The Cross of Christ: God Instead of Us (2)
(Continued from yesterday)
Passover – Jesus bears God’s wrath in our place
Now let’s revisit Passover – the central moment in the history of the Jewish people. After hundreds of years in slavery, the time had come for God’s chosen people to be delivered. The cries of his oppressed people had reached his ears. He determined to strike all of Egypt in wrath. The only way to be spared was to smear the blood of an innocent lamb on the doorposts of the home.
Many people today resist talk about the wrath of God. It makes God seem angry. But what would you think about someone who saw an evil event occur and just shrugged his shoulders? What would you think about a person who saw the Holocaust taking place and just said, “So what?” What would you think about a judge who saw your baby being kidnapped and abused and said to the criminal, “That’s okay, try to do better next time!”
God is understandably angry over evil. He has made a good creation and his creatures have rebelled against him. The world is not as it should be. God must judge sin, and to be just he must judge all sin. It is because of his great love, that God is wrathful. If God did not have wrath toward sin, he would not be a loving God. That is why He decided to uphold his justice and his mercy at the same time through Jesus Christ.
On the cross, God demonstrated his perfect justice and his great mercy. He executed justice by pouring out his wrath against sin upon his only Son. He showed mercy by absorbing that wrath himself, thus allowing us to escape his judgment.
Because Jesus was filled with horror and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, we are filled with wonder and cry, “My God, my God, why have you accepted me?”
Because Jesus cried, “Father, forgive!”, the taunts we hurled at him at the cross are transformed into praise for his generous mercy.
Because Jesus said, “I thirst,” we can drink from the fountain of living water and never thirst again.
Because Jesus said, “Woman, behold your son” and felt the pain of separation from his earthly family, we can experience the blessing of being united with a heavenly family.
Because Jesus cried, “It is finished!”, our new life can begin.
Because Jesus committed his spirit into the Father’s hands, God commits his Spirit into our hearts.
Jesus is the Passover Lamb – the substitute that protects us from the wrath of God. He experienced the curse of God, the punishment for sin, the hellish torments of eternal damnation – all for the glory of God and the salvation of his people.
Creation – Jesus fulfills God’s original intention for humanity
Let’s turn the pages back even further. Picture the first humans in the Garden in uninterrupted fellowship with God and each other. They are called to do the will of God, but they disobey. Not your will, Lord, but mine! decides Adam.
Thousands of years later, another garden is before us. Gethsemane. The Second Adam is agonizing over the will of God. Jesus shrinks back from the thought of being cut off from God, from drinking the cup of God’s wrath so that his sinful people might be spared. Not my will, Lord, but yours! he decides.
The essence of Adam’s sin was that he put himself in God’s place. The essence of Christ’s righteousness is that he put himself in our place.
But these events are all part of God’s redemptive plan. In the first garden, God had promised to defeat Satan, sin and death. Now, in the second garden, because of the submission of the Son, the promise is kept. The fulfillment of prophecy, the climax of history, the culmination of God’s eternal plan comes crashing down upon Jesus of Nazareth.
Like Adam, Jesus had a task – to reflect the image of God. As Jesus bore the punishment for the sins of the world, he reflected the image of a self-giving God. He completed his earthly work.
On the sixth day of creation, God had made man in his image. Behold the man! Adam, the man whose sinful choice delivered all of humanity into the powerful grip of sin and death.
Now, on the sixth day, Friday, Pilate stands next to Jesus and declares, “Behold the Man!” Jesus, the “second Adam,” the true human being whose sinless life will undo the curse of sin and death.
Behold the Man who will pay for our sins!
Behold the Man who is our Messiah and Lord!
Behold the Man who is our Savior and God!
Piercing through the dark storm clouds and echoing through the valleys surrounding the hill of Golgotha, Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” announcing that his work was complete.
On the sixth day, God had completed his work of creation. Now Jesus finished his work, as the spotless Lamb who died as our sacrifice.
“It is finished!” The victory cry resounds from the cross. The sacrifice had been accomplished. And God saw that it was good.