All through the Old Testament the cross is but dimly seen. Though a hundred historical characters and a hundred more Levitical sacrifices and rituals were typical of Christ and His finished work, not once does the Old Testament state this. The silence is profound. The clearest Old Testament prophecy of Christ’s death, Isaiah 53, does not even specify who the Sufferer would be.
It was the same during our Lord’s stay on earth, for only toward the close of His ministry do we read: “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples how that He must go unto Jerusalem and suffer… and be killed…” (Matt. 16:21). And what was their response? “Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him” (Ver. 22). Luke 18:34 states three times that they did not have the slightest idea that He would even die, much less did they understand all that His death would accomplish. Even at Pentecost Peter blamed his hearers for the death of Christ and said to them: “repent and be baptized every one of you… for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). The twelve were preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” and knew little about the cross and its purpose.
Not until the Apostle Paul, that other apostle, do we have what is properly called “the preaching of the cross,” i.e., as good news. And in Paul’s great message our Lord is no longer seen as the Victim, but as the Victor, not merely after death, or over death, but in death. His death itself is seen as His greatest triumph. In Heb. 10:12,14 we read:
“…after He had offered one sacrifice for sins [He] sat down… for by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
And in Col. 2:14,15 Paul describes Christ at Calvary nailing the Law to the cross and utterly defeating Satan and his hosts, “triumphing over them in it (i.e., in the cross).” Little wonder the Apostle exclaimed:
“God forbid that I should boast, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Gal. 6:14).