The Ransom

Today is Wednesday, February 21, 2018. Day 21,895.

17 days until Glen Rose.

Mary Chapin Carpenter, born on this date in 1958, said, “When I think of the artists I admire and seek out musically. It’s because I’m curious about where they’re going to go the next time they have a chance to put a record out. It’s not about where I find them on the radio dial, or how many records they’re selling.”

The word for today is epigrammatic, an adjective which means, “terse and ingenious in expression; of or like an epigram.”

It’s raining and cold here, this morning. 34 degrees, which is not, of course, unseasonably cold for this area. But it’s supposed to rain at least through Friday. At least it’s not below freezing.

That’s all I’ve got today, so on to the important stuff.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! 
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43

There is no heading for this one, but the fact that it ends the same way as Psalm 42 makes me think it’s another “Sons of Korah” Psalm. I love to pray verse 3. “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!”

(From Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, John Piper)
8: To Become A Ransom for Many

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

John Piper begins by clearing up any myth that a ransom had to be paid to Satan to free sinners. The Bible knows nothing of this idea. When Christ died on the cross, Satan was not paid, he was defeated. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”

The focus isn’t so much on who gets the payment as it is on that the payment was the life of Christ, and that he was free to serve rather than being served.

Who received the ransom, if that is even an issue? We believe that the Bible makes it clear that God, the Father, received the ransom.

Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2
. . . how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Hebrews 9:14

The very reason that this “ransom” was needed was that we had sinned against God, and were accountable to God. When Christ paid this ransom, we became free from any condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

The price of this ransom was, of course, the life of Christ, his life lived and then given up, not taken forcefully or coerced. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.”

Father, how can I adequately thank you that this ransom was paid by Jesus Christ? By lifting up the cup of salvation and thanksgiving to you. There is no other way. I cannot give enough gratitude. I can simply live in this life, walking in your kingdom. By your Spirit, help me to stay on the path. Send out your light and your truth, and by your Word be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.



Today is Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Day 21,894.

18 days until Glen Rose.

Anthony Stewart Head, born on this date in 1954, said, “I have a very open mind. I believe that there’s a spirit world. I believe that there’s a lot of stuff out there that we don’t know about, don’t want to understand, and sometimes we don’t want to understand it.”

The word for today, from, is thewless, an adjective which means, “lacking in mental or moral vigor; weak, spiritless, or timid.”

Band practice was fun, last night. Good fellowship with fellow trombonists, and a pretty good rehearsal, as well. Our concert is slated for Monday evening, March 5, at Whites Chapel UMC in Southlake. There should be a flyer soon, and I will post it.

C continues to feel better, and we may actually go to the Y tonight, after work!

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 
and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 
I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 
As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 42

A very popular Psalm, 42 was not written by David. I have felt the pathos of this one many times. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” It’s a good thing, I believe, when you recognize that thirst. The writers lament their soul’s condition, but end up on a positive note. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
The Summons of Lent

“It is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend. Now what was the sort of ‘hole’ man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor – that is the only way out of a ‘hole.’ This process of surrender – this movement full speed astern – is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person – and he would not need it.” (From Mere Christianity)

What a quandary, indeed. I need something that I cannot do for myself. This leads to my favorite definition of grace. Grace is God doing in/for us what we cannot do in/for ourselves. This does not mean that God will repent for me. What it does mean is that God will enable me, a “bad” person, to repent, something only a “good” person can do. The way he enables me is through the indwelling Holy Spirit, which I have because of the sacrifice of Christ.

Father, I confess that repentance is hard. No, that’s wrong. Repentance is impossible. Without your help, without the sacrifice of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit, repentance is impossible. Even with all of those present, it is still difficult, because I am still imperfect. Yes, the life of Christ reforms me, makes me whole. But I still carry this treasure around in an old “jar of clay,” my flesh. And my flesh would ever lead me in a different direction. Help me, Father! I do believe! Help my unbelief! Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

Infinite Beauty

Today is Monday, February 19, 2018. Day 21,893.

19 days until Glen Rose.

Smokey Robinson, born on this date in 1940, said, “Had I not come out with an inspirational CD, you perhaps would have never known that I feel like I feel, that all songs, all the music I’ve ever done is a gift from God.”

