Christ’s Sacrifice

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
~ John 1:14

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
~ Hebrews 2:14

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
~ John 17:1

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
~ Matthew 26:37-38

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
~ Mark 14:36

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
~ Matthew 27:46

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
~ Isaiah 53:3

For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
~ Psalm 22:24

And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
~ John 11:42

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
~ John 17:4-5

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
~ Hebrews 13:20

Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
~ Isaiah 49:8

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
~ Hebrews 12:28

Exposition of Hebrews 5:7, by John Owen. The following contains an excerpt from his work.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
~ Hebrews 5:7

Here, therefore, he expresseth the whole sacrifice of Christ by the “prayers and supplications” wherewith it was accompanied; and therefore makes use of that word which peculiarly denotes such supplications. And he describes the sacrifice or offering of Christ by this adjunct for the reasons ensuing: —

1. To evince what he before declared, that in the days of his flesh, when he offered up himself unto God, he was encompassed with the weakness of our nature, which made prayers and supplications needful for him, as at all seasons, so especially in straits and distresses, when he cried from “the lion’s mouth,” and “the horns of the unicorns,” Ps. 22:21. He was in earnest, and pressed to the utmost in the work that was before him. And this expression is used,—

2. That we might seriously consider how great a work it was to expiate sin. As it was not to be done without suffering, so a mere and bare suffering would not effect it. Not only death, and that a bloody death, was required thereunto, but such as was to be accompanied with “prayers and supplications,” that it might be effectual unto the end designed, and that he who suffered it might not be overborne in his undertaking. The “redemption of souls was precious,” and must have ceased for ever, had not every thing been set on work which is acceptable and prevalent with God. And,—

3. To show that the Lord Christ had now made this business his own. He had taken the whole work and the whole debt of sin upon himself. He was now, therefore, to manage it, as if he alone were the person concerned. And this rendered his prayers and supplications necessary in and unto his sacrifice. And,—

4. That we might be instructed how to make use of and plead his sacrifice in our stead. If it was not, if it could not be, offered by him but with prayers and supplications, and those for the averting of divine wrath, andmaking peace with God, we may not think to be interested therein whilst under the power of lazy and slothful unbelief. Let him that would go to Christ, consider well how Christ went to God for him; which is yet further declared,—

Μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων. Thirdly, In the manner of his offering these prayers and supplications unto God, whereby he offered up himself also unto him. He did it μετἁ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων, “with strong crying” (or “a strong cry”) “and tears.” Chrysostom on the place observes, that the story makes no mention of these things. And, indeed, of his tears in particular it doth not; which from this place alone we know to have accompanied his sacerdotal prayers. But his “strong crying” is expressly related. To acquaint ourselves fully with what is intended herein, we may consider,—1. How it was expressed in prophecy; 2. How it is related in the story; 3. How reported here by our apostle:—

1. In prophecy the supplications here intended are called his “roaring:” Ps. 22:1–3, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from ִדְּבֵרי ַשֲׁאָגִחי,” “the words of my roaring?” “Rugitus,” the proper cry of a lion, is κραυγὴ ἰσχυρά, “clamor validus,” “a strong and vehement outcry.” And it is used to express such a vehemency in supplications as cannot be compressed or confined, but will ordinarily break out into a loud expression of itself; at least such an intension of mind and affection as cannot be outwardly expressed without fervent outcries. Ps. 32:3, “When I kept silence,”—that is, whilst he was under his perplexities from the guilt of sin, before he came off to a full and clear acknowledgment of it, as verse 5,—”my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” The vehemency of his complainings consumed his natural strength. So Job 3:24, “My sighing cometh before I eat, “,and my roarings are poured out like waters”—”,וַי ְּחכוּ ַכ ַמּם ַשׁ ֲאג ָתי

namely, that break out of any place with great noise and abundance. So is a sense of extreme pressures and distresses signified: “I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart,” Ps. 38:8. This is κραυγὴ ἰσχυρά, “a strong cry.” And if we well consider his prayer, as recorded Ps. 22, especially from verse 9 to verse 21, we shall find that every word almost, and sentence, hath in it the spirit of roaring and a strong cry, however it were uttered. For it is not merely the outward noise, but the inwardearnest intension and engagement of heart and soul, with the greatness and depth of the occasion of them, that is principally intended.

