Written Word

What Was Happening On The Cross?

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT)

If we didn’t have a divine explanation, Jesus would appear to be just another prisoner who was sentenced to die, another criminal executed. But divine revelation tells us a very different message.

God Was Reconciling Us To Himself

God, in Christ, died on the cross to reconcile us to him. When reconciliation occurred the enmity, hostility and alienation that once existed was removed. Only enemies are reconciled and that is what we once were – enemies of God because of our sins. Furthermore, our spiritual condition made it impossible for us to bring ourselves back to God. We were lost needing to be found, guilty needing to be forgiven, and separated needing to be reconciled. Without the intervention of God we would have remained in our lost and hopeless state. But through his love for us God himself reconciled us through Jesus.

Jesus Was Taking Our Place


Reconciliation with God was made possible because Jesus took upon himself our sins and paid their penalty in full. On the cross Jesus became our substitute. He took our place. What was happening upon the cross was the innocent dying for the guilty, the sinless dying for the sinners. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

For centuries animal sacrifices had been offered to God without ever securing the sinner’s pardon. Man’s best efforts have always been hopelessly short of what God requires. But in his great love for us God provided his son, the Lamb of God, as the perfect sacrifice that would (1) satisfy his holy justice and (2) make forgiveness of sins a reality.

Our Sins Were Being Forgiven

The sacrifice of Jesus makes it possible for God no longer to count our sins against us, though we still sin. Before God we are accounted sinless because of Jesus. “Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord.” (Romans 4:8) And because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, which inaugurated the New Covenant, God is able to declare, “And I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Hebrews 8:12) This is what was happening on the cross and this is the message of reconciliation the church is entrusted to proclaim to all people. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we are accounted sinless and therefore able to come into God’s presence. What a marvellous message.