Sinclair Ferguson: The Substitutionary Atonement of Christ

FERGUSON: Well, what a great morning we’ve had  already in God’s Word, and a treat and a treasure   earlier to listen to Johnny and rather unusual  experience for me to be singing alongside R.C.   and C.J., who are the only two friends I have  in the world, neither of whom actually has a  

First name. And I hope as we continue on today,  which is an arduous day for us…most of us,   unlike those Ephesians who listened to Paul for  five hours a day every day of the week apparently,   we’re not used to having five hours of Bible  exposition, but at the end, I really do trust  

That we will all be able to say that it did as  much good and God’s Word was at work among us. We’re coming to our next theme in our  series at this conference. The title is,   “The Substitutionary Atonement of Christ.” And I’m  going to ask you to turn back to the passage that  

Dr. MacArthur mentioned last evening, the prophecy  of Isaiah, or as I shall say for the rest of this   address, Isaiah, that’s the same prophet, and I  want to ask you to turn to chapter 52 and verse 13  

And keep your Bibles open there at this great and  most glorious of Old Testament chapters. Isaiah   is speaking here as the mouthpiece of God, and  clearly, we recognize of whom the prophet speaks. “Behold, My Servant shall act wisely; He shall be  high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many  

Were astonished at you—His appearance was so  marred, beyond human semblance, and His form   beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall  He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their   mouths because of Him, for that which has not been  told them they see, and that which they have not  

Heard they understand. Who has believed what they  heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord   been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a  young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;  

He had no form or majesty that we should look  at Him, and no beauty that we should desire   Him. He was despised and rejected by men,  a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;   and as one from whom men hide their faces He  was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely  

He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God,   and afflicted. But He was wounded for our  transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities;   upon Him was the chastisement that brought us  peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we  

Like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every  one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him   the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and  He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth;  

Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like  a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He   opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgment  He was taken away; and as for His generation,  

Who considered that He was cut off out of the land  of the living, stricken for the transgression of   My people? And they made His grave with the wicked  and with a rich man in His death, although He had  

Done no violence, and there was no deceit in His  mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush   Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes  an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring;  

He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord  shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of   His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His  knowledge shall the righteous one, My Servant,   make many to be accounted righteous, and  He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore,  

I will divide Him a portion with the many,  and He shall divide the spoil with the strong,   because He poured out His soul to death  and was numbered with the transgressors;   yet He bore the sin of many, and makes  intercession for the transgressors.”

Our Heavenly Father, You are in Your holy  temple and our prayer is that all the earth   will be silenced and silent before You. We pray  for ourselves that you will unstop our ears,   that you will melt our hearts by renewing  our minds by Your truth, that as we come to  

You like Greeks of old and say, “We would see  Jesus.” We pray that through His Word He will   manifest Himself to those who love Him and trust  Him. And to those who as yet do not know Him,  

He will for them make a new appearing and  this we pray for His great namesake. Amen. I attended a school where the one obligatory  subject was religious education. It was part   of the law of the land. The content of that  religious education varied. In my case,  

It was largely memorization of Scripture, although  I was very far from being a Christian little boy.   And so, part and parcel of school life for me all  through my elementary school and high school days   was the public reading of Scripture. I’ve never  forgotten the occasion in the role of students who  

Were prescribed for the reading of the Scriptures,  when one of my closest friends at school who was,   I think, trying to be a Christian,  but certainly wasn’t yet a Christian,   was assigned this passage for reading in our  school assembly. And I remember the cringing  

Feeling I had sitting in the back of the assembly  when my close friend announced that, “The reading   this morning is taken from the Gospel according  to Isaiah, the Gospel according to Isaiah.”   I’d been a Christian believer for a couple of  years and two thoughts almost instantaneously  

Came into my mind. One was his name was Hugh, I thought, “Oh, Hugh, how could you possibly do   this in public!” And the other thought was,  “What you have just said is far truer than   you ever realized.” Because this is, in a very  profound way, the gospel according to Isaiah.  