2. We may consider the same matter as related in story by the evangelists. The prayers intended are those which he offered to God during his passion, both in the garden and on the cross. The first are declared Luke 22:44, “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as drops of blood falling on the earth.” The inward frame is here declared, which our apostle shadows out by the external expressions and signs of it, in “strong cries and tears.” Ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ γενόμενος, —”constitutus in agonia.” He was in, under the power of, wholly pressed by “an agony;” that is, a strong and vehement conflict of mind, in and about things dreadful and terrible. Ἀγωνία is φόβος διαπτώσεως, saith Nemes. de Natur. Hom.;—”a dread of utter ruin.” “Timor extrinsecus advenientis mali,” Aquin.;—”a dread of evil to come upon us from without.” It signifies, “ita vehementi discriminis objecti metu angi ut quodammodo exanimis et attonitus sis,” saith Maldonat. on Matt. 26:37. He prayed ἐκτενέστερον, “with more vehement intension of mind, spirit, and body.” For the word denotes not a degree of the acting of grace in Christ, as some have imagined, but the highest degree of earnestness in the actings of his mind, soul, and body;—another token of that wonderful conflict wherein he was engaged, which no heart can conceive nor tongue express. This produced that preternatural sweat wherein θρόμβοι σἵματος, “thick drops of blood” ran from him to the ground. Concerning this he says, ַכַּמּם נְִשַׁפְּכִתּי, Ps. 22:15,—”I am poured out like water;” that is, ‘my blood is so, by an emanation from all parts of my body, descending to the ground.’ And they consult not the honour of Jesus Christ, but the maintenance of their own false suppositions, who assign any ordinary cause of this agony, with these consequents of it, or such as other men may have experience of. And this way go many of the expositors of the Roman church. So à Lapid. in loc.: “Nota secundo hunc Christi angorem lacrymas et sudorem sanguineum, testem infirmitatis a Christo assumptæ, provenisse ex vivaci imaginatione, flagellationis, coronationis, mortis dolorumque omnium quos mox subiturus erat; inde enim naturaliter manabat eorundem horror et angor.” He would place the whole cause of this agony in those previous fancies, imaginations, or apprehensions, which he had of those corporeal sufferings which were tocome upon him. Where, then, is the glory of his spiritual strength and fortitude? where the beauty of the example which herein he set before us? His outward sufferings were indeed grievous; but yet, considered merely as such, they were, as to mere sense of pain, beneath what sundry of his martyrs have been called to undergo for his name’s sake. And yet we know that many, yea, through the power of his grace in them, the most of them who have so suffered for him in all ages, have cheerfully, joyfully, and without the least consternation of spirit, undergone the exquisite tortures whereby they have given up themselves unto death for him. And shall we imagine that the Son of God, who had advantages for his supportment and consolation infinitely above what they had any interest in, should be given up to this dreadful, trembling conflict, wherein his whole nature was almost dissolved, out of a mere apprehension of those corporeal sufferings which were coming on him? Was it the forethought of them only, and that as such, which dispelled the present sense of divine love and satisfaction from the indissoluble union of his person, that they should not influence his mind with refreshments and consolation? God forbid we should have such mean thoughts of what he was, of what he did, of what he suffered. There were other causes of these things, as we shall see immediately.

Again; on the cross itself it is said, Ἀνεβόησε φωνῇ μεγάλῃ, Matt. 27:46; that is plainly, “He prayed μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς,”—”He cried with a great outcry,” or “loud voice,” with a “strong cry.” This was the manner of the sacerdotal prayers of Christ which concerned his oblation, or the offering himself as a sacrifice, as is reported in the evangelist. The other part of his sacerdotal prayer, which expressed his intercession on a supposition of his oblation, he performed and offered with all calmness, quietness, and sedateness of mind, with all assurance and joyful glory, as if he were actually already in heaven; as we may see, John 17. But it was otherwise with him when he was to offer himself a sin-offering in our stead. If, therefore, we do compare the 22d psalm, as applied and explained by the evangelists and our apostle, with the 17th of John, we shall find a double mediatory or sacerdotal prayer of our Saviour in behalf of the whole church. The first was that which accompanied his oblation, or the offering of himself an expiatory sacrifice for sin. And this having respect unto the justice of God, the curse of the law, and the punishment due to sin, was made in an agony, distress, and conflict, with wrestlings, expressed by cries, tears, and most vehement intensions of soul. The other,—which though in order of time antecedent, yet in order of nature was built on the former, and a supposition of the work perfected therein, as is evident, John 17:11,—represents his intercession in heaven. The first was μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων‚ the other μετὰ πεποιθήσεως καὶ πληροφορίας.

