The Sabbath school Quarterly my husband and I are studying is very interesting because the focus is on God. It’s called Glimpses of God. There are so many facets of the One we worship. We are blessed to catch these glimpses of who He is and what He is like.
In last week’s lesson we examined God’s role as Redeemer. There were some points that stood out for me which I will outline here.
In the account of Abraham offering up Isaac as a sacrifice in Genesis 22:1-9, we get a glimpse of the sacrifice Christ would make for humanity. Isaac, the son of promise carried the wood while the father carried the instruments he would use for the sacrifice–the knife and the fire. The lesson pointed out that as a young man, Isaac could have easily overpowered his father but the miraculous thing was not only was the father willing to give up his son but the son was willing to give up his life.
Hundreds of years later, another Father would offer His Son. The Son would willingly give His life as a ransom for many but this time, no ram would be caught in the bushes and die in place of this Son. This Son was to be the sacrificial Lamb–the Lamb who came to take away the sins of the world. What happened on Mount Moriah was just a glimpse of the plan of salvation and the high cost God, our Father had to pay for our sakes.
The cry of Jesus on the cross recorded in Matthew 27:46 should give us an idea of what it cost Him to save us from sin. Ellen G. White comments: “And now the Lord of Glory was dying. He was a ransom for all human sinners….Upon Christ as our Substitute was laid the sins of us all. He was counted a law-breaker that He might save us from the punishment of the law….The Savior could not see if His death was good enough to be accepted by God as a sacrifice of sin….He feared that sin was so terrible to God that Their separation was to be eternal….Sin brought the Father’s punishment upon Jesus as our Substitute. It was this sense of sin that made the cup Jesus drank so bitter and broke the heart of the Son of God” (The Desire of Ages, pages 752, 753).
It’s interesting to note that when Jesus cried out to God on the cross in Matthew 27:46, He called Him “My God” instead of “Father” as He always did when He prayed. This is because He represented sin. Hebrews 5:7 tells us that Jesus “who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear…”
The cry on the cross was the most painful cries Jesus ever made. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark testified that Jesus cried out in a loud voice. People thought He was calling for Elijah and waited to see if the prophet would come and take Him down. They didn’t understand that if Jesus hadn’t died for us–if He hadn’t stayed on that cross–if He hadn’t the sins of the world placed upon Him, we would have paid the wages of sin which is eternal death–eternal separation from God.
We cannot and should never belittle the value of the cross. We must always be humbled by the love of God who sacrificed His beloved Son for our sake. Unlike Abraham, He didn’t provide a lamb to take Jesus’ place. Jesus was the Lamb. There was no substitute for Him. He was the Substitute–for us.
I will never forget the first reading I had to do at church before the congregation for Sabbath School. These verses are from Romans 5:7-11 and will remain with me forever. They testify of God’s nature and the great lengths He would go to demonstrate His love for us. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 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. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” While Abraham was going to sacrifice his son for God, God sacrificed His Son for us while we were still sinners–enemies. We were undeserving of such a sacrifice. What manner of love is this!
For this reason alone, God deserves our worship–the kind that He desires. “Our worship is not just a matter of saying the right words or using the right form. We must be sincere. It must be the true expression of our hearts” (What is Worship, p.20, Discover Series). What God has done through Jesus on the cross is so profound and amazing that we should offer praises and thanksgiving every day and proclaim it. We were bought at a great price. Let us always remember this and be humbled by it.