THE NECESSITY OF THE CROSS
Jesus always viewed the cross as a necessity. From the earliest days of His ministry He began to speak of the
cross as a necessity. The great confession of Peter was followed by a revelation of the necessity of the cross.
Jesus said, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes
and be slain, and be raised the third day". "Son of Man" was His favorite messianic title. It was taken from the
prophets and Daniel where it had a larger connotation than those titles that identi¬fied the Messiah with Israel.
"Elders, chief priests, and scribes" were the rulers and representatives of the people of Israel. There was
progression in the statement. He would suffer, be rejected, be slain, and be raised the third day. "Must" indicates
that Jesus saw all of this as a divine necessity.
We must explore other statements of scriptures to understand this "must". What was it that made the cross a
divine necessity? Let me suggest three things to you.
I. THE CROSS WAS MADE A NECESSITY BY THE WAY OF THE WORLD.
Jesus, being who He was and the world being what it was, the cross was inevitable. The very way of the world
made it certain that the world would slay Him. This is obviously a study that could consume much more time than
we have now, let me just pre¬sent two things about the way of the world that made it a necessity.
A. The way of the world is one of ignorance.
The very people who claimed to know God were found to be ignorant of Him. John points to this in the prologue of
his gospel. "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, the world knew him not"!(John 1:10) What the
world did to Him it did because it walked in the darkness brought by ignorance. Paul explains the cross in the
same way. ‘Which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world knew; for
had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory". (I Cor. 2:7 8) About the best thing you can say
about the world is that it did not know!
B. The way of the world is one of rebellion.
Jesus explained this in a parable in the Gospel of Luke . It is the parable of the vineyard. The owner went away
on a long trip and left his vineyard in the care of his servants. After a while he sent a servant to collect the income
from his vineyard only to have the servant beaten and robbed. The people refused to give him his rightful dues
from his vineyard. He sent other ser¬vants, but they received the same or worse treatment. As Jesus told the
parable he said, "Then said the lord of vineyard, what shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be that they
will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves,
saying, this is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours". (Luke 20:13 14)
This is our Lord's explanation of what made the cross a necessity. The world into which He came was in rebellion
against God. The cross is thus a revelation of the true nature and sin of the world. You and I best not put too
much confidence in this world. It is in rebellion against God still.
II. THE CROSS WAS MADE NECESSARY BY THE WILL OF THE FATHER.
Jesus understood the cross as being within the will of the Father. This is surely the thing in His mind as He prayed
about the cross in the Garden of Prayer. "Not my will but thine be done". We must see the necessity of the cross
as growing out of the will of the Father.
A. The prophets so presented the cross.
Who can forget that sobering conclusion to Isaiah 53. "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to
grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he will prolong his days, and the
pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand". (v. 10). Whatever else this prophetic word means, it surely means
that the cross was in the will of the Father for His Son.
B. The Apostles so presented the cross.
In his great message on Pentecost, Peter announced this as being an explanation of the cross. "Him, being
delivered by the deter¬minate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have
cruci¬fied and slain". (Acts 2:23). Peter brings the two together. The will of the Father and the way of the world
got together in the death of the Son.
There is only one explanation for God willing the death of His Son in this matter. "For God so loved the world that
He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life". (John 3:
16) God was in Christ re¬conciling the world unto Himself. God's will to make a way of salvation for His sinful
creation made the cross a necessity.
III. THE CROSS WAS MADE NECESSARY BY THE WORK OF THE SON.
Jesus was sent to do a work that made the cross necessary. There is no other way to do what He came to do. He
recognized this and accepted it willingly.
A. His work was to save man from perishing.
He spoke of this to Nicodemus in the language of an Old Testament experience. "And as Moses lifted up the
serpent in the wild¬erness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have eternal life". (John 3:14 15) To save the people from perishing in the wilderness, Moses had to
lift up the brass serpent on the pole. When the people looked to the brass serpent, they were delivered from
death. In the same way it was neces¬sary for the Son of man to be lifted up from the earth on the cross if the
world of mankind was to be saved from spiritual and eternal death. They could have eternal life only if He was
willing to give His life in the death of the cross.
B. His work was to bring us to God.
Peter wrote of this. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to
God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit". (1 Peter 3:18) There was no other way for Him
to bring us to God. Something had to be done to remove the terrible barrier of sin that stood between God and
man. This Jesus did by suffering for our sins, by taking the condemnation of our sins upon Himself.
This is the reason that Jesus set his face steadfastly toward the cross. It was His work that made it all a necessity.
We are being reminded of the way of our world. We are being reminded of the will of our heavenly Father. We are
being reminded of the work of our blessed Savior. It all had to happen that we might have a right relationship with
God and enjoy eternal life. God forbid that we should glory in anything except the Cross of Jesus Christ our Lord.