The Cross of Christ.

If we come to the cross, we must come by our wants and sins; no one comes truly, unless he comes as a sinner whose sins brought him there. But when we pass through the rent veil into the presence of God in perfect peace through the efficacy of the work He accomplished, and look back at the cross by which we came, in contemplating it in a divine way we find that the cross then has in it a glory and excellency all its own, of which everything in God's ways is the result - even the new heavens and the new earth. God was perfectly glorified in it. It was the climax of good and evil: all was met there. We must come to the cross as sinners to find the good of it; but if we have found peace by it, coming into God's presence reconciled, it is everything we shall see for ever. We never shall forget the Lamb that was slain. But still we can contemplate it in a divine way.

69 I get in the cross the perfectness of man's sin, positive enmity against God present in goodness. Nothing would do for man but to get rid of Him - "Him ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." "If I had not come and done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin," then they would have been justified in rejecting Him, "but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father." There I get the extreme of man's wickedness: when God was presented in goodness, it only drew out his hatred. The power was present in Christ to meet all the effects of sin by His word: the manifestation of it drew out the enmity of man's heart against Him, and they crucified Him. There you get all that man is brought out in the presence of God. He had broken the law before; and now God had come in in perfect goodness and power (power that could remove all their distresses), but it was God's power; and they would not have it, they crucified Him. On the other hand we see there all the power of Satan: therefore it says, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out": they were all led by him against Christ: "this is your hour and the power of darkness." He had overcome him in the temptation in the wilderness; it is said in Luke he departed from Him for a season. Now He says, "The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me": he who had power over the earth (for Satan was really the prince of this world) had come back and succeeded in moving up the hatred of man's heart against Him.

But now see the absolute perfectness of the second Man - "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, so I do." I get in man (more than man) perfect love to the Father and perfect obedience, and when He had the dreadful cup to drink (mark the absolute need there was of it!) that perfect obedience and love to the Father made good in the very place where He stood as sin. On the other hand in the cross I find God's infinite love and grace abounding over sin: perfect love, giving His Son for us; and then at the same time perfect righteousness judging against sin, and God's majesty vindicated. "It became him for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." I see thus perfect evil in man and Satan, perfect good in man (but He was God), and perfect love in God, and righteousness in God against sin when it was met as such, all brought out in the cross; evil and good meeting there. And it is what has laid the immutable foundation in righteousness for all that will come in in goodness and blessing in the new heavens and new earth, resting not upon responsibility but upon the accomplishment of the work the value of which never can be known.

The more we think of the cross (we have come as sinners needing it, but as Christians, reconciled to God, we can sit down and contemplate it), we see it stands totally alone in the history of eternity. Divine glory, man's sin, Man's perfectness, Satan's evil, God's power and love and righteousness, all were brought out and met there. Accordingly it is the immutable foundation of man's blessing, and of everything that is good in heaven and earth. Then, when our souls are reconciled, we look at Him and learn of Him: "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest." He sees that the world had given Him up: there was no rest upon earth. He searched with wonderful patience for a place of rest, but there was no such thing to be found. He knew it, and had tried it; the Son of man had not where to lay (not merely outwardly) His head, but to rest His heart; no more than Noah's dove found rest for the sole of her feet. "I looked for some man to take compassion, but there was none." Yet feeling this, it is just there He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest: take my yoke," etc., "and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

I desire then that, while we rest in the blessed efficacy of the sacrifice, our thoughts should be formed by the blessed One - that is the practical secret of going through this world; "He that eateth me shall live by me." No doubt the taste ought to grow continually in us. There are the two sides of Christian life; if it is to give courage, victory over the world, I look at His glory as in Philippians 3. There it is the energy that runs after to win Christ at the end, counting all else dross and dung. In the second chapter it is the other side, not the object, but His lowliness in coming down is set before us. J. N. Darby.