Chapter 3 THE SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST
Jesus, who walked this earth so long ago, who had very little of this worlds goods and very few of this worlds comforts, had a glory which was far beyond human comprehension. The wonderful, touching, sometimes sad, but finally triumphant story of Jesus has thrilled the hearts of millions down through the ages. To many, His life is an enigma. To most, the reasons behind His part in this drama of earth are beyond understanding.
The story of Jesus is told in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each writer describes the same series of events from a different perspective. Born in a manger among the animals, Jesus lived his life as a member of the lowest economic class of society. He made no attempt to gain status or to advance to a privileged worldly position. His life was wholly dedicated to the service of mankind. Nevertheless, He had access to a power far beyond human comprehension, which He used to heal the sick, the lame, and the blind. He never used this power for Himself, either to help Himself, to protect Himself, or to advance in worldly status. Finally, He suffered a most painful, ignominious death on a cross, as an insulting crowd mocked and ridiculed Him.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. Who is the Word? These verses, John 1:1-3, tell us that the Word is God, that all things were created by the Word, and that nothing was created except that which the Word created. Who is the Word? In verse 10 we see that He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. The Word, who is God, was in the world; He visited our earth and walked among men, but most did not know him.
Verse 14 adds a little more information to help us identify the Word. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Here we see that the Word is the only begotten of God the Father. The Word, who is God the Creator, came to earth as a human being and dwelt among us. He lived and worked among the people, but they did not know who He was. The world did not recognize then, and indeed does not recognize today, who He is.
Matthew 3:17 tells us who the only begotten of the Father is. Speaking of Christs baptism, this verse tells of a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. John 3:16-18 also shows that Christ is the only begotten of the Father: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The Word, therefore, is Jesus Christ, since He is the only begotten of the Father. Furthermore, the texts we read in John, chapter one, told us that the Word is God, the Creator of all things throughout the vast reaches of limitless space. Yes, Jesus Christ is the great Creator God of the universe. In the beginning was Jesus Christ, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. Why did Jesus, the great, all-powerful Creator God of the universe, come to earth as He did, without status and without position, and allow the people whom He created to treat Him so shamefully and finally to crucify Him?
Consider what Jesus says about Himself in John 10:30: I and my Father are one. Jesus Himself tells us in this verse that He is God. When Philip, one of Christs disciples asked to see God the Father, Jesus answered him: Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (John 14:9).
Did Christs disciples recognize Him as God? Consider the events related in John 20:19,24-29, which occurred at evening on the day of Christs resurrection from the grave. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Indeed His disciples did recognize Him as God. They regularly called Him Lord, and Thomas said to Him, My Lord and my God.
One of the many prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the birth of Christ as a baby in Bethlehem is found in Isaiah 9:6. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Jesus Christ has many names in the Bible; those mentioned here definitely indicate that He is God: The mighty God, the everlasting Father.
Matthew 28:18 tells us of the unlimited power which Jesus has at His command. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. If Jesus has all the power, no other person or being has any power other than that which Jesus allows. Jesus Christ is the all-powerful, almighty Creator God of the universe.
In Colossians 1:16,17 we are again told that Christ created all things. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Christ created everything. The word consist means hold together. Not only was it by Christs power that all things were created, but it is by His power that all things hold together and continue to exist. Every breath we take and every beat of our hearts is a gift from Christ, for it is by His power that we continue to live, moment by moment.
It is interesting to notice here that Christ created things that are visible and things that are invisible. Second Corinthians 4:18 comments on this: While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal (temporary); but the things which are not seen are eternal. In other words, the earth and the things which we can perceive with our senses are temporary and will shortly pass away. We cannot perceive Christs permanent creation, which will last forever, and most people are not even aware of it.
Consider two other texts which show that Christ is the Creator. Hebrews 1:1,2 says, God, who at sundry (various) times and in divers (different) manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. The second text, Ephesians 3:9, mentions Jesus by name as the Creator. And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.
