April 19, 2011

What really happened that first Easter?

A few months ago I was sitting in the doctors office and listening to a mother and daughter talking about Jesus. The daughter was telling her mother about a friend who kept pushing Jesus on her and how this friend kept telling her about the cross. She angrily said to her mother, why is Jesus any different then any other man who the Romans crucified?


In David Platt's book "Radical" he plainly outlines what happened on that cross and what was so different than any other death of an innocent person.

First of all he says: to say Christ died for us just to show us His love for us is "woefully inadequate, missing the entire point of the gospel." He goes on to say:

"We are not saved from our sins because Jesus was falsely tried by Jewish and Roman officials and sentenced by Pilate to die. Neither are we saved because Roman persecutors thrust nails into the hands and feet of Christ and hung him on a cross.

Do we really think that the false judgment of men heaped upon Christ would pay the debt for all of humankind's sin? Do we really think that a crown of thorns and whips and nails and a wooden cross and all the other facets of the crucifixion that we glamorize are powerful enough to save us?
Picture Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. as he kneels before his Father, drops of sweat and blood fall together from his head. Why is he is such agony and pain? The answer is not because he is afraid of crucifixion. He is not trembling because of what the Roman soldiers are about to do to him.

Since that day countless men and women in the history of Christianity have died for their faith. Some of them were not just hung on crosses; they were burned there. Many of them went to their crosses singing.

One Christian in India, while being skinned alive, looked at his persecutors and said, "I thank you for this. tear off my old garment, for I will soon put on Christ's garment of righteousness."
As he prepared to head to his execution, Christopher Love wrote a note to his wife, saying, "Today they will sever me from my physical head, but they cannot sever me from my spiritual head, Christ." As he walked to his death, his wife applauded while he sang of glory.

Did these men and women in christian history have more courage than Christ himself? Why was he trembling in that garden, weeping and full of anguish? We can rest assured that he was not a coward about to face Roman soldiers. Instead he was a Savior about to endure divine wrath.

Listen to his words: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." The "cup" is not a reference to a wooden cross; it is a reference to divine judgment. It is the cup of God's wrath.
This is what Jesus is recoiling from in the garden. All God's holy wrath and hatred toward sin and sinners, stored up since the beginning of the world, is about to be poured out on him, and he is sweating blood at the thought of it.

What happened at the Cross was not primarily about nails being thrust into Jesus' hands and feet but about the wrath due your sin and my sin being thrust upon his soul. In that holy moment, all the righteous wrath and justice of God due us came rushing down like a torrent on Christ himself. Some say, "God looked down and could not bear to see the suffering that the soldiers were inflicting on Jesus, so he turned away." but this is not true. God turned away because he could not bear to see your sin and my sin on his Son...

...This is the gospel. The just and loving Creator of the universe had looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent his son, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the Resurrection so that all who trust in him will be reconciled to God forever."

This is the gospel people get murdered for preaching and many western preachers are afraid to preach. It has nothing to do with health or wealth or your best life now. Nothing to do with fitting in or being entertained or finding your purpose or fulfilling your dreams.

This is the gospel of real Love...the power of the gospel that saves.

Isaiah's prophesy (centuries before Christ) foretold what He would endure.

All came to pass.

                                    Isaiah 53

                                                       
        1 Who has believed our report?
      And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

       2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
      And as a root out of dry ground.
      He has no form or comeliness;
      And when we see Him,
      There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

       3 He is despised and rejected by men,
      A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
      He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

       4 Surely He has borne our griefs 
      And carried our sorrows;
      Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
      Smitten by God, and afflicted.

       5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
      He was bruised for our iniquities;
      The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
      And by His stripes we are healed.

       6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
      We have turned, every one, to his own way;
      And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

       7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
      Yet He opened not His mouth;
      He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
      And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
      So He opened not His mouth.

       8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
      And who will declare His generation?
      For He was cut off from the land of the living;
      For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.

       9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
      But with the rich at His death,
      Because He had done no violence,
      Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

       10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
      He has put Him to grief.
      When You make His soul an offering for sin,
      He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
      And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

       11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
      By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
      For He shall bear their iniquities.

       12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
      And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
      Because He poured out His soul unto death,
      And He was numbered with the transgressors,
      And He bore the sin of many,
      And made intercession for the transgressors.




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