And if you’re particularly familiar with the  writings of the Apostle Paul, I think you more and   more will have become conscious that this whole  section of Isaiah, from Isaiah 40 onwards, made   a powerful impression on the whole thinking about  the Apostle Paul as to what the gospel is and how  

The gospel works and how the gospel is the saving  righteousness of God. But, of course, this passage   not only makes an impression on the Apostle Paul,  this passage, next interestingly to the 110th   Psalm, is the most cited passage in the whole of  the New Testament Scriptures. And far beyond Psalm  

110 is the passage in the Old Testament to which  there are more allusions in the New Testament than   any other passage. And one cannot read either the  Epistles or the Gospels without appreciating here   for the apostles having learned at the feet of  the Lord Jesus, was the passage to which the  

Lord Jesus must’ve turned again and again and  again and again. Was He asking the teachers in   the Jerusalem temple as a 12-year-old boy, “Who  is this of whom the prophet speaks?” So, I take   it from His earliest years, the Lord, His Father  was impressing upon Him ever more profoundly the  

Shape and pattern of the ministry to which He  was being called as our Lord and Savior. And so,   as He rises from the dead and walks on the Emmaus  road, He chastises His dear followers by saying,   “Haven’t you understood the Scriptures that have  taught us that the Son of Man must suffer many  

Things and then enter into His glory?” You will be  familiar, I’m sure, with the context of the whole   second half of the prophecy of Isaiah from chapter  40 onwards. Isaiah is looking forwards into the   future when the people of God will be exiled in  Babylon. When the nation, as one commentator says,  

Will have been disemboweled and their hopes  desecrated, and the awful command of God that   if His people returned from serving Him, they  would be sent into the far country; the very   words that Jesus would later use in the parable of  the two sons, is language that’s drawn from God’s  

Deuteronomic law, “Disobey Me and you will go into  the far country.” And now as Isaiah looks forward   in history to their fate and destiny in the far  country, he sees that their greatest need is for  

God to bring about a new Exodus, a second Exodus.  And he sees in a marvelous way in chapter 45,   coming over the horizon of history, the great  figure of Cyrus, described, pagan though he is,   as especially anointed by God to break down the  barriers to God’s people returning to the Promised  

Land and returning to His promised blessings in  Jerusalem. And Isaiah gives to the people this   glorious hope of a return from exile in their  bondage in Babylon. And yet, simultaneously,   Isaiah recognizes that that exile in Babylon is  neither the darkest exile, nor is it the deepest  

Bondage, and that what God’s people need is not  simply a return from Babylon, what God’s people   need is salvation from their sin and guilt, from  the dominion of darkness and bondage to Satan. And   so, even as Cyrus is appearing over the horizon  in Isaiah chapter 45, already there has begun in  

Chapter 42, to appear over the horizon a shadowy  figure described by God as “My Servant.” And in a   series of poems or songs, Isaiah is given an  enriched revelation into the calling of this   Servant, into the preparation of this Servant,  into the character of this Servant, until  

Eventually in this, the fourth of the Servant  Songs, beginning in chapter 52 and going right   through chapter 53, he is given this illumination  into the suffering of the Servant of God. Often when we read the Scriptures, either a  narrative or a Psalm, a poem, unlike some of  

The things that we find in our Western literature  and in our Western poetry, very often the place to   look in the Hebrew Scriptures for the key to the  whole is not just that the end, but at the center.   And if you’re using almost any modern translation  of the Old Testament Scriptures, you’ll notice  

That this passage from the end of 52 to the end of  53 is broken up into five stanzas, and it is the   third, the central of those stanzas that takes us  to the very heart of God’s revelation to Isaiah,  

