while men died a slow and agonizing death (along with many other horrible examples throughout history).
You see it wasn’t just the physical act of suffering that day that made Jesus’ death so bad (that was of course part of it) but, rather it was what was unseen to our physical eyes which was the torturous part of this ordeal. Separation from God Almighty. While hanging on that cross, bloody and beaten, barely able to breath from the affixiation, one more thing was added. Sin. Your sin. My sin. All sin, from the beginning of time to the end of days. That sin was laid upon Jesus and it brought a temporal separation from God Himself. God had to turn His head, for He could not look upon or be a part of the sin that Jesus now bore. You see, God and sin do not and cannot coexist with each other. God is absolute holiness, absolute perfection and absolute love. Sin is the complete antithesis of holiness, perfection and love. Jesus, having the very nature of God, being part of the Godhead, being completely divine, being the creator of all things-took on your humanity, your imperfect flesh, your sinful nature. The creator embodied His very creation.
Imagine the richest man in the world finding the worst of the homeless and trading places with him-exchanging his luxury 3-piece suit for the homeless man’s clothes-dirty, rank, diseased stained-clothes that probably hadn’t been washed in months, maybe years, maybe ever. Giving the homeless man his mansion and exotic cars, yet himself now living in the slums of some street alley with no roof over his head, no security of living in a home, fear of being mugged, beaten or killed at any moment. Exchanging the best foods money could buy-as much food as money could buy-for living off scraps of handouts and what was left over in a dumpster somewhere. The rich man giving away his access to the best doctors and medicines-now living in sickness and around sickness and disease with no way to defend against it.
As extreme as this scenario sounds, it still in no way compares to what Jesus had to endure when becoming a man here on Earth but it gives us a glimpse into what He gave up-what He became in order to become the great salvation that humanity so desperately needed. Jesus made an exchange. The greatest exchange ever made in the history of mankind. He took our sin, our weakness, our frailty, our sickness, our infirmity and exchanged it for His perfection, His strength, His holiness, His righteousness, His power and His forgiveness. This was the great exchange! Jesus gave all this up to redeem us from our sin, from Adam’s mistake, from our mistake, from an eternity separated from God. He allowed Himself to be separated from God at that moment.
But glory to God that He did not stay that way! What the devil and his minions meant for evil that day on Calvary’s hill, God meant for good! God had a plan and He is the ultimate strategist! He was already many moves ahead of the devil and knew that Jesus’ death and separation from Him would ultimately result in His resurrection from the dead-His conquering of death and Hell. His victory over the grave and the consequences of sin upon mankind. God has glorified His Son and the result is salvation and freedom for us forevermore!!