‘My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise’ – Psalm 51:17 NIV
I love this time of the year as we move towards Easter. For me it has always been about the Cross and Calvary. This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of blood flowing from Christ’s veins as He hung on the cross for each one of us.
Many times, I have pictured, in my soul, kneeling before the Cross and feeling the precious blood of my Saviour drip down upon my body and soul. In that moment my heart is broken and totally surrendered to the living Lord. Sadly, in some of those moments I see the cross in the distance and need to seek repentance, not by simply turning from sin and toward God, but having my heart rent like a garment, broken as it beats humbly and surrendered before God. I lay hold of His mercy and love, helpless before Him.
I don’t profess to understand any but the most rudimentary elements of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice. There are many mysteries, questions, and even problems involved, but I know enough to weep in response to the love of my Saviour, and in my love towards Him. The cross doesn’t make me think of myself and what I must do before God. It turns my heart toward the Lord.
When I turn my heart and look at the cross, I see several things:
I see the clearest evidence of the world’s guilt. It was at the cross that sin reached its climax. Its most terrible display took place at Calvary.
I see the strongest proof of God’s hatred of sin. To gain a better understanding of God’s attitude toward sin, we only have to consider the purpose of Christ’s death. There can be no forgiveness of sin unless our debt has been paid.
I see a glorious exhibition of God’s love. Yet as wonderful as these things are in revealing divine love, nothing is comparable to the sacrifice of Calvary
I see the way to victory. All of us have at times been defeated by Satan. We are held in bondage to sin and are controlled by the power of the devil. The cross is the instrument by which God delivers us from the penalty of our sins and from the hand of Satan. It reminds me of a chorus I learnt many years ago and I still claim the victory in Christ to this day.
Lord, make Calvary real to me;
Lord, make Calvary real to me,
Open mine eyes to see victory in Christ for me;
Lord, make Calvary real to me.
But what I’ve been noticing as I prepare myself for this Easter period through Scripture, is that we aren’t alone in this. God himself – powerful and holy as He is – knows what it is to have His heart broken. He isn’t sitting up in the clouds somewhere, watching with detached interest. He’s fully engaged with us, pouring out his love on us and longing for us to love him back. When He made us, He could have created beings who were automatically loyal to him, Like, robots who would return his affection. But instead, He designed us with the will to decide how we’d respond to Him, and in doing so, He opened His heart to profound love – and profound heartache.
During the final week of Jesus’ life, He was eating a meal, and “a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head” (Mark 14:3). The woman’s action of breaking the alabaster jar was symbolic: Jesus would soon be “broken” on the cross, and all who follow Him must be willing to be “broken” as well. But the result of such costly brokenness is beautiful, indeed.
This is the way that we need to approach our God. Our hearts must be changed before we can love a crucified Lord and come to Him and trust Him. The answer is found deep in each human heart. Human nature has not changed, and as we stand this Easter and gaze at the cross, we see clear evidence that mankind is basically wrong.
The goal of the cross is not only a full and free pardon, but a changed life, broken and contrite living in fellowship with God. This is foundational to everything. Being a Christian means being broken and contrite – ‘a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.’ It’s the flavour of Christian joy and praise and witness.
May God richly bless you this Easter.