by Thomas Bentley, Malaysia.
The subject before us in this chapter is vast, valuable and vital. From the early chapters of Genesis to the closing chapter in Revelation the theme prevails. Apart from the Person of our Lord Jesus, no subject is as extensive as His death in the orb of Divine revelation. By His help we shall focus our attention on the Foreshadows in the Pentateuch, the Feelings in the Psalms and the Forecasts in the Prophets. The Gospels will afford us insight to the Facts of His death, while the Epistles will open to us how Fundamental the death of the Saviour is to every aspect of Divine dealings. Finally the book of Revelation will unfold the vastness of the Fruit of His death, for those of us who have experienced the worth of His death, we can scarcely wait for that moment when we shall join in that unnumbered throng and acclaim the worthiness of the Lamb Who redeemed us to God by His blood.
Throughout the first five books of the Bible there are many events that Foreshadow His death. Coming to these great figures demands time and thought, but due to the confines of space our consideration will be confined to the main issues presented in the opening chapters of Leviticus regarding the offerings. On reading the relevant chapters do observe that each of them has a particular word that is essential to the aspect under consideration. Note in Leviticus ch.1 the word "fire"; in ch.2 the word "flour"; in ch.3 the word "fat"; in ch.4-5.13 the word "forgiveness"; in ch.5.14-6.7 the words "fifth part." Coming to the items of sacrifice, the Bullock denotes the Strength of Christ; The Sheep denotes the Submissiveness of Christ; The Goat denotes the Stateliness of Christ, in that it is a sure-footed animal: Which characteristic our blessed Lord displayed when He would neither "bow down" when the Devil urged Him to do so; nor would He "come down" when that motley throng, no doubt urged by the same Devil, called upon Him to do so when He hung on the cross. The Dove suggests the Singleness of Christ, while the Pigeon confirms the Strangerhood of the Christ for He said that "He came forth from God and goeth unto God" Jn.13.3, see also Jn.16.19. Some see a downgrade in the items of sacrifice. Admittedly there would be if we were considering size and strength of each of the species used, but not so in figure or in forecast. While the animals specified for sacrifice can be divided, this cannot and must not be so in respect of the birds. The birds come from a heavenly realm and hence display essential Deity, for as we know, there is nothing broken in John’s Gospel except the legs of the malefactors. For example, there is no breaking of bread nor is the veil rent and other such items are not treated as they are in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s Gospels. How did Abraham know not to divide the birds as recorded in Genesis chapter 15? If anything, it was surely the overruling hand of God. Hence we sing:
- Leaving scenes of purest light,
- Veiling glory fair and bright,
- Cross of Christ, O, wondrous sight!
- Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
- (R. D. Edwards)
Before leaving this aspect of the death of Christ it is very important to observe the language of Lev.1.4, "it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him." Here is the part of this offering that was for the offerer. It was for his full acceptance and were these words touching Paul’s heart when he wrote in Eph.5.2 "and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour"?
The Meal Offering offers rich material as we ponder and comprehend the loveliness of the Saviour’s life. We are called upon to think of The Fineness of the Flour; The Fluidity of the Oil; The Fragrance of the Frankincense; The Fidelity of the Salt. These items bring out the absolute perfection of the Saviour in life, that gave such effectuality to the death He died.
With the emphasis on the "fat" in respect of the Peace Offering, it will be useful to observe;
- The Fat of the Inwards showing The Devotedness of Christ.
- Note 2 Cor.1.12; 3.17; 8.8 and appreciate the thought of sincerity.
- The Fat of the Kidneys showing The Discernment of Christ.
- Note 2 Cor.1.2; 4.2,8; 5.11; 6.12 and appreciate the thought of sensitivity.
- The Fat of the Flanks showing The Dependence of Christ.
- Note 2 Cor.1.15; 2.3; 3.4; 5.6,8; 7.16 and appreciate the thought of serenity.
- The Fat of the Caul showing The Distinctiveness of Christ.
- Note 2 Cor.1.5; 3.10; 4.7; 9.8,12 and appreciate the thought of sufficiency.
