This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
The Cross was not a defeat for Jesus, a terrible mistake when circumstances with the Romans and the Jews got out of control. Good Friday is not a memorial service for an erstwhile savior, who failed to complete his mission. Our reflections on the Cross are not just musings on a historical event that have no impact for us today. The Cross was not a tragedy, or an accident, or just a two-thousand year old story.
The Cross was Christ’s goal from the very beginning. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Cross defeated Satan and all his works. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15). The Cross was God’s intention, the desire of Savior who intended to die in our place for our sin.” He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
The Cross is triumph over all the enemies of our soul and the resurrection declares to the world that Jesus is Lord. “He [Jesus Christ] is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us” (Rev. 1:5). The Cross is our victory and the resurrection is God’s bullhorn to the world that our Lord Jesus Christ has triumphed.
We are not to regard the cross as defeat and the resurrection as victory. Rather, the cross was the victory won, and the resurrection the victory endorsed, proclaimed and demonstrated.
John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1986), 235.