Remarks on the Lord's Death

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The reader will remark how perfectly the account of the Lord's death suits the general character and special design of John's Gospel and of no other. Here Jesus is the conscious Son, the divine Person who made all things, but became flesh that He might not only give eternal life but die as a propitiation for our sins. And here therefore, here only, He said, It is finished, and bowing His head delivered up His spirit. There are witnesses, as we shall see, but they are of God, not of man or the creature; and they intimately flow from His own Person. No darkness is mentioned, no cry that His God had forsaken Him, no rending of the veil, no earthquake, no centurion's confession—all of which meet to proclaim the rejected Messiah (Matt. 27). So substantially, save the earthquake, the Servant of God obedient to death in Mark 15. Luke 23 adds the testimony to His grace in the crucified robber, His first fruits in paradise, and the centurion's witness to "Jesus Christ the righteous," after He had committed His spirit into His Father's hands. It was reserved for John to set forth His death who was God not less surely than man, and as such. The Creator but man lifted up from the earth could say, in dying for sin to God's glory, It is finished. The work, the infinite work, was done for the putting away of sin by His sacrifice. Thereon hangs not only the blessing of every soul that is to be justified by faith but of the new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. "It is finished" [one word in the Greek]; one word! yet what word ever contained so much?..
In the law, the Psalms, and the Prophets the Spirit of God had Christ before Him, and in the sufferings to come on Him, as well as in the glories that should follow. But the fleshly mind, as it shrinks from sufferings, is disposed to overlook and get rid of testimony; especially so if the sufferings be the effect and the proof of man's evil estate, for this is of all things most unpalatable. Thus was the Jew dull to see what condemned himself and leveled him morally to the condition of any other sinner; and rejecting the fullest evidences and Christ's own presence in divine grace and truth and the gospel at last, he was given over to Judicial hardening when wrath came on them to the uttermost.
Christ alone gives the key to the paschal lamb; Christ is the main object in the Psalm No reasoning of skeptics, even if theologians, can efface the truth, though it exposes their own unbelief; and assuredly, if the heart were made right by grace, it would desire that to be true which is the truth, instead of stumbling at the word being disobedient, or neglecting it because of indifference. In vain then do the Rosenmullers and the like hesitate or avow their dislike of the type and the allusion. To faith it is food, and strength and joy; for if God's Word is instinct with His delight in Christ giving Himself to die, He also expresses it in every sort of form beforehand that the very facts of His atoning death, the great stumblingblock, might render the most irrefragable testimony to its truth and His glory, when thus manifested here below in shame, to man's shame and everlasting contempt.
How marvelously meet in Christ's cross the proud enmity of the Jew, the lawless hand of the Gentiles, the determine ate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and this in perfect grace to the guiltiest of Jews and Gentiles! For out of Christ's pierced side came out forthwith blood and water. And John was not so preoccupied with the Savior's dying charge concerning Mary as not to mark the sight. In the strongest form he lets us know that what he saw and testified was no mere transient fact but before the mind as present, of permanent interest and importance. In his first epistle (5:6) he characterized the Lord accordingly. "This is He that came through water and blood, Jesus Christ; not in the power of water only, but in the power of water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth." Mora 1 purification however needed and precious, is not enough; there must be expiation of sins also; and both are found by faith in the death of Christ, not otherwise nor elsewhere. As a fact in the Gospel the order is blood and water; as applied to us in the Epistle it is the water and the blood, and the Spirit as One personally given follows. Nothing but death flows to man from Adam; Christ, the second Man who died for sin and sinners, is the source alike of purification and of atonement to the believer who needs both and is dead before God without both. For though the Son of God with life in Himself, He stands alone till He dies; dying He bears much fruit. He quickens, purifies and expiates; and the Holy Ghost consequently given brings us into the import of His death as well as blessing resulting from it. For it is judgment pronounced and executed by God in His cross on the flesh, but in our favor, because in Him who was a sin offering.
No wonder then that John was inspired to record the fact, not more wondrous in itself than in its consequences now made known to the believer. The salvation must be suited to and worthy of the Savior. If He was eternal, it was everlasting; if divine judgment fell on such a Victim, it was that they believing Him should not come into judgment, but have life, being forgiven all their offenses and made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Such is the declared standing of every true Christian, but it is in virtue of Christ who is all and in all. Creeds and theological systems enfeeble and hinder its enjoyment; but all this, and more than one could here develop, is clearly and plainly revealed to faith in Scripture, as it is indeed due to Christ's glory in Person and work....
God forbid that •a word should be said to obscure that blood, or to turn a soul from its justifying value. But out of the Lord's side flowed water and blood, and we need both. The blood atones, the water purifies; and as the blood abides shed and efficacious once for all, in contrast with the ineffectual and many sacrifices of the Jews, the washing of water by the Word is not only applied at the first but is needed to purge all through Where this is not seen, confusion follows, and the enfeebling, if not destruction, of fundamental truth.