The Place Of Places
“He hath poured out his soul unto death.”—Isaiah 53:12
It was the Master, not the malefactors, who made Calvary immortal and inimitable. And, in thinking of the Cross, we have in mind primarily the accomplishment of the Saviour. The Father now pours out His blessings because the Son then poured out His soul. The thought of lingering at Calvary is but a suggestion for the grateful heart to ponder more prayerfully and to think more seriously upon the fact of our Lord’s sacrificial work. Perhaps no other spiritual exercise is so productive of deep and abounding gratitude.
Since the Cross became the spectrum which diffuses the glory of God’s love and the radiant energy of His grace, and since the effectiveness of the Cross reaches to the most remote corners of the earth with exhaustless potentiality, it is to be expected that the values of Calvary are inestimable. This naturally follows since the operation was divine in nature—infinite in plan and eternal in accomplishment. The Lord of glory became “infleshed” in order to give His body to the altar of sacrifice. It was from this bodily tent that He poured out His soul. And just as the end of the curse is the way of death, even so the result of the Cross is the means of life. There is grace upon grace and glory to glory—an ever-widening radius of spiritual blessing. The eye of faith may, in any moment of prayerful mediation, catch a glimpse of a beaming ray of blessed encouragement. When followed to its base, the origin is ever and always Calvary. It is not only THE place, but the place of places—multiple in its designed purpose, manifold in its distinctive power, and multitudinous in its divine provisions.
The Place Of Power
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Here is a remarkable proof of the Saviour’s impartiality—a guarantee that He is no respecter of persons. It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Potentially, He is the Saviour of all men; effectually, unto them that believe.
When Jesus said, “If I be lifted up,” He did not use the “if” suppositionally. There was nothing hypothetical about His being lifted up. Nothing was clearer to Him than the inevitability of the accursed cross. “The Son of man must go as it is written,” He had assured the disciples. What He was conveying here was the positiveness of a universal accomplishment. This was as certain as the fact of death. He came to die for the world. This He did. There was no limited sacrifice or partial offering about it. He draws all (all kinds of) men unto Himself—of every kindred, every tribe, and of every nation, from every corner of the earth. Regardless of the colour of the skin or the depth of the guilt or the language of the lips—He draws all.
It is interesting to gaze through the prophetic telescope and view future scenes. Gathered about the throne and around the Lamb are the once heterogeneous throngs, now homogenetic—standing in the likeness of their blessed Lord. There is but one answer to this—just one explanation. The crucified and risen Christ attracts all kinds of people to His loving heart, imparts to them His nature and integrates them into one body of which He is the glorious Head.
Nor is this the full picture. “All men” will not be in the glory—yet He is to draw ALL men unto Him—if not in love unto salvation, then in justice unto condemnation. ALL shall stand before Him. The prefatory “if” in the text thus becomes clear. “If I be lifted up,” He explained, “I will draw all men unto me.” Calvary, then, does two things as inferred here. First, it assures His Saviourhood, permitting believers to stand before Him justified. Second, it confirms His judgeship, requiring unbelievers to stand before Him condemned.
The Place Of Possibility
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.”
Not until this moment could cruel death strike its final blow. It was ever the revealed desire of the Son of God to “finish His work.” Now, it is finished. Now it is possible for God to justify the ungodly. Now it is possible for perishing souls to be lifted from the miry clay and established upon a Rock. Now it is possible for Jews and Gentiles to drink into one Spirit, for Christ in His death removed the middle wall—that otherwise insurmountable partition. Now it is possible for non-participants of the covenants to become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Now it is possible for men to know the joy of sins forgiven. Now it is possible through faith in Christ, to call God our Father. Now it is possible to own a hope of glory and to sweetly and joyfully contemplate the blessings of eternity in the glorious presence of the Lord.
Now it is possible, as we journey where there is no abiding city, to anticipate an eternal home. Now it is possible, as we endure the piercing pains of grief, to expect a cloudless day where God Himself will dry all tears from our eyes. Now it is possible, as we witness change and decay, to hope for the time when we shall never grow old. Now it is possible, as we are plunged into the throes of heart-breaking bereavement, to have the assurance that the last enemy to be put under foot is despicable death. Calvary is the place where all joyful expectancy became hopefully possible.
The Place Of Purging
“Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” It is not always wise to follow man in our search for deeper spiritual experiences. Men ask amiss. They ask for blessings to be lavished upon their own lusts. Even some Bible prayers, while recorded by the Holy Spirit, were not necessarily of divine prompting. But David, with his broken heart and bitter tears, his humble confession and deep repentance, brings us at once before the Most High, into the very sanctuary of His blessed presence. The defilement of sin must receive cleansing, else there is a broken fellowship with the Lord. In David’s case there was awareness concerning his sin and shame. There was evident sorrow in his confession of it. We notice his humbleness, earnestness and desire. A clean heart, a willing spirit, and a steadfast walk are needed by all Christians in a larger measure.
The redemptive programme is not only creative, constructive and corrective, but purgative as well. The Lord can make the foulest sinner clean. The leper said, “Make me clean.” Jesus answered, “Be thou clean.” The account states, “He was cleansed.” To His ancient, rebellious people, Jehovah entreatingly appealed, “Come now, and let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as (washed) wool.” For all such efficacy, the people of that day looked forward by faith to the effectual Sacrifice; we of our day look backward by faith, and Calvary becomes the focal point of our vision, the effectual means for our cleansing.
