By oppression and judgment He was taken away, and who can recount His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was stricken for the transgression of My people.
I. THE BREVITY AND PERPETUITY OF OUR LORD'S CAREER. It was indeed true, as the prophet foresaw, that "he was cut off," etc.; his days were few; his ministry was brief - counted by months rather than by years. There did not seem to be time enough in that short span, in a course so quickly run and so suddenly concluded, to accomplish anything great and far-reaching. But how wide has his influence proved! how long has his Name been known and his power been felt! How has he "prolonged his days" in the institutions he has founded which are existing now, in the truth he announced which is triumphing to-day over all other theories, in the spirit he communicated which is breathing still in the laws, the literature, the habits, the language of mankind! Who shall declare his generation? Does he not "see his seed" in the countless children of his grace who flock to his standard, who bless his Name, who call him Lord and Saviour and Friend! He who was so soon cut off from the land of the living is proving himself to be the One who hath immortality as no other son of man has had or ever will have.
II. THE SHORTNESS BUT THE SUFFICIENCY OF OUR MORTAL LIFE.
1. Our life below is very brief. Scripture abundantly asserts it; observation is continually confirming it; experience is painfully proving it. It is not only brief, so far as the actual number of our years is concerned when compared with some animal life or with angelic existence, or when contrasted with God's eternity; but it is brief so far as our own consciousness is concerned. Its conclusion seems to come with great rapidity and unexpectedness. In the curiosity of childhood, the eagerness of youth, the ambition and activity of early manhood, the cares and anxieties of prime and of declining days, our life hurries on and passes away, and, before we are looking for it, there comes the last summons and the day of departure.
2. But, short as it is, it is sufficient. It is long enough for us to store our minds with heavenly wisdom; to become reconciled to God and to take our stand with the wise and holy; to grow into the likeness of our Divine Exemplar; to bear witness to the truth of Christ; to exert an influence which will never die. Our truest and best "seed" are not found in the children and grandchildren who are born to us, but in the spiritual results we have accomplished. We die and disappear, and the stone on which our name is carved is overthrown, and no man will speak of us again; but we, too, "shall prolong our days" in the holy and beautiful characters men will be forming and the useful lives they will be living, because of the witness we are bearing here and the work we are doing now. - C.
I. THE SCANDAL ITSELF, laid down in the most aggravating terms — "prison," "judgment," "cutting off from the land of the living," and a "stroke upon Him for transgression" as if the prophet had said, Grant all that you will charge upon Him, prison, judgment, strokes, cutting off — express it the worst way you can, all this will not impeach the glory of His excellency.
John 18:12, 13): — The word "prison" should not, perhaps, be taken to designate a particular place of incarceration; for there is no evidence to show that Christ was ever confined in any such penal cell. He was, however, a prisoner. His limbs were bound, and He was held in the custody of the iron-hearted officers of the Roman government. We shall look upon Christ's imprisonment in three aspects.
He was taken from prison and from judgment.
1. "Without hindrance and without right He was taken away, i.e. He was put to death without opposition from any quarter, and in defiance of justice.
2. "Through oppression and through judgment He was taken away" (so virtually R.V.). "Judgment" here means judicial procedure, and the rendering "oppression" is guaranteed by Psalm 107:39.
3. "From oppression and from judgment He was taken away," i.e. released by death, or taken by God to Himself (2 Kings 2:10). Of the three interpretations, the last seems the most natural.
(Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)
I. AS THE MOST THRILLING CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF CHRIST.
1. He was first taken a prisoner from Gethsemane.
3. He was next taken a prisoner from the palace of Caiaphas to the hall of the Sanhedrim.
5. He was then taken as a prisoner from Pilate to Herod (Luke 23:8-12).
7. He was finally taken as a prisoner from Pilate to Calvary (Matthew 27:27-50). The cross is the culmination of the whole.
II. As THE GREATEST ENORMITY IN THE ANNALS OF CRIME.
1. His imprisonment combined all the chief elements of crime.(1) Here was the foulest injustice. Imprisonment. is for criminals; but had Christ ever been guilty of a crime?(2) Here too is the basest ingratitude. Was there one in Judea, or Galilee, or Samaria, who could refer to one single act of unkindness which He had ever committed towards any? Not one. "He went about doing good"(3) Here is astounding impiety. This Prisoner was the "Son of God," the "Prince of Life."
