January 26, 2009

Pondering the Cross of Christ

Up past my bedtime, but this was heavy on my heart tonight:

One of my greatest burdens is that the Cross of Christ is rarely understood or explained. It is not enough to say, "He died"--for all men die. It is not enough to say that "He died a noble death"--for martyrs do the same. We must understand that we have not fully proclaimed the death of Christ with saving power until we have cleared away the confusion that surrounds it and expounded its true meaning to our hearers (even those who profess Him as Savior).

The scriptures are clear that He died bearing the transgression of His people and suffering the divine penalty for their sins: He was forsaken of God and crushed under the wrath of God in their place.

It is a great travesty that the true meaning of the Christ's cry from the cross has often been lost in a romantic cliche. It is not uncommon to hear a preacher declare that the Father turned away from His Son because He could no longer bear to witness the suffering inflicted upon Him by the hands of wicked men. Such interpretations are a complete distortion of the text and of what actually transpired on the Cross. The Father did not turn away from the Son because He lacked the fortitude to witness His sufferings, but because, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him". He laid our sins upon Him and turned away, for His eyes are too pure to approve evil and cannot look upon wickedness with favor.

To obtain the salvation of His people, Christ not only suffered the terrifying abandonment of God, but He drank down the bitter cup of God's wrath and died a bloody death in the place of His people. Only then could divine justice be satisfied; the wrath of God be appeased; and, reconciliation be made.

Again, it is an injustice to Calvary and to Christ that the true pain of the Cross is often overlooked by a more romantic, but less powerful theme. It is often thought and even preached that the Father looked down from heaven and witnessed the suffering that was heaped upon His son by the hands of men, and that He counted such affliction as payment for our sins. This is heresy of the worst kind!

Christ satisfied divine justice not merely by enduring the afflictions of men, but by enduring and dying under the wrath of God. It takes more than crosses, nails, crowns of thrones, and lances to pay for sin. The believer is saved, not merely because of what men did to Christ on the Cross, but because of what God did to Him--He crushed Him under the full force of His wrath against us.

Rarely (especially in this day and age) is this truth made clear enough in the abundance of all our Gospel preaching and/or even understood by those who wear His name.

Paraphrased excerpts from an unknown author


Mel said...

I haven't finished reading this yet, only the first two paragraphs... I'm going to read the rest as soon as I can, but have you ever read the words to the haunting hymn "O Sacred Head Now Wounded?" There are 11 verses. The first verse was haunting my mind this morning, so I printed out all of the words and have been singing the song to God in my heart. This post, what I've read of it so far, reminds me of it and compliments it. God is so involved in every detail of our lives, it boggles my mind and humbles my heart.

Love ya!

Mel said...

Okay, now I've read the whole thing. Thank you for posting this. As I was reading, I was pondering. God and Christ are one, as our bodies are one. Can you imagine having your heart severed from your body? Our bodies would die, of course, but what if they didn't? I don't think we as humans can comprehend the depth of suffering God endured on our behalf.

Our family is having Bible study together tonight. I'm going to read this to them. Please pray for us, that we will have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to receive and understand and be changed by these truths.