The time is coming when a cosmopolitan company will rejoice in a celestial celebration. Amid all the surprise prevailing, several facts will at once be discernible, namely those in view are not where they were, neither are they what they were. When the question is put relative to their identity, the answer reveals that “these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” All who have white robes gained their righteousness on the strength and merits of the cleansing blood of Christ which was shed at Calvary.
The Place Of Provision
“He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.”
If you have ever wondered how widely the Cross of Christ opened the storehouse of divine treasures, this marvelous revelation is the thrilling answer. Here we have the Benefactor, the benefactions, and the beneficiaries. The benefactions are not tabulated for the simple reason that they are too numerous to be listed. They are too great for us to comprehend. But the price is stated—God’s Son delivered up. As a lad, the writer had a hopeful ambition of becoming a merchant, of owning a store where he could take from the shelves all that he desired without the painful requisite of paying for the same. In expressing this ambition to the neighbourhood grocer, a friend of the family, that childhood dream was abruptly terminated when the kindly grocer explained that he had to pay for everything on the shelves and in the wareroom. How childish are we, likewise, to be unmindful of the incalculable price which was paid for our blessings.
God spared not His Son in order that He might give to us unsparingly. The word freely does not mean without price. Gratuity is embodied in the word give. To give freely is to give lavishly, and this is how our Father is able to give since the Lord Jesus covered the cost at the Cross. It would be utterly impossible for an enlightened mind to think of one necessary thing which has not been planned for in the Divine Council and provided at the Place of the Skull. This is the reason it can be said authoritatively that “ye are complete in Him.” This enables the Christian to confidently sing, “All that I need He will always be, all that I need till His face I see. All that I need through eternity, Jesus is all I need.”
The Place Of Purpose
“Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” As we sing the lovely songs about the Cross and celebrate with lilies and new apparel the fact of the resurrection, let us not lose sight of the fact that Jesus came to deal with sin. He will appear the second time apart from the sin question, but He came the first time to put it away. He was the only One who could. He was the One who did. The text tells us how. It was by the sacrifice of Himself. He is the Great Physician who can treat the cancer of sin which has polluted the bloodstream of the whole human family and dooms the undelivered to perdition.
The struggle was more actual and more terrible than the most discerning spiritual mind can begin to appreciate. Sin had not only perniciously engrained itself into the very nature of men but had separated them from God. It permeated mankind with defilement, falsehood, perverseness, indifference, vanity, and mischief. Sin had left man without peace, without discernment, without righteousness, and without hope. This is the destructive monster whom Jesus came to put away. So satisfactorily did our Saviour succeed in His purpose that the Father assures us through the Spirit that, for His trusting children, their sins have been separated from them as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered against them no more forever. Also, that they are buried in the deepest sea. And where did Jesus sacrifice Himself? At Calvary.
The Place Of Perception
Calvary has a remarkable effect upon vision. No one can see so clearly as the one who has first seen the Cross. Things are never so accurately viewed as when they are observed in the light of Calvary.
The religious Pharisees had just raised a series of questions. “Where is thy Father?” they demanded of Jesus, with no thought of believing the true answer. “Will he kill himself” they querulously commented one to another when Jesus told them He was going whither they could not follow. And, touching upon the solemn thought of dying in their sins, they revealed no perceptible understanding of the matter at hand. It was then that the Master said to them, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he.”
Jesus was here predicting that Calvary would prove His deity—that, amid the shame and sorrow and apparent defeat, the Cross would make irrefutably clear that He was the one He claimed to be. Perhaps these religionists did not recall that, according to their Sacred Writings, it required a fiery furnace to prove the presence of the Lord at a certain former time. “Lo, I see four men loose,” said the excited Nebuchadnezzar, “and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” That furnace was heated seven times hotter than usual, but Calvary was one thousand times worse than any other death.
The Pharisees themselves, as indicated by the statement of our Lord, would be instrumental in having Him crucified. “When YE have lifted up the Son of man,” He said. Yet through it, they would perceive that He was the divine Son of God. No other so suffered. No other so forgave. At no other crucifixion were the elements so disturbed and the sky so darkened. At no other crucifixion did the hardened Roman soldiers “fear greatly.” Of no other did the Roman guard say concertedly, “Truly this was the Son of God.” There is no record of deep repentance on the part of the reactionary Pharisees, but they knew, as they stood in the shadow of the Cross, that it was He. Calvary proved it.
While visiting at our old homestead in the mountains some years ago, our father shouted aloud, “See the geese going over!” Mother, two sisters and I ran to the front verandah, calling out, “Where?” “There!” replied Dad, pointing his finger excitedly toward the azure blue. But, at first, we could not see the flock of wild geese. Suddenly, one sister saw them with gleeful exclamation, but the others could not bring them into focus. We looked up the arm of our sister, with the disappointing confession that we could not see them. Finally, mother and our other sister caught sight of them, but the writer was still gazing in vain. In an attempt to be helpful Dad said, “Son, your chances are lessening all the while. Do you see that locust tree just below us?” An affirmative nod was given. “Well,” he continued, “if you look over that tree, I believe you will be able to catch a glimpse of them.” True enough, there they were, flying in ordered formation through the open heavens.
Many are failing to perceive the love, mercy and grace of a holy God as revealed at Calvary, simply because they are looking up the arm of some other’s experience. For clear perception, we must look by way of the Tree that stood on Golgotha’s brow. Then we shall have a clear vision. Then we, too, shall know that He is He—the gracious, tender, compassionate Saviour who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Let us linger at Calvary.