And as a matter of fact, to the very heart of  the gospel, and we will get there in a moment. But, first of all, notice the shape of  this poem, of this song. Do you notice   how it begins in chapter 52 verses 13 to 15?  With the exultation of the Servant and then  

It ends in chapter 53 in verses 10 through 12  with again the exultation of the Servant. And   the shape of this song is what they used to teach  us at least in schools and the old mathematics,  

The shape of this song is in the shape of a  graph, a parabola which begins in exultation   and goes down to the depths and then brings us up  again to a glorious exultation. If at all you’re   familiar with Philippians chapter 2, you’ll  realize that this is the same parabolic shape;  

He is in the form of God, counting equality  with God is not something that he grasps,   but He makes Himself of no reputation, and He  comes down and down and down and once He is come   to the place where He has emptied Himself and  become obedient even to the death of the cross,  

God highly exalts Him and gives Him the name that  is above every name. It’s the very shape of what   the Lord Jesus did in the Upper Room in John  chapter 13, knowing and He had come from God  

And that He was going to God, He laid aside His  garments, girded Himself with the servant’s towel,   bowed further and washed His disciples’ feet  and then He took His place again at the head   of the table and asked His disciples if they  had any inkling whatsoever as to what it was  

He had just done. He could as easily have said to  them, “Don’t you yet understand the fourth of the   Servant Songs that portrays the suffering and the  glory of the Messiah who is to come?” And so, in   this marvelous passage, we have a kind of tapestry  of the Suffering Servant. Unlike many tapestries  

There is side action going on around in order to  help us to understand what it is that is really   going on in the center, at the very heart of the  gospel, the message of the Suffering Servant. So, let’s look together for a few minutes at this  marvelous song about the Suffering Servant. Stanza  

Number one in chapter 52 verse 13 to verse  15. This is a stanza that explains to us in   a very moving way that the Servant’s triumph  is wholly unexpected, the Servant’s triumph   is wholly unexpected. “Look,” says God, “look  at Him, look at my Servant as He acts wisely,  

He shall be high and lifted up and exalted.”  And yet this wisdom is not the wisdom of this   world and this exultation is going to come  in the strangest and most unexpected of ways,   because, behold! His triumph is unexpected  because of the nature of His appearance.  

“He is to be,” notice the language, “so  marred beyond human semblance.” This is   Isaiah’s sense that the One who is to  come in order to repair the disfigured   image of God is going to become disfigured  Himself. As that marvelous commentator,  

Old Testament scholar, Alec Motyer says, “What  Isaiah encourages us to say is not, is not,   the question is this He? but as we gaze upon  the Suffering Servant, to ask the question is   this human?” This is what we mean when we say that  He descended into hell, that He was, as it were,  

To repair our humanity in the process of virtually  becoming unmanned, deserted by God. And so,   it is completely astonishing for Isaiah that this  One who is so marred should at the same time have   such an extraordinary effect on the nations. Look  at what he says, “He will sprinkle many nations.  

Kings shall shut their mouths because of him.”  The language of “sprinkle” there, incidentally,   is the language of the Levitical law code, it’s  the language of the sprinkling of the blood of   sacrifice that brings cleansing and forgiveness.  And here is this picture of the Suffering Servant,  

Disfigured beyond all ordinary humanity. And  yet the paradox, the as yet unresolved paradox   of His ministry is that one day this One will  sprinkle not simply the Jews, but will sprinkle   the nations. And certainly no one who knew his  Bible as well as Isaiah knew his Bible would  

Miss the connection between that statement and the  great essence of the Abrahamic covenant promise,   “In your seed will all the nations of the earth  be blessed.” And the promise of the second Psalm,   when the Father says to His Son, “Ask of me and I  will give you the nations for your inheritance.”  

But you see, it’s the tension of the situation,  miss the tension of the situation and we probably   miss the wonderful grace of God in the gospel.  If we don’t feel that there is so much in the  

Gospel that ought not to be for sinners, then  we scarcely begin to taste the wonder of God’s   grace to us in Jesus Christ. Here is One who  gains worldwide triumph by being marred beyond   human semblance. So, the Servant will triumph,  but His triumph will be totally unexpected.