The word for today, from, is bossdom, a noun which means, “the status, influence, or power of a boss, especially a political boss.” I wonder why “kingdom” isn’t included in that definition, as the word is obviously a mashup between “boss” and “kingdom.”

Monday morning, and things are closer to normal around here than they’ve been in a while. C is feeling better. Still coughing a lot, but feeling better. I’ll be going back to band practice tonight. Our next concert is officially scheduled for March 5, which is only two weeks away, if I’m calculating correctly.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; 
the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. 
The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. 
As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” 
My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?” 
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad. 
All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me. 
They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.” 
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. 
But you, O LORD, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them! 
By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. 
But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

Psalm 42

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor!” We might all do well to remember that one.

(From Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, John Piper)
5: To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for 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 Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
Ephesians 1:7

“The measure of God’s love for us is shown by two things. One is the degree of his sacrifice in saving us from the penalty of our sin. The other is the degree of unworthiness that we had when he saved us.”

One only has to consider the crucifixion for a moment to see the degree of the sacrifice. Christ, the Messiah, the anointed One, suffered through what was probably one of the most horrific execution methods ever invented by man. If this doesn’t show great love, I don’t know what does.

But this becomes even greater when we seriously consider the state of our unworthiness. What we deserved was “divine punishment, not divine sacrifice.”

Ephesians 1:7, above, gives the only explanation. It was “the riches of his grace.” It was not, as some mistakenly say, “a response to our worth.” In fact, it is from “the overflow of his infinite worth.” It is out of love, and “a passion to enthrall undeserving sinners, at great cost, with what will make us supremely happy forever, namely, his infinite beauty.”

Father, forgive me for the times when I continue to gaze at that infinite beauty and then chase off after something of infinitely less worth. Enthrall me, my God wit your infinite beauty. Help me to celebrate that grace so rich, that love so bountiful.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Letters From God

Today is Sunday, February 18, 2018. Day 21,892.

20 days until Glen Rose.

Luis Bunuel (not his birthday), said, “Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.”

The word for today, from, is glissade, a noun which means, “a skillful glide over snow or ice in descending a mountain, as on skis or a toboggan.”

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. 
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. 
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 
For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. 
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 
Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” 
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” 
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

Psalm 40:9-17

When we do not restrain our lips, when we do not conceal the steadfast love of God within our hearts, we can be confident that he will not restrain his mercy upon us; his “steadfast love and . . . faithfulness” will preserve us!

Seek and read from the book of the LORD: Not one of these shall be missing; none shall be without her mate. For the mouth of the LORD has commanded, and his Spirit has gathered them.
Isaiah 34:16
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.
John 5:39
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16

I’m sure this sounds really “cheesy,” but I am reminded today that the Scriptures are truly “love letters from God.” While there are some pretty awful things that happen in the pages of the Bible, the over-all thrust of it, the central message of the whole volume, is the love of God set forth in Christ Jesus. I have loved reading the Bible since I was a small child. To this day, my love for Scripture has not faded, although I confess I do not read them nearly enough. I have read the whole thing, from cover to cover, more than a dozen times in my life. That may sound like a boast, but it’s really not. You see, I still don’t know it nearly enough.

I will take to hear the command from Isaiah to “see and read from the book of the LORD,” because, in the words of Jesus, “it is they that bear witness about me.”

Father, restore in me the great love of your Word. I never have really stopped loving it, but my reading of it is not what it used to be. When I sit down to read your Word, heighten my senses that I might glean everything there is to glean from the pages. May your Holy Spirit give me supernatural understanding when I read. May they be life and joy to me as they bear witness of your love for us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“I hope you see the faithfulness of God in everything He has made. I hope you learn to trust that all of this is His care sworn to you. But mostly, I hope you know Jesus through whom God has wildly and ferociously loved us. I hope you know and that you become sacramental to your neighbor who God also loves passionately. I hope you leave them little doubt about His love and the victory Jesus won over hate and death.”—Rich Mullins

Grace and peace, friends.

I Waited Patiently . . . Or Did I?

Today is Saturday, February 17, 2018. Day 21.891.

21 days until our Glen Rose weekend.

Ed Sheeran, born on this date in 1991, said, “But once you’ve made a song and you put it out there, you don’t own it anymore. The public own it. It’s their song. It might be their song that they wake up to, or their song they have a shower to, or their song that they drive home to or their song they cry to, scream to, have babies to, have weddings to – like, it isn’t your song anymore.”

