The lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). I understand that to mean that, ontologically speaking, the cross didn’t change anything; all of its “effects” took place before the world was made. It did, however, change our perception of who God is and what he is like.
Reconciliation and similar language in the scriptures that speak of mending our relationship with God are metaphors that were culturally relevant to the recipients of the writings (especially to Jews), ultimately pointing to our experiences of realization of the reality we never knew.
God didn’t bring about the crucifixion. Sure, God saw it coming, but it wasn’t the Father who predestined his Son to get tortured on the cross (knowledge and foresight do not necessarily imply predestination or causation). God didn’t decided to have Jesus crucified and make people act accordingly to make sure it happened. Rather, God saw that people would crucify Jesus when he sent him, so he acted accordingly prior to that, predicting it through prophets and scheming a revelation of himself through it.
God saved the world through his Incarnate Word in Jesus by the historical accident of a judicial murder. – Robert Capon
It was people who crucified Jesus, not God. God didn’t kill his own son so he could finally bring himself to forgive humanity. God watched humanity murderously unite against him, but he still did not retaliate.
God went to show that no matter what people did to him, his love for them would never change.
God wasn’t angry with Jesus or even with people. People were angry with Jesus, and that’s why they decided to crucify him.
[God] is not a schizophrenic deity bouncing between love and hatred. The point of the cross was to redeem mankind from his own self-destruction … not to pay off an ill-tempered, narcissistic God who was spitting mad at you for sinning against Him. – John Crowder
The cross was man’s doing, but the incarnation was God’s doing; it was God’s way of showing the reality already in place. Through Christ’s incarnation the union of all of humanity with the Godhead was revealed.
Jesus wasn’t sent to die but rather to reveal God’s heart toward us. His death wasn’t necessary for us to be reconciled to God (we already were in God’s mind), but it was the greatest manifestation of the fact that God never had a problem with us.
God surely anticipated that a person like Jesus would be killed by an order established on violence, but God did not kill Jesus, or require his death, or manipulate others into sacrificing him. God may have found a way to triumph over this crime, but God did not cause it. – Walter Wink
It was humanity who caused Jesus to be crucified, not God. And yet, God used our act of violence for good, through it revealing to us what he is really like. God presented the sacrifice, not people (Romans 3:25). He sacrificed his option to respond with violence toward us to our act of violence toward him.
Christ is a divine offering to humankind, not a human offering to God. – Robert Hamerton-Kelly
Instead of us bringing a sacrifice to God to appease him, through the cross God brings a sacrifice to us to reconcile us. – Derek Flood
The cross was and is the ultimate revelation of who God is. The cross is enlightenment, not payment. It enables us to believe the truth about God that we couldn’t believe without it. The cross went to demonstrate, not effect, that not even killing the one who loves us could separate us from him!
Jesus didn’t make God graceful towards you. He didn’t satisfy some blood lust against sinful man in order to change His nature into a forgiving nature. That isn’t even real forgiveness. God has always been a God of grace. He has always forgiven you, and been kind to you. The cross just demonstrated that fact. The cross is the expression of the Lord’s forgiveness of mankind, not the prerequisite for it. – Christian Erickson
The authentic Creator, the true light that enlightens every man was coming into this world. His mission was nothing less than shattering our illusions, exposing the unreal, unoriginal and fake identity that we embraced outside of Him. – Andre Rabe
Jesus didn’t come to change God’s mind about us but to change our minds about God. This is why he went around telling people to “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The kingdom was already there, fully available. People just needed to change their minds (i.e. repent) about that reality.
[In a retributive view of the cross,] our problem is God’s offense. The cross comes to bring God to repentance. The cross is the means by which he gets rid of his anger and frustration so that he can be kind to us again. God has never been our problem. Jesus doesn’t come to change God’s mind about us; he came to change our minds about God and one another. We are the ones who needed to change our thinking. We are the ones who needed to be converted. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. It isn’t our repentance that leads God to goodness. God was good long before we repented. – Andre Rabe
The Contradiction of the Cross (by Andre Rabe)
The Revelation of the Cross (by Andre Rabe)