And so, Isaiah now in the next stanza, the next  few verses of his poem picks up that notion that   the Servant is going to suffer so grievously and  he begins to focus attention now, not so much on   the way the Servant’s triumph is unexpected,  but the way in which the Servant’s humiliation  

Is described. A younger generation has taught me  the word “prequel.” I think it is a relatively new   word, at least in the Oxford English dictionary,  maybe also in Webster’s. What is the prequel?   Well, we’re used to the sequel. The prequel is  something that you’re given afterwards that helps  

To explain something that you were given earlier.  And that’s what these following verses are,   they’re really the prequel to help us understand  and tease out, to pull a strand out of this   tapestry and see where it gets its connections.  And so, he describes the Servant’s humiliation  

So beautifully. He describes Him so poignantly; He  was growing up before the Lord like a young plant,   and then these words, “Like a root out of a dry  ground.” It must have meant something very special   to Isaiah. Do you remember at the end of his  call, this is a Ligonier conference, everyone here  

Remembers the end of His call in Isaiah chapter  6, when everything is being demolished under the   judgment of God and yet God says that there’ll be  a stump that will remain. And then in Isaiah 11,  

He looks forward to the One will be anointed with  the power of the Holy Spirit, and he says about   Him, “There shall come forth a shoot from  the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his  

Roots that shall bear fruit.” And now the Lord is  showing to him that this One who would bring hope,   this One who would be full of the Spirit, the man  of the Holy Spirit who would exercise justice and  

Righteousness, who would be marked by perfect  holiness. There was no beauty in Him by nature   that we should recognize Him or be drawn to  Him. He was the son of David. But look at   David’s house, a carpenter and a young maiden and  a baby born in a cave, an outhouse in Bethlehem.  

This is where the royal line of David has ended.  This is dry ground. This baby is a tiny shoot.   And you and I would pass His crying as we walked  past the cave. We would pass Him by in the street  

And think there was nothing unusual, attractive,  extraordinary about Him. And then as He grew from   those inauspicious origins, He would experience  an ongoing rejection. He would be despised. I wonder if you’ve ever been despised. I wonder  if you’ve ever had the humiliation of losing  

Your reputation unjustly. I remember one occasion  coming home to my wife and I said to her about a   situation, I said, “You know the only thing I can  lose here is my reputation. It’s the only thing  

I can lose. So, let’s go forward.” I was a grown  man and I had no idea whatsoever how appallingly   painful it is to lose your reputation. “And  He made Himself of no reputation.” And the   disposition of men and women towards Him was  “He was despised and rejected by men.” How  

Could He be Messiah when He “shared our griefs  and was a man of sorrows, and we hid our faces   from Him and esteemed Him not?” Isn’t this the  reason why our Lord Jesus prays in John 17:24,   “Father, these have been with Me and they have  seen Me in My humiliation. My deepest longing  

For them is that they may see Me in My glory.”  He was despised and men esteemed Him not. And,   of course, all this is really setting us up. This  is the revelation of God that’s coming to Isaiah  

To make Him say, “Lord, tell me more. Bring me to  the center of the tapestry so that I can begin to   work out,” because, Isaiah, you remember how Peter  says this about all the prophets, they wrote these   things down and then they studied them themselves  and they were scratching their heads and saying,  

“Who was I speaking about when I said this?  What did God mean here?” And so, He comes,   you notice in verses 4 through 6, to the  Servant’s suffering being explained. The   Servant’s exultation is unexpected. The  Servant’s humiliation is described. The  

Servant’s suffering is explained. And he brings  us now to the great paradox, “But surely He has   borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; and  yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God,   and afflicted.” You see he’s in the position…  as Isaiah as he gets this word from God, he’s in  

