“To whom does the invitation of this cross come? It comes to the failures, the people who know they have gone wrong, the people who are filled with a sense of shame, the people who are weary and tired and forlorn in the struggle. . . .
Do you despise yourself, kick yourself metaphorically, and feel you are no good? Weary, forlorn, tired, and on top of it all, sad and miserable? Nothing can comfort you. The pleasures of the world mock you. They do not give you anything. Life has disappointed you, and you are sad, miserable and unhappy, and on top if it all, you have a sense of guilt within you. Your conscience nags at you, condemns, raises up your past and puts it before you, and you know that you are unworthy, you know that you are a failure, you know that there is no excuse, you are guilty. . . .
And then on top of all this, you are filled with a sense of fear. You are afraid of life, you are afraid of yourself and your own weakness, you are afraid of tomorrow. You are afraid of death, you know it is coming and you can do nothing about it, but you are afraid of it. . . .
This is the amazing thing about the cross. It comes to such a person, and it is to such a person above all others that it brings its gracious and its glorious invitation. What does it say to you? . . . You are not far off, and the cross speaks to you with sympathy. That man dying on that cross was known as the friend of sinners. He was reviled by the good and the religious because he sat down and ate and drank with sinners. He had sympathy. . . .
Not only that, he will tell you that he is ready to accept you. The world picks up its skirt and passes by. It leaves you alone, it does not want to associate with you, you have gone down, you belong to the gutters, and the world is too respectable to have any interest in you. Here is one who is ready to receive you and to accept you. . . . Sit down, he says. Wait, stop, give up your activities. Just as you are, I am ready to receive you. In your rags, in your filth, in your vileness. Rest.
What else? Pardon. The cross speaks of benediction, of pardon, joy and peace with God. It tells you that God is ready to forgive you. It says, listen to me, your sin has been punished. I am here because this is the punishment of sin. Listen to me, says the blood of sprinkling. I have been shed that you might be forgiven, pardoned, at peace with God. Oh, thank God, there is also cleansing here.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross (Wheaton, 1986), pages 168-170.
(HT: Ray Ortlund)