Fix your eyes on Jesus, the eyes of your heart. As you do, you must remember His cross, the shame, and all that He endured. (Hebrews 12:2-4). Focusing on the cross for a season can be beautiful, when you remember that Jesus chose this, for us. He is the Victor, and He accomplished great things through His Cross. We never fear having to face death because of what His death accomplished.
Romans 6:5ff For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Union with Christ–in His death; the word of the Cross comes to us, and as we have received faith, so He also brings us into this union. He atoned for our sins, and we receive His reward! His righteousness.
We are united to Him, but this does not depend on my own works of righteousness, my own grasp. No–I take refuge in Him, but it is He who holds me firm and says none can snatch me out of His firm grip, His loving hand. In Union with Christ we receive the promised Spirit, and we are alive together with Him!
“The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:18
“And as by faith you look along the cross of Christ to Your Father’s throne, doubt not but there is coming forth unto you abundantly the Spirit of the Son, whereby we cry Abba, Father.”Hugh Martin, Christ For Us, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998); 51.
A season of looking along the cross is good for the soul–though this is not meant to become a season of forgetting the power of the resurrection. God would not be pleased if we attempted to spend a season in the wilderness, pretending the death of Christ happened and that we are stuck there–hopeless, forlorn. The grace in which we stand does not allow us to practice such asceticism (Colossians 2:8-23).
Be Intentional. Seek, Knock, Rekindle your First Love.
Yet, Jesus’ disciples will be intentional, disciplined, seeking Him and listening to His Word, abiding in His Word, fasting and praying and lamenting and rejoicing. Our old man was crucified, so we put off the old man, we put to death the deeds of the flesh as we are led by the Spirit, but we do not forget the resurrection power in which we walk, stand, live.
Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch and pray with Him in the garden. They couldn’t, they slept. We too are utterly dependant on Christ’s work, His work alone.
2 Corinthians 4:10-11 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
We add nothing to the cross. In the Lord’s Supper we remember it, but we dare not extend and alter the commemoration He instituted. His work is finished, and is sufficient, once for all. We ponder it, muse upon it, boast in it, and we find strength and renewal and vitality therein. And we follow Him, in life, in the newness of life, having been raised with Him! To help focus as you prepare your heart for Easter, I list a few books I’ve enjoyed.
Some Recommended Reading:
The Cross of Christ, John Stott. I return to portions of this book every year as Easter approaches. I am forever indebted to my pastor for recommending this gem of a book.
Christ in the Passover, Ciel and Moishe Rosen. From the book’s description: Enter the celebration of Passover, rich with history and significance for both Jew and Gentile. God wasn’t finished working in the lives of His people after the waters of the Red Sea parted. Both past and future deliverance are celebrated in this solemn and joyful feast. Through Christ in the Passover, you’ll trace God’s involvement through the history of this holy day—from the first Passover all the way to the modern Seder. And in the revised edition of this inviting book, Ciel and Moishe Rosen show you how the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah are forever interwoven with the Passover and its symbolism.
Lessons From the Upper Room, by Sinclair Ferguson. This was my choice a couple years back, preparing my heart to celebrate Easter. What a beautiful book, or series of lectures, it brought much rejoicing to my heart. If you have Hoopla through your local public library, it may be available to listen to as an audiobook (this was how I enjoyed it).
The Whole Christ, by Sinclair Ferguson. This was my choice last year. How do we combat legalism and antinomianism as we grow in our understanding? His grace! Grace alone, Christ alone. Knowing Him. So refreshing. And on sale right now here: https://www.wtsbooks.com/collections/clearance-menu/products/the-whole-christ-9781433548000?variant=9841365450799
The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance, by Leon Morris. A necessary book, to dispel current trends that teach Jesus came to “heal” my hurts, but downplay the need for Him to die in my place for my sin. The Bible uses a host of terms concerning the fulness of God’s work: covenant, sacrifice, the Day of Atonement, Passover, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, justification. In this book Leon Morris explains each of these words, leading to fuller understanding, and joyful doxology in the hearts of us readers.
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by John Owen. A masterful book, looking at why Christ came, what His death accomplished, and how that is applied to you. This is a great book for any who are ready to think through their faith, and want to relish what is the true gospel, and appreciate more fully what Christ’s atonement accomplished for us, for His kingdom.
Christ For Us, Sermons of Hugh Martin. My choice this year, a re-read that is both encouraging, and will help grow you in grace and knowledge as you ponder the Word being preached.