The cross reveals me to be an utter failure. I have been found so wanting that God had to send someone else to clean up my mess.
God sent some one perfect because I was far from perfect. Like Cain I, with all of your help, murdered this virtuous man. Like Cain I shook my head and said, 'Am I my brother's keeper??' while the blood was still on my hands.
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." 1 Cor 1:18
To the arrogant the cross is foolish to talk about. Jesus is a man who died and men die all the time. Why talk about it. The whole concept that God would send His Son to be a victim makes no sense. For the man who is brutal and would victimize to save his own life... the one who steps on the fingers and heads of others to climb the corporate ladder one rung higher sees a God like that as weak and a Savior who would perish as weaker.
As the distant image gets closer... a despised man hanging forever it seems in Cathedrals. Frozen in amber. He is everywhere... but easy to ignore if you try. If the image and the words draw close and you hear, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' (see Luke 23:34)... and you realize that this statue is speaking to you.
The cross is the bell ringing and sounding out the funeral of a fallen life. It says I am guilty and so incapable that God had to resort to a plan that not only didn't rely on my ability to come through... it rested on the fact that He knew there was murder in my heart. Ouch.
That bad news, that dismal indictment, is the first sentence to the best news I will ever hear. Only the truly guilty can be fully pardoned! The fully leprous are declared by the priest to be clean (Lev 13:13)
The cross reveals the fullness of my sickness. It pushes my basic goodness over the cliff of utter depravity and I find that as I am falling that there is someone there to catch me.
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as WHITE AS SNOW; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Is 1:18
"Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is ALL TURNED WHITE: he is clean." Lev 13:13
The Gospel has never been a message of moral uprightness. It is a message of murder and redemption. Arrogance is a wall that will prevent us from getting through the first sentence... if we make it through to hear... 'Forgive them Father'... and then to 'It is finished!' then what rapture awaits us. What transformation.
We can raise white clean hands in worship with tears of joy streaming down our cheeks and cry, 'I was lost but now I'm found! I was blind but now I see. I was guilty but now I'm pardoned. I was trapped but now I'm free!'
The one I killed died for me. His death sealed my pardon. His empty grave it the proof of it. It was God's plan all along.
Christ no longer hangs on a cross on a hill. He sits on a throne in glory and only murderers are qualified to sit there with Him.