The position, he’s looking forward actually to the  confession of believers in the New Testament day,   the first Christians looking back on this and  saying, “We never puzzled it out. He made it so   clear to u,s but we never puzzled it out. We can’t  understand how He could be One who would bear our  

Griefs and carry our sorrows, who went about  doing good, but then was treated as a derelict,   was beaten, and chastised and smitten and  afflicted.” Well, of course, their eyes were   blind until the Lord Jesus opened their eyes  just to put things together, that faith should  

Have been able to see that what was happening  to Him was that He was becoming a curse for us,   that the blessing promised to Abraham might flow  through His cross and reach the nations. But you   notice how Isaiah almost says, “Now come now,  camp on this for a little while, steel yourself  

To look into the heart of the cross where He was  wounded for our transgressions and crushed for   our iniquities and chastised to bring us peace  and beaten in order that we might be healed.”

I don’t know if they say it any longer, but they  used to say that every kind of wound known to   medical science could be found on the body of  the dying Lord Jesus Christ. He was wounded,   but not only wounded—that was external, really;  He was crushed. He was crushed. It’s not quite the  

Same language here, but I do still think there’s  an echo of what the Lord had promised in Genesis   3:15 here, don’t you? That as the Lord Jesus would  crush the head of the serpent, His own heel would  

Be crushed and He was being inwardly crushed.  And then He’s portrayed as One who is actually   suffering for our peace, a chastisement. Now,  that’s interesting because basically, basically,   chastisement is family language. Punishment is  legal language; chastisement is family language.  

And yet at the same time, He is One, with His  stripes we are healed who is judiciously beaten.   Do you notice how perfect this statement is?  Because as it speaks about the sufferings of   Christ, it moves from the relatively external to  the internal. Jesus is wounded, Jesus is crushed,  

Jesus is chastised within the context of His  family. Jesus is beaten. He is legally punished.   And just as there seems to be a kind of increasing  intensity in the description of the sufferings of   Christ, there is an increasing intensity in  the description of why it is that He suffers.  

He’s wounded for transgressions, for breaking  the law of God. But then what He is bruised   for is iniquity. He is inwardly crushed for the  inner perversion of my heart. And because of my   dis-peace, “There is no peace,” saith my God,  “for the wicked.” He undergoes chastisement in  

The family to bring me into the family so that  as He is beaten with rods in a legal judgment,   my whole being, my sickness may be relieved  and I may be set free. And in this,   Isaiah says, the Lord, Yahweh, Jehovah was  present. “We like sheep have gone astray,  

Turned everyone to His own way, but the Lord  has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” Let me pause here just to underline a series  of things you and I need to grasp that Isaiah   is teaching us about the nature of Christ’s  atonement. Number one, this atonement involves  

The imputation of our sins to the Lord Jesus and  the imputation of the Lord Jesus’ righteousness   to us. The Lord lays upon the Lord Jesus. He is  wounded for our transgressions. He is bruised for  

Our iniquities. He takes what is ours and it’s  counted to Him. And when He goes to the cross as   One who knew no sin, He goes to the cross as One  who is there going to be made sin, He is going to  

Bear our sins on His own body to the tree as Simon  Peter says. And yet, marvelously, when He makes   His soul an offering for sin by His knowledge,  verse 11, the righteous One, my Servant,   will make many, not just to be accounted innocent.  You understand there is a difference between the  

Gospel and what happens in an ordinary law court,  unless that law court happens to be in Scotland   where there are three verdicts that can be given,  you’re either going to receive a guilty verdict,   or a not guilty verdict. Don’t transfer that to  the gospel as though that’s all the gospel gives  

You. Now, what the gospel gives you is this, that  your sins are imputed to the Lord Jesus Christ.   He’s wounded for transgressions that are ours and  iniquities that are ours and a dis-peace that is  

Ours and a sickness that is ours; and it becomes  His. And He takes it. He takes all the judgment   against my sin, takes all the judgment of His Holy  Father against the sin of all of His people. But  

When you come to faith in Jesus Christ, you’re not  just pronounced “not guilty,” as though to say,   “You’re free now, start again, try again.” No, by  His righteous knowledge, perhaps by the knowledge   of His righteousness, He will account many to  be righteous. By His righteousness, His life of  

Obedience, His obedience to the death of the cross  … It’s so important for us to understand that   what Jesus is doing throughout the whole course  of His life is obeying His Father in our place.   Not just that He may then be qualified to be the  perfect sacrifice who’s able to bear the judgment  

Of His Father against our sin, but in order  that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, the   righteous One, not only do we understand that our  sins are been imputed to Him, but we understand  

That His perfect righteousness is counted as  ours as we trust in Him. I love to say and I   love to think and I love to say it again that you  and I can stand before the judgment seat of an  

Infinitely Holy God as righteous as the Lord Jesus  Christ because the only righteousness you have to   stand before that throne is His righteousness.  Isn’t that glorious? And this is what He is   saying. He’s saying, “Look closely to see the  glory of this gospel. There is imputation here.”

Second, there is substitution here. “In my  place, condemned, He stood. Wounded for my   transgressions, bruised from my iniquities. In  my place, condemned He stood and sealed my pardon   with His blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior!” Yes,  now note He is our representative; Jesus is our  

Representative. This may not mean much to some  of you, but it’s a very important thing to see,   He is our representative. He represents us before  the Father, but He’s not just a representative.   Your representative in Congress, if you are  privileged to have taxation and representation,  

Which some of us aren’t. I’m not complaining  about it, but it’s true. He represents you   there. He doesn’t substitute for you. He  doesn’t come along when you’re in trouble   and take your place. He may serve for you, but  he doesn’t stand in your place as a substitute.  

And this Suffering Servant stands in our place  as a substitute so that a great exchange takes   place in order that I might stand where He now  stands. He comes and stands where I ought to   stand and takes my place. You know it’s just  possible that Barabbas, the bandit, that his  

First name was Jesus. You know that some of you  from the textual traditions of the New Testament,   that what the people were being offered was Jesus,  the Son of the Father God, or Jesus the son of the  

Father, the bandit. My dear friends, Barabbas  would never in the rest of his life have said,   “You know, but Jesus came and represented me. He  would’ve said, “He came and He took my place.” I had, until recently, apart from our joint  glorious faith, one thing in common with Joni  

Eareckson Tada, and she let me down. She watched  the Titanic movie! I’ve never seen the Titanic   movie. But I have a friend, a dear friend who  was minister of a church in Glasgow called the   Harper Memorial Baptist Church, and the reason  the church has that name is because the memorial  

To John Harper was a memorial to their minister  who sailed on the Titanic. Sailed on the Titanic   And if I remember rightly, he gave someone  who was not a Christian his place on the   boat. That’s not merely representation;  that’s substitution. That’s why in the  

Garden of Gethsemane He agonizes as He does.  Thirdly, it’s imputation, it’s substitution. Thirdly, it’s penalty. Notice the language, is  this the Jewish people looking back who have come   to faith, beginning to understand what Christ has  done. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have  

Turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has  laid on him the iniquity of us all.” John Brown,   the great old Scottish writer thought that the  picture here was of the sheep going astray and as  

They went astray they were in danger of an awful  death at the hands of marauders. And, of course,   the shepherd would come and he would put himself  before the sheep. The reason you know the shepherd  

Is a good shepherd is because he laid down his  life for the sheep. And you remember how that   seems to be the significance of the fulfillment  of the Zechariah prophecy, when the fountain is   open for sin and uncleanness, “How will that take  place?” Zechariah asks. And the answer the Lord  

