Death of the Prince - The Price of Peace

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great terebinth, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.

Joab said, "I will not waste time like this with you." And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak.

Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them.

And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

2 Samuel 18:9,14,16,33

Discerning readers will probably know where I am going with this already, but if not let me highlight the details. The King's dearly beloved son, lifted up on a tree, his torso pierced, and the high price that was paid to bring peace to God's people. As unlikely as it may seem, in Absalom's death we see another type of Christ.

Now anyone who knows anything about the story will know that Absalom was anything but a model son! Apart from leading a rebellion against the King, he was also a murderer and a rapist. You could not think of anyone more different from the holy and humble Son who went to the cross in submission to God's will. But if seeing a symbol of sin and wickedness where we expect to see Jesus alarms us, we should remember that the precedent has already been set much earlier in Scripture.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. (Jn 3:14)

What was Moses thinking? You'd have thought if he was going to prefigure the death of Christ he could have chosen a more appropriate symbol, wouldn't you? If Moses had lifted up a pure white lamb, or a dove, we would have got it, right? But a SERPENT! The epitome of rebellion and sin. How can that represent Christ?

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Co 5:21)

You see, something very powerful is being communicated to us through these types: Just how much God hates sin, and how high the price was to free us from it. Jesus, when he went to the cross became the embodiment of sin. Though he himself was sinless he took upon himself all the sins of the world. The cross was a very ugly moment; Isaiah predicted that in his 52 and 53 chapters, and anyone who has seen the film The Passion of Christ will know there was nothing pretty there. Jesus did not just become ugly because of his beatings and lashings, but because he took upon himself all the ugliness of every evil deed.

Something else is communicated through this passage. Something very precious indeed... The heart of the Father.

We often major on (and rightly so) all that Christ went through as he went to the cross. His obedience even in the face of death is enough to keep us praising for all eternity. But the New Testament is rather quiet when it comes to what the Father himself was experiencing at this time. It is left for us to discover the Father's heart through the types and shadows left for us in the Old Testament. Types found in the accounts of men like Abraham, Jephthah and David. Men whose stories communicate the exceptionally high price the Father was prepared to pay to make provision, stay true to his word, and bring peace to his people. Anyone who thinks that God made a cold calculating assessment that Jesus had to die, and then stood back detached and emotionless is a million miles off! The Father loves the Son with an intensity of emotion that eclipses even the best of us as fathers.

In the face of such love, we gain a fresh perspective on the cost the Father paid to bring us peace. And perhaps we can read again and be moved to tears by the most powerful verse in the Bible. One that has often been robbed of its impact through over-familiarity.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)


Marcos said...

God's Love is so amazing isn't it??

He allowed himself to become sin, vile, disgusting,forsaken, beaten, mocked and much more.Becouse He loved us so much! You are right sometimes we can take john 3:16 so lightly. But as we ponder his goodness, mercy and love, our hearts and actions should yell THANK YOU JESUS.

Great post!

Chris HH said...

Thanks, Marcos.
Great comment. Really good to have your input again. :-)