1 Peter 2:21-23
AJM The woman in Luke 7 had an alabaster box of myrrh. Myrrh generally speaks in Scripture of the suffering love of Christ. She took that myrrh and she anointed the feet of the Lord Jesus out of affection and appreciation for Him. I thought it would be good if, after our meeting today, each of us might be able, out of our appreciation of the suffering love of the Lord Jesus, just to take something out of our box of myrrh and anoint that blessed One.
There are many aspects to His sufferings – we cannot cover them all. We certainly cannot fathom them all. But I just thought we could look at what unfolds in these Scriptures I have suggested; first of all, looking at Him, as Peter shows us, from the standpoint of what He suffered as the righteous One.
It is amazing what He endured at the hands of men as being the blessed, obedient and righteous One, and never, at any stage, through all that He endured, misrepresenting His God. I thought that the challenge for us, as we look at Him thus, is as to whether under pressure, as believers in the Lord Jesus, we display the same kind of spirit that was manifested in Him.
We can follow Him in these sufferings in Peter. Indeed, Peter encourages us to follow, to have Him as our model. We shall come to sufferings where we could not follow, but let us just have a fresh look at the blessedness of the One Who, as Peter says, “when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not.” And all through His life, right to the cross, He was subjected to such sufferings, as being the righteous One of God.
There were also in His pathway the sorrows that He felt, the suffering that He felt as looking on the world around, looking on mankind around. Someone has said that, if the soul of righteous Lot was vexed in Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pet 2:6‑8), what must our Lord Jesus have felt, that sinless One, as He went through a scene that was so foreign to the sinlessness that belonged to Him?
And so I just read these two verses in Matthew because they suggested to me that every case of need that came to Him was an evidence to Him of the groaning creation which He had come into; was an evidence to Him of the sorrow that had come upon mankind as a consequence of sin. Not only did He heal these sicknesses, but He entered into the cause of them, in a far greater way than those who were actually the subject of these infirmities.
And so we see Him watching the widow’s tear (Luke 7:13). You see Him being moved as He sees the feelings of that father who took his son to Him (Mark 9:24‑25). We see Him weeping as death invades that family at Bethany (John 11:35). All these things come upon the human family as the consequence of sin. The Lord Jesus felt it and suffered because of it all.
Then we come to Gethsemane. They are still following; He takes these three disciples with Him. They were not up to it, nor would we be. And there, in Gethsemane, we see His sufferings in anticipation of what lay immediately ahead of Him. Oh, think of the feelings of that blessed One as He contemplated the cup that He was about to receive from His Father! You could understand the horror that filled His soul because He knew, in drinking that cup, that it would involve the forsaking by His God. Still, He is anticipating that suffering. And we see Him, you might say, demonstrating, in the face of the enemy’s final attack, His commitment to seeing the completion of the will of God.
I thought, therefore, as looking at Gethsemane, that it would challenge us as to the strength and quality and depth of our commitment.
Then we have the forsaking – Psalm 22. There are so many Scriptures that we can refer to, and I trust we will be free to do so this afternoon. There, at the threshold of that psalm, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” We cannot enter into it. We saw Him in Gethsemane in communion, but communion in agony. We see Him at the cross, and the word used by the psalmist is, “Thou answerest not.”
Oh, the feelings of that holy One as He felt Himself forsaken by His God! I thought that, whilst we cannot follow there, surely the summing up as we look at Him in such suffering is that we should develop a greater appreciation and love for Him.
I wondered if we could follow these suggestions and get help, dear brethren.
HS That is a very helpful line of things. I suppose Peter uses this word, “a model,” because of what these saints to whom Peter was writing were going through. The earlier verses show the exercises which lay behind Peter’s writing to them. It says here, “For to this have ye been called.” And he has just said, “This is acceptable with God.” He has spoken about their sufferings, their griefs, about their being buffeted and bearing it, and their “suffering, ye shall bear it” — “this is acceptable with God.” And then he brings in what we have to see in Christ as bearing these things.
AJM It is noticeable here that in each of these chapters in his first letter, he refers to the sufferings of Christ. He does not do that in the second letter – he is dealing with a different object in the second letter. Here he is writing to persons who have been dispersed and scattered and who are suffering, as you say. He says, ‘How can I encourage them? I can encourage them by pointing them to the supreme Sufferer, and just give them a glimpse of how He conducted Himself and trusted in His God in the face of such suffering.’
