28 March 2013

Extreme measures, dire situation

by Dan Phillips

(Excerpted from The World-Tilting Gospel, 77-79)

Our eyes open on an operating room.

We've never seen such a scene. Impossibly complicated machines are busily engaged. We see blinking, flashing, pulsing; we hear beeping, buzzing, throbbing. A dozen measurements display on a dozen monitors. Tubes, wires, even arcing electricity fill the room.

One full complement of antiseptically garbed professionals rushes about, working intently on a patient in the center of the surgical theater. Instruments flash, experts lean in, all attention is riveted on this figure and the controlling machinery surrounding him. Off to their right stands another complete team, uniformed and equipped, waiting for their cue to dive in and begin their specialized assignment. On the other side, to the left, another squad reclines on cots, resting.

A clock on the wall reads Time elapsed, and gives a figure of eighteen hours, forty-seven minutes, nineteen seconds . . . twenty . . . twenty-one . . .

And we gasp, Good heavens, what a desperate ruin this poor soul must be, that such a massive-scale operation was necessary!

Blink. Our eyes open again on a garden.

It is nighttime. Before us, we immediately recognize the figure of Jesus Christ—but we are seeing Him as no one has ever seen Him. This man who has stared down thousands of hell’s foulest demons without blinking, who has shut up storms with a curt word of command, who has reduced the human powers to babbling, loose-bowelled nonsense—is falling down in horror, and He is pleading with His Father.

Listen. What does He ask?

“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).

The Father has never through all eternity denied a request of the Son. Surely He will grant this! Yet Christ pleads it once . . . twice . . . three times. There is no answer. The Father says nothing.

Another first—and an alarming one.

An angel appears. We hear no words. But the Son rises. He squares His shoulders. He goes forth, meets a jittery and heavily armed crowd. He allows Himself to be arrested.

Too horrified to look away, we watch from afar as He is led off, as He is subjected to atrocious and repellent mockeries of justice; as He is beaten, whipped to a ragged walking corpse; as He is mocked,
condemned, and sent off carrying a cross.

To that cross He is nailed. On that cross He bleeds. He groans under glowering, angry, darkened skies. Our gut clenches and we gasp to hear Him cry out in prayer once again, this time to the silent heavens, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He lets out a loud cry . . .

And He—the resurrection and the life; the way, the truth, the life; the bread of life—dies.

Nauseated with horror, through numb lips we murmur, “Dear God, why? What a desperate ruin must we be, that such a massive-scale operation was necessary!”

For, you see, the Bible is clear that the miserable, lonely death of the Son of God was absolutely necessary for the recovery and redemption of men and women. If such extreme measures were an absolute necessity—and they were—then the ruin from which we needed to be rescued must have been far worse, and far more comprehensive, than many imagine. As we are about to see, the cross of Christ underscores the truth of what we just learned about man, and our need for what we are about to learn...

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Anonymous said...


So long as we fail to realize how BAD sin is, we fail to recognize how necessary Calvary was!

Dave said...

Solid. Thanks, pastor.

Anonymous said...

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"

This verse disturbed me greatly the first time I read it and it still does. I always wondered what Jesus must have been going through in those last moments. I always thought Jesus was completely confident and cool about his fate. In my youth group we always used Luke as the gospel narrative. But then in Mark Jesus seems to be in complete agony. His suffering isn't abated in any way by knowing what will happen. That verse seems to be one of complete anguish, and not a weak rhetorical question.