Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Approaching Cross

   It is now mid-way through Holy Week. In my last post, I thought about Jesus' cleansing of the temple and it's significance. Following the events of the Gospels, it is now three days into the fateful week leading up to Christ's passion, and the silhouette of the cross is emerging over the horizon. Christ is occupied with furious confrontation and conflict with the religious leadership over the abuses  of their religious authority and their coming condemnation. I wonder what His feelings must have been in the midst of those events, knowing what was approaching with each passing hour.

   It's now evening as I write this, and the events of the Gospels take note of the plot that is being put together by the religious leadership to kill Jesus. Jesus and His disciples have left Jerusalem and are on the Mount of Olives, as He tells them of the prophetic events of the future; the chief priests, the scribes and elders of the people are assembled at the palace of Caiphas, the high priest, discussing how they might catch and kill Him; Jerusalem is full of worshipers, having come from all across the empire for the Passover. the The stage is now being set; the major actors are now being brought together as the pace of action ramps up to the climactic events of Christ's passion two days later. I thought of the description of these events in Luke's gospel:

"Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, named Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude." - Luke 22:1-6, NKJV

   I can't help but thinking about the meticulous sovereignty of God, in His absolute and total control over every person and event in history, as I approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The sequence of events are complex and the characters are many - God the Father; God the Holy Spirit; God the Son; his disciples; the chief priests, scribes, elders, and the high priest; Judas Iscariot; Satan; Pontius Pilate and the Roman garrison at the Praetorium, who are yet to appear; the massive crowd of worshipers who have come to Jerusalem. The actors are playing their parts flawlessly - Judas has already sold himself to the fate that awaits him, and collected his ill-gotten money. In the high priest's palace, the decision has been made. Jesus and his disciples have retired for the night. Jerusalem at night is quiet as worshipers have made their way to their various inns and residences. The temple sits silent, the great veil separating the Holy of Holies from everything else in its premises.

   Thousands of years of prophetic history that began with God's promise in the book of Genesis, to send a Saviour after the Fall in the Garden of Eden are converging to their moment of fulfillment. All of heaven watches with anticipation and bated breath, as God's epic master plan from before the beginning of time unfolds and heads towards its inevitable and promised conclusion with clockwork precision. God has left no loose ends as the greatest demonstration of His power and glory begins to appear on the horizon of history. And at the center of this mighty converging of events is Jesus.

   As I immerse myself in Scripture, allow the Holy Spirit to bring the words on its pages to life, and carefully track the story 2,000 years later, there is the accompanying tension as I know what awaited Jesus in less than twenty four hours. Somewhere in the Roman garrison, the cross has been made by unwitting carpenters and kept ready for its intended purpose. The hammer and nails, forged by similarly unwitting craftsmen lie ready to be pounded into unresisting hands and feet. The whip used for scourging lies waiting for the body on which it will be used. The thornbush sits silently, its thorns ready to be cut and fashioned into a crown. Every one of them is there for a purpose, orchestrated by God for the part that He has intended them to play. There is not one unintended object that should not be there, not one wasted moment, not one event that happens by "luck" or "chance." 

   But at the same time, there is a tremendous sense of gratitude and wonder as I contemplate God's eternal mind and plan. Before He had even willed the first events of creation, He had seen and planned my own life. Knowing the kind of sinner and fool that I am, whose life would be hopelessly lost without Him, He had planned to draw me to salvation through faith in Him at the right time. He undertook this entire enterprise with the intent that I should see His glory in the Cross, be blinded by it and follow Him all the days of my life. I could only write the following prayer of gratitude as I thought over these things:

   Awesome God. Awesome God. I have no words to describe the love that fills my heart for You, that You would thus demonstrate your love for a wretched man like me. Master, what shall I do to show my gratitude? I am poor, my possessions are miserable, my mind is foolish and my hands are empty. I can only throw my heart and my life into your hands tonight. I will lose my life, that I may find it in You.

- The Wisdom Seeker