DEMcP The insertion of these two little words, “for you,” would bring that home, would it not? It would, to them and to us today, focus our attention on what He actually did.
AJM We speak about the sufferings of Christ in a general sense, and I do not condemn that. I wonder just how much we stop and consider the depth of these sufferings – not only that of the atoning sufferings, but what we have here. Everything was against Him as a righteous Man, and here He is, conducting Himself as the righteous One and never betraying the true representation that God would have shine out in Him. And how searching that is for ourselves! And, as you say, it is helpful just to see that these sufferings were for each one of us.
DEMcP Yes, the sorest of trials that He passed through only brought out the absolute holy perfection of that blessed manhood, the like of which had never been seen before – unique in Him but yet demonstrated here, that we might take character from Him and appreciate Him today.
AJM Yes. I was thinking about the oblation in Leviticus 2. There are three distinct ways in which the oblation is prepared – it could be baken in the oven, it could be baken in the pan or it could be prepared in the cauldron. In each of these instances it suggests heat and pressure being applied to the offering. It was under such heat, such pressure, that the frankincense from the life of Christ was released. That is what we see as we see Him under pressure as presented by Peter in his epistle. The frankincense is released and what shines out is a Man that is perfect in every way to His God.
JMcI Do you think that the Lord could continue in those circumstances because His outlook in manhood was upward? He was not in association, even with the twelve, until He had come out of death, was He? Thus He spent the night in prayer (Luke 6:12).
AJM When we come to our last Scripture, what you say will just emphasise the awfulness of the forsaking. During those three hours of darkness, there was no answer from the One with Whom He had had sweet communion in the night season and the daytime. But, as you say, as we see Him in His dependence on His God, we see that He is setting forth qualities and features that may have been seen in measure in persons of old, but had never been seen in perfection in anyone before.
PC Did the apostle John writing in the Revelation have this subject in his mind when he said, “To Him Who loves us, and has washed us from our sins in His blood” (Revelation 1:5)?
AJM I think that is right, it is as if John is saying, ‘His love is still the same; I saw His love, I witnessed His love as He hung there on that cross, and His love is still the same.’ And that is what he would say to us today as he points us to His sufferings in a fresh way, as we would seek to glean a fresh impression of Him. Let us be like John and let our hearts go out in doxology to Him.
JMcI Do you think Peter is writing now from the point of view of the searching he had at the end of John’s Gospel?
AJM I am sure that is right. Peter would have had many reflections as he, by the Spirit, recalled not just his own mistakes – I do not know that he would have lingered too long on that – but rather some of these beautiful features that are expressed in Christ. He saw Him, you might say, subjected to the heat in so many different ways. You might say, from the moment that Satan came at Him in the temptations right until His final moments, Peter, during these three-and-a-half years, was a witness to it. He writes there as saying, ‘I have looked at Him this way, I have looked at Him that way, and I have found only perfection.’
HS In that way, referring to Leviticus 2, it is the fine flour on which is poured the oil. It is the spirit with which Christ went through the sufferings that Peter delineates here; the spirit in which He moved and suffered.
AJM I think that is lovely. The consistency of that fine flour – there was no roughness in it and it was mingled with oil, it was anointed with oil. And then the frankincense; the idea of the frankincense, as far as I can see here, was that when the pressure was applied, the frankincense would be released. How beautiful, as you look at Him under pressures from the religious side, under pressure from every walk of life: the frankincense was just ready to be released, released to God – but, oh, that we might get a whiff of that frankincense today!
JL It says of Job, at the end of the book, where God is speaking to his three friends, “Ye have not spoken rightly of Me, like My servant Job,” who “did not sin with his lips,” “nor ascribed anything unseemly to God” (Job 42:7, 2:10, 1:22). And think of the sufferings that Job went through!
AJM Yes, you are thinking of the endurance, are you not? I am sure that we can glean from the Old Testament nuggets that would point us to the great Antitype in the New Testament. What we have to say, and what they would say as well, is, ‘Yes, we were just pointers to the perfect One.’
DM I was thinking of your reference to this being a model in suffering for righteousness. I was thinking of the Lord at His baptism, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt 3:15), and the response from heaven when that took place.
AJM That is lovely, and that was just, you might say, at the doorway to His public service – the stamp of Heaven’s recognition and approval of Him. Heaven knew what lay ahead on that moral pathway. Heaven knew that as He displayed righteousness, He would suffer. But Heaven also knew that, as He displayed it, there would be something for man, there would be something for Heaven. Do you have something more to say?
