Sunday, April 06, 2014

A Saved Sinner Surveys the Cross


When I survey the wondrous cross

How have we taken our eyes off the beauty of that which is our life. Not just a glance, not just a look, but a total survey of every nook, every truth, every essence of the eternal magnificence of that which is the cross. Take all your theology, all your doctrine, all your preaching, and your Biblical lessons, and distill them all into one glorious wonder and you have the cross. The cross, oh the cross.

On which the Prince of Glory died,

And on that wooden altar hangs in all His bloody resplendence the Prince of Glory. Alive and suffering and then dead. Dead, you say? Oh please do not press me to give you some pitiful explanation of God’s death, it is beyond me to tell and beyond you to hear. The Prince, the Exalted One, the center of heaven’s adoration and the Creator of everything, suffers and dies. On the cruelest of altars and the most public of spectacles, the Prince, the Exalted Prince of all Creation bows His divine head and expires. And He Himself has insured His humiliation will be forever captured in Holy Writ for all to either mock or embrace.

My richest gain I count but loss,

What gain could be held up to His sacrificial cross? How much gold could be removed from this cold earth and shined and presented in exchange for the excellency of the eternal crimson redemption of all mankind? How much silver and how many jewels could compete with the gain offered in His cross? How much learning and science, how much fame and fortune, and which monarchy or ruling power could even begin to be held up against the everlasting gain held within the wounds of this Prince? Drivel and dung are they all when their mirage is exposed by the glorious reality of God’s Redeeming Lamb.

And pour contempt on all my pride.

And what of pride and self righteousness? How can they find any place in us as we survey Golgotha’s act of glorious mystery? We are all undone, a people of unclean lips emanating from unclean hearts. We all must stand condemned by the revelation of this holy selflessness as the Darling of Heaven hangs arrayed in such a bloody garment sewn from His own veins.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Oh please, my tongue, let it forever remain silent about any suggestion concerning any imagined goodness of my own. I have nothing, nothing to be sure, about which to boast. I could boast of my sin, I could boast of my lust, I could boast of my pride, but I cannot utter one boasting lie about anything good about me that would cause One so Holy to do what I have seen on this wondrous place of atonement.

Save in the death of Christ my God,

This is my boast, this is my glory, this is my life! The world wonders why I would embrace such an emblem of repulsiveness and defeat. The Leader is murdered and yet we receive it with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And they ask, why? I do not expect those to understand who have not been illuminated by God’s Spirit whose ministry is to lift up and speak of this Prince. Oh but once your heart is opened and the light comes streaming in you can never see the cross in the same earthly way as before. You do not see a Jew being punished by Romans, you now see ever so clearly the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Selah…

All the vain things that charm me most,

Spurgeon once remarked that when we first lay our eyes upon the Risen Christ we will think ourselves a thousand fools to have ever been attracted by anything upon this earth. All is vanity and vexation of spirit that is not of Christ. And the charm that draws my heart is my shame, and if things charm me most I beg for God’s cleansing.

I sacrifice them to His blood.

Let everything bow to His blood. If I gain the entire world let it be lost to His blood. Paul calls it the Blood of God and so it is, another layered mystery. But I cannot deny its cleansing power and the continuing place of sacredness it continues to hold in my heart. Let all but that most holy and powerful blood be sacrificed upon the altar of nothingness.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

And now I am invited to a privileged spectacle before which I must remove the sandals from off my heart. I am the undeserving recipient of such a glorious sight, the view of faith that sees the Son of the Living God upon that rugged cross. This is no mental gymnastics and no New Age projectionism, no, this is a sacred work of the Spirit. I am allowed to see Him…Him…Oh my…Him. I should never have been allowed anywhere near Him, much less invited to view the sufferings which I indeed caused. This is not some curious voyeurism, this is worship in the deepest sense.

Sorrow and love flow mingled down,

Sorrow and love. Mingled and flowing inseparably down His Messianic form. How could this horror be God’s expression of love? How can I be watching both my punishment and my life being accomplished before my eyes in this single act of death?

Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,

The mystery is glorious, and this mystery bids me to follow and learn. I hear the centurian proclaim his wonderment as he says, “Surely this must have been the Son of God…”. And drained of myself I must bow and say, “Amen…amen, this was the Son of God who was thinking of me even in death…”.

