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Looking Unto Jesus

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    03 CHRIST AS REDEEMER

    But these are not all his ways. Had no disloyalty invaded his peaceful, happy realms, these perhaps, would have alone remained forever the channels of his glory. But a world plunged in sin, but yet within the scope of mercy, opened a new theater for the display of attributes till then slumbering in the divine bosom. God’s attitude to those of his creatures who had been caught in the snare of sin, became the marvel of heavenly hosts, and the relation Christ assumed toward a world of lost humanity, overtopped all other displays of the divine nature the universe had seen. Love and mercy, justice and truth, blossomed forth into those fair combinations and vast proportions, before which unfallen seraphs and the hosts of the redeemed will ever wonder and adore.LUJ 18.1

    The words of John, first quoted, lift the vail into this marvelous realm of redemption: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The lamb is a symbol of sacrifice; and in calling Christ by this title, John indicates the method by which the work of taking away the sin of the world is to be accomplished. Nothing but a sacrificial lamb could do it; not an earthly lamb: for it is written that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin, but it must be such a one as John here designates - the Lamb of God. Nothing but the height of sacrifice could reach the case. No created being would answer. It must be one in whom divinity itself was enshrined.LUJ 18.2

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    When John spoke these words to the Jewish people, that nation had had, for fifteen hundred years, daily set before them a vivid picture of sacrifice for sin. In sacred, solemn service, the blood of lambs had flowed upon their altars, and the smoke of consuming victims had ascended as grateful incense to heaven - grateful, because an evidence of penitence on the part of men. The shedding of blood, the evidence of forfeited life, was essential to an effectual sacrifice and offering for sin; for the apostle declares expressly that “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22. Remission (literally, a “sending back again”) refers to the removal or putting away of sin; and a moment’s glance at the situation, will show the philosophy of the statement, and the reason why blood alone avails for this purpose.LUJ 19.1

    The Author of the universe is not the author of confusion. Government reigns through all his realms,; but government is maintained by law; and law, to be law, must have its penalties. The penalty pronounced against sin was death. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20. Such was the unalterable fiat that went forth against disobedience to God’s just and holy law. The sentence commends itself to the sense of justice, common to every unbiased heart. With reference to one who would take the sweet gift of life which he had done nothing to merit, and prostitute it and all its privileges to the base and unnatural work of hurling defiance into the very face of the giver, and making war on his will and all his ways, God could certainly do no less than to consider such a life forfeited, and withdraw the precious boon. So the sentence of the Old Testament, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” is echoed in the New: “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23.LUJ 19.2

    It is life, then, which the law demands of every transgressor. But what has this to do with the declaration that “without shedding of blood is no remission”? The book of Leviticus explains. The blood is the life. In Leviticus 17:14, we read: “For it [the blood] is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh; for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof.” In verse 11 we further read: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The presentation of blood, therefore, was the evidence that life had been taken, to meet the demands of the law, and that thus its claim that “the soul that sinneth [transgresseth the law], it shall die,” had been satisfied. But if the sinner were left to meet this demand himself, if the blood that made remission were his own blood, where would be his life? His sin indeed would be remitted, or destroyed, but it would involve him in the same destruction; he must perish with his transgression.LUJ 20.1

    When man had thus brought himself into this helpless and hopeless condition by disobedience to the command not to eat of the forbidden tree (a prohibition which involved every principle of God’s law), it was then that the Saviour interposed in his behalf. Christ alone, as being above law, was available for this work. Every created being was subject to law, and therefore could meet its demands only on his own behalf. The law demands perfect obedience, and no being subject to law could render more than that. But on Christ, whose very nature was the law, the law had no demands to make. He therefore could pay a debt in behalf of others. He, as creator, could meet the demands of his own law in behalf of any of his own creatures. But, as we have seen, he is the creator of all, and hence could meet the demands of the law in behalf of all.LUJ 20.2

