“Easter”

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined(1) thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts(2) vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.

(1) calcined. reduced to lime or other substance. (Oxford English Dictionary.) In this case reduced to our lowest commonest denominator, dust, of which we all are made.
(2) three parts. Most chords have only 3 different notes which are repeated, multiplied, at different octaves in different voices or instruments.

—George Herbert, from The Temple (1633)

(also set to music by Ralph Vaughan WIlliams as the first two of his Five Mystical Songs)

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Our Mighty Substitute

But we must not be content with a vague general belief that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were vicarious. We are intended to see this truth in every part of His passion.

We may follow him all through, from the bar of Pilate to the minute of His death, and see Him at every step as our mighty substitute, our representative, our head, our surety, our proxy—the divine friend who undertook to stand in our place and, by the priceless merit of His sufferings, to purchase our redemption.

Was He flogged? It was done so that “by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Was He condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.

Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.

Washe stripped of his clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.

Was He mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed.

Was He reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.

Was He declared unable to save himself? It was done so that He might be able to save others to the uttermost.

Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.

—J. C. Ryle, “The Sufferings of Christ” in Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross: Experiencing The Passion and Power of Easter

The Cross

Above the hills of time the cross is gleaming,
Fair as the sun when night has turned to day;
And from it love’s pure light is richly streaming,
To cleanse the heart and banish sin away.
To this dear cross the eyes of men are turning,
Today as in the ages lost to sight;
And so for Thee, O Christ, men’s hearts are yearning,
As shipwrecked seamen yearn for morning light.

The cross, O Christ, Thy wondrous love revealing,
Awakes our hearts as with the light of morn,
And pardon o’er our sinful spirits stealing,
Tells us that we, in Thee, have been reborn.
Like echoes to sweet temple bells replying
Our hearts, O Lord, make answer to Thy love;
And we will love Thee with a love undying,
Till we are gathered to Thy home above.

—Words: Thomas Tiplady, 1931
Music: Londonderry Air, Irish Melody (“O Danny Boy”)

 

 

Cosmic Explosion

The resurrection was a kind of cosmic explosion that reverberated in all directions. It gave the followers of Jesus a new understanding of the present, but also of the past and of the future. Through the resurrection (and that alone) the cross, that instrument of capital punishment by the hated Romans, ceased to be an enigmatic embarrassment and became the central symbol of the faith.

—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 37

“It is finished!”

The Savior meant that the satisfaction which He rendered to the justice of God was finished. 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 your sword, O Justice! Silenced is your 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 and “it is finished.”

—Charles H. Spurgeon, “It Is Finished!” Sermon delivered at Metropolitan Tabernacle, December 1, 1861 (full sermon HERE)

The Necessity of Christ’s Death

Question 40. Why did Christ have to suffer death?
Answer. Because God’s justice and truth require it: Nothing else could pay for our sins except the death of the Son of God. (Genesis 2:17; Romans 8:3-4; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 2:9)

Question 43. What further benefit do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?
Answer. By Christ’s power our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with Him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us, but that instead we may offer ourselves as a sacrifice of gratitude to Him. (Romans 6:5-11; Colossians 2:11-12; Romans 6:12-14; 12:1; Ephesians 5:1-2)

Heidelberg Cathechism