One very perplexing question comes up as to how many Gods there are one, or more? The answer to this question is that there is one God, who is so far above human realization as to be incomprehensible. God is infinite, and the human mind simply does not have the ability to ponder infinity. You can try, for instance, to think of the largest possible number. But no matter which number you come up with there is always an infinite number beyond the one you thought of. God realizes our difficulty here, and for that reason He has manifested Himself to us as three distinct individuals, to whom we can more easily relate. The Bible speaks about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Since everyone is familiar with the concept of a father, it is easy for us to think of God as a father. Likewise we are all familiar with the concept of sons, and it is easy for us to think of God as a son. The Holy Spirit is admittedly a little more difficult for us to comprehend since He manifests Himself to us as a supernatural being. Thus there is one God who presents Himself to us as these three distinct personalities.
In chapter two we saw that the earth as originally created was a place of indescribable beauty and of harmony and companionship among all of Christs creatures. Consider again Isaiah 11:6-9, which describes the world as it came from the hand of Christ the Creator: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
When Christ created the earth, there was no pain or suffering of any kind. Trouble was unknown throughout the vast realms of His creation. The earth was perfect, beautiful, and glorious. It was a masterpiece from the hand of the Master Himself, and Adam and Eve, along with all the creatures of earth, enjoyed a happiness far beyond anything we can imagine. It is not Gods desire that there should be any of the trouble, misery, and misfortune that we know in the world today. We shall see that all this trouble and misery will come to an end one of these days.
Several years ago a spectacular movie, The Ten Commandments, achieved considerable popularity. Although not quite accurate Biblically, this movie told the story of Moses and the Israelites in Egypt; their escape from a tyrannical Pharaoh through the waters of the Red Sea, which God parted for them; and their journey through the desert wilderness to Mount Sinai, where God gave His Ten Commandment law in a tremendous, awe-inspiring demonstration of His wonderful power. During their sojourn in the wilderness God led His people by day with a pillar of cloud and at night by a pillar of fire to give them light. This story is summarized in Nehemiah 9:11-15. And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters. Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go. Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant: And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.
With this story of Moses and the Israelites in mind, consider 1 Corinthians 10:1-4: Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Christ, therefore, was the one who led the children of Israel as they came out of Egypt, and who separated the waters of the Red Sea so that the people walked across on the dry sea bottom. For forty years in the wilderness, Jesus Christ led the people by a pillar of fire at night and by a pillar of cloud by day. For forty years He gave them food from heaven, called manna. It was Jesus Christ Himself who was at the top of Mt. Sinai and who gave His Ten Commandment law to the people amidst an awesome demonstration of divine power.
Moreover, as 1 Peter 1:9-11 shows, all the prophets of the Old Testament were instructed what to write by Jesus Christ. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. The Spirit of Christ, the verse says, was in the prophets of the Old Testament.
God, you will remember from Exodus 3:13,14, spoke to Moses from the burning bush when He commissioned him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. At that time Moses asked God His name, and God answered that His name is I AM. And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: (This is like saying, I am that John or I am that Bill.) and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Later, in New Testament times, as Jesus was talking with the Jews, He gave this same name, I AM. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58). The next verse says, Then took they up stones to cast at him.
Why did they want to stone Him? The Jews knew the implication of what He had said. They were very familiar with the name, I AM, for God, since from the burning bush that is what He said His name is. The Jews knew that Jesus had just used the name I AM for Himself; they knew that He had said that He is God. Since they could not accept the fact that Jesus Christ is God, they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy. Jesus Christ, you see, was in the burning bush speaking with Moses.
The fact that Jesus Christ is the great, all-powerful, almighty, Creator God of the universe is established in Scripture. Most Christians recognize Christ as the one and only Savior. The following three texts show that He is. Philippians 3:20 says, For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Next consider John 4:42: And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. These verses speak of Christ as the Savior, implying that there is no other. Finally, Acts 4:12 tells us specifically that there is no other Savior: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Here is what Christ, the Savior, the all-powerful Creator God of the universe, says about Himself in the Old Testament in Isaiah 43:10,11. Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and BESIDE ME THERE IS NO SAVIOUR. Since there is one and only one Savior, it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is speaking here. These verses give us some idea of the tremendous power and authority which the Lord Jesus Christ has at his command.
