28 February 2022
“Then he said to them ‘My soul is very sorrowful even to death; remain here and watch with me. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38-39)/blockquote>
The above question was, in a way, asked by the Lord Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane of the Father. Is there any other way? There is none. Why so?
GRAVITY OF SIN
Our sin must be extremely grave and horrible – nothing reveals this like the cross. What ultimately sent Jesus to the cross was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, or the cowardice of Pilate but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s determination in love and mercy to bear our judgement and to put them away.
If there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, sin must be very serious indeed. Sin is actively refusing to acknowledge and obey God as our creator and Lord. We have rejected the position of dependence and sought to be independent; we have dared to proclaim our self-dependence and to claim the position that rightly belongs to God alone. Sin is defiance, arrogance, the desire to be equal with God.
If we imagine that God can simply forgive us as we forgive others, we have not yet understood the seriousness of sin or the majesty of God. When our understanding of God and man, or our perception of holiness and sin are askew or lacking, then our understanding of the need of atonement and the cross also is also bound to be lacking. The problem of forgiveness is constituted by the inevitable collision between human rebellion and divine perfection, between God as he is and us as we are. The obstacle to forgiveness is not just due to our sin and guilt, it is also the divine reaction in love and wrath towards guilty sinners. We need to remember that although God is love, his love is ‘holy love’, love which yearns over sinners and yet at the same time refusing to condonel our sin.
At the cross in holy love God through Christ paid the full penalty of our disobedience himself. He bore the judgement we deserve in order to bring us the forgiveness we do not deserve and to open the way for us to come back to God.
If we are to be forgiven, we must repay what we owe. Yet we are not able to do them for ourselves or others – we cannot save ourselves. Our current obedience and good works cannot make satisfaction for our sins. In effect, only God himself can do this; however, no one ought to make it except man. A being who is God and not man, or man and not God, or a mixture of both and therefore neither man nor God would not qualify. It is needful that the very l;same Person who is to make this satisfaction be perfect God and perfect man, since no one do it except one who is truly God, and no one ought to do it except one who is truly man. It is only Christ who is the unique perfection as the God-man who qualifies and He voluntarily gave himself up to death for us.
The cross is the event in which God makes known his holiness and his love simultaneously, in one event, in an absolute manner. The cross is the only place where the loving, forgiving merciful God is revealed in such a way that we perceive that his holiness and his love are equally infinite. God’s love and justice are simultaneously revealed!