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Posts Tagged ‘propitiation’

It’s very gray this morning… and windy and cool.  It should be gray on Good Friday.

All creatures should walk solemnly today as we contemplate the Savior of the world.

This Jesus, whose sinless life fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law which we were helpless to do.

This Jesus, who on this day of all dreadful days cannot restrain his love.  He gives a Gentile governor numerous opportunities to follow conscience and to know the Truth which sets men free (John 18-19).  He warns the mourners who follow him on his road to the cross – “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:27-31).  He prays from the cross for his accusers – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  He bestows forgiveness and gives eternal hope to the believing criminal crucified next to him (Luke 23:39-43) and He cares for his mother (John 19:26-27).

This Jesus, will willingly suffer torture and humiliation on this day at the hands of his creatures.  He asked, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  Yet, He submitted to the will of the Father to proceed with their plan crafted before the foundations of the world were laid (Luke 22:42).

Pilate’s weakness will not only lead to Jesus’ crucifixion, but add to his sufferings as he tries to appease the blood-thirsty crowd by having Jesus tortured.  He orders Jesus flogged, whipped with leather straps studded with bits of lead and pieces of bone.  Jesus is then led back before the angry crowd in this bloodied state clothed in a purple robe and crowned with thorns, the result of cruel bullying by Pilate’s soldiers.  He is cast out of the Jews’ beloved Jerusalem, bearing the disgrace of an execution “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13).  At the cross, He is stripped down his chiton, the garment worn next to his skin.  The attending soldiers throw lots for his clothes, judging the clothing to be of more value than its owner, the God-man who hangs nearly naked before them.

Then, of course, there comes the greatest transaction in the history of the world.  By the end of this day, all of Christ’s righteousness will appear as available credit in the accounts of sinful men.  Before this though, Jesus will become sin – my sin, your sin, the sin of all mankind.  He will absorb all the punishment for it in wave after wave as He hangs on the tree and turns away God’s wrath from rebellious mankind to himself.  By the end of this day there will remain for God’s people not a single drop of wrath left toward us, all of it spent on his Son.  There is only goodness and love left toward me, his child.

Hmmm…
ah me…

Oh look!  I see the sun has broken through!

It should be sunny on this day.

“And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I have is grace!”

– – – – –

Illustration by Christopher Powers, Full of Eyes, for his music video set to Sovereign Grace’s song, “All I Have is Christ.”

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Good Friday IV Here’s Good Friday from two very different sources. First from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible (1) –

“Papa?” Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. “Papa? Where are you? Don’t leave me!’

And for the first time – and the last – when he spoke nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn’t answer. He turned away from his Boy…

The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, “It is finished!”

And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.

“Father!” Jesus cried. “I give you my life.” And with a great sigh he let himself die…

“That’s the end of Jesus,” the Leaders said.

But, just to be sure, they sent strong soldiers to guard the tomb. They hauled a huge stone in front of the door to the tomb. So that no one could get in.

Or out.

The second from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (2) –

Now Jesus was perfectly holy. He hated sin with his entire being. The thought of evil, of sin, contradicted everything in his character. Far more than we do, Jesus instinctively rebelled against evil. Yet in obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took on himself all the sins of those who would someday be saved. Taking on himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled created deep revulsion in the center of his being (2 Corinthians 5:21). All that he hated most deeply was poured out fully upon him…

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The question does not mean, Why have you left me forever? for Jesus knew that he was leaving the world, that he was going to the Father (John 14:28). Jesus knew that he would rise again (John 2:19). [In fact,] it was “for the joy that was set before him” that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)… It is better to understand the question… as meaning, Why have you left me for so long?

Jesus, in his human nature, knew he would have to bear our sins, to suffer and to die. But, in his human consciousness, he probably did not know how long this suffering would take. Yet to bear the guilt of millions of sins even for a moment would cause the greatest anguish of soul. To face the deep and furious wrath of an infinite God even for an instant would cause the most profound fear. But Jesus’ suffering was not over in a minute – or two – or ten.

When would it end? Could there be yet more weight of sin? Yet more wrath of God? Hour after hour it went on – the dark weight of sin and the deep wrath of God poured over Jesus in wave after wave. Jesus at last cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why must this suffering go on so long? Oh God, my God, will you ever bring it to an end?…

[You see,] God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generations past. He had forgiven sins and stored up his righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin, [past and future,] was unleashed against God’s own Son…

If we ask, Who required Christ to pay the penalty for our sins? the answer given by Scripture is that the penalty was inflicted by God the Father as he represented the interests of the Trinity in redemption. It was God’s justice that required that sin be paid for, and, among the members of the Trinity, it was God the Father whose role was to require that payment. God the Son voluntarily took upon himself the role of bearing the penalty for sin…

Herein we see something of the amazing love of both God the Father and God the Son in redemption. Not only did Jesus know that he would bear the incredible pain of the cross, but God the Father also knew that he would have to inflict this pain on his own deeply loved Son (Romans 5:8)…

Then at last, Jesus knew his suffering was nearing completion. He knew he had consciously borne all the wrath of the Father against our sins, for God’s anger had abated and the awful heaviness of sin was being removed. He knew that all that remained was to yield up his spirit to his heavenly Father and die. With a shout of victory, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Then with a loud voice, he once more cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). And then he voluntarily gave up the life that no one could take from him (John 10:17-18), and he died.