Most people do not understand that the Christ of the New Testament is the Lord, Jehovah, of the Old Testament. The verses just quoted, Isaiah 43:10,11, show this clearly. Jesus is referred to as the Word in John, chapter one, because He has been the One who has spoken with mankind down through the ages. The words of the Lord in the Old Testament, with very few exceptions, are the words of Jesus Christ. Usually, when the words Lord or God appear in the Bible they are referring to Christ.
Remember that Jesus said that all power was given to Him in heaven and in earth. Consider another passage which illustrates the unlimited power of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 55:8-11, Christ tells us: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Up to this point we have been considering the divine nature of Christ, and we have seen that He is the great, unlimited, all-powerful, infinite Creator God of the vast reaches of the universe. We have seen that He is the Lord of both the Old and New Testaments, and we have seen that He is the Creator of everything in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:3). Next we should direct our attention to Christ as he walked this earth as a man two thousand years ago.
If you could have chosen the circumstances of your birth, what would you have arranged? Would you have chosen to be a millionaires son and live in plush surroundings? Or would you have chosen to be a kings son to enjoy the pomp and ceremony with people bowing to you because you are the prince? We would all choose the best for ourselves. To most people, the best would be the easiest, most pleasure-filled life that they could imagine. And how about looks? Would you choose to be beautiful so that everyone would admire you? Would you choose to be handsome so that you could find romance easily and be envied by others?
Isaiah 53:1-9 describes how the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, came to earth. He is the only one who ever had a choice as to how He would be born. Notice as we read that this chapter, written about 540 years before Christs birth in Bethlehem, is a prophecy which describes the details of Christs life exactly as they occurred later. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. This verse refers to Christs birth as a baby and to his subsequent growth into manhood, For he shall grow up . . . as a tender plant. Jesus was born in a manger among the animals (Luke 2:7) because there was no room for Him in the inn. His birth was, without a doubt, the lowliest possible birth, a far cry from the halls of a kings palace, which Christ could have chosen if He had wanted to.
Continuing in verse 2, He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. Christ came to this earth in a manner exactly the opposite of the way a human being would have come had he had the choice. The great Creator God of the universe chose to come to earth in a body which was not handsome. The word comeliness means handsomeness or attractiveness. Jesus had no beauty that we should desire him. He came to earth as a man who was not particularly handsome. There was nothing about His appearance to set Him above anyone else.
Verse 3: He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Jesus had no position of advantage. He was certainly acquainted with grief and had all the problems of being poor.
Why did the Lord of Glory, in His infinite wisdom, choose to come to this world as He did? Why did He choose the life here on earth which would be the most difficult?
Verse 4: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Satan made the people believe that God had forsaken Jesus. This does not mean that God the Father actually smote Jesus, but He permitted Him to be smitten. In many instances, the Bible talks about Gods doing certain things which seem inconsistent with His character of love. If God allows something to happen, He accepts responsibility for it, and thus He says in the Bible that He did it. Remember that God must allow Satan to run his own show here in this theater of the universe; otherwise the traumatic experiences of earth would all be in vain.
Verses 5,6: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Because Jesus came to earth as He did and because He chose to suffer the consequences and punishment for our sins, each one of us now has the opportunity to inherit, after this life is over, a life more beautiful and glorious than the human mind can even begin to imagine. He suffered the ultimate penalty so that we might understand the hideous results of breaking Gods law. This is certainly the ultimate in love, that a man give up everything and lay down his life for his friends.
Verse 7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Throughout all the horrible trials and the unbelievable suffering which the Lord endured, He never once opened His mouth to complain. He accepted the worst that Satan and the world could do to Him. Satan and his angels were busy in the judgment hall to destroy human feeling and sympathy. The very atmosphere was heavy and polluted by their influence. The chief priests and elders were inspired by them to insult and abuse Jesus in a manner the most difficult for human nature to bear.4 He was spat upon, ridiculed, mocked, beaten with the whip and with the Roman scourge, a terribly cruel whip-like device having strands of rawhide with sharp pieces of metal attached to the ends. The sharp metal pieces cut and tore into His flesh. Verse 8: He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
As Jesus went from judgment hall to judgment hall, the people scorned Him, laughed at Him, and mocked Him. They spat in the face of the King of Glory, the face from which they will one day flee, asking that the mountains and rocks fall upon them to hide them from His overpowering glory. (Revelation 6:16). He was treated as cruelly as the evil mob could devise: a crown of thorns, lashes with a whip, and finally a brutal death on the cross. He was cut off out of the land of the living for our transgressions, our sins, that we might have eternal life.
