The Wonderful Cross
It is an inescapable fact of the human experience that we all face death. We have to live through the deaths of loved ones, and then, eventually, we have to face our own end. It has been this way since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. So it is that one in every one dies, and every death marks the end of someone’s ability actively to affect the course of history.
Yet there is one death that has altered and defined the history of the entire world.
The death of Jesus Christ stands in distinction from all others. First, unlike most people, He faced death willingly. He declared, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17-18). The Lord Jesus was no helpless victim. He went to the cross neither as a result of cruel fate nor because He lacked the power to do anything about it. He could have called legions of angels to His defense had He so chosen, but instead He faced His grim execution and “gave himself” courageously and willingly.
Second, His death was purposeful. Jesus died “for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.” The cross represents the appeasement of God’s wrath at sin by God’s love for sinners through God’s gift of His Son. He alone determines how sinful people can be declared righteous in His holy presence. He knew that it could be not the result of their endeavors, their observance of the law, or all of their triumphs put together; but He determined that it would be as a result of Christ’s death on the cross.
Third, then, and utterly uniquely, this death was saving. There is no other way for sinners to be made right with God. If there were, then Christ would have died for nothing. No, when Christ died on the cross, it did not serve merely as an example or as a display of God’s love—although it was those things too. Most fundamentally, when Christ died, it accomplished salvation for sinners.
The ignoble death of a 1st-century Galilean man did all of this—what a wonder! And yet, that is not the greatest marvel of all. The greatest astonishment is not that it was done but that it was done for you and for me. We will never grasp the depth of it—the magnitude of the love that brought Him to that cross—and so we joyfully confess with Paul that on the cross, the Son of God “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). We must never grow cold to the central truth of Christianity, and of eternity: that “Jesus … gave himself for our sins to deliver us from this present evil age.” We will be giving God glory for this salvation forever; be sure you give Him glory today, too.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Why Have You Forsaken Me?
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
3Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises1 of Israel.
4In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
12Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet2—
17I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued3 me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
25From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26The afflicted4 shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.
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