Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53.4-6)

The Center of Salvation Is the Cross of Jesus

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgement on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in time or eternity than when Jesus Christ died on the Cross; He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God. The center of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merges with a crash and the way of life is opened, but the crash is on the heart of God.

Oswald Chambers (1874 – 1917)

Do Not Make God into Your Own Image or Imagination!

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where He is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find Him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, p. 137.

The Triumph of Christ’s Love

The resolute purpose of our Lord exemplified His devotion to duty, it showed not less clearly the triumph of His love. For in this case duty was the offspring of love; love undertook the obligation; and all through His life, and especially at its close, love and duty went hand in hand. At the end, the triumph of love was all the greater, because the wickedness it had to conquer was so frightful. Cold floods fell upon a warm heart, but the heart remained as warm as ever. At Calvary, men seemed to defy the love of Christ. They did every conceivable thing to turn it into hatred. But the endurance of Christ showed that no impression had been made on it. His was love that many waters could not quench, and that floods could not drown.

W. G. Blaikie, Glimpses of the Inner Life of Our Lord

Living beneath the Cross of Jesus

Whoever lives beneath the cross of Jesus, and has discerned in the cross of Jesus the utter ungodliness of all people and of their own hearts, will find there is no sin that can ever be unfamiliar.

Whoever has once been appalled by the horror of their own sin, which nailed Jesus to the cross, will no longer be appalled by even the most serious sin of another Christian; rather they know the human heart from the cross of Jesus.

Such persons know how totally lost is the human heart in sin and weakness, how it goes astray in the ways of sin—and know too that this same heart is accepted in grace and mercy.

Only another Christian who is under the cross can hear my confession. It is not experience with life but experience of the cross that makes one suited to hear confession. The most experienced judge of character knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the cross of Jesus.
The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot comprehend this one thing: what sin is. Psychological wisdom knows what need and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the ugliness of the human being. And so it also does not know that human beings are ruined only by their sin and are healed only by forgiveness. The Christian alone knows this. In the presence of a psychologist I can only be sick; in the presence of another Christian I can be a sinner.

The psychologist must first search my heart, and yet can never probe its innermost recesses. Another Christian recognizes just this: here comes a sinner like myself, a godless person who wants to confess and longs for God’s forgiveness.

The psychologist views me as if there were no God. Another believer views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the cross of Jesus Christ.

When we are so pitiful and incapable of hearing the confession of one another, it is not due to a lack of psychological knowledge, but a lack of love for the crucified Jesus Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 5 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 114-16.