Read Philippians 2:5-11
Yesterday we explored two of the three ways in which Jesus voluntarily lowered Himself to humility in order to serve us.
Today, we focus on the third way, which is the lowest and most extreme expression of love. The progression moves from heaven, to earth, and finally to a bloody death on the cross.
He became obedient to the point of death on a cross. The wording here shows the extreme nature of the death—to the point of death. Not an ordinary death, but a death on the cross.
F.F. Bruce, a masterful Christian historian, states, “In polite Roman society the word ‘cross’ was an obscenity, not to be uttered in conversation.”
The cross was an object of scorn and ridicule for both Jews and Gentiles. For the Jew, it was a sign of being under God’s curse. Only those who are cursed were hanged on a cross. To the Gentile, the cross was a filthy place for criminals and those who sought to commit treason against Rome.
One of the reasons why the gospel is such good news is because of what Christ truly accomplished on the cross. He experienced the full cup of God’s wrath that was directed toward us as rebellious sinners.
Read Matthew 26:39
Jesus was willing to be obedient to the cup. To surrender His will to God’s will.
What was the cup to which Jesus was referring? What cup would He have to drink until it was empty?
In the Scriptures, the cup often times refers to God’s wrath against sinners.
Read Jeremiah 25:15
In Revelation 14:9-10, we find that God will pour out the fury of the cup of His wrath on unbelievers and they will be made to drink all of it. This is the reality of an eternal hell.
While on the cross, Jesus drank fully to the last drop God’s wrath that was aimed at sinners like us. He died as our Substitute.
Jerry Bridges in his book “The Gospel for Real Life” says it like this: “Jesus exhausted the wrath of God. It was not merely deflected and prevented from reaching us; it was exhausted. Jesus bore the full, unmitigated brunt of it. God’s wrath against sin was unleashed in all its fury on His beloved Son. He held nothing back.”
That is great news. When we come to Christ in faith alone and trust in His grace to save us, our sins are totally wiped out and we bear them no more. Jesus took the full punishment of God’s wrath in our place.
This hymn has reached its lowest point of humiliation. Jesus hanging on a cruel cross, bloodied and beaten suffering the wrath of the Father by becoming our sin bearer. The glorious Christ has left heaven, come to earth as a man, identified with us in every way but was without sin, and then became obedient to death on the cross.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote this, “There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross.”
John Stott, wrote this: “Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”
Spend some time right now praising Jesus for bearing Your wrath and shame at the cross. Meditate upon the hymn we sing in church “How Deep” and let this be your prayer to Jesus.
You were broken that I might be healed
You were cast off that I might draw near
You were thirsty that I might come drink
Cried out in anguish that I might sing
How deep is Your love
How high and how wide is Your mercy
How deep is Your grace
Our hearts overflow with praise
You knew darkness that I might know light
Wept great tears that mine might be dried
Stripped of glory that I might be clothed
Crushed by Your Father to call me Your own