“If you meet that poor wretch that thrust his spear into my side, tell him there is another way — a better way — to get at my heart. If he will repent, and look upon the one he has pierced and mourn, I will cherish him in that very heart he wounded. He shall find the blood he shed an ample atonement for the sin of shedding it. And tell him from me, he will cause me more pain by refusing this offer of my blood than when he drew it forth.” Benjamin Grosvenor 1676–1758
History and the Bible tells us that a soldier thrust a spear up into the heart of Jesus on the cross after He was already dead. The two criminals on either side of Him were still alive at this time, and because the next day was the Sabbath, they needed the bodies down off the cross by nightfall. So to speed the inevitable death, soldiers broke the legs of the others. But when they came to Jesus, they found He was already dead, so to be sure, a soldier used his spear to confirm it. John writes that this was to confirm scripture that not one of His bones would be broken (John 19:36; Psalm 34:20). Bible scholars believe that His early death was due to the weight of the sin He bore, and the fact that He willfully gave up His spirit.
Of course the eighteenth century minister, Benjamin Grosvenor, put these words into the mouth of Jesus — they were not recorded as being spoken by Him — but the sentiment they represent is compassionate and beautiful, and certainly in keeping with what we know of the heart of God as expressed in His Son.
How true is this for all of us, for we have all pierced Him. It was our sin that put Him there. And yet the blood that Christ shed in the process of our piercing Him and nailing His hands and His feet is the blood that saves us. We caused it and we are miraculously saved by it. What a wonder! Truly a better way to get to His heart.
But the final word of this quote is surely one most worthy of contemplation. That someone refusing Christ’s free gift of salvation is more painful for Jesus than the pain he experienced in His death on the cross. The worst pain is to know that He went through this for nothing. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” This is the heart of God. This is what we know about everybody: God’s heart’s desire is to save. And this is why we represent the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward — to everyone, everywhere. This is truly an expression of Grace Turned Outward from the very heart of God.