Verse 9: And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
He died among the criminals, between two thieves also on crosses, and was buried with the rich, in Josephs new tomb (Luke 23:53), exactly as Scripture had predicted many years earlier. He was crucified even though He had done nothing wrong. His life was perfect. Notice that verse 9 says that He was murdered because He had done no violence! He was crucified because there was no trace of deceit found in Him! The world could not then, and indeed cannot now, tolerate truth, holiness, and perfection.
The events recorded in Matthew 20:20-24 greatly influenced the frame of mind of the disciples during the last supper in the upper room before the crucifixion. These verses relate that two of the disciples had arranged to have their mother ask Jesus for the top positions when He established His eternal kingdom. Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons (James and John), worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
Because James and John had asked for the two highest positions, the ten others were angry and sullen, and there was considerable animosity among all of them. This animosity among the disciples is also mentioned in Luke 22:24. And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. Thus, the atmosphere which pervaded the upper room during the last supper must have greatly saddened the Lord, especially since He knew that the hour of His crucifixion was fast approaching. No one did much talking. Each of the disciples was engrossed in his own selfish thoughts of how to get the highest position in the kingdom.
It was customary in those times for the host to provide a servant to wash the guests feet as they arrived. The roads were dusty, and the people wore sandals. It was refreshing to sit down and shed some of the dust and dirt from a long trip. When Jesus and His disciples arrived at the upper room, where they were to eat the last supper, there was no servant to wash their feet. This situation added to the uneasiness of the disciples. One of them should have volunteered to wash the others feet, or at least to wash the Lords feet. But no, they were all angry with one another, and in miserable dispositions.
Then, Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. (John 13:3-5). The great Creator God of the universe knelt down and washed His sullen disciples dusty feet, although it was beneath the dignity of any of them to wash His. Most of His disciples were shocked as the Lord took the position of a lowly servant and washed their feet. John 13:6-8 shows that Peter reacted strongly and did not want Jesus to serve him in such a manner. Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. How many people today would humiliate themselves by washing someone elses feet? Why, this would be unthinkable, would it not? Yet this was not beneath the dignity of the great Creator God of the universe. As Jesus washed away the disciples sullen dispositions, they began to understand a little more of His purpose on earth and of His enormous sacrifice.
Notice what Jesus says in John 13:12-15: So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Washing one anothers feet helps us to overcome pride and arrogance and to maintain humility in our daily lives. We have nothing about which to be proud. Did we obtain our beauty or our intelligence by any effort on our part? Jesus says, Without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5).
According to His commandment, footwashing, called the Ordinance of Humility, is practiced by Christs true people. The men go to one room for this service and the ladies to another.
The great Creator God suffered through His ordeal on earth and endured the pain and misery of the cross. What must He have been thinking while He hung on the cross as the vile mob mocked and ridiculed Him? What must He have been thinking as the cruel spikes through His hands and His feet sent constant pain throughout His body? Psalms 22:1-8, 14-18, written about 1,030 years before the crucifixion, is a prophecy describing Christs thoughts during His time of supreme agony: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
Jesus felt completely alone as He suffered and died on the cross with the weight of the sins of the world on His heart. God the Father was right there with Christ, but Christ did not know it. The holy angels were there also, watching with horror their beloved Lord suffering the most agonizing death. They could not believe what was happening. Tears filled their eyes, and they longed to show the wretched mob the enormity of their folly. They longed to free Christ from the cross and from the multitude of insults, but they were under strict orders not to interfere. Christ must endure this ordeal alone; for if the Father or any of the angels interfered, the plan of salvation would be destroyed and all Christs suffering would have been in vain. Satan tried his best to make Jesus break just one of Gods laws. Satan and the evil angels did everything in their power to try to force Jesus to sin. If Jesus had committed even one sin, Satan would have won, and he and his evil angels could continue to live. By such severe torture, Satan hoped to induce Christ to give up His purpose instead of His life. If the Father or any of the holy angels interfered, Satan could claim the victory. No, Jesus must endure the cross alone, and He felt this loneliness deeply.
