Aian Ferguson is, as we would say in Cork, 'a sound man.' He is both sound in his warm disposition and sound in his good theology. He is a friend and a Methodist Minister (he was even was President of the denomination for a year). I asked him to write a reflection on the cross, and he sent me a sermon (on Isaiah 53) to take from. This is the third point.
The motivation of Jesus Christ’s Suffering as our substitute is uniquely revealed in verse 10: Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer. The death of the Servant was not the fruit of human initiative and design; it was God’s plan, God’s purpose, God’s will.
In the same month that Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ was released in 2004, Newsweek magazine filled its front cover with a close-up of actor Jim Caviezel as the bloodied and battered Christ, plus the blaring headline, 'Who really killed Jesus?' Isaiah gives us the answer: God did!
God the Father was ultimately responsible for the death of His Son. God has told us, 'I purposefully determined to crush My Son with my wrath, in love for your sins as your substitute.' Why God? 'Because I love you,' is the answer. When you are tempted to doubt God’s love for you, stand before the cross and look at the wounded, disfigured, crucified Saviour and realise why He was there.
God would whisper to us: 'Isn’t that sufficient? I have not spared my own son. I deformed, disfigured and crushed Him for YOU. What more could I do to persuade you that I love YOU? The Cross of Jesus Christ is HOW far God’s love goes for YOU and ME.
Listen to Scottish theologian Sinclair Ferguson on the staggering implications of the crucifixion: 'When we think of Christ dying on the cross we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to Himself. We should almost think that God loved us more than He loves His son. We cannot measure His love by any other standard. He is saying to us, “I love you this much.” The cross is the heart of the gospel; it makes the gospel good news. Christ died for us; He has stood in our place before God’s judgement seat; He has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross which we could never do for ourselves. But God does something to us as well as for us through the cross. He persuades us that He loves us.'
Are YOU persuaded? If not … What more could Almighty God possibly do to persuade you that He loves you? If you recognize your need to become more overwhelmed by God’s love as revealed in the gospel, I implore you to keep reflecting near and at the cross. I long for us people called Methodists to have a new and real passion for this gospel - Christ died for our sins. May we never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Townend and Getty got it right when they wrote and would have us sing:
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
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.