2. His Imprisonment was effected in the name of law and religion.(1) The law they referred to (Deuteronomy 18:20) had no just application to the case of Christ, and they must have been conscious of its irrelevancy. Christ was not a "prophet" who had presumed to speak a word in "the name of Jehovah" which "He had not commanded;" nor had He spoken in the name of "any other god;" and therefore by this old law of Moses He was not guilty of death. But what if a law authorize a morally criminal act, is the act less criminal? In no measure.(2) But it was in the name of religion as well as law. This makes the crime greater still. The men that instigated the crucifixion of the Son of God were professedly religious men; they were the religious authorities of the country. Under profession of respect for truth and God, they wrought all the enormities which blackened the page of evangelic history.
III. AS THE MOST WONDERFUL ENIGMA IN THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. I know of nothing more wonderful in the universe than the sight of Jesus in bonds.
1. Why does Eternal Justice allow unsullied holiness thus to suffer?
2. Why does Almighty God give men the power to perpetrate such enormities?
3. Why does All-powerful Emanuel Himself submit to these enormities? Does not the vicarious principle stand out in sunny prominence?
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
II. THE DEFENCE in other terms. "He was taken" from those things, and "who shall declare His generation?" If you think it is not enough to say that He died for others, and that He was stricken for the transgression of My people, yet He did not as every man that dieth for others; He perished not in this expression of His love, as others do: He was taken from prison, and from judgment, and now liveth gloriously. There are two things in the defence —
1. His resurrection. "He was taken from prison and from judgment;" He got out from under it.
2. His life and duration in that state. "Who shall declare His generation?" The sense is, who shall declare His age or duration? who can tell those endless ages that Christ shall live?
( T. Manton, D.D.)
Who shall declare His generationIsaiah 38:12, but it more properly means "lifetime." The Septuagint translators. have, however, hit the true idea of this passage in making the Greek word γενεάν, instead of βίον or αἰῶνα, for the thought regards the apparent brevity of Messiah career. "He comes, and He goes, and there is an end of Him. Who will take the trouble to think about a life that is cut off so soon, and leaves, apparently, no trace? He has no successor, no family, no descendants to preserve His name." The Septuagint reading, therefore, while not a literal translation of the Hebrew, follows its thought. The Hebrew literally is, "Who shall think upon His career?" The Septuagint. is, "Who shall describe or recount His race or generation?" The one refers directly to His lifetime, but indirectly to His posterity; the other confines itself to the posterity. Now, both questions are answered in verse 10" "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days." The Messiah will have a spiritual seed on the earth, and in them He will continue His own earthly life.
(Howard Crosby, LL.D.)i.e. His spiritual children, born of the travail of His soul. Delitzsch translates, "Of His contemporaries, who considered this: ' He was snatched out of the land of the living, seeing that, on account of the transgression of My people, vengeance fell on Him?'" "Who shall declare His generation?" A difficult clause. The Hebrew word for "generation" (dor) may mean —(1) The time in which He lived.(2) The circle of His contemporaries.(3) Those like-minded with Him (Psalm 41:7; Psalm 14:5; Proverbs 30:11, etc.); but is never used with any such significance as "length of life," or "life-history," or "posterity." We may take it in the sense (2), and render with R.V. "and as for His generation who (among them) considered," etc.
(Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)
For the transgression of My people was He strickenHe was smitten unto death." It was thus written by , who assures us that a certain Jew, with whom he disputed, seemed to feel himself more pressed by this expression than by any other part of the chapter. It is thus rendered by the Septuagint in our present copies; and if, in this instance, it had not concurred with the original, neither could Origen have urged it with good faith, nor the Jew have felt himself embarrassed by the argument which is suggested.
(R. Hall, M.A.)
(R. Hall, M. A.)a propitiation the sins of the world," and annex the blessings of eternal life to such as believe in the doctrine of the Cross, and repent, and turn to God.
