Reprinted from Milk and Honey,Vol XXV. No. 9, September 2011
Speaking poetically, Messiah spoke through the Psalmist when He said, “they pierced my hands and my feet.” Isaiah prophetically foretold of His wounds and bruises and chastisement. Peter remembered that Christ suffered and was reviled, and he also spoke of our sins that He personally bore in His own body on the tree and of His stripes—ugly stripes. Paul variously describes the cross-work of the Lord Jesus—“Delivered for our offenses,” “Became obedient unto death,” “Made peace through the blood of His cross” and “Reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,” etc. And the Gospels all say in unison that they “Crucified Him.” And so, many are the inspired “attempts” (I speak as a man) to communicate the very personal cost connected with the ultimate and most valuable sacrifice made by the Lord Jesus. But none is more personal and none is of higher value than when we read these moving words, “He gave Himself.” Not so much that He was given—though He was and we would never belittle the truth that “God gave His only begotten Son,” but what did it ever mean for that Son to give Himself personally and freely and without reserve? His precious word by the Holy Spirit just describes it this way—“He gave Himself”—and uses that simple, yet inspired, terminology five times in connection with five titles of the Lord Jesus along with five different objects.
1. “Christ...hath given Himself...a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” (Eph:5:2). Oh how we thank Him for the Godward character of His sacrifice. It took the Christ, the Anointed One, the Promised One, the Messiah Himself, to satisfy all the demands of an Outraged Holiness. No other was found who could wholly meet God’s requirements of a sacrifice without spot on the outside and without blemish on the inside that would pay sin’s penalty. Only the Christ would do. Blessed be His name.
And though His sacrifice was primarily for God, we need not even leave our chapter and verse to see the manward character of His sacrifice as well when we read, “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering” and “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” (Eph:5:2,25). What a lovely truth that all that Christ gave when he gave Himself to God, He also gave for us! The One chosen aforetime to satisfy God is the selfsame One who gave Himself for us. Blessed be His name.
2. “Our Lord Jesus Christ...gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal:1:3,4). Here He is not only the Promised, Chosen and Anointed One but also the Sovereign, Controlling and Omniscient Lord whose name is “Jesus (Jehovah saves) for He shall save his people from their sins” (Matt:1:21). It must be “our Lord” for He must have the power and authority to save. It must be “Jesus” for He must have the heart of Jehovah to save. And it must be “Christ” for He must be worthy to save us from our sins. Oh our sins! Sins that have wreaked havoc on lives, sins that have caused so much damage, sins that have cursed, sins that have enslaved, sins that have caused so much hurt and trouble. It was sins—our sins which gave power to this present evil system and it was our sins which had consigned us to an empty separation from a holy and loving God. Oh how desperate our need, but oh thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ knew all my sins and gave Himself for them all. Blessed be His name.
3. “The great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus:1:13,14). “Amazing love! How can it be that Thou my Lord shouldst die for me?” Who is it that gave Himself for us? It was none other than the Great God. That is Who our Savior is. Oh dear brothers and sisters, we must be absolutely, uncompromisingly dogmatic on this very fact—our Savior Jesus Christ is the Great God! It took full, one hundred percent deity to fully pay the awful price of “all iniquity.” Any other payment would fall pathetically short, but “the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Nothing left undone—nothing left unpaid. Our Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ has given Himself. Blessed be His name.
4. “The man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all...and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh...” (1 Tim:2:5-6; 3:16). Oh dear brothers and sisters, we must be absolutely, uncompromisingly dogmatic on this very fact, too: God became fully Man! In the work of redemption, the complete and impeccable humanity of Christ Jesus is equally as indispensable as His essential deity. If He were not Man, He could not have died and the wages of sin would not and could not have been paid. If He were not Man, there would have been no identification with Adam’s race [though without sin]. Many lovely and essential truths concerning His humanity could be dwelt upon but no lovelier than this: The Man Christ Jesus gave Himself and paid in full the corresponding payment for the release of those enslaved by sin. Oh that mighty stoop. We will never know the depths to which He stooped until one day when we see the heights from which He came. Blessed be His name.
5. “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal:2:20). Think of it. Dwell on it. Meditate on it. Be occupied with it. Try to exaggerate it. Proclaim loud wherever you can. The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!! He would forgo all the rights and privileges that He had enjoyed and always had deserved at His Father’s right hand to come down here. And in utter completeness...in calculated abandon...all the way to the uttermost...withholding nothing He gave himself for me. The Son of God gave himself instead of me. The Son of God gave himself as me. The Son of God gave himself because of me. Why His stoop? Why His sweat? Why His scorn? Why His stripes? Why His shame? Why His spikes and spear? It was me! It was me! The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me! Yes, there can be no doubt that we marvel that He gave Himself for the church and that He gave Himself a ransom for all and that in a broader sense He gave Himself for us and our sins...but as long as eternity rolls, I will never be able to get over this fact: that, even though He knew me through and through before I was ever formed, He knew all my failures and rebellion and total depravity, the very eternal Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!
Blessed be His name!