In coming to the two remaining figures namely, the Sin Offering and the Trespass Offering, it is important to recognise the point of emphasis. In the Sin Offering the emphasis is on the person who has sinned, but in the Trespass Offering the emphasis is on the forgiveness of the sin that the person has committed. Observe the words of the Lord Jesus when He took the cup, "For this is My blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins" Matt.26.28. This presents to our hearts the Trespass Offering aspect of the death of Christ as it is dealing with the remission of sins. Note then how Mark records the words of the Saviour, 14.24, "… this is My blood of the new testament which is shed for many". Clearly the Sin Offering is in view as the words signify the person who sins, "for many". Luke has his record as we read in 22.20, "This cup is the new testament in My blood which is shed for you." Note the change of order. In the former two accounts the blood comes first as it deals with what has been put away, notably our sins and ourselves. This is why in both Matthew and Mark we have the Lord recorded as saying "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" As we often sing:
- Oh, ‘twas because our sins
- On Him by God were laid,
- He, who himself had never sinned
- For sinners, sin was made.
- (T Haweis)
But in Luke it is not what was put away that is emphasised, it is what has been brought in, even "the new covenant". This truly is the Peace Offering aspect of the death of the Saviour.
In coming to the Book of Psalms we are reminded of the value of the writings that present the readiness and willingness of the Lord Jesus to accomplish the will of His God, whatever it may entail. On reading Psalm 40 the truth of the Burnt Offering aspect of the death of Christ is clearly recognised in His resolution to accomplish the work and will of God in sacrifice, vv.7,8. Another term that is useful to enforce the truth is its Sureness.
Coming to Psalm 22 it would be wonderful to enlarge upon the issues that clearly manifest the Sin Offering aspect, for in vv.1–21 we see Him outside the camp. This truth enforces the rejection our Saviour experienced on the Cross. Let us identify with feeling His Solitude in those heart-rending words, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" But as the Psalm continues we see Him "inside the Veil" in vv.22–31. Is it possible that while on the Cross suffering untold agony, the Saviour quoted this Psalm? It begins with the isolation His cry denotes, but also note the last verse which must surely be the basis of the triumphant note when He cried, "It is finished".
Psalm 69 is the Psalm of the Trespass Offering aspect of the death of the Lord Jesus. No one reading this Psalm could ever miss the repeated word "reproach." Hence this Psalm brings to light the reproach He bore when He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Heb.9.26. It brings to our hearts, touched by His love, the shame that was His at Calvary.
While many valued and veritable prophecies relative to the Saviour’s death abound from Isaiah to Malachi, we have only space to attend reverently to the well-known verses that are found in Isa.52.13–53.12. Isaiah presents features of his death with which we are by now well acquainted: It is truly marvellous to see the parallel in the verses before us in this section of Isaiah against the backdrop of Leviticus chapters 1–5.
52.13–15 is the Burnt Offering aspect
- His Heights of Exaltation, v.13
- His Depths of Humiliation, v.14
- His Effects of Glorification, v.15
53.1–3 is the Meal Offering aspect
- Unreceived but Receivable, v.1
- Undesired but Desirable, v.2
- Unesteemed but Estimable, v.3
53.4–6 is the Peace Offering aspect
- Burdened with our Sorrows, v.4
- Bruised for our Iniquities, v.5
- Bearing our sins, v.6
53.7–9 is the Sin Offering aspect
- Silent in His Suffering, v.7
- Severed from His Seed, v.8
- Supreme in His Sovereignty, v.9
53.10–12 is the Trespass Offering aspect
- Prosperity after Intensity, v.10
- Produce after Travail, v.11
- Position after Isolation, v.12
It certainly would be profitable to view in detail the accounts of the Saviour’s death given respectively by the writers of the four Gospels, but space forbids that necessary detail. The reader is invited to meditate privately upon these references but in this paper the references to His death in Mark’s gospel will be outlined.
Imperativeness of His Sufferings
Mk.8.31, "And He began to teach them, that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
Note Its Authority - "He began to teach them"; Its Necessity - "must"; Its Sensitivity - "suffer"; Its Severity - "rejected"; Its Unanimity - "elders … chief priests … scribes"; Its Cruelty - "be killed"; Its Victory - "after three days rise again."
Importance of His sufferings
Mk.9.12, "… and how it is written of the Son of Man, that He should suffer many things, and be set at naught."
Imponderability of His sufferings
Mk.9.31, "For He taught His disciples, and said unto them, The Son of Man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day."
