At What Cost?

Most of us who have put our faith and trust in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ have at least some idea of the tremendous cost of our salvation. What is given freely to us cost the giver – God – an incredible price. Numerous sermons have been preached, and many scholarly papers have been written about the horrendous death Jesus Christ died. While His physical suffering is important for us to understand, I believe it is the tip of the salvation-cost ice-berg. I am going to talk briefly about His physical suffering, and then I want to examine in more depth what I believe to be the greater costs.

By the time our Lord Jesus walked the earth, the Romans had raised the art of torture and painful execution to a totally different level. Their scourgings were intended to torture and humiliate their prisoners beyond belief. Their professional floggers knew exactly how much punishment a person could take without killing them outright, and that is how far they went. Our Lord Jesus was scourged until the whole back half of His body was a shredded, blood mess. Imagine being flogged naked for an hour with barbed-wire strands by several pros, while stretched on a flogging-post.

Then He was paraded through the streets of Jerusalem, bleeding and half-dead, to a public place on a hill where they carried out their crucifixions. By the time they got Him there, He was so weak that they had to drag Him. He couldn’t even carry His own cross-bar, so they pressed someone else into service for that.

The crucifixion itself was the most cruel punishment that had ever been devised. Those who were being executed were once again stripped naked. They wouldn’t be needing their clothes again anyway, and that was further humiliation. He was thrown on top of His cross, and His wrists and feet were nailed to it with crude iron spikes. Once the cross was raised vertically, His whole weight was supports by just three points. He hung there, between Heaven and earth, until He died of dehydration, blood-loss, suffocation and fatigue. While He suffered horribly, His suffering otherwise is what we will deal with next. Jesus wasn’t alone in suffering that horrible death that day. Two criminals were also crucified, one on each side of Him.

Do we really understand WHY our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on that cross? Maybe I should put that question another way. Do we really understand the penalty for sin? The Bible says: “For the WAGES of SIN is DEATH…” (Romans 6:23) Death…yes, physical death, but more importantly, spiritual death. Spiritual death means separation from God, separation from all that is good, and union with all that is evil…for ALL ETERNITY.

One friend told me that he was going to be partying in Hell while I sat on my cloud and played my harp. If those are his ideas of Heaven and Hell, he is sadly mistaken. Perhaps a better picture of hell is getting dropped in an inescapable prison yard, full of inmates, each with a Roman flogger, endlessly whipping each other and you…for all eternity. No love…only hate, no compassion…only disdain, no good…only EVIL. Oh, there WILL be people partying, but in Heaven, not in Hell. I can imagine that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be a party to end parties. Imagine Golden Corral, only infinitely better, hosted and provided by the God of all creation.

Part of the penalty for sin is His curse upon us. God’s favor is portrayed as the light of His countenance shining upon us, so His curse, which is the opposite of His favor, is God’s “turning out the light” of His countenance upon us. Jesus Christ had NEVER been separated from His Father for so much as a nano-second in all eternity. The light of His Father’s countenance shone upon Him during His whole earthly journey, until He died on that cross. Jesus, Who was sinless, took upon Himself OUR sin, and when He died on that cross, He died for us as we should have died. Jesus experienced the totality of God’s wrath and curse…God “turned out the lights”, both physically and spiritually. God turned His back on His OWN Son. God was silent…absent, until He thundered from heaven, rolled the stone away, and breathed fresh life into His only begotten Son…our Savior.

There are a couple of wonderful songs that capture this in a way I could never describe it. I will have a couple more comments after them.
*******************************************************************************
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

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
(Stuart Townend)
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Ten Thousand Angels Cried
Stillness filled the heavens, on crucifixion day.
Some say it rained, I don’t know if it’s true.
Well, I can just imagine ten thousand angels cried
That would seem like rain to me and you.

The angels all stood ready to take Him from the tree
They waited for the words from His voice.
And when He asked the Father “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?
They watched the Saviour die of His own choice.

I’ve never seen ten thousand angels cry
But I’m sure they did
As they stood by
And watched the Saviour die.

God turned his head away
He couldn’t bear the sight
It must have looked like rain
When ten thousand angels cried.

As the sun slipped away
The skies turned to grey
And when Jesus gave His all
That’s when the tears began to fall

I’ve never seen ten thousand angels cry
But I’m sure they did
As they stood by
And watched the Saviour die.

God turned his head away
He couldn’t bear the sight
It must have looked like rain
When ten thousand angels cried.

It must have looked like rain
When ten thousand angels cried.
(Leann Rimes)
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Do we see ourselves as the ones who crucified our Lord? Do we see ourselves as the REASON He went to that cross? Can we understand the full impact of what was done on that day of infamy?

That IS the cost of our salvation. We can neither earn it, nor can we add or subtract from it. It is our job to humbly acknowledge our part in His death, and gratefully accept His gift.

I pray that we do, and that our gratitude grows greater every passing day.

The cost – beyond comprehension. God’s love – indescribable. His gift – beyond compare.

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