The cross must be occupied. It cannot simply remain an object in the misty recesses of time. Because it was the instrument of death that day, all those years ago, it must maintain its killing power today. That which became the Cross of Christ must remain the cross to bear by humanity. While it is true that Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of humanity, it does not necessarily follow that humanity is not still in need of the crucifixion.
The Theology of the Cross insists that Christ carried the sins of humanity to, and took the punishment for those sins on His cruel cross (Col. 1:20). It mandates that Christ nailed sin and death to His flesh on the tree (Col. 2:14). Justification accomplished! Reconciliation and redemption achieved! All who believe these facts are in right-standing-with-God, it is true (1Pet. 2:24). But the theology of the cross also demands the reality of sanctification, as well. Now that we have been justified – sins forgiven; punishment due, paid in full – we must walk out our new relationship with God (and others and ‘self’) becoming more like Christ every day. Sanctification is the process of becoming Christ-like – not in His life, but in His death. It is the Form of the Crucifixion (Phil. 3:10).
The Resurrection Life of Christ can only come after the crucifying death of Christ. “Resurrection” necessitates, by definition, a dying. The Resurrection Life of Christ is only afforded to us after our own crucifying death to ‘self’ (2Cor. 13:4). Jesus hanged on the cross built for Barabbas (Matt. 27:16-26), but Barabbas would still have to claim his own cross (Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27; Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:19-20; 5:24; 6:14).
Christ was crucified once and for all those many years ago (Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26; 10:10), but, today, we die daily for the killing of the flesh (Rom. 8:36; 1Cor. 15:31). He pioneered our faith on His cross (Heb. 12:2). He pioneered perfection – Entire Sanctification – through the suffering of its killing power (Heb. 2:10). If a Pioneer, then, He is the first of many who will occupy the cross.