When it comes to the cross, we look at it retrospectively…that is we “look back” at the events which were unfolding in Jerusalem.
As we look back at the cross, we can’t see it clearly…we have to use our imagination extensively. And even if our imagination works perfectly, our view of the cross is still “filtered”. There is a filter interposed between us and the cross. That filter is the resurrection. The resurrection gives us a “different” view of the cross, because we know that that wasn’t the end.
Before the cross (event), there were people of God who were looking ahead, to see the cross.
Some of the ancient people of God, “were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). They too, were looking into the future, hoping that God’s promises (both material and spiritual) will come true during their time.
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ…” (1Peter 1:10, 11).
Note that the Spirit of Christ was in them speaking of God’s grace; predicting the sufferings (the cross) of Christ.
Their view too was distorted, by time; history and tradition.
But the disciples had the “real-time” view of the cross as it was happening right before their eyes. They were witnessing the extent of man’s cruelty and disregard of human dignity and life. They were going through emotions of weakness; hopelessness; anger; fear.
But, “on the other side of the cross” God was at work according to His plan perfecting our eternal salvation.