The Cost of Sin

The Cost of Sin
Matthew 27:45-50
“And behold the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”

What happened on the cross?  What is so significant about the cross that it is the defining moment of history? We know the story well, but in many ways, we never can fully grasp the importance and significance of what Christ did.  Part of the reason we do not fully understand the importance of the cross is that we fail to understand the full depth of our sin. While acknowledging that sin is wrong, we minimize it and even justify it.  However, on the cross, we see the total weight of the vileness of our sin.

The first significant statement that points us to the insidiousness of our sin is found in verse 46.  The statement Jesus makes was misunderstood by those who heard it.  They misinterpreted Jesus’ statement to be a cry for Elijah. So often, we mistake these words as a mere cry of anguish.  But the statement is far more significant and mysterious.  In this statement, we see the full insidiousness of sin in the face of a holy God.  The one thing we must recognize is that in our sinfulness, we will never fully grasp the full gravity of sin. Sin is more than a minor messup.  Sin is more than just a little mistake.  Every sin, no matter how minor we may regard it, is a repudiation and rejection of God.  It is grounded in the denial of God and the attempt by us to throw aside God as our ruler so that we might become god ourselves. In the words of Stephen Charnock, “Every sin is a kind of cursing God in the heart. A man in every sin aims to set up his own will as his rule and his own glory as the end of his actions, against the will and glory of God: and could a sinner attain his end; God would be destroyed.”  To fully understand the depth of payment Christ made for our sins, we need to come to grips with the fact that all sin is a repudiation of God, for only then can we begin to glimpse the depth of the punishment for our sin that Christ endured.  As Lean Morris points out in his commentary on Matthew, “We who are finite and sinners do not understand, and cannot even begin to understand, how evil appears to a holy God.”

In Jesus’ cry we have a hint of the severity of sin and its punishment.  From eternity past, the Triune God, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, existed in perfect unity and fellowship.  They shared a mutual love for one another that is greater than the fastness of space itself.  But on the cross, instead of the Father lavishing his infinite love upon the Son, he poured his infinite wrath.  At that moment, something beyond our understanding happened:  The eternal, unbroken communion between the Father and the Son was broken.  Christ experienced the final death, not just the physical death, but the spiritual death that God warned Adam and Eve would be the consequence of sin. That death is being been separated from God and the object of his wrath.  Leaon points out in his book, The Cross of the New Testament, “So fully did He make Himself one with sinful man that He entered into the God-forsakenness that is the lot of sinners.  He died their death.” Therefore, to minimize the cross, to minimize sin, to deny the necessity of accepting by faith the redemptive work on the cross is to commit the worst of sins, for it is to trivialize and repudiate the death of Christ.  Perhaps there is no greater sin than this.  

The cross demands a response. The only response worthy of such a great act of love for us is to surrender our life to him.  It is to see that sin is never to be justified, never to be normalized, never to be accepted, never to be minimized.  It can only be forgiven by humbly accepting that Christ paid its consequence.  It is to recognize that Christ endured separation from the Father so that we might gain fellowship with Him.  That is a mystery we will never fully understand.

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