Easter weekend is fast approaching, and as we make plans for the weekend, I consider the events behind the holiday.
For us it is not about bunnies and eggs and chocolate; albeit, I don’t mind indulging just a little. It is about a love so amazing, so self-sacrificing, that its depths cannot be fully comprehended. About a King who left His throne, humbled Himself to be as His creation, gave Himself willingly to be crucified as payment for the sins of a people who did not love Him, was forsaken by His Father, was buried but conquered the grave and rose up to live again, now seated at the right hand of the Father. A living Saviour. Wow. As I write this, I marvel at this love, praising Him for all He is and all He has done.
The newer hymn, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”, is such a beautiful picture of this love, that I scarcely can hear it without tears springing to my eyes.
The song writer, Stuart Townend, tells the story behind this hymn:
“…I’d been meditating on the cross, and in particular what it cost the Father to give up his beloved Son to a torturous death on a cross. And what was my part in it? Not only was it my sin that put him there, but if I’d lived at that time, it would probably have been me in that crowd, shouting with everyone else ‘crucify him’. It just makes his sacrifice all the more personal, all the more amazing, and all the more humbling.”
I, too, think about my part in this. Even having partaken in the wonders of salvation I, like Peter (Matthew 26), have disassociated myself from Him by my silence in the past. How grievous. Jesus made that ultimate sacrifice for me, personally. It just may be the cause of my tears–my shame, my thankfulness for His abundant grace, and my desire to be faithful.
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Stuart Townend Copyright © 1995 Thankyou Music
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7,8)
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Beloved Son for the wretch. The Lovely for the unlovely. The Perfect for the imperfect. Creator for the creation. Worthy for the unworthy. The Righteous for the unrighteous. What grace. What love. For me. For you.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Matthew 27:46)
The physical agony would have been unfathomable, but separation from the Father, that must have been more so. The Father, loving the Son, yet sanctioning the events of the crucifixion, knowing this sacrifice for sin was necessary to redeem the lost. One dear Son for many.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
“He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5)
“…who [Jesus], when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:23-25)
I had a part in this. My sin. My rejection. My redemption.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)
His mission was complete. Atonement. Redemption for a lost and broken people. His death paid the debt of sin for mankind forever. I can’t help but notice: “He gave up His spirit.” Only He is able to dismiss His spirit in such a way. Fully accomplished. Freely given at the Father’s appointed time.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galations 6:14)
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1,4-10)
His life. His work. His grace. His Love. Not mine. “Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done; Not because of what I’ve done, but because of Who You are…” (Casting Crowns, “Who Am I”)
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.'” ( John 11:25-27)
Why, indeed? Love beyond measure.
I have “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend from iTunes. You can listen to WorshipMob’s cover here:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31,32,35,37-39)