In biblical times, the cross was an instrument of crucifixion, a purposely painful and gruesome method of public execution reserved for the worst of criminals. It says a lot about Christ’s killers, that they judged the sinless Son of God as deserving of such a sentence. That God would allow His only begotten to die such a shameful death reveals His view of sin and the judgement it deserves. As we are in another season of Easter, it is beneficial to pause and consider the cross, that which Jesus died on. The answer to the question ‘Who was nailed to the cross?’ will almost readily be Jesus Christ of Nazareth. But was He the only one on His cross? And no, I am not asking about the thieves who were crucified on either side of the Lord on that fateful Friday. I mean on the very cross that Christ was nailed, was he there alone? Who was nailed to the cross of Christ? Let’s find out:
- Jesus Christ
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” – Acts 2:36
Jesus was indeed crucified. That is a biblical and historical fact. He didn’t die for any wrong he had done, but like Isaiah had prophesied years before, “he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him … and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). He died in your place and mine. Our only hope of redemption is in His death and resurrection. He died, “but God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). He satisfied all the conditions for our salvation and then he rose. Like Peter said to the crowd of onlookers on the day of Pentecost, “this Jesus” not another one, “whom you crucified” God has made him “both Lord and Christ”. Hallelujah! Now those of us who have put our faith in Him can sing the song of the redeemed. This Easter, wake up from your familiarity with this truth and wake up to Jesus. He died for you. You have a living hope because he died and resurrected, all of that for you. Like the songwriter says, “May we never lose our wonder”. May this Easter wake you up to the wonder of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Our Sin
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24
Jesus didn’t go to the cross alone, there would be nothing to celebrate at Easter if He did. He “bore our sins in his body on the tree”. Hallelujah! All of our sins he took upon himself when he was upon the cross. When His body was nailed, your sins and mine were nailed there too. The penalty was fully paid and we bear them no more. Those who believe in Jesus enter into this reality. There is no sin awaiting any judgment from God; there is no sin waiting to be used by the enemy of our souls against us; they were nailed to the cross when Christ was nailed. How? He bore them in his body on the cross. Paul said, “having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). For all who believe, Jesus canceled the record of our debt, just like a legal pardon cancels the penalty for a crime. When He set aside our sins, He not only freed us from eternal punishment but brought us into a living relationship with Himself. Crucifixion also carried a sense of shame and disowning. So, when God crucified our sin, He was not only killing it, He was completely ignoring it and cutting it off. This happened because Jesus went to the cross.
- The Old Self
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”. – Roman 6:6
Another entity that was on the cross when Christ was crucified was the old self. The old self is the human nature, the unrenewed self, the life without the Spirit of God. It is the life that has desires contrary to those of the Spirit, the natural life you were born with. Your union with Christ means that the sinful desires of the flesh; the body of sin, that hitherto dominated your life has been crucified. God didn’t put together an arrangement where your sins were paid for by Christ, nailed to the cross, but you were left powerless to say no to sin. No, the flesh, with its passions and desires, he nailed to the cross. Isaiah 53:6 put it like this: “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Note the use of the word iniquity in its singular and not plural form. Mr. Iniquity (singular), who is the root, that produces iniquities (plural), was nailed to the cross together with Christ. God didn’t just deal with the branches, the products, he went for the root itself and nailed it to Christ’s cross. Paul said something similar in 1 Corinthians 5:21 that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He made him to be sin (singular) for us. He dealt with the root. He didn’t become sinful but bore our sin and nailed it to the cross. It was in the same vein that he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). His “I” that was crucified is the old self. And that truth is true not only for the Apostle Paul but for all who believe in Jesus for “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). This means you are no longer a slave to sin to be dominated by it. You have power now to resist it. That Romans scripture above says, “For we know”. Do you know this? Do you know that the nature in you that fueled the desire to sin and made you powerless against it was crucified with Christ? Do you know that you are no longer a slave to those passions? Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). This Easter, know this truth and walk in its freedom.
- The World
“May I never 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
Another entity that Christ took to His cross is the world. Paul says through the cross of Jesus Christ, the world had been crucified to him, and he to the world. What is the world? John says everything in the world consists of “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does” (1 John 2:16). The things that drive natural men; things like money, power, fame, fashion, food, drink, property, and the like are what the world is all about. What the latest gadget is, the trending wears, how much you have, all those types of things, Paul says have been crucified to him through the cross of Christ. They are dead to him. In his heart, they do not exist; they have no influence on him. Additionally, he himself has been crucified to the world. The world doesn’t find him as useful to its course. Oh, what a way to live! It frees you from unnecessary burdens. You don’t take loans to buy, or buy stuff on credit to impress people or feel among others. Your purchases are only as needed. They serve you and not you serving them. When the world looks for a candidate to enroll into its vanities, it finds you a dead man, crucified with Christ and useless to its course. May this become your experience this Easter and always.
- Principalities and Powers
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” – Colossians 2:15
The rulers of this dark world were not spared at the cross of Christ. There, he spoiled their powers, he triumphed over them. He didn’t do this in a corner, he took them to the top of the hill of Calvary and made a public spectacle of them. How? By the cross! How did Jesus disarm the principalities and powers? The answer is, what was the armor that they had that he stripped them of? Listen to how the Living Bible words it:
“You were dead in your sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way, God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away” (Colossians 2:13-15).
Doesn’t that cause you to sing and dance? Satan has been disarmed. How many of your sins did God forgive? ALL! That long list of commandments you had not obeyed, what percentage of it did Christ destroy by his cross? 100%!
O the cross of Christ! There is indeed life for a look at the crucified one. As you look at the cross, look at who else he took along and the victory he bequeathed to you. As you celebrate this Easter, bask in what Christ has done. Triumph in His triumph.