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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

By his stripes, we are healed

The Lord can appear to us without glory (as he did on the road to Emmaus), with much glory (as he had to Moses, which was in appearance like a bush on fire--a continuously burning orb), or something in between. He cannot, however, appear to men in all of his glory while we remain in a telestial body.

Though he spoke with God face to face, Moses hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and was not satisfied by this experience. Once, emboldened by the Spirit, Moses asked the Lord Jesus to show him his glory:

18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
21 And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. (Exodus 33)
The Lord could not show Moses all of his glory. But, he used Moses' righteous desire as a way of bringing him to a singular experience. He wanted to show Moses all his goodness. Moses could not bear all of the Lord's glory, but he could see--for a moment--all of his goodness. He was going to show him how and why he is gracious and merciful. He was going to show him what gives him that right. To see this, Moses was not going to view the Lord's face, but his back parts.

The Lord put Moses in such a place that he was covered for all but a very brief moment. In that flash of a moment, he was able to see through faith the scourging wounds the Lord would receive at the hands of the Romans.

One historian (Eusebius of Caesarea) describes Roman scourging this way: “For they say that the bystanders were struck with amazement when they saw them lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15).

This morning, as I was praising God, he opened the eyes of my understanding and I saw a brief glimpse of his scourging. I only saw the scene for enough time to see one stroke land across his back. I saw the flesh of his back split open as the whip landed. I had never imagined it the way I saw it. Just as the flesh burst open, my heart burst open, and I praised his condescension, patience, mercy, and goodness through my tears.

The brutality of the Lord's scourging, let alone of his crucifixion, as terrible as they were, are only a part of what he bore for us. These physical tokens (the lashes on his back, the wounds in his hands and feet, the wound in his side) witness to the price he paid for us. With his condescending to mortal life, and through what he did while here, and what he endured while here, he has purchased the right to forgive us. Truly by his stripes, we are healed. Truly, he loved us while we were yet sinners. What greater reason could we have to repent than his unfathomable love for us?