Verse 3: But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Christ, in His hour of deepest anguish, praised the Father. Human beings with the slightest provocation often curse God.
Verses 4-6: Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Jesus felt as low and dejected as it is possible to feel. These were the people whom He had created, whose lives were sustained by Him. Someday these people will realize the enormity of their guilt. Can you imagine the pain and suffering and humiliation of Christ as he hung naked on the cross? Why would the great Creator allow Himself to be subjected to such misery?
Verses 7,8: All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. The mob kept up a constant stream of insults. It seemed as if they could not say things vile enough to their Creator.
As Jesus hung there for six hours, unable to move (for if He moved, the pain became excruciating), his arms and body ached from the nails in His flesh and from having been in the same position for so long. He says in Psalms 22:14-18, I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
The accuracy of this prophecy of Christs anguish during His ordeal on the cross is borne out by the actual events. His hands and His feet were indeed pierced, and the soldiers divided His clothes among them and cast lots for His robe, exactly as prophesied in Psalms 22.
It is very difficult for the human mind to comprehend the cross. We cannot begin to imagine the glory, honor, love, and respect the Lord enjoyed before He came to this earth as a man. We can never completely understand the infinite sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we might enjoy life throughout all eternity. As we study, however, we begin to comprehend dimly why the great Creator God of the universe would come and suffer as He did, allowing the creatures whom He created to treat Him so vilely and to crucify Him.
All the heavenly host love and admire Christ to a degree which is far beyond human understanding. They enjoy His companionship. They long to be in His company and listen to Him talk. They love Him, not because they have to, but because of His perfectly beautiful character. He is kind, loving, gentle, and understanding toward all of His creatures. For His created beings, it is the greatest honor and pleasure to be in His company. As they witnessed the scenes at the cross, they were horrified. They could not believe what was happening. Tears flowed from their eyes as they helplessly watched their beloved Commander suffer a slow, agonizing death. The universe was witnessing with horror the utter depravity which results when people disregard the law of God. As death finally put an end to the unbearable agony which the Lord had suffered, the entire universe, with one exception, finally realized the repulsive nature of sin. That one exception, of course, is the earth. The people of earth do not understand. One day, however, they too will understand.
There was one man who perhaps understood a little of the enormous sacrifice which God made on our behalf. All his life, Abraham had dearly wanted a son by Sarah, his wife. God had promised him that one day He and Sarah would have a son, who would be the heir of all the promises God had made to him and who would also be the progenitor of Christ. Well beyond her child-bearing years, Sarah was still childless. Finally, when Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah ninety, God made it possible for her to bear a son, and Isaac was born. Abraham dearly loved this little boy, whom he had longed for. Isaac gave him great joy and happiness.
When Isaac was a young man, God asked Abraham to do something very strange. As described in Genesis 22:2, God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. And he (God) said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Abraham was shocked. Notice how God emphasized the fact that Abraham dearly loved Isaac, by saying, thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest. Nevertheless, Abraham obeyed God, and went to offer his son for a burnt offering in the land of Moriah, where two thousand years later Gods dear Son would be offered on a cross for the sins of the world.
Verses 3-12: And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
In spite of his great love for his son, Abraham loved God more; he put God first, ahead of his son. As Abraham was about to perform the heart-wrenching act of putting his own, dearly beloved son to death as an offering, he perhaps understood a little of how God would feel some two thousand years later as He sacrificed His dear Son on the cross of Calvary. At the cross, however, there was no voice to stay the hand of death, no voice to ease the intense suffering of our precious Lord. Christ, the great Creator of the vast realms of limitless space, poured out His life for us.
At Christs death, the very elements seemed to protest the savage treatment He had received at the hands of His depraved murderers. As the earth quaked violently, the rocks rent, and the lightning, like the voice of doom, struck terror into the hearts of the mob, they finally began to gain a slight realization of the magnitude of the vile deed they had just committed. A Roman officer exclaimed, Truly this was the Son of God. (Matthew 27:54).
