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echoes of thought in love with God through Christ crucified

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To suffer death was the immediate end of the interposition of Christ. The principal end of his undertaking was to right the honour of God, and glorify his attributes in the recovery of the creature; but the immediate end was to suffer, because this was the only way to bring about that end which was principally aimed at in Christ’s interposition, and God’s determination concerning him. Death being denounced as the punishment of sin, Christ interposeth himself for our security, with a promise to bear that punishment in our stead for the procuring our exemption from it; therefore, what punishment was of right to be inflicted on man for the breach of the law, was, by a gracious act of God, the governor of the world and guardian of his laws, transferred upon Christ, as putting himself in our stead. His first interposition was for the same end with his death, but his death was evidently for our sins. It was for them ‘he gave himself,’ Gal. 1:4; they were our sins which ‘he bare in his own body on the tree,’ 1 Peter 2:24; ‘for our iniquities he was wounded, and for our transgressions he was bruised,’ Isa. 53:5; our health was procured by his stripes, and therefore intended by him in his first engagement. He offered his person in our stead, which was able to bear our sin, and afford us a righteousness which was able to justify our persons; he offered himself to endure the curse of the law in his own body, and fulfil the righteousness of the law in his own person; he would be united with us in our nature, that he might make the sins of our nature his own in suffering for them, and give to us what was his, by taking to himself what was ours; he took our stripes that we might receive his medicine. This, therefore, being the end of his first undertaking, was necessary to be performed; for Christ is not yea and nay, 2 Cor. 1:19, one time of one mind, and another time of another, but firm and uniform in all his proceedings, without any contradiction between his promise and performance.

—Stephen Charnock
The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, 5:10.

“He suffered”

This word carries not only the everyday meaning of bearing pain, but also the older and wider sense of being the object affected by someone else’s action. The Latin is passus, whence the noun “passion.” Both God and men were agents of Jesus’ passion: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23, from Peter’s first sermon). God’s purpose at the cross was as real as was the guilt of the crucifiers.

What was God’s purpose? Judgment on sin, for the sake of mercy to sinners. The miscarrying of human justice was the doing of divine justice. Jesus knew on the cross all the pain, physical and mental, that man could inflict and also the divine wrath and rejection that my sins deserve; for he was there in my place, making atonement for me. “AII we like sheep have gone astray … and the lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

—J. I. Packer
Growing in Christ, 52.

It has been thought by some that as long as Peter lived, the fountain of his tears began to flow whenever he remembered his denying his Lord. It is not unlikely that it was so, for his sin was very great, and grace in him had afterwards a perfect work. This same experience is common to all the redeemed family according to the degree in which the Spirit of God has removed the natural heart of stone.

We, like Peter, remember our boastful promise: “Though all men shall forsake thee, yet will not I.” We eat our own words with the bitter herbs of repentance. When we think of what we vowed we would be, and of what we have been, we may weep whole showers of grief. He thought on his denying his Lord. The place in which he did it, the little cause which led him into such heinous sin, the oaths and blasphemies with which he sought to confirm his falsehood, and the dreadful hardness of heart which drove him to do so again and yet again.

Can we, when we are reminded of our sins, and their exceeding sinfulness, remain stolid and stubborn? Will we not make our house a Bochim, and cry unto the Lord for renewed assurances of pardoning love? May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin, lest ere long we have a tongue parched in the flames of hell.

Peter also thought upon his Master’s look of love. The Lord followed up the cock’s warning voice with an admonitory look of sorrow, pity, and love. That glance was never out of Peter’s mind so long as he lived. It was far more effectual than ten thousand sermons would have been without the Spirit. The penitent apostle would be sure to weep when he recollected the Saviour’s full forgiveness, which restored him to his former place.

To think that we have offended so kind and good a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers. Lord, smite our rocky hearts, and make the waters flow.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

The love of Christ is useful to fit you for the cross, and the greatest sufferings which you may be called to for the sake of Christ. If you have great love to Christ, you will be ready to suffer for Christ with patience and with cheerfulness. The heaviest cross will seem light, disgrace and shame will be accounted honor, losses will be esteemed gains, and pains, pleasures, or at least privileges. Prisons will seem like palaces, and death will be accounted life. O how have some run to the stake, and embraced the flames of fire kindled to burn them, when they have felt the fire of love to Christ burning strongly within them!

Thus this love is useful in life. The love of Christ is also useful at death.

Its strength will put a beauty upon the aspect of death which seems so grim and terrible to most. If you have much love to Christ, you will look upon death as Christ’s messenger, sent for you to bring you out of the dark prison of the world and body, and to convey you into the mansions of glory, where your dear Lord is, and you will not be unwilling to leave the world that you may live with Christ.

—Thomas Vincent

Let us delight in the knowledge of Christ crucified, and be often in the thoughts and study of him.

Study Christ, not only as living, but dying; not as breathing in our air, but suffering in our stead; know him as a victim, which is the way to know him as a conqueror. Christ as crucified is the great object of faith. . . . It was this death which as a sacrifice appeased God, and as a price redeemed us; nothing is so strong to encourage us, nothing so powerful to purify us; how can we be without thinking of it! . . . If we study it well, we shall be sensible how God hated sin and loved a world; how much he would part with to restore a fallen creature.

We cannot look upon Christ crucified for us, for our guilt, and consider that we had deserved all that he suffered, and that he suffered not by our entreaty, nor by any obligation from us, but merely from his own love, but the meditation of this must needs melt us into sorrow. Should we not bleed as often as we seriously thought of Christ’s bleeding for us?

You cannot see a malefactor led to execution for a notorious crime, but you have some detesting thoughts of the fact, as well as some motions of pity to the person. A strong meditation on Christ will excite not only compassions for his sufferings, but a detestation of our sins and selves as, the cause of it. It is a ‘look upon Christ pierced’ that pierceth the soul (Zech 12:10).

Would not this blood acquaint us that the malignity of sin was so great, that it could not be blotted out by the blood of the whole creation! Would it not astonish us that none had strength enough to match it, but one equal with God! Would not such an astonishment break out into penitent reflections! Would not the thoughts of this make us emulate the veil of the temple, and be ashamed that it should outstrip us in rending, while our hearts remain unbroken! Should we not be confounded, that a lifeless earth should shake in the time of his sufferings, while our reasonable souls stand immoveable!

Could any of the Israelites, that understood the nature and intent of sacrifices, be without some penitent motions, while they saw the innocent victim slain for their sin, not for any fault of its own; and should we be unmelted, if we considered the cross, the punishment of our crimes, not any of his!

—Stephen Charnock

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