Jesus’ last moments were not left up to chance. God chose the path; he selected the nails. Our Lord planted the trio of crosses and painted the sign. God didn’t have to do all these things, you know. The only required act for our salvation was the shedding of blood, yet he did much more. So much more. Search the scene of the cross and listen for God’s gentle whisper, “I did it just for you.”
Lent is not so much a season of guilt or giving something up as it is a time to be intentional about preparing to receive joy and good things from God. One of the gifts of Easter is the crown of thorns. God transformed it from a mock crown of pain and shame to a true crown of victory and glory.
The next gift of Easter is the nails. It wasn't the angry mob, the religious leaders, or the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus. It was Jesus himself who chose the nails. The nails in the cross show us the lengths to which God will go to cover our sins and restore our relationship with him.
The robe is the next gift of Easter. In exchange for our garments of sin, Jesus gave us his robe of seamless perfection, a symbol of the righteousness that gives us access to God's presence. Jesus broke the sin barrier that separated us from God at the moment of his death; and in a dramatic confirmation of this fact, the curtain in the temple that closed off the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom.
The cross was a gift from God. It provides us with two kinds of sanctification. Positional sanctification is Christ's work for us, crediting us with the achievement of Jesus' sacrifice. Progressive sanctification is Christ's work in us, making us more like him. We can't be more saved than we were the day we accepted Christ, but we can grow in that salvation.
The final gift of Easter is the empty grave clothes. God took a token of tragedy and turned it into a symbol of triumph. We all face tragedy and hardships, but the promise of the empty grave clothes is that God is always at work to bring victory and new life, even from the rags of death.