Some suggest that Mark does not present the Saviour as a teacher, seeing he is presenting the Lord as a Servant. A careful reading of the Gospel would convey a totally different approach, for 17 times the word and concept of teaching appears in Mark’s writing. Observe: The Need for Instruction, "For He taught His disciples and said unto them …". These words indicate the Need for Apprehension, "But they understood not that saying…" v32. Strangely, "they", according to Mark, "were afraid to ask Him", stressing emphatically The Need for Communion.
Implications of His Sufferings
Mk.10.32–34, "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again."
The mood of the disciples ought to be noted. In chapter 9 after the Lord Jesus spoke about His death they were afraid, whereas in this passage they are afraid before He speaks of His death. We can discern that in v.33 the Lord imparts to His own a number of distinct matters concerning His death. There are, the Destiny, "Jerusalem"; the Treachery, "the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes"; the Travesty, "they shall condemn Him to death"; the Indignity, "and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles"; the Cruelty, "… and shall kill Him"; the Victory, "and the third day He shall rise again".
Imprint of His Sufferings
Mk.10.35–45, "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto Him, saying, Master, we would that Thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And He said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto Him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto Him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptised withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Observe the Natural Request of the Disciples James and John, "grant unto us that we may sit…in Thy glory." This is followed by the Moral Requirements of the Saviour as He refers to "the cup", denoting inward suffering, and "the baptism", inferring outward suffering. There follows the Governmental Results of their Answer as the Lord confirms the implications of their confession "we are able". Finally we note the Sacrificial Response of the Saviour, "the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many."
One of the features of Divine revelation is the use of simple yet often disregarded words by which the truth of God is conveyed. The subject before us in the article is well substantiated by the use of such words, as the following list affirms:
- "For" (huper) denotes the Provision of His Death and is used over 30 times in this connection. For example, Jn.6.51; 10.15; 11.51, 52; Rom.5.6, 8; 1 Cor.15.3.
- "For" (anti) denotes the Substitution of His Death. See Matt.20.28; Mk.10.45. Note that the word "many" does not mean a select few, it simply means more than one. Never is this word employed again by the Holy Spirit in connection with the death of Christ but note very specifically how it is added to in 1 Tim.2.5,6 by the word "ransom", antilutron. Thank God there is not the slightest hint of limited atonement in our Bible.
- "through", dia, denotes the Mediation of His Death. See Acts 20.28; Rom.5.10,19; Eph.1.7.
- "unto", eis, denotes the Intention of His Death. See Rom.14.9; Heb.9.26,28.
- "in", en, denotes the Duration of His death (in effect). See Rom.5.9; Eph.2.13; Heb.10.19; Rev.5.9.
- "for", peri, denotes the Proclamation of His Death. See Rom.8.3; 1 Pet.3.18; 1 Jn.2.2 (3 times); 4.10 (see 1 Thess.5.9).
- "with", sun, denotes the Identification of His Death. See Rom.6.6,8; Gal.2.20; Col.2.20.
Over many years of study, great encouragement has been received by tracing the manifold references, imparting teaching both doctrinally and practically as seen in each Book of the New Testament. We shall look at the references in 1 Corinthians from which, it is hoped, that all who will read these pages will be spiritually enriched.
The Violence of His Death, 1.13,17,18,23; 2.2 and this aspect is introduced to Counteract Division. The Corinthians boasted in worldly wisdom and they:
- Idolised Men, ch.1
- Introduce Mixture, ch.2
- Innovate Methods, ch.3
- Investigate Motives, ch.4
All this was judged at the Cross where men are rightly assessed. The Material Jew is seen in "the rich man", the Philosophical Greek in "the wise man" and the Imperial Roman in "the mighty man."
The Virtue of His Death, 5.7; 6.19; 7.23 and this aspect is introduced to Cleanse Defilement. The chapters may be considered as dealing with:
- Corporate Purity, ch.5
- Personal Purity, ch.6
- Domestic Purity, ch.7
The Voice of His Death, 8.11; 9.13; 9.18 and this aspect is introduced to Control Defection. In these we find:
- Fellowship that Succours the Weak
- Fellowship that Supports the Worker
- Fellowship that Separates the Wayward
The Vindication of His Death, 11.26 and this aspect is introduced to Correct Disobedience. Chapter 11 may be considered by the reader and the following sections discerned.