DM I am just thinking it was evidence of His complete commitment in entering into that pathway. That would be part of the model for us, would it?
AJM I think so, because it is there that we get the Spirit descending upon Him. From that moment onward His whole life of service is permeated with the anointing oil. In that anointing oil, if we go back to its origin in Exodus, one of the main ingredients was myrrh (Exod 30:23).
JBB Does this make our call all the more attractive, when we see the uniqueness and perfection of Christ? He says to Ananias, “I will shew to him how much he must suffer for My name” (Acts 9:16). It is something that is between the Lord and the individual, is it not?
AJM That is right, and I think it shows us the call – “For to this have ye been called.” When you look at these few verses we have read, not only do we see Him meeting the opposition in perfection, but we see Him in total dependence on His God. “When suffering, threatened not; but gave Himself over into the hands of Him Who judges righteously.” How beautiful that is, that despite all that men would throw against Him there was a resource that He could commit Himself to! A resource, though, that for the moment at Calvary was cut off.
JMcI It is interesting and telling for us that when he speaks about the model, Peter immediately says, “Who did no sin.” So that is the model, is it not?
AJM “Who did no sin.” There is no doubt about Whom he is speaking, is there? There is only One. We have often said that John says, “In Him sin is not” (1 John 3:5); Paul says, “Who knew not sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21); but Peter says, “Who did no sin.” He had seen Him walking and He did no sin; he could testify to the perfection of His walk.
DEMcP You are speaking of His walk; it says here, “In His steps.” Does that bring out the detail of His life? Does it suggest that there would be a close look? Perhaps it suggests something that would occupy us even on a daily basis: the steps of Jesus and the perfection that shines out in them as food for our souls?
AJM That is what I was thinking. We should not generalise. Let us get down to the steps of the Lord Jesus. Every day there was a step of pleasure to God. Every day there was a step in a pathway of suffering.
DEMcP It has often been spoken of, “One of the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:22).
AJM Yes. You think of that lovely poem of Mr Darby’s, ‘The Man of Sorrows.’ Where did he coin it from? He coined it from contemplating the pathway of the Lord Jesus Christ, and where that pathway led to. What Old Testament Scripture is most quoted in the New? It is Isaiah 53. And it tells us what? It tells us of the sufferings of Christ. There is point in that, you know.
WGS I was thinking of Exodus 12: “Ye shall eat none of it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roast with fire; its head with its legs and with its inwards” (v9). Is that feeding on the sufferings of Christ?
AJM I think so; it is good that you refer to that, feeding on the sufferings of Christ. It was not only that they were sheltered by the blood on the lintel and the doorposts, but in that house the whole household had common food, and that food was that roast lamb. Well, dear brethren, as we feed on that roast Lamb, we shall get a fresh impression of the sufferings that belonged to the Christ.
JMcI Do you think it is important to see the dependence of His manhood? The Spirit came upon Him in the anointing. And then, “He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the instructed” (Isaiah 50:4). That is a divine Person in manhood. And see the dependence that marked Him – we need to learn from that, do we not?
AJM I think so. That dependence continued right up to the cross. Even on the cross, when He says, “My God, My God,” He is still leaning on that God in dependence. It is not that there is an answer. It is not that He is not forsaken. But from the standpoint of the dependent Man He is ever depending on that resource that He had in God.
JMcI It was not answered, but it was heard.
AJM And the answer did come, did it not? The answer came in resurrection.
AJM We should maybe move on to Matthew. As I say, we can only touch – it is sad to say it – lightly on some of these aspects. But I thought it was worth thinking of what the Lord Jesus suffered as going through this scene, as taking on the sorrows and sufferings of mankind. He felt that. It was the Creator that walked here in the form of a Man. He could recall the days of creation, such was the glory that belonged to Him. But as a Man here, what was He faced with? He was faced with a groaning creation. Did He not feel inwardly every sight that He saw? The blind, the deaf, the leprous, the poor – He felt it all. And, as feeling it all, how often we get the expression, “moved with compassion!” Let us challenge ourselves, as we look out on the same groaning creation, as to what our feelings are, what our thoughts are for our fellow men. And how developed are we in our intercession on their behalf? Because God expects that. We cannot be like Him Who, it says, “Himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” But let us see Him as the One Who, even as going through the scene, took on the sorrows of mankind.
