By Not Known
On Good Friday we sang the words of Isaac Watt’s evocative hymn ‘When I Survey
the Wondrous Cross’. Ponder again the words of the last stanza:
Were the whole realm of nature mine
that were an offering for too small:
love so amazing so divine,
demands my soul, my life my all.
There is no feeling quite so wonderful as to be loved and it is wonderful to be
thus loved by God. But we are not to be self-indulgent in love’s wonder. Rather
we are to respond to love with love (1 Jn 4:19).
God’s love for us in Jesus is our Day of Atonement when complete satisfaction
was made for our sins. Our first response is to love him with the love of faith
That is, his love for us is to draw our trust for him as we rest in Jesus and Jesus
alone for salvation.
But our sense of love’s wonder is to take us further… to a life of self-denial and
Jesus talks about that in today’s Bible passage (Mat 16:21-28). Peter wanted to
deny Jesus his Cross (v22). But Jesus would not be denied the Cross, for his mind
was on the things of God (v23). We are to be like-minded. Instead of denying
ourselves the Cross we are to deny ourselves in order to bear the Cross (v24).
The self-denial is both a decisive act of the will and an ongoing process. In our
conversion we decisively choose the path of self denial and Cross-bearing. But it
must also be a choice that we take again and again. Day by day we choose by our
attitudes and actions. What choices do your daily actions reflect?
There is great motivation to this ongoing life of self-denial. It’s expressed in the
word ‘for’ (vv25 & 27) of our Bible translation. The path of self-absorption and
denying the Cross is a path to our own loss. By contrast, the path of self-denial
and embracing our Cross is the path that leads to the kingdom
It was so for Jesus and is also so for his people. This really is irony: as we give
ourselves to the point of the death of self we gain life in all its fullness.