The Price and the Prize

In the beauty of the love and wisdom and power of His triumphant suffering (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:7-9), Christ displayed the glory that His people will exult in forever. He became the price and prize of the new covenant. The ground and the goal. The redemption and the reward. This was God’s plan before the foundation of the world.

—John Piper, Providence, 174

The Glory of His Grace

The ultimate goal of God in initiating the entire plan of salvation before creation was that He would be praised for “the glory of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:6)

  • Predestination for the praise of God’s glory (1:4-6)
  • Existence for the praise of God’s glory (1:12)
  • Inheritance for the praise of God’s glory (1:14)

—John Piper, Providence, 52

Why is Good Friday Good?

Although Catholics and Protestant in the past have followed somewhat different forms, in both camps the observances have been such as to cause people to ask, “Then why do we call this Friday ‘good’?” Emphasis has been on the seemingly senseless suffering of Jesus rather than on the purposeful humiliation of God through which redemption comes. In other words, we have failed once again to read the sacred story backward. Friday has been observed as if Sunday had never come.

Good Friday can and should proclaim divine purpose as paramount. Indeed, the term “Good Friday” may be a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday.” This day is good precisely because God was in control at Calvary. The crucifixion of Jesus was not some bad deal that God had to try to make the best of; it was a working out of divine intention with a view to the salvation of an otherwise doomed creation.

—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church,  96

In Christ

Great God, your love has called us here
As we, by love, for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
Though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed.
We come, with all our heart and mind
Your call to hear, your love to find.

We come with self-inflicted pains
Of broken trust and chosen wrong,
Half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
By social forces swept along,
By powers and systems close confined
Yet seeking hope for humankind.

Great God, in Christ you call our name
And then receive us as your own
Not through some merit, right or claim
But by your gracious love alone.
We strain to glimpse your mercy seat,
And find you kneeling at our feet.

Then take the towel, and break the bread,
And humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed
And show how grandly love intends
To work till all creation sings,
To fill all worlds, to crown all things.

Great God, in Christ you set us free
Your life to live, your joy to share.
Give us your Spirit’s liberty
To turn from guilt and dull despair
And offer all that faith can do
While love is making all things new.

—Brian Wren (1936–)

Luther’s Testimony in Song

(can be sung to the tune of MIT FREUDEN ZART, “Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above”):

1 Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And with united heart and voice
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God has done,
How His right arm the vict’ry won,
What price our ransom cost Him!

2 Fast bound in Satan’s chains I lay;
Death brooded darkly o’er me.
Sin was my torment night and day;
In sin my mother bore me.
But daily deeper still I fell;
My life became a living hell,
So firmly sin possessed me.

3 My own good works all came to naught,
No grace or merit gaining;
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left only death to be my share;
The pangs of hell I suffered.

4 But God had seen my wretched state
Before the world’s foundation,
And mindful of His mercies great,
He planned for my salvation.
He turned to me a father’s heart;
He did not choose the easy part
But gave His dearest treasure.

5 God said to His beloved Son:
“It’s time to have compassion.
Then go, bright jewel of My crown,
And bring to all salvation.
From sin and sorrow set them free;
Slay bitter death for them that they
May live with You forever.”

6 The Son obeyed His Father’s will,
Was born of virgin mother;
And God’s good pleasure to fulfill,
He came to be my brother.
His royal pow’r disguised He bore;
A servant’s form, like mine, He wore
To lead the devil captive.

7 To me He said: “Stay close to Me,
I am your rock and castle.
Your ransom I Myself will be;
For you I strive and wrestle.
For I am yours, and you are Mine,
And where I am you may remain;
The foe shall not divide us.

8 “Though he will shed My precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving,
All this I suffer for your good;
Be steadfast and believing.
Life will from death the vict’ry win;
My innocence shall bear your sin,
And you are blest forever.

9 “Now to My Father I depart,
From earth to heav’n ascending,
And, heav’nly wisdom to impart,
The Holy Spirit sending;
In trouble He will comfort you
And teach you always to be true
And into truth shall guide you.

10 “What I on earth have done and taught
Guide all your life and teaching;
So shall the kingdom’s work be wrought
And honored in your preaching.
But watch lest foes with base alloy
The heav’nly treasure should destroy;
This final word I leave you.”