JHS And so He felt the sorrows and the disease that were around Him. It says He set His face like a flint to go to Jerusalem (see Isaiah 50:7, Luke 9:51). So there was that suffering at the cross ever before Him.
AJM That is supreme, you might say: the cup that He had to drink. But on the way to that – the prophet speaks of it – “Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa 53:4). You think of the prophet just contemplating, by the Spirit of Christ, what would emerge in the suffering Christ, as he pens that chapter in Isaiah 53. There is no chapter like it, leading on to the fullness of the thing when His soul is made an offering for sin (v10). But, along the way to that presentation of Himself as the sin-offering, there was the bearing of the griefs of humanity.
DEMcP Did He not groan at one point – saying, “Ephphatha” (Mark 7:34)? Did He not weep in the presence of death, with that family at Bethany (John 11:35)? The Lord felt, as none other could, the ravages of sin that had come in in the creation.
AJM I was thinking of that. He took the deaf man aside, and He groaned. There was another time when the Pharisees questioned Him, and it speaks of Him groaning then as well (Mark 8:12). And then there is that scene at Nain when the widow comes out, her son on the bier on his way to burial (Luke 9:11‑12). Would He not feel for that widowed woman? Would He not feel for a Jairus as He entered that house, the little girl lying dead (Mark 5:40)? And then, as you say, that family at Bethany. The Lord Jesus felt it all: “He hath borne our griefs.”
JL Think of Him, too, weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41‑44). He felt the rejection of Himself.
AJM That is another aspect of His sufferings. I am glad you refer to it. Rejection by Israel – He felt that. “He came to His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). What I am trying to suggest, brethren, is that while the climax of the sufferings of Christ is seen expressly at Calvary’s cross, in that pathway of His there are glimpses of His sufferings all the way along, and it should just cause our hearts to admire Him all the more.
DEMcP I was thinking of what you were saying, how it should affect us. It is not that we can take these things on, but how it should affect us. Do you think this would give us a gospel outlook, really, on our fellow men? From Romans we know that the whole creation is groaning (Rom 8:22), and it is very marked. Do you think then that the power of the gospel to come in and lift the burden of the misery of sin from men’s hearts should be before us more?
AJM That is exactly what I was thinking as we looked at Him in this way. As He saw men’s sufferings, what did He have for them? He had the heart of God for them. I know it involved the cross before there could be a full release of that love. But in the meantime He alleviated, He relieved them of their suffering, He relieved them of their sorrows. And so, what a challenge it is to ourselves as we look at mankind today and see all kinds of sorrow and depravity! How does it move us? Does it move us prayerfully? Does it move us actively in bringing the glad tidings to God’s creature?
DEMcP I was thinking of Paul’s commission, “to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). Do you think that what we see amongst men would cause us to realise that the gospel has that power?
AJM I think so. What He is presented with, in the Scripture, is “many possessed by demons, and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all that were ill” (Matt 8:16). Demonic power! Well, is it not prevalent today? The same power that was evidenced in Christ, the Spirit of God can use that power today in order to bring conviction into hearts as to their condition, and point them to an answer to it.
DM The word says He “bore our diseases.” How far does that go? I am not thinking of the sufferings on the cross.
AJM I just thought that not only could He sympathise with the condition that He came across, but He could enter into the reason for it, He could enter into the cause and bring in, in measure, during His pathway here, a word of relief to it.
DM I was thinking of the occasion of the woman who touched His garment. It says that “power went out from Him” (Luke 6:19; 8:46).
AJM Yes, in Him it was possible that all these things be healed. We are limited, as we have to call on God’s power, but in Him there was power to heal these extreme cases. But I think there was more than that: there was the healing – that was one side – but more than that, He entered in feelingly to their condition and bore it in His spirit.
DM I was thinking of the potter’s vessel that was marred (Jer 18:4). The Lord must have felt the marring of creation, because at the outset it was said, “It was very good” (Gen 1:31).
AJM That is good, and that just fits in very well: the marring of His creation, He feels it, but He has the answer to it.
JHS Why do we not have this healing amongst us at the present time? There are other companies that are effecting healing: I was just hearing today of a doctor coming to those who were doing healing and saying, ‘What is going on? We have cases of cancer and other diseases, confirmed cases, and then they come in and everything is clear.’ The doctors were baffled! But that is going on today.
AJM I cannot answer your question, but I can say that God does answer prayer. The power of prayer has been proved in instances of God coming in and healing, but it is His matter, really.
JHS Well, it may be a lack of faith on our part, faith and prayer.
AJM That may be. I think, supremely, we have to look at the Lord Jesus in all His perfection as the One Who took on suffering as a result of the condition of mankind. He could bring in healing immediately, but, above all, He could enter into the condition – the cause of the grief, the cause of the illness, the disease – on the basis that He was going to the cross to remove the cause.
JMcI We have spoken of Isaiah 53; Philip joins the chariot – “Concerning whom does the prophet say this? of himself or of some other?” (Acts 8:34). It was concerning another Man, was it not? And what an answer!
AJM That is one of the New Testament quotations from Isaiah 53.
PC In the matter of Abraham and Isaac, Isaac asked the question and the answer was, “God will provide Himself with the sheep” (Gen 22:7‑8). But the Lord did not ask any questions, did He? He submitted Himself entirely.
AJM Mrs. Cowell’s hymn says,
Obedience full, unquestioned; perfection of a Son!
And here He is, going on, bearing the griefs, bearing the sorrows, and He is on His way to the effecting of the will of God.
We should move on to Luke 22. It is not quite Calvary, but it is getting close. We mentioned the enemy’s final attack. Satan came to the Lord in the temptations in chapter 4, and He met him by the word of God. You might say that He met him by His dependence on God. We have a public service of the strong man being bound and his goods being plundered (Matt 12:29). How his goods were plundered! Think of the plundering of his goods in the Gospels. That woman in Luke 7; the woman by the well (John 4) – ripe for Satan but plundered from Satan! But here Satan has come back, his final thrust: ‘How can I divert this blessed One from the pathway of the will of God?’ And we see here, especially in Luke, the intensity of the Lord’s feelings as, you might say, He grapples with the issues that lie ahead. It says, “Being in conflict He prayed more intently.”
JMcI Do you think that, in this account of Luke’s, there was no need to mention the forsaking on the cross? I do not mean it was not there, but it seems the Lord went right forward from this point, and Luke does not bring in the forsaking.
AJM That is true. I have often wondered why. What you are suggesting is that from this standpoint it was clear that the enemy was defeated. The Lord was bearing what was shortly to come upon Him; He was bearing it in His spirit in the garden. How intensely He feels it! “His sweat became as great drops of blood” – only Luke mentions that.
JMcI The angel strengthened Him. It brings out the preciousness of His humanity, and yet He is the One Who is going forward to finish everything.
AJM There is no angelic service at Calvary; He is alone. But here we see Him. Gethsemane, I understand, means ‘oil press’ or ‘winepress’ and, you might say, you just get the squeezing of the grapes, the pressing of the grapes. He was never more obedient, He was never more delightful to His God than as coming under the pressure of the squeezing and the pressing, as He was here. What a fragrance, what frankincense arose to God from the garden of Gethsemane!
HS This epitomises the life of Christ, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” That is the epitome of Christ, is it not? What a decision was made at Gethsemane – tremendous decision! Your blessing and mine depends on it, does it not?
AJM It does. They are amazing words. It is as facing that cup: “If Thou wilt remove this cup from Me.” What was going to go into that cup? He knew the depth of what was going to be in that cup. He shrank from it in a sense – not exactly in the sense that it would involve death, although there is little doubt that that affected His spirit, but what He felt most of all was that the blessed One, with Whom He had enjoyed such precious communion, He would speak to Him and there would be no answer. “Not My will, but Thine be done.” What divine resignation, you might say – resigned to the will of God! And that will of God involved the settling of the whole sin question.
HS So on one side there was the greatness of the tremendous pressure that He was anticipating; He was settling that in His spirit here, and was about to settle it in His body. But then He had an object in mind, as seen in Psalm 22, “Thou art holy, Thou that dwellest amid the praises of Israel.” He was going through extreme suffering, and really it was for God and His praise, was it not?
AJM I think that is right. I think that all along He was thinking for God. JND speaks of the work of Christ in connection with the Day of Atonement. He says – and he is guarded in what he says – that the most important part of that work was the glorification of God (Synopsis vol 1 p157). It is not that he says that there was anything inferior in any part of that work, but atonement was made so that God would be satisfied. That was involved in “Thy will be done.”
HS So Luke alone records, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (ch 23:34). There is an answer.
AJM That is beautiful!
JMcI How could God choose us without the cross? Tremendous thing, that!
AJM I think that is right. When you come to Hebrews 10, which quotes that psalm, “Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do, O God, Thy will” (Heb 10:7), has it not been spoken of as a pre-incarnate conversation? (Cf. Synopsis vol 5 p231.) Here was Someone Who was found Who was willing and Who was able to effect the entirety of the will of God. It is beautiful, Hebrews 10!
DEMcP The Lord was joyful in the accomplishment of the will of God. It is not exactly that there was the inevitable resignation to God’s will: I think the quotation is, ‘willing acquiescence’ in it (JND Notes & Comments vol7 p9). There was a certain joy that the Lord had in completing, to God’s glory, His precious will.
AJM Hence Heaven’s concentrated delight, you might say, in this blessed Person. Matthew and Mark go into the extreme character of His sufferings more. Matthew and Mark also are the only two Gospels that give us the incident of the company singing a hymn and going out to the Mount of Olives. You do not have that in Luke. It is as if, under the greatest pressure, these notes of joy would arise even in contemplating what Gethsemane and the cross were going to mean.
DEMcP And it is a stone’s throw, here (v41). Is that emphasising that it is within our compass to appreciate these things?
AJM Yes, though they slept, did they not? They slept in the presence of His glory on the mount (ch 9:32); they slept in the presence of His suffering here. But He is very sympathetic with them: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak” (Mark 14:38). He Himself knew that from this point He must go on alone.
JBB It was His custom to go to the Mount of Olives. It is very affecting that He knew all that was before Him at this point; it really endears Him to our affections. “I have laid help upon a mighty One; I have exalted One chosen out of the people” (Ps 89:19). He was going through, as has been said, in His feelings, what He was about to go through in His body.
AJM I think it would have been a place where He would have retired in prayer. He does so here, but I think there is an added intensity to His prayer this time. Never again would He go to this place. He was going from this place to Pilate’s judgement hall, and then to the cross. It says in John that Judas knew the place (ch 18:2). Judas had gone there with Him in times past. He was not there now: the betrayer was at his work – another reason, another cause, for the suffering of Christ. Think of all that fell on Him, dear brethren: denied, rejected, betrayed; as we come into Pilate’s hall, scoffed at, jeered, spit upon; a crown of thorns decking Him; scourged – all fell upon this blessed One. Should we not love Him more and more, in the light of His sufferings? And it went on to Calvary’s cross and the awfulness of the forsaking. What a scene!
JMcI What man did could possibly be measured, but what Christ suffered at the hand of God could never be measured.
AJM We cannot measure it, anyhow.
JMcI It was measured, and exhausted.
AJM That is right. What I was meaning by that is that from God’s viewpoint it was His measured judgement on sin, and it was fully exhausted. You look back to the scenes of old, and you have year after year of the offerings where the flames of the fire were always calling for another offering, but you think of the fire being quenched by this offering. Blessed One! “My God, My God.” He is the One Who in Gethsemane had said, “Father.” Not so at the cross – “My God.” Oh, the awfulness of this position that He went into, as made sin to endure the righteous wrath of a holy God against sin!
GHS Say something more about that. Why is it “Father” at Gethsemane and “God” at the cross?
AJM I think the use of “Father” shows the sweetness of the relationship that was enjoyed all through His life. There was never a breach in that communion at all. But at the cross it is God and Man, and a Man Who was made the article of sin. It just shows the awfulness of the distance that has come in between God and man.
PC So the word to Ananias was, “I will shew to him how much he must suffer for My name” (Acts 9:16). And Paul accepted that, did he not?
AJM Yes. That was sufferings that Paul could enter into. But none of us can enter into the sufferings that we were just considering.
DEMcP None could follow there, blest Saviour,
When Thou didst for sins atone;
For those suff’rings, deep, unfathomed,
Were, Lord Jesus, Thine alone!
JBB It was the stone’s throw in Gethsemane, but here we have the 2000 cubits (Josh 3:4).
AJM Yes. Someone has said about this that man was at a distance from God because of sin, but where Christ went as made sin, at that point He was at the greatest distance that ever existed between God and man.
The main object in Christ’s commitment to the will of God was to glorify God. As you look at Him in Psalm 22 you see the great transaction, the great judgement meted out, and the answer is the holiness of God. That holiness is going to find its rest in the praises of Israel.
