Unspoken words from the cross – Pt. 2

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“I have set the LORD always before me” (Psalm 16:8).

The perfect sacrifce

The Scripture says of Jesus, “…like a lamb silent before its shearer, So He opened not His mouth” (Acts 8:32, NKJV).  But inside, the Lamb of God had many thoughts, like this one:

I have set the LORD always before me” (Psalm 16:8).

That is the voice of the Lamb, ready to have his heart examined by God, to sacrifice himself to heaven (John 1:29). Not in the petty arrogance that characterizes humanity, but in divine confidence, he knows his perfection. He has broken no law among men. He has omitted no spiritual requisite. He has lived the only sinless life. The Lord has always been “before him;” that is, he always put God first.

He left heaven’s splendor, and lived in total submission to God. He accomplished the impossible. It was an act of God, performed by a man.

The quiet restraint of the Lamb is compelling, and terribly humbling. He feels no need to declare his righteousness, to justify himself to men, to reveal the Divine plan that is working through him. Rather, he “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23, NKJV).

His innocence was declared more loudly by silence than by words.

The silent Lamb, needing no forgiveness for himself, and desiring only to be justified by his Father, assumes another role: High Priest. For a moment, suppressing his own suffering, he utters the words of intercession,

Father, forgive them…

We, who would be crushed by the holiness of God, find grace in his perfection – God’s innocent, silent, dying Lamb.

Where is God?

In the crucible of suffering, many things that once seemed important fade away, falling like autumn leaves. One thought remains: the presence of God.

It happens quickly – a diagnosis, an accident, an enduring pain. With swiftness that would make an illusionist jealous, the mundane matters of life are transformed into a pile of ashes, and rising to the top are the pressing and terrible questions:

Have I met God’s expectations?

Am I ready to face God in judgment?

They are entirely human questions. Angels are not puzzled by them. The creatures who live beside us never wonder such things.

But we – made in the very image of the Almighty – are particularly pressed in our suffering to examine our hearts, to find if our lives have been lived in harmony with his will. In our suffering, we are aware of God’s presence. Job said of God in his suffering:

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6, ESV).

Little wonder, for, “…he has put eternity [lit., “continuous existence”] into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

On the cross, under the weight of suffering, Jesus has no fear, because he has put God first – before him. He was God’s faithful one, a perfect Son (Philippians 2:5-8).

The placement of God in his life made all the difference.

It is true for us, too. God is wherever we put him.

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