Monday, 27 July 2009

The embodiment of an answered prayer

Only the brave will read any further after that title!

Psalm 22 changes its mood dramatically in the middle. Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me. Psa 22:21 NKJV The last half would more accurately be translated as 'you have heard me'. The first half of the Psalm is dark and brooding. It speaks of the real 'passion' or suffering of Christ. Not Mel Gibson's version which just concentrated on the physical side but on the real inner suffering of Christ's death. He was conscious that in bearing sin he was suffering 'separation' from his Father. The dramatic description that follows the cry of 'Why has thou forsaken me?' speaks of a terrible battle that was raging on the inside, hidden from all eyes and cameras.

Suddenly at verse 21 the mood changes from the horror of separation to the joy of future hope and the watershed is the phrase 'you have heard me'. At this point in time Christ knew that the price was paid and the battle won. His cry of victory 'it is finished' bears witness to that. But what had been 'heard'? and why would the scripture use this language? The victory was not gained in some underworld as some have taught but there while he was still impaled to the cross on the horns of the wild aurochs.

Christ's death was not a tragedy or a cosmic accident, it was the cornerstone of salvation. It was a pouring out of his life to provide the legal foundation for all forgiveness from God. As the old Wesley hymn has it 'justice divine was satisfied'. Isaiah had prophesied this and spoken of the battle that would be won at Calvary and the means by which God would bring forgiveness and salvation to men and women; Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. Is 53:12 NKJV It's there again the image of the work on the cross being 'an intercession for transgressors'. His poured out life was the propitiation, the price paid, to make reconciliation possible.

This prayer was heard and the proof of that is the resurrection. Proof positive that the prayer was heard and the sacrifice accepted; Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to him who was able to save him out of death, with strong crying and tears; Heb 5:7 DRBY That version goes on to say 'he was heard'.

In its powerful images the Bible declares that Christ still bears the marks of his wounds in heaven. He is 'in place' as the person in whom this great prayer was heard. Our access to God is because we have a legal representative who can 'speak' to the Father on our behalf. His moment by moment intercession is not so much in terms of myriads of individual prayers but in the fact that his presence 'in heaven for us' is the great symbol of a prayer that was answered once and for all and which will always guarantee us access if we leave all the 'pleading' to him; My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2 NKJV

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