Friday, March 29, 2013
On Good Friday - His heel was struck!
On Good Friday - His heel was struck!
There is a scarlet thread that not only runs all the way through the dealings of God with man, it also binds the whole story together. It is called the Blood Covenant. We observe the shedding of the innocent blood of the Eternal Lamb on Good Friday, yet the events of that day harken all the way back to the Genesis account while looking forward to the final Revelation of Him who was, and is and is to come at the consummation of the ages.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Genesis 3:15 NIV This is what is known as the protevangelium - the first proclamation of the Gospel. Its context is the initial sentence of the Lord God’s proclamation of judgement on first the serpent and then the man and the woman–yet even here the plan of redemption is set into motion before Adam’s lifeless clay received the Eternal Spirit is revealed.
One would come who would reverse the curse. “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 1 Peter 1:20 NIV It is the blessing which will outlast the curse for blessings are eternal while curses will pass away. Just heard this quoted on the radio: “that which is bought with blood shall last.” And I would add that it never ceases: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,...” Hebrews 13:20 NASB
The serpent is the one who would strike His heel - causing the shedding of blood - although it was the Father’s good pleasure for him to do so. There is nothing that is outside the scope of our Father’s faithfulness to fully realize His original intent–that His Son would be the first of many brethren. All things were not only created by the Son - they were also created for Him: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16 NASB
Foretelling the mystery that is being revealed in these latter days the prophet announces: “Yet the LORD was pleased to crush Him severely. When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the LORD's pleasure will be accomplished.” Isaiah 53:10 CSV This is a difficult saying for it offends the mind - that it could possibly be the good pleasure of the Father to crush His Only Son. Yet the mind must be offended so that the heart can be reached. Christ Himself challenged the crowd that was pressing in upon Him: “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. John 6:55-56 And the majority turned away for they were seeking that which was temporal while what He would offer them would be eternal–instant gratification held the day. Yet there were a few who could not turn: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69
The immutable hand of the Lord God in this Good Friday event is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles: "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. Acts 4:27-28 NASB The appeal of these early believers to the sovereignty of God in the midst of persecution was the great motivating factor to preach the Gospel. "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence,...” Acts 4:29 NASB No fatalistic passivity was bred.
Even Judas was His chosen instrument. Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" John 6:70 NASB All of creation must yield itself to the hand of its Creator in the Son: "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"
The wound to the heel is not one to cause ultimate defeat - while a wound to the head, especially a crushing wound, is completely fatal. In the protevangelium the NIV which we used above makes a distinction between crush and strike although the original verb is exactly the same. Literally there is no distinction yet when it comes to efficacy there is a wide gap. In its dynamic equivalence approach to translation, the NIV adequately preserves this distinction.
In the Geneva Study Bible (the Bible of the Reformers) we read: Satan shall sting Christ and his members, but not overcome them. John Wesley writes: Destroyed and ruined at last by the great Redeemer, signified by the bruising of his head; his subtle politics shall be all baffled, his usurped power entirely crushed. And from the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary: The serpent's poison is lodged in its head; and a bruise on that part is fatal. Thus, fatal shall be the stroke which Satan shall receive from Christ, though it is probable he did not at first understand the nature and extent of his doom.
The same heel that is wounded is the heel that crushes the head. There had to be a wounding - a flow of blood must be produced. “and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22b ESV The shedding of blood speaks of the ultimate identification of the Messiah with Adam’s race - the seed of the woman. Our Deliverer had to be One who was one of us–yet at the same time not under the bondage of sin. Eve fully understood this for at the birth of her firstborn she proclaimed: “I have gotten a man, the Lord.” Genesis 4:1 NASB (margin) or "I have given birth to a male child—the LORD." ISV She was only incorrect in her timing–yet the hope she expressed would not be disappointed.
In Peter’s first letter he calls forth into present reality the hope announced years before by the Prophet Isaiah: "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." 1 Peter 2:24 Healing speaks of the restoration of the original intent.
The full intent and purpose of the Father’s good pleasure in the wounding of His Son is encapsulated by Paul: “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,...” Ephesians 1:22 In the Messiah we have an exchange of headship. In acquiescing to Satan’s beguilement mankind in effect allowed the tempter to become his head. This is the essence of the curse. In Christ the true Headship is restored to the Church–the life-light of Blessing eclipses the dark shroud of the curse.
The modern hymn “In Christ Alone” is playing on the radio at this very moment proclaiming Good Friday’s reality:
Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live
We will sum this writing up with these words from Oswald Chambers:
“Beware of the pleasant view of the Fatherhood of God. God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That sentiment has no place whatever in the New Testament. The only ground on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ. To put forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blaspheme. The only ground on which God can forgive sin and reinstate us in His favor is through Christ and in no other way. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of Calvary. It is possible to take the forgiveness of sin and our sanctification with simplicity of faith and to forget at what enormous cost to God that it was all made ours. Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. It cost God the Cross of Jesus Christ before He could forgive sin and remain a Holy God. When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in vice, constrained by the love of God.”
Bwana Asifiwe Amefufuka! (Swahili: Praise the Lord His is Risen!)