Gives is, “I will smite the shepherd and the sheep  will be scattered.” And the Shepherd comes and He   dies on the cross, a violent death, a death that  is a penalty for sin. Do you know Vernon Higham’s  

Great hymn, “Great is the gospel of our glorious  God, where mercy met the anger of God’s rod;   a penalty was paid and pardon bought, that  sinners lost at last might be brought to Him:   O let the praises of my heart be Thine, for  Christ has died that I may call Him mine,  

That I may sing with those who dwell  above, proclaiming, Jesus King of love.” But there is a fourth thing here, yes, indeed  marvelously through our Lord Jesus Christ there   is imputation and substitution and penalty. But  there’s something else in this central picture,  

In the tapestry, and it’s the hand of deity;  it’s the hand of deity. Notice verse 6b,   “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of  us all.” This is the heart of the cross,   my friends, that He was there because it pleased  the Lord to bruise Him. He has put Him to grief.  

You understand that this is why our Lord Jesus  wrestled as He did in the garden of Gethsemane,   not simply because of the physical suffering,  which must’ve been awful for Him to contemplate,   but because what He was being called to do, there  was not an ounce of His holy humanity could ever  

Desire. He was being called so to give Himself  to the judgment of God, that He would for the   very first time in that thirty-three-year-old  humanity, as the God-man cried out, “I am   forsaken. Why?” You see, He could never want that;  that was really the last temptation of Christ,  

Wasn’t it? What devilish fiends appeared in the  garden of Gethsemane to taunt Him that this is   what His Heavenly Father wanted Him to do. Now,  isn’t that divine child abuse? Not when you read   the prophecy of Isaiah and see how already in the  Suffering Servant songs Jesus was being portrayed  

As one who delights to listen to the voice of  His Father and who goes willingly to the cross   and to the suffering and knows that His Father  will sustain Him even when He is unconscious   of His Father’s presence. And not when we  remember that if David cried over his son,  

“O Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom, my son.”  But in the very in-being of God there would be   a cry that would go out, that would silence all  heaven, “O Jesus, My Son, My Son. Jesus, My Son.”  

Says Jesus, now hold that thought if you  can, if you can bear to hold that thought,   hold this Bible truth beside it. Jesus says,  “The reason My Father loves Me, is because I   lay down my life for the sheep.” Isn’t that  something? That His Father’s heart burst with  

The awfulness of what His Son was willing to go  through; at the same time the heavenly Father,   as it were, His heart was bursting with that  almost contradictory divine emotion that said,   “O My Son, My Son, that you should obey Me like  this. It almost undoes Me that You should be so  

Obedient to Me.” As we get frail echoes of it  when we see our own children doing something   marvelous because they love us and our hearts  swell with pride. It’s not just heaven’s love   and heaven’s justice that meet in the cross;  it’s heaven’s pride in the Son. The angels as  

It were, peering over the balconies of heaven in  amazement at what the Son is doing and casting,   as it were, a side glance if they dare to the  Father to say what is He going through as He   watches His Son so perfectly obedient even  to the death of the cross. Don’t you think  

The heavenly Father in that occasion was able to  sing, My Jesus, I love Thee, if ever I loved Thee,   my Jesus, ’tis now, Thou art mine. Well, verses  7 through 9, the Servant’s triumph is unexpected,   the Servant’s humiliation is described, the  Servant’s suffering is explained, the Servant’s  

Obedience is underlined. You notice that? “He  was oppressed and afflicted, yet He opened not   His mouth.” “Don’t say anything,” His Father had  said, “take it all.” “And like a lamb that is led   to the slaughter, like a sheep that before its  shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”  

Isn’t it one of the marvelous things that we find,  I think particularly in Luke’s Gospel in Luke 23.   There are seven occasions in Luke chapter 23 when  those individuals most intimately involved in   the crucifixion of our dear Lord Jesus, seven  times they declare He is absolutely innocent  

Of any of these crimes with which He is being  charged. And you know what these crimes were;   the crime of blasphemy, that He made Himself equal  to God, the crime of treason, that He proclaimed   Himself to be a king, the very crimes of which  you and I are most guilty before the judgment  

Seat of God—blasphemy. That we’ve made ourselves  in a thousand ways the center of the world, and   treason that we have said we will not have You to  rule over us. And in silence He takes our place,   in obedience He bears our judgment. He became  obedient to death, even death on a cross.

