Posted on January 21, 2015
#89: What Love!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
This beautiful American folk hymn is a passionate expression of what Christ Jesus did for us at the cross. Crucifixion Day had His love pulsing through every millisecond of it. Get your Bible and let’s honor Him together.
Read Mark 15:20-41. Parallel accounts are found in Matthew 27:32-56, Luke 23:26-49, and John 19:16b-30.
Many men didn’t survive the flogging Jesus had just endured (15:15). He was half-dead already. Then His executioners laid a rough, heavy cross on His raw back and pointed Him toward Calvary.
Love that remembers the good we do
When it became obvious Jesus wasn’t able to make it, the soldiers seized a man to carry His cross. Simon, from Cyrene on the northern coast of Africa, was probably in Jerusalem for Passover. Mark says Simon had to be “forced” to carry the cross—perhaps because of the shame of it, or perhaps because touching an instrument of death would make him unclean, unable to enter the temple or celebrate the Passover.
Yet Simon took the cross on his shoulder, and a humiliating duty became an act of service to the very Son of God. As a result, we still remember his name today. And thanks to Mark, we also remember the names of his sons, Alexander and Rufus. Is it possible that Mark’s Roman readers knew these men? Did they later become Christians, active in the Roman church? Look at Romans 16:13; is this the same Rufus? We can’t know for sure, but we do know that Simon’s name will never be forgotten because he served the Lord.
Hebrews 6:10 assures us, “God is not unjust or forgetful of your work and the love you have shown to His name…” Do you sometimes wonder if anyone remembers service you’ve done for the Lord or for fellow believers? Oh yes, God remembers. He loves you and will never forget what you’ve done for His name.
Love that forgets the wrong we do
When they reached Golgotha, Simon was relieved of his burden as the soldiers laid the cross on the ground and nailed Jesus to it. Then they lifted the cross and dropped its base into a hole deep enough to hold it upright. Cicero, the Roman senator and philosopher, called crucifixion “the cruelest and most hideous punishment possible.” I don’t think we can imagine the intense pain, the suffocating weight of one’s own body—plus the continual scorn and taunts.
“So,” those passing by jeered, “the one destroying the temple and building it again in three days—come down from the cross and save yourself!” As often happened, the critics spoke unintended truth; while hanging on the cross Jesus was in the process of fulfilling the very prophecy they were mocking Him for. In refusing to save Himself, He was making it possible for them to be saved—and us.
They coldly heaped insults on Him. The soldiers cast lots for His clothing right in front of Him. Nearing death, barely able to breathe let alone speak, Jesus gathered His strength and prayed—for their forgiveness. “Father,” He cried out, “pardon them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” When I admit my reluctance to forgive those who’ve wronged me, these words from the Savior leave me breathless. If nothing else showed His endless capacity to love, this did.
He offers the same mercy to us. The Bible promises, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, forgiveness of sins, in harmony with the riches of God’s grace…” (Ephesians 1:7) No matter what we’ve done, no matter how we’ve hurt Him, He’s ready to forgive and blot out our sin forever. What love!
Love that died so we could live
As agonizing as His physical suffering was, worse was the evil burden He took on. He who knew no sin became sin, and for the first time in eternity the Father turned away from His sin-blackened Son. In horror Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
A short while later, Jesus—the Life—bearing the ugly weight of your sin and mine, met death. “It is finished,” He said as He drew His last breath.
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
Love that didn’t let death have the last word!
The few women brave enough to come to Calvary watched Him die. They stood in the midday darkness in utter despair. His disciples cowered in Jerusalem, sure all they’d hoped for was lost.
If the story ended here, we might feel grateful to Jesus for trying but grieved that death won. Ah, but we’re not finished yet! The grave couldn’t hold Him. There’s still more to come—and so much to praise Him for!
To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing!
© Diane McLoud 2015