Let us now turn our attention to the exact nature of Christ as a human being on earth. Notice that Christ came to earth, not in modern times when life would have been easier for Him, but in earlier times without the comforts and conveniences we enjoy today.
Romans 8:3 tells us that Jesus came to earth in human flesh. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Christ clothed His divinity with humanity and laid aside the prerogatives of God to walk this earth as a man, as a human being, exactly like us.
Hebrews 2:14 also tells us that He came to earth in exactly the same flesh as other men. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Jesus Christ came to this earth as a human being, in the same flesh as other men, as these texts show. He was a man, a human being, exactly like us. He was tempted to do evil and break Gods law in all the ways that we are tempted. In fact, Satan tempted Jesus to a much greater degree than any other man was, or ever will be, tempted, for Satan knew that his own life hung on the question of whether or not he could entice Christ to sin. Satan, you will remember, claimed that it was impossible to live a perfect life without breaking the law of God. Jesus came to earth with all our human weaknesses to show the universe that it is indeed possible to live without breaking the law. He succeeded in spite of the fact that Satan and his evil angels had enormous pressure on Him tempting Him to sin. Finally, Satan gave Jesus an ultimatum, forcing Him to choose between preserving His life or breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Christ, of course, chose to die rather than to sin.
In Hebrews 4:15 we see that Christ was tempted exactly as we are, in every way exactly as we are. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Jesus was tempted to do everything that we are tempted to do, without exception. He was tempted to curse God when trouble came. He was tempted to lie, tempted to steal, and tempted to commit adultery. This might come as a surprise to some, but this is exactly what this verse says. He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. In spite of the fact that Christ was tempted in every way that other men are, He never gave in to temptation; He never sinned. His character was perfectly pure and not tainted with the slightest propensity toward evil, for He thoroughly understood the vile nature of sin. Many times Satan came to Him, tempting Him, but each time He instantly put the thought of sin out of His mind. He never broke the law of God.
Does this mean that Christ was unable to sin? Does this mean that He had some ability or advantage which the other people of earth do not have? Many people claim that Christ could not have sinned even if He had wanted to. They claim that somehow He was shielded from sin and was unable to break the law of God. If this is true, why then did Satan waste so much time and put forth such great effort trying to make the Lord sin? Satan knew that Jesus had the freedom to sin.
When Christ came to this earth, He did not reserve for Himself one advantage over other men. He came to earth as a human being and had no power or ability which other men do not have. But, you say, He performed many miracles such as healing the sick and bringing the dead back to life. This is true, but consider 1 Peter 2:21, which tells us that Christ is our example. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. Christ is our example, and, therefore, could not have reserved for Himself any advantage over other men. A simple illustration will make this point clear. Suppose a man has a little pet dog. This little dog always eats his dinner from a bowl on the floor. One evening this fellow looks at his little dog eating his dinner from the bowl on the floor and says, That is no way to eat your dinner. I am going to show you how to do it. See, we use a knife, fork, and spoon, and we sit on a chair at the table. Well, this is ridiculous because the man has more ability than the dog, and therefore has an advantage over the dog. The dog does not have the ability to eat his dinner from the table with a knife, fork, and spoon; therefore the man simply cannot be an example for the dog. Likewise, if Christ had reserved for himself one ability or advantage over us, He could not be our example.
Since Jesus had no advantage over other men, and since other men have the freedom to commit sin, Christ also had this freedom and could have sinned. This is a sobering thought. Christ came to earth with all our human weaknesses including the freedom to commit sin, for which the penalty is death, and put Himself at the mercy of Satan, the evil angels, and wicked men. Suppose Christ had sinned. Suppose Christ had broken one of the Ten Commandments. What would have happened? What would have been the destiny of mankind? The results are too horrible to contemplate.
How, then, did Jesus perform His many miracles during His sojourn in this world if He did not reserve for Himself one advantage over us? By His perfect faith and close companionship with God the Father. It was God the Father who performed the miracles. Jesus, Himself, tells us this in John 14:10. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but THE FATHER THAT DWELLETH IN ME, HE DOETH THE WORKS. But, you say, we just read that Christ is the great Creator God of the entire universe. This is true, but He laid aside all the prerogatives of God and clothed His divinity with humanity. He gave up all that He had in heaven, lived in our world as one of us, and died a most humiliating and ignominious death on a cross in order to show the universe what happens when people ignore the Ten Commandments and to make it possible for us to enjoy the wonderful experiences of eternity. The extent of Christs sacrifice for us is too great for the human mind to comprehend fully.
