This past Lord’s Day, we continued going through the articles of the Apostles’ Creed, one of the most ancient and familiar extra-biblical texts of Christendom. Our focus this past Sunday was the suffering and death of Jesus, summarized in the Creed with the simple yet profound statement, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell.”
In preparation for the sermon, I was contemplating the necessity of the Cross. The excruciating nature of death on that instrument of torment has always troubled my heart. The physical agony the Lord endured was beyond description. Some time ago, I was asked if the Cross was really needed. “Couldn’t the Lord have just died in His sleep?” the inquisitor asked. “Or couldn’t he have died in a faster, more efficient manner, like a firing squad? Why the torture and anguish of the Cross?”
The reason of course is because of the weight of our sin. God’s perfect justice and righteousness must be in balance for His mercy and love to be given.
As I was preparing for the sermon, I found this powerful quote from Dr. Michael Horton.
He who was the truth became the world’s most inveterate liar. He who was too pure to look upon a woman in lust became the world’s most promiscuous adulterer. The only man who ever loved with pure selflessness would become the most despised villain in God’s universe. He would become a racist, a murderer, a gossip, a slanderer, a thief, a tyrant. He would become all this not in Himself, but as the sin-bearing substitute for us.
And at last, the moment came. God turned his face of wrath toward His bleeding, dying Son, and made Him drink the cup of rejection to the last drop. See here the price of your redemption: God must hate His own sinless Son, the joy of His eternal heart, so that he may love you justly.
That last sentence is so poignant. You remember the words Jesus cried on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” The eternal Father had to hate His eternal Son so that the debt we owed for our sinfulness could be paid. Paid once and for all.
With all the Jesus has done, It amazes me that men would rather try to work their way to heaven, that they would rather make their own way. Jesus paid the debt we could never pay. As the old hymn describes, “Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.”