The word for today, from, is objurgate, a verb which means, “to reproach or denounce vehemently; upbraid harshly; berate sharply.” I’ve never heard that word before, but I like it. Objurgate. Yeah.

I think C is gradually feeling better. And she’s done her usual research. It typically takes people a few weeks to completely recover from this stuff.

Not much on the agenda today. We need to get a tire, and pick up our Kroger Click List order. That’s about it, I think.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! 
You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. 
In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 
Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:1-8

I believe the key phrase, here, is “waited patiently.” As we move headlong into the future, we are less patient. People have been commenting about the “instant” nature of our society since I was in college. It has only gotten worse. With technology, I can have a book to read, a song to listen to, or a movie to watch instantly. No waiting. Even our TV providers have this thing called “On Demand.” We can watch pretty much anything we want anytime we want to. I can watch anything on DirecTV or Netflix from any device that I have.

It only stands to reason that we should expect the same from God, right?

“I prayed and he didn’t answer!”
“How long did you give him?”
“A whole day!!”

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2 Peter 3:8

Wait, what?

Yeah. A thousand years. Beloved, God’s timing is not our own. He hears our prayers, and he will answer. We may not get quite the answer that we want, as fast as we want it, but we will get an answer, in his time. Wait patiently.

(From Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, John Piper)
4: To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

John Piper makes note of the fact that this passage explicitly states that God brought Jesus back from the dead by the blood. So the death of Christ did not simply come before the resurrection, “it was the price that obtained it.”

When the Bible speaks of “the blood” of Jesus, it refers to the death of Jesus. “No salvation would be accomplished by the mere bleeding of Jesus. His bleeding to death is what makes his blood-shedding crucial.”

And in this passage, we see that Jesus “was raised not just after the blood-shedding, but by it. This means that what the death of Christ accomplished was so full and so perfect that the resurrection was the reward and vindication of Christ’s achievement in death.:

God’s wrath was fully satisfied in the death of Jesus (that was reason number one). “The holy curse against sin was fully absorbed.” So God gave his public endorsement of Christ’s act by raising him from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:17 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” But that doesn’t mean that the resurrection is the price paid for our sins. “The point is that the resurrection proves that the death of Jesus is an all-sufficient price. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then his death was a failure, God did not vindicate his sin-bearing achievement, and we are still in our sins.

“But in fact, ‘Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’ (Romans 6:4). The success of his suffering and death was vindicated. And if we put our trust in Christ, we are not still in our sins. For ‘by the blood of the eternal covenant,’ the Great Shepherd has been raised and lives forever.”

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Father, give me patience when it comes to prayer. Help me to wait patiently on you, not only when I’m praying, but when I’m worshiping and abiding in you. Let me never be in a hurry. May I live by the advice of Dallas Willard when he said that we need to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from our lives. Thank you for the death of Christ that absorbed your wrath that we might not have to face it. Thank you for the price he paid and the resurrection that that price bought. I look forward with all of my being to that future resurrection, the future grace that has yet to be bestowed upon us. I am eager for Home.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

That I May Not Sin With My Tongue

Today is Friday (we made it), February 16, 2018. Day 21,890.

22 days until our Glen Rose weekend.

Sonny Bono, born on this date in 1935 (died 1998), said, “People have said to me, You can’t write songs. You can’t play an instrument. But I’ve got 10 gold records.”

The word for today, from Merriam-Webster, is yuppify, a verb which means, “to make appealing to yuppies; also : to infuse with the qualities or values of yuppies.” I wasn’t aware that “yuppy” was still a thing. Isn’t “hipster” the new “yuppy?”

I think C is feeling a bit better. She was in much better spirits after work, yesterday. Apparently, there are quite a few folks who are suffering from this bout of the flu for two weeks or longer.

I have been wondering how I managed to escape getting the flu (at least so far). I had something last week, but I don’t believe it was flu because I never got fever, and it only lasted a few days. There appears to be some evidence that (you may call me crazy, but I don’t care) my daily consumption of Crazy Water (alkaline water from Mineral Wells) has helped boost my immune system and helped me fight off the flu.

Nothing on the agenda for the weekend, other than getting a new tire for C’s car. It seems that she has a bubble on her tire.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster: to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 
I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 
My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah. 
Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 
Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 
I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. 
Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. 
When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah. 
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. 
Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!” 

