At the Heart of Calvary: Why the Cross?

Why Calvary? Why did Jesus suffer and die? The answer may seem obvious to us but let me challenge us to think about the answer a little bit more. How might we answer that question?

Is it behavioral? Did Jesus die at Calvary to transform our behavior…to make us morally pure?

Is it cognitive? Did Jesus die at Calvary to transform our thinking…to make us pure in thought?

Is it emotional? Did Jesus die in order to correct our emotions and bring balance to our feelings…to make us emotionally pure?

Is it relational? Did Jesus die to change our relationships with others…to make us relationally stable and happy?

Why the Cross? Maybe there’s a bit of truth in each of those answers, but I am submitting to you today that there is ONE answer that is primary.

What was at the heart of Calvary and Jesus’ death on the cross?

At the heart of Calvary is the transformation of the human heart.

Truly consider: Why do you relate to others the way you do? Why do you feel the way you feel? Why do you think the way you think? Why do you do the things you do?

The answer to all of those questions, I believe, is this: Because you want what you want. You do what you do because you want what you want. At the heart of all of our sin, whether that sin is relational or behavioral or emotional or in our thinking, is a distorted heart full of disoriented desires. Whether godly or sinful, all of our behaviors are rooted in desires.

We might even take the question one step further and consider: But why do we want what we want? And again, I believe the answer is found in the heart. We want what we want because we love what we love. We are all worshipers at heart and the affections of our hearts reveal to us what are functional gods in our lives. In other words, our affections reveal any existing idols of our hearts.

So why Calvary? The simple answer is this: Jesus died so that our hearts could be saved and transformed and infused with new desires…God-honoring desires…with burning passion, not for sex or money or self-glory, but for God and the things of God.

In transforming this one instrument, the heart, Jesus touches all of the rest of the issues of our lives: our behavior, our thinking, our emotions, and our relationships.

Over the next several posts I invite you to consider Psalm 73 with me as we seek to pull back the curtain on the heart of the psalmist and see these truths played out in his life and apply them to ours.. God’s richest blessings on you!

Photo credit: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma,, No changes made.

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