THE CROSS; FROM THE OTHER SIDE Andy Hollifield 3-6-19
Revelation 5:5 “…Weep not: behold the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (KJV)
Several years ago when it was announced that country super group “The Statler Brothers” would be appearing in Asheville for the last time, I decided to go. They have been my favorite country group until “Alabama” came along in the late seventies and then it was a toss-up. At the concert that night in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, they put on a show that was well worth the money. They sung one song I had never heard before that I have never forgotten. “The Other Side Of The Cross” written by Don Reid. Aside from the melody and the touching words, was the thought that there was more to the cross than what we could see.
The verse listed above is just the opening of the story that began before the foundations of the world. This was the part when there appeared to be no hope for a perfect, holy, acceptable, sacrifice for the sin of the human race. All of a sudden, probably unbeknownst to anyone present besides the holy Trinity, Jesus stood up and stepped forward, took the sealed book from the hands of the strong angel and loosed the seals . Then all the hosts of heaven began to praise and worship Jesus as he “stood as a lamb that had been slain.” We know that slain lambs can’t stand but this wasn’t just any lamb: this was God’s precious Lamb.
I will tell you now I will not tell this story and do it justice. Hopefully I will say something that will bless you. The scene I have just described took place in heaven after a search had been made in the earth, under the earth, and in heaven but no one was found worthy to open or even to look on the book. As John was realizing, possibly for the first time, just how hopeless mankind was because of sin, the scene above was carried out right in front of him and was called to his attention by the elders. He went from no hope to eternal hope in Jesus in an instant. Jesus had already prevailed and came forth from the tomb with victory over the devil and with the keys of death and hell. There was nothing he could not and did not overcome for the human race.
But I want to back up around 34 years prior to this time. As the New Testament opens, we see how the miraculous birth of Christ came to be. It is described by several writers in detail and was even foretold by the prophet Isaiah as early as 400 years previous. Can you imagine the events of the cross from the other side? We see it as our saving grace because of Christ that hung there and shed his precious, sinless, blood to be the payment for the sin of lost humanity and it is. Think about the events in heaven prior to the overshadowing of Mary the young virgin, by the Holy Ghost of God. Can you imagine for a minute what the angels might have thought as the King of Glory left his throne to take his place in the womb of Mary?When Jesus chose to lay aside his immortality to become flesh as we are, don’t you think maybe the angels wondered why he would do this? Maybe they were just created to be completely obedient and didn’t have any thoughts one way or another. I personally believe they couldn’t understand why Jesus would want to do that for the same people who continually forsook his Father and would reject him as the Messiah. One reason I believe the angels may have thought like this is because when Lucifer and a third part of the angels were cast down from heaven, it was because they had been capable of thought and had chosen to stand with Lucifer as he was lifted up with pride and tried to overthrow God. We don’t know a whole lot about that so let’s get back to our angels in heaven. These angels who were now watching the Son descend from his throne knowing what his fate would be, had spent their existence delivering messages and miracles to humanity and had seen first hand the depravity of man.
As Jesus was born there in Bethlehem with people seeking to kill the baby on sight, don’t you think maybe the angels were chomping at the bit to come and use their power in defence of heaven’s perfect lamb? What about how God must have felt? He had allowed his Son to descend to offer himself to be sacrificed for humanity. Don’t you think that as much as God loved his Son, that he probably missed him? As Joseph was being warned by God to flee to different places with his family, don’t you think heaven’s host was ready to put an end to the pursuit of Jesus?
What about those that had died in the faith and were now in Paradise just waiting for the Messiah? Don’t you think that, not knowing when he would come, they were more anxious with every minute that passed and with every person that entered? Can you imagine the questions and conversations with the newcomers if they had recollection of the past? We will talk more about them in a minute.
As Jesus began his ministry and the angels saw how he was mocked and ridiculed because of unbelief, don’t you think they might have wanted to come and escort him back to his throne where he would be treated like he deserved to be? What about as the crucifixion approached? Seeing all of the mock trials and the beatings with whips and scourges and the mockery the people were making; in my mind I would think that God was having to order them to stand down because humanity’s salvation was riding on the completion of the mission Jesus was on. What do you think they might have thought as Judas conspired against him and sold him out and Peter then denied him three times? Before that, on the night of the arrest in the garden, as the mob approached do you think they might have been begging the Father to let them go wipe out the mob before they hurt Jesus anymore? As the thief on the cross beside of Jesus asked to be remembered when Jesus came to his kingdom, do you think they might have had a sigh of relief that someone other than his loyal followers had finally gotten it and saw Jesus for who he was: the king of glory? As Jesus promised to take him to Paradise that day, do you think the angels might have been relieved that it was almost over and the Son would soon be back by the Father’s side? As he gave up the ghost and went and preached to the souls that were in prison, do you think maybe they were counting the days?
Prison is used in the bible as a holding place. Jesus told the repentant thief that he would be with him in Paradise that day. The bible says he was three days in the heart of the earth and came forth leading captivity captive. When Jesus first made his arrival into Paradise, don’t you think maybe the folks there thought he was the last one and a short while later, here come the thief? On the third day Jesus saw Mary in the garden and told her not to touch him for he had not yet ascended. At the end of that day, he appeared in the room where he was to meet with his disciples with the doors being shut. To prove that he wasn’t a spirit as they thought, he asked for fish and in Luke 24:39 he even told them to handle him. Wonder what had happened between that morning and that night? He had obviously ascended to his Father presenting his shed blood for remission of our sins.
In the days that followed before he made his ascent back into heaven, do you think maybe there was growing anticipation at the thought of the Son’s arrival back home? In my mind, I bet there was one huge celebration as Jesus once again ascended to the throne taking his seat beside the Father. These angels had stood helpless as Jesus had been crucified and his Father turned his back on him forsaking him. No doubt when Jesus mentioned that he could call twelve legions of angels to come for him, they stood ready just pleading for him to call them. When Jesus arrived back in his Father’s house, I wonder what the devil was thinking through all of that.
We haven’t really discussed any of this in really great detail and to be honest; I can’t prove that this is how it happened at all. The fact remains that no one else can prove it didn’t. The bottom line is this: from the prophets telling of it to the angel talking to Mary and Joseph to the betrayal and crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus from the grave; salvation had been purchased for the sin of humanity as it had been planned by the Trinity before the foundations of the earth were ever laid. As you have probably noticed, there are a lot more question marks in this post than there are periods. That because there are more questions than answers. The reason is because the answers aren’t essential to our salvation. This has been just a feeble attempt to help us consider how others might have seen it; from the other side of the cross. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!