The Cross of Christ by Paul David Washer

The Cross of Christ - by Paul David Washer

This is an excerpt of this article on the cross of Christ by Paul Washer. Click the link above to download the PDF version and read the full article.

One of my greatest burdens is that the Cross of Christ is rarely
explained. It is not enough to say that “He died” - for all men
die. It is not enough to say that “He died a noble death” - for
martyrs do the same. We must understand that we have not
fully proclaimed the death of Christ with saving power until
we have cleared away the confusion that surrounds it and
expounded its true meaning to our hearers - He died bearing
the transgressions of His people and suffering the divine penalty
for their sins: He was forsaken of God and crushed under
the wrath of God in their place.
Forsaken of God
One of the most disturbing, even haunting, passages in the
Scriptures is Mark’s record of the great cry of the Messiah as
He hung upon a Roman Cross. In a loud voice He cried out:
“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My
God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”1
In light of what we know about the impeccable nature of
the Son of God and His perfect fellowship with the Father,
it is difficult to comprehend Christ’s words, yet in them, the
meaning of the Cross is laid bare, and we find the reason for
which Christ died. The fact that His words are also recorded
in the original Hebrew tongue tells us something of their great
importance. The author did not want us to misunderstand or
to miss a thing!
In these words, Jesus is not only crying out to God, but as
the consummate teacher, He is also directing His onlookers
and all future readers to one of the most important Messianic
prophecies of the Old Testament - Psalm 22. Though the entire
Psalm abounds with detailed prophecies of the Cross, we
will concern ourselves with only the first six verses:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from
my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I
cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have
no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the
praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and
You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered;
in You they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a
worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the
In Christ’s day, the Hebrew Scriptures were not laid out in
numbered chapters and verses as they are today. Therefore,when a rabbi sought to direct his hearers to a certain Psalm or
portion of Scripture, he would do so by reciting the first lines
of the text. In this cry from the Cross, Jesus directs us to Psalm
22 and reveals to us something of the character and purpose
of His sufferings.
In the first and second verses, we hear the Messiah’s complaint
- He considers Himself forsaken of God. Mark uses
the Greek word egkataleĂ­po, which means to forsake, abandon,
or desert.2 The Psalmist uses the Hebrew word azab, which
means to leave, loose, or forsake.3 In both cases, the intention
is clear. The Messiah Himself is aware that God has forsaken
Him and turned a deaf ear to His cry. This is not a symbolic
or poetic forsakenness. It is real! If ever a creature felt the
forsakenness of God, it was the Son of God on the cross of
In the fourth and fifth verses of this Psalm, the anguish suffered
by the Messiah becomes more acute as He recalls the
covenant faithfulness of God towards His people. He declares:
“In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered
them. To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they
trusted and were not disappointed.”
The apparent contradiction is clear. There had never been
one instance in the history of God’s covenant people that a
righteous man cried out to God and was not delivered. However,
now the sinless Messiah hangs on a tree utterly forsaken.
What could be the reason for God’s withdrawal? Why did He
turn away from His only begotten Son?
Woven into the Messiah’s complaint is found the answer to
these disturbing questions. In verse three, He makes the unwavering
declaration that God is holy, and then in verse six,
He admits the unspeakable - He had become a worm and
was no longer a man. Why would the Messiah direct such demeaning
and derogatory language toward Himself? Did He
see Himself as a worm because He had become “a reproach
of men and despised by the people”4 or was there a greater
and more awful reason for His self-deprecation? After all, He
did not cry out, “My God, my God, why have the people forsaken
me,” but rather He endeavored to know why God had
done so! The answer can be found in one bitter truth alone
- the Lord had caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him, and
like a worm, He was forsaken and crushed in our stead.5

1 comment:

  1. i want to know more and more, Paul your message's are filled with conviction unto righteousness to everyone who claims to be partakers of the cross, thank you for your message's are convicting and lead by a contrite and broken heart that is humble and trembles at the Word on the one True Holy God...Stand firm knowing that he who you want is faithful and hears the cry of the righteous and delivers them from all afflictions