Here in the US we have the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving this week. There may be 5 billion things that we could be thankful for at any moment; and truthfully we are probably aware of less than 5. The Christian is to always be aware of and deeply affected by at least one: the gospel of Christ.
The Scriptures teach that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). This is a staggering fact. He, the unchanging, ever-perfect, always good God–gives gifts to imperfect, weak, needy people.
Why does he do it? Well, one could rightly say, it is because he has abundance and we are needy. This is true. God needs nothing and we need everything. However, his giving is more than a cold, mechanical, divine donation. God gives because God loves. He loves us. And, his giving is the overflow of his love in sharing himself and his creation with us.
The burdens of people’s hearts are largely concealed from general view. Nevertheless they bulge from their souls like receipts from an overstuffed wallet. Much like receipts, credit cards, and punch-tickets, burdens are accumulated as we walk through the ordinary patterns of life. These are matters of personal, physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. Life hurts. This painful enduring mustn’t be minimized but instead optimized. There is a great Christian opportunity here.
The story of Judas’ betrayal of the Lord Jesus is as familiar as it is troubling. There is nothing worse that he could have done in his life than to betray Jesus. When Jesus says that it would have been better for him not to even be born (Mark 14) we begin to see the significance of the action. It is the ultimate evil act to betray or attack the ultimate good one. The consideration of the whole series of events is flat-out disturbing.
One particular unsettling note to Judas’ departure from the Passover table is the timing. As Jesus was unpacking the various Christological and eschatological significance of the Passover meal Judas got up and left.
However, we know that just a short time before, perhaps after the first cup of wine, early in the Passover feast, our Lord washed his disciples feet (John 13).
The disciples were bickering about their greatness while Jesus was showcasing his greatness. Greatness always serves. It wears the apron (Mark 10.45; 1 Peter 5.5-6).
This serving, this washing of the feet included all of the disciples, even Judas.
Every man desires to be considered a “good man”. If God has given a man 75 years of life and he looks back at it, nothing would give him more joy than to know that it wasn’t in vain. Further, the church is in desperate need of good men. The reason of course is that good men honor God and multiply themselves. Good men make more good men.
But, what do they look like?
A lot of times people flatter themselves and think that they can contain sin, pride in particular. They think that rather than sin mastering them they can master it. This type of thinking demonstrates a disaster waiting to happen.
Pride is not something to be handled. It is not for you. It opposes and destroys.
There was a disturbing story here in the Omaha area. A 34 year-old man used to walk up and down his neighborhood and show off his 6′ boa constrictor to neighbors. He often would let the snake wrap around the children and slide on their trampolines. He liked to show off his snake.
On one such occasion last June the snake constricted around his neck. Within minutes he was out of breath, on the floor, and soon after, dead. His ‘pet’ became his ‘killer’ in a matter of seconds. This man had overestimated his ability to master the snake while underestimating the snake’s desire to master him.
Yesterday I wrote about the perfect illumination and amplification of God’s attributes through the cross of Jesus. The contention is that the cross is the supreme demonstration of God’s attributes. Do you want to see God’s love? Look at the cross. Do you want to see holiness? Look at the cross. Do you want to see righteousness? Go to the cross.
In this post I want to continue on with the meditation and provoke worship from a slightly different angle. I want to “turn the diamond” of Calvary a bit that we might see and savor, as Piper would say.
Not only is the cross the supreme demonstration of God’s attributes but it is also the place where all of the divine attributes were operating in perfect harmony. And in my understanding of God’s attributes, the cross is the only way in which this could happen.
When we look at the cross we see the physical suffering of the Jesus. But, what caused him to sweat drops of blood in the garden? It was the cup. That cup of divine wrath that is due to sinners would be served to Christ. It is the impending wrath of God that makes the Savior cry out in prayer.
And upon the cross we see the wrath of God displayed. Reminiscent of Exodus the sky goes black in judgment. There on Calvary we see God’s righteous justice being uncorked and unloaded upon the Savior as he bears the sins of the world.
