Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Stumbling at the Cross

"When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall." (v.2)

What is it that the Psalms look to? What's the theme that courses its way through Psalm after Psalm? What gives the Psalms their meaning and depth? The things that the Psalms point to again and again aren't things at all. No, it's a person and his name is Jesus. It's not as though some of the Psalms are Messianic. All of the Psalms point to the person and work of the Savior in some way! Psalm 27 is a powerful example.

You can't help but think of the cross when you read the words of Psalm 27:2. There was a dramatic moment in time when evil men advanced against Christ. It was a moment of jealous injustice. It seemed unthinkable that this could actually happen to the Messiah. Yet, this horrible moment wasn't outside of the sovereign plan of the God of grace. What seemed like the darkest moment in all of human history was in fact a bright and shining moment of redemptive love. What seemed like a sad moment of defeat was, in fact, a moment of eternal victory. Psalm 27 looks forward and captures what New Testament passages look back at about the cross. Here are two examples.

From Peter's first sermon in Acts 2:23-24:

"This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and
foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him
to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him
from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because
it was impossible for death to keep it's hold on him."

And Paul's words about the cross from Colossians 2:14,15

"Having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that
was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away,
nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and
authorities, he made a public spectacle of them triumphing
over them by the cross."

Doesn't Psalm 27 predict exactly what these passages look back to and say about the cross? These words, "when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall," mirror Paul's words, "he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." The cross wasn't an unexpected moment outside of the plan of God where Jesus faced temporary defeat. On the contrary, it was the ultimate moment of stumbling for the forces of darkness. In what looked like the enemy's time of triumph, he was actually being dealt his ultimate defeat. From the moment of the fall of Adam and Eve, the enemy was destined to stumble at the cross. There was no possibility that Jesus would be attacked and defeated. Peter makes it clear that the outcome had been determined before the foundations of the earth had been put in place. God had controlled the forces of nature and written the events of human history to bring the promised Messiah, the sacrificial Lamb, the hope of the world to this point. The hope of the universe rested on this moment. Yet, there was no doubt his moment of suffering would be the universe's moment of victory and freedom. This circumstance of death would be a triumph of eternal life. It was destined to be; it would not be Christ, but the enemy, who would stumble and fall.

Read Psalm 27 and see your suffering Savior. Read Psalm 27 and celebrate your redemption. Read Psalm 27 and remember that in the stumbling of the enemy, your life and hope is to be found. Read Psalm 27 and be filled with deep appreciation for sovereign grace.

The enemy stumbled at the cross so that your hope would never stumble and fall. If you have hope in Christ, you have hope that's guaranteed and sure.