THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST

Terry W Lock

Hebrews 10: 5-9 (to “will”)

Psalm 69: 4, 7-9, 11-12, 20-21

Luke 9: 22

Mark 14: 53-65

John 19: 28-35

         I feel very measured in what I feel the Lord has given me by the Spirit to speak of today because it involves the sufferings of Christ, sufferings that human minds cannot fathom; but God is good enough to give us an opportunity to look at them, to be affected by the depth of the love of God that He would go to such an extent to save people like me and you for His own sake, not just for our sake. 

         It says here in Hebrews 10, “Wherefore coming into the world he says, Sacrifice and offering thou willedst not; but thou hast prepared me a body”.  What a thing that was!  There had never been a Man like this before.  Adam was made of the dust of the earth, Eve was built from the rib of Adam, but in the Lord's case it was a unique body, prepared by God; “the holy thing also which shall be born shall be called Son of God”, Luke 1: 35.  That vessel was of God, a body prepared to be taken up to live and die for God's will.  What a thing to think of the Lord’s willingness: “Thou tookest no pleasure in burnt-offering and sacrifices for sin.  Then I said, Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of me) to do, O God, thy will”, the roll of the book having to do with what was there in the counsels of God.  Every matter in the counsels of God, in what He was going to work out in time in relation to His own inheritance, in securing the hearts and souls of men for Himself, was found in “Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of me) to do, O God, thy will”.  

         What did that involve, dear hearer?  What did it involve for Christ to do that, “to do, O God, thy will”?  There was a Man who had set Himself in a scene that was contrary to God.  For God's sake, He set Himself there; then He moved as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa 53: 3); He moved through this scene that was so contrary to all His holy nature; and He moved for God's sake to secure persons like me and like you, to secure a race of men for God. 

         God puts enough value on securing all He had in mind that He would give His Son, He would prepare Him a body that could suffer, that would suffer to secure this race, a race including persons like me and like you.  I cannot comprehend love like this, love as great as this that would go to such an extent to secure its end.  We had a touch of that in Philippians 2 last week and it carried through in our reading today, “who … did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God; but emptied himself”, humbled Himself to take up this body that was prepared in relation to the suffering that He was going to know, “becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross”, v 6-8.  That was Christ in the body that was prepared for Him, in the scene that was contrary to Him and contrary to God, and He did it for me and for you to secure us for God's sake.  Does it affect you that God loves you so much, that God would put that claim upon you? It says in the Psalms, “For the redemption of their soul is costly, and must be given up for ever”, Psalm 49: 8.  Before ever Adam was created, God had measured that cost and what it would be to secure the heart of Adam.  It is not that Adam did not belong to God; indeed he did.  God had creatorial rights over Adam, but God wanted affectionate rights over the whole race.  And how did He secure them?  By sending Christ to die.  So it says here, “Above, saying Sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou willedst not, neither tookest pleasure in (which are offered according to the law)”.  Why does He say that?  It was not as if the law was wrong.  God gave the law.  Indeed it says in the Old Testament that the law is the inheritance of the children of Israel, Deut 33: 4.  So the law is not wrong, but it was impossible to fulfil by persons like you and like me; when He says subsequently that the offerings that are according to the law are not pleasurable it is because they can never take away sins, Heb 10: 4, 11.  It says even in relation to the burnt-offering that you get in Leviticus 1 that the person who offered was to put his hand upon the offering, “and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him”, Lev 1: 4.  Atonement is only needed when there is something that is contrary to God.  Then it says, “Lo, I come to do thy will”, and the roll of the book is not mentioned.  Now this is not only according to the purposes (as seen in the roll of the book) of God, and, or according to the counsels of God, but this is also according to the heart of Christ.  He takes this matter up because of His love for God and what was precious to Him, what He would achieve by suffering in such a manner for God's sake.  You cannot compass that; you can only accept it for what it is.

         That is why I read in Psalm 69; now this is a psalm of David but there are things that are prophetic of what the Lord felt while He was here in the body that was prepared for Him in the scene that was contrary to Him.  

         They that hate me without a cause are more 

                  than the hairs of my head; 

                  they that would destroy me, 

                  being mine enemies wrongfully, 

                  are mighty: then I restored

                  that which I took not away.  

