April 10, 2020—What does the cross reveal?
1847: “Good Friday, the anniversary of the death of Christ, kept as a day of grief and mourning. The celebration of this day is as ancient as that of Easter and of Sunday. The holy Sabbath, or Easter-eve, is the only one of all the Jewish Sabbath days that the Christian church has retained as a holy day.”—Encyclopedia Americana; 1847.
The following article was written by Theodore Gerald Soares in 1907:
“May we ask now what it is that gives the cross its supreme place? It would be enough to say that it is the key to the interpretation of the world—that the universe is fashioned after the pattern of the cross; to say that he who kneels at the cross will understand life, its meaning and its duties. Let us state plainly however what vital truth the cross reveals to an ordinary man. He need be no student of history, no reader of the poets, no philosopher of life;—just an ordinary man who wishes to know the truth by which to live, and the faith by which to die.
First of all the cross reveals—God: a knowledge of Him that was not reached by human wisdom.
It is strange; yet it is so! One looking upon Calvary gains a knowledge of God, that is a marvel to the philosopher. He sees that “God is love.” Other men had risen to the thought of a God of power. But God as love had not been realized. Calvary is an expression of God. The ordinary man, in sorrow, in suffering, in sin, looking upon the cross is not permitted to forget that God is love.
If one kneels at the cross, enters into the sufferings of Jesus, sees that it is done in obedience to love for men, out of the spirit of sacrifice and service, it will be impossible for him to get away from the thought that God is love. Calvary is the expression in time of an eternal fact: a fact that wise men were feeling after and common men in dumb hunger were perishing without; the fact that is made plain in the cross, that God is love.
Further, the cross reveals the Ideal or Perfect Man. There have been plenty of men whom the world has called heroes. There have been men of war, men of money, men of intellect. They have had their followers. No one imagines that Hercules will ever again be the hero of mankind; unless mankind reverts to barbarism.
Nature has been almost one cry for the appearance of a man who would be God’s man. It has been like the cry of the North in 1862, when hero after hero had failed, expressed by the poet Stedman—”Wanted—a man.” In a larger way the world had been crying, “Give us a man.” Pilate, without knowing it, introduced him to the world when he said, “Behold the man.” There is none like Him among the children of men. Looking at Him on the cross, seeing Him pour out His life for those who hate Him, men’s hearts bear witness that at last they have found—The Man. This is no small thing; for humanity to see its ideal realized. The crucifixion was the crowning of the King of Men.
Again, the cross reveals the inevitable consequence of sin. One asks, as he looks upon the crucifixion: who did that? Who nailed that Man upon the cross? Who rejected the life of wonderful love? The reply comes: priests, governors and soldiers. Who are those who fled as they approached the cross? These are disciples, who were Jesus’ friends, who had sworn allegiance. What a revelation of the human heart!
These men are not bandits, highway robbers. They are the leading men of their day, the best, most respectable men: yet sin has so warped and distorted their souls, that they are taking one, who was filled with divine love and good-will, and they are crucifying Him. And the cross is a picture of what happens every day. Caiaphas and Pilate and Judas and Peter walk the streets of the modern city and sit on pontifical chairs and judgment seats. The cross reveals what sin is, and its goal. It crucifies the Son of God.
And the Cross reveals Salvation.
There is nothing; more important than to know how to save men whose hearts have grown hard in sin. Other religions, and all philosophies, fail at this point. What can be done with the wreck of a man; one whose habits are seemingly fixed—and for evil? The cross holds the secret of salvation. If one can be brought to kneel at the foot of the cross, and humbly to acknowledge that his own sins have crucified his manhood and look up and enter into fellowship with Christ’s sufferings, he shall live. Nothing on earth can save, except to receive the loving sacrificing life of God, as revealed in Christ on the cross. Nothing will cast out evil except, the admission of God’s love, revealed on Calvary.
If the cross is all this, there is but one thing to do: to bow before the crucified Saviour, to walk in His light; to make Him the centre of our thought and purposes and life.”—Source: The Week of Our Lord’s Passion; By Theodore Gerald Soares; 1907.
A Prayer for Good Friday, by John Henry Hobart; DD. 1849.
I Come before thee, O Lord, in the lowest prostration of soul and body, with a heart full of grief and sorrow for those sins of mine, which crucified the Son of God afresh, and put Him to open shame.
We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. But my consolation is, that my Saviour shed His precious blood for me, that I might not suffer the pains of eternal death, but be advanced to honour, glory, and immortality with Him.
Henceforth I desire not to live but unto Christ, who died for me. Assist me, O blessed Spirit, to purify myself, and to tread in the steps of this humble, meek, and patient Sufferer. Keep me in such a lively sense of my Saviour’s agony and bloody sweat, that I may bitterly hate sin, the cause of His torments; and teach me the value of my immortal soul, for which He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Confirm my courage in the Christian warfare, that as a good soldier I may fight manfully under the banner of my crucified Saviour, that nothing either in life or death may ever separate me from the love of my glorious Redeemer, who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth one God blessed for ever. Amen”—John Henry Hobart; D.D. 1849.
OUR GOOD FRIDAY PRAYER: In remembrance of this most holy event, we thank you LORD for sending your Son Jesus to die for our sins. We thank you Jesus—for the blood you shed for us, the love you showed for all mankind—and we thank you for our Salvation. Amen.
‘The Passion of the Christ’—a Mel Gibson movie. † The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection—a sequel, is coming in 2021.
Pastor Nelson: “What is Good Friday?”
Got Questions: “The importance of the Lord’s Supper”