Posted by: Moses | July 11, 2008

Christ Our Mediator: Finding Passion at the Cross

This little book is the encore to The Cross-Centered Life. This first little orange book focused on the wonder and necessity of living every day, disciplining our thoughts to consider our life in light of the cross. This little blue book has a specific purpose for us to see the glory of God in the passion of Christ on the cross.

C.J. starts by examining his purpose in writing the book, reflecting on how he had seen Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. Though he appreciated the movie’s realistic presentation of the depths of Jesus’ suffering, he was concerned that everyone in the theater was unprepared for what they saw, and ended up leaving the theater with undirected responsive passion. For a believer, the movie was a wake-up call to personal passion; to anyone else it was just a moving portrayal of horrible violence. The passion was undirected, when it should be the most beautiful mystery of God’s gospel: “My God, only You could show me what a wretched sinner I am and make it the greatest news I’ve ever heard” (14).

Though much of the aim is to elicit appropriate passion from the work of Christ, the very first chapter encourages the reader that our feelings and responses do not ultimately determine truth. God’s Word and commands matter. In C.J.’s words, “I will believe the objective truth of His Word, regardless of how I feel.”

The next chapter deals with “the Divine Dilemma,” a somewhat scandalous title with a message of orthodox gold. God is not a deity wringing His hands up in heaven waiting for people to love Him if they choose. He is a warrior lover. His beloved hates Him with a cosmic, intrinsic enmity and would never want to be reconciled to Him, yet He will pursue her. He will pursue her in righteousness without compromising anything. Job’s desperate cry: “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more” (Job: 9:33-34) will finally be answered by Christ, our only mediator.

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

C.J. describes this as “Paul succinctly captur[ing] the main theme and essence of the entirety of holy Scripture…there is a mediator” (42). But Christ has to be able to arbitrate between two disparate types of beings, both man and God. He has to be both able to relate to us and yet not compromising His own nature as God. Christ has a unique essence as true God and true man, upon whom all the wrath of God against His enemies was poured. “God’s holy hostility against us has ended. The divine dilemma is resolved. That’s what Christ’s death means to God” (46). There is no better news possible, not only will be saved one day from the wrath of God, we can actively live the way we were designed as God would have us right here and now.

C.J. makes an excellent point that Christ’s suffering goes far beyond His physical passion extending to the depths of separation from God, being forsaken by His beloved Father because of God’s great love for His creation. This is what our sin demands, and Christ in His unfathomable love drained this cup of wrath and judgment for us. On the cross “Jesus doesn’t just feel forsaken; He is forsaken… as the substitute for our sin…it isn’t a deceptive feeling; it is reality” (75). And here, with our screams of “crucify” still ringing in His ears, He died for our sakes, cut off from His eternal Father. We nailed Him there in our natural hatred so that He could rescue people who hate Him from the very depths of their being, so that He could remake them into lovers of God! We deserve the cross and hell. Because of Christ we get a love for God Himself, now “even in the glory of heaven, the wounds of the Lamb who was slain continue to bring blessing our way… especially in our darkest hour” (85).

Thus a study of the cross, of Christ’s glory displayed there, leads to an assurance of our own joy and security with God. Christ bore God’s wrath so that we don’t have to. Christ suffered for us and bought our fellowship with God, enabling us to suffer on behalf of a fallen world. Even with joy! What glorious recreation of our nature God has wrought through the cross! The Gospel is “both the source and object of our joy…Joy is a command.” (92-93). Joy is a command that Christ bought on the cross, one that we can revel in and in the words of a beloved song,

“Lord take us deeper, into the glories of Calvary.”

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Responses

  1. All in all, I didn’t find this book as complete in its presentation of the gospel as the “Cross-Centered Life.” It is wonderfully centering on the glory of God in the cross and the depths of His love, but its application of that glory is sparse as to what it means to live a life of godliness. Even though the two books together paint a complete picture it is sadly indicative of our Christian culture that we can even conceive of them apart. Thus I am so excited that both the “Cross-Centered Life” and “Christ Our Mediator” are now published together, combined into one book “Living the Cross-Centered Life.” Even this metaphor of binding them together into one book is a beautiful presentation of the true glory and inseparability of the great commission, both to preach the simple truth and glory of God in the Cross for all who believe and to make disciples of those that believe.


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