HG151pt1 John 17:1-8
Philipp Malengthen lectured on this chapter in the last lecture of his life. And in that lecture, he said this, and I quote, “There is no voice which has ever been heard, neither in Heaven or in earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime than the prayer offered up by the Son of God Himself.”
The wonder is that there is no clearer, sharper, brighter, more focused revelation of God’s character than at the cross.
The cross showed how seriously God regards sin. It showed the intensity of God’s opposition and anger towards all rebellion. There is no clearer demonstration in the whole history of the universe of the grace and mercy of God. That’s why Jesus was able to pray that he and the Father would be glorified through the cross—that they would be seen for who they really are.
In “The Great Stone Face” Nathanael Hawthorne tells of a boy who lived in a village below a mountain. On the mountain was an image of a great stone face, looking down solemnly upon the people. A legend claimed that someday someone would come to that village who looked just like the great stone face, and he would do wonderful things for the village and would be the means of great blessing. The story so gripped the young boy that he would spend hour after hour looking at that great stone face and thinking about the one who was coming. Years passed, and the promised one did not come. The boy became a young man, and he kept contemplating the majestic beauty of that great stone face. By and by his youth passed, and middle age came on. The man still could not get that legend out of his mind. Finally, he reached old age, and one day as he walked through the village, someone looked at him and exclaimed, “He has come —the one who is like the great stone face!” The old man had became like the object he had contemplated. And so it is with us.
When Moses returned from Mt. Sinai, his face radiated the glory of God. Paul, in expounding on this in 2 Corinthians 3:18, gave us the supreme practical application of Moses’ experience:
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Sadhu Sundar Singh (the great Christian evangelist of India) once knocked on the door of a village home, and a little girl answered, running back to call her mother. Her mother asked, “Who is it?” The girl replied, “I don’t know, but he has such a lovely face, I think it must be Jesus.”
Jesus is the explanation or the exegesis of God. What do we learn from the cross? We see the holiness of God in the cross as nowhere else. We see his love of holiness and his hatred of sin and his refusal to compromise with it. We also see his love of justice in his condemnation of sin, even exercising his wrath upon his Son who bore our sins. Finally, we see God’s love for us in the vast cost he paid for our redemption.
The cross proves there is no limit to God’s love.
We would have not known this without the cross! God who created the universe saw his son hanging on the tree of Golgotha, covered with the spittle of those he came to save, gasping his final breaths while the sins of the world were showered upon his pure heart. Jesus is “the Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The cross was the only way we could see the infinite depths of God’s love for us.
In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
Our Savior had come to glorify the Father by showing what he is like, and the cross would show that as nothing else could. The deeper our contemplation of the tragedy of the cross, the deeper is our understanding of God, and the more profound our glorification of him.