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The Singularity Of The Crucifixion Of Christ (via Fleming Rutledge)

The cross is no benign decoration for wall or jewelry.
It is a sign of shame and scandal.
And it might have passed from human notice except for particular crucifixion over two thousand years ago.
From Fleming Rutledge:
We can begin with the oddity of the universally recognized signifier, “the crucifixion.” It will help us to understand the uniqueness of Jesus’ death if we can grasp the idiosyncrasy of this manner of speaking. There have been many famous deaths in world history; we might think of John F. Kennedy, or Marie Antionette, or Cleopatra, but we do not refer to :the assassination,” “the guillotining,” or “the poisoning.” Such references would be incomprehensible. The use of the term “the crucifixion,” for the execution of Jesus show that it still retains a privileged status. When we speak of “the crucifixion,” even in the secular age, many people will know what is meant. There is something in the strange death of the man identified as Son of God that continues to command special attention. This death, this execution, above and beyond all others continues to have universal reverberations. Of no other death in human history can this be said. The cross of Jesus stands alone in this regard; it is sui generis. There were many thousands of crucifixions in Roman times, but only the crucifixion of Jesus is remembered as having any significance at all, let alone world-transforming significance.

Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion – Understanding The Death Of Jesus Christ Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI, 2015, pg 3.


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Ah, Holy Jesus by Fernando Ortega

Ah, Holy Jesus is Robert Bridges’ translation of Johann Heermann original lyric.
It also features on Fernando Ortega’s The Crucifixion Of Jesus album.


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Stricken, Smitten, And Afflicted by Fernando Ortega

I’ve been listening to Fernando Ortega’s new album The Crucifixion Of Jesus for a few weeks now.
A grouping of songs and readings dealing with the portions of the Gospels that recount the passion of Jesus, the album as a whole is a very satisfying listen, and the sum of the whole enhances appreciation of the various facets.
Ortega has collected the tracks very thoughtfully.
Which is to say that songs like Thomas Kelly’s lyrics and the tune O Mein Jesu, Ich Muss Sterben, better known in English as the hymn Stricken, Smitten, And Afflicted are even better when you hear them in their album context.
Here’s a lyric video of the album track.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

40.
Q. Why did Christ have to suffer death?
A. Because the righteousness and truth of God are such that nothing else could make reparation for our sins except the death of the Son of God.

41.
Q. Why was he “buried”?
A. To confirm the fact that he was really dead.

42.
Q. Since, then, Christ died for us, why must we also die?
A. Our death is not a reparation for our sins, but only a dying to sin and an entering into eternal life.

43.
Q. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
A. That by his power our old self is crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil passions of our mortal bodies may reign in us no more, but that we may offer ourselves to him as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

44.
Q. Why is there added: “He descended into hell”?
A. That in my severest tribulations I may be assured that Christ my Lord has redeemed me from hellish anxieties and torment by the unspeakable anguish, pains, and terrors which he suffered in his soul both on the cross and before.


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The Meeting That Changes Everything (mgpc 28/4/2013)

If the gospel of Matthew ended at verse 61 of chapter 27 we’d have a dead moral example and a scattered group of followers.
Some would prefer the story ended here, but the events recorded in chapter 28 of Matthew’s gospel are foundation on which Christianity rests, and the cornerstone which supports and gives meaning to everything we’ve read so far.
The story goes on, and because of that story so do we.

Psalm 148 – From Heav’n O Praise The LORD and Let Your Kingdom Come are the songs of preparation; Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise begins our worship.
The prayer of adoration and confession will praise God for the wonder of His saving work in Jesus and repent of our failure to be constantly amazed by it.
That sense of wonder and trust will be expressed as we sing How Deep The Father’s Love For Us, after which we’ll affirm our faith together with the Apostles’ Creed and Worship, Honour, Glory, Blessing.
From God’s Word, Jeremiah 13: 13-30 will reveal God’s charge that the sons of Josiah are unworthy of the covenant promises God has made to King David, leaving us to trust God’s faithfulness amid human failing and unfaithfulness.
We’ll respond to that by singing O Saviour, Where Can Guilty Man?
After hearing Matthew 27:62 – 28:15 we’ll hear about the meeting that changes everything, considering the nature of the resurrection which Jesus experiences, the disciples of Jesus in the time after his death, and the meeting between them and the difference which that encounter makes to all who experience it.
After our prayers of thanksgiving and for the needs of others, we’ll give our tithes and offerings and conclude our worship singing Sovereign Grace O’er Sin Abounding.


