If Calvary was an isolated event, it would be an episode of horror in the history of humanity; a shocker and an ignoble end to a noble man. But of course, Calvary is not an isolated event, and it’s certainly not the end, for Christ is risen indeed.

Calvary is a picture, a projection, an image that Jesus described when He said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). Jesus compared the image of His being lifted up with the image of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). At Calvary we have a picture of the effect of sin, and those who looked to Jesus were healed of sin. The crucifixion has been the image that attracts sinful humanity to the Savior.

There’s a saying that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. For those who wish to accumulate flies, that’s great advice. But that which is sweet to sinful persons only has momentary appeal. How long do you savor a candy bar? How long do you remember a tooth ache? All bright and beautiful things give a momentary impression, while the images of pain press and impress.

Pain can be endured if it has meaning. You can endure difficulties if they serve a purpose. To understand the meaning of life, we must gaze at death. The image of the cross is not one of passive resignation to pain. Yes, it is a matter of acceptance, but not with resignation. It is the Almighty Son of God defiantly telling sin to do its worst.

The image of God at Calvary draws people; it is not sweetness and light, but a darkly etched event against a light background.

When Jews for Jesus began, I was under much pressure from others to “be nice,” to fit in, and not to stir up trouble. If I had given in to that pressure, Jews for Jesus would not exist.

Image is important; it’s what people see. Let’s hope that what people see in us will arrest their attention and cause them to consider Calvary, and the image of Jesus, lifted up for the salvation of all who would believe.