“The Meaning of Christ's Death, Part 2”

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“The Meaning of Christ's Death, Part 2”

Post by Romans » Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:51 pm

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“The Meaning of Christ's Death, Part 2” by Romans

Last week we began a Series called “The Meaning of Christ's Death,” admittedly a very unusual title for this time of year. As I said last week in the introduction, and as I think we would all agree, for most Christians, this is the time to celebrate Jesus' birth. Why would I choose to examine His death? Because Scripture describes Jesus as the “Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The Plan of Salvation that had The Word being made flesh, and arriving as a babe in a manger in a stable in the little Town of Bethlehem, was already a “done-deal.” The details of that Plan had been predetermined and put into motion “from the foundation of the world.”

Isaiah the prophet foretold, “For unto us a child is born. For unto us a son is given...” (Isaiah 9:6). But let us not forget that the very heart and soul of the Plan of Salvation that was the death of Jesus Christ. That same prophet included among his other prophecies in Isaiah 53:4-5: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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.” He was indeed the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world.

But let's take a closer look at the phrase, “slain from the foundation of the world.”
What is meant, here, by the term “world”? The notes in the Scofield Study Bible tell us, “world –
Kosmos, Summary: In the sense of the present world-system, the ethically bad sense of the word, refers to the "order," "arrangement," under which Satan has organized the world of unbelieving mankind upon his cosmic principle of force, greed, selfishness, ambition, and pleasure. This world- system is imposing and powerful with armies and fleets; is often outwardly religious, scientific, cultured, and elegant; but, seething with national and commercial rivalries and ambitions, is upheld in any real crisis only by armed force, and is dominated by Satanic principles.”
Before any established world systems, before any corrupt culture-wide and institutional rebellion against God, even before Eve, knowing that it was forbidden, sunk her teeth into that piece of fruit, Jesus' death was already a finalized Plan. His death was not unexpected to the Father or the Son. It was not a Plan B to some failure. It was Plan A. When Peter attempted to rescue Jesus from the mob who came to arrest Him, Jesus said to Peter to put up his sword, adding in Matthew 26:54, “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

Let's add more light to Jesus' being slain from the foundation of the world. We read in the Jamieson-Fausset-and Brown Commentary, “The Greek order of words favors this translation. He was slain in the Father’s eternal counsels:” Seven centuries before Jesus was born, we read a prophecy of how this Eternal counsel of how it would be fulfilled in Isaiah 53:10: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief, when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.”

I would also like to share Albert Barnes' thoughts on this verse: “Slain from the foundation of the world - The meaning here is, not that he was actually put to death “from the foundation of the world,” but that the intention to give him for a sacrifice was formed then, and that it was so certain that it might be spoken of as actually then occurring. The purpose was so certain, it was so constantly represented by bloody sacrifices from the earliest ages, all typifying the future Saviour, that it might be said that he was “slain from the foundation of the world.”

We celebrate His birth, but unlike any and every other human being, Jesus was born to die. This is not the same things as we read in Hebrews 9:27 that it is “appointed unto men once to die.” That appointment is because we are mortal. When Jesus returns, the unsaved dead will be raised, and, along those who are still alive, we will both be changed: 1 Corinthians 15:53 tells us, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Before that change, we are appointed to die. But Jesus was appointed not merely to die, but to be slain. He would experience the most vicious and reprehensible execution ever devised by man.

When He was nailed to the cross, Jesus asked, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me,” (Matthew 27:46). He asked the Father that question, so that we would never have to ask that question. Before our conversion, we were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). Jesus was born to shed His blood for us.... to die in our place, taking the penalty for the sins we committed. And that is why, while everyone else is celebrating His birth, I have chosen to examine why His birth is worthy of celebration.

Last week, I went through a number of Headings that detailed the various aspects of Jesus' death. Once again, I give full credit for those Headings to Robert Boyd's book, “The World's Bible Handbook.” I limited myself to just a very brief review of the Headings, themselves, and the Scriptures which supported them. Tonight, as I promised I would, I want to revisit many of those same Headings, only this time adding significant commentary and insight to them as we go through them a second time. Besides my own commentary, I want to share with you the wonderful insights of renowned Bible Commentators such as Matthew Henry, Alexander MacClaren, Albert Barnes, Adam Clarke, John Gill, F.B. Meyer and C.I Scofield.

