Last Easter we visited Glasgow. We saw the famous painting by Dali in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. It depicts Jesus on the cross, above the earth, in space. A closer look reveals that there are no nails in His hands or feet. No nails-illustrating the fact that it wasn’t the nails that kept Him there on the cross.
He could have summoned a host of angels to take Him away from the suffering but instead He chose to die for you and me – because of His love for us.
In fact it’s the greatest love, for ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13 – NIV)
‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom 5:8 – NIV)
I used to have a little bookmark in my Bible that said:
‘I asked Jesus, “How much do you love me?”
“This much” he answered,
and He stretched out His arms and died’
‘This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son’ (John 3:16 – The Message)
The cross is God shouting through history how much He loves us! The cross declares in blood red letters that God is love.
On deeper reflection, I realised that it wasn’t only love that held Him there,
‘It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished’
(From the hymn ‘How deep the Father’s love for us’-Townend)
‘It was my sin that held Him there’
It was my sin that held Him there’
The prophet Isaiah was able to look down through the years and foresee the suffering the Messiah would go through for us: ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa 53:5&6 –NIV)
In love, Jesus left the glory of heaven to walk this earth.
In love, He hung on the cross, taking the punishment for our sin.
In love, He redeemed us, paying for our salvation with His own precious blood.
And the amazing thing is this –‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ (Rom 8:32 –NIV)
Reflect on the words of this old hymn:
When I survey
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my god:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
(Isaac Watts 1674-1748)