What was The lord doing around the cross?. It is really a search for understanding of one of the crucial events of human history, perhaps the crucial event. The complete New Testament focuses on the death, burial, and resurrection, events prior to and flowing from it, its theological significance and ethical implications. We will focus on the deep significance with the atonement, as explained from three perspectives: the dynamic, subjective, and objective views.
Dynamic view The dynamic view sees Christ's death and resurrection because the climax of a cosmic conflict with Satan as well as the demonic forces of evil. Christ came since the Second Adam (Romans 5:18-19), winning the contest that Adam failed. He also came since the new Israel, faithfully keeping submitting to God as opposed to to Satan as the first Israel tried (Matthew 2:15; 4:4; etc.). Immediately after His baptism, the Spirit "drove" (Greek: ekballei) Him into the wilderness so that He might confront Satan (Mark 1:12). His victory there was clearly only one of what must have been many battles, for Luke records that Satan left Him until "an opportune time" (Luke 4:13).
During His ministry Jesus offered His ability to cast out demons as a demonstration that He was stronger than Satan. Although He described Satan like a "strong man," He claimed a chance to "bind" the strong man and despoil his possessions (i.e., people who were demon-possessed). His ability to cast out demons "by the finger of God" He presented as proof of the arrival of God's kingdom on the planet (Luke 12:20-22). Jesus got His disciples involved in the warfare; their successful preaching, healing, and exorcism mission He afterward referred to as the fall of Satan from heaven (Luke 10:18).
Satan was behind the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (John 13:2, 27), his abandonment through the other apostles (Luke 22:31-32), along with his trial and murder (John 8:40-41, 44). Jesus recognized Satan as His principal enemy, as well as before His death, He was confident of victory he spoke of it as a fait accompli (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11, 32). As soon as before His death Christ Himself uttered the triumphant words, "It is finished" (John 19:30; compare Luke 12:50). The glorious resurrection is proof that His death was a victory and not a defeat (Revelation 3:21).
As part of his confrontation with false teaching at Colossae, Paul is the cross and resurrection as a conquer spiritual enemies. The Colossians were at risk of being deceived by a syncretistic blend of Judaistic legalism, Hellenistic philosophy, and Eastern mysticism. Apparently the heretical teachers weren't advocating a rejection of Jesus, however they denied Him the primacy in support of intermediary beings. "Go beyond Jesus to greater realities," they could have taught. Paul replies that there's nothing beyond Jesus Christ, in whom God's fullness dwells. He it is Who "disarmed the powers and authorities, [making] a public spectacle of which, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15).
Not merely did Christ conquer Satan, demons, principalities, and powers. Younger crowd conquered death (Acts 2:24; Revelation 5:5-6). Paul uses militaristic terms to go over the resurrection, e.g., "destroyed" and "victory" (1 Corinthians 15:24-26, 54-56).
Because Christ has triumphed as our representative, we be part of His triumph (hence the super-conquerors of Romans 8:37). In Ephesians 4:8 Paul applies Psalm 68:19 to Christ's triumph, picturing Christ as a conquering general returning to Rome for a victory parade: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." The ensuing passage explains that the gifts He gave will be the offices for building up the church. The captives are bypassed, but Colossians 2:15 seems a fitting commentary.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul states that "God... always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance from the knowledge of him." In this instance the apostles (see 1 Corinthians 4:9), and maybe all Christians, are probably those types of following along behind--themselves conquered, but joyously sharing in the victory celebration. Our struggle against Satan and demonic forces continues (Ephesians 6:12). As they is victorious, we also can be victorious (Revelation 3:21; 1 John 2:14-15; 4:4; 5:4-5).
Subjective view It's true that we are the subjects of His daring rescue (Colossians 1:13-14), but we also participate. This is the subjective nature with the atonement: it transforms us. When we are united with Christ through faith-repentance-baptism, God's Spirit begins the process of transforming us from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The Spirit, Himself the guarantee that this beginning will reach its intended end (Ephesians 1:13-14), actually starts to produce His fruit inside our hearts (Galatians 5:22-23) as we cooperate by "walking within the Spirit" and being "led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:4, 14; Galatians 5:16). The metamorphosis just isn't automatic; it takes constant mental concentration once we count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11). Additionally, it requires continual moral striving, once we refuse to let sin dominate us, yielding the members of our bodies to righteousness instead of to sin (Romans 6:12-13).
