(Never in a million years would I have predicted that my 2012 Good Friday post would relate to/steal a title from the chorus of a Celine Dion song, but… it totally does.)
Last Sunday I heard a great sermon that I have been mulling over ever since. Rob Hamby honed in on this part of Matthew 26 (i.e., the first Maundy Thursday):
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38-39 ESV)
We always think about Jesus dreading the passion, but the Father had to be dreading it too – separation from His beloved Son, with Whom He’d been eternally in perfect harmony, would be very painful for Him, too; pouring out His wrath against sin on Him would be almost unthinkable. If there was another way, do we really think GOD could not have found it? Dude. “There just ain’t any other way” to save sinners.
I went tonight to a Good Friday choir concert at my parents’ church tonight, and they sang the original version of one of my favorite RUF’d hymns, “O Come and Mourn.” The chorus is killer: “O love of God! O sin of man! In this dread act your strength is tried! And victory remains with love; Jesus our Lord is crucified!” I have loved this song for maybe 8 years, but most of that time I had not really pieced together what is going on in that chorus. The love of God and human sin are going into the boxing ring to have it out, once and for all – who will win? Who is stronger? “Victory remains with love” – so Jesus dies!! The love of God necessitates the crucifixion of the incarnate Christ.
Andrew Peterson give us a good picture of this in “Rise and Shine” – “I remember how the sunlight turned to thunder; the people ran for shelter from the rain. The curtain tore, and the saints awoke, and the whole earth seemed to tremble from the fury of God’s anger – or was it the fury of His love?” The truth is, it was both! Because of the death of Christ on the behalf of sinners, the “curtain” in the temple that symbolized the separation between God and man was ripped apart. God and man could commune without man getting blasted by the wrath of God. Why? Because all that (totally called for) wrath was spent on Christ. So while the Father pours out His righteous anger on the Son, they both are loving the wrecked sinners they are saving. The Maker dies – of course the sun hid its face! Of course the earth quaked! The Father was meting out the full punishment on the Son for the sins He carried – of course people hid their faces! Of course they ran! But it was total love and total justice – those sins had to be paid for. There was no other way for us to be rescued.
Tonight I wore a black dress because, after all, it is appropriate to mourn today. But I wore a big, crazy, turquoise ring, and my freshly-painted coral toenails peeked out of my peep-toe pumps, because, after all, Sunday’s a’comin’.