Transformed Hearts

The key difference between a Pharisee and a believer in Jesus is inner-heart motivation. Pharisees are being good but out of a fear-fueled need to control God. They don’t really trust him or love him. To them God is an exacting boss, not a loving father. Christians have seen something that has transformed their hearts toward God so they can finally love and rest in the Father.

—Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, 85-86

Gracious Overflow

Eternal life thus consists in sharing in the gracious overflow of the Father’s eternal love for the Son in the Spirit. We share in this gracious overflow as “children” (John 1:12) who have been grafted into God’s beloved Son as branches into the true vine (15:1-11; 17:26).

—Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, 187

The Plan

It’s not, I think, unwarranted to ponder the fellowship of the Trinity, and the Father and the Son conceiving (no coercion whatsoever) a plan whereby the Father consults with the Son of His willingness, and the Son consults with the Father of His intention, and a most magnificent agreement is reached: that the Son will, after the universe is created and has fallen, and after God has shown everything He wants to show about His holy self through 2000 years of Jewish history, then the Son would enter and die. That was the plan.

Again, Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:9: “God called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” So, before the ages of time began, the plan was for the revelation of the glory of the grace of God specifically through Christ Jesus.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

—John Piper, “Why Did God Create the World? John Piper” (sermon: September 22, 2012)  https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/why-did-god-create-the-world

Dangerous!

In many respects I would find an unresurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes Him dangerous. Because of Easter I have to listen to His extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from His sayings. Moreover, Easter means He must be loose out there somewhere. Like the disciples, I never know where Jesus might turn up, how He might speak to me, what He might ask of me. As Frederick Buechner says, Easter means “we can never nail Him down, not even if the nails we use are real and the thing we nail Him to is a cross.”

—Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, pp. 225

God of My Exodus

O GOD OF MY EXODUS,
Great was the joy of Israel’s sons
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives for ever.

He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that His vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in Him I rose,
in His life I live, in His victory I triumph,
in His ascension I shall be glorified.

Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as man of sorrows wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than Thine,
no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious, no Advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive Thine enemies behind Thee.
What more could be done than Thou hast done!
Thy death is my life, Thy resurrection my peace,
Thy ascension my hope, Thy prayers my comfort.

—from The Valley of Vision

Holy Saturday

Today a grave holds Him
who holds creation in the palm of His hand.
A stone covers Him
who covers with glory the heavens.
Life is asleep and hell trembles,
and Adam is freed from his chains.
Glory to Your saving work,
by which You have done all things!
You have given us eternal rest,
Your holy resurrection from the dead.

— from a matins hymn for Holy Saturday (Orthodox Church)

It Is Finished (3)

What a grand utterance! Now are we safe, for salvation is complete. The debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all and forever, by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the Tree. There was the cup; Hell was in it; the Savior drank it—not a sip and then a pause—not a draught and then a ceasing. He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people. The great ten-thronged whip of the Law was worn out upon His back. There is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition—there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God. Sheathed is thy sword, O Justice! Silenced is thy thunder, O Law! There remains nothing now of all the griefs and pains and agonies which chosen sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for His own beloved (1Th 1:4) and IT IS FINISHED.

—Charles Spurgeon

It Is Finished (2)

TETELESTAI conveys an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop. It would need all the other words that ever were spoken, or ever can be spoken, to explain this one word. It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it. IT IS FINISHED is the most charming note in all of Calvary’s music. The fire has passed upon the Lamb. He has borne the whole of the wrath that was due to His people. This is the royal dish of the feast of love.

—Charles Spurgeon

It Is Finished

The general religion of mankind is “DO,” but the religion of a true Christian is “DONE.” IT IS FINISHED is the believer’s conquering word. INCARNATE LOVE has fulfilled His self-imposed task. Jesus, as the Substitute for sinners, was condemned to die, and He died that He might finish the work of our redemption. Your sins have sustained their death-blow, the robe of your righteousness has received its last thread (cf 1Cor 1:30, 2Cor 5:21). It is done, complete, perfect. It needs no addition; it can NEVER suffer any diminution. Oh, Christian, do lay hold of this precious thought.

—Charles Spurgeon