September 19, 2014

Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Everything about the cross was intentional on Jesus’ part. That’s something we have a hard time wrapping our minds around. Jesus was in no sense suicidal, but He made the conscious choice to sacrifice Himself for our sins. I saw something just yesterday that said many are denying the doctrine of Jesus’ sacrificial atonement for sin. My immediate reaction was, then on what are they basing salvation? We don’t want to acknowledge the sinfulness of sin, how horrible it is and how worthy of destruction. God is absolutely holy, and anything that is less than holy is destroyed by even close proximity, let alone contact. It’s like matter and antimatter, only in that case both are destroyed on contact, whereas with God and the unholy, only the unholy is destroyed. Jesus, perfectly holy, took that destruction on Himself by choice, so that we might receive His righteousness by faith. When we fail to grasp that, all sorts of things are deficient. In the first place, we lack gratitude for our salvation and so have reduced motivation for obedience. In the second place, we tend to take God’s grace lightly, and fail to repent truly of the sins we continue to commit. And in the third place, we become unlikely to share Christ with those who do not yet know Him, because we don’t know how wonderful He is. Every believer needs to pray and seek for a better, deeper understanding of the cross, because it is our access point to all that God has prepared for us in Christ Jesus.

This is something I have known intellectually for a long time, yet I know I have only scratched the surface. I too need a better, deeper revelation of the cross and what Jesus did for me there. I have dedicated my life to sharing Christ, but that is too small a response. As a pastor I long to impart an understanding of the cross to every believer in this church, but only the Holy Spirit can do that. However, He can use me in the process, and I need to keep myself available. Robert Culpepper, the missionary who was my father’s prayer partner and who preached my ordination sermon, wrote a book, Interpreting the Atonement. I’m sure I have a copy, but I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read it through. My response to the cross isn’t to be academic, though my mind does need to be involved, but rather with my spirit and my life. As the song says, “All that I have, all that I am, all I will ever be cannot repay this love-debt I owe. I surrender to Thee.”

Father that is my prayer and my commitment. Help me communicate the magnificence, the wonder, of the cross even as You reveal it to me, so that You may have a people who are prepared and committed, as Your children and Your representatives, so do Your will for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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