donderdag 18 juli 2013

The Glory of the Cross 2

The Atonement in the Synoptic Gospels
Approximately 20 percent of the Gospel of Mark is devoted to the gospel of Christ’s passion. If, however, we include the journey to Jerusalem, which was in anticipation of His approaching suffering, we arrive at approximately 56 percent. It is obvious that the cross is central in the Gospel of Mark, as well as in the other Gospels. What is the reason for this? The background of Christ’s death on the cross is man’s bondage to sin. Man can contribute nothing to the redemption of his soul. Jesus, as the Son of Man, surrendered Himself vicariously to death. His suffering and dying must be viewed within the context of the eschatological and messianic tribulation that will precede the full deployment of the coming of God’s kingdom, but His suffering is, however, unique. His substitution is exclusive. He has emptied the cup of God’s wrath. No one was capable of doing that. By way of the ransom that Christ paid, many will be delivered from the wrath of God and all its consequences.
The tribulation referred to in Mark 13, as well as in Matthew 24 and 25, must first of all be viewed in connection to the eve of the Passover. The “abomination of desolation” refers to the dying on the cross of the Son of God. The coming of the Son of God that follows refers in the first place to His ascension. This does not mean that the description of the great tribulation will not be fulfilled beyond that; we must think here also of the fall of Jerusalem and ultimately the perishing of the world itself.
The death of Christ must be viewed as the inauguration of the new exodus. From that moment forward, the ransomed of Zion will return. Just as the Passover meal preceded the first exodus, such is also the case with the second exodus. As the messianic Shepherd, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. There He set a process in motion that would lead to the cross. As the Passover Lamb and the messianic Shepherd, Christ’s death on the cross resulted in deliverance from the wrath of God and yielded forgiveness.
Christ died for others. The gospels give us a portrait of who some of these others are: Levi, who was called away from the receipt of custom; Bartimaeus, who cried out to Jesus as the Son of David, asking Him to have mercy upon him; Mary Magdalene, who was delivered from seven devils; and the thief on the cross.

The Atonement in the Gospel of John

By using the word lamb in the well-known passage from the Gospel of John “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29), a reference was made to the lamb that was sacrificed daily in the temple as well as to the paschal lamb. As atonement for guilt was made by the sacrificial lamb in the temple, such is true in the fullest sense of the word for Christ as the Lamb of God. As the Passover Lamb, He submitted Himself to the wrath of God that should have been poured out upon His people. John 1:29 is also an indirect reference to Isaiah 53, where we read of the Servant of the Lord being led as a lamb to the slaughter. A connection is already established between the work of this Servant on the one hand, and the function of the lamb as a daily sacrifice and as the Passover lamb on the other hand.
In connection with this, it is noteworthy that, in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, a relationship is established between the glory of the LORD Himself in Isaiah 6 and that of His Servant in Isaiah 52:12. In both Scripture passages, we encounter the words exalted and extolled. Isaiah 6 establishes a relationship between the high and exalted throne of the LORD and His kābôd, that is, His glory. The Septuagint generally translates the word kābôd with doxa. This is also true for the word hādār, which is used in Isaiah 53:2 to refer to the Servant of the LORD. The relationship between Isaiah 6 and 53 is defined even more closely than in the Hebrew text: it is the glory of the LORD Himself that is unveiled in the conduct of His Servant.
Our eyes need to be opened spiritually in order to understand the glory and the conduct of the LORD’s servant; such an understanding is of great importance in order to grasp the message of John’s gospel. When John begins his Gospel by saying, “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), he wishes to indicate that he had grasped the glory of the crucified Christ.

The instruction John gives us in his Gospel is that Jesus, the exact fulfillment of the sacrificial and Passover lamb, died as the Good Shepherd for His sheep (cf. John 10). He became their Substitute because, according to John 13:1, He loved them to the end. The Greek expression εἰς τέλος in this text encompasses both ideas. The complete love of Christ for His own was demonstrated in His death on the cross. Therefore, we can speak of Christ’s death as Him being glorified — a death that may, however, never be divorced from the exaltation that followed. A true theology of glory will be a theology of the cross. Using words given to John in his Revelation, a Christian glories in Christ as “a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:7).