Tag Archives: Cross

The Look On His Face

Posted on

This blog entry is something I emailed to a few friends a number of years ago.  My brother Robert suggested I put it on A Mending Feast.  May it serve as a reminder to all of us that the Cross is God’s secret weapon.  We see this readily enough in what our Lord Jesus went through at Calvary; there it was that He defeated the Devil with his own weapon—death.  But what about the cross in our own lives?  It often looks like defeat, as we see on a growing scale in our day when Christians in many lands are being severely persecuted, with many nations intent on eradicating Christians from the face of the earth.  Even closer to home the proud and lofty talk in terms Christianity going the way of the dodo.  We’re in the “post-Christian era,” they tell us confidently.  They are reckoning without the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and His secret weapon when they talk that way.  “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh…”

Here’s The Look On His Face (revised a little).

Earlier today I was listening to a song on Youtube which was accompanied by a video clip from the movie The Passion of Christ.  I don’t have a very high regard for that movie, filled with Roman Catholic influence as it is, and in some places not faithful to the Scriptures.  But I think the part on the crucifixion itself gives realistic insight into the brutality Christ suffered.  And this is the video clip I watched.  It showed a whipped and tortured Christ, his flesh shredded by the scorpion lash.  He is in agony, wracked with pain, bruised and bleeding, the blood trickling down His face, and down His body.  He is having a hard time seeing because the blood from the crown of thorns is in His eyes.  The angry cuts of the whipping scar His bloody back.  He is weak, He can hardly walk.  He is stumbling under His cross, and at one point along the way actually falls, unable to bear it any further.  And then at Golgotha—the place of a skull—as they drive the nails into His hands He grimaces with unbearable pain.  As the soldiers raise the Cross, His face over and over again is the face of One in the deepest of torment and pain and suffering…

…All true, for that’s certainly how it was.

But as I watched this, I had a sudden sense that there was something missing.  In their painstaking effort to portray the passion of Christ with the utmost realism, they had nevertheless entirely missed something!  And suddenly it seemed as if I saw His face… and I saw Him—it was but in a moment—with such a look of secret TRIUMPH on His face!  His teeth were set, and there was… I have to say it… a smile of such CONQUEST on His face… a look of such utter and ultimate and irresistible CONQUEST! And the Spirit of God just flooded into my heart.

Oh, what a look!  I tell you, it struck fear in me.  Oh, the power of that look!  Yes, they had done to Him what they wanted to do… and He was suffering, bleeding, dying…  but—Lord, grant us the Eye that sees: right there You were as a Lion roaring on His prey!

I tell you… this brought me to my knees.  I raise my arms in praise to this One… and I worship Him.  …I worship You, Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God victorious!  There is none like You!  None like You!  Thank you for Your Conquest, cause us to know it, Lord Jesus Christ!

“And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them IN IT (in His Cross)” (Col. 2.15).

June 1, 2009

…So let us remember in the midst of great trials–I’ve been needing the reminder myself of late– that we fight our spiritual battles from the perspective of a victory already won.  Our old friend Gene used to enjoy telling us of a little conversation he imagined taking place at Calvary.  When Satan finally succeeded in getting the Lord Jesus on the cross, he said, “Jesus, I’ve finally got you where I want you.”

And Jesus, crowned with thorns and arms outstretched, said in return, “Satan, I’ve finally got you just where I want you.”

…I thought to conclude with a little poem Robert passed on to me, which he found on Spurgeon’s Evening and Morning devotional.  Thanks for this, Robert; it fits right in.

Proclaim aloud the Saviour’s fame,
Who bears the Breaker’s wond’rous name;
Sweet name; and it becomes him well,
Who breaks down earth, sin, death, and hell.

Let us do that beloved, proclaim the Saviour’s fame, in all we are going through now and shall yet go through.  One has gone before us—the Breaker (Micah 2.12,13).  He was broken on the cross of Calvary, and thus broke the power and bonds of earth and sin and death and the grave.  Hallelujah!

Jesus And Idols?

It’s not likely that we modern-day Christians in the western world would be tempted to worship an idol of wood or stone the way they did back in Old Testament days, or still do in certain societies.  We like to assure ourselves we are not that primitive.  Even so, idolatry is a serious problem among many Christians.

Here from the New Testament are two verses revealing areas of idolatry that are very common.

“Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (1 Cor. 10.7).

In other words, when we view life as something that is our own to enjoy unto ourselves, this is idolatry—the idolatry of self.  It is perhaps the greatest form of idolatry in the world.  People who would not be caught dead worshipping a wooden idol bow down with ready abandon to the worship of themselves.  It is they themselves who sit on the throne of their lives ordering all things.  They believe their lives are their own to do with as they see fit.  If they are sitting down they are eating and drinking.  When they rise up it is to play.  The idol temples of eating and drinking and play are filled day and night—particularly in our secular western world.