- Our Appearance and Apparel, 11.1–16; this implies Conformity
- Our Actions, 11.17–22; this addresses our Conduct
- Our Approach, 11. 23–26; this refers to His Coming
- Our Apprehension, 11.27–30; this is our Conception
- Our Approbation, 11. 31–34; this has in view Certification
The Verity of His Death, ch.15 and this aspect is introduced to Challenge Disbelief . Again the reader is invited to trace the sections of the chapter.
- The Provision of His Death, 15.1–11
- The Proof of His Death, 15.12–19
- The Produce of His Death, 15.20–28
- The Practice as result of His Death, 15.29–34
- The Purpose of His Death, 15.35–49
- The Prospect of His Death, 15.50–58.
The Vastness of His Death, 1.30 and this aspect is introduced to Confirm Destiny.
- As to my Past, Christ is the Smitten Rock and secures my Righteousness.
- As to my Present, Christ is the Throne Sitter and secures my Sanctification.
- As to my Prospect, Christ is The Coming Lord and secures my Redemption.
We come to Paul’s letter to the Galatians in which Paul makes useful and valued references to the Saviour’s death.
A Means of Restoration - 3.1
Note how he describes the Galatians, "O foolish Galatians", by which he is offering a sad description of their lack of intelligence, they are "without mind." Then he emphasises their deception in suggestive terms as if they were sadly affected by magic arts. They were misled by pretences (cf. Acts 8.9). Now the issue focuses on our subject, when Paul adds, "before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth: crucified" (R.V.). The one who first presented the crucified Christ to them is now reminding them of the clarity and reality of the death of Christ and is using it as a means of restoration. A useful Old Testament parallel is what Elijah did as recorded in 1 Kings chapter 18 when Israel acknowledged the fulness of the sacrifice and were in that measure restored.
A Means of Release - 1.4
Paul opens the epistle with one of his shortest introductions but none the less full, as in it he makes reference to the death of Christ in language that conforms to that aspect of His death as conveyed in the Trespass Offering, "who gave Himself for our sins." Note how specific the simple word "for", huper, is, in denoting the fulness of the Ransom. Next he advances the Reason, "that He might deliver us out of this present evil age", meaning to take us out of danger not only eternally but morally. Observe the Ruling, "according to the will of our God and Father", confirming to us the administrative power in our deliverance.
A Means of Removal - 2.20
The Secret of Paul’s Exemplary life is conveyed in these valued words, "I have been crucified with Christ." Always reflect on this point, dear reader, this is something neither you nor I can do, it is God who did it, for no man can crucify himself. Paul adds, "nevertheless I live, yet not I." This is the Sign of his Exchanged life. Intensification increases in Paul’s language as he confirms, "the life that I now live in the flesh", explains the Scope of his Expanding life. His next expression brings him to the Strength of his Exceptional life, for Paul is assuring his readers that it is by the "faith of the Son of God", that is "faith which is in the Son of God" (R.V.) he is enabled to realise this blessing. Finally, Paul presents the Song of His Exultant life, "the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." So affirming the aspect of the death of Christ he wishes the Galatians and all who read, to appreciate that which denotes the Sin Offering aspect of the sacrifice of Christ.
A Means of Redemption - 3.13; 4.4-6
- The Meaning: "Redeem" as used in this verse means "to buy out of" or "to purchase." See also Eph.5.16 and Col.4.5.
- The Message: Redemption bought us from the curse of the law. This it did for Israel officially, and the saved of this day, morally.
- The Means: He was made a curse for us, as the law confirms, Deut.21.23.
- The Mind: That we might be richly blessed and receive the promise of the Spirit.
Note how 4.4,5 begins with the singularity of the Son and ends with the plurality of sons.
A Means of Rule - 5.24
Association with Christ means more than simply belonging to Him, it signifies that we are the product of His death and the result of His life-imparting power, which demands a moral conformity to all that He is and has manifested Himself to be. We rightly observed from 2.20 that we cannot crucify ourselves but obviously we have the moral power to crucify the flesh with its passions and lusts. Hence the Application of the Cross is both radical and resolute. Unfortunately cultivating the flesh with its passions and lusts is a much easier exercise than the Austerity of the Course we are obliged to travel. Our identity with the Cross of Christ demands, and indeed deserves, a more crucial reaction to the powers of evil within, administering as we ought, a constant putting to death of those forces that can arise from within.
