Remember his strength – Day 16
A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise
Many people have felt utterly forsaken by God at different times in their lives. King David certainly did, during one of the courses in his life. He wrote a psalm about it, Psalm 22. It is the opening verse of this psalm that Jesus quotes on the cross.
Did I say, “quotes on the cross”? This is hardly a description for what happened there, that Good Friday. It was more likely a shout, a shriek, a howl of deep anguish. In this verse alone, correctly understood, we have the whole gospel story. Everything culminates in Christ and his death on the cross. It is here on the cross that something so deep and profound is happening, that no human mind can adequately conceive of it. “Forsaken by God”? Is it possible? Dear reader, what you are confronted with here is the mystery of Christ suffering for our sins. Who can tell what that suffering entails? Here is a man facing judgement for us. The final banishment, which we should face, is now being visited upon him. He is bearing our sins so that we might be forgiven.
Please do not take this lightly. What is happening here is more than words can describe. We all need to bow in wonder and amazement that such a thing should happen. God punishes his own Son on our behalf, so that we might go free! Has the world ever heard of such a thing!
Nevertheless, the truth is, it happened. This means that there is hope for everyone who comes to him. The scandal of the cross is that even the most undeserving of human beings, who turn to Jesus in true repentance, find forgiveness, acceptance and hope for the future. This scandalises the sense of those who live decently and uprightly, and whose ideas of justice demands that evil people should be punished. However, what they do not understand is that evil people have indeed been punished. The One who stood in for them has borne their punishment. A fair exchange has been made. He who knew no sin became sin for them, so that they could become the righteousness of God in him.
Is there a name for this kind of action? Yes, it is grace! Grace, undeserved mercy to the world of sinners, provided they turn to the best of men – indeed, the God/Man, who became this redeemer on the cross.
Let no one despair. All sin may be forgiven. All sinners may be accepted. There is room at the cross for you – only come! Come, even today!