The thoughts that follow have made this season more worshipful for me. So, I would like to share them with you. If you are looking for further inspiration for worship this season, please keep reading. I have kept them short.
I made a post on Facebook several days ago inviting friends to think with me about the cross. In that post, I shared a handful of questions that I, to my surprise, did not have good answers to. I am not finished thinking through those questions. But, I do want to share a perspective on the cross that provides the foundation for a satisfying response to many of them. This is it.
What is the primary way in which we should understand the sense in which “Christ died for us?” How about this? The primary terms in which we should think about the sense in which “Christ died for us” is as a wholly perfect and pleasing sacrifice to God, a flawless gift that satisfied the wrath of God for our sins.
For context, think back to Cain and Able. Before there was law, they both offered sacrifices to God. God did not demand these sacrifices, as far as we know. God did not tell them what to sacrifice, as far as we know. But, what we do know, is that, based on the features of these respective sacrifices, one was pleasing to God, Able’s, and other was not, Cain’s. The feature of these sacrifices that I want you to focus on is that these sacrifices were not a payment that was due. They were not owed to God. They were a gift.
Now, look through this lens at the cross. You see, if Christ approached each step which lead to His death as a step which would maximize the overall value and sweetness of the sacrifice that He was consciously making to the Father, on our behalf, we can make sense of a lot of things.
For example, was Christ’s scourging necessary for our forgiveness? If not, why endure that it? These questions are grounded in a certain “payment way” of looking at the cross. But, if we look at the cross through the lens of sacrifice, we can see that Christ was not trying to provide an exact payment for our debt. But, rather, He was concerned with maximizing the greatness of His sacrifice by not taking any steps which would diminish its value.
Another. Why did Christ not take the myrrh mixed with wine that was offered to him? Maybe it was for the same reason that He endured the scourging in the first place: Jesus did not want to minimize, in any way, the sacrifice that He was making. And, if this drink, would ease His suffering in the slightest bit, then maybe that would, by just that much, devalue His sacrifice.
Another. Must we believe that Christ suffered in some unknown and incomprehensible way to make sense of how He could have died for us? Must we believe that Jesus’s suffering went beyond what we see and are told? Must we destroy justice, appeal to mystery or sacrifice reason in order to make sense of how one man’s death could be a sufficient payment for the sins of the world, when the payment for our sins seems, Biblically, to demand so much more? The lens of a free and perfect sacrifice allows us to see satisfying answers to these questions.
When it was finished, when His sacrifice was complete, the Father, no doubt overwhelmed by the compassion of such a perfect, spotless offering made on behalf of the sins of the world, was satisfied, leaving in Him not a shred of wrath for those who would appeal to such a perfect gift made on their behalf.
I hope that your heart in worship this Easter is refreshed by this.