Wednesday, May 08, 2019

“But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” (Luke 17:25)

“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Charles Wesley, the great 18th century evangelist, wrote in one of his hymns; ‘All you that pass by .... to you is it nothing that Jesus should die? Your ransom and peace, your surety He is. Come, see if there ever was sorrow like this?’ (Methodist Hymn Book no 188)

Our Lord Jesus bore it all --- the trials, the shame, the humiliation, scoffing, rejection and flogging as He went to the cross to die for the sins of the world; sins that He did not commit. They called Him ‘Man of sorrows.’ Yes, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22) Yet He had to die to save humanity from the hideous and outrageous sins humanity has committed against God, the Father.

Our waywardness and disobedience is of concern to God. Indeed, our sins matter to God; for when we sin, we offend Him and in so doing displease Him. Nevertheless, He loves the sinner but loathes the sin in us. Because of His unconditional love for Humanity, God sacrifices His only Son, Jesus, to pay our sin-debt in full.

It was not an accident that our Lord Jesus came down to earth to suffer and die to pay the penalty for our sins. It was an integral part of God’s divine plan. No one else was good enough to pay the price of sin except our Lord Jesus. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) God traded the Guiltless for the guilty and the Sinless for the sinful.

The succeeding paragraphs will attest to the unfolding of the plan of God through several spoke-persons as it pertains to the atonement of sin. As the opening scripture puts it, God Himself is going to offer His Son as a sacrifice for sin. He would use so many people to accomplish this. At the time, it did seem like the perpetrators of such evil were self-motivated. Like puppets on a string they were accomplishing God’s purpose unbeknown to them. At the end of it all, God will raise His Son up from the dead, glorious. Thus, through Christ’s death and resurrection, God prepares the way for the ultimate sacrifice for our sins -- past, present and future.     

From prophet’s Isaiah’s prophecy, we observe that our Lord Jesus did not offer any resistance. “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)

His rejection by the Jews

Another prophecy by the prophet Isaiah intimated: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hid their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isaiah 53:3) On account of the beatings and torture our Lord Jesus went through, it came to a stage one could hardly identify Him. His own people did not want to identify with Him. “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. (John 1:11)

Betrayed by a friend

“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9) Judas, one of the twelve disciples who were His close collaborators, betrayed Him. But there was nothing our Lord Jesus was not fully aware of. At the last supper, He announced: “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” (Mark 14:18) When they raised eyebrows about which of them it could be, He further stated; “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” (Matthew 26: 23) “Then Judas Iscariot one of the twelve went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.” (Mark 14:10)

Sold for thirty pieces of silver

The prophet Zachariah foretold the price at which Judas would sell His master; “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.” (Zechariah 11:12) This was confirmed in the New Testament when Judas, one of His disciples went to the chief priests and asked; “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.” (Matthew 26:15)

Sheer hatred of the Son was tangible

What hatred could have led to all this wickedness? The forces of Satan had mobilised and were active on the scene. “Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head: many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.” (Psalm 69:4) He had to pay the price of sin which He did not commit.

Hands and feet pierced

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. (Zechariah 12:10)

His side is pierced

“They will look on me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and one grieves bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:10)

These are graphic details about the sufferings of our Lord Jesus endured on the way to the cross to pay the penalty for sin. Today, we are comforted that ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ offered Himself not out of any compulsion but out of love. He “... for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, ... ” (Hebrews 12:2)

Our Lord Jesus went through all this suffering for you and for me in order to render ineffective the sting of death. We no longer should fear death; for at the cross, Christ Jesus redeemed humanity and bought back our freedom. God’s Son, single-handedly, took captivity captive.

Receive your redemption, dear reader, and be set free from the shackles of sin once and for all. Live a victorious life over sin and death!

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye