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The cross is Christ’s throne.
Alexander Maclaren on the eternal exaltation of the Son of Man upon that wretched tree.
The cross of Calvary is a conundrum, in the best way possible. It is at once an emblem of shame and scandal and violence and brutality. The cross of Christ is an emblem of the heights of man’s cruelty and thirst for his own hell-bent justice. Yet, at the same time, that cross upon which the Son of Man expired persists as the relentless banner under which the believer stands as a child of the King. “We are never done with the cross, nor ever shall be,” Horatius Bonar says. “Its wonders will be always new, and be always fraught with joy” (61). We shall never mine all of the cross’s riches nor exhaust the depths of its meaning. On it, our minds shall ever be fixed because there our Lord and Savior was, simultaneously humiliated and exalted forever on our behalf. Rev. Alexander Maclaren speaks to this quite well in a sermon upon John 3:14, where he writes:
We are accustomed to speak — and we speak rightly — of His death as being the lowest point of the humiliation which was inherent in the very fact of His humanity. He condescended to be born; He stooped yet more to die. But whilst that is true, the other side is also true — that in the Cross Christ is lifted up, and that it is His Throne. For what see we there? The highest exhibition, the tenderest revelation, of His perfect love. And what see we there besides? The supreme manifestation of the highest power.
‘’Twas great to speak a world from nought,
’Tis greater to redeem.’
To save humanity, to make it possible that men should receive that second birth, and should enter into the Kingdom of God — that was a greater work, because a work not only of creation, but of restoration, than it was to send forth the starts on their courses and to ‘preserve’ the ancient heavens ‘from wrong.’ There is a revelation of divine might when we ‘lift up our eyes on high,’ and see how, ‘because He is great in power, not one faileth.’ But there is a mightier revelation of divine power when we see how, from amidst the ruins of humanity, He can restore the divine image, and piece together, as it were, without sign of flaw or crack or one fragment wanting, the fair image that was shattered into fragments by the flow of Sin’s heavy mace. Power in its highest operation, power in its tenderest efficacy, power in its widest sweep, are set forth on the Cross of Christ, and that weak Man hanging there, dying in the dark, is ‘the power of God’ as well as ‘the wisdom of God.’ The Cross is Christ’s Throne, but it is His sovereign manifestation of love and power only if it is what, as I believe He told us it was, and what His servants from his lips caught the interpretation of it as being, the death for the sins of the sin-stricken world.
Unless we can believe that, when He died, He died for us, I know not why Christ’s death should appeal to our love. But if we recognise — as I pray that we all may recognise — that our deep need for something far more than Teacher or Pattern has been met in that great ‘one Sacrifice for sins for ever,’ then the magnetism of the Cross begins to tell, and we understand what He meant when He said, ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.’ Brethren, the Cross is His Throne, from which He rules the world, and if you strike His sacrifice for sins out of your conception of His work, you have robbed Him of sovereignty, and taken out of His hand the sceptre by which He governs the hearts and wills of rebellious and restored men. (10:1.166–67)
The cross is Christ’s throne. It is the place of revelation, of exaltation, of coronation, where he who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” put himself in the sinner’s stead (Phil. 2:6–8). That ghastly tree upon which he breathed his last wasn’t the end. It was actually just the beginning. He had already been reigning on high, and now, though his death-defeating passion and resurrection, he reigns forever as the Prince of Peace and King of kings.
Grace and peace to you, friends.
Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness: or, How Shall Man Be Just With God? (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1993).
Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, Vols. 1–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1944).