Christ Our Pattern (continued)
The Infinite Stoop (continued)
The Word of God says: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20); "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). But the Son of Man never sinned. "In him is no sin," John had said (1 John 3:5). Paul and Peter had given the same testimony. "Him who knew no sin" (2 Chronicles 5:21); "he did no sin" (1 Peter 2:22). So death had no claim whatsoever upon Him and He did not become obedient to death's claim or call.
Then it must be a new submission to His Father's will. This new obedience unto death was a new giving up of that which He had every right to hold. Indeed it expresses the climax of obedience, for He had absolute power over His own life, according to His own statement (John 10:17, 18).
Gethsemane is the revelation of the perfection of the obedience of the One "perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10; Matthew 26:39).
"If - Nevertheless - But." The issue: self-will or God's will - His whole life principle is at stake; the acceptance of, acquiescence in, and obedience to the will of His Father at any cost. Perhaps some reader of these lines is facing this same issue this very moment - your will or God's will? If so, will you not go alone with God and remain bowed in prayer, even as Jesus your Saviour did, until you can say even as He, "My Father, if ... nevertheless ... but."
"Not as I will." There is not one trace or taint of self-will in these words. The renunciation has been made and it is without reservations. It is the inmost heart expression of One who literally has no will of His own in respect to "this cup." "But as thou wilt." No matter what was involved in the drinking of "this cup" or what would be the infinite cost of drinking it; if it was His Father's will, He would by His own choice drink it. It was His Father's will (Acts 2:23).
Can He do any further down than this? Yes, there is still one step further that He must take, for He has not yet reached the deepest depth.
The Fifth Step Down (Philippians 2:8).
"The death of the Cross"; words we use so familiarly, we say so glibly, having so little realization of the awfulness and hideousness of "the death of the Cross." Of all forms of death devised by man, crucifixion was the most painful and shameful; involving as it did the very acme of offense in ignominy, scoffing, scourging, even spitting. It was also the most degrading and disgraceful of all the forms of punishment, "the most terrible torture to be devised by man's inhumanity to man, the very consummation of human sadism." Death by crucifixion involved such shame, ignominy, and disgrace that at first it was a punishment inflicted only by slaves; a penalty reserved for the worst crimes; meted out to criminals and malefactors exposed as a public spectacle.
But for the Man Christ Jesus, there was something in "the death of the Cross" far more awful than its public shame. He had obeyed the law of God in fullest measure,yet through His death on the Cross He was made a curse for us. In His crucifixion the altogether holy, righteous, obedient One hung there accursed by the law and received the full blast of the wrath of God which was our due (Galatians 3:10-13).
Could - would - the Son of Man stoop so low, even to this deepest depth of shame and humiliation? The death of the Cross was a divine necessity. Only through it could he first great prophecy of the double bruising of Genesis 3:15 be fulfilled. The head of satan and the heel of the Saviour must be bruised to bring redemption to mankind and the restoration of the sole, undivided sovereignty of the throne of God. The fiercest and the final battle in the agelong conflict with satan must be won through "the death of the Cross," for the cross is God's way to the throne.
(continued with # 71)