After the Passion comes the Compassion
"He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth….Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…"
Isaiah 53: 7, 10
This prophecy of the passion of Christ was written by the prophet Isaiah more than 700 years before it transpired in 33 AD. Today almost 2000 years later millions of people are confronted with the brutality and cruelty under which our Savior suffered and died through the medium of cinematography.
Reasonable minds inquire, why did God allow his only begotten Son to suffer so? In what way could it have pleased Him to bruise him?
Fortunately, we are not left in the dark but are able to find satisfying answers to these important questions in the Bible. There God reveals to us that even before He created the earth He devised a plan that would allow for a human family created with the freedom to choose between doing what is right or doing what is wrong. God foresaw that this was far superior to creating humans as mere robots, programmed to do only what is right. God also understood that his human creation, like an infant, would require experience as well as instruction in order to appreciate right compared to wrong. God’s Word provides the instructions which allow us to live in harmony with him and with one another, and the experiences of this life are demonstrating to us the disastrous effects of choosing to live outside of God’s instruction.
How was God’s course of action put into effect? In 1 Peter 1:19 and 20 we read: "...But with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For he was foreknown before the foundation of the world…"(NAS). And again in Revelation 13:8 we read of Jesus as, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Here we learn that the Lord had thought through the entire process of creation before He even started. He knew that Adam and Eve, though perfect, would sin, would choose wrong. This is because they lacked the experience to grasp the consequences that dying and death would have upon themselves and upon their children thereafter. Hence, God clearly foresaw the need of a redeemer, one who would be able to save the human family from sin and death.
Let us carefully observe that God’s penalty for disobedience was death, not eternal torment at the hands of demons. Consider Genesis 2:17: "for in the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die (KJV margin)." And again in Genesis 3:19: "In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return." So then, if life is the state of existence, then the opposite of life is death or the state of non-existence. With this proper understanding we see that death is not the difficult thing, it’s the process of dying that has been so painful.
Returning to the Lamb of God, we read that he was unblemished and without spot. This means that Jesus was created as a perfect human man without sin just as the Apostle states in Hebrews 7:26; "For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners….." God’s justice declared that Father Adam must die. And God’s love declared that a Ransom or exchange would be provided for Adam and all his offspring. The Ransom was Jesus, the perfect human man, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15: 21 and 22: "For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." In Romans 5:12 and 18 we read; "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all have sinned…. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Yes, Jesus is our Ransom, even as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:6: "Who gave himself a ransom for all; to be testified in due time."
Now that we have seen the need of his death, what about his suffering? We read in Hebrews 5:8 and 9: "Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." This suffering that makes perfect is not referring to Jesus’ humanity being made perfect. We read that he was sinless. The process of perfecting relates to his character. One aspect is that it deepened or expanded his sympathies for others who suffered for righteousness' sake. During this long period of the permission of evil, God's servants both before and after Jesus have regularly suffered persecution at the hands of deluded people, because the darkness hates the light (John 3:19). It is only reasonable to expect that when the true light comes into the world, he would be hated and despised all the more. Further, Jesus knew that his disciples would suffer persecution specifically for his sake, it seems only proper that he would set the example for us to follow.
A second aspect of his suffering is that it demonstrated his willing obedience to do his heavenly Father’s will regardless of personal cost. Thus as he prayed in the Garden, "not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Mathew 26: 29). It is one thing to say that we are willing to do something, endure something; it is quite another thing to demonstrate it. As steel is made stronger, tempered by the fire, so the captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10). Likewise we are not to think it strange when fiery trials come upon us, because these trials are meant to prove our love and perfect our character (1 Peter 4:12).
Reflection upon our Lord’s sacrifice deeply touches our hearts. Though we were born in this sinful world through no choice of our own our Redeemer chose to leave the safety, happiness and grandeur of his heavenly home to be born as a human being; made a little lower than angels (Hebrews 2:9). And as the Apostle further reveals in Philippians 2:8; "and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Providing man’s Ransom price was Jesus’ passion at his first advent. As he cried from the cross, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) He spoke of the completion of his mission, the sacrifice of his perfect humanity. He will never take back that human life. He exchanged it for the forfeited life of Father Adam and the race in his loins. His life was the price required to free man from the prison of sin and death.