It is a battle we fight, yet Paul assures us, "[S]in could have no dominion over you" (Romans 6:14). The struggle contributes to holiness and the end is eternal life (Romans 6:22). When Christ returns, at the eschaton, the Spirit will have performed His are employed in us: "[W]e shall be like Him, for we shall see Him while he is" (1 John 3:2).
Though this is work that changes us from inside and in which we ourselves participate, the financing still belongs to God, because it's His work being done in us and thru us. He is the one that will bring it to completion on that day (Philippians 1:6). Meanwhile, we image Christ these days. He was our representative inside the cosmic conflict; we are His representatives in the existential struggle against the world, the flesh, as well as the Devil.
Objective view Yet Christ's death is much more than what he did for (hyper) us (see Mark 14:24; Luke 22:19-20) and what he is doing in (en) us (see Colossians 1:27). In addition, it involves what He did as opposed to (anti) us (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45)---the objective view of the atonement. In fact, many think that the substitutionary nature of the atonement is an essential aspect of all.
Several types of the substitutionary atonement come from Genesis. The word used in 1 John 3:12 to explain Cain's murder of his brother is the word for "slaughter" (Greek: esphaxen), as in the offering of a sacrifice. It's led some to view the world's first murder, recorded in Genesis 4:8, as the offering of a substitute sacrifice. Essentially, Cain may have said, "So, You didn't like my vegetables as an offering? Let's see how You like THIS! (slash)." The murder certainly involved the shedding of his brother's blood, for it cried out from the ground against the perpetrator (Genesis 4:10).
Once the angel stops Abraham from stabbing Isaac to death, Abraham finds a ram caught in the nearby thicket that he can offer instead of (Septuagint: anti) his son (Genesis 22:12-13). The passage assumes that some sacrifice has to be offered, and the one is replaced by the other.
abductions - More than a hundred years later, when Joseph's testing of his brothers made a crisis situation involving the enforced servitude of Benjamin, Judah stepped forward and freely offered himself instead for his brother (Genesis 44:18-34, especially not the Septuagint's usage of anti in v. 33). In this case also, some substitute had to be provided. There was no possibility of mere escape from the demands of the master.
Yet all three of these are one-for-one substitutions, just like the "eye-for-eye" provisions of the Law. Christ's sacrifice (one for many) is more like the sin offering in behalf of all of the people or the sacrifice of the goat on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 4:13-21; 16:15-19). He is the "atoning sacrifice for our sins, and never only for ours, but also for the sins with the whole world" (1 John 2:2). He's the "Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
One for that world? How can that be just? Its justice depends upon the identity of the Sacrifice. A single human deserves infinite punishment due to sins. Adding the punishment of one other human adds no more than was there already (for infinity plus infinity equals infinity). The same holds true for "the sins of the [whole] world." The slaughter with the Infinite One for these sins beings one infinity into connection with the other--just payment.
Our sins brought us underneath the curse of the law, but Christ became a curse for us by hanging about the tree (Galatians 3:10-14). Because of Christ's death, God was able to effect what Luther called a "happy exchange": i was the subjects of God's just condemnation, the objects of His righteous wrath, but the sinless Christ became "sin" for us, so that we might become God's righteousness by Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). God established Him because the propitiation, the appeasement, so that the all-consuming fire of His wrath may be diverted to Him as opposed to destroying the rest of us humans (Romans 3:25). As Isaiah said, "The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
Must we choose? resurrection - Dynamic, subjective, and objective--must we select from them? No! By its very nature the atonement is greater than any one metaphor or perspective can contain. We must always be answering, "Yes, and much more besides." Like astronomers surveying the universe, the more we study it, the harder vast it becomes. Our inability to fully comprehend its dimensions will not nullify what we can understand, nor does it rob us of the amazement we sense at what we know was accomplished.