Among all the amazing things taking place that day, high on the list is the fact that God the Father did not rescue Christ from the cross. He met every requirement to be rescued or delivered. He was faithful. He trusted God. He loved God with all his heart, soul, strength and life. He was innocent. He was righteous. The wage of sin is death but he had no sin, so technically, there should be no death.
This is all the more strange because of God’s history of rescuing His people. God rescued Israel from Egypt and they were idol worshippers and terrible sinners, starting with their leader Moses. He rescued Naaman the Syrian from leprosy and he was a prideful Gentile outside the covenant people. He rescued David from Saul, knowing how badly David would transgress the Law and sin against God. He rescued Daniel from the lion’s den and his three friends from the fiery furnace and the Bible never tells us they were sinless.
But now here’s sinless Jesus on the Cross and there’s no help for him. No friends are left. No band of brothers coming to the rescue. No angels dispatched from the throne of God to put an end to this mockery of justice. No lightning bolts striking dead the Roman soldiers who would dare to lay a hand upon the Son of Man.
This is the sinless Son of God and Daddy doesn’t come to the rescue. This is very, very strange indeed. It’s so unlike God to not vindicate the righteous and judge the wicked.
God came to Isaac’s rescue. Abraham had raised the knife and then God stopped the process. Couldn’t that happen here? Couldn’t Jesus get right up to the edge of death and then God stop the process? I mean, He’s suffered a lot already, He’s bled a lot. Why couldn’t God rescue Him from the cross by whatever means He wanted and command us to repent and believe that Jesus shed blood covered our sins. Why couldn’t Jesus’ willingness to go thru with it be enough? You know, it’s the thought that counts. Why couldn’t God let Him come off the cross and then in forty days glorify Him so He might ascend back to heaven? Why did He actually have to die?
The other very, very strange part of this is that Jesus goes thru with it. First of all, no one likes to be abused, mocked, tortured, humiliated and degraded. That’s real and deep suffering and everything in us seeks to avoid real suffering. Everyone wants to be happy and does those things that they think will bring that about.
Next, Jesus lived to please His Father and bask in His smile and where this is going is just the opposite. Jesus is going to feel in His humanity the deep displeasure, even anger and furious wrath of His heavenly Father and this is enough to crush Him. It caused Him to sweat blood just to think about it.
We who were born sinners and have sinned times without number can never imagine what this felt like to the innocent soul of Jesus when He felt the displeasure of His Father. It’s possible Jesus Himself, in His humanity, could not fully fathom what was coming until He experienced it.
From Jesus' side, He shouldn’t even be able to die. He has no inherent sin of Adam. He committed no sin of commission or omission. Death is the result of sin and there’s no sin here. None! How could He possibly die?
There’s only one way He dies from the Father’s vantage point – He made Him who knew no sin ... sin on our behalf. He had to see Him as guilty of all our sin, our sin having been imputed judicially to Christ’s account, laid upon Christ’s shoulders.
There’s only one way He dies from Jesus’ vantage point – full identification with sinners without actually sinning. From incarnation to baptism to being numbered with transgressors to crucifixion, Jesus had to willingly and voluntarily and intentionally identify with sinners as our sympathetic High Priest, but without ever sinning Himself.
“Yes Father, place on Me all their sins and then treat Me as if I had committed all of them. Yes Father, tie them to the whipping post for their scourging and then I will come and stand over them and take the whip in their place. Yes, Father, place Me on the Cross and then place their crimes on Me and then do to Me what those crimes deserve. I only want to do Your will, not Mine. I want to obey You fully because You are so glorious and deserve it. I love You that
An essential aspect of Christ dying, since he had no sin of His own, was that he had to willingly lay down his life, no one took it from him. He had to yield up His spirit, always in complete royal, sovereign control over every moment and every detail.
So unlike what happened with Abraham and Isaac, this Father and Son went thru with it. No heavenly voice would speak. No divine rescue would come. No substitute would be provided. Instead, Barabbas would go free so that Jesus could become our substitute.
Humiliation for humiliating sin was not enough. Suffering, bleeding, wounded, getting within an inch of death was not enough. Mere good intentions or the thought of dying for us would not be sufficient. He had to pay our wage of death that we might live. He had to perish to save His brethren. He had to be forsaken for our forgiveness.
Then the rescue came!
by Pastor Chris McKnight
As our culture and country continues to cascade into moral chaos and spiral down the toilet of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, it is good for us to hear voices from the past, voices from a time even worse than our own. That voice is Pastor/Theologian/Author Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German spy and theologian of the resistance against Hitler and the Nazi regime.
In 1935 in London, he preached a sermon on death. He would be executed in 1945 (only two weeks before American soldiers liberated his prison camp). Just the fact that he preached on death is telling.
As your pastor/teacher, high on my list of priorities is to do all I can to prepare you for death. Of course that means preaching Christ as our only hope in life and death, Christ crucified and risen and ascended and returning as the singular and exclusive means to be right with God, Christ Jesus the Lord as our only way, truth and life. But I want more for you than mere readiness to die. I want you to die well when your time comes.
To that end, here is an excerpt from Pastor Bonhoeffer’s sermon addressed to the believers that day in London on the eve of WW II:
“No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, no one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence.
He was 28 when he gave this sermon. Some might suggest these are the brave but empty words of a young person with death decades away, but that simply wasn’t the case. By 1935 he saw, perhaps before anyone else, where Hitler would take Germany and what it would likely cost him personally.
The concentration camp doctor at Flossenburg, where Bonhoeffer was hanged, gave the following account of Bonhoeffer’s death years later:
“On the morning of that day between five and six o’clock the prisoners … were taken from their cells, and the verdicts of the court martial read out to them. Through the half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensured after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
(Quotes are from Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, pp. 531-532).
Listen in to hear Pastors Chris, Billy Gene, and Toby answer your questions.
How should a pastor feel about his flock? And how should these feelings be expressed? Check out these somewhat surprising words from Pastor Paul to one of his church plants:
You are trapped in a burning building. Doom is sure. Then unexpectedly someone you don’t know runs in to announce a way of escape. Is this good news?
Charles Simeon (1759-1836), a Faithful Pastor
For the last three articles we have considered marks of a faithful, exemplary pastor from I Thessalonians 2:1-12. Today I want to share the story of a wonderful illustration of just such a man from church history. His story has encouraged and inspired me to never give up. His name? Charles Simeon.
I Thess. 5:1-11
Do you ever think about the end of the world? I can tell you the writers of Scripture did. The Day of the Lord is a dominant theme running through the Bible. The second coming of Christ is mentioned hundreds of times in the New Testament, with far more prophecies of His return than His first coming. Nearly every book of the NT deals with the subject. A Christ-centered consummation to human history is coming. It behooves us to know about it and be prepared for it.
I Thess. 5:1-11
I realize that’s an ominous headline that sounds like a video game or summer movie. And that’s part of this world’s problem. Any talk of a future judgment is scoffed at, ridiculed, mocked and maligned. Saddest of all is this even comes from professing Christians at times.
Studies in First Thessalonians
Imagine being born again and then taught that Jesus is coming back. So far, so good. He talked a lot about His return before He left. But then along the way, you come under the impression that you must actually be alive at His return or you will miss out.
Studies in I Thessalonians
I Thess. 4:9-12
Do you consider yourself a loving person? Could someone look at your daily life and conclude, “wow, that lady really loves other Christians.”
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight