Every Holy Week, amid the sad and somber stories of the crucifixion of Christ, our congregation sings the old spiritual “Were You There?” Do you know it? Each stanza includes the phrase, “Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”
I had to ask myself, though, “Does it really? Do I really tremble?” How about you—do you seriously tremble at the words of God? Are you 100 percent convinced that you owe your very existence to God? . . . that you owe God full and perfect obedience to his will? . . . that his threats of anger and judgment are not for other evil people but for you too? . . . that the torments of hell are real and permanent? Ezra the priest and the leaders of Israel came to realize with shock how far the Israelite people had fallen: “Everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice” (Ezra 9:4).
When the terror and reality of God’s solemn words of law and condemnation sink in, there is only one place for sinful tremblers to go: to the cross of Christ. It is for just such rebels and sinners as you and me that the Son of God chose to come to earth, live a sinless life as our substitute, and offer that life as a replacement victim.
Do you tremble also with relief and joy to know that Christ Jesus has bought you sweet forgiveness, divine favor, and life forever?