I. It is obvious that such a procedure as we are now contemplating, in order to give it validity and effect, MUST BE SANCTIONED BY THE SUPREME AUTHORITY. For a private person, whatever might be his station in society, to pretend to introduce such a commutation of punishment as is implied in such a transaction, would be a presumptuous invasion of legislative rights, which no well-regulated society would tolerate. This condition was most unequivocally satisfied in the mystery of Christ's substitution.
II. Another indispensable circumstance in such a proceeding, is, that IT SHOULD BE PERFECTLY VOLUNTARY ON THE PART OF THE SUFFERER. Otherwise, it would be an act of the highest injustice; it would be the addition of one offence to another, and give a greater shock to all rightly-disposed minds than the acquittal of the guilty without any atonement. Here there appears, at first sight, an insuperable difficulty in the way of human salvation. How could that be rendered which was, at once, due to sin and mankind at large? Where could one be found that would endure the penalty freely, which was incurred by a sinful world? This our Saviour did. No sacrifice should go unwillingly to the altar. It was, indeed, reckoned a bad omen when any one did so. None ever went so willingly as He.
III. It is farther necessary that the substitute not only undertake voluntarily, but that HE BE PERFECTLY FREE FROM THE OFFENCE WHICH RENDERS PUNISHMENT NECESSARY. Accordingly, in the case of man Divine justice cannot be willing to acquiesce in a substitute who is a sharer in guilt; for the law has a previous hold upon him; there is a debt due on his own account. But Jesus Christ, though a man, was, by reason of His miraculous conception, free from the taint of original sin.
IV. There would be a great propriety in this also, that THE INNOCENT PERSON SUBSTITUTED FOR THE GUILTY, SHOULD STAND IN SOME RELATION TO HIM. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ was related to mankind; one like them whom He came to redeem. This was shadowed forth in the law of a Redeemer of a lost estate. The person who was to redeem must be related: hence a redeemer and a relation were expressed by one term, and the nearest relation was to redeem. Hence, then, the incarnation of our Lord was necessary.
V. If the substitution of the innocent in the room of the guilty is at all permitted, it seems requisite that NO ADVANTAGE SHOULD BE TAKEN OF A MOMENTARY ENTHUSIASM, a sudden impulse of heroic feeling, which might prompt a generous mind to make a sacrifice, of which, on cool deliberation, be repented. In the ease we are now contemplating, nothing could reconcile the mind to such a procedure but such a settled purpose on the part of the substitute as precludes the possibility of a vacillation or change. But this condition is found in the highest perfection on the part of the blessed Redeemer. His oblation of Himself was not the execution of a sudden purpose, the fruit of a momentary movement of pity; it was the result of deliberate counsel, the accomplishment of an ancient purpose, formed in the remotest recesses of a past eternity.
VI. In the case of the substitution of the innocent for the guilty, it seems highly requisite that HE WHO OFFERS HIMSELF AS THE SUBSTITUTE SHOULD JUSTIFY THE LAW BY WHICH HE SUFFERS. In the substitution of the Redeemer of mankind were conjoined the most prompt and voluntary endurance of the penalty, with the most avowed and cordial approbation of the justice of its sanctions. It was a great part of the business of His life to assert and vindicate by His doctrine that law which He magnified and made illustrious by His passion. Never had the law such an expounder as in the person of Him who came into the world to exhaust its penalties, and endure its curse.
VII. That the voluntary substitution of an innocent person, in the stead of the guilty, may be capable of answering the ends of justice, nothing seems more necessary than that THE SUBSTITUTE SHOULD BE OF EQUAL CONSIDERATION, AT LEAST, TO THE PARTY IN WHOSE BEHALF HE INTERPOSES. The interests sacrificed by the suffering party should not be of less cost and value than those which are secured by such a procedure. But the aggregate value of those interests must be supposed to be in some proportion to the rank and dignity of the party to which they belong. As a sacrifice to justice, the life of a peasant must, on this principle, be deemed a most inadequate substitute for that of a personage of the highest order. We should consider the requisitions of justice eluded, rather than satisfied, by such a commutation. It is on this ground that St. Paul declares it to be "impossible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sins." In this view the redemption of the human race seemed to be hopeless; for where could an adequate substitute be found? The mystery hid from ages and generations, the mystery of Christ crucified, dispels the obscurity, and presents, in the person of the Redeemer, all the qualifications which human conception can embody as contributing to the perfect character of a substitute.