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The Curtain Torn (mgpc 21/4/2013)

In Matthew 27:45-61 the barrier between God and humanity is breached, and it is breached from God’s side. The hope of victory over the grave comes to us as Jesus’ body is placed in the tomb.
A new song for the morning congregation Jesus Is The Name We Honour, along with Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation are our songs of preparation. Worship begins with Sing Unto The Lord A New Song (Psalm 96).
The prayer of approach and confession will praise God for His love and wisdom in making a way for us to be in His family, and acknowledge our resistance in trusting all that His love and wisdom brings.
The Lord’s My Shepherd (Psalm 23) will begin our words of testimony. It will be followed by Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 and May The Grace Of Christ Our Saviour.
Listening to God’s Word from Jeremiah 22:1-12 we’ll hear the house of David urged to do justice and righteousness. Responding to this word we’ll sing Indescribable.
After listening to God speak again, from Matthew 27:45-61 we’ll consider the events surrounding the death of Jesus: his sense of isolation; the comfort of God’s Word in that time of desolation; the rending of the figurative barrier between God and humanity; and the contrast of Jesus being placed in the grave while graves gave up their occupants. The way to God lays open before us.
After being led in our prayers of thanksgiving and for others we’ll give our tithes and offerings (probably listening to I’d Rather Have Jesus) then conclude worship singing All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name.


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The Cry Of Christ Forsaken (via Joel Beeke)

It is important to remember that Christ’s cry of abandonment on the cross was not a loss of faith.
For the first time Jesus was experiencing conscious absence of the Father’s answer to prayer, but in that absence he is not devoid of God’s Word.
Even in that awful place of separation and abandonment he can call on God’s voice to bring consolation.
Jesus cries out and claims words of Scripture from Psalm 22, and this word from God is enough.

Joel Beeke provides a short meditation on this theme in piece reproduced from Table Talk magazine.

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, KJV).

It is noon, and Jesus has been on the cross for three pain-filled hours. Suddenly, darkness falls on Calvary and “over all the land” (v. 45). By a miraculous act of Almighty God, midday becomes midnight.
This supernatural darkness is a symbol of God’s judgment on sin. The physical darkness signals a deeper and more fearsome darkness.
The great High Priest enters Golgotha’s Holy of Holies without friends or enemies. The Son of God is alone on the cross for three final hours, enduring what defies our imagination. Experiencing the full brunt of His Father’s wrath, Jesus cannot stay silent. He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
This phrase represents the nadir, the lowest point, of Jesus’ sufferings. Here Jesus descends into the essence of hell, the most extreme suffering ever experienced. It is a time so compacted, so infinite, so horrendous as to be incomprehensible and, seemingly, unsustainable.
Jesus’ cry does not in any way diminish His deity. Jesus does not cease being God before, during, or after this. Jesus’ cry does not divide His human nature from His divine person or destroy the Trinity. Nor does it detach Him from the Holy Spirit. The Son lacks the comforts of the Spirit, but He does not lose the holiness of the Spirit. And finally, it does not cause Him to disavow His mission. Both the Father and Son knew from all eternity that Jesus would become the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (Acts 15:18). It is unthinkable that the Son of God might question what is happening or be perplexed when His Father’s loving presence departs.
Jesus is expressing the agony of unanswered supplication (Ps. 22:1–2). Unanswered, Jesus feels forgotten of God. He is also expressing the agony of unbearable stress. It is the kind of “roaring” mentioned in Psalm 22: the roar of desperate agony without rebellion. It is the hellish cry uttered when the undiluted wrath of God overwhelms the soul. It is heart-piercing, heaven-piercing, and hell-piercing. Further, Jesus is expressing the agony of unmitigated sin. All the sins of the elect, and the hell that they deserve for eternity, are laid upon Him. And Jesus is expressing the agony of unassisted solitariness. In His hour of greatest need comes a pain unlike anything the Son has ever experienced: His Father’s abandonment. When Jesus most needs encouragement, no voice cries from heaven, “This is my beloved Son.” No angel is sent to strengthen Him; no “well done, thou good and faithful servant” resounds in His ears. The women who supported Him are silent. The disciples, cowardly and terrified, have fled. Feeling disowned by all, Jesus endures the way of suffering alone, deserted, and forsaken in utter darkness. Every detail of this horrific abandonment declares the heinous character of our sins!
But why would God bruise His own Son (Isa. 53:10)? The Father is not capricious, malicious, or being merely didactic. The real purpose is penal; it is the just punishment for the sin of Christ’s people. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Christ was made sin for us, dear believers. Among all the mysteries of salvation, this little word “for” exceeds all. This small word illuminates our darkness and unites Jesus Christ with sinners. Christ was acting on behalf of His people as their representative and for their benefit.
With Jesus as our substitute, God’s wrath is satisfied and God can justify those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). Christ’s penal suffering, therefore, is vicarious — He suffered on our behalf. He did not simply share our forsakenness, but He saved us from it. He endured it for us, not with us. You are immune to condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and to God’s anathema (Gal. 3:13) because Christ bore it for you in that outer darkness. Golgotha secured our immunity, not mere sympathy.
This explains the hours of darkness and the roar of dereliction. God’s people experience just a taste of this when they are brought by the Holy Spirit before the Judge of heaven and earth, only to experience that they are not consumed for Christ’s sake. They come out of darkness, confessing, “Because Immanuel has descended into the lowest hell for us, God is with us in the darkness, under the darkness, through the darkness — and we are not consumed!”
How stupendous is the love of God! Indeed, our hearts so overflow with love that we respond, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).