We should not center our attention, however, upon what Christ suffered but rather why he suffered, and the answer is “for my sake.” I am the one who by my sins have deserved that God be my enemy and mock me, even when I cry that the sun should no more shine, the earth no more bear me, and the rocks be rent.
When sins are made plain and the conscience is touched, then a man finds out all that Christ suffered here. Then he, too, will say, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Therefore, everything that Christ suffered is to be referred to our souls, and the more we exalt the Passion the more clearly do we see our own condemnation.
—Martin Luther’s Easter Book, ed. Roland Bainton, p. 79
Dilemma wretched: how shall holiness
Of brilliant light unshaded, tolerate
Rebellion’s fetid slime, and not abate
In its own glory, compromised at best?
Dilemma wretched: how can truth attest
That God is love, and not be ashamed by hate
And wills enslaved and bitter death–the freight
Of curse deserved, the human rebels’ mess?
The Cross! The Cross! The sacred meeting-place
Where, knowing neither compromise nor loss,
God’s love and holiness in shattering grace
The great dilemma slays! The Cross! The Cross!
The holy, loving God whose dear Son dies
By this is just–and one who justifies.
—D.A. Carson, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century, p. 101. (Out of print but available as a free PDF here. Sonnet based on Romans 3:21-26.)