I notice you’re very good at this, what’s the  next word? “Therefore,” therefore. There has   got to be a “therefore,” and that’s in verses  10 through 12, isn’t it? The Servant’s rightful   humiliation leads to His glorious exultation.  He is rightfully humiliated because He takes  

Our place; He is wrongly executed because He is  innocent of any of these crimes, and therefore   God has highly exalted Him and given them the  name is above every name. And we see it all here,  

The name above every name. Oh, it was the will of  the Lord to crush Him and put Him to grief, but   He brings justification. He divides His portion  with the many, divides the spoil with the strong,  

Because He pours out His soul to death, He bears  the sin of many and He makes intercession for   the transgressors. It’s this marvelous picture  of Jesus being highly exalted, highly exalted,   glorious reigning, pouring out His Holy Spirit  as He is exalted at the right hand of the Father,  

He goes to His Father, He goes to His Father  who has said to Him, “My Son, if You’ll do this,   then You may ask of Me and I will give You the  nations for Your inheritance.” There they are,   Chad, France, Lebanon, Thailand, Belize,  Ecuador, Bolivia, Sudan, Laos, Honduras,  

All the way along the nations for Christ’s  inheritance. And He comes in glory and that   great angel train us as He is come near to the  throne of God and the angels have cried out,   “Who is this King of Glory?” And those angels  accompanying Him have responded to them,  

“It is the Lord, the King of Glory. Open the  gates and let Him in.” And as He goes to the   throne of His heavenly Father, His Father  says, “What is your wish?” And the Son says,   “Dear Father, You said, You promised, ‘Ask of  Me and You would give Me the nations for My  

Inheritance,’ and they need Us to send the Holy  Spirit in order to accomplish that. May I now   send the Holy Spirit,” and there is Pentecost, and  there is the preaching of Peter, and there is the   martyrdom of Stephen, there is the conversion  of Saul, and eventually there is you. And the  

Reason most of us are in this room this morning  is because these words have come gloriously true. Two things to say; number one, there was a man  from Africa, one day he was traveling home,   he was reading, actually reading this very  passage, and a Christian found him in the middle  

Of the desert. He was reading out loud, it was in  antiquity. He was reading this passage out loud   and the man who was a Christian said to him, “Do  you understand what you’re reading?” And he said,   “How can I possibly understand this unless  somebody explains it to me?” And you know the  

Story, the man was Philip, the man who had Isaiah  53 was a treasurer, a high official from Ethiopia,   perhaps the Sudan. And Philip told him the good  news about Jesus. And the man came to faith. That’s all this has been this morning.  This is the good news about Jesus. Are you  

Trusting Him for the forgiveness of your  sins, the cleansing of your conscience,   bowing before Him to be the Lord of your life?  What a great thing it would be if at this   conference you did that! I have another question  for those of you who are already believers; I can  

Put it like this in the words of Hudson Taylor,  the founder of the Great China Inland Mission,   “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, is  there anything too great for me to do for Him?” Our Heavenly Father, we bow in reverence before  our Great Savior and King. Thank you that You’ve  

Given us this promise in the gospel that we who  have seen Him in His humiliation even in our own   day will one day see Him in His exalted glory.  And we pray until that day dawns that we may  

Trust Him, love Him, and serve Him with all  our being. We ask this with the forgiveness   of all of our sins and the assurance of  our salvation. In His great name, amen.

#Sinclair #Ferguson #Substitutionary #Atonement #Christ

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