Let's start with the Heading, that Jesus' Death was Sacrificial:
We read in John 1:29: “The next day John {the Baptist} seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Of this, Alexander MacClaren writes: “John 1:29: THE WORLD'S SIN-BEARER: Our Lord, on returning from His temptation in the wilderness, came straight to John the Baptist. He was welcomed with these wonderful and rapturous words, familiarity with which has deadened our sense of their greatness. How audacious they would sound to some of their first hearers! Think of these two, one of them a young Galilean carpenter, to whom His companion witnesses and declares that He is of worldwide and infinite significance. It was the first public designation of Jesus Christ, and it throws into exclusive prominence one aspect of His work.
John the Baptist summing up the whole of former revelation which concentrated in Him, pointed a designating finger to Jesus and said, ‘That is He!’ My text is the sum of all Christian teaching ever since. My task, and that of all preachers, if we understand it aright, is but to repeat the same message, and to concentrate attention on the same fact-’The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ It is the one thing needful for you, dear friend, to believe. It is the truth that we all need most of all. There is no reason for our being gathered together now, except that I may beseech you to behold for yourselves the Lamb of God which takes away the world’s sin.
Now let me ask you to note, first, that Jesus Christ is the world’s sin-bearer.

The significance of the first clause of my text, ‘the Lamb of God,’ is deplorably weakened if it is taken to mean only, or mainly, that Jesus Christ, in the sweetness of His human nature, is gentle and meek and patient and innocent and pure. It does mean all that, thank God! But it was no mere description of Christ’s disposition which John the Baptist conceived himself to be uttering, as is clear by the words that follow in the next clause. His reason for selecting (under divine guidance, as I believe) that image of ‘the Lamb of God,’ went a great deal deeper than anything in the temper of the Person of whom he was speaking.
Many streams of ancient prophecy and ritual converge upon this emblem, and if we want to understand what is meant by the designation ‘the Lamb of God,’ we must not content ourselves with the sentimentalisms which some superficial teachers have supposed to exhaust the significance of the expression; but we must submit to be led back by John, who was the summing up of all the ancient Revelation, to the sources in that Revelation from which he drew this metaphor.
First and chiefest of these, as I take it, are the words which no Jew ever doubted referred to the Messiah, until after He had come, and the Rabbis would not believe in Him, and so were bound to hunt up another interpretation – I mean the great words in the prophecy which, I suppose, is familiar to most of us, where there are found two representations, one, ‘He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth’;
and the other, still more germane to the purpose of my text, ‘the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. By His knowledge shall He justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.’ John the Baptist, looking back through the ages to that ancient prophetic utterance, points to the young Man standing by his side, and says, ‘There it is fulfilled.’
But the prophetic symbol of the Lamb, and the thought that He bore the iniquity of the many, had their roots in the past, and pointed back to the sacrificial lamb, the lamb of the daily sacrifice, and especially to the lamb slain at the Passover, which was an emblem and sacrament of deliverance from bondage. Thus the conceptions of vicarious suffering, {i.e. one person suffering in the place of another} and of a death which is a deliverance, and of blood which, sprinkled on the doorposts, guards the house from the destroying angel, are all gathered into these words.
Nor do these exhaust the sources of this figure, as it comes from the venerable and sacred past. For when we read ‘the Lamb of God,’ who is there that does not recognise, unless his eyes are blinded by obstinate prejudice, a glance backward to that sweet and pathetic story when the father went up with his son to the top of Mount Moriah, and to the boy’s question, ‘Where is the lamb?’ answered, ‘My son, God Himself will provide the lamb!’ John says, ‘Behold the Lamb that God has provided, the Sacrifice, on whom is laid a world’s sins, and who bears them away.’
Note, too, the universality of the power of Christ’s sacrificial work. John does not say ‘who taketh away the sins {plural} of the world.’ But he says, ‘the sin of the world,’ as if the whole mass of human transgression was bound together, in one black and awful bundle, and laid upon the unshrinking shoulders of this better Atlas who can bear it all, and bear it all away. Your sin, and mine, and every man’s, they were all laid upon Jesus Christ.
