Radical…thoughts on Christ

My kids know the story, as do so many children across the US–Christ died on the cross and rose again to save us from our sins.  We are taught that as He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He begged God to provide another way.  I have always been taught that He didn’t want to go through the horror of being crucified.  But reading Chapter 2 in David Platt’s Radical has radically altered my perception.  As Platt points out, many Christians since then have gone to their torturous deaths SINGING–deaths as bad or worse than Christ’s.

“One Christian in India, while being skinned alive, looked at his persecutors and said, ‘I thank you for this.  Tear off my old garment, for I will soon put on Christ’s garment of righteousness.'” (p35–emphasis added)

Another, Christopher Love, wrote this to his wife, “‘Today they will sever me from my physical head, but they cannot sever me from my spiritual head, Christ.’ As he walked to his death, his wife applauded while he sang of glory.” (35 emphasis added)

In my American life of relative ease and bliss, I cannot even imaging facing such an awful fate.  Which is why, to me, it made sense that Christ would be terrified of being crucified.  Yet, if other believers willingly went to their deaths for Christ, with Paul even saying that “To die is gain” and other Christians in history valiantly facing death, how could it be that Christ would not have the courage to face a similar fate?  There must be another reason for the blood that he sweat before facing his captors. As Platt so aptly states, “Did these men and women in Christian history have more courage than Christ himself?  Why was he trembling in that garden, weeping and full of anguish?  We can rest assured that he was not a coward about to face Roman soldiers.  Instead, he was a Savior about to endure divine wrath.” (35)

Why was it that I never thought of the wrath of God being the reason that Christ begged for another way?  Perhaps because, as Platt posits, in our American culture we focus only on one aspect of God’s character–His loving fatherhood.  And we forget about the part where he is also a God of divine judgment, a God who is so holy that He cannot even bear to look upon sin.  In fact, if we just LOOKED at God, we would die.  Can you imagine?  No?  Well, Jesus didn’t have to imagine–He KNEW.

Our sins are not forgiven simply because Christ died for us–they are forgiven because He took God’s wrath at our sins upon Himself.  I love the illustration that Platt shares:  “One preacher described it as if you and I were standing a short hundred yards away from a dam of water ten thousand miles high and ten thousand miles wide.  All of a sudden that dam was breached, and a torrential flood of water came crashing toward us.  Right before it reached our feet, the ground in front of us opened up and swallowed it all.  At the Cross, Christ drank the full cup of the wrath of God, and when he had downed the last drop, he turned the cup over and cried out, ‘It is finished.'” (36)  Now the words Christ spoke about being forsaken by God make sense, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  It wasn’t just because God looked away–it was because God’s wrath was poured out on Christ.

How could we think that the cross in and of itself would be just punishment for all the sins of the world?  That it would be enough?  No–it was taking the wrath of God upon himself by giving himself up to be that sacrifice that enables us to walk in freedom.  And yet, when we think of it this way…doesn’t it require more than just praying every now and then, giving some money to the church, and making an appearance?  Doesn’t it require a more radical approach to living a Christian life?  Doesn’t it make the consequences of NOT accepting His gift more grave?

That’s just chapter 2! I’m not sure that I have the courage to be radical…but I’m going to keep reading.  I hope that you’ll pick up a copy of this book, too.

Karen

 

 

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