This morning those of us who are reading some Christian classics together are going to be looking at the fourth chapter of A.W. Pink’s The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross. You can read more about this effort here: Reading the Classics Together.
Jesus’ fourth saying on the cross is the word of anguish. While hanging on the cross and facing the wrath of God, just cried out to His Father. This is what Matthew tells us in chapter 27 and verse 46 of his gospel. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
The chapter follows this outline:
- Here we see the awfulness of sin and the character of its wages.
- Here we see the absolute holiness and inflexible justice of God.
- Here we see the explanation of Gethsemane.
- Here we see the Savior’s unswerving fidelity to God.
- Here we see the basis of our salvation.
- Here we see the supreme evidence of Christ’s love for us.
- Here we see the destruction of the “larger hope.”
Before I began reading the chapter, I spent some time just silently meditating on these words of Jesus. They are words I’ve thought about many times in life and ones which deserve much meditation. They are words for which we can never exhaust and never truly understand the depth of their meaning. Quite needless to say, my meditations took me to nowhere near the depth they took A.W. Pink.
The first thing that stood out to me as I read Pink’s reflections on these words of Jesus is the inadequacies of film to portray Jesus’ suffering. Countless millions of people spent a couple of hours watching The Passion of the Christ and there they saw Jesus get beaten to a pulp. In as much as Mel Gibson showed us Jesus’ physical sufferings, the movie was reasonably accurate. But the fact remains that no movie could describe the greater sufferings of Jesus, for they were inward and spiritual. Though His body was beaten and bruised, and though He felt incredible physical anguish, such has been the lot of millions of men through the history of the world. I dare say there have been many who have suffered worse physical torment than Jesus did. But the primary anguish Jesus faced was separation from God and the pouring out of God’s wrath upon Him. And how can we adequately describe this with words or portray it in film? It is impossible; it cannot happen. How can film portray the love and the anguish as they met on the cross? “These words of unequaled gift were both the fullest manifestation of divine love and the most awe-inspiring display of God’s inflexible justice.” What so many miss as they consider the cross is the actions of the Father and the awful toll this took on His Son. There is more to the cross than just the physical and we must make this clear!
The second thing that gripped me was Pink’s description of the various manifestations of man’s sin. “In its first manifestation it took the form of suicide, for Adam destroyed his own spiritual life; next we see it in the form of fratricide—Cain slaying his own brother; but at the Cross the climax is reached in deicide—man crucifying the Son of God.” Does this not show us on a macro scale the nature of sin, that it grows, always demanding more? A small sin quickly becomes a greater sin; soon nothing but the ultimate sins will please us. And such was the case when man reached the penultimate in sin—putting to death his own Creator.
Finally, I was challenged by Pink’s word that we must see the cross from at least four different viewpoints. “The tragedy of Calvary must be viewed from at least four different viewpoints. At the cross man did a work: he displayed his depravity by taking the Perfect One and with “wicked hands” nailing him to the tree. At the cross Satan did a work: he manifested his insatiable enmity against the woman’s seed by bruising his heel. At the cross the Lord Jesus did a work: he died the Just for the unjust that he might bring us to God. At the cross God did a work: he exhibited his holiness and satisfied his justice by pouring out his wrath on the one who was made sin for us.” This is all true, I am sure, but will require a lot more meditation before I would want to comment on it very much. How wondrous is the cross! It could be our meditation from now until the Lord’s return and we would still never exhaust its riches or its significance.
This was another chapter filled with gospel truths. This book is a gold mine.
We will continue next Thursday with the fifth chapter of the book and look at Jesus’ word of suffering.
I am eager to know what you gained from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or to write about this on your own blog (and then post a comment linking us to your thoughts). Do not feel that you can only say anything if you are going to say something that will wow us all. Just add a comment with some of the things you gained from the this week’s reading.