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Surely a crown of untold gold and silver must adorn this sacred head. Complete with jewels from every nation and molded into the most elegant of headpieces, fit for any king. But yet what is this I see, thorns? A headpiece of cruel and sharpened thorns? A crown that both adorns and pierces as well? Who could worship such a mocked king as this? And who then are these humble worshipers that bow before this one whose crown is composed of such thorns? We are they who have seen with the Great Apostle who knew that the sufferings of this present cross will seed the ground of the spirit which will bring forth a harvest of glory revealed in the very Being who now wears so rich a crown.

His dying crimson, like a robe,

He wears His blood like a robe. He is not ashamed to wear this not for Himself, but for us. A garment of hued suffering which will redeem that which was lost, even us. This not a coat of many colors, this coat's theme is deep red. This coat is sacrifice, this coat is suffering, this coat is blood, and this coat is death.

Spreads o'er His body on the tree;

His body looks completely bruised and bloody, swollen and worn, and showcased upon this cross as some kind of tortured trophy of justice, and yet victory pours from His wounds. Pitiful and yet powerful, this is what this Prince had foretold and even sought. This is His finest moment and even though the world will reject Him and His love, He will gather to Himself a body of believers who will forever praise His Holy Name.

Then I am dead to all the globe,

This world must now assess me as worthless, dead to all the success and grappling that seeks self elevation and the prize of wealth. They now see me as contaminated by a religious experience that taints my earthly usefulness. But they do not realize that once I was dead and now I live, I was lost and now I am found.

And all the globe is dead to me.

And what of this world? All its wealth and attraction has lost its glitter and the offer of the earthly kingdoms has become a weak and toothless competitor to the roar of Judah’s Sacrificial Lion. What could tempt those who cling to the bloody frame of some obscure Jew on an obscure cross, one cross among many thousands? What could this world offer us who have found everything in this glorious gore? The wise are now confounded, and the world must shake their head in utter amazement at this spectacle of once sound people now giving up their very lives to be subservient to this punished Prince.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

But what can I give in return to so great a salvation? Look around and see what God desires and what could possibly be an offering of such dimensions that it would do justice to His sacrifice. What if I owned an entire city? What if I owned an entire country? What if I owned an entire continent? Oh no, still insignificant and small. What if I owned the entire world? What if I owned the entire galaxy? What if indeed I owned the entire universe down to the very last molecule? And what if I gathered it all together and laid it before His cross as an offering of praise and an expression of gratitude? Wouldn’t that suffice?

That were an off'ring far too small;

The entire universe placed before Him in grateful sacrifice would be an insult and counted as nothing in comparison. Too small, too insignificant, too incongruous to what is displayed upon Calvary’s cross. Please remove such an offering, its presence only detracts.

Love so amazing, so divine,

How many lips would it take to describe such a love? How many books, how many words, how many comparisons could even touch the garment of God’s amazing love? To touch God’s love you must touch God Himself who is love. The amazing effect that this divine love has upon all that receive it is without complete understanding. To receive it is to realize its depth is beyond you. It all comes together and yet it continues to elude any complete mental comprehension. To be drenched in God’s redeeming love is the single most transfiguring experience in a sinner’s earthly life. Would that word “amazing” could be multiplied by millions in its depth and length and width and height, only then could we even begin to communicate the love that drew salvation’s plan.

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

My life. It seems so insignificant and really unattractive to even me. How could God desire me? Oh my, I am writing through tears because I both am ashamed at my meager existence and yet eternally astounded and grateful that God allows me, desires me, to offer Him my life. And the only reason my life is worth anything is because of the One to whom I offer it. I will one day receive my opportunity to run and fall before my Risen Lord, and I will recall the many moments my mind ran to Calvary while I dwelt on earth. And on that day, oh bless His Holy Name, I will dwell where He dwells. I will dwell where He dwells because He called me, a sinner unworthy of even a divine glance, to live and dwell with Him forever.

My tears hinder me to write any further, but I am grateful for the survey this sinner has been granted to once again be both filled, and become thirsty as well, for the wonder of God's glorious cross...


Anonymous said...

What a friend we have in Jesus

John 15:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

All our sins and griefs to bear.

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.


Cherie c. said...

The Cross before me, the world behind me. This should always be our view.

your sister in Christ Jesus