Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
Mormons maintain that God’s glory is His intelligence. But God has a different value system to that of fallen man. His yardstick for glory is not intelligence, knowledge, popularity or worldly success; but goodness, purity, selflessness, and holiness.
When Moses asked Him to reveal His glory, God showed him His goodness (Exodus 33:18-19). And Jesus explained that His disciples would glorify God through bearing much fruit of righteousness (John 15:8). Conversely, God told His prophet Ezekiel that He was going to display His glory amongst the heathen by punishing Israel for their sinfulness (Ezekiel 39:21-23).
Few of us would think of ourselves as sinful. Surrounded on every side by hypocrisy, corruption, immorality and godlessness, we probably look quite good to ourselves. But, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:12, when people compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. It’s only when we’re confronted by the glory of a pure and righteous God that we begin to get some idea of the terrible depths of our own sinfulness.
This happened to Isaiah one day when he was praying in the temple. He had a vision of the Lord sitting on a throne, and His glory filled the temple. The longer Isaiah stood there in His presence, the more conscious he became of his own impurity. Waves of fear welled up inside him. Eventually, unable to bear it any longer, he blurted out:
“Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5, KJV)
Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Lord Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. Peter could testify to that. One day Christ performed a miracle that filled Peter with an overwhelming awareness of His glory. Trembling with fear and oblivious to those around him, this rough fisherman knelt at His feet and cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8). At that moment Peter too had realized his absolute unworthiness.
Later on, in John 17:5, the Lord Jesus prayed that His Father would glorify Him. And God sent Him to Calvary, to display the glory of utter selflessness and sacrificial mercy, the likes of which the world had never seen before, nor will it ever see again.
Christ wasn’t a helpless victim of His circumstances. He could have walked away from the cross at any time. When He was about to be arrested, He remarked, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Nor was He an unwilling scapegoat, because He said, “No one has taken My life from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.” (John 10:18).
In spite of knowing the indescribable suffering that lay ahead of Him, He went to Calvary. There He gave His all for you and for me, so that we could be set free from the stranglehold of sin that ruins our lives, separates us from God, and condemns us to an eternity in hell.
What happened after they had arrested Christ was a travesty of justice. Although He was found innocent, the mob demanded that He be crucified. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of execution. It involved a slow, agonizing death with the maximum amount of suffering. Normally it was reserved for traitors and the basest of criminals. Nevertheless, fearing an uprising, Pilate gave in to their demands and granted permission for Christ to be crucified.
Before crucifying Him, they tied His hands to a post. Then they scourged Him with a thonged whip that had been knotted with small pieces of lead and sharp fragments of bone. The fragments of bone ripped into His flesh. Trails of blood flowed in their wake. The lead pieces inflicted deep and severe bruising, pulverizing His torn flesh to a pulp. Because it was so severe, scourging was restricted to thirty-nine strokes, lest the victim die.
When this brutal ordeal had at last come to an end, they handed the Lord Jesus over to a group of hardened soldiers for their amusement. Covering His torn and bleeding body with a scarlet robe depicting royalty, they pushed a crown of thorns down into His scalp. They mocked Him, spat in His face and beat Him over the head with a reed. Then they blindfolded Him and took turns at slapping His face, challenging Him to identify the one who had hit Him. When they tired of that, they gave full vent to their cruelty by pulling out fistfuls of His beard by the roots. By the time they’d finished with Him, His face was so disfigured and swollen that His features were barely recognizable.
Weak, battered, bruised, bleeding and fainting, they led Him to Calvary. There they stripped off His clothing and nailed him on to a crude cross fashioned from parts of a tree. This was lifted upright and dropped into a hole, so that He hung suspended upon it, naked, for all to see His shame. The Lord Jesus was to suffer and die as a public spectacle.
Exposed to the heat of the sun, He endured the torment of insatiable thirst. The nails in His hands and feet had pierced through nerves, giving rise to spasms of excruciating pain. His body was a mass of raw, open cuts, welts and bruises. Swarms of flies and other insects settled on Him at will, their bites and stings adding to His misery. Great drops of blood oozed from the thorns pressing into His brow. Trickling slowly down his face, they mingled with the spit from the mob.
As they watched His terrible agony, the crowd jeered at Him, cursing, and ridiculing him. Yet Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).
That sight of the Saviour suffering on the cross to pay the consequences of my sins and yours was a graphic picture of unfathomable love, utter selflessness, wondrous compassion and undeserved mercy. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 2:8, “They crucified the Lord of Glory.”
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised
again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25,
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree …” (1 Peter 2:24, KJV).
Joseph Smith, boasted that he was a far better man than the Lord Jesus Christ. He said:
“I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jesus ever did. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (The History of the Church, Volume 6, pages 408-409).
If his followers had been at risk of arrest, followed by a brutal Roman scourging and crucifixion, they too would have gone into hiding. Joseph Smith was everything that Christ was not; arrogant, egotistical and boastful.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16, KJV).
In stark contrast with Joseph Smith’s arrogance is the attitude of those of us who have been set free from the guilt and the penalty of sin through our faith in Christ’s atoning death. All too aware that it was our sins, faults and failures that were the cause of His horrendous suffering, we can only join in saying with song writer Ira Stanphill, “Unworthy am I of the price that He paid.”
So we bow in reverence, our hearts overflowing with gratitude as we honour Christ, our Lord and Saviour, for having borne our guilt, our punishment, our suffering and our shame for us, that day at Calvary.
“May it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galations 6:14, NASB)
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