Now remember, dear brethren, that in this wondrous representation there lie, plain and distinct, two things which to me, and I pray they may be to you, are the very foundation of the Gospel to which we have to trust. One is that on Christ Jesus, in His life and in His death, were laid the guilt and the consequences of a world’s sin. I do not profess to be ready with an explanation of how that is possible. That it is a fact I believe, on the authority of Christ Himself and of Scripture...
But Christ in His perfect manhood, wedded, as I believe it is, to true divinity, is capable of entering into – not merely by sympathy, though that has much to do with it – such closeness of relation with human kind, and with every man, as that on Him can be laid the iniquity of us all.
Oh, brethren! what was the meaning of ‘I have a baptism to be baptized with,’ unless the cold waters of the flood into which He unshrinkingly stepped, and allowed to flow over Him, were made by the gathered accumulation of the sins of the whole world? What was the meaning of the agony in Gethsemane? What was the meaning of that most awful word ever spoken by human lips, in which the consciousness of union with, and of separation from, God, were so marvellously blended, ‘My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ unless the Guiltless was then loaded with the sins of the world, which rose between Him and God?
There is the other truth here, as clearly, and perhaps more directly, meant by the selection of the expression in my text, that the Sin-bearer not only carries, but carries away, the burden that is laid upon Him. Perhaps there may be a reference – in addition to the other sources of the figure which I have indicated as existing in ritual, and prophecy, and history – there may be a reference in the words to yet another of the eloquent symbols of that ancient system which enshrined truths that were not peculiar to any people, but were the property of humanity. You remember, no doubt, the singular ceremonial connected with the scapegoat, and many of you will recall the wonderful embodiment of it given by the Christian genius of a modern painter.
The sins of the nation were symbolically laid upon its head, and it was carried out to the edge of the wilderness and driven forth to wander alone, bearing away upon itself into the darkness and solitude-far from man and far from God-the whole burden of the nation’s sins. Jesus Christ takes away the sin which He bears, and there is, as I believe, only one way by which individuals, or society, or the world at large, can thoroughly get rid of the guilt and penal consequences and of the dominion of sin, and that is, by beholding the Lamb of God that takes upon Himself, that He may carry away out of sight, the sin of the world. So much, then, for the first thought that I wish to suggest to you.
II. Now let me ask you to look with me at a second thought, that such a world’s Sin-bearer is the world’s deepest need.
The sacrifices of every land witness to the fact that humanity all over the world, and through all the ages, and under all varieties of culture, has been dimly conscious that its deepest need was that the fact of sin should be dealt with. But I do not need to appeal only to this world-wide fact as being a declaration of what man’s deepest need is. I would appeal to every man’s own consciousness-hard though it be to get at it; buried as it is, with some of us, under mountains of indifference and neglect; and callous as it is with many of us by reason of indulgence in habits of evil. I believe that in every one of us, if we will be honest, and give heed to the inward voice, there does echo a response and an amen to the Scripture declaration, ‘God hath shut up all under sin.’
I ask you about yourselves, is it not so? Do you not know that, however you may gloss over the thing, or forget it amidst a whirl of engagements and occupations, or try to divert your thoughts into more or less noble or ignoble channels of pleasures and pursuits, there does lie, in each of our hearts, the sense, dormant often, but sometimes like a snake in its hybernation, waking up enough to move, and sometimes enough to sting-there does lie, in each of us, the consciousness that we are wrong with God, and need something to put us right?
And, brethren, let modern philanthropists of all sorts take this lesson: The thing that the world wants is to have sin dealt with-dealt with in the way of conscious forgiveness; dealt with in the way of drying up its source, and delivering men from the power of it. Unless you do that, I do not say you do nothing, but you pour a bottle full of cold water into Vesuvius, and try to put the fire out with that.