But, this is not …
Many have said that it is a study of the attributes of God that has been most impactful in their spiritual walk. No doubt it is when we, with eyes full of grace, look at God as he presents himself in his revelation that we are truly humbled and God himself is exalted in accordance with true knowledge of him.
I share these same sentiments. Several years ago, I began a home Bible study on the attributes of God. But a funny thing happened to me in this study. In preparing to teach on God’s holiness, I searched for the supreme representation and/or demonstration of divine holiness, I graciously stumbled upon what appeared to be the power cord that illuminated the divine perfections without rival.
As I studied the attributes of God’s holiness I found the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ to be the supreme demonstration of this eternal perfection of God. The same thing happened as I studied God’s righteousness, his love, his mercy, his wisdom, his sovereignty and so on. This birthed a wonderful study that focused specifically on the attributes of God in light of the cross. God has used this study to change my life and compel worship and awe. The cross of the Jesus is indeed the supreme demonstration of the divine attributes.
Consider God’s holiness. Where do we find God distinguished as holy more than through the transcendent requirements and achievement of perfection? Surely the priests in Leviticus knew much of God’s holiness, but they …
Years ago I worked in a financial brokerage. In particular I worked in compliance. We were very meticulous about ensuring that we said and did everything right. One phrase I remember seeing regularly is, “Past performance is not indicative of future results.” In other words, just because a fund or company has done well in the past does not mean that it will do well in the future. Typically this is appended to data that demonstrates solid past performance.
In the Christian world however, this phrase is turned on its head. It is in fact very much non-compliant with the Scripture.
What the writers of Scripture tend to do is unload piles of data upon us to show us that this God who has worked powerfully in the past will in fact do so in the future.
Just this morning I was reading the 77th Psalm in my devotions and I saw this same tactic. The Psalmist is, in the present, crying aloud to the Lord (v.1). He is feeling the pinch. Things are hard.
So what does he do? In both verses 5 & 11 we see him looking at the historical data for present comfort (Ps. 77.5, 11).
This quote greatly encouraged me to rest in the perfection of Christ’s work. This resting brings me to treasuring him. I pray it encourages you too. (the emphasis in underlining is my doing)…
At the cross this “righteousness” was found; human, yet divine: provided for man and presented to him by God for relief of conscience and justification of life. On the one word, “It is finished,” as on a heavenly resting place, weary souls sat down and were refreshed.
The voice from the tree did not summon them to do, but to be satisfied with what was done. Millions of bruised consciences there found healing and peace.
Belief in that finished work brought the sinner into favor with God, and it did not leave him in uncertainty as to this. The justifying work of Calvary was God’s way, not only of bringing pardon, but of securing certainty.
It was the only perfect thing which had ever been presented to God in man’s behalf; and so extraordinary was this perfection that it might he used by man in his transactions with God as if it were his own. –Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness
(Isa 53.9) and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Neither my mind nor my heart can fathom the polemical collision that occurred when Jesus, in his holy humanity, suffered the ill treatment, abuse and fermented scorn of his executioners. There really are no earthly comparisons or illustrations to faithfully communicate the injustice incurred at the hands of evil men as they shrouded the perfect and honorable one with abuse and shame.
But as I sat an chewed on this passage the word deceit jumped out at me. As I think about deceit I immediately think of Jacob. Who himself was a cunning deceiver. He tricked Isaac, Esau, Laban & others. He is the type of Bible hero that portrays a need for a redeemer. Shamefully, I can relate to this Jewish Patriarch.
And this is one of the amazing facets of the cross. Not only did Jesus endure such injustice from sinners but he did it for sinners.
Here he is absolutely free from sin. But at the same time he is shrouded with sin. He is, as 2 Cor. 5.21 says, made to be sin on our behalf. He did this while maintaining the integrity of his holy humanity. However, he was shrouded in the sewer clothes of our iniquity.
Therefore we can rightly say that while there was no deceit in his mouth, there was indeed deceivers on his mind, deceit on his back! There were a billion Jacobs engraved on his breastplate as this high priest went in …