As a Means of Reproach - 6.12
To ease the pain of reproach there were those in Paul’s day who advanced circumcision and strongly urged the saints to conform, feeling that by doing so, the reproach of the Cross would be substantially removed. Those who are in view in this verse had a False Pretension. They were intent on making a fair show in the flesh, indicating by their advancement of circumcision, a display of religious conformity. In the next expression it is clear that they had a Framed Motivation. They were anxious to escape any possible persecution for adhering to the truth of the Cross. The apostle has a Faithful Conviction as he makes clear the avoidance of the unreal, it is his devoted interest that the Cross be maintained in its precious yet peculiar path of reproach. It was circumcision in his day, today in our time, the keeping of sacraments is enough, which reduces the Cross as unessential, and removes its reproach.
As a Means of Rejoicing - 6.14
The Significance of the Term: "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" is vitally important. Many today glory in a cross, often a means of adornment, or on buildings, intending to be a means of identity, which is an indescribable paradox. But to Paul and to all those who believe in the Lord Jesus, the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is that which calls for a true and realistic expression of worship, and bows each heart in adoration and devotion and will do eternally. The Singleness of the Truth, "save in the Cross ...", for in what else can those saved by grace through the death of the Saviour rejoice? The Strength of Testimony, "through which the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world", nothing else could effect such a needed identity, which I trust we all experience and express.
Significant references to the death of the Lord Jesus are to be noted in Revelation by the occurrences of the word "blood." Reading 1.4–6 will unfold His Ministry in Life, His Mastery over Death and His Majesty in Glory. Adoration and praise ascend to the Saviour in the expressions having "loved us" and, having "loosed us" from our sins by His blood which denotes wondrously the Value of His Blood. The next reference to His blood is in 5.10. Here it is the Virtue of His Blood, in that we have been redeemed to God out of a variety of situations and associations in which we were found by nature. Turn now to 7.14 where it is recorded regarding tribulation saints who will know experimentally the Victory of His Blood, and a conformity that will grant them acceptance before the Throne of God. Yet another reference is found in 12.11 where the saints of that day will know the Vigilance of His Blood, which will grant them overcoming power in a day of demoniac adversity. The last reference is in 19.13. Obviously it is relative to the Lord Jesus Himself, because even in the moments of His universal acknowledgement as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, His Vesture dipped in blood will signify the measureless and indescribable effects and effulgence of Calvary.
It is of tremendous importance to note that in the Book of Revelation John uses the word "lamb" 29 times, of which 28 refer to the Lord Jesus. Most will know by reading from Mr. Newberry’s edition of the Bible that the word used by John signifies "a young Lamb." By such a term, the Spirit of God is affirming the freshness of the Cross work of Calvary and assuring us that it will be so throughout all eternity. The last seven mentions of the Lamb are most precious.
- 20.9, "the wife of the Lamb" - our Relationship to Him.
- 20.14, "apostles of the Lamb" - our Recognition of Him.
- 20.22, "the Lamb … the temple of it" - our Realization before Him.
- 20.23, "the Lamb is the light" - our Radiance from Him.
- 20.27, "the Lamb’s book of life" - our Reception through Him.
- 21.1, "the throne … of the Lamb" - our Refreshment in Him.
- 21.3, "the Lamb … His servants shall serve Him" - our Readiness for Him.
Had the blessed Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ, never suffered death upon the Cross, the above statements of truth would never and could never be. But by these and every reference to His death in our Bible, the efficacy of His sacrifice is endorsed, experienced and enjoyed. There may be some who will read these lines just written who may not know the value of His death, hence a fitting conclusion is a very precious hymn often sung by those who will praise Him throughout all eternity:
- Hark! the Gospel news is sounding,
- Christ has suffered on the tree;
- Streams of mercy are abounding,
- Grace for all is rich and free.
- Now poor sinner,
- Come to Him that died for thee.
- O! escape to yonder mountain:
- Refuge find in Him today;
- Christ invites you to the fountain,
- Come and wash your sins away;
- Do not tarry,
- Come to Jesus while you may.
- Grace is flowing like a river,
- Millions there have been supplied;
- Still it flows as fresh as ever
- From the Saviour’s wounded side:
- None need perish,
- All may live for Christ has died.
- Christ alone shall be our portion;
- Soon we hope to meet above;
- Then we’ll bathe in the full ocean
- Of the great Redeemer’s love;
- All His fulness
- We shall then forever prove.
- (H. Bourne and W. Sanders)