#791. LOOKING BELOW THE SURFACE (12/4/23)
As we leave this Easter season, I want to bring your attention to John Stott's book, "The Cross of Christ." This vital literary work investigates the importance of the cross in Christianity, exploring diverse facets such as its relevance in both the Old and New Testaments, the difficulty of forgiveness, God's satisfaction, and God's self-sacrifice. I highly recommend reading this book, and I trust that these devotionals, which draw from its content, will encourage you to reflect more profoundly on the centrality of the cross in our faith. Today's devotional is based on chapter three, ‘Looking Below the Surface.’
1. CHAPTER SUMMARY
In Chapter 3 of ‘The Cross of Christ,’ Stott explores the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, breaking them down into four sections.
The first section, ‘An Initial Construction,’ delves into the historical context of Jesus' arrest and trial. Stott explains the political and religious tensions in Jerusalem at the time and how they played a role in Jesus' condemnation.
The second section, ‘The Last Supper in the Upper Room,’ focuses on the significance of the Last Supper as a symbolic representation of Jesus' impending sacrifice. Stott explores the meaning behind Jesus' words and actions during the Last Supper and their relevance to us.
In the third section, ‘The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane,’ Stott describes the emotional and spiritual turmoil that Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane as he faced the prospect of his imminent death. Stott delves into the significance of Jesus' prayer and the way in which it models for Christians how to approach God in times of distress.
The final section, ‘The Cry of Dereliction on the Cross,’ examines Jesus' final words on the cross and the theological implications of his cry, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Stott unpacks the mystery of Jesus' substitutionary atonement and how it reconciles humanity to God.
This chapter provides a rich and detailed account of the events leading up to the crucifixion and offers valuable insights into the theological significance of Jesus' sacrifice.
‘He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ (Isaiah 53:3-6)
Isaiah 53:3-6 describes the suffering and sacrifice of the Messiah, who took on the punishment for our sins. In chapter 3 of ‘The Cross of Christ’, John Stott invites us to look beyond the surface of the crucifixion and understand the deeper meaning of Christ's sacrifice.
It can be difficult to understand why Jesus had to die such a brutal death on the cross. However, Isaiah 53:3-6 reminds us that he was despised, rejected, and stricken by God. He took on our iniquities and sins, bearing the punishment that we deserved. Through his wounds, we are healed.
In this chapter, Stott encourages us to look beyond the physical pain and suffering of the cross and see the spiritual significance of Christ's death. The crucifixion was not just a random act of violence, but a deliberate and purposeful sacrifice that was necessary for our salvation.
As we reflect on Isaiah 53:3-6 and chapter 3 of ‘The Cross of Christ’, we are reminded of the incredible love and grace of God. Despite our sin and rebellion, he chose to send his Son to die in our place, offering us forgiveness and redemption.
Let us take time to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus and the depth of his love for us. May we live in the knowledge of his grace and share this good news with others, so that they too may experience the freedom and healing that comes through faith in Christ.