More Than a Bad Afternoon
March 21, 2023
During this season of Lent, we do well to spend much time in deep reflection of God’s miraculous rescue mission of his sheep. Our inclination is to take the jagged edges off his path to our redemption and humanize it to an understandable level, even if it is still excruciating. But to truly “survey the wondrous cross” we must stretch even further to imagine Christ's divine experience on the cross, which is so much more than his human physical torture or psychological pain.
We can begin by considering the sin debt his love set out to settle. For Him to reconcile us to himself his pure righteous justice needed to be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11). As John Stott expresses in The Cross of Christ, “To say that he must “satisfy himself” means that he must be himself, and act according to the perfection of his (just) nature.”
Something very complicated and divine is happening on the cross with the God/Man Jesus that we cannot fathom. We have some sense of what transpires humanly; but the weight of punishment the Triune God exacts on himself so that he is satisfied with taking us to himself, holy and blameless, is so amazing and so divine that we will need eternity to unpack it.
We can rightfully expect that the price of justice for our sin that God took upon himself was no less than if we had individually carried it ourselves. He didn't cut himself a cut-rate deal. He is just. But how could so great a payment be made for so many of his elect on a cross in a single afternoon?
Could the answer be in Christ's words, quoting from Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In some divine way was the God-man Jesus in a suspension of time in his payment for sin so that God could be truly "satisfied"? Something truly complex and supernatural happened on a scale too great for us to fully comprehend.
But we must begin now what will require eternity to fathom. Calvary was so much more complex than an excruciatingly torturous afternoon for our Jesus. Still, we grow deeper in love with our redeemer the deeper we dig into this complex human and divine act of love.
We must "survey the wondrous cross" and resist the inclination to make it an
easily understood human event. Let our prayer this season be that we reach the inescapable conclusion, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all".
Prayer: Lord, it is difficult for our finite minds to comprehend the depth of your suffering, pain, and sacrifice. Fill our hearts and lives with a passion to live gratefully and obediently for you. Amen.
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