The Cross of Christ was not an accidental happening; Jesus came on purpose to the Cross, it was part of His mission upon earth, the reason for His incarnation; He was God manifest in the flesh so as the Son might become sin. The Cross stands for Divine judgement; it speaks of an outraged God and the necessity for a crucified Saviour. That is the great shadow that lies over mankind, the fact that an innocent man, God incarnate, suffered the humiliation and torture of the Cross because of our sins.
It was not Judas or Pilate who were responsible for the Cross of Christ; it was every man and woman in the world. Certainly Pilate was guilty, as was Judas, but they were not alone. The love of the pleasures of this life, the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, anger, hatred, hypocrisy, suspicion, cheating, lying, carnality – all these conditions found in natural man put Christ upon the Cross.
The Cross is the gateway to redemption, the means by which sinful man may be able to enter union with God. It opens up a path to relationship with the Creator; the Cross speaks of our redemption; that is, the price has been paid to buy mankind back from the evil one who has us in his bonds from birth, the specified price being the Blood of a Spotless Lamb. The Cross speaks of reconciliation; that is, we are able to enter into a relationship with God, because His wrath at our sin is propitiated by the Blood of Christ. The Cross speaks of justification; that is, God accepts the Blood of Christ as atonement for our sins. All of these things are done when we yield to Christ as Saviour; this is the work of the Cross of Christ as it avails for man.
From that foundation, the Holy Spirit will lead us on in the path of salvation if we will permit Him; what this means is that we must thereafter take up our own cross. Sanctification speaks of being made holy through the same sort of humiliation and suffering in the flesh as Jesus experienced upon His Cross; the death of the fleshly nature in man is a necessity for sanctification and salvation. From the foundation laid by Christ – redemption, reconciliation and justification – we are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). This is our work and no-one can do it for us, although we are helped in this task by the Holy Spirit of God, who is the One working in us both to wish and to effect that which is well pleasing to God (Philippians 2:13).