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Christ crucified (4)

by on August 22, 2013

Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophetmighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us.They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them,“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Luke 24: 18 – 27,  46 – 47.

 

It was necessary, by God’s design, that the Christ, Messiah, must suffer, and then enter into His glory – in fact, the cross was a part of the setting up of that Kingdom that will never end, and of the nations being His possession (the promise of Psalm 2) – so how wonderful that His Kingship was displayed over His head as He endured God’s wrath over the sin of the world.

I want to think for a moment about what the Lord was speaking about when He referred to the prophesied sufferings of the Messiah. I’m sure He took the disciples to the Psalms, for example.

Psalm 22, written by King David – the Lord’s anointed: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me and from the words of my groaning?… For Dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and my feet. The suffering of the Messiah, and a suffering described in Psalm 22 that went beyond anything great David suffered – prophetically looking forward to the suffering of his greater Son. Forsaken by God as He laid on Him your sin and mine, and poured out His anger and punishment on Him.

I’m sure, too, that the Lord took His disciples to Isaiah’s servant songs (each Messianic in content). I don’t have space to quote them all in full, or to think about them in any detail here – maybe another time. But here is a very short summary:

  • Isaiah 42, the servant is the chosen One, who will bring justice to the nations.
  • Isaiah 49, the servant is the One who will redeem Israel, and in fact that redeeming act will be so potent that it will spill over to all the nations so that God’s salvation will reach the ends of the earth.

Familiar language in terms of Messiah so far, but now things start to change:

  • Isaiah 50, the servant is the One who is obedient to God, even in the face of those who pull out His beard and spit in His face.
  • Isaiah 53, the servant is the One who will bear the suffering and the punishment due to others, to bring them peace. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

 

Yes, Messiah must suffer – and then, equally, He must enter into His glory. And He has done that too! God has ensured it. The writer to the Hebrews says when Christ [that is, when Messiah] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. Yes, He has entered into His glory.

—-

 

So, I hope we have scraped the surface of what Paul was trying to evoke when he put down those words – Christ crucified. A stumbling block to the Jews. For sure, it was.

But what is ‘Christ crucified‘ to you?

To those who believe, it is everything. To those who believe, Christ crucified is what we have built our lives on, our very identifies, our hopes and dreams are anchored right there. To us who are called, Paul says, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. God’s power and wisdom are displayed in the crucified Christ. Not maybe how we would have tried to rescue the human race – but God’s salvation comes by no other means than believing in that the Christ, the everlasting King who has all things as His inheritance, was crucified to take God’s punishment for my sin so that I would never have to face it.

Of course, just because He was crucified, doesn’t mean He isn’t still the King – the sign above His head was true before, during and after His crucifixion. In fact, His suffering only means that He has a higher place now – He has redeemed people for God, worshippers, who will be to the praise of His glory eternally. And we have the honour of serving that King, in His Kingdom – a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, where His rule is overall, and where we are obedient as subjects. But it’s not an oppressive regime, is it? It’s not about rules, but about love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit, in acceptable service.

Let us serve Messiah King to the best of our ability, by God’s grace.

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