Dane K. Jöhannsson
Lead Pastor, Agros Reformed Baptist Church
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:45-54 AV)
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is at the core of the Christian religion and is the substance of the entire history of redemption put before us in the Scriptures. Without the passion (sufferings) of the God-Man Christ Jesus, we have no redemption. In His suffering upon the cross, Christ veiled His divinity, and suffered not only physical pain, but even that searing pronouncement of dereliction upon Him, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And this for us. He was rejected, that we might be accepted; He was condemned, that we might be justified; He was slain, that we might live forever.
It is strange indeed that the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Triune God, would not only partake in our nature by dwelling in the flesh (Heb. 2:14; John 1:14; Phil. 2:6,7) but also partake in the punishment for our sins, which is death, (“even the death of the cross”[Phil.2:8]; Rom. 6:23). He took upon Himself the sins of His people, bearing their weight and satisfying the punishment due. Strange indeed that the Author of Life would taste of death for His people (Acts 3:15; Heb. 2:9). This He did because of His love for us (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8) and by the sufferings of His substitutionary death, we are justified (Rom. 5:9).
Jesus was cast out into the darkness of God’s wrath for our sins, so that we would be made partakers with Him in glory, and made even co-heirs with Him (Rom. 8:17). To think upon the passion of Jesus Christ, from His sufferings in the garden of Gethsemane to His last breath upon the cross, is shocking indeed. But there is no greater way to obtain assurance of our acceptance with God through Christ than to ponder His rejection upon the cross in our stead. As we contemplate both the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ these next few days, let us remember that our salvation is completely free. We add nothing to our salvation. No good deeds, no works, no bible-reading, church-attending, or churchly authority can ever save us. Let us also keep in mind that if we rely on anything at all outside of the work of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, that we cut ourselves off completely from salvation.
Our fathers in the faith who came before this well knew this. I will leave you with a section from one of John Calvin’s Good Friday sermons. In this sermon, Calvin plumbs the depths of the significance of Christ’s suffering on the cross and what it means for us as Christians who are accepted in the beloved Son of God.
“Now we have here [in our text] a very noteworthy and excellent sentence, when it is said, ‘All is fulfilled.’ For it is certain that the Lord Jesus does not speak at all of any little or common things. But He intends that by His death we have all that we need to seek to have access to God and to obtain grace from Him. Not that His resurrection should be excluded by that, but it is as if He said that He has performed His office faithfully, and that He has not come to be a partial Savior, but that until the last moment He has executed the charge which was committed to Him, and that He had omitted nothing according to the will of God His Father. Since that is so, we are instructed to fully fasten our confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that all parts of our salvation are fulfilled in what He did and endured for our sakes. That is also why His death is called a perpetual Sacrifice, by which the believers and elect of God are sanctified. Do we wish, then, to have certainty that God is Father to us? Do we wish to have liberty to call upon Him? Do we wish to have rest in our consciences? Do we wish to be made more fully certain that we are held to be righteous in order to be acceptable to God? Let us abide in Jesus Christ and not wander here or there, and let us recognize that He is wherein rests all perfection. Those, then, who wish other props, and who look from one side to the other to supply what must be lacking in the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, renounce fully the power of which we are now speaking. Briefly, they tread under foot the blood of Jesus Christ, for they dishonor it. Now in all the Papacy what is there except renunciation of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ? For though they think to do good works, because they call them merits, by which they are confident that they acquire grace before God, it is certain that they disavow what was pronounced by our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘All is fulfilled.’ And since it is so, when they think to obtain salvation before God, and they wish to have remission of their sins, where do they go, except to their foolish devotions? For each one will perform his little duty at his post, so that all the so-called devotions of the Papacy are so many blasphemies to nullify what was pronounced when our Lord Jesus said, ‘All is fulfilled.’ What follows, then? That we may know that there is not a single particle of virtue or merit in us, unless we apply ourselves to this Fountain wherein is all fulness of it.”
(John Calvin, “Seventh Sermon on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ”, pp. 161,162, emphasis added)
Calvin, John. Sermons On The Deity of Christ. Audubon, New Jersey: Old Paths Publications, 1997.
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