3. These are the things which are thus expressed by our apostle, “He offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears.” Such was the frame of his soul, such was his prayer and deportment in his sacrifice of himself. His tears, indeed, are not expressly mentioned in the story, but weeping was one of those infirmities of our nature which he was subject unto: John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” He expressed his sorrow thereby. And being now in the greatest distress, conflict, and sorrow, which reached unto the soul, until that was “sorrowful unto death,” as we may well judge that in his dealing with God he poured out tears with his prayers, so it is here directly mentioned. So did he here “offer up himself through the eternal Spirit.”

Πρὸς δυνάμενον σώζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου. Fourthly, The object of this offering of Christ, he to whom he offered up prayers and supplications, is expressed and described. And this was ὁ δυνάμενος σώζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου,—”he that was able to save him from death,” that had power so to do. It is God who is intended, whom the apostle describes by this periphrasis, for the reasons that shall be mentioned. He calls him neither God, nor the Father of Christ, although the Lord Jesus, in the prayers intended, calls upon him by both these names. So in the garden he calls him Father: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” Matt. 26:39. And on the cross he called him God: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” Matt. 27:46; and “Father” again, in the resignation of his life and soul into his hands, Luke 23:46. But in the reporting of these things our apostle waiveth these expressions, and only describeth God as “Him who was able to save him from death.” Now this he doth to manifest the consideration that the Lord Christ at that time had of God, of death, and of the causes, consequents, and effects of it. For his design is, to declare what was the reason of the frame of the soul of Christ in his suffering and offering before described, and what were the causes thereof.

In general, God is proposed as the object of the actings of Christ’s soul in this offering of himself, as he who had all power in his hand to order all his present concernments: “To him who was able.” Ability or power is either natural or moral. Natural power is strength and active efficiency; in God omnipotency. Moral power is right and authority; in God absolute sovereignty. And the Lord Christ had respect unto the ability or power of God in both these senses: in the first, as that which he relied upon for deliverance; in the latter, as that which he submitted himself unto. The former was the object of his faith, namely, that God, by the greatness of his power, could support and deliver him in and under his trial. The latter was the object of his fear, as to the dreadful work which he had undertaken. Now, because our apostle is upon the description of that frame of heart, and those actings of soul, wherewith our high priest offered himself for us unto God, which was with “prayers and supplications,” accompanied with “strong cries and tears,” I shall consider from these words three things, considering the power or ability of God principally in the latter way:—1. What were the general causes of the state and condition wherein the Lord Christ is here described by our apostle, and of the actings ascribed unto him therein. 2. What were the immediate effects of the sufferings of the Lord Christ in and upon his own soul. 3. What limitations are to be assigned unto them. From all which it will appear why and wherefore he offered up his prayers and supplications unto him who was able to save him from death; wherein a fear of it is included, on the account of the righteous authority of God, as well as a faith of deliverance from it, on the account of his omnipotent power.

1. The general causes of his state and condition, with his actings therein, were included in that consideration and prospect which he then had of God, death, and himself, or the effects of death upon him.

(1.) He considered God at that instant as the supreme rector and judge of all, the author of the law and the avenger of it, who had power of life and death, as the one was to be destroyed and the other inflicted, according to the curse and sentence of the law. Under this notion he now considered God, and that as actually putting the law in execution, having power and authority to give up unto the sting of it, or to save from it. God represented himself unto him first as armed and attended with infinite holiness, righteousness, and severity,—as one that would not pass by sin nor acquit the guilty; and then as accompanied with supreme or sovereign authority over him, the law, life, and death. And it is of great importance under what notion we consider God when we make our approaches unto him. The whole frame of our souls, as to fear or confidence, will be regulated thereby.

