Our experience of sadness when we sin against the dearest on earth to us is but a small comparison to the saddest day in human history. Surely, there was never a greater betrayal of trust and love than when Adam sinned against his Creator. On Adam God laid the generations of all of his unborn children. Was there ever a greater denial of love than this? What pain it must have brought on Adam to fail his God and his children by one act of sin? What pain did it bring on his children? God gave him dominion over the entire earth. When he was alone, God gave him a wife in his bosom, so near that she was one with him. And what can be compared to the loss of the near and sweet communion Adam knew when the LORD God walked in the garden, revealing Himself to him by His spoken word? The sadness is heightened when we realize how kind and good God is. Surely, the magnitude of his crime must be measured by the dignity of the One against whom he sinned, the love that God had for him, and the stewardship with which he had entrusted him. Adam’s sin undoubtedly belongs in the record of the saddest days in human history because it was mistrust of Him who is faithful, hatred for Him who is love, sin against Him who is holy. And Adam’s sin was ours. His guilt and nature are ours. We should feel the pain of our fall in Adam as much or more than we feel the pain of our own personal sins, because of who we sinned against!
But wait! Was there not a sadder day and greater sin than even this? Did not wicked men take and bind and falsely charge and hurriedly and unlawfully condemn and desire the death of the Son of God over a murderer, and then, in self-seeking envy, literally kill the Prince of Life?! God sent His Son into the world, but the world crucified Him. The Lord Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but the world condemned Him. He only did good, but the world only did evil to Him. He only told the truth, but the world only lied to Him and about Him. He disclosed His heart in intimate revelation, but the world harbored hatred for Him behind hypocrisy. He did not save Himself that He might save His own, but the world knew nothing and cared nothing for salvation, and demanded His death in exchange for a murder.
Surely, the treatment of Christ is the saddest day of all. My sins against my mother and those I love are recurring memories with painful scars on my conscience. My sin in Adam hurts more. But my sin against the Son of God is the most painful to bear. It was because of my sin that He was tortured by infidels, betrayed by a friend, forsaken by His own, and forsaken by His God. As Isaac Watts said, “Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain!”
Yet, neither God our Father nor Christ our Lord and Savior will allow us to wallow in the guilt of our miserably depraved thoughts and acts of evil against Him. This is love excelling and mercy all surpassing! As Joseph told his brethren, “...be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life“ (Genesis 45:5), even so Christ, in the gospel, commands sinners to come to Him and wash in the fountain of His cleansing blood. “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1) Zechariah’s prophecy also is fulfilled when we mourn for what our sin did to our Savior: “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). Yet Christ endured the guilt and shame of my sins made His, and suffered the indignation of God’s wrath for them, out of joy that was set before Him. And what joy was that? It was the joy that in His death He glorified His Father by saving His elect. In the cross of Christ, all of God’s perfections are resplendently displayed! Moreover, in reward for His obedience, untold millions of ungodly sinners the wide world over are come out of every nation, kindred, tribe and tongue to seek Him for His grace. These, in the preaching of the gospel, find Him as all of their salvation. They lift up their hearts and voices in praise and worship of God and “to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev 1:5)!
The cross is no doubt the saddest day, on the one hand. But without a doubt, it is also the gladdest day! Christ’s joy is unmeasurable, because by His humiliation and pain and forsaking on the cross, He brings His sheep, His many sons to glory! What triumphant victory over sin and death! God our Father calls for all of heaven to rejoice with Him that He has found His sheep! Grace now reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:21)! May our God and Savior give us such a sight of Christ and Him crucified to humble us and to raise us up as we journey in this walk of faith!