Here is another one.

“…Covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3.5).

“…No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5.5).

How is covetousness idolatry?  Covetousness is idolatry because the heart is filled with a lust for something other than God.  It is a heart issue—the idols of the heart.  Do we not trust God to give us whatever is necessary to glorify Him in our lives—whether material or spiritual?  (Yes, it’s also idolatry to covet our brother’s spiritual blessing for ourselves.)

These two areas of idolatry are rampant out there in “the world.”  But because we Christians live in the world we are vulnerable.  Perhaps we are not abandoning Christ wholesale and turning to the idols of the world, although that does happen, I know.  The more serious problem is that we want Christ and our idols.  We want Christ and what the world has to offer as well—its pursuits and joys and toys.  So we have this phenomenon so common in our day.  I am fixated on prosperity—so I make a Christian doctrine out of it.  If I was a biker, now I become a Christian biker.  If I was into the rock scene, now I become a Christian rocker.  If I am into football in a serious way, now I become a Christian football player.  I love the glory of entertaining.  Now I will give Christian concerts.  I will be a Christian movie star.  We want to pursue the best the world has to offer, and be a Christian too, so we don’t miss out on God.  Of course we want God—but just to bless us in the pursuit of our own endeavours.

Jesus’ words still stand.  On one occasion when He saw the multitudes following Him He turned and said to them, “…And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14.25-27).  (How’s that for an evangelistic technique, by the way—telling the multitudes to go home unless they are prepared to take up their cross?)

We Christians are to walk a holy walk—in the world yet not of the world.  Nevertheless, it is not a stiff legalistic holiness that will draw the idolaters of the world into the worship of the true God.  It’s seeing the holiness of love—the love of the holy Jesus burning in the heart—that turns the idolaters to Him.  Jesus, who though He was “separate from sinners,” loved them deeply.  And they knew it.

Here’s a poem I’ve loved for a long time.  I’ve seen it quoted in part, but I found it in full one day.  It’s based on a passage in Hosea who back in his day decried with broken heart this chronic problem of God’s people wanting their idols along with their God.  It’s such a beautiful book—Hosea.  You touch over and over God’s love for His people—it’s He who is broken hearted—even as He pronounces judgments upon them for their waywardness.  And in the final analysis what is it that turns them back to Him?  (I confess I am far short of this myself—but am pursuing.)

“Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols?  I have heard Him, and (beheld) Him…” (Hos. 14.8).  That’s what does it!  Hearing Him!  Seeing the unmatchable Jesus!

Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand, own Him?
Joyful choose the better part?

Idols, once they won thee, charmed thee,
Lovely things of time and sense;
Gilded, thus does sin disarm thee,
Honeyed, lest thou turn thee thence.

What has stripped the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right or duty
But the sight of peerless worth.

Not the crushing of those idols
With its bitter pain and smart,
But the beaming of His beauty,
The unveiling of His heart.

Who extinguishes their taper
Till they hail the rising sun?
Who discards the garb of winter
Till the summer has begun?

‘Tis the look that melted Peter,
‘Tis the face that Stephen saw,
‘Tis the heart that wept with Mary
Can alone from idols draw:

Draw and win and fill completely
Till the cup o’erflow the brim;
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him?

Miss Ora Rowan
(1834-1879)

Expectations For 2012

About this time of year the prophets take advantage of the opportunity to once again favour us with their annual forecasts.  If you think you might be detecting a flavour of cynicism here, I commend you on your discernment.  Over the years I have become very skeptical about much of this, especially the offerings that the popular Charismatic prophets put forth as they compete with one another in wooing the people.  I have observed that, a) most of the things they tell us will happen in the coming year do not happen; and, b) they rarely if ever prophesy the things that actually do happen.

We are not to despise prophesyings; my heart is open to hear a truly prophetic word.  But all too often we neglect to read the next verse in Paul’s exhortation.  Yes, he said, “Despise not prophesyings.”  But immediately following this he adds, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thes. 5.20,21).  So, we are not to swallow whole all that the prophets set before us; we are to test what they say, prove what they say—and hold fast only that which is good.  How can we do this?  How can we discern the true from the false?  Only by drawing very close to the Lord ourselves and seeking to cultivate a hearing heart—the kind of hearing that comes only to the one who has offered his whole life to God on the altar of burnt sacrifice.