God the Father saw “the fruit of the travail of his soul” and was “satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). The New Testament refer(s) to Jesus’ death as a propitiation… (having) the sense of a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God – and thereby makes God propitious, or favorable, toward us.

For those of us in Christ, there is now no more anger or wrath left in the Father toward our sin. He acts wholly propitious toward us – forever. And that’s why it’s called Good Friday.

(1) Lloyd-Jones, Sally, and Jago. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2007. 304-06. Print.

(2) Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. 573-77. Print.

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Chapel with Christmas tree in the evening --- Image by © Fridmar Damm/Corbis

I’ve already watched White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen this year. It is probably my favorite Christmas movie because it so reminds me of my mom who loved the show and whose enthusiasm caused me to love the show.* It also brings to mind my mom’s Aunt Effie whom we visited frequently when I was a child. Reaching back, life seems frozen in time as I remember happy visits to her home with my older cousins (actually my mom’s young cousins) in their 1940/50s-style home, ala White Christmas decor.

Last winter where I live, the temperatures rarely got above zero; one of our coldest winters on record. This year, although it started colder, has moderated and we’re enjoying a temperate season so far. In fact, what little snow we had, has disappeared, save the light dusting we just got last night. That’s fine with me.

I used to be a bit more nostalgic on this point than I am these days. I used to say that I wished at least we’d have snow for Christmas. Well, with age comes wisdom, perhaps, and I now see snow for what it is in light of shoveling, driving, and late springs. I really think I’d be fine if we don’t get more snow for Christmas. Of course, I’d have to resign myself to living with the consequences – dark winter definitely seems darker without the bright white of the snow everywhere and the monochromatic palette of browns and tans may prove harder to live with than the shoveling or the cold. I don’t know, I suspect as long as I live here, the theory will never be fully tested.

However, in chapel this week at my school, the pastor who spoke suggested to us that it is more than sentimental Americans dreaming of a white Christmas. He reminded us that before the beginning of time, our Father God had plans to redeem a sinful people and call a nation from every tribe and time who would extol him as beautiful and splendid throughout eternity.

Who, more than us, knows our transgressions and our sin that is ever before God? Truly, against him, only, have we sinned and we’ve done what is evil in his sight. Yet, God had been planning before creation to make a way for us back to him. It would come in the most unlikely form and would still not be fully realized for another 33 years. But in this one event, God sets in motion his plan that had been first announced in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15) and promised in Genesis to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead of the never-ending animal sacrifices, there would be a once-and-for-all sacrifice of an innocent being who would willingly bear all of God’s wrath toward sin, until it was completely spent and not a shred of wrath would remain toward those who are in Christ Jesus. Marvelously, because of this sacrifice, God declares his children innocent and blameless before him.

This is a white Christmas I welcome. David said it in Psalm 51: Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. The LORD himself declares, “…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Christ’s birth was part of God’s plan for a white Christmas – a Christmas with our sins washed white as snow through the ultimate sacrifice of his Son.

Glory to God in the highest – let the redeemed of the LORD say so.

 

[Addendum: It was 40 degrees and raining (yes, raining!) on Dec. 22 and 23.  There was no snow left anywhere, just puddles where the rain was collecting.  It even looked like the lawn was greening up a very little bit.  Last night (23rd), to keep me from testing my theory (see above), the temperature began to settle near the freezing mark and we now have a very thin layer of wet snow lightly covering everything.  However, with the snow came our family’s first car accident of the season.  It was the other party’s fault and, fortunately, everyone was alright, but we have two air bags deployed and a hole the size of a watermelon in the windshield.  Sentimentality aside… I know of which I speak.]

* Just for the record – probably my second favorite movie would be the George C. Scott A Christmas Carol.

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Artist, Christopher Powers, attends Bethlehem Baptist Church and Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, MN, both of which have become very dear to Dana and I over the last several years through our children’s involvement in the same.  He has an unexpected and insightful, philosophy of art that declares the glory of God (Psalm 96:1-4).  View Powers’ other works on his website.  (Feel free to contribute if led.)

All I Have is Christ

v. 1
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

v. 2
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Chorus
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

v.3
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
O Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

All I Have Is Christwritten by Jordan Kauflin; sung by Devon Kauflin.
Copyright 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Song used by Christopher Powers with permission.

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