Posted in Christianity, tagged burden, cross, Ephesians 1, guilt, Isaiah 26, James 2, Mark 2, Pilgrim's Progress, redemption, salvation, Zechariah 12, Zechariah 3 on March 19, 2017|
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Now I saw in my dream that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall and that wall is called salvation (Isaiah 26:1). Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty because of the load on his back (James 2:10).
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross and a little below in the bottom, a sepulcher. So I saw in my dream that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders and fell from off his back and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher where it fell in and I saw it no more.
Then was Christian glad and light-some and said with a merry heart, “He hath given me rest by his sorrow; and life by his death.” Then he stood still a while to look and wonder for it was very surprising to him that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked, therefore, and looked again even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks (Zechariah 12:10).
Now as he stood looking and weeping, behold three shining ones came to him and saluted him with, “Peace be to thee.” So the first said to him, “Thy sins be forgiven” (Mark 2:5). The second, stript him of his rags and clothed him with change of raiment (Zechariah 3:4). The third also set a mark in his forehead and gave him a roll with a seal upon it which he bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Celestial Gate (Ephesians 1:13-14). So they went their way. Then Christian gave three leaps for joy and went out singing:
Thus far did I come loaden with my sin,
Nor could ought ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came hither: What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?
Blest cross! Blest sepulcher! Blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me.
– – – – – – – – – –
Bunyan, John, and Cynthia Wall. The Pilgrim’s Progress: An Authoritative Text Contexts Criticism. New York, N.Y. ; London: Norton, 2009. 32-33. Print.
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My oldest daughter, Ashley, recently posted a piece on her husband Andrew’s blog that stands in opposition to the “you are to die for” message often used in reference to Christ’s motivation for the cross.
The “you are to die for” message more than implies some glint of personal value in me that was worth all the “trouble” Christ went through on the cross. It minimizes the fact that there is nothing good in me to recommend myself and it makes me the focus of the cross; not the Trinity.
Jacobson reminds us:
Though the cross is the only place I can go for hope; though the cross is the only thing I can cling to in the courtroom of God; though the cross is the only thing that can bring me ultimate joy and freedom; though the cross is the thing that stands between me and eternal condemnation; though the cross is the only option for my redemption; though the cross is my ultimate hope…
The cross is NOT ultimately about me.
The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to display definitively, absolutely, undoubtedly, irrevocably the GLORY of God!
The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to show the totality of the supremacy of God over sin, death, and the devil.
The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to end, without question, the eternal battle with Satan.
The ultimate aim of Christ on the Cross was to witness to the holiness and justice of God who cannot tolerate sin.
The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to display the massive, undeniable righteousness of God who is Just and the Justifier of those who trust in Jesus…
Ah, but here is the glorious mystery that should make my heart stop: in the cross, Christ is pleased and glorified in my justification from sin. I benefit eternally for him conquering sin. When he conquered sin, my sin, he made himself both just and my justifier. The victory that brought him ultimate glory has brought me life.
So, even though I am not the ultimate aim of the cross, there is nothing else but the cross that can be my aim.
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