Again, why did the Lord Jesus Christ give up so much to come to our world as a human being? The answer, of course, is the love He has for all His creatures throughout the vast realms of limitless space. He sacrificed Himself so that the universe would thoroughly understand the repulsiveness of sin. John 3:16 tells us, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Everything that God does is motivated by love, a love so pure and so noble that it puts others welfare above His own. In Christs dealings with mankind down through the centuries, His prime motivation has been the love He has for His creatures. Christ loves each one of us with a love so deep and so broad that we will never be able to understand it fully. John 15:13 tells us that Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. To sacrifice ones life for another is truly the ultimate in love. Christ made it possible for each one of us to inherit an eternal life of unimaginable joy and happiness. He would like very much to see each one of us accept His sacrifice and follow Him as the Bible specifies. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).
To us on the earth it seems as if Christ is far, far away, and does not care in the least about the things that happen here. In reality He and the entire universe are intently interested in what is taking place on earth; and every time one of His creatures suffers pain or trouble, it brings sadness to His heart. Luke 12:6,7 tells us that God is even concerned with the little birds and that the very hairs of our heads are all numbered. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Christ, you see, is paying the closest attention to this drama of earth. He is deeply concerned with each one of us and is familiar with the smallest detail of our lives. He understands our problems and troubles, for He Himself endured much more than we will ever be required to bear.
Christ tells us in Isaiah 49:16, Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. At the cross Christ engraved us upon the palms of his hands, and we are continually before Him. He is deeply concerned about us. He cares about us. He knows and loves each one of us personally; and when we turn from His love, rebel against His love, and break His commandments, He feels a bitter disappointment.
Christs hands and feet will bear the scars of His ordeal at the cross throughout all eternity. The people who have obeyed and followed the Lord Jesus will have new bodies in perfect condition, without spot or blemish, but the Lord Jesus Christ will always wear the scars of earth. Zechariah 13:6 tells us that after this ordeal of earth is over for all of us, and those who are saved from the earth are in heaven, someone will come to Jesus and ask Him about these scars. And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the great Creator of heaven and earth, the all-powerful King of the universe, will forever be the Servant of mankind as He was on earth. When the redeemed of earth arrive in heaven, Christ Himself will come forth to wait on them and serve them dinner. Luke 12:37 says, Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. Their first dinner in heaven will be served by the Lord Jesus Christ. How will they feel as the hands which were wounded for them now reach out to offer them the food of heaven and a glorious life in eternity?
The character and personality of Jesus Christ is perfection. His character is exactly the opposite of Satans. Satan is the most vile being who has ever lived; Jesus is the most kind, the most loving and gentle.
Jesus says in Revelation 3:20,21, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. How long has He been standing there? All our lives He has been standing there knocking and waiting patiently for each one of us to open the door. The fact that He says that He will come in and sup with us indicates that this is to be no fleeting visit, but a lifetime of companionship. Figuratively, if we open the door and invite the Lord Jesus in for supper, then He will come forth to serve us supper in heaven.
In Jeremiah 29:13 Jesus says, And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Here the Lord promises to be found of us if we will, with all our hearts, search for Him and for His truth. We are the ones who must open the door and invite the Lord to come in, and we must do so with all sincerity, with all our hearts. We cannot cling with one hand to the Lord and with the other to the world. We must be willing to discard the lies and propaganda of this world and with all our hearts accept His truth from the Bible. We must, with all our hearts, be willing to discard the pleasures of sin. We must, with all our hearts, be willing to follow Him as the Bible specifies regardless of the hardships doing so may cause us, regardless of what ministers and teachers may claim.
There are those who will read this and declare it to be nonsense and foolishness. This is unfortunate, for in 1 Corinthians 1:18,19 we read, For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Finally, in Proverbs 1:24-33, Christ gives us a warning and a promise: Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
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