Friday, April 03, 2015

Some excellent links and messages for deeper study and meditation for this Good Friday

With all the troubling news in our world today - the Islamic violence, the "gay agenda" seeking to destroy decency, etc.; it is good to focus on the meaning of Jesus Christ and His atonement on the cross today, traditionally known as "Good Friday".  "fixing your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1-4)

Questions and Answers with Dr. James White  at the Confessing Baptist website.

This is a very good question and answer session with links to other lectures / videos that Dr. White has done for background to the questions.  Covers issues such as "Gay Christians" (Christians who struggle with same sex attractions), Islam, Covenant Theology, Theonomy, the Prosperity Gospel, Modalism.

What happened on Good Friday?   (A Harmony of the Gospel accounts)

The Cup of the Wrath of God.  (R. C. Sproul)

The Weight of the Cross.  ( R. C. Sproul)

Understanding Jesus' Cry from the Cross:  "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachtani?", "My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?"  (Desiring God Ministries, Donald Macleod)

How do we understand Jesus' words and the balance of the Father pouring out His justice and wrath on Jesus as the sin-bearer, and that the Trinity was not ontologically split or separated?

Dr. White has often made the point that Jesus is quoting the first verse of Psalm 22, and expects the Jewish audience to know the rest of the Psalm, like when someone starts the first verse of "Amazing Grace" and many will naturally join in singing it, because they are familiar with it and have memorized it.

Jesus quoting Psalm 22:1 seems to invite the person to read the rest of the Psalm and notice especially these verses below that are also teaching about the suffering servant, the Messiah, who would be crucified and be the ransom for sin:
"But I am a worm and not a man, reproach of men and despised by the people. All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,  “Commit yourself to the Lordlet Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” Psalm 22:6-8
. . . 
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;  And You lay me in the dust of death.16   For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;18  They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots."  Psalm 22:15-18
. . . All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LordAnd all the families of the nations will worship before You.28   For the kingdom is the Lord’s And He rules over the nations."  Psalm 22:27-28

Excerpt from the Desiring God article by Donald Macleod:

"The words are an Aramaic-tinged quotation from Psalm 22, and although Matthew and Mark both offer a translation for the benefit of Gentile readers, they clearly want us to hear the exact words that Jesus spoke. At his lowest ebb, his mind instinctively breathes the Psalter, and from it he borrows the words that express the anguish, not now of his body, but of his soul.

He bore in his soul, wrote Calvin, “the terrible torments of a condemned and lost man” (Institutes, II:XVI, 10). But dare we, on such hallowed ground, seek more clarity?

Against All Hope

There are certainly some very clear negatives. The forsakenness cannot mean, for example, that the eternal communion between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit was broken. God could not cease to be triune.

Neither could it mean that the Father ceased to love the Son: especially not here, and not now, when the Son was offering the greatest tribute of filial piety that the Father had ever received.

Nor again could it mean that the Holy Spirit had ceased to minister to the Son. He had come down upon him at his baptism not merely for one fleeting moment, but to remain on him (John 1:32), and he would be there to the last as the eternal Spirit through whom the Son offered himself to God (Hebrews 9:14).

And finally, the words are not a cry of despair. Despair would have been sin. Even in the darkness God was, “My God,” and though there was no sign of him, and though the pain obscured the promises, somewhere in the depths of his soul there remained the assurance that God was holding him. What was true of Abraham was truer still of Jesus: against all hope, he in hope believed (Romans 4:18).

Truly Forsaken

Yet, with all these qualifiers, this was a real forsaking. Jesus did not merely feel forsaken. He was forsaken; and not only by his disciples, but by God himself. It was the Father who had delivered him up to Judas, to the Jews, to Pilate, and finally to the cross itself.
And now, when he had cried, God had closed his ears. The crowd had not stopped jeering, the demons had not stopped taunting, the pain had not abated. Instead, every circumstance bespoke the anger of God; and there was no countering voice. This time, no word came from heaven to remind him that he was God’s Son, and greatly loved. No dove came down to assure him of the Spirit’s presence and ministry. No angel came to strengthen him. No redeemed sinner bowed to thank him."  

Donald Macleod  (see the rest here) at Desiring God Ministries. 

At the same time, Jesus, the eternal Son, who voluntarily became flesh for us; also voluntarily went to the cross to pay for our sins.

"No one takes My life from Me, I lay it down on My own initiative, and I take it up again . . . "  John 10:18  (one of the most important verses to know in dealing with Muslims, who think that Christianity teaches that God forced Jesus to pay for our sins in an unjust way.)

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