You may educate, you may cultivate, you may refine; you may set political and economical arrangements right in accordance with the newest notions of the century, and what then? Why! the old thing will just begin over again, and the old miseries will appear again, because the old grandmother of them all is there, the sin that has led to them.
Now do not misunderstand me, as if I were warring against good and noble men who are trying to remedy the world’s evils by less thorough methods than Christ’s Gospel. They will do a great deal. But you may have high education, beautiful refinement of culture and manners; you may divide out political power in accordance with the most democratic notions; you may give everybody ‘a living wage,’ however extravagant his notions of a living wage may be. You may carry out all these panaceas and the world will groan still, because you have not dealt with the tap-root of all the mischief.
You cannot cure an internal cancer with a plaster upon the little finger, and you will never stanch the world’s wounds until you go to the Physician that has balm and bandage, even Jesus Christ, that takes away the sins of the world. I profoundly distrust all these remedies for the world’s misery as in themselves inadequate, even whilst I would help them all, and regard them all as then blessed and powerful, when they are consequences and secondary results of the Gospel, the first task of which is to deal by forgiveness and by cleansing with individual transgression.

And if I might venture to go a step further, I would like to say that this aspect of our Lord’s work on which John the Baptist concentrated all our attention is the only one which gives Him power to sway men, and which makes the Gospel-the record of His work – the kingly power in the world that it is meant to be. Depend upon it, that in the measure in which Christian teachers fail to give supreme importance to that aspect of Christ’s work they fail altogether...
Christianity be thought of as being mainly a means of social improvement, or if its principles of action be applied to life without that basis of them all, in the Cross which takes away the world’s iniquity, then it needs no prophet to foretell that such a Christianity will only have superficial effects, and that, in losing sight of this central thought, it will have cast away all its power.
I beseech you, dear brethren, remember that Jesus Christ is something more than a social reformer, though He is the first of them, and the only one whose work will last. Jesus Christ is something more than a lovely pattern of human conduct, though He is that. Jesus Christ is something more than a great religious genius who set forth the Fatherhood of God as it had never been set forth before. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the record not only of what He said but of what He did, not only that He lived but that He died; and all His other powers, and all His other benefits and blessings to society, come as results of His dealing with the individual soul when He takes away its guilt and reconciles it to God.
III. And so, lastly, let me ask you to notice that this Sin-bearer of the world is our Sin-bearer if we ‘behold’ Him.
John was simply summoning ignorant eyes to look, and telling of what they would see. But his call is susceptible, without violence, of a far deeper meaning. This is really the one truth that I want to press upon you, dear friends-’Behold the Lamb of God!’ What is that beholding? Surely it is nothing else than our recognising in Him the great and blessed work which I have been trying to describe, and then resting ourselves upon that great Lord and sufficient Sacrifice. And such an exercise of simple trust is well named beholding, because they who believe do see, with a deeper and a truer vision than sense can give.
You and I can see Christ more really than these men who stood round Him, and to whom His flesh was ‘a veil’ – as the Epistle to the Hebrews calls it – hiding His true divinity and work. They who thus behold by faith lack nothing either of the directness or of the certitude that belong to vision. ‘Seeing is believing,’ says the cynical proverb. The Christian version inverts its terms, ‘Believing is seeing.’ ‘Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice.’ And your simple act of ‘beholding,’ by the recognition of His work and the resting of yourself upon it, makes the world’s Sin-bearer your Sin-bearer.
You appropriate the general blessing, like a man taking in a little piece of a boundless prairie for his very own. Your possession does not make my possession of Him less, for every eye gets its own beam, and however many eyes wait upon Him, they all receive the light on to their happy eyeballs. You can make Christ your own, and have all that He has done for the world as your possession, and can experience in your own hearts the sense of your own forgiveness and deliverance from the power and guilt of your own sin, on the simple condition of looking unto Jesus.
The serpent is lifted on the pole, the dying camp cannot go to it, but the filming eyes of the man in his last gasp may turn to the gleaming image hanging on high; and as he looks the health begins to tingle back into his veins, and he is healed.
And so, dear brethren, behold Him; for unless you do, though He has borne the world’s sin, your sin will not be there, but will remain on your back to crush you down. ‘O Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me!’”

