Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Cross and the Trinity

Ever considered God's perspective of the cross? How often we look at the cross and what it meant for us - and I would never wish anyone to forget that. However, that is only half the story. To understand the full gravitas of the cross it is worth considering what it meant for God.

It is far too easy to slide away from the true triune nature of God. So when we think of the cross we must remember that is was the Godhead which would face the full brunt of what had to occur on that cross. First though it is worth a recap on Jesus as the second member of the Trinity. Jesus was the Word through whom the universe was created (John 1:3). Jesus was called 'Son' by God from Heaven and is the one with whom God was well pleased (Luke 3:21-22). This Jesus came to a fallen earth (Ephesians 2:6-8) leaving the splendour of Heaven and served God in this place so that He may not lose any of those whom His Father has given (John 6:37-40; how wondrous a thing that is!) But more than all of these things, this was the Jesus that dwelt and communed with the Father and the Spirit in the eternal perichoresis. Visualise that image - the three members of the Trinity in an eternal dance, each revolving around the other, constantly loving the others. Each member seeks the other two as an expression of their perfect love - no one member ever wishes to be separate from the others. That is Jesus: Eternal, Holy, Loving and pleasing to God.

Yet the cross served as the place where death would die, where God would achieve ultimate reconciliation and where His promised rest would be achieved. However, a holy God cannot dwell with sin and its curse therefore needed to be broken. God, bound to His covenant made to Abraham, could not cast man into oblivion and so judgement had to fall upon the One who could face righteous judgement and yet be found innocent. So the wrath of God was borne on that cross and more specifically on the eternally pleasing and loving Jesus - on God Himself and between Father and Son. Father and Son became separated on that cross - the most unnatural state for the Trinity.

And yet it was me, Tom Miller, that drove a wedge between Father and Son. It was me and my sin that unrecognisably disfigured (Isaiah 52:14) the most beautiful man to walk the earth. It is overwhelming to think of the anguish felt by Father and Son as the Cup was emptied - it would have pleased neither - all for a wretch of a man. The disfigured and ugly made gloriously beautiful (something CS Lewis wonderfully illustrates in the 'The Great Divorce'). That though is the love of our God: that He would bring such total suffering on His Son for us. Moreover, Jesus willingly identifies Himself with man - fallen man! - so that righteousness may be imputed to all who identify with Him. But the Trinity could do nothing else - it was His will (Isaiah 53:10; Luke 24:45-47). Their eternal love drove them to make the ultimate sacrifice as they could not bear man to be separated from Their presence.

Does this change your view of the cross? I hope so. I hope it wounds the heart, forcing us into humility before God. I hope it weighs heavy on our consciences, yet turns downward facing hearts Heavenwards to praise God. That is how great Jesus is - facing the full brunt of the Cup of Wrath aimed at sin. That is how great the Father is - freely giving His Son whom He has loved eternally for utter wretches. That is the cross and the Trinity. What response is there from us? Well, I would hope that you could figure that out for yourselves because in truth I cannot - it leaves me stupefied and awestruck by the power and love of the Trinity.

I finish with an excerpt from 'God and Myself' a Puritan prayer written by those who knew much of the cross:

"At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, and abhor it, look on Him whom I pierced, as one slain for me, and by me. May I never despise his death by fearing its efficacy for salvation. And whatever cross I am required to bear, let me see him carrying a heavier."

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