(2.) He considered death not naturally, as a separation of soul and body; nor yet merely as a painful separation of them, such as was that death which in particular he was to undergo; but he looked on it as the curse of the law due to sin, inflicted by God as a just and righteous judge. Hence, in and under it, he himself is said to be “made a curse,” Gal. 3:13. This curse was now coming on him, as the sponsor or surety of the new covenant. For although he considered himself, and the effects of things upon himself, yet he offered up these prayers as our sponsor, that the work of mediation which he had undertaken might have a good and blessed issue.

From hence may we take a view of that frame of soul which our Lord Jesus Christ was in when he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears, considering God as him who had authority over the law, and the sentence of it that was to be inflicted on him. Some have thought, that upon the confidence of the indissolubleness of his person, and the actual assurance which they suppose he had always of the love of God, his sufferings could have no effect of fear, sorrow, trouble, or perplexity on his soul, but only what respected the natural enduring of pain and shame, which he was exposed unto. But the Scripture gives us another account of these things. It informs us, that “he began to be afraid, and sore amazed;” that “his soul was heavy, and sorrowful unto death;” that he was “in an agony,” and afterwards cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” under a sense of divine dereliction. There was, indeed, a mighty acting of love in God toward us, in the giving of his Son to death for us, as to his gracious ends and purposes thereby to be accomplished; and his so doing is constantly in the Scripture reckoned on
the score of love. And there was always in him a great love to the person of his Son, and an ineffable complacency in the obedience of Christ, especially that which he exercised in his suffering; but yet the curse and punishment which he underwent was an effect of vindictive justice, and as such did he look upon it and conflict with it. I shall not enter into the debates of those expressions which have been controverted about the sufferings of Christ, as whether he underwent the death of the soul, the second death, the pains of hell. For it would cause a prolix digression to show distinctly what is essential unto these things, or purely penal in them, which alone he was subject unto; and what necessarily follows a state and condition of personal sin and guilt in them who undergo them, which he was absolutely free from. But this alone I shall say, which I have proved elsewhere, whatever was due to us from the justice of God and sentence of the law, that he underwent and suffered. This, then, was the cause in general of the state and condition of Christ here described, and of his actings therein, here expressed.

2. In the second place, the effects of his sufferings in himself, or his sufferings themselves, on this account, may be reduced in general unto these two heads:—

(1.) His dereliction. He was under a suspension of the comforting influences of his relation unto God. His relation unto God, as his God and Father, was the fountain of all his comforts and joys. The sense hereof was now suspended. Hence was that part of his cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The supporting influences of this relation were continued, but the comforting influences of it were suspended. See Ps. 22:1–3, etc. And from hence he was filled with heaviness and sorrow. This the evangelists fully express. He says of himself, that “his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,” Matt. 26:38; which expressions are emphatical, and declare a sorrow that is absolutely inexpressible. And this sorrow was the effect of his penal desertion; for sorrow is that which was the life of the curse of the law. So when God declared the nature of that curse unto Adam and Eve, he tells them that he will give them “sorrow,” and “multiply their sorrow,” Gen. 3:16, 17. With this sorrow was Christ now filled, which put him on those strong cries and tears for relief. And this dereliction was possible, and proceeded from hence, in that all communications from the divine nature unto the human, beyond subsistence, were voluntary.

(2.) He had an intimate sense of the wrath and displeasure of God against the sin that was then imputed unto him. All our sins were then caused, by an act of divine and supreme authority, “to meet on him,” or “the LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isa. 53:6. Even all our guilt was imputed unto him, or none of the punishment due unto our sins could have been justly inflicted on him. In this state of things, in that great hour, and wonderful transaction of divine wisdom, grace, and righteousness, whereon the glory of God, the recovery of fallen man, with the utter condemnation of Satan, depended, God was pleased for a while, as it were, to hold the scales of justice in æquilibrio, that the turning of them might be more conspicuous, eminent, and glorious. In the one scale, as it were, there was the weight of the first sin and apostasy from God, with all the consequents of it, covered with the sentence and curse of the law, with the exigence of vindictive justice,—a weight that all the angels of heaven could not stand under one moment. In the other were the obedience, holiness, righteousness, and penal sufferings, of the Son of God,—all having weight and worth given unto them by the dignity and worth of his divine person. Infinite justice kept these things for a season, as it were, at a poise, until the Son of God, by his prayers, tears, and supplications, prevailed unto a glorious success, in the delivery of himself and us.

