Many today proclaim a message about God that, quite honestly, paints Him as a desperate and weak deity, enslaved to the whims and desires of humanity. Even many preachers present God as one that would die for you even if you were the only person in the world (a hypothetical scenario that is worthless and betrays the reality that God has created). God is pleading with people to turn and love Him. He is desperate for our affections. He will do whatever it takes for you to turn to Him. Some of these ideas could probably be presented with a degree of truth. However, the cumulative effect of a man-centered theology such as much of what one will find in America creates a God that is simply weak. And when one comes to the cross, they come to a God that will simply go as far as he can to win the affections of mankind, hoping that they will appreciate what He has done and surrender their lives to Him, but lacking the ability to do anything more.
The Bible presents us with a vision of a God that cannot be so easily toyed with and manipulated, a God that reigns sovereign over salvation, that begs for no one’s affections, and that possesses authority to accomplish all that He wills. Indeed the work of redemption accomplished by Christ is to be understood through this same lens. The early church would speak of Christ “reigning from the cross.” Jesus tells us Himself that no one takes His life from Him, but He gives it freely, of His own will.
Many in the first century would have found the claim that a crucified Jew could be the God of the universe utterly absurd. This would appear to them a conquered deity at best, a fraud at worst. And yet Jesus was anything but a conquered deity (and no fraud). The picture of Christ on the cross is quite possibly the most powerful vision of God’s supreme rule over His universe that He could have possibly painted. The pervasive and inescapable death that every human being that walked the earth would ultimately meet was to find defeat at the cross. Jesus reigns over man’s greatest enemy. Slavery that could not be removed by anything other than the death of God Himself was not an impossible task for that God. Jesus Christ crucified is an exhibition of complete and absolute sufficiency. His righteousness can satisfy the requirements of God’s justice. His supreme love can endure wrath and punishment on man’s behalf.
The cross is, above all things, a display of power, authority and rule. God controls His universe. He purchases and secures salvation for His people. This is done and sure. His work will accomplish that which it was intended to do. The cross is not God pleading with humanity. It is a declaration of matchless authority and control. It is sovereign rule. When we behold the cross, may we behold God on the throne. God in control. God in power and glory. Let us cast aside the idol of a god that has surrendered human history and His glory to the fickle whims of sinful humanity, who serves our purposes rather than us serving His, who begs us, when we should be begging and pleading for His mercy.