Part 2 of 3, from my Wittenberg teaching
The first step of the Son’s preparation for the Marriage was the Incarnation. But there was another step which was necessary to prepare the Marriage and that was the Cross.
In the Cross the Son shows the depth of His love, His obedient trust in the Father and His humility. The Father knew that our hearts could not be won with a show of power or a promise of heavenly riches. No. The Song of Songs says, “If a man gave all he owned for love, it would be utterly despised.” The Father knew that we needed to see the depth of His love for us, and so He sent His only Son to die.
At the last Supper Jesus tells us what we already know. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” And then He says that we are His friends.
In the Passion Jesus not only died for us, but He suffered unimaginable pain and humiliation. He took on all sorts of suffering that men know. He was betrayed by a friend. He was unjustly accused. He was mocked. He was beaten. He was tortured and humiliated. The God who made the universe was stripped naked and died. He suffered without complaint. He died without regret. Because this is what the Father asked. And the Father asked because He knew the joy it would bring the Son.
In John 10 Jesus says this… For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
And again in John 14, I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.
The cross proves to us how much the Son loves the Father. And it should prove to us beyond doubt that we are loved, that we are treasured, that we are greatly desired – by both the Father and the Son.
I have often had trouble contemplating Jesus on the cross. It was just too scary to imagine the Lord in that place, and to think that this was the result of my sin. But in the past year Jesus has helped me to see the cross differently – as an expression of the depth of His love – and when I look at Him that way, my heart burns with desire for Him, that He should receive the reward of His suffering – that He should have my whole heart – my tongue and my thoughts to give Him praise – and my body to serve His people.
I believe the enemy does everything in his power to keep us from looking on the cross , or to distort our image of it. If we feel fear or shame or condemnation or anything but love when we look on the cross, then I think we are missing God’s heart. I believe that Jesus wants us to see His love, and the Father’s love when we look on the cross. So today, I encourage you, if you have not been in the practice of contemplating the cross, of looking on your Savior in the place of His sacrifice, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you see Him there.
Because the cross is the victory and glory of the Son! By the standard of the cross, Jesus has the right to release His Bride from sin, from slavery, and from death. There is no tongue in heaven or hell that will deny Jesus’ authority to claim His Bride. The wounds on His Body silence the tongue of the Accuser. And anyone who is not moved by those wounds, anyone who refuses to bow and kiss the Son, is unworthy of the Wedding Feast.