On Wednesday of Jesus’ last week, he again told his disciples he would be crucified: “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:2, NKJV). They didn’t get it, or if they got it, they didn’t like it.
Two equal & opposite events immediately happened, side by side:
1. A woman anointed Jesus for burial from an expensive alabaster flask. The disciples were offended: “But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘Why this waste [loss]? “For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.'” (Matthew 26:8, 9, NKJV). Jesus correct them, saying she had done a “good work” for him.
2. Judas bargained with the chief priests to betray Jesus. They settled on the standard price of a slave, 30 pieces of silver. And said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15, NKJV).
What is Christ’s death worth?
1. The woman enacted a parable of what Jesus was about to do in history by his inexorable march to the Cross: a great and beautiful treasure, broken and poured out for others. She embraced the deep meaning of the INFINITE WORTH OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST. She got it. The ointment symbolized VALUE and the anointing (literally “embalming”) symbolized the DEATH of Calvary.
“If our faith stops in Christ’s life, and does not fasten upon His blood, it will not be justifying faith. His miracles, which prepared the world for His doctrines; His holiness, which fitted Himself for His sufferings, had been insufficient for us without the addition of the cross.” ~Stephen Charnock. 1684.
“Depend upon it, the cross of Christ—the death of Christ on the cross to make atonement for sinners—is the center truth in the whole Bible… Take away the cross of Christ, and the Bible is a dark book…. You may know a good deal about the Bible. You may know the outlines of the histories it contains, and the dates of the events described… You may know the several precepts of the Bible, and admire them, just as a man admires Plato, Aristotle, or Seneca. But if you have not yet found out that Christ crucified is the foundation of the whole volume, you have read your Bible hitherto to very little profit. Your religion is a heaven without a sun, an arch without a key-stone, a compass without a needle, a clock without spring or weights, a lamp without oil. It will not comfort you. It will not deliver your soul from hell.” ~J.C. Ryle. 1800s.
God has emblazoned the Cross of Christ across every page of Scripture. The death of Christ — along with the subsequent resurrection — outshines every other teaching, precept, command, doctrine, agenda, and truth of Scripture. One woman got it that Wednesday, long ago. One woman felt in her gut the immeasurable value of the coming crucifixion. She understood the unspeakable gift of infinite worth. And she declared that worth as a memorial for ages to come.
2. Judas enacted the parable of those who devalue the Cross. They value Christ only as a political power, a social engineer, a moral example — whatever their agenda requires. And when he doesn’t suit the cause, he is optional. Expendable. His VALUE is not in his DEATH, but in his supposed ACTIVISTIC LIFE — or, if that doesn’t work — in the money he might bring to the cause through his death.
“Paul determined to know nothing else but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. But many manage the ministry as if they had taken up a contrary determination—even to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” ~Traill. 1690.
There are thousands of religious books published in our times, in which there is everything except the cross. They are full of directions about sacraments, and praises of the Church. They abound in exhortations about holy living, and rules for the attainment of perfection. They have plenty of fonts and crosses, both inside and outside. But the real cross of Christ is left out. The Savior, and His work of atonement and complete salvation, are either not mentioned, or mentioned in an unscriptural way. And hence they are worse than useless. Beware of such books. They are not apostolic. They would never have satisfied Paul. ~J.C. Ryle, 1800s
His life was valuable, but his life didn’t redeem us from sin. His teachings were precious and peerless, but no human has ever, by following his teachings, made themselves fit for heaven. His love was beautiful, an example to shine for generations — yet that embrace of love could save no one apart from his wrath-absorbing death. His sufferings plumbed the depths of mystery — no human can fathom his condescension and pain — yet, his sufferings alone cannot save. Nothing in the LIFE of Christ makes sense without the DEATH of Christ. The price of eternal salvation was the “precious blood of the Lamb,” poured out for moral train wrecks like you and me.
- It is not my cross, it is His cross.
- It is not me bearing my cross, it is Him bearing his Cross, and with it all my sins.
- It is not my performance, it is his great and singular work.
- It is not an ongoing sacrifice, but a sacrifice finished, once for all, and ratified by a glorious resurrection.
- It is not me, it is Christ — Christ alone, Christ only, Christ above all, Christ without peer:
but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24, NKJV).
The disciples forgot this, and Judas rejected it. They redefined Jesus as something other than a DYING SAVIOR-FROM-SIN. So they BERATED the one person who got it.
What is Christ’s death worth? What is the value of the Cross? No surer test can be given than to answer this question for yourself. Is Christ Crucified SOMETHING in your faith, or is he EVERYTHING? Is the Cross just another part of the system, or is it the glorious master-key to the heart of salvation and God’s gracious heart? Part or all?
What is Christ’s death worth in your estimation?
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14, NKJV).
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