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Expiation, Good Friday and the Wonder of the Cross

Posted On April 14, 2017

At my local church, we have a Good Friday service where we nail a piece of paper with our sins to the Cross. This event is symbolic of what Christ has accomplished for us. It is about more than just subscribing to our belief in the sufficiency of Christ finished work to cleanse us of our sins. It is about standing in wonder of what Jesus has done. Over the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate this service. In this service, we are saying that we truly believe that Jesus has dealt with our sins on the cross.

As I sat in the service last year, I was thinking about my past and how the Lord has worked powerfully in my life. As I did this, the Lord brought freshly to my memory how He had brought me out of an addiction to pornography and how He has helped me with issues related to anger, anxiety, and depression. As I sat next to my wife with the sacrament in my hand, I was struck afresh with the wonder of the cross. Even writing about this, I’m getting misty-eyed and thankful once again as I sit and write these words on my laptop with coffee next to me while listening to worship music that exalts the Lord Jesus as King.

As I was sitting in the pew last year thinking about all of this, I was struck afresh at the doctrine of expiation, namely how the Lord has carried away our sins as far as the east is to the west, as the Psalmist describes in Psalm 103:12. Perhaps you think, “What does this have to do with me, Dave?” It has everything to do with you friend. I grew up in the church, was saved at a young age and started ministry while I was a teenager. The Lord has been very kind and gracious to me. I grew up in a family of Christians and come from a long line of Christians. Yet, I wonder for us who’ve been a Christian a long time or grown up in the church, when was the last time you were struck with wonder at the cross?

Perhaps today you are like me and have a thousand things going on in your life. Yet, you only really have one true need, and that is Jesus. Only Jesus can carry away your sins through His death on the cross. Only He can remove and deal with the penalty and punishment of sin. He does that through His finished work on the Cross where He took upon Himself our sin. Through His finished work, He takes our sin upon Himself and credits His righteousness to our account. The wrath of God is satisfied in the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we are forgiven and made new. Oh, friend don’t you see how glorious this is! As a Christian, you are no longer under the penalty or punishment of sin! You are as the Bible teaches, a new creation in Christ. You have a new identity in Jesus! You gather in a new community; the Church centered on Christ. These precious gospel truths are awe-inspiring, glorious in scope and truly ought to cause one to bask at the grandeur at the wonder of the cross.

Maybe you’ve gone through a lot of different things as I have. I don’t know where you are in your walk with God. Being a Christian a long time I know that it is all too easy to walk through the motions. It is easy to lose your wonder and awe of the cross. You don’t mean to do this, of course, it just happens as life crowds everything out, until at last, you’ve lost your awe and wonder of the cross. Friend today I pray that the Lord Jesus would stir your affections in the wonder of the cross. I pray today that you would see yourself as you were before you were saved, as a sinner lost, twirling in the wind until the Good Shepherd spoke your name and you heard His voice, bidding you to home to Himself.

As I sat after taking communion on Good Friday last year, I basked in wonder at the cross. As we sang the wonder of the cross, I sang it as if for the first time, even though I’ve sung it many times over the years. Yet, I sang it all the while with new vigor as unto the Lord. The Lord has carried away our sins. He no longer remembers them because He has removed them as far as the east is to the west. That truth ought to cause us to bask in wonder at the cross. It ought to cause us to worship Him for the sufficiency of His work. I pray today the Lord would stir your affections afresh for Himself with the result being that the mercies of the Lord would become new and fresh to you. Then you’ll not only grasp the truth of Good Friday but also of the resurrection and Easter. We don’t have just a victorious Savior, Lord, and King, but a triumphant King who has defeated death and the grave, and who is even now our exalted King, High Priest, Intercessor and Mediator before the Father. This Savior, this King, this Priest is coming back to rule and reign over the throne of David. Let the people of God rise in worship by standing in awe and wonder at the sufficiency of His work. Hallelujah to the Lamb who was slain, and is yet returning.

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