3. Wherefore, as to the limitation of the effects of Christ’s sufferings in and upon himself, we may conclude, in general,—

(1.) That they were such only as are consistent with absolute purity, holiness, and freedom from the least appearance of sin;

(2.) Not such as did in the least impeach the glorious union of his natures in the same person;

(3.) Nor such as took off from the dignity of his obedience and merit of his suffering, but were all necessary thereunto: but then,

(4.) As he underwent whatever is or can be grievous, dolorous, afflictive, and penal, in the wrath of God, and sentence of the law executed; so these things really wrought in him sorrow, amazement, anguish, fear, dread, with the like penal effects of the pains of hell; from whence it was that he “offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death,”—the event whereof is described in the last clause of the verse.

Καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας. Καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας, “and was heard in that which he feared.” To be heard in Scripture signifies two things:—1. To be accepted in our request, though the thing requested be not granted unto us. “God will hear me,” is as much as, ‘God will accept of me, is pleased with my supplication,’ Ps. 55:17, 22:21. 2. To be answered in our request. To be heard, is to be delivered. So is this expressed, Ps. 22:24. In the first way there is no doubt but that the Father always heard the Son, John 11:42,—always in all things accepted him, and was well pleased in him; but our inquiry is here, how far the Lord Christ was heard in the latter way, so heard as to be delivered from what he prayed against. Concerning this observe, that the prayers of Christ in this matter were of two sorts:—

1. Hypothetical or conditional; such was that prayer for the passing of the cup from him, Luke 22:42, “Father, if thou wilt, remove this cup from me.” And this prayer was nothing but what was absolutely necessary unto the verity of human nature in that state and condition. Christ could not have been a man and not have had an extreme aversation to the things that were coming upon him. Nor had it been otherwise with him, could he properly have been said to suffer; for nothing is suffering, nor can be penal unto us, but what is grievous unto our nature, and what it is abhorrent of. This acting of the inclination of nature, both in his mind, will, and affections, which in him were purely holy, our Saviour expresseth in that conditional prayer. And in this prayer he was thus answered,—his mind was fortified against the dread and terror of nature, so as to come unto a perfect composure in the will of God: “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” He was heard herein so far as he desired to be heard; for although he could not but desire deliverance from the whole, as he was a man, yet he desired it not absolutely, as he was wholly subjected to the will of God.

2. Absolute. The chief and principal supplications which he offered up to him who was able to save him from death were absolute; and in them he was absolutely heard and delivered. For upon the presentation of death unto him, as attended with the wrath and curse of God, he had deep and dreadful apprehensions of it; and how unable the human nature was to undergo it, and prevail against it, if not mightily supported and carried through by the power of God. In this condition it was part of his obedience, it was his duty, to pray that he might be delivered from the absolute prevalency of it, that he might not be cast in his trial, that he might not be confounded nor condemned. This he hoped, trusted, and believed; and therefore prayed absolutely for it, Isa. 50:7, 8. And herein he was heard absolutely; for so it is said, “He was heard ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας.”

Ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας. The word here used is in a singular construction of speech, and is itself of various significations. Sometimes it is used for a religious reverence, but such as hath fear joined with it; that is, the fear of evil. Frequently it signifies fear itself, but such a fear as is accompanied with a reverential care and holy circumspection. The word itself is but once more used in the New Testament, and that by our apostle, Heb. 12:28, where we well render it “godly fear.” Εὐλαβής, the adjective, is used three times, Luke 2:25, Acts 2:5, 8:2; everywhere denoting a religious fear. Heb. 11:7, we render the verb, εὐλαβηθείς, by “moved with fear;” that is, a reverence of God mixed with a dreadful apprehension of an approaching judgment. And the use of the preposition ἀπό added to εἰσακουσθεἴς is also singular,—”auditus ex metu,” “heard from his fear.” Therefore is this passage variously interpreted by all sorts of expositors. Some read it, “He was heard because of his reverence.” And in the exposition hereof they are again divided. Some take “reverence” actively, for the reverence he had of God; that is, his reverential obedience: “He was heard because of his reverence,” or reverential obedience unto God. Some would have the reverence intended to relate to God, the reverential respect that God had unto him; God heard him, from that holy respect and regard which he had of him. But these things are fond, and suit not the design of the place; neither the coherence of the words, nor their construction, nor their signification, nor the scope of the apostle, will bear this sense. Others render it, “pro metu;” “from fear,” or “out of fear.” And this also is two ways interpreted:—1. Because “heard from fear” is somewhat a harsh expression, they explain “auditus” by “liberatus,”—”delivered from fear;” and this is not improper. So Grotius: “Cum mortem vehementer perhorresceret, … in hoc exauditus fuit ut ab isto metu liberaretur.” In this sense fear internal and subjective is intended. God relieved him against his fear, removing it and taking it away, by strengthening and comforting of him. Others by “fear” intend the thing feared; which sense our translators follow, and are therefore plentifully reviled and railed at by the Rhemists: “He was heard;” that is, delivered from the things which he feared as coming upon him. And for the vindication of this sense and exposition, there is so much already offered by many learned expositors as that I see not what can be added thereunto, and I shall not unnecessarily enlarge myself. And the opposition that is made hereunto is managed rather with clamours and outcries, than Scripture reasons or testimonies. Suppose the object of the fear of Christ here to have been what he was delivered from, and then it must be his fainting, sinking, and perishing under the wrath of God, in the work he had undertaken; yet,—

1. The same thing is expressed elsewhere unto a higher degree and more emphatically; as where in this state he is said λυπεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν, and ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι, Matt. 26:37, Mark 14:33,—to be “sorrowful,” “perplexed,” and “amazed.”

2. All this argues no more but that the Lord Christ underwent an exercise in the opposition that was made unto his faith, and the mighty conflict he had with that opposition. That his faith and trust in God were either overthrown or weakened by them, they prove not, nor do any plead them unto that purpose. And to deny that the soul of Christ was engaged in an ineffable conflict with the wrath of God in the curse of the law,—that his faith and trust in God were pressed and tried to the utmost by the opposition made unto them, by fear, dread, and a terrible apprehension of divine displeasure due to our sins,—is to renounce the benefit of his passion and turn the whole of it into a show, fit to be represented by pictures and images, or acted over in ludicrous scenes, as it is by the Papists.

It remains that we consider the observations which these words afford us for our instruction, wherein also their sense and importance will be further explained. And the first thing that offers itself unto us is, that,—

Obs. I. The Lord Jesus Christ himself had a time of infirmity in this world. A season he had wherein he was beset and “compassed with infirmities.” So it was with him “in the days of his flesh.” It is true, his infirmities were all sinless, but all troublesome and grievous. By them was he exposed unto all sorts of temptations and sufferings; which are the two springs of all that is evil and dolorous unto our nature. And thus it was with him, not for a few days, or a short season only, but during his whole course in this world. This the story of the gospel gives us an account of, and the instance of his “offering up prayers with strong cries and tears,” puts out of all question. These things were real, and not acted to make an appearance or representation of them. And hereof himself expresseth his sense: Ps. 22:6, 7, “I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All that see me, laugh me to scorn.” So verses 14, 15. How can the infirmities of our nature, and a sense of them, be more emphatically expressed? So Ps. 69:20, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” And Ps. 40:12, “Innumerable evils have compassed me about.” He had not only our infirmities, but he felt them, and was deeply sensible both of them and of the evils and troubles which through them he was exposed unto. Hence is that description of him, Isa. 53:3.

Two things are herein by us duly to be considered:—First, That it was out of infinite condescension and love unto our souls that the Lord Christ took on himself this condition, Phil. 2:6–8. This state was neither natural nor necessary unto him upon his own account. In himself he was “in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God;” but this mind was in him, that for our sakes he would take on himself all these infirmities of our nature, and through them expose himself unto evils innumerable. It was voluntary love, and not defect or necessity of nature, which brought him into this condition. Secondly, As he had other ends herein,—for these things were indispensably required unto the discharge of his sacerdotal office,—so he designed to set us an example, that we should not faint under our infirmities and sufferings on their account, Heb. 12:2, 3, 1 Pet. 4:1. And God knows such an example we stood in need of, both as a pattern to conform ourselves unto under our infirmities, and to encourage us in the expectation of a good issue unto our present deplorable condition.

