The FIRST Coming of Christ
William Nicholson, 1862
"Christ was sacrificed once, to take away the sins of many people!" Hebrews 9:28
Everything respecting Christ is interesting.
"His name is as precious ointment poured forth."
His moral character is "altogether lovely;" "grace was poured into his lips," and he "spoke as never man spoke."
His miracles were wonderful and godlike.
His doctrine distilled as the dew, and dropped as the gentle rain. "All bore him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded from his lips."
If these things were so interesting, how much more so his mediation, which brought glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good-will to men. The subject of the text is, Christ's First Appearance. "Christ was sacrificed once, to take away the sins of many people."
I.The cause of his first appearance was the boundless love of God. John 3:16, and many other passages.
II.His first coming was marked by poverty, suffering, and reproach.
How base and poor are the circumstances of his birth, his youth, his manhood, and his whole life! "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head!" Matthew 8:20. What sufferings and reproaches he endured from his enemies! "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men." Hebrews 12:3. etc. etc
III.His first coming terminated in Sacrifice. Indeed this was the great design of his coming. Hebrews 10:4-7.
(1.) His sacrifice was for sin. "Christ was sacrificed once, to take away the sins of many people." The law had been broken by man — the curse, as its penalty, incurred, Galatians 3:10.
(2.) His sacrifice was painful and ignominious. He had a bitter cup to drink. Men tortured his body by scourging, laceration, crucifixion, etc.
God forsook him, wrath came upon him to the uttermost.
Justice demanded complete satisfaction.
(3.) His sacrifice was vicarious. It was substitutionary. So the sacrifice of Christ is represented, Hebrews 9:25; Isaiah 53, and many passages.
Behold him, Christians, wounded for your transgressions, and bruised for your iniquities — wounded until life expires, and bruised until his heart is broken. My sins were in the load that crushed that heart, and had it not been that the punishment which they deserved was borne by him, they would have made me miserable forever in Hell!
(4.) His sacrifice was perfect. "Once offered." It is called, "one sacrifice." The repetition of the Jewish sacrifices was an indication of their imperfection, Hebrews 7:27; 9:25. The sacrifice of Christ was one.
Its perfection arose from the dignity of Christ's person. He was God manifest in the flesh — the Son of God with power. This dignity of perfection is acknowledged, Hebrews 1:3-5. Had not Christ's sacrifice been associated with Divinity, his death would not have been superior to that of a Christian martyr.
If the whole intelligent creation had been brought as a sacrifice to the altar of Divine justice; and if every nerve, every muscle, every bone, and every heart had received the inflictions of Divine fury, until one deep and universal groan had rolled its unutterable import to the throne of God — the whole would have been a worthless sacrifice!
Still as vivid would have been the lightnings.
Still as loud would have been the thunders of Sinai.
Still as dreadful would have been the accusations of conscience. Still as awful would have been the frowns of justice.
Still as black would have been the darkness of eternity.
The victim must be no other than "Jesus the only begotten Son of God," the "brightness of the Father's glory," etc.
This perfection arose from his successful work as a sin-atoning sacrifice. Prophecies bearing upon this sacrifice were fulfilled to the letter.
With what patience, submission and willingness, he met the hour.
With what meekness, he approached the cross.
With what courage, he drank the cup.
With what energy, he encountered the foe.
With what triumph, he closed the scene!
His work as a sin-atoning sacrifice, was perfect in its efficacy. It was what the circumstances of man required — and what Divine justice demanded. It magnified God's law, and satisfied all his claims. "Mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other."
His work as a sin-atoning sacrifice, was perfect in sufficiency. That atonement offered by Christ was sufficient for the Patriarchal, the Levitical, the Prophetical, the Apostolical age, and every succeeding age, until now. It reaches back to the fall of Adam; it extends forward to the period when time shall be no longer. And the effect of that sacrifice shall be felt when time shall be swallowed up in eternity. All that is now visible in God's creation shall be changed, or vanish; but our great High Priest has obtained an "unchangeable priesthood," and "he ever lives to make intercession for us," etc.
Christ was offered to bear the sins of many. Hence its sufficiency, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins," etc. The result of the mediatorial scheme is stated by the Apostle John in most gratifying language, "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7:9-10
The worth of the Lamb shall be sung not by a few solitary individuals. That song shall not rise before the throne low and feeble. It shall be the song of the innumerable multitude who are saved, and shall be louder than the sound of many waters, and of mighty thunderings.
IV.His sacrifice was followed by exaltation. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor!" Hebrews 2:9; Philippians 2:9, 10, etc.
1. He was exalted as an Intercessor. "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them!" Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1; Romans 8:34.
2. He is exalted as a Prince and a Savior. Acts 5:31. From his throne he dispenses the gifts of repentance, pardon, and justification. As a Prince upon that throne, he governs the Church — and the world.
3. He is exalted to honor and felicity. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God!" Hebrews 12:2
The joy of seeing the travail of his soul and being satisfied. The joy of the conversion, the salvation, and glorification of myriads of sinners, who, through eternity, as the most valuable gems, shall adorn his Mediatorial crown!
Lastly. The benefits of this Sacrifice are available.
1. By feeling our need of it.
2. By renouncing all other refuges.
3. By the exercise of faith in Christ alone. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." John 3:36.
1. How secure are all those who believe! Christ's work is perfect.
2. Those who perish will not only be without excuse, but become the subjects of awful punishment. "Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished, who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:28-29