Intense! Mysterious! Vicarious!

(from Octavius Winslow's, "Morning Thoughts")

"The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:6

How shall we account for the sufferings of Christ,
which were intense, and mysterious, if not on the
ground of their vicarious character?

Those sufferings were intense in the extreme.

There was a severity in those who, if not required
by Divine justice, would be perfectly unaccountable.

Heaven, earth, and hell, all were in league against Him.

Survey His eventful history; mark every step which He
took from Bethlehem to Calvary; and what do we learn
of His sufferings, but that they were of the most
extraordinary and intense character.

His enemies, like dogs of war, were let loose upon Him.

His professed followers themselves stood aghast at
the scenes through which their Lord was passing; one
betraying Him, another denying Him, and all, in the
hour of His extremity, forsaking Him.

Is it any wonder that, in the anguish of His soul,
His suffering humanity should exclaim, "My Father!
If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken
away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not Mine."

In that awful moment, all the waves and billows
of God's wrath, due to the sins of His people, were
passing over Him!

The Father, the last resource of sympathy,
veiled His face, and withdrew from Him His
sensible presence; and on the cross, draining
the cup of sorrow, He fulfilled the prophecy,
which spoke of Him; "I have trodden the
winepress alone; no one was there to help Me."

His sufferings, too, were mysterious!

Why a holy, harmless being, whose whole life had
been one act of unparalleled beneficence, should be
doomed to persecution so severe, to sufferings so
acute, and to a death so painful and ignominious,
the denier of the atonement must be embarrassed
to account.

But the doctrine of a vicarious sacrifice explains it all,
and presents the only key to the mystery. "For God
made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for
our sin, so that we could be made right with God
through Christ." "Christ redeemed us from the curse
of the law by becoming a curse for us."

All the mystery now is gone!

He was "made sin for us." He was "made a curse for us."
He bore the sin, and consequently the penalty of sin.

Had we been left, Christian reader, to bear our
sins, we must inevitably have borne alone the
punishment of our sins.

But Jesus took upon Him our sins!

For this, He assumed our nature.
For this, He sorrowed in Gethsemane.
For this, the law of God exacted its utmost claim.
For this, the justice of God inflicted the utmost penalty.

Oh, what a truth is this!

The Son of God offering Himself up a sacrifice for sin!

He who knew no sin; who was holy, harmless,
and undefiled; not one thought of evil in His
heart, yet made sin, or a sin offering!

Oh the greatness of the thought!

God alone can write it upon the heart.

If God had not Himself declared it, we could not have
believed it, though an angel's tongue had announced it!