I don’t have a prophetic gifting myself.  But as one who seeks to steep his life in the word of God and stay awake on his watch, I believe I can say confidently that the coming year will continue to see great shakings—both in the world and in the church.  This is both a warning and a promise.  A warning, because those whose lives are not right with God dread the prospect of shakings.  A promise, because those who love Him anticipate the shakings.  They may not feel very capable in themselves to go through hard things.  But even so, they trust their God to bring them through, so they anticipate what is ahead.  For, the shakings mean that the faithful God is at work.  He has promised to shake all that can be shaken, and remove all that can be shaken, and bring in a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12.27-29).  God is a God of judgment, and His judgments are being released, as we have seen over the last few years.  To the haters of God this is deeply resented.  But, “Zion heard and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of Thy judgments, O LORD” (Ps. 97.8).

God needs no one to defend Him from His accusers—those who charge that the Christians’ God is a vindictive God, that His judgments are not just.  But let me remind you that the God of love is a God of righteousness.  He hates evil.  He is deeply pained with what evil has done in His world.  Yes, He is patient and longsuffering beyond our capacity to comprehend—so much so, that those whose rule of life is to do as they please assure themselves that God (if He even exists) obviously never interferes with this world of theirs.  But God is not going to endure evil forever.  He is going to roll up His sleeves, and when He is finished no evil will be found in this world of His.  None whatsoever.  He is going to deal with all evil—once and for all.  In fact at the Cross He already did that.  And He intends to bring the judgment of the Cross fully to bear upon the whole world.  For some this is bad news.

But for others, this is good news; it means our salvation.  What did the days of the flood mean to Noah and the ark?  It was the time of salvation for those in the ark.  And when judgments were being meted out on Egypt, it was because a great salvation was in the works.  There was darkness over Egypt so thick it could be felt.  But the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

So is the Day of the Lord.  Some dread the sunup of this Day.  It means the end of their night of pleasure—the pleasure of self-will and sin, I mean.  “Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4.1).  But for others—those who fear the Name of the Lord—the same Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings.  And they go forth leaping as calves let out of the stall.

And so, come what may, good things are before us.  Let us seek to nourish this sense of anticipation in one another.  Personally I look forward to the coming year.  Our world is shrouded in night—in thick darkness.  And I, little child that I am… I am afraid of the dark.  I don’t know how much longer I can endure any darkness.  But I have hope.  The night is far spent, the Day is at hand!  There is a beautiful passage in Job, in which God describes the coming of the morning as the dayspring taking hold of the ends of the earth and shaking the wicked out of it—like someone shaking the dust out of a carpet (Job 38.12,13).  That’s what I anticipate—the Sun of righteousness arising and shaking the darkness and wickedness out of the earth.  I am weary of wickedness, and of the darkness that has provided the wicked with a cloak.

And so when the shakings come—and they will surely come—let us remember Who it is that is housecleaning, and has hold of the end of the carpet.

The Ever Increasing Feast

There is a feast that forever mends in length – it grows greater, richer, fuller.  The longer it goes, the greater it grows.  The more this feast is partaken of, the more there is to partake of.

What a wonder.  How can this be?  How can there be more in the dish after I have taken from it?  Yet it is so.  Jesus began to feed the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes.  Yet after they had all eaten and were full, there was more left over than when they began.
“And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full” (Matthew 14.20).
How did this come about?  It happened because the five loaves and two fishes were broken in His hands.

“…And (He) took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed, and brake…”

Wonderful mystery.  Christ’s hands break the loaves, and suddenly a great increase takes place.

This reminds us of His words to His disciples at the feast of the Passover before He suffered.  Here is Paul’s account of it.

“…The Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread;
And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is My body, which is broken for you…” (1 Corinthians 11.24).

What an amazing thing.  His body was broken on the Cross.  Yet this breaking was the very thing that caused that Body to increase!
…And it increases to this day – the many-membered body of Christ – and it grows greater in spite of all that comes against it.  In fact all attempts to break it – difficult circumstances, afflictions, persecutions – only cause it to grow and multiply.

How can this be?  It is the wondrous power of resurrection life at work.  Jesus said on the eve of the Cross, “Verily, verily I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12.24).

Let us remember this in the midst of our own trials and sufferings — our own breakings.  Let us be assured of the wondrous power of God in the mystery of the Cross of Christ.  The Cross of Christ is that wondrous way by which God, in His great wisdom, brought to naught the power of death.

For, what is falling into the ground and dying to a seed?

If that living Seed is in you and me, nothing that comes against us can hurt us.  In fact, all that comes against us only causes that Seed to grow, and multiply.
And… what is breaking to a loaf of bread?

When we keep our hearts aright — when we stay in the loving hands of our Lord — nothing can rob us of our place at this ever-increasing Table… where we are both guest, and, in His hands, the bread He breaks for others.

Top of the Page

%d bloggers like this: