Friday, 10 April 2009

John 19v16-18: The glory of Christ crucified

Over the next few days, each post will include a reflection on the narrative of the cross from John 19:

So why did the eternal Son of God take flesh and become a man? Speaking of his own death, he says in John 12v23: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Jesus came to die, and by dying to give spiritual life to billions. The image if of a great crop, a harvest of lives bearing fruit to God.

And so the Son of Man came ultimately to be glorified – and to be glorified on the cross. Through the dirt and blood and pain, his divine excellence, his utter obedience to his Father’s will, his unfathomable love for mankind shines through – to all history, and even to the angelic beings.

This is why we must reflect on the cross. As with appreciating an artistic masterpiece, every detail we notice increases our awe at the work we behold. As with a symphony, every instrument we hear playing, adds to the beauty of what we experience.

And so to Christ’s sufferings, for the more we grasp what Jesus was prepared to endure for our salvation, the more we grasp how much he loves us.

First, his rejection. So much is implied in verse 16 [READ] Now this Son of God had received the worship of angels. He had left the joys of heaven and taken flesh. He had come to the humanity he had himself made. He had come also to the chosen people he had blessed. And he did this, knowing they would reject him, that the Jews would call for his blood, that the Romans would deliver him up, that even his closest friends, his only companions, his company for three years, would betray and desert him.

Surely the emotional pain this all caused was as bad as any physical pain he would suffer.

Second, his affliction. The sleepless night in custody. The beatings of his trial. The flogging that followed it. The thorns driven into his forehead, another beating. And now, verse 17 – he carried “his own cross.” Worded perhaps to remind us that he was willing in all this. He had predicted it four times. He had agonised over it in Gethsemane. And he had submitted himself to it, for his Father’s sake and for ours.

And so, and so, verse 18 – “they crucified him.” One of the most horrific forms of execution known. Nails driven through his wrists and feet, only for him to hang there for three hours struggling not to suffocate.

In Romans we learn that God has foreknown us. And this means that the Son of God knew us – personally, even before entering this world. And just as he foreknew us, so he knew what saving us would entail.

Here is love, vast as the ocean
Loving kindness like a flood
When the Prince of Life our ransom
Shed for us his precious blood