Who took it away?  You say the devil took it away.  But men in their lawlessness took it away, “then I restored that which I took not away”.  How did He do that?  By being perfect for His God.  What God found in Christ, what He saw here, was a Man that walked absolutely in accord with what God is Himself.  What was He doing?  He was restoring that which He took not away.  He was giving to God in a Man what was absolutely in accord with what God was Himself and what God had ever intended to see in a Man.  All that He had ever hoped to have He had in Jesus.  What a thing it was for God to see Him here.  You can understand the heavens being opened, you can understand the outpouring of the praises of God upon the head of that Man.  You can understand the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him.  You can understand that because of who was there and what was there, the moral perfection that was in Jesus when He was here when He walked upon the earth, suffering in a scene for God's sake, having in mind to secure persons like me and you for God's sake.  What a thing that is.  So He could say, “I restored that which I took not away”, and He felt those sufferings connected with the restoration.  What a thing it was for Him to come.  It says in John's gospel, “He came to his own, and his own received him not”, John 1: 11.  What suffering that was for the Lord, the One who wanted nothing more than to express His affections to men, to express the affections of God for men; instead they rejected Him; instead, at every turn all they had for Him were words of scorn: even His own disciples did not understand the extent to which He would have to go.  It says in John 4, when they came upon the Lord when He was sitting at the well speaking to that Samaritan woman, and “they wondered that he spoke with a woman”. v27.  They had no understanding of the feelings of the heart of God that were being expressed by Christ when He was there.  What suffering that was for the Lord that even those that went with Him day by day for the whole of His pathway could not understand the feelings that were there, and instead they would say, 'Why is He doing this?' and 'Why is He doing that?', 'Why is He speaking with this person?' and 'Why is He speaking with that person?'.  Those persons that travelled with the Lord did not understand the feelings of God expressed in the heart of that blessed Man in relation to the whole race of men.  That was all part of His sufferings.

So then it says here, 

         Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; 

              confusion hath covered my face.  

         I am become a stranger unto my brethren, 

              and an alien unto my mother's sons;  

         For the zeal of thy house hath devoured me, 

              and the reproaches of them 

              that reproach thee have fallen upon me.  

What a thing!  “For consider well”, Hebrews says, “him who endured so great contradiction from sinners against himself”, chap 12: 3.  He suffered “so great contradiction from sinners against himself” for God's sake.  One coming into the world, “who came out from God and was going to God”, as it says in John's gospel (chap 13: 3), coming out from God freighted with all the feelings of God in relation to a race that was lost.  It speaks of those persons who “did not think good to have God in their knowledge” (Rom 1: 28); that is no different from you and me.  We are exactly the same.  Naturally it is the thing that is furthest from our minds to choose God, but thank God that He has worked in His own mind and in His own power that we should even have an inclination to feel after God.  So as the gospel goes out today He is feeling after you.  Are you feeling after God?  He has expressed Himself in such a manner and in such a Man to draw your heart to Himself.  Men are God's inheritance and God is man's inheritance, and the proof of it will be seen in eternity in the liberality and the freedom of the attachment of affection that there will be between God and men.  This is the God that is seeking after you, this is the God who says, “My son, give me thy heart”, Prov 23: 26.  This is all God's doing.  What a thing it is!

