The Cross He Bore

So, blogging has fallen into a bit of neglect this week, as I’ve been both extremely productive and extremely foolish with my time over the last few days. My last three days of work have been my most productive since Owen arrived, and while a pastor (so I hear) never ever feels on top of his work, I am definitely no longer thinking seriously about beating myself to death with my keyboard. On the other hand, I did completely veg out and waste three hours last night when I could have been reading or sleeping.

Nevertheless, I’ve been deeply blessed in my reading times lately, as I’ve been preparing to teach a multiple-month series on the atonement. It is a marvelously sin-killing, holiness-inspiring, pride-crushing, humility-cultivating, worship-fueling experience to stare at the heart of the Cross for hours each day. The practicality of it, in particular, is difficult to explain. I feel like I love my wife more when I’ve spent lots of time before the Cross.

One of the surprises of my study time has been Frederick S. Leahy’s little book (82 pgs.), The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer (You can hardly spend $5.75 better). I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of books that say a lot in a little space. There certainly needs to be 300, 500, and 1000+ page books on some topics, but there also needs to be books that change people’s lives in 75-100 pages. This might be one of them. It is a beautiful little meditation on what Christ experienced from Gethsemane to the Cross. In fact, Leahy’s reflections on Jesus in Gethsemane were probably my favorite part of the book because they felt very fresh and original (When was the last time you spent an extended time meditating on what Christ experienced just before he took up his cross?). As Leahy writes, “The agony of our Lord in the garden was a once-for-all event. There is nothing in human experience that is remotely like it. It is bordering on blasphemy to speak of ‘someone’s Gethsemane’ or ‘Calvary.’ …Lord, forgive us for the times we have read about Gethsemane with dry eyes” (6, 5).

This morning, a friend asked me whether I believe that God intended for the Fall to occur. That is, was the Fall an eventuality in God’s good creation for which, once it had come to pass, a remedy needed to be devised (i.e. Christ as mediator and reconciler)? Or was the Fall an event detested by God but also planned by God for some reason? (Theology geeks: see footnote below.) I think I gave a pretty good answer. But I like Leahy’s better:

“Clearly, Christ saw his [arrest in Gethsemane] in terms of God’s sovereign schedule. All of history had moved unerringly and inexorably to this hour. Schilder states this so well: ‘God had arranged all of the preceding centuries, all of the intervolutions of time, all of the events from Genesis 1:1 up to this moment – has arranged and molded them, has had them converge in such a way that there would be a place for this hour, the hour in which His Son will be bound… He allowed neither the forces above nor the forces below to tamper with the clock of history. He directed the battles of Caesars, the conflicts of kings, the migration of peoples, the world wars, the courses of stars and sun and moon, the change of epochs, and the complex movements of all things in the world in such a way that this hour would come and had to come.’ …Nothing could stop it. This is your hour, Satan! …Predestination keeps perfect time” (20-2).

For the theology geeks: Of course, this is the infralapsarianism, sublapsarianism and supralapsarianism debate. I’ll post on that issue tomorrow. I don’t want to wreck the beauty of seeing Christ in Gethsemane with big words.

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