“The Sacrifice of Himself”

Once in the end of the world (age) has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26).

I wonder what Gabriel and Michael and the hosts of mighty spirits that obey God’s biddings without question think of that sacrifice. We know that they desire to look into these things (1 Peter 1:12), and that they see the manifold wisdom of God in the results of it (Eph. 3:10), but how great must be their wonder at the sacrifice itself. But not unto angels but unto men, prodigals brought back to God in righteousness through that sacrifice, it is given to enter into its meaning and have communion with God about it; for to men who believe the Holy Spirit has been given, and “the Spirit searches all things, yea the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10).

We are permitted to know what passed in the counsels of the Godhead before ever time began its rhythmic beat, or the need for sacrifice arose through the sin of man. Then it was written in the volume of the Book that the sacrifice should be; then the Son of God Himself to carry into full effect the whole will of God, whatever that will might mean for him. It meant that He must become flesh, that a body must be prepared for Him, that when the fulness of time was come God would send Him forth, made of a woman (Gal. 4:4), to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Our conception of this sacrifice will be mean and small unless we see the greatness of the One who offered it. Hence the Spirit of God when speaking of the sacrifice binds it up with the glory of Him who offered Himself. In chapter one of John’s Gospel He is declared to be “the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world,” but who is this Lamb of God? The chapter answers our question. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” In Colossians 1 we read “We have redemption through His blood,” but who is He through whose blood we have this redemption? Our chapter tells us. “By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. In Hebrews 1 we are told that He “had by Himself purged our sins,” but who is He that has done this great thing? He is the One “whom God has appointed Heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.” He is the Creator, in that His power and wisdom have been declared; but He is more than that, He is “the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). He is “the Son of His (the Father’s) love” (Col. 1:13; N.T.). He is “the Son” (Heb. 1:1). He is the object of the Father’s delight, the worthy object of His infinite, ineffable and eternal love.

No creature being could have undertaken to fulfil all the will of God, which involved the putting away of sin, and the declaration of what God is. But the Son undertook to do it. He had the authority and the power to offer Himself for this, which He did when He said, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.” Sacrifice and offerings and burnt offering and offerings for sin offered on Jewish altars could never put away sin; instead they kept it in continual remembrance, and God could have no pleasure in them. Then He stepped forth to fulfil that which He had undertaken to do. The Word became flesh, He came into the world saying, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.” He took the place of complete submission to the will of God, and obedience to every iota of it.

Consider Him, coming forth from the glory which He had with the Father before the worlds were made: see Him make Himself of no reputation and take the place and form of a servant in the body prepared for Him—a sinless, holy body; see Him among men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, not seeking eminence among men but humbling Himself to death, even the death of the cross. He came into the world having the full knowledge of the eternal counsels of the Godhead for God’s glory and the blessing of multitudes of men, and also He knew what sufferings He must endure that these counsels might all be fulfilled. His incarnation in the lowly surroundings of the manger in Bethlehem was not enough; His life and service amid the needs and miseries of men was not enough; His prayers, His tears, His works of mercy were not enough; even His agony and sweat of blood in Gethsemane was not enough—all these had their part in the unfolding of the heart of God, and in the making known of His own deep perfections; but only by the sacrifice of Himself could He put away sins.

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” and only by man could that question be taken up and answered righteously for God s glory, the overthrow of Satan and the deliverance of men from sin’s yoke and the power of death. To do this He came; He came voluntarily, in His own divine right, and took the body prepared for Him. “He was made in the likeness of men.” Yet, having offered Himself He was sent of God, as another Scripture states it, “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). But He must not only be a true man, He must be the sinless, holy man, or He could not stand in the place of men to bear their judgment.

Thank God, He was able, for every thought and word and deed of His was holy unto the Lord, His sinlessness is emphasised in passages that speak of His sacrifice. “God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). And again, “Ye know that He was manifested to take away sins, and in Him was no sin” (1 John 3:5). And yet again, “Who did no sin: neither was guile found in His mouth … who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:22-23). Yet once again, “He through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14). But if He had not been more than man, if He had not been God in His own eternal Being, His sacrifice would have had no atoning value. Who could measure and meet the claims of God’s eternal justice but God? Who could understand how sin had challenged the very majesty of God, and bear the penalty of that challenge, but God? Who could uphold the stability of God’s throne, put away sin, and declare at the same time God’s great love to man but God? JESUS has done all this, and we bow before Him with Thomas and with wonder and adoration cry, “My Lord and my God.”

We rejoice in a full atonement; a great peace fills our hearts as we consider it, for the value of that one offering will abide for ever. By “one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified” and, their sins and iniquities will be remembered no more. All things in heaven and on earth will yet be reconciled to God through the blood of His cross; then from the throne of God and of the Lamb, rivers of life and blessing shall flow out to men who own the authority of that throne, and they shall for ever worship Him who has redeemed them to God by His blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.

J. T. Mawson