Yesterday I wrote about the perfect illumination of God’s attributes through the cross of Jesus. The cross is the supreme demonstration of God’s attributes. Do you want to see God’s love? Look at the cross. Do you want to see holiness? Look at the cross. Do you want to see righteousness? Go to the cross.
In this post, I want to continue on with the meditation and provoke worship from a slightly different angle. I want to turn the diamond of Calvary a bit that we might see and savor, as John Piper would say.
Not only is the cross the supreme demonstration of God’s attributes, but it is also the place where all of the divine attributes were operating in perfect harmony. And in my understanding of God’s attributes, the cross is the only way in which this could happen.
When we look at the cross we see the physical suffering of the Jesus. But what caused him to sweat drops of blood in the garden? It was the cup. That cup of divine wrath due to sinners would be served to Christ. The impending wrath of God makes the Savior cry out in agonizing prayer.
Upon the cross, we see this wrath of God displayed. Reminiscent of Exodus the sky goes black in judgment. There on Calvary, we see God’s righteous justice being uncorked and unloaded upon the Savior as he bears the sins of the world.
But this is not all we see.
At the same time that righteousness is on display, we also see mercy, love, and goodness. And now, looking back, don’t we also learn of grace? Furthermore, can’t we also see holiness, forgiveness, sovereignty, and love perfectly wed together through the Savior’s death? The cross of Christ is the amphitheater hosting the symphony of God’s attributes. And the symphony plays in perfect harmony.
In a devotional commentary on what we are talking about, consider this song of praise from the pen of the Psalmist looking ahead through kingdom lenses: “Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).
The cross is the beautifully harmonious symphony of all divine attributes. Here we are drawing from the infinite well of divine glory.
Do you realize that without the cross of the perfect Savior, God cannot be forgiving while also being holy and just? Remember, sin is treason. The King may not turn a blind eye to sin and forget to punish. The righteous character of God demands punishment. However, God also says that he is a forgiving and merciful God. How in the world can these attributes co-exist?
This is where so many go wrong in thinking about God and his dealings with us. Many today believe in a god whose love triumphs over his wrath, and since this works out pretty good for us, we don’t offer much pushback.
But it doesn’t work like this. It can’t work like this. The God of the Bible does not and will not change. Even in view of the noblest act imaginable (pardoning rebels), he will not compromise his eternally perfect character. If God were to compromise in this way then he would cease to be God. He cannot and will not compromise.
Thankfully, God does not compromise his character, he amplifies it! On the cross, we have a simultaneous explosion of the divine perfections. This explosion, like a perfect crescendo, is too wonderful for us to comprehend, too vast for us to fathom, and too heavenly for us to make up!
The preservation of God’s holiness and righteousness without compromising his love and forgiveness is one feature that clearly distinguishes biblical Christianity from every other world religion. For here at the foot of the cross God is both just and the justifier; he maintains his justice while also forgiving. In reality, there are not millions of religions in the world, but only two, biblical Christianity and everything else. Biblical Christianity maintains unflinching righteousness and unfailing love while everyone else relies on a God who, at the end of the day, partners with human effort. It’s hard to say but this view of God is a view of a compromising god who has a price and, whether we like to admit it or not, is willing to be bribed by religious works.
The cross, on the other hand, declares to all mankind, with heavenly decibels, that the justice, holiness, love, mercy, and grace of God are all intact. They have been marvelously displayed in perfect harmony upon Calvary. Here Jesus, God incarnate, offered himself as the sinner’s substitute, that God’s law might be vindicated and his grace free. It pleased the Lord to magnify his law and make it glorious. And it pleased to lavish sinners with love, mercy, and grace.
So look at him—your glorious Savior. Look and see everything you are not but, by grace, long to be. Love him because he is so different to you. Love him because he is so appealing to you. Love him because upon that cross heaven’s artillery was emptied upon him so that the reservoir of mercy and grace might justly be opened to you.