Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mark 15:24-41

Tears filled the sun-baked creases on old Abraham’s face as he walked toward Mount Moriah. For several decades now, as God would prompt him, he would obey. He was the epitome of a faithful servant. He trusted that God was right in every circumstance, and knew that God never commanded anything of him that was not for his own good. And as he and Isaac moved along the road to Moriah, the turmoil between his faith and his understanding must have been overwhelming. “God is always good,” he thought. “Then why did He make such a horrific demand?” Moments earlier, God had told Abraham to take Isaac and offer him for a sacrifice. God knew how much Abraham loved his son, yet he had asked him to do this horrifying deed.
The gray beard caught the tears that flowed down his leather cheeks, as he continued to march to appointed place. Along the way, Abraham must have been devastated by the piercing words of his astute boy, “Dad, I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb that we are going to sacrifice?” With staff in hand, and faith in his heart, Abraham, the Father of Faith, responded with words that showed his faith in God’s goodness was still holding strong through all the frustrations and confusion, “Son, God will provide himself a lamb.” And God did provide a lamb that day.
Nearly 2,000 years later, the land of Moriah had drastically changed. Starting with Solomon (900 years after Abraham), the Mount Moriah had been converted to the temple grounds, and the land of Moriah had become the bustling metropolis of Jerusalem. And while the land changed, the truth that “God would provide Himself a lamb” had not changed. Here in the same land, a Father was taking His Son to be sacrificed. Like the obedient Isaac, this Son did not need to be coerced. Rather, obedient and trusting in the goodness of the Father, He had climbed the rugged hill where He would lay down His life. On this afternoon, He would bear the shame, the curse, the blasphemy, the penalty and ultimately the punishment of all mankind.
In the darkness of the day, Jesus took on Himself the sins of all mankind. He suffered the weight of God’s wrath. But taking sin on Himself had left Him vulnerable. Whereas in times past, He could turn for comfort to the Father in His suffering, now He was separated from the Father by our sin, comfortless, compassionless, feeling the full weight of punishment from God. In agony He mustered all the breath He could and screamed, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?!” He became sin for us. He had been obedient. He had been loving. Now, He was alone in His suffering. Don’t miss this: This is what Hell is like. He bore it so we would not have to. The punishment of God and separation from God is unbearable. Furthermore, it is without comfort. This feeling of agony that Jesus felt that day is the very feeling that all those who do not fully trust in Him will feel for all eternity – separation without any hope of comfort. Jesus died, the sinless for the sinful, the guiltless for the guilty. Jesus died for you, and Jesus died for me. He bore the punishment for our sin. This is the heart of the gospel. John 3 made it quite explicit when Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Food For Thought: Read Job 13:14-15, and Proverbs 14:32. How do these verses describe Jesus in this last hour before His death?