    This would not jeopardize his kingdom; for the integrity of his government would be preserved; his own honor would remain untarnished; and the majesty of the law would be maintained. Christ could thus present to the law a life unforfeited to its claims - a life equivalent to that of every created being; and the sinner by being permitted to plead that offering made for the cancellation of his sin, by being permitted to present that blood, the blood of Christ, offered to the law for remission, as if it were his own, could thus secure the destruction of his sin, and yet live. This clearing of the sinner was no concession to sin in itself considered; for the awful penalty paid, showed its terrible nature, and that it was not regarded as a slight and trifling thing which might be quietly ignored. That provision for forgiveness was not lightly passing by, or licensing sin on the part of the sinner; for the condition on which the ransom price was to be appropriated, and the benefit of grace secured, was such as to work in the heart of the penitent an abhorrence of sin, and in his life a cessation of its practise.LUJ 21.1

    The offering of Christ was no infliction of blind vengeance on the part of God, to give vent to wrath he knew not how otherwise to appease; but it was an “unspeakable gift,” prompted by infinite love. Christ declared this to Nicodemus: “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.” John 3:16. It was no arbitrary infliction of injustice and cruelty upon the innocent, that the still stubborn and unrepentant guilty party might unjustly escape the legitimate consequences of his deeds; for the offering was voluntary and self-sought on the part of Christ. The Father simply accepted his proposition of self-immolation, instead of condemning him to it. Christ gave himself for us. Hebrews 7:27. The innocent, of his own will, consented to take the place of the guilty, to pay that which the law demanded to cancel guilt, that the guilty, by a proffered union with himself, might be accounted innocent. He made his soul an offering for sin. Isaiah 53:10. He “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.” Hebrews 9:14. He who was without sin became sin, that we who had sin might become without sin. This glorious truth the scripture expresses in the following assuring language: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.LUJ 21.2

    It would have been indeed a marvelous sight had Christ come down to accomplish this work in his own pre-existent nature and condition, as a representative of the Godhead in majesty and power; but then mankind would have feared to approach him. They would have stood aloof in awe and veneration. Their spirits would have melted at his overpowering presence. The contrast between himself and them would have been too painful. They would have viewed him as one afar off, and would have seen a gulf separating them from him, so wide as to paralyze all their efforts to pass it. His example would have seemed too high for them to attempt to follow. Christ did not therefore see fit to come in that manner. He did more. He must come nearer to man than that. He would not only reach down his arm, but he would come down himself. He would not approach man simply as a visitant from another realm, but as one from his own country and of his own kind. He would not save him as the Son of God only, but also as the Son of man.LUJ 22.1

    It would have been a vast descent for him to take upon himself the nature of angels. But he would not limit himself to this, but would compass the entire descent to man’s low estate. To this the apostle plainly testifies: “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:16. That is, he assumed the nature of the children of men, that he might, as the margin reads, “lay hold” of them. Thus he humbled himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, by consenting to take the fashion of puny, mortal, sinful man (Philippians 2:8). In the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), he reached down to the very depths of man’s fallen condition, and became obedient to death, even the ignominious death of the cross. He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” “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,” and thus deliver them who were subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:9, 14, 15. He who was exalted became abased, that we might be exalted; he who was rich became poor, that we who are so poor might be made rich; he who was immortal became mortal, that we who are mortal might become immortal. The brightness of heaven exchanged for the darkness of earth! The riches of heaven surrendered for the poverty of earth! The essence of being, inherent life, exchanged for the cold clods of the tomb! How could the Lord of life, he to whom the Father had given to have life in himself, come down in mortal garb, and die for men? How could immortality become mortality?LUJ 23.1

    When Christ left heaven to die for a lost world, he left behind, for the time being, his immortality also. but how could that be laid aside? That it was laid aside is PICTURE AND TEXT
    sure, or he could not have died; but he did die, as a whole, as a divine being, as the Son of God, not in body only, while the spirit, the divinity, lived right on; for then the world would have only a human Saviour, a human sacrifice for its sins; but the prophet says that “his soul” was made “an offering for sin.” Isaiah 53:10. But how this could be done, is a question like a hundred other questions that might be asked concerning this heaven-devised transaction, the answers to which the finite mind could never grasp. The nature, though not the manner, of this marvelous event, Paul partially reveals in 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” “The Word,” says John, “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.” John 1:14. Again we read: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9), that is, that he might suffer death.
    LUJ 23.2

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