Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Christ Endured the Cross: To show us how to endure

This is presented, to continually keep before our eyes and hearts the cost of our redemption.

This is taken from the book "Walking As He Walked" by Joel R. Beeke, published by Reformation Heritage Books and Bryntirion Press, 2007

Joel R. Beeke is president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, a minister of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

page 101:

The example of Christ

First, we are motivated by what He endured. Jesus Christ, the holy Lamb of God, Creator of this world, "endured the cross"! The cross comprehends the worst punishment Jesus could receive in this word. He suffered throughout all of His earthly life, but the cross was the ultimate suffering. Jesus was nailed to it as the chief of sinners; He bore the punishment of His Father for the sins of His elect; He endured being forsaken by His Father, whom He loved from all eternity.

   Jesus Christ hung in the naked flame of His Father's wrath for six long hours on the cross. No eye of mercy was cast toward Him, implying, "We understand." Seemingly rejected by heaven , earth, and hell, He endured the cross until its bitter end. No words can begin to capture the extremity of His sufferings, when He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou fosaken me?" (Matt, 27:46). At the cross, He descended into the essence of what hell is; it was the most climactic moment of suffering ever endured, an hour so compacted - so infinite - so horrendous - as to be seemingly unsustainable.

  Though we cannot grasp the depth of what this forsakeness was for Jesus, we know that it was far more awful than we can imagine. This forsakenness appears to have included some temorary loss of the sense of His Sonship, some loss of filial consciousness. In Gethsemane, and in the first and last words of the cross, Jesus was able to call on God as His Father. But at the height of His dereliction on the cross, His cry was "Eloi, Eloi." He was aware of the goodness of God, the otherness of God, the power and holiness of God, and even that that God was His God as God, but He lost in some degree His sense of sonship in that dread moment. He knew more of sinnership than sonship at that solemn moment. He felt your and my sin, dear believer. In His self-image, He was not the Beloved in whom God was well-pleased, but the cursed one; vile, foul, replusive - an object of dread. This is the essence of the dereliction. This is what God thinks of sin; the price of what Christ, the God-man, had to pay for sin.

  Jesus endured the cross even when He was abandoned by God. As the Eternal Word, Jesus had always been with God; as the incarnate Son, He had always been with the Father. Father and Son had gone up from Bethlehem to Calvary together, like Abraham and Isaac going up the mount in Genesis 22. But now, in the hour of Christ's greatest need, God was not there. When the Son most needed encouragement, no voice cried from heaven, "This is my beloved son." When He most needed reassurance, no one said, "I am well pleased." No grace was extended to Him, no favor shown, no comfort administered, no part of the cup removed. God was present only as one displeased, as one bearing down upon Christ with profound wrath. Every detail declares the irrationality, the heinousness, the dread character of sin. And yet, Christ endured the cross!

  Jesus endured the cross, our text says, "for the joy that was set before him." (Hebrews 12) This word for can also mean instead of. From that prespective, the Lord Jesus did not endure the cross to gain joy for Himself. With His Father and the Spirit, He already possessed that joy from all eternity. Certainly He was motivated by love to impart eternal joy for sinners, but our text emphasizes that Jesus endured the cross while He was already partaker of the heavenly joy with His Father and the Holy Spirit.

  So the cross was not only a way to glory; it was also a way from glory. The Lord Jesus Christ was willing to leave the joy that He already enjoyed to travel the Via Dolorosa. The Lamb of God suffered for thirty-three years on this earth, culminating in His suffering on the cross. Four short words -"Jesus endured the cross"- summarize all of Christ's love and willingness to suffer for sinners. He deserved a crown, but willingly endured a cross. He did not deserve to dirty His feet with this world's dust, yet He was willing to have them nailed to Calvary's cross. Actively and consciously, He remained faithful to the work the Father laid upon His shoulders. He did not waver, He did not hesitate; He endured.

  At one point, Jesus stumbled under the weight of the cross, and Simon had to carry it for Him. But help along the way didn't mean that the cross was less of a punishment for Christ. It only meant that He was meant to die on the cross rather than on the roadside. Our dear Lord Jesus Christ endured every hour, every minute, every second on the cross. We know that when we have much pain, time seems to slow dow. Hours creep by. So it was for Jesus. In all His agony and pain, He accepted every second of pain. His every breath embraced the cross.

  We too must endure in our race, but we do not have to endure the cross like Jesus Christ had to do. His huge crosses make all our crosses small! he endured things more fearful and overwhelming than we will ever have to face. he endured the cross to merit our salvation; we endure our crosses out of gratitude for the gift of His salvation. Nevertheless, Jesus' attitude of being willing to forego joy for the sake of submissive cross-bearing is an attitude that we must cultivate. Daily, we must pray for willingness to bear every cross He deems fit to place upon us. We must endure because He endured, to persevere because He persevered. We are called to endure right now, in the midst of our personal struggles. We are to pause, to stand in awe, and to watch the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to look to Jesus and consider how He suffered and died. We can become so accustomed to failure in our battles with sin and so busy attempting to sanctify ourselves in our own strength that we fail to meditate on the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we fail to focus on Christ, we will lack the mercy and grace we need to run the race.

Beeke give very good advice for us. Especially, that our attitude must be based on gratitude for what God has done for us, what He is doing for us in our daily struggles and what He has in store for us in Glory!!!

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