We are pondering what our Lord and Savior suffered on the cross when he died to save his people, those given to him by the Father, from their sins to eternal glory. This rescue required an almighty deliverer. In the previous article, we thought about the physical pain and death he went through on the cross and the horror of the Holy One bearing all the sins of wicked people like you and me. Now, let us focus on two other aspects of what he endured to save us.
Third, the dearly loved One of the Father knew abandonment
- Christ faced the suffering of the cross alone, abandoned by humans. His disciples fell asleep when he asked them to pray with him (Mark 14:35-42). When arrested, everyone deserted him and fled (Mark 14:50). Compare this with his great love for them (John 13:1). His enemies mocked him and insulted him (Mark 15:25-32).
- Far worse was that Jesus the Son of God was forsaken by the Father (Mark 15:33-34). He had enjoyed fellowship with the Father from all eternity, sharing in his glory (John 1:1; 17:5, 24). But on the cross, the Father left the Son to suffer alone.
Christ Jesus bore the wrath of God.
- Another time, we will take about propitiation, where we will see that in his atonement Christ satisfied the wrath of God. In short, by being our substitute he satisfied and took away God’s righteous anger against our sins.
- We should observe that in other places the Scriptures say that Christ was stricken and afflicted by God (Isaiah 53:4-5; Mark 14:27); yes, God crushed his Servant Christ and caused him to suffer (Isaiah 53:10-11). Who can tell what it meant for the Omnipotent Father to crush his dearly loved Son for us? Only an equally Omnipotent Son could have borne up under the stroke of holy justice. Without explanation, the Spirit tells us of the suffering of the Servant’s soul (Isaiah 53:11), because who could understand how terrible that suffering was? Here, we would do well to weep and praise the Savior!
Here are some reflections on Christ’s sufferings on the cross.
- He made a complete payment for what we owed. If we suffered for our own sins, we could never pay the penalty, and we could never attain a perfect righteousness with God. But Jesus, the Son of God was able to pay the penalty in full (John 19:30), so that the Lord declares that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). When Christ died for us on the cross, he paid for us in full once for all (Hebrews 9:25-28).
- What is the importance of the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19)? It is clear evidence that he died a violent sacrificial death (cf. the classic work by Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross). The shedding of blood is clear evidence that his life was given as a judicial execution. The shedding of his blood clearly connects his death as the fulfillment of all the types and shadows of the sacrificial system of the law or old covenant.
- The atonement that Christ accomplished should be considered a “penal substitution”. He paid the penalty we owed as our substitute.
Let us bow and give thanks to our wonderful, merciful Savior!
Grace and peace, David