The cross is a mystery. In some sense we know what the Cross is all about, but in another sense T.F. Torrance is right when says that “the innermost mystery of atonement remains mystery: it cannot be spelled out, and it cannot be spied out.”
What God has done for us on the cross cannot be fully captured in mere human words.
We must never evacuate the cross of its mystery and incomprehensibility. However, that is not to say that we can’t apprehend the cross. I once heard a metaphor about atonement being like a basketball. The analogy was that the atonement was like the full size of the basketball and our understanding the atonement was like trying to grip the entire ball in our hands – its impossible. However, it is possible to get some sort of grip on it. That grip is good enough to allow us to use it (the atonement or the ball) for various sorts of things – in the case of the atonement, for relating to God, for preaching, for encouraging one another, etc.
So in a very real sense – we can (and do) know the significance of the cross.
On this, Good Friday, I want to share some reflections that T.F. Torrance makes on the significance of the cross:
This is what we believe to be the significance of the cross of Christ – in him we believe that God himself has come into the midst of our human agony and our abominable wickedness and violence in order to take all our gilt and its just judgment on himself. That is for us the meaning of the cross. If I did not believe in the cross, I could not believe in God. The cross means that while there is no explanation of evil, God himself has come into the midst of it in order to take it upon himself, to triumph over it and deliver us from it. (Preaching Christ Today, 28)
That is the significance of the cross. May we come to understand that truth in a deeper way on this Good Friday.