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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why These Strange Ways of God?

Now, when we take all these reactions together, we find ourselves in the presence of the deep ways of God as He moves toward revealing His Arm. How deep are His ways! how mysterious! how past finding out! And oh, how startling, when you begin to recognize them!  As we consider this interpretation and judgment of the human mind, the mind of this world about this One Whom we know to be the Divine Son of God, the Redeemer of men, we have to recognize that these are the profound ways of God, as He is moving - moving steadily, moving with determination, moving resolutely - toward the point of revealing His Arm. Is it not tremendous, that this should be His way?

Now, two questions arise here. First, why this universal reaction of the world of men to this Servant of Jehovah? From our standpoint, as Christians, it is an astonishing thing that such judgments and reactions should be possible on the part of men universally, but we know they were there, for a fact. What is more, we know that they are still a fact. The mind of this world sees nothing desirable in this Crucified One.

Second - and this question perhaps goes even nearer to the heart and root of the whole matter: Why this deliberate method of God, making this reaction on the part of man inevitable? It is such a strange thing. It seems as though God has gone out of His way to produce such a reaction from man. Why did not God give One "altogether lovely," Whom all would appreciate; One Who would stand in a position of acceptance with all men at first sight? Why did He not bring Him into the world in state, in grandeur, in glory? Why was He not at the beginning embellished with all the signs of Heaven, for all men to see? Why did God deliberately, it would seem, take a line that would produce reactions of this kind? They would be inevitable. Draw this picture, as it is drawn by Isaiah: "His visage ... marred more than any man" - distorted "more than the sons of men," and all the other details - and then hold it up and say, "That is your Redeemer!" It would seem that God has deliberately taken a course to upset and to scandalize.

And so He did! But why?

Because of Man's False Standard of Values

We are getting very near now to the real point. Man's standard of values is an entirely false one, and God knows it. It is utterly, utterly false - because it is the result of man's pride. It is offended pride, is it not, that speaks like this: 'Tell us that we have got to come down to that! That we have got to accept that for our salvation! That we have got to condescend to that level! No, Never! It is contrary to human nature!' Yes, it is, because human nature has an utterly false standard of values, produced by man's pride. So the idea of the Suffering Servant is an affront to human pride, an offence and a scandal to man's standard of things. For this very reason, neither Jew nor Gentile would receive the report - pride would not allow it. We sing:

"When I survey the wondrous Cross ...
I ... pour contempt on all my pride."

That ought to be the effect of the Cross. But no. man being what he is, his pride will not accept that; and therefore "He is despised, rejected'; He has no beauty that we should desire Him.'

The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ represents the deep undercutting of all false glory. It goes right to the very root of man's self-esteem and self-importance. It goes to the very root of life that is based upon man's own prestige and value. Even though, from this world's standpoint and by this world's standards, a man may be something and have something; even if, by birth, or by acquisition, by his brains or his cleverness, by his hard work or study, he may have acquired some position, some glory, some success, some prestige: if you or I base our life, before God, upon anything like that, we are numbered with those where who are in absolute contradiction to the Divine standard of values.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "Man's Pride Emptied By the Cross")

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