The next Heading I would like to more closely examine and comment on is that Jesus' Death was Vicarious. Again, vicarious indicating that some Person A took the place of some Person B. I don't believe this concept can be more powerfully conveyed than it is in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he {God} hath made him {Christ} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Of this, Albert Barnes writes, “For he hath made him to be sin for us - The Greek here is, ‘for him who knew no sin, he hath made sin, or a sin-offering for us.’ The design of this very important verse is, to urge the strongest possible reason for being reconciled to God. This is implied in the word, “for.” Paul might have urged other arguments, and presented other strong considerations. But he chooses to present this fact, that Christ has been made sin for us, as embodying and concentrating all. It is the most affecting of all arguments; it is the one that is likely to prove most effectual. It is not indeed improper to urge on people every other consideration to induce them to be reconciled to God.
It is not improper to appeal to them by the conviction of duty; to appeal to their reason and conscience; to remind them of the claims, the power, the goodness, and the fear of the Creator; to remind them of the awful consequences of a continued hostility to God; to persuade them by the hope of heaven, and by the fear of hell to become his friends: but, after all, the strongest argument, and that which is most adapted to melt the soul, is the fact that the Son of God has become incarnate for our sins, and has suffered and died in our stead. When all other appeals fail this is effectual; and this is in fact the strong argument by which the mass of those who become Christians are induced to abandon their opposition and to become reconciled to God.

To be sin - The words ‘to be’ are not in the original. Literally, it is, ‘he has made him sin, or a sin-offering’ But what is meant by this? What is the exact idea which the apostle intended to convey? I answer, it cannot be: 1.) That he was literally sin in the abstract, or sin as such. No one can pretend this. The expression must be, therefore, in some sense, figurative. Nor, 2.) Can it mean that he was a sinner, for it is said in immediate connection that he “knew no sin,” and it is everywhere said that he was holy, harmless, undefiled. Nor, 3.) Can it mean that he was, in any proper sense of the word, guilty, for no one is truly guilty who is not personally a transgressor of the Law;
And if he was, in any proper sense, guilty, then he deserved to die, and his death could have no more merit than that of any other guilty being; and if he was properly guilty it would make no difference in this respect whether it was by his own fault or by imputation: a guilty being deserves to be punished; and where there is desert of punishment there can be no merit in sufferings.
But all such views as go to make the Holy Redeemer a sinner, or guilty, or deserving of the sufferings which he endured, border on blasphemy, and are abhorrent to the whole strain of the Scriptures. In no form, in no sense possible, is it to be maintained that the Lord Jesus was sinful or guilty. It is a corner stone of the whole system of religion, that in all conceivable senses of the expression he was holy, and pure, and the object of the divine approbation. And every view which fairly leads to the statement that he was in any sense guilty, or which implies that he deserved to die, is “prima facie” a false view, and should be at once abandoned. But,
(4) If the declaration that he was made “sin” does not mean that he was sin itself, or a sinner, or guilty, then it must mean that he was a sin-offering – an offering or a sacrifice for sin; and this is the interpretation which is now generally adopted by expositors; or it must be taken as an abstract for the concrete, and mean that God treated him as if he were a sinner. Some say it means that God made him a sin-offering, others that it means that God treated him as a sinner. There are many passages in the Old Testament where the word “sin” is used in the sense of sin-offering, or a sacrifice for sin.

