Trembling and the Cross of Christ

One of my highlights at the NEXT conference was Kevin DeYoung’s message on the life of Christ (audio here). DeYoung walked us through Luke 8:22-56 where Jesus rebukes a storm, delivers a demoniac, heals a hemorrhaging (thus ceremonially unclean) woman, and resuscitates a dead girl. Such miraculous signs are meant to point us to the greater reality of Christ’s identity as divine Lord. The application of this truth is simple, yet profound: Tremble!

I was reminded of something I’ve grown quite familiar with: Jesus is holy. He is our friend, our elder brother, and our merciful high priest. But he is also the majestic Lord to whom we owe fullest obedience. DeYoung told us, “He is more frightening than you think . . . you may not know Jesus if you’ve never trembled before him.” Jesus’ rebuking the storm and causing it to cease had the effect terrifying his disciples, leading them to conclude that this same man with whom they’ve shared intimate fellowship isn’t exactly safe to be around.

Since that evening, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on what it means to take on the heart-posture of trembling before King Jesus. It means Jesus is not merely cute or cool or my homeboy. It means I do not merely “dabble” in the activities of one who seeks to know and serve him. If there is no holy awe and reverence in my relating to him, then I am guilty of idolatry of the worst kind. Not only do I bow before that which is not God, but I take God’s divine name and ascribe it to a figment of my own imagination.

But to acknowledge such miracles is somehow not enough to cause me to tremble before him. There is a reality far more astonishing than the obedience of a storm, a demon, a sickness, or even death itself. Greater cause for trembling is found in beholding the crucifixion of this holy King.

The wrath of God has fallen upon this holy Son of God! That wrath which is revealed throughout the pages of Scripture against all ungodliness and unrighteousness has fallen on him who is infinitely holy and deserving of worship. Unless I see this, I will not draw near to God in repentance and faith. The crucifixion of God’s holy Son requires my trembling, or else I have no part in its benefits! May I not be too happy in the world to see, mourn, and tremble before the cross of Christ!

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