Psalm 39

Verse 1 is a challenge, isn’t it? Guarding my ways, “that I may not sin with my tongue.” I’m pretty sure I “sin with my tongue” multiple times a day.

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.
Jeremiah 31:25
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:1-2
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Proverbs 24:3-4

Jon Sweeney, in Daily Guidposts 2018 reminds us, today, of the need to take frequent times throughout the day to center our thoughts and pray. “I pray, and I walk, and sometimes I pray and walk at the same time.”

I find that I do a lot of that, as well. There are many times that I walk from my workstation in the warehouse to the break room, and I pray as I walk. It helps, when I remember. It breaks up the day’s stress and centers my spirit in His Spirit.

Father, I pray for two things today (at least in this prayer). Help me to guard my ways, that I might not sin with my tongue. Then remind me to pray throughout the day, to center my spirit within your Spirit, that I might be protected from the stress and anxiety of the normal day. May you reign strong in my work day today, Father.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

It Was the Will of the Lord to Crush Him

But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. (Psalm 38:15)

Today is Thursday, February 15, 2018. Day 21,889.

23 days until our next Glen Rose weekend.

Galileo Galilei, born on this date in 1564 (died 1642), said, “I give infinite thanks to God, who has been pleased to make me the first observer of marvelous things.”

The word for today, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is quadragesimal. As a noun, it means, “A Lent sermon,” “A fast lasting forty days,” “Lent offerings, esp. those made on the middle Sunday in Lent,” or, “A set of forty days.” As an adjective, it means, “Of, relating to, or appropriate for the period of Lent,” “Of a fast, esp. during Lent: lasting for forty days,” or, “Amounting to forty; (of a period of time) lasting or occurring every forty days, years, etc.”

C continues to struggle with whatever has her down. It seems that the fever, mild as it has been, may have broken last night. But she has said that if she feels no better tomorrow, she will stop by her primary doctor to get it checked out again.

Not much else going on around here, to speak of.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. 
I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes. 
But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. 
For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!” 
For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. 
I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. 
But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. 
Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. 
Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! 
Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

Psalm 38:13-22

(From Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, John Piper)

This is a short book, perfect for reading through the season of Lent, as it has fifty brief readings. Today, I’m reading reason number 2, “To Please His Heavenly Father.”

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief;
Isaiah 53:10
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2

The truth is that Jesus did not “wrestle his angry Father to the floor of heaven and take the whip out of his hand.” The birth and death of Christ was not an intrusion on “God’s plan to punish sinners.” The whole thing was the Father’s idea, planned even before creation. The Bible even speaks of God’s “purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

We can see this plan unfolding as far back as Genesis, but even more clearly in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah told us that Jesus would be “smitten by God” in our place.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6

Again, one of the most astonishing things about this is that it was God’s plan, his idea. A bit later, in the same chapter, Isaiah says, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief” (verse 10).

The New Testament account of the death of Christ is somewhat of a paradox. On the one hand, it is “an outpouring of God’s wrath because of sin. But on the other hand, Christ’s suffering is a beautiful act of submission and obedience to the will of the Father.” Even as Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), the book of Ephesians (referenced above) says that Christ’s obedience and suffering was “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

“Oh, that we might worship the terrible wonder of the love of God! It is not sentimental. It is not simple. For our sake God did the impossible: he poured out his wrath on his own Son–the one whose submission made him infinitely unworthy to receive it. Yet the Son’s very willingness to receive it was precious in God’s sight. The wrath-bearer was infinitely loved.”

Our Father in heaven, I wait for you. I wait for you because I know that you will answer me. I pray for a stronger, deeper, more intimate appreciation of the sacrifice that Jesus made to please you. I pray for an understanding of the relationship between you, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the most perfect, loving relationship ever to exist. And I pray that I might be able to demonstrate that same love to people around me. My flesh believes that to be an impossible challenge, even for you. My spirit and my soul know different. Nevertheless, during this Lenten season, may I worship you by the Son and through the Spirit. May I worship in ways that I never thought possible. May I be consumed with worship and wonder for you and all that you have accomplished for us and for your great name. May I know and understand that which is incomprehensible, “the reckless raging fury they call the love of God.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.