But whichever meaning is adopted, whether it means that he was a sacrifice for sin, or that God treated him as if he were a sinner, that is, subjected him to sufferings which, if he had been personally a sinner, would have been a proper expression of his hatred of transgression, ands proper punishment for sin, in either case it means that he made an atonement; that he died for sin; that his death was not merely that of a martyr; but that it was designed by substituted sufferings to make reconciliation between man and God. Locke renders this: probably expressing the true sense, “For God hath made him subject to suffering and death, the punishment and consequence of sin, as if he had been a sinner, though he were guilty of no sin.”
To me, it seems probable that the sense is, that God treated him as if he had been a sinner; that he subjected him to such pains and woes as would have been a proper punishment if he had been guilty; that while he was, in fact, in all senses perfectly innocent, and while God knew this, yet that in consequence of the voluntary assumption of the place of man which the Lord Jesus took, it pleased the Father to lay on him the deep sorrows which would be the proper expression of his sense of the evil of sin; that he endured so much suffering, as would answer the same great ends in maintaining the truth, and honor, and justice of God, as if the guilty had themselves endured the penalty of the Law.
This, I suppose, is what is usually meant when it is said “our sins were imputed to him;” and though this language is not used in the Bible, and though it is liable to great misapprehension and perversion, yet if this is its meaning, there can be no objection to it.
(Certainly Christ’s being made sin, is not to be explained of his being made sin in the abstract, nor of his having actually become a sinner; yet it does imply, that sin was charged on Christ, or that it was imputed to him, and that he became answerable for it. Nor can this idea be excluded, even if we admit that “sin-offering” is the proper rendering of the Greek “hamartia” in the passage. “That Christ,” says an old divine commenting on this place, “was made sin for us, because he was a sacrifice for sin, we confess;
but therefore was he a sacrifice for sin because our sins were imputed to him, and punished in him.” The doctrine of imputation of sin to Christ is here, by plain enough inference at least. The antithesis in the passage, so obvious and beautiful: Christ was made sin, we righteousness.

Who knew no sin - He was not guilty. He was perfectly holy and pure. This idea is thus expressed by Peter in 1Peter_2:22; “who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;” and in Hebrews 7:26, it is said he was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” In all respects, and in all conceivable senses, the Lord Jesus was pure and holy. If he had not been, he would not have been qualified to make an atonement. Hence, the sacred writers are everywhere at great pains to keep this idea prominent, for on this depends the whole superstructure of the plan of salvation.
The phrase “knew no sin,” is an expression of great beauty and dignity. It indicates his entire and perfect purity. He was altogether unacquainted with sin; he was a stranger to transgression; he was conscious of no sin; he committed none. He had a mind and heart perfectly free from pollution, and his whole life was perfectly pure and holy in the sight of God.
That we might be made the righteousness of God - This is a Hebraism, meaning the same as divinely righteous. It means that we are made righteous in the sight of God; that is, that we are accepted as righteous, and treated as righteous by God on account of what the Lord Jesus has done. There is here an evident and beautiful contrast between what is said of Christ, and what is said of us. He was made sin; we are made righteousness;
that is, he was treated as if he were a sinner, though he was perfectly holy and pure; we are treated as if we were righteous, though we are defiled and depraved. The idea is, that on account of what the Lord Jesus has endured in our behalf we are treated as if we had ourselves entirely fulfilled the Law of God, and bad never become exposed to its penalty. In the phrase “righteousness of God,” there is a reference to the fact that this is his plan of making people righteous, or of justifying them.
They who thus become righteous, or are justified, are justified on his plan, and by a scheme which he has devised. Locke renders this: “that we, in and by him, might be made righteous, by a righteousness imputed to us by God.” The idea is, that all our righteousness in the sight of God we receive in and through a Redeemer. All is to be traced to him. This verse contains a beautiful epitome of the whole plan of salvation, and the uniqueness of the Christian scheme.
On the one hand, one who was perfectly innocent, by a voluntary substitution, is treated as if he were guilty; that is, is subjected to pains and sorrows which if he were guilty would be a proper punishment for sin: and on the other, they who are guilty and who deserve to be punished, are treated, through his vicarious sufferings, as if they were perfectly innocent.

