Jesus’ Cry and our Cry

By MARK ALTROGGE 

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). MT 27.45-46

For 3 hours, from noon till three in the afternoon, Jesus hung on the cross in total darkness, a supernatural darkness which engulfed the land. This darkness was a picture of the much deeper, terrifying spiritual darkness that engulfed Jesus’s soul. At the end of 3 hours he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” quoting PS 22, which is a prophetic picture of Jesus on the cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest. (1-2)

David, who wrote this Psalm feels like God has forsaken him. But he knows God has not really forsaken him, for he says in v24

For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him. (24)

In Luke 18:31 Jesus had told his disciples they were going to Jerusalem to fulfill everything the Prophets, including David, had written about him. Look what else Jesus fulfilled from Ps 22:

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” (6-8)

This was exactly happened to Jesus. He was scorned, mocked and despised. The leaders of Israel mocked him, saying “He saved others; he cannot save himself. MT 27.42

Ps 22 also says:
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots. (14-18)

Crucifixion didn’t exist in David’s time. Yet whatever situation David found himself in foreshadowed Jesus hanging on the cross, limbs stretched out of joint, strength evaporated, tongue parched, surrounded by wicked mockers who’d driven cruel spikes through his hands and feet. Jewish leaders gloating over him, and Roman soldiers casting lots for his clothing. And as David felt abandoned, Jesus experienced what it would be like to be utterly forsaken by God.

For as he hung there, Jesus took upon himself every sin – every murder, every rape, every act of immorality, every lie, every wicked thought, every curse word, every blasphemy against God, every crime, every single sin you and I ever committed and ever will commit – God counted them to Jesus as if he had personally committed them, then poured out his unimaginably horrific wrath upon Jesus for each and every sin.

For all eternity, Jesus and his Father had enjoyed infinitely perfect, joyful, unbroken fellowship. For all eternity the Father absolutely delighted in Jesus more than anything else, for Jesus was infinitely beautiful, holy and delightful. But now in a way, Jesus is the opposite. For in God’s eyes, he has so taken our sins upon himself, that he has “become sin.”

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 CO 5.21

Jesus so identified with our sin that God looked upon him as if he were sin itself – the most abhorrent, vile and despicable thing in God’s sight, the very opposite of God’s holiness: as it says in Hab 1.13:

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, (13)

God will have nothing to do with evil. Nothing. He cannot and will not “look upon it.” So in a sense, God turned away from Jesus and cut off Jesus’ experience of fellowship as he counted Jesus to be sin and poured out his wrath on him.

And Jesus did all this for us, to bring all who believe in him into fellowship with God. Because God counted Jesus to be guilty he counts us to be holy. Because he “cut Jesus off” he can graft us in and make us one with himself and we will never be cut off. Because Jesus was condemned, there’s no condemnation for us. Because Jesus was “forsaken” we will never be forsaken. Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe he is God who became man, perfectly obeyed his Father then bore God’s wrath for you, died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven as Lord of Lords? If you believe, you have eternal life and Jesus wants to give you a life of victory and joy as you follow and obey him.

Jesus hung in unimaginable darkness to bring us into his everlasting light. He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” So we can cry, “My God, my God, why have you accepted me? Why do you love me so? Thank you that you will never forsake me.

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Grace Upon Grace

“My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by your grace upon grace.”

Here are some beautiful song lyrics from a recent song by Josh Wilson, on the album “That was Then, This is Now” (2015). 

“Grace Upon Grace”

Every morning I open up my eyes to see mercy’s brand new
Darkness disappears and the day reveals all You’ve carried me thru
You are so faithful and I am so grateful God

Heavenly Father
You love like no other
You call me Your own
You never let go
You are my rescue
How can I thank You?
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by Your
Grace upon grace

Seems impossible, a love unstoppable that just won’t give up on me
You left the 99 to find a heart like mine that’s all the proof that I need
You are so faithful and I am so grateful God

Heavenly Father
You love like no other
You call me Your own
You never let go
You are my rescue
How can I thank You?
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by Your
Grace upon grace

I am Yours, I am Yours
I was made for You, I was made for You
I am Yours, I am Yours
I will live for You, I will live for You (Lord)

Heavenly Father
You love like no other
You call me Your own
You never let go
You are my rescue
How can I thank You?
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed
Forever oh God I will give You my praise
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by Your
Grace upon grace

Don’t Burn that Bridge – from The Blazing Center

bridgeHe who demands mercy and shows none burns the bridges over which he himself must later pass. -Thomas Adams

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”. Matthew 5:7

Are you merciful? Is that who you are? Of all people on the face of the earth, we who believe in Jesus should be the most merciful. The quickest to forgive. The most forbearing with other’s sins against us. Why? Because we have received such incredible mercy from God ourselves. Each of us has sinned horrifically and repeatedly against the Holy One who will tolerate no sin in his presence. Yet he so loved us he sent his Son to become the lightning rod for the wrath we deserved. To have it strike him instead of us. Jesus got what we deserve and we received what we never deserved – Mercy. If we appreciate the mercy we’ve received, we should be quick to pour it out. And pour it out on those who don’t deserve it.

We should pour out mercy on those who sin against us. Those who hurt us. Who misunderstand us and can’t see our point. Those who insist that they are right and we are wrong. Those who don’t realize they are sinning. We should quote Jesus regularly: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” They don’t realize their sin. They don’t see their pride and stubbornness. They don’t know how much they are hurting me. Or maybe they do, but Father, have mercy on them as you have had mercy on me. And help me to have mercy on them. As John Piper says, we should:

“Be stunned that you are a beneficiary of mercy – be reminded and stunned that you and I deserve nothing but wrath from God, and in Christ receive nothing but mercy from him. Be stunned. And then pray that God would make you merciful to the undeserving.Oh, how sweet marriages would be if we stopped thinking about what we deserve and thought more about how to show more mercy – how to do more undeserved good to each other. Oh, how sweet would be the fellowship of the church if we all really felt undeserving of any good and lavished with God’s mercy. And, oh, how bright the gospel would shine if we touched the poor with Christ-exalting mercy. May God raise up many who will build, with joy, ministries of mercy to the city and the nations.”

Are you stunned by the mercy you’ve received from God? Do you reflect regularly on the mercy you’ve received? Are you a merciful person – is that who you are? Not just something you do, but something you are? Who do you most struggle to feel merciful toward? Pray for that person. Affirm that you forgive them, whether they have asked your forgiveness or not. Ask God to bless them. You and I are not yet perfect. We will need mercy in the future. We don’t want to burn bridges we’ll need to pass over later. Lord Jesus, make us merciful, as you are merciful.

http://theblazingcenter.com/2016/03/you-dont-want-to-burn-that-bridge.html

Sing in me, Breath of God

image
“Singing is a profound example of how we are made in the image of God. Whether we come to it through the science of the body, the breath drawn in and transfigured into music, just as the breath of God brought the first human to life (according to Genesis); or whether we find it through the mathematics of the intervals of sound that work together to produce beauty; or the soul of the artist, painting with sighs; there is room for everyone to come together with God in that work of creating God’s image on earth.

Whether you are the outgoing type who just has to share all your feelings and words with the people around you; or whether you are more on the shy side, hiding yourself inside the notes, letting the music speak for you, give you a voice, there is room for every image of God in the choir, in the song.

And just as we never reach the end of the image of God, so we never reach the end of the ways that music can speak to us and for us. It is a gift.

And those who sing it show us the image of God, and bless us with the image and echoes of immortality.
Amen.”

Originally published at http://wp.me/p1sWUy-1jn

Take refuge in the only place of strength

I wrote this a month or two ago, and forgot to post. Better late than never.

words pic
Often our lives can feel like one new stress after another. We just get one thing sorted out, and a new challenge comes along. Someone changes their mind about something and doesn’t see the implications for others. We feel like we are under attack, that we can barely keep our heads above water. As time marches on and we are old enough to benefit from hindsight and some accumulated wisdom, it is then aspects of our health that present new and unexpected challenges.

This year I have worked full time in a Christian high school, with a great bunch of like-minded people, who are always willing to go above and beyond for the sake of their students. Being part of this is a joy, but also pretty taxing on the body and mind. So as I take a break for our long summer holidays here in Australia, I want to reflect on how I could cope with the demands of life and work and family a little better.

Our pastor today spoke from Psalm 11, where David shares the fact that the Lord is his refuge. Amidst the physical and political attacks he faced, the enemies who pursued him, it was the Lord who provided the only place of safety.

And so, I ponder: Where do I run, what do I run to, when things are falling apart, when things get busy, when the stress piles up? Is it the Lord that I run to? Or something else? Can I truly say it is the Lord in whom I take refuge?

And what would this look like?
As I reflect on the year that has been and contemplate the future challenges, I will endeavour to take refuge in the Lord by:

* Getting better at taking time to be alone, to meet with Him in his Word and in prayer.
* Praising Him to others, deliberately and purposely, in normal conversation.
* Making decisions more slowly, praying and considering his wisdom and how it applies to the challenges I face, rather than simply relying on my wisdom.
* Immersing myself in His Word at more opportunities, rather than seeking refuge in the humour or drama or news that this world provides, which mostly promotes and leads us to self-reliance, rather than God-dependence.

These may sound like a bunch of New Year resolutions but these are some things I hope to pursue in the busyness of life this year. It is in the busyness of life that we all live and this is where we need to seek the Lord. That elusive, quieter time may never come. Seek the Lord while he may be found….today.