(35) was crucified, dead . . .

From all eternity God was preparing to seek out his treasure for safekeeping forever. Someone would have to go down into the created world, and on down into the dim regions of the past, to seek and to save what might otherwise be lost. Man as a creature was at best a leaky boat, and the cargo was so precious. Only God himself was unsinkable. Man could not be made into a God, because a “really-truly” God cannot be made. But the Almighty could contain himself within thingy limits and shrink his powers as far as necessary to dwell in a human frame. This he did. The Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary. As Jesus of Nazareth he lived a man’s life, tempted and tried by all the powers of darkness, by the destroyer. But this man, unlike the others, did not let down his guard. He never backed away from the truth about his fellowmen, yet people never became an unbearable burden to him. Faithful to reality and full of compassion, Jesus shone with God’s holy love whenever he made his decisions and put them into action. This was man as he was meant to be.

But could Jesus face total rejection and death, yet still hold on to his childlike trust that God was worthy and winning? If the world fell in on him. would he still say, “Thy will, not mine, be done”? How far down would Jesus’ faith and loyalty last? The dark destroyer was turned loose on him. The world he had shared in creating was hurled against him. His fellowmen went at him with ropes, chains, whips, hammers, nails, and spittle. He was crucified. The earth never lifted a finger to help him, and the last wisp of the presence of heaven departed. On the cross the destroyer tightened his grip to strangle the life out of Jesus. But still he prayed for his enemies, looked out for his mother, and comforted a dying thief! The God-man was on his own now, operating at a single manpower, facing alone the full force of the age-old enemy of all creation. Would this one of us make it to the highest height of God’s hope for men and become the means of delivering us all from the destroyer? Out of the darkness around that cross Jesus gave a loud cry of supreme trust: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” Then he bowed his head and breathed his last. Jesus was dead. The destroyer had dragged him down to death like all others. But he had been true to God to the very end.

It had been a long road down. The Son of God had died to his heavenly glory in order to become a perishing man whose living is really a continuous process of dying. My life right now is continually becoming my past~—going, going, almost gone, ever dimmer and dimmer. Jesus also died daily to himself. He was so concerned about helping his fellow sufferers that he forgot about striving for righteousness in and for himself. He thus became splendidly and totally right in the sight of God, even to his last breath on the cross. Here was the perfect earthly image of God and his selfless love. By taking up his cross daily and dying to himself for the sake of God and men, Jesus had been fighting off the destroyer whose sting shows up as sin and ends in death. Even though he had never borne sin marks, Jesus now was dead.