VIII. However much we might be convinced of the competence of vicarious suffering to accomplish the ends of justice, and whatever the benefits we may derive from it, A BENEVOLENT MIND COULD NEVER BE RECONCILED TO THE SIGHT OF VIRTUE OF THE HIGHEST ORDER FINALLY OPPRESSED AND CONSUMED BY ITS OWN ENERGIES; and the more intense the admiration excited, the more eager would be the desire of same compensatory arrangement, some expedient by which an ample retribution might be assigned to such heroic sacrifices. If the suffering of the substitute involved his destruction, what satisfaction could a generous and feeling mind derive from impunity procured at such a cost! While we rejoice in the cross of Christ as the source of pardon, our satisfaction is heightened by beholding it succeeded by the crown.
IX. If the principle of substitution be at all admitted in the operations of criminal law, it is tog obvious to require proof that IT SHOULD BE INTRODUCED VERY SPARINGLY, only on very rare occasions, and never be allowed to subside into a settled course. It requires some great crisis to justify its introduction, some extraordinary combination of difficulties, obstructing the natural course of justice; it requires, that while the letter of the law is dispensed with, its spirit be fully adhered to; so that, instead of tending to weaken the motives to obedience, it shall present a salutary monition, a moral and edifying spectacle. The substitution of Christ in the room of a guilty race receives all the advantage as an impressive spectacle which it is possible to derive from this circumstance. It stands amidst the lapse of ages, and the waste of worlds, a single and solitary monument.
X. Whenever the expedient of vicarious suffering is adopted, A PUBLICATION OF THE DESIGN OF THAT TRANSACTION BECOMES AS INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY AS OF THE TRANSACTION ITSELF; since none of the effects which it is intended to produce can be realized but in proportion as that is understood. Hence we see the infinite importance, in the doctrine of the Cross, that not merely the fact of our Lord's death and sufferings should be announced, but that their object and purpose, as a great moral expedient, should be published to all nations. The doctrine of remission of sins, through the blood of that Victim which was once offered for the sins of the world, forms the grand peculiarity of the Gospel, and was the principal theme of the apostolic ministry, and is still pre-eminently "the power of God to salvation."
(R. Hall, M. A.)I. THE SUFFERING ITSELF. "He was stricken." The greatness of this suffering will be made out to us upon these three accounts.
1. Of the latitude and extent of it.
2. Of the intenseness and sharpness of it.
3. Of the person inflicting it.
II. THE NATURE OF THE SUFFERING, which was penal, and expiatory, "He was stricken for transgression."
III. THE GROUND AND CAUSE OF THIS SUFFERING, which was God's propriety in, and relation to, the persons for whom Christ was stricken, implied in this word, "My people." Conclusion: Christianity is a suffering religion, and there are two sorts of suffering to which it will certainly expose every genuine professor of it.
1. A suffering from himself; even that grand suffering of self-denial and mortification, the sharpest and most indispensable of all others, in which every Christian is not only to be the sufferer, but himself also the executioner. "He who is Christ's," says the apostle, "has crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts."
2. From the world.
(R. South, D.D.)I. WHO WAS STRICKEN?
II. REFER TO HIS SUFFERINGS. How was He stricken?
1. With reproach. "As for this fellow, we know not whence He is."
2. With ingratitude. His very "disciples forsook Him, and fled."
3. With poverty.
4. Chiefly by the rod of His heavenly Father.
III. THE OBJECT OF THESE SUFFERINGS. "For the transgression of My people was He stricken."
1. Justice is satisfied.
2. Conscience is at peace.
IV. THE FRUITS OF HIS SUFFERINGS, in connection with our own feelings and experience.
1. The devil is now destroyed. However formidable an enemy, the power of his arm is foiled.
2. The soul is saved.
3. All possible consolation is secured.
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