Innocence voluntarily suffers for guilt, and the guilty are thus made pure and holy, and are saved. The greatness of the divine compassion and love is thus shown for the guilty; and on the ground of this it is right and proper for God to call on people to be reconciled to him. It is the strongest argument that can be used. When God has given his only Son to the bitter suffering of death on the cross in order that we may be reconciled, it is the highest possible argument which can be used why we should cease our opposition to him, and become his friends.
Lastly for tonight, let us consider for further examination the Heading, “Jesus' Death Was Redemptive:” We read in Galatians 4:4: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
From the Sermon Bible we read, “Christ Obedient to the Law. I. Christ’s obedience to the law was not a matter of course, following upon His incarnation. Scripture everywhere separates the two, making His obedience an additional thing, undertaken by Him over and above His becoming man. It was a positive thing, not to be for a moment in our thoughts merged in the mere negative fact of His being pure and free from sin.
II. Secondly, it was not only an integral, but also a necessary, part of His work of redemption. The Jew was lifted above all the other nations, and stood nearer to God. His privilege was greater, and his guilt was different. The guilt of all mankind before God was indeed that of original disobedience, but might now be said to consist in blindly following sinful courses, while Israel’s guilt was that of constant and deliberate disregard of a written and ever-present law. And that righteousness which put man into the position of God’s approval being to come in by one Man,
Jesus Christ, all cases of guilt must be covered, all situations of disobedience taken up and borne and carried triumphantly out into perfection and accordance with the Father’s will by the Son of God in our flesh; and this could only be done by His taking upon Himself the situation of the higher responsibility and the deeper guilt.
And there was another reason why our Lord should have been made under the law: His fulfilling of the will of God for man was to be, not only complete, but was to be our pattern, that as He was holy, so we might be holy also; and this it could not have been had it not been of the highest kind. He not only fulfilled all righteousness in His own person, but He showed to us, His disciples, a new and better way: He led us up through the law, and out of and above the law, into our obedience and spiritual freedom, so that He has satisfied and abolished the handwriting of ordinances that was against us and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.
H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vi., p. 88.

In The Fulness of Time. I. God sent forth His Son, and sent Him in the fulness of time. In four ways God had prepared the civilised world for the reception of Christianity. (1) By means of the Roman empire He had reduced all the world under one government, so that there was free intercourse between all parts of the known world, and there was no political obstacle to the spread of the faith from one nation to another. (2) By means of the Greek language, the most perfect instrument of thought ever known, He had made the earth to be of one tongue, and thus He had prepared the way for the advent of Christ.
(3) By means of the chosen people of the Jews, having still their religious centre at Jerusalem, yet scattered throughout the world, He had provided a nursery for the tender plant of the Gospel. (4) By reason of the general confluence and mutual competition of all kinds of heathen idolatries, He had caused heathenism to lose its old repute and power over souls.
Why did God not send His Son sooner into the world to comfort and to save? Is it not hard to think of the Son of God looking calmly down through all the ages on His miserable creatures, tormenting and slaying one another, crying with piteous, unavailing cries to that heaven which, in its unmoved majesty, only seemed to mock their agony? We may ask these questions, but we cannot answer them. We only know that to God the moment of our Saviour’s advent was the fulness of the time, was the earliest moment in which He could come to our help.
But He that stooped from His Divine estate to die upon the cross has surely earned our confidence. We do not know how the history of the world is to be reconciled with the goodness of God, but we can believe. Jesus Christ has surely a right to demand that we should trust Him, not only with the present, but with the past, too.
R. Winterbotham, Sermons and Expositions, p. 323.
None of the verses cited, and none of the Commentaries quotes had anything directly to do with the Gospel Accounts we read in Matthew or in Luke of the birth of Christ. But I hope you noticed as we went through these three Headings, that Christ's Death was Sacrificial, that Christ's Death was Vicarious, and that Christ's Death was Redemptive, each of the verses, and all of the commentaries continually spoke of the Father sending the Son to die in our place.
Unlike any other birthday celebration, the Birth of Christ is celebrated annually at this time of year. Unfortunately, our American Culture, and many other Western and Middle Eastern Cultures have added such deafening and glittering distractions to Jesus' birth, that the reason He came is utterly buried under all the tinsel, and drowned out with the clamor of shoppers and the sounds of cash registers ringing. My whole purpose in these two Discussions was to both dim the lights and dial down the noise and remind everyone why the birth of this baby, unlike any and every other baby, is worthy of celebration.
Jesus, the Creator God of the Universe, was made flesh (John 1:14), He was made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13), He was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), He became a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6), and He came to take away the sin of the world, (John 1:29), mine and yours. Jesus “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” This is where our focus should be in December, and every day of the year: unto Him Who died for us, and rose again.
Next week we will examine “The Meaning of His Resurrection.”
This concludes this Evening's Discussion, “The Meaning of Christ's Death, Part 2.”

This Discussion was originally presented “live” on December 13th, 2017

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