Christ: Our Surety, Substitute, and Saviour
By Octavius Winslow (1808 – 1878)
“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree…” (1 Pet. 2:24).
Culled from www.heraldofhiscoming.com
The most significant and appalling demonstration of God’s holiness that the universe ever beheld, infinitely distancing and transcending every other, is the suffering and death of His only and beloved Son! The Cross of Calvary exhibits God’s hatred and punishment of sin in a way and to an extent which the annihilation of millions of worlds, swept from the face of the universe by the broom of His wrath, could never have done!
Behold the most solemn display of God’s hatred of sin! Finding the sins of the church upon Christ as its Surety, Substitute, and Savior – the wrath of God was poured out upon Him without measure! Finding the sins of His people laid upon His Son, God emptied upon His holy soul all the vials of His wrath due to their transgressions! Go, my soul, to Calvary, and learn how holy God is, and what a monstrous thing sin is, and how imperiously, solemnly, and holily bound, Jehovah is to punish it, either in the person of the sinner, or in the person of a Surety. Never was the Son of God dearer to the Father than at the very moment that the sword of divine justice, flaming and flashing, pierced to its hilt His holy heart!
But it was the wrath of God, not against His beloved Son, but against the sins which met on Him when presenting Himself on the Cross as the substitutionary sacrifice and offering for His church. He gave Himself for us!
What a new conception must angels have formed of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, when they beheld the flaming sword of justice quenched in the holy, loving bosom of Jesus! And in what a dazzling light does this fact place the marvelous love of God to sinners! Man’s sin and God’s love – the indescribable enormity of the one and the immeasurable greatness of the other – are exhibited in the Cross of Christ as nowhere else.
Oh, to learn experimentally these two great facts: sin’s infinite hatefulness, and love’s infinite holiness! The love of God in giving His Son to die; the love of Christ in dying; the essential turpitude and unmitigated enormity of sin, which demanded a sacrifice so divine, so holy, and so precious!
The Wrath of God Let Loose upon His Son!
Divine holiness is best exhibited in the Cross of Jesus. Not hell itself, as dreadful and eternal as is its suffering – the undying worm, the unquenchable fire, the smoke of the torment that goes up forever and ever – affords such a solemn and impressive spectacle of the holiness and justice of God in the punishment of sin – as is presented in the death of God’s beloved Son!
An eminent Puritan writer thus strikingly puts it: “Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured out upon this wicked world; nor the flaming furnace of a sinner’s conscience; nor the irrevocable sentence pronounced against the rebellious devils; nor the groans of the damned creatures give such a demonstration of God’s hatred of sin, as the wrath of God let loose upon His Son!”
Never did Divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the time our Savior’s countenance was most marred in the midst of His dying groans. This He Himself acknowledges in that penitential psalm, when God turned His smiling face away from Him, and thrust His sharp knife of justice into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring? …But Thou art holy…” (Psa. 22:1, 3).
Such an impressive view of God’s holiness, the angels in heaven never before beheld – not even when they saw the non-elect spirits hurled from the heights of glory down to the bottomless pit, to be reserved in chains of darkness and woe forever! Jesus was the innocent One, dying for the guilty ones – the holy One, dying for the sinful ones!
Divine justice, in its mission of judgment, as it swept by the Cross, found the Son of God impaled upon its wood beneath the sins and the curse of His people. Upon Him, its judgment fell; on His soul, its wrath was poured out; in His heart, its flaming sword was plunged! And thus, from Him, justice exacted the full penalty of man’s transgression – the last farthing of the great debt!
Go to the Cross, then, my reader, and learn the holiness of God. Contemplate the dignity of Christ – His preciousness to His Father’s heart, the sinlessness of His nature. And then behold the sorrow of His soul; the torture of His body; the tragedy of His death; the abasement; the ignominy; the humiliation into the fathomless depths of which the whole transaction plunged our incarnate God!
And let me ask, standing, as you are, before this unparalleled spectacle, “Can you cherish low views of God’s holiness, or light views of your own sinfulness?”
What a Boundless, Fathomless Ocean!
Eternal love moved the heart of Jesus to relinquish heaven for earth, a diadem for a cross, the robe of divine majesty for the garment of our nature – by taking upon Himself the leprosy of our sin. Oh, the infinite love of Christ! What a boundless, fathomless ocean! Ask the ransomed of the Lord, whose chains He has dissolved, whose dungeon He has opened, whose liberty He has conferred – if there ever was love like His!
What shall we say of the ransom price? It was the richest, the costliest, that heaven could give! He gave Himself for us! What more could He do? He gave Himself; body, soul and spirit. He gave His time, His labor, His blood, His life, His ALL – as the price for our ransom, the cost of our redemption. He carried the wood and reared the altar. Then, bearing His bosom to the stroke of the uplifted and descending arm of the Father, He paid the price of our salvation in the warm lifeblood of His heart!
How is it that we feel the force and exemplify the practical influence of this amazing, all commanding truth so faintly? Oh, the desperate depravity of our nature! Oh, the deep iniquity of our iniquitous hearts! Will not the blood-drops of Jesus move us? Will not the agonies of the Cross influence us? Will not His dying love constrain us to a more heavenly life?
Plunge into This Boundless, Fathomless Ocean of Love!
Christ is wonderful in His love. Love was the first and eternal link in the golden chain lowered from the highest throne in heaven down to the lowest depth of earth. That Christ should love us was the beginning of wonders. When we endeavor to comprehend that love, measure it, fathom it, scale it – we learn that it has heights we cannot reach, depths we cannot sound, lengths and breadths we cannot measure! Such love, such divine love, such infinite love, such everlasting love, such redeeming, such dying love – is an ocean whose eternal waves waft into our fallen world, every wonder of God and of heaven.
That Jesus should love such beings as us, that He should love us while we were yet sinners, that He should set His heart upon us, choose us, die for us, save us, and finally bring us to glory, knowing what we were, and what we would prove to be – oh, this is wondrous love indeed!
Plunge into this boundless, fathomless ocean of love, O sin-burdened one! It will cover all your sins, it will efface all your guilt; it will flood over all your unworthiness – and, floating upon its golden waves, it will gently waft you to the shore of eternal blessedness!
How often have you wondered why Christ should set His heart upon such a one as you! And is it not a wonder that, amid all your fickleness and backslidings, and cold, base returns – this love of God toward you has not chilled or changed? But do not rest, do not be satisfied with your present limited experience of Christ’s wonderful love. It is so marvelously great. This ocean of love is so boundless, fathomless, and inexhaustible – that you may plunge, with all your infirmities, sins, and sorrows, into its fullness, exclaiming, “O, the depth!” The well is deep! Drink abundantly, O beloved!
“[That ye] may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…” (Eph. 3:18-19).
“…The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Is Jesus precious to your heart? Is He the object of your supreme admiration and delight? Does He have your warmest affection? Do you love Jesus?
You must light your torch of affection for Christ at the altar of Calvary. You must go there, and learn and believe what the love of Jesus is to you: the vastness of that love; the self-sacrifice of that love; how that love of Christ labored and wept, bled, suffered, and died for you!
Can you stand before this love, this love so precious, so great, so enduring, so self-consuming, so changeless, and know that for you was this offering, for you this Cross, for you this agony, for you this scorn and insult, for you this death – and feel no sensibility, no emotion, no love to Jesus? Impossible!
Do not be cast down, then, in vain regrets that your love to Christ is so frigid, so fickle, so dubious. Go and muse upon the reality and the greatness of the Savior’s love to you – and if love can inspire love, while you muse, the fire will burn, and your soul shall be all in flame with love to Jesus!
The Astonishing, the Marvelous Love
The Cross of Jesus, inspires our love to Him. It would seem impossible to be brought by the Holy Spirit to the foot of the Cross, and not feel the inspiration of love. Surely a believing apprehension of the amazing, the unparalleled love of Jesus, bending His look of forgiveness upon us from the Cross, will thaw our icy hearts into the warmest glow of affection. Believe that Jesus loves you, and your heart shall glow with a love in return which will bear it on in a willing obedience and unreserved surrender, in faithful service and patient suffering, enwrapped, consumed amid the flames of its own heaven-inspired and heaven-ascending affection. The astonishing, the marvelous love, He has exhibited in giving you His beloved Son to die in your stead, is a cord by which He would draw your loving heart to Himself!
Adapted from “Christ’s Sympathy To Weary Pilgrims” compiled by Grace Gems, www.gracegems.org.