What Does the Cross Mean?

from Apr 02, 2021 Category: Ligonier Resources

What is the meaning of the cross of Christ? In this brief clip, Derek Thomas identifies several important words that draw out the rich depths of meaning behind the crucifixion of Jesus.


But what does the cross mean? And here, Paul doesn’t explain it, but elsewhere he does, and he uses words to explain the cross. That’s why a movie of the crucifixion of Jesus is wholly inadequate. The cross has to be explained. In the movie, all you see is the person dying on a cross, like other people died on a cross. But to really answer the question, “What does the cross mean?” there has to be a word, a “logos” of the cross, as Paul says elsewhere. He’s used words like “redemption.” The cross is redemptive, and it’s the language of the marketplace: the payment made to release from bondage and from slavery. The cross sets me free from bondage to sin and self. He has used words like “propitiation” in chapter 3 and verses 13 and 14, where the word specifically means that the cross is where the judgment of God descends, the wrath of God descends. And we asked the question in an earlier lesson: Why did the wrath of God descend here? If Jesus is sinless—death is the wages of sin—but if He hadn’t sinned, why does He die? And the answer that Luther gave was “substitution.” At that point, He was the greatest sinner the world had ever seen, because our sins had been reckoned to His account. Elsewhere, Paul will use the language of “reconciliation,” the language that comes from broken relationships, and that God’s relationship with us is broken and needs to be restored, and the cross reconciles us to God.