Day Thirty-nine: Thursday, July 30th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 27
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“Just for you”
We now come to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of our most sorrowful and deeply moving songs of faith reflect on the death of God’s Beloved Son, a death Jesus died on our behalf and for our benefit. More than that, his death was for our salvation, for the overcoming of our sin and the sin of the world. Jesus died to wrap us securely in the grip of God’s eternal love.
- The titles of the hymns are powerful. “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed”
- The hymns speak of heartfelt reflection. “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”
- The soul is moved by this act of sacrificial love. “What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, what wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that the caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!”
Ten years ago, I began a journey I have yet to complete. I began to read Church Dogmatics, a 13-volume set written by Karl Barth. For 8,000 pages Barth examines in great depth the incredible gift God gave to humanity by sending Jesus Christ into the world. In the seventh volume, and after 4,000 other pages, Karl Barth comes to the topic of reconciliation. As Karl Barth digs deep into the fertile soil of reconciliation rich themes come together. As those themes come together the gospel story comes to life. Some of Barth’s writing nearly breaks your heart and brings joy to the deepest places in your soul. Barth writes about the obedience of the Son of God. God did not simply send Jesus. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, accepted his mission willingly. Jesus went with obedience. The eternal Son of God became human because of God’s great love. There is a section that describes The Way of the Son of God into the Far Country. The title alone evokes images of the Prodigal Son, but now instead of a son who leaves his father and wastes the family wealth, we have a Son who in obedience goes to the far country himself, to rescue and redeem God’s precious children.
Late in the volume on reconciliation Karl Barth seeks to help us understand the full impact of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. According to Barth there comes a moment, a moment of faith, a moment of awakening, a moment of reconciliation, where the child of God looks at everything God has done, the great faithfulness of God, the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the great love that is poured out on the cross, and seeing all this the child of God realizes it was all done as Barth puts it, “Just for him.” All that was done by Jesus was done “Just for him.” Christ Jesus became a servant “Just for him.” It was just his place Jesus took on the cross. Jesus died “Just for him.” It was just his pride, just his fall which was overcome. And it was just him that was filled with the Holy Spirit. Barth even says Jesus did not will to be Jesus without being just his Jesus. The world was not to be reconciled with God without just this person as an isolated individual being a human—this person—reconciled to God. The whole occurrence of salvation was not to take place but just for him.
When Barth writes just for him, he means just for you. A realization like that can change your life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of salvation for all creation, for the whole world, for all humanity. For God so loved the world. The gospel is all that and more. And yet I agree completely with Karl Barth. The gospel that is for the whole world, the gospel that is for all humanity, is a gospel that is intended to make a personal impact. The gospel is just for you. God did all this all this just for you. I close with a words from a hymn that I return to over and over again. I close with a line from a hymn that humbly rejoices in the gift God did just for me. And I pray that each one of you will know in the deepest places of your heart that God did all he did just for you.
“Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God shouldst die for me?” (Charles Wesley)
 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV.1, The Doctrine of Reconciliation, p. 754.
A place called Golgotha, meaning SkullPlace. “Place names suggest geographicity, historicity,
and factuality of an event. No Gospel story begins ‘once upon a time…’ The death of Jesus happened on this planet on a piece of land with a strange but ordinary name like Skull-Place. We do not know if this place got its name from its shape or from its awful job of death. Hebrew Golgotha became Calvarium in Latin, from which we get our English ‘Calvary’. (Dale Bruner, The
Churchbook, p. 1039)