The Cross Did Not Glorify God–Jesus Did.
But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. – Galatians 6:14 (NASB)
The cross, used by early Rome, was an instrument of death. It was made of wood. It was a torturous, cruel way to be put to death. It was designed and implemented to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering.
But the cross itself saved no one. An inanimate object used for justice or evil, it did not save anyone spiritually, nor did it glorify God.
It couldn’t. It was made of wood, a part of the Roman culture. It was a thing. Unlike a living soul, it was never ‘redeemed’ itself regardless of who hung upon it, be it Spartacus or Jesus Christ.
In a word, there is nothing holy about a cross in and of itself. Indeed, to call a cross holy is to make the thing an idol. Tens of thousands died on them, and not one cross glorified God, much less were they redeemed from an evil culture for the purposes of glorifying God. How could they possibly be? How is something designed for death and approved by the unregenerate world glorifying to God?
It’s not, not even the cross of Jesus Christ.
Here’s why. It was not the cross Jesus died on that glorified the Son of God or the Father. It was God Himself. The cross served many purposes regarding the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, but the cross itself remained what it was in those days: an instrument of death approved by unregenerate, God-hating Romans. If the Romans didn’t love it in their hearts, they wouldn’t have used it. Unregenerates always love the darkness, evil and anything they can use to rebel against God. When the body of our Lord was removed from the cross, the cross did not change. It was still an inanimate object, an instrument of death, and it rotted.
When the Apostle Paul expressed his desire to boast in nothing except the cross of Christ, he is not stating that he is boasting or glorying in the cross itself, nor does he imply the cross to be holy in any sense. Rather, Paul rejoices, glories and boast in the effects of Christ crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension; in other words, the doctrines of the Christ and His saving work.
The cross never glorified God, Jesus did, by being obedient to the Father even unto death on a cross. It is because of what happened on that cross and, more importantly, through Whom redemption came that God is glorified. Because of this, Paul adds: through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
In this great spiritual reality, three were crucified on the cross of Christ.
- Jesus Himself
- The Redeemed (Paul and you and I!), by virtue of our union in Christ, were also crucified with Him (Romans 6) to the world and
- the world is crucified to the Redeemed.
Christ had overcome the world, the prince of it and the power of sin over believers.
We, as believers in Christ, have been crucified to the world and the world to us. The riches, honor, applause, pleasures and lust of the world is to be nothing to us. Likewise, the world will have no affections for us as Christians. The world will not seek us out in order to exalt or reward us for our faith.
Yes, many wonderful, glorious things took place upon the cross of Christ. Yet it was not the cross that glorified God, but the One upon it and the effects of redemption upon us all: we become dead to the world and all its values and desires, and the world becomes dead to us. Like Paul, our confidence and hopes and desires are to become so other worldly that this world pays us no attention, nor we to its values and desires.
Until upon the cross I saw
My God, who died to meet the law
That I had broken; then I saw
My sin, and then my Savior.”
- 10 Reasons to Stop Calling the Gospel ‘Scandalous’ (5ptsalt.com)