         So then in Luke's gospel we see Him as the Son of man, and that is a title distinctive to Christ.  What came into expression in the Son of man is what God is in relation to men and the securing of men.  What an expression of affection there is!  What fulness of feeling there is in the title of “Son of man”!  What dignity and glory!  It is not a Man according to men.  It is a Man according to God expressing God to men.  That is all in this title, the Son of man, and think too of the feelings that are expressed by that title.  What does He say to His own?  What does He say here?  We did not read it but He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am? But they answering said, John the baptist; but others, Elias; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen again.  And he said to them, and ye, who do ye say that I am?”, v 18-20.  The persons that He was speaking to knew that He was of God but they did not recognise who was there.  The Son of man was there.  The prophets could not speak like He could speak.  Elias could not speak like He could speak.  It says a little earlier in Luke's gospel that they wondered at the words of grace coming out of His mouth, chap 4: 22.  They had never heard words like that before.  The prophets could not speak words like that.  There were never words of grace like came out of the mouth of Jesus.  It was impossible for it to be so because there was nobody who could express the grace of God in a man like Christ could.  Yet Peter had said, “The Christ of God”; and “earnestly charging them, he enjoined them to say this to no man, saying, the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up”.  You see the word “must” there; it was not just that it would proceed that way but it must proceed that way.  In order for God to move in relation to you and me, in order for God to secure His own inheritance, Christ had to die, God had to give Him up in death: it had to be so.  God could create the whole universe by a word; but sin is not removed by a word.  It took the death of His Son.  It took the blood of Christ.  And God measured that: “For the redemption of their soul is costly, and must be given up for ever”.  God measured the cost of the soul, and He gave it up.  Does that affect you, that God would put that value on your soul, that God would move this way?  Does that affect you?  It affects me.  But think of the Lord saying to His own that He must be rejected, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised”.  He still had testimony to go on with.  There was still a period of time when He had to work things out here in the testimony for God's sake, but He went, in His entire pathway here, knowing He was going to die, knowing that it was only by dying that He would be able to secure for God what was precious to God, and that was in persons like me and you.  

         Do you belong to Him?  This is the point of the glad tidings; God has maintained this day of grace so that you not only just get relief from your sins, which is wonderful - and it is wonderful - but more than that: eternity will not just be filled with persons who have their sins forgiven and that is all, but it will be filled by persons who love God and whom God loves.  Are you one of them?  How well do you know God?  How well do you know the love of God?  I am not asking you if you know of God.  There are hundreds of thousands of people out in the world that know of God.  The devil knows of God; so do his angels.  Do you know God?  You may say, 'Well, I know God because I come to the meeting, and I read the Scriptures and I lead a good life, and I do all those things so, yes, I know God'.  If that is as far as you go, you do not; pardon my saying so, and being so blunt.  If you read the beginning of Job, you see that he had brought up his household in relation to what was right before God, and it was.  On the outside it was right before God, and he prayed for them that they would not step outside the rights of God, he did all those things; and to look at Job and his household outwardly, and the way things were governed there, you would say, 'That is a man of God'.  But God knew Job.  So what happened?  The devil came along and spoke to God in relation to Job and what was there, and God did things both to prove Job's faithfulness and to give Job a true knowledge of God.  He says to Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job …?”, chap 1: 8.  You say, 'Well, why did God allow that to happen?'.  Because God was going to work out things in Job in suffering so that Job would understand what God was to Job, and what Job was to God.  And there was great affliction.  He lost everything.  He lost his business, he lost his children, he lost his relations with everybody that respected him, and he lost his health.  After losing all those things Job began to contend for himself, and sometimes we tend to do that.  We stand up for our own rights and we say. 'I am as good as the crowd'.  No, it does not matter how good you are as a natural man; Christ still had to die for you.  For God's sake Christ had to die for you to bring you to God.  He suffered “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God”, 1 Pet 3: 18.  So Job had to learn that.  He had known of God but he said at the end of his days, 

         I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, 

              but now mine eye seeth thee: 

         Wherefore I abhor myself, 

              and repent in dust and ashes. 

                        chap 42: 5, 6.  

He had heard of all that had gone on before; he had heard all the things the others had said before, and he had given up his entire life in relation to it, and yet he had not known God truly.  Now I am going to ask you the question again, do you really know God?  Can you go into the presence of God, you, as you are, and are you at liberty to be there, and do you know you are at liberty to be there?  Do you know what it is to go into the presence of God and enjoy yourself?  Do you know what it is to go into the presence of God and feel safe there?  Do you know what it is to go into the presence of God and feel you are with your best Friend, and I mean that in a literal sense, that you are with your best Friend who cares for you like none other?  That is knowing God.  There are times when everything is very deep and dark, where everything seems to be against you, feeling to you as it was against Christ when He was here upon the earth.  Where did Christ go?  He went into the presence of God.  He went to the Mount of Olives.  He went to the place where He was with His Father and He lived in His relationship with His Father while He was in this scene of contrariety.  That is what was in expression in Christ when He was here.  He gathered nothing out of this scene.  Everything for Him was because of the love that existed between the Father and the Son, and He has in mind that you know that and that you enjoy that too.  He says here in Luke, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up”.  What a thing, is it not?  “And the third day be raised up”.  Why is that a necessity?  Because the man that sinned has no place before God.  Peter, writing to believers, says, “who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet 2: 24), so then that body had to be put into the grave.  What a remarkable statement that is!  Has He borne your sins?  Are you conscious of that?  That is what underlies the conscious knowledge of your relationship with God, that you understand that Christ bore your sins in His own body on the tree.  Remarkable to think that He would do that for you.  He did it to save you for God's sake.

         But then you come to John 19.  It says there in verse 30 (and prophetically in the Psalm we read of it), “When therefore Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and having bowed his head, he delivered up his spirit”.  That had never been done before.  You have no right, nor do you have the power, to deliver up your spirit.  The Lord did.  He consciously went into death.  It was not that it was put upon Him.  I remember somebody saying once, 'But men crucified Christ'.  Yes, they did, but they did not take His life, a most important point.  At no point in time was the Lord's life ever in the hands of men, or in their control.  He had power over His life and He delivered it up.  He committed His spirit to the Father; He did it.  Men did not take it away from Him.  He had authority to lay it down and he had authority to take it again.  Men did not have that authority.  So then it goes on here, “he said, It is finished”.  The Jews were still carrying on with their observances.  They had missed the whole thing.  How many times have you sat under the gospel and missed the whole thing?  How many times have you heard this message, and how many times has it not had effect?  Do not leave this room today without it having effect.  This is the Man who has died so that it would have effect upon you.  So it goes on here and it says that “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water”.  It is what cleanses you and me before God for God's sake so that He can lay claim to you for ever, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son.  What a cost!  What a cost to God!  Nobody else could pay this.  Nobody else had the right, only Christ, and He exercised that right and paid the price.  He has done that.

         There is another thing that Christ has done: it says here in relation to His own in John's gospel, that He would ask the Father for another Comforter, “that he may be with you for ever”, John 14: 16.  That is another thing done by divine Persons for their inheritance.  God desires not just to have you saved: He desires a relationship; He desires the love of your heart.  How will He get that?  It is one thing to be saved, which is wonderful!  To be saved is the beginning of everything.  It is not the end of everything; it is the beginning of everything.  As a brother said to me last week, in one sense the Bible does not give you anything; it just tells you everything that is yours.  I thought that was most remarkable. The Bible is an expression of everything that God has in mind for you, and how He has gone about getting it.  Dear friend, God has expended Himself, and I am saying that very carefully and very reverently, God has expended Himself more than any mortal man ever could to secure you for Himself; He loves you as much as that.  He would give up Christ; He would give you His Spirit.  He would be found here in figure as a Man, in Christ, humbling Himself, taking a bondman's form.  He would do all these things to win you.  Does that affect your heart?  Do you know God like this?  And do you love Him?  You know, the proof that you love God is not seen in what you say.  The proof that you love God is seen in what you do.  That is a very testing thing.  We may know the terms of what it is to be a Christian, we may know all those things, but the reality of your relationship with God is seen in what you do.  Do you love God?   Do you love what He loves?  Do you spend time learning of God?  Do you spend time developing your relationship?  Time is the one thing that all men have a measure of, and it is all limited.  Time is limited.  Indeed, the whole dispensation, the whole scene of time, will cease.  When God has done with it, it will cease.  God is working in time, in a measured system, in the lives of men which are measured as well, what is for Himself.  Are you developing the relationship that God had in mind in giving up Christ to secure you?  You should be because you do not know how long you have.  There is “A time to be born, and a time to die”, Eccl 3: 2.  Those are the two things in your life that you have absolutely no control of, none.  You have been born.  When will you die?  And when you die, what will the relationship with your God be at that point in time?  It is what it is.  If it is there in small measure, it will always be in small measure; if it is not there, it never will be, and if it is there in large measure, thank God for it.  Live in it now and live in it then.

         Well, may it be so for His Name's sake.

Loanhead

11th January 2015