JTH Another precious verse in Isaiah 53 says, “Jehovah hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all” (v6). Would it be right to say that the enormity of that iniquity we could never measure, but He measured it and bore it Himself?
AJM It is unfathomable. As you go down that page in Isaiah it says, “Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He hath subjected Him to suffering. When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, …” (v10). We cannot measure that. Oh, the wonder of it, that an offering has been found, a perfect offering that could be presented to God as the one sin‑offering to meet every claim of the throne of God!
JMcI What follows is “He shall see a seed.”
AJM It is a lovely verse. There are three aspects of His suffering in that verse, and there are three aspects of an answer to it: “He shall see a seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand.”
GHS It was in view of the joy that lay before Him that He endured the cross and despised the shame (Heb 12:2). We can say, can we not, that He had an objective in going through with this – the joy of returning to the Father?
AJM Yes. I think you probably almost get that in the psalm: “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee” (Ps 22:22). I think that was connected with the joy that lay before Him, the great answer to the forsaking at the cross.
DM Is that why in the heading of the psalm it is “to the chief Musician?”
AJM Carry on.
DM Well, I was thinking of the glorious result. For the Lord in the intensities of His sufferings, that was not, perhaps, uppermost in His mind, but nevertheless do you think He always had what was due to God in every way in His mind? It would be the fulfilment of divine purpose as well, which goes far beyond the sufferings, does it not?
AJM I think so. There was a heart there that not only carried all that was due to God, but embraced all that was in the counsels and purpose of God, and He was intent on seeing the whole matter through.
Well, I thought we could just pause at Psalm 22. There are other psalms from which we could pull in threads as to His sufferings; there is Psalm 69. But even there, the Spirit of Christ says, “But as for Me, My prayer is unto Thee, Jehovah, in an acceptable time” (v13). But what a difference in Psalm 22: “And Thou answerest not!” How solemn!
DEMcP Can I ask you then, in the light of this psalm, about John 19, where the Lord says, “It is finished” (v30)? Could you say something about that? These are His atoning sufferings, here.
AJM You mean that the work was finished? I know that He still had to die and be buried, but the three hours of forsaking were finished, because He then refers to the “Father,” does He not (Luke 23:46)?
DEMcP I judge so, but that is what I am asking you about. “It is finished.” It brings out the glory of the offering – that God was satisfied in it – the glory of the work of Christ, does it not?
AJM “It is finished; and having bowed His head, He delivered up His spirit.” Whilst you might say that His death and His burial He would still be anticipating, in the large scale of things that wonderful work of atonement was finished, and it met the eye of God to His entire satisfaction.
DEMcP It serves again to magnify the glory and perfection of that work in His wonderful sufferings that were accomplished.
AJM I would just like to encourage us all to have a further look at these sufferings. We have touched just a few aspects of them, but there is a great feeding-ground in them, and the result of our feeding in these areas will be to promote a greater commitment to Him and a greater love for Him.
HS At the beginning you spoke about the offerings. If we go to the offerings, we get many aspects of the death of Christ and their significance. But I was thinking that the sufferings of Christ in these three hours involve the cup, of which you spoke earlier; they also involve the forsaking, which brings in a distinct touch as to His relationship with God and its being broken; but they also bring out the greatness of the distance to which He went to resolve the sin question, do you think? Those are three aspects, though there may be more.
AJM I am sure that what you have covered there is absolutely right. The magnitude of what was transacted in these three hours here! As you have said, He was all the offerings, was He not? He was the offerings on the cross, but they all converge in one glorious Person. How marvellous that the One Who is the sin‑offering is also the One Who is the burnt‑offering! And therefore the fact that – I have said this before – when the sin‑offering was offered, the offerer identified himself with the sin‑offering by placing his hand on the head of the sin‑offering, therefore his guilt was transferred to the offering; but in the burnt‑offering the transfer is put the other way, in that the priest puts his hand on the burnt‑offering, and the acceptability of the burnt‑offering becomes my acceptance. Is that not lovely, that it all converges in the glorious One Who suffered for us at Calvary’s cross?
HS It is all in view of you and me enjoying the greatness of our redemption, but also our reconciliation.
AJM That is good.
HS Do not let us forget reconciliation – distance removed.
AJM “Atonement” is the word in the Old Testament; “reconciliation” is the word in the New Testament.
6 March 2004