Jesus died almost 2,000 years ago, so when will man be released from the great prison house of death? The time is yet future in God’s grand design when all in their graves will come forth! Jesus told us this in John 5:28 and 29; "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice and come forth; those that did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life; those that committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.(NAS)." This will take place during the kingdom of God for which Jesus taught us to pray: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as in heaven (Mathew 6:10)." This is the period of time known as the second advent, when our Lord returns from heaven, no longer human, but as an exalted spiritual being. As the Apostle Paul indicated in1 Corinthians 15: 45 and 47; "and so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit… The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
As our Savior demonstrated his passion at his first advent, he returns to demonstrate his compassion. Then the fruitage of the redeemer's suffering and death will be realized by both the heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus. At that time, Jesus and his church are to live and judge mankind during the thousand years (Revelation 20:4). This thousand year Day of Judgment will witness both the reawakening of all mankind from the sleep of death, and the restitution of all things. This thought is expressed in 1Thessalonians 4:14; "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." These "times of restitution" are mentioned in Acts 3:20 and 21; "and he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, [even] Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken of by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." All things shall be restored to what it had been in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were perfect beings, living in perfect harmony with their Creator.
During this kingdom of compassion, all mankind will be able to learn God’s ways for righteous living. They will also be able to appreciate God’s gift of Jesus as our Ransom price. This knowledge along with their previous experience with sin, dying and death will enable them to choose right over wrong. In this great day of light and truth the blinding influence of the Adversary will be removed, then there will be no more confusion of religions or philosophies (2 Corinthians 4:4).
The prophet Isaiah who wrote of the passion of Christ, also wrote of the second advent and the Kingdom of God. Listen to his poetic description in Isaiah 35:8-10; "And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but is shall be for [the redeemed]: the wayfaring men, yea fools, shall not err [therein]. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up thereon; they shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk [there]: and the ransomed of Jehovah shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Again we ask, what is God waiting for? He is waiting for the completion of the Church, the Bride of Christ, those disciples who have now entered upon a “Narrow way”, not the “Highway” of the Kingdom. Jesus told us this in Matthew 7:14: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”. By faith we are now blessed to have a relationship with God. He is instructing us and giving us experiences now that will prepare us for the privilege of working with Jesus during his Kingdom of a thousand years. At that time it will be our privilege to help our fellow man overcome sin and make the proper choices that will lead to happiness and life.
Finally, we must consider one question that lingers upon the minds of many, that is, why was the brutality of the crucifixion necessary?
The Apostle Paul gives us a clue in Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on tree.” The Apostle Paul wrote this, and he being Jewish could well write that Jesus redeemed us (the Jew) from the curse (condemnation) of the law (the Law Covenant given through Moses to Israel). Where was this curse written that Paul quotes? It is from Deuteronomy 21:22 and 23: “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God)…” Now this was a part of the Law that God gave. It is not an authorization of crucifixion, for the condemned person was to be dead already before he was hanged on a tree. (See Joshua 8:29 and 10:26) This then was to be an outward sign of God’s disapproval.
When Satan, working through the blinded Jewish religious leaders, conspired to put Jesus to death, they wanted him portrayed to the public as one “accursed of God”. Therefore, the Roman method of crucifixion, hanging one upon a tree, would seem to accomplish this. But God overruled it for good. By dying in this manner, Jesus, though innocent, could suffer the curse of the Law. This would deliver the Jewish people out from under the additional condemnation of not living up to the requirements of the Law Covenant that God had given them. Peter connects the symbolism of the tree to the cross when in Acts 5:30 he states: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” And again in Acts 10:39: "….whom they slew and hanged on a tree.”
Millions know the story of the Passion of Christ but now you know the rest of the story – you know of God’s compassion that will follow!
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