Tag Archives: Cross

“The whole Bible comes to us in red letters” by Joel Beeke

“The Bible has many human authors, but one divine Author speaks through them all: the triune God who draws near to us in the Mediator. Though Paul wrote his letters, he insists, ‘Christ is speaking in me’ (2 Cor. 13:3), and, ‘The things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord’ (1 Cor. 14:37).

Therefore, in the Bible, we continue to hear the voice of Christ today. In a manner of speaking, the whole Bible comes to us in red letters.

This makes reading the Bible and hearing it preached a wonderfully personal encounter with Christ. Christ said that the Good Shepherd calls His sheep, and ‘the sheep hear his voice… and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice’ (John 10:3-4).

Christ did not refer here merely to His earthly ministry to Israel, when people literally did hear His human voice. He included the calling of Gentiles: ‘Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd’ (John 10:16).

This is the assurance of Christ’s people: ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand (John 10:27-28).

Whenever we prepare to read or hear God’s Word, we should say to ourselves, ‘I am about to hear the voice of Jesus.’ Calvin said, ‘When the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached, it is just as if He Himself spoke to us and were living among us.'”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 2: 963-964.

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“Christ spoke prophetic words on the cross” by Joel Beeke

“The death of Christ is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for man (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-8). What love is this, when God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up to save His enemies (Rom. 8:32)!

It appeared to be a a tragic display of foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18), the waste of the best of lives, but in fact it revealed God’s wisdom and power to save sinners through the most amazing means (1 Cor. 1:23-25).

Furthermore, Christ spoke prophetic words in His passion, including His seven words, or sayings, from the cross, which revealed the following:

  • God’s grace to forgive sinners through Christ: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
  • God’s salvation through Christ for the repentant: “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
  • God’s creation of a new spiritual family in Christ: “He saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:26-27).
  • God’s abandonment of Christ to suffer divine judgment as He bore our sins: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).
  • God’s fulfillment of His promises and prophecies in Christ: “Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28).
  • God’s complete accomplishment of salvation by Christ: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
  • God’s acceptance of Christ’s spirit because He completed His work, in anticipation of His resurrection: “Father, into thy hands commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Christ’s greatest revelation of God took place when His deity was most hidden in suffering and shame. This hidden revelation can be accessed only by faith, a a faith that humbles our pride “that no flesh should glory in his presence,” but “he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:29, 31).

Christ is the Prophet of the cross, and we can receive His revelation by the way of the cross.”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 2: 959.

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“The times are awfully dark, but the Lord reigns” by John Newton

“The times are awfully dark, but the Lord reigns.

I understand not the prophecies yet unfulfilled, but I know that they must be fulfilled, and I expect light will spring out of darkness.

I shall hardly live to see it. However, it shall be well with the righteous.

I am or would be of no sect or party, civil or religious; but a lover of mankind.

It is my part to mourn over sin, and the misery which sin causes, to be humbled for my own sins especially, to pray for peace, and to preach the gospel.

Other things I leave to those who have more leisure and ability, and I leave the whole to Him who does all things well! (Mark 7:37)”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 296.

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“Jesus held by the wood” by Mark Dever

“We have even more long lasting joy because as we look at the cradle of Bethlehem, we do so through the cross of Calvary.

Baby Jesus held by the wood of a cradle, later is held to the wood of a cross.

Delivered and delivering.

Jesus held by the wood.

Witnesses on either side.

Mary stood waiting,

quietly gazing,

with great feeling,

on her Son.

The sky dark above.

As at the beginning,

so at the end.

Jesus held by the wood,

delivered and delivering.

Jesus held by the wood.

The scene of Christmas and of Calvary.

Of the cradle and the cross.”

–Mark Dever, The Christmas Thingamabob (Leyland, England: 10Publishing, 2013), 25-26.

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“In the order of being, the sacrifice of Christ came first” by Donald Macleod

“The evidence that Jesus and His apostles understood the cross in terms of sacrifice is overwhelming. There is something deeper here, however, than the struggle of bewildered disciples to find concepts by which to explain the tragedy which had overtaken their master.

It was not human ingenuity that discovered in the Old Testament sacrifices an interpretative framework for the cross. On the contrary, God Himself had provided that framework.

In the order of knowing, the Levitical sacrifices came before the sacrifice of Calvary; but in the order of being, the sacrifice of Christ came first.

He was the Lamb ordained before the foundation of the world, and the Levitical system was but His shadow. We need to be careful here.

Christ was not a priest only metaphorically. He was the true priest, and His sacrifice the real sacrifice.

It was the Aaronic priesthood that was figurative, and its sacrifices that were metaphorical. Just as Jesus was ‘the Root of David’ (Rev. 5:5), so He was the root of the Passover, the sin offering and the scapegoat, all of which were divinely configured to prefigure Him.

The understanding of Jesus’ death as a sacrifice is not a human convention, but a divine revelation.”

–Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 65.

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“Between two thieves” by Donald Macleod

“A second detail recorded by both Matthew and Mark is that Jesus was crucified between two other criminals, one on His right and one on His left. The same fact is recorded by Luke though with slightly different wording. All three accounts stress the word ‘with’; they were crucified along with Jesus.

The Scripture referred to is Isaiah 53:12, and this verse is certainly quoted by Jesus Himself just before He goes to Gethsemane: ‘It is written, ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in Me. Yes, what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment’ (Luke 22:37).

There is no doubt about the authenticity of this passage, nor about the authenticity of the original words of Isaiah, and we must take them with complete seriousness. The truth they point to, Jesus’ solidarity with sinners, did not begin at the cross; it had been a fact throughout His life.

He had made Himself notorious as the friend of tax collectors and sinners and repeatedly allowed Himself to be compromised by associating with people of dubious reputation. But here at the cross the solidarity climaxes.

He is not merely among His two co-accused. He is together with them; and He is together with them specifically in their character as transgressors and criminals.

The full force of this is brought out in the original wording of Isaiah: He was numbered with the transgressors ‘for he bore the sins of many.’ It is not a matter of mere association or even, ultimately, of mere solidarity, as if He were just taking the position of a sinless one forced to endure the company of sinners.

He identifies completely. He lets Himself be reckoned as a sinner, and dealt with as a sinner; and not only by men, but by God. He has come to redeem sinners, but the way He will redeem them is by taking their sins as His own and becoming accursed in their place (Gal. 3:13).

By hanging Him in the middle, wrote Calvin, ‘they gave Him first place as though He were the thieves’ leader.’ Luther, ever more graphic, put it even more strongly: ‘He bore the person of a sinner and of a thief– and not of one but of all sinners and thieves… And all the prophets saw this, that Christ was to become the greatest thief, murderer, adulterer, robber, desecrator, blasphemer, etc., that has ever been anywhere in the world.’

Here, on the cross, He not only bears, but is (2 Cor. 5:21) the sin of the world; and so here, in solemn divine equity, the sword falls.”

–Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 38-39.

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“The timber of the cross becomes the tree of life” by Herman Bavinck

“In Christ, justice and mercy embrace, suffering is the road to glory, the cross points to a crown, and the timber of the cross becomes the tree of life.

The end toward which all things are being led by the providence of God is the establishment of His kingdom, the revelation of His attributes, the glory of His name (Rom. 11:32–36; 1 Cor. 15:18; Rev. 11:15; 12:10).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 618.

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