The Paradox of Our Faith

The following is a reflection on 1 Samuel 26.

“Who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Sa 26:9)

Think about this question, posed by David in response to his second opportunity at taking Saul’s life. His point is obvious: Regardless of who is in the right and who is in the wrong, to act against the Lord’s anointed is to seemingly disregard the will of the Lord. To act against the Lord’s anointed is to act against the Lord Himself.

And yet this is precisely what we did when we impaled the Son of Man! We lifted our hands against Him and with our sins crucified the Anointed One, the Christ, crying out “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Mt 27:25). Oh, wretched soul of mine, you crucified your Savior! With every sin you commit, you put your hand against the Lord’s Anointed and declare yourself guilty, guilty, guilty! Where David took the spear and water jar of Saul, you left sweet Jesus thirsty (Jn 19:28) and plunged a spear into His side (Jn 19:34). David would not harm even the evil king whose throne he had been called to replace, yet you crucified the righteous King of Kings who reigns eternally because you sought His throne!

And yet aye, there’s the rub. Yes, for in this defiant act of utter sinfulness…in this abominable act of sinful man crucifying the sinless Son of God…here is the greatest paradox of the Christian faith. For though by my crucifying the Savior I am demonstrated to be most guilty, by that same cross I can be declared perfectly innocent. When the world enacted her greatest sin, the Lord enacted His greatest grace. By my unrighteousness I crucified Christ, but in the crucified Christ I am declared righteous. When I was most deserving of death, God was offering the greatest abundance of life. Through God’s greatest act of humiliation arises His greatest act of glorification, and when He appeared to be weakest, He declared Himself and proved Himself strongest. By my poverty I killed Him, yet by His death I am made rich. In my pride I pierced Him, but in knowing that I pierced Him I am made humble. When I watched Him breathe His last breath with hammer held in my hand, I proved myself a slave to sin; but in breathing that last breath, He said “It is finished (Jn 19:30) and declared me free.

And so, David’s question remains: “Who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?”

There is only one answer: No one. No one who performs such an act can be declared guiltless, and yet we all have done of it – every single one of us, each one of us, any of us and all of us. Each of us are guilty. None of us are guiltless. “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom 3:10), for “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6). Yes, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) – we have each put out our hand against the Lord’s anointed and declared ourselves guilty – and “the wages of sin is death…

“…but the free give of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Oh, how glorious the last half of that sentence is! For yes, Jesus Christ died, but that was merely the end of the beginning. He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25). Forgiveness came in His death; life came in His resurrection. In His death, we are delivered from death; in His resurrection, we are resurrected to new life. And so we can say in confidence, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).

And so while we were His enemies, God offered us friendship; while we were dead, God offered us life; while we were slaves, God offered us freedom; while we were guilty, God offered us innocence.

Add the word “most” to each of these statements and you will begin to scrape the most basic understanding of the foundation of how marvelous and great is this Good News – this Gospel – given unto us. For you see,

…we were not merely enemies, but murderers, and He offers to call us not only “friends,” but “sons,” “daughters.”

…we were as dead as we could be in our sins, yet He offered the most life – into eternity!

…we were the most enslaved – dedicated to the cause, willing slaves of our own fleshly desires – yet He offered us the most freedom, making us coheirs to His kingdom, alongside the very one whom we crucified and yet who saved us!

…when we were at our guiltiest, His arms were suspended from east to west on the cross as HE cried out, “Father, forgive them” (Lk 23:34) and said to our very souls, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove [your] transgressions from [you]” (Ps 103:12).

So yes, the limp body of the bloodied and crucified Christ bears testimony to the most shameful thing we have ever done – sin, for in sin we rebelled against our very Creator, the One for whom our very hearts beat and the One for whom our very souls long and the One for whom our very spirit live. Yet from our greatest shame comes our greatest triumph, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ transformed what was plain water into the sweetest wine, blind eyes to possessing perfectly clear sight, the raging tempest within us into perfectly calm seas. Our white and leprous skin he turns into clean and fresh skin, while our hearts, so bloodied by our own sin, are in turn washed white as snow. If He has transformed enemies to friends and if He has transformed death to life and has transformed the slave to the free and has transformed the guilty into the innocent, He can, oh my soul, transform even the act of your greatest shame.

And so, while I did indeed put my hand out against the Lord’s Anointed and I am guilty and I am ashamed of what I have done with my each and every sin, “I AM NOT ASHAMED of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).

Now indeed, this is Good News.