Let us not, then, think strange, if we have our season of weakness and infirmity in this world, whereby we are exposed unto temptation and suffering. Apt we are, indeed, to complain hereof; the whole nation of professors is full of complaints; one is in want, straits, and poverty; another in pain, under sickness, and variety of troubles; some are in distress for their relations, some from and by them; some are persecuted, some are tempted, some pressed with private, some with public concerns; some are sick, and some are weak, and some are “fallen asleep.” And these things are apt to make us faint, to despond, and be weary. I know not how others bear up their hearts and spirits. For my part, I have much ado to keep from continual longing after the embraces of the dust and shades of the grave, as a curtain drawn over the rest in another world. In the meantime, every momentary gourd that interposeth between the vehemency of wind and sun, or our frail, fainting natures and spirits, is too much valued by us.

But what would we have? Do we consider who, and what, and where we are, when we think strange of these things? These are the days of our flesh, wherein these things are due to us, and unavoidable. “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward,” Job 5:7,—necessarily and abundantly. All complaints, and all contrivances whereby we endeavour to extricate ourselves from those innumerable evils which attend our weak, frail, infirm condition, will be altogether vain. And if any, through the flatteries of youth, and health, and strength, and wealth, with other satisfactions of their affections, are not sensible of these things, they are but in a pleasant dream, which will quickly pass away.

Our only relief in this condition is a due regard unto our great example, and what he did, how he behaved himself in the days of his flesh, when he had more difficulties and miseries to conflict with than we all. And in him we may do well to consider three things:—

1. His patience, unconquerable and unmovable in all things that befell him in the days of his flesh. “He did not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street,” Isa. 42:2. Whatever befell him, he bore it quietly and patiently. Being buffeted, he threatened not; being reviled, he reviled not again. “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” 2. His trust in God. By this testimony, that it is said of him, “I will put my trust in God,” doth our apostle prove that he had the same nature with us, subject to the same weakness and infirmities, Heb. 2:13. And this we are taught thereby, that there is no management of our human nature, as now beset with infirmities, but by a constant trust in God. The whole life of Christ therein was a life of submission, trust, and dependence on God; so that when he came to his last suffering, his enemies fixed on that to reproach him withal, as knowing how constant he was in the profession thereof, Ps. 22:8, Matt. 27:43. 3. His earnest, fervent prayers and supplications, which are here expressed by our apostle, and accommodated unto the days of his flesh. Other instances of his holy, gracious deportment of himself, in that condition wherein he set us an example, might be insisted on, but these may give us an entrance into the whole of our duty. Patience, faith, and prayer, will carry us comfortably and safely through the whole course of our frail and infirm lives in this world.

Obs. II. A life of glory may ensue after a life of infirmity.

“If,” saith our apostle, “in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” For besides that we are obnoxious to the same common infirmities within and calamities without with all other men, there is, and ever will be, a peculiar sort of distress that they are exposed unto who “will live godly in Christ Jesus.” But there is nothing can befall us but what may issue in eternal glory. We see that it hath done so with Jesus Christ. His season of infirmity is issued in eternal glory; and nothing but unbelief and sin can hinder ours from doing so also.

Obs. III. The Lord Christ is no more now in a state of weakness and temptation; the days of his flesh are past and gone.

As such the apostle here makes mention of them, and the Scripture signally in sundry places takes notice of it. This account he gives of himself, Rev. 1:18, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” The state of infirmity and weakness, wherein he was obnoxious unto death, is now past; he now lives for evermore. “Henceforth he dieth no more, death hath no more power over him;” nor any thing else that can reach the least trouble unto him. With his death ended the days of his flesh. His revival, or return unto life, was into absolute, eternal, unchangeable glory. And this advancement is expressed by his “sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high;” which we have before declared. He is therefore now no more, on any account, obnoxious to it…

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