As we approach Resurrection Day (some of you know it as Easter), we usually focus first on the cross and its meaning to Believers. The cross comes first, the resurrection second. Before you celebrate the resurrection, you must suffer the cross.
The church for generations spent excessive energy trying to blame someone for the death of Christ. Jews were called “Christ Killers”. When that finally became impolite, the Romans became the targets.
John Stott said “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done “for” us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done “by” us (leading us to repentance). "The Cross of Christ" (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1986), p. 59. The death of Christ on the cross was “by” us, because our sins made it necessary. Isaiah predicted it, saying he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Paul further explained it, saying while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The writer of Hebrews tells us we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. The greatest sacrifice leads to the greatest celebration.
We recognize and honor that sacrifice by repentance of the sins that made it necessary, gratitude for the love that accomplished it, and wonder that a just and mighty God would make this incomparable sacrifice in order to save us.