alien righteousness

Forsaken By His Father – Michael Horton

Forsaken By His Father written by Michael Horton in his book titled We Believe: Recovering the Essentials of the Apostles Creed [1998] (pg 101-103)

You see, at the end of the day, it was not the mockery and loathing of men, nor the law and judgment of Rome, that Jesus feared. We recall the messianic prophecy in the psalm concerning Judas’s treason: “I can endure the treason of my friends, for at least you are with me, My God. “And yet, on this night, the Son is alone in hell. Not even the Father is his friend. Nobody loves the Son in this hour. His heart, a reservoir of boundless joy and friendship, is broken. He is the enemy both of his wicked creation and of his righteous Father. The reason Jesus shuddered at the thought of the crucifixion has less to do with the physical torture involved (although it undoubtedly included this) than with the far greater fear of becoming everything he hated most in his deepest being. He who was the truth would become the world’s most inveterate liar. He who was too pure to look upon a woman to lust would become history’s most promiscuous adulterer. The only man who ever loved with pure selflessness would become a racist, a murderer, a gossip, slanderer, thief, and tyrant. He would become all of this not in himself, but as the sin-bearing substitute for us. At last, the moment came: God turned his face of wrath toward his bleeding, dying Son, and made him drink that cup of rejection to the last drop. See here the price of your redemption: God must hate his own sinless Son, the joy of his eternal heart, so that he may love you justly. The Father must become the enemy of the Son, the avenging angel who slaughters the firstborn Son in the dark Egyptian night of his captivity. In that moment, with the sin of the world crushing his soul, Jesus looked for the Father, with whom he had enjoyed eternal intimacy and indescribable love, and found no one there to comfort him. Forsaken by the world because of its sin, and forsaken by his Father because he had become sin for us, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” so that we would never have to speak those dreadful words. “No man can see me and live,” God warned Moses. Yet we have seen God himself, impaled on a tree as the self-offered, curse-bearing substitute for sinners, enthroned in shame and suffering. Instead of being consumed by God’s holy presence we now look to him and live–forever. The Cross was the cup of eternal wrath, distilled from the anger that had been building up since the sin of Adam, concentrated into one terrible drink. The Son drank the cup of wrath, so that we could drink the cup of salvation.  And when he finished his cup, there was not even a drop left for us who gratefully receive the benefit of his death. In truth, it was not the Jews or the Romans who crucified Jesus Christ. It was God the Father who drove the spear into the side of his only Son, so that out of that sacred wound would flow the blood that would wash away the sins of his church. It was this cup–“cup of wrath” (Isa. 51:17)–that caused our Savior’s forehead to yield bloody sweat in the eve of his crucifixion. His hell gained our heaven; his curse secured our blessing; his incalculable grief brought us immeasurable joy. By being made God’s enemy on the cross, he made us friends. And so it was, on a day much like any other on the banks of the Jordan, that while John was baptizing, preparing the highways for the Messiah, his own cousin appeared. “Behold,” John announced, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 NIV). The writer to the Hebrews said that Christ’s blood speaks a better word than did Abel’s. Why is that? One cries out day and night for vengeance from the earth, while the other cries out day and night for God’s mercy and grace from heaven. It is precisely in Christ’s sin-bearing that we are spared the retributive justice we deserve. Is this cross of propitiation the center of our preaching, worship, evangelism, and fellowship today? Are we driven regularly in our public worship to feel God’s judgment of our pretended goodness, and then to sense God’s full acceptance of us based soley on Christ’s atoning sacrifice? Do we “love to tell the story”? May it not simply be the story of what has happened to us, what we feel or what we think. Let us recall and retell the story of what really happened to our Savior on a Roman cross, outside the city gates of Jerusalem.

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