psalm xxiv – ascent

Who can ascend Golgotha? Who can climb the crag to the Place of the Skull, where Christ ascended. Bruised, He climbed willingly to His place of humiliation. How ecstatic was the evil one as he sent his legions to assail his constant Rival?

But yet Christ climbed and was stricken, enduring all for our sake. The King of Glory Himself, in the least glorious position. See the Incarnate God ascend to the cross, the place where His own creation points and ridicules Him. Yet He kept in Himself favour towards us all.

And from the cross, Christ shouts out into the decrepit, steel-gated hearts of His image bearers: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30). Never did He break from His mission, and never did our barbs restrain His affection. For the soldier who pierced His hands and feet, He felt immense love. For the baying crowd, mercy. What else is there to be said about this God of ours, that we can’t see in Christ’s ascent to the cross? The King of Glory has come in!

All He has done, He has done for you and in your place. Now is the hard part. Now you are to ascend with Him, to whatever cross is prepared for you in this life. You will be tested as He was. But you have failed and will fail. You will turn to your accusers and curse them. You will drop your cross and dart backwards that you might hope to be lost in the crowd. You will curse God for putting you through this. Who can ascend the hill of the Lord, indeed?

You, oddly enough. You can. Not because you’re particularly patient or gifted. Not because of anything about you, actually. Christ didn’t pick you up for your great character and love for others, I can tell you that with certainty.

You are Christ’s new creation (2 cor 5:17). He has made you holy (1 cor 6:11) already. He has already designated He will never forsake you. You will ascend the Golgotha to your own cross, because, however hard that may be, Christ has gone before you and done it already. And every time you drop your cross to run away or swing around and curse your oppressors, the resurrected Lord appears at the top of Golgotha and says, “I know.”

And the strangest part about this is that Jesus’ words will do something to you. You’ll do something completely unreasonable. You’ll voluntarily pick that cross back up. And you will ascend Golgotha through blood and shame because there is no alternative for you. Christ is too lovely to run away from and too precious to abandon. You will ascend the hill by God’s drawing. You will ascend the hill more and more as the humility of Christ shapes you into Himself. A lifelong ascent of Golgotha.

It is only daunting when you think that you are to ascend it by your own strength. It is only a joy when your eyes are so fixated on the Lord at the top of the hill, that you completely forget yourself as part of the equation and ascribe every step to the work of Christ. In this you fulfill every moral stipulation in this Psalm, and you ascend the hill of the Lord. 

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah

psalm xxiv (nkjv)

<— psalm xxiii psalm xxv —>