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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Crucifixion and Praise by Zac Poonen

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 Crucifixion and Praise by Zac Poonen

Faith indicates that you believe that God is full of love, full of wisdom, full of power and when you believe that, you will sing His praise. “Praise is the throne on which God sits" (Ps. 22:3). Now Psalm 22 is a Psalm about the Cross of Calvary. It begins with these words ‘‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.’’ Jesus spoke those words when He was hanging on the cross and then He speaks about God being enthroned on the praises of His people in the 3rd verse. Then it refers to His hands and feet being pierced in verse 16. It is very obviously a message of a cross - a Psalm of the cross. And, as you continue in the Psalm, from this crucified position, Jesus invites His younger brothers, that is you and me, to join Him to prepare a throne of praise for the Father (Ps. 22:22); "I will tell of Your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise Thee." That is the verse which is quoted in Hebrews 2 as referring to Jesus praising the Father. So it is very interesting to see that this verse of praise comes in the midst of a Psalm which is speaking about Jesus being crucified, His hands and feet being pierced. The crucifixion of Jesus was the worst evil that was ever committed on this earth. There was never a greater sin committed by any human being than that.

Then consider this: What was the best thing that ever took place on this earth, in all the 6000 years of human history? The answer is again the same: The crucifixion of Jesus Christ. There was never any better thing that ever took place on this earth. Because of Christ’s crucifixion, our sins can all be forgiven and we can spend eternity with God. So the crucifixion of Christ was the worst sin that man ever committed and also the best thing that ever happened on earth. What does that show? Just this that the worst thing that man could do was turned by God into the very best thing of all.

Now, once you understand that, you will realize that whatever other people may do to you are certainly not as bad as the crucifixion of Jesus. And if God could turn that evil thing into something good, tell me what is there that other people can do to you, which God cannot turn for good. Everything is less than that. Nothing can happen to you worse than the crucifixion of Jesus and that worst thing God turned into the very best. That teaches us something about God's Almighty power. That is why we praise Him. That is why, right in the middle of this Psalm which is the Psalm of the cross, we find, ‘‘I will praise you.’’

Do you feel like praising God when you are crucified? What do you think the thieves were doing when they were hanging on the cross? They were not praising God. They were cursing and swearing and probably biting the hands of the soldiers who were crucifying them and spitting at them. They were not at all happy. Can you imagine how Jesus was crucified? He must have opened His palms and co-operated with them as they drove the nails in, put His legs, one on top of the other, so that they could drive the nails in more easily. He was happy. Why was He happy? Didn't He suffer? Oh, He suffered for sure. He felt the pain of crucifixion just as much as you and I would feel it. Then why was he happy? He was happy that He was doing the will of His Father. You know, when we do the will of our Father, it doesn't matter if we suffer. We can still be happy. We may feel pain. Jesus felt pain, but He was happy, and that is why He could praise the Father hanging on the Cross. And this is the way. This is the secret.

I want to show you another Psalm which is also a Psalm of the cross. God's word is powerful and that is why we need to turn to His words again and again. Man's words are not as powerful as God's words. In Psalm 118:11-14 you read, "They surrounded me like bees and in the name of the Lord I will cut them off." It is a Psalm of the cross and then it says in Psalm 118:22, " The stone which the builders rejected became the Chief Cornerstone." That is a word that Jesus quoted in the Gospels. You read that in Matthew 21:42 and Mark 12:10, 11. It is the word that Jesus quoted concerning Himself. When did the builders reject the stone? That was on Calvary; they said, "We don't want Him to reign over us. We will not have this man to reign over us. Crucify him." And they rejected Him.

But there, hanging on the cross, crucified, the Lord says, in Psalm 118:28, "I give thanks to Thee; I will extol Thee, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good." Then in Psalm 118:24, "This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Was the day, on which Jesus was crucified, a day which the Lord had made? It is easy to say - this is the day which the Lord has made when you get an increment or a promotion in your job or a better salary or a better job or when you get married or get a better house or some earthly benefit. But to say that 'this is the day which the Lord has made,' when somebody crucifies you, requires faith. What is the day which the Lord has not made? Is there any day in any year which the Lord has not made? Every day is the day which the Lord has made. The devil doesn't make any days, I will tell you that. If this is the day which the Lord has made, we are going to rejoice and be glad in it. Whether we get a large gift or whether we get crucified, it doesn't make a difference, because we believe in the sovereignty of God.

And so, we find in both these Psalms (Psalm 22 and Psalm 118), this great truth, that it is only as I am willing to die to my self-life , which is always seeking its own, that I can enter into a spirit of praise. Then my praise to God on Sunday mornings will be meaningful. It will come from my heart and I will not have to live a double life, where I am a Holy person on Sunday morning and behave like a devil on Sunday Evening. No, I can be genuine through and through. So, it is not just faith that is connected with praising God, but being crucified with Christ is also connected with praising God. We are trying to lay a good ground so that our life of praise will be on a solid foundation.


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