Day 5: Christ’s Death

Matthew 26:56
“But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Matthew 27:22-23
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Hebrews 12:2
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If there is one symbol of Christianity that is immediately recognizable, it must be the cross.  You see it in churches everywhere and hanging on the necks of people everywhere (you see it in Grace Redeemer Church’s logo, too).  Why is the cross so important?  As Johannes Vos writes, “The death of Jesus Christ is the center of the Bible, the focal point of the world’s history, the central fact in the gospel message, and the foundation of our hope for eternal life.”

We will, of course, be looking at Jesus’ death on the cross in more detail in the coming days.  But for now let’s focus on the Larger Catechism’s explanation of how Christ humbled himself on the cross: “Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors; having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God’s wrath, he laid down his life an offering for sin, enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.” (A49)

It is more than we can understand or imagine.  As if being betrayed, deserted, and rejected by those closest to him was not enough, as if enduring the most shameful form of death (Galatians 3:13) was not enough, as if the struggle against death and the powers of darkness (Luke 22:44) was not enough, Jesus endured the weight of God’s wrath against sin (Isaiah 53:6,10).  Oh, how much must he love his people to endure such agony!  Even the angels long to understand such love (I Peter 1:12).  Hallelujah!  What a Savior! 

‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.  (Charles Wesley)