September 09, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“He bearing His cross, went forth.”
John’s account of Calvary is unique in many ways. The words of verse 17 are some of the most touching and insightful of those distinctions. The force of John’s words is actually, “He bearing His cross for Himself, went forth.” There is no mention in John’s account of Simon being conscripted to help with the cross. There is no hint that the Lord Jesus was compelled to go to Calvary. “He . went forth.” In John’s Gospel, He is the burnt offering, willingly moving to the altar of Calvary to give Himself.
One of the many contrasts suggested by John can be appreciated if we go back to Genesis 3. There, Adam hid from the presence of God. Conscious of his sin and the possibility of judgment, he retreated and sought to avoid the penetrating eye of God. In contrast, the Lord Jesus went forth to face the storm of divine wrath. Adam had to be driven out of the garden from the presence of God, a flaming sword barring the way back (Gen 3:24). Our Savior “went forth.”
His was the compulsion of love – love for His Father, Master, and His God. It was, as well, love for you and for me. Soldiers may have accompanied Him; crowds may have hemmed in the way as He went, but neither were really ‘needed’ to ensure that He went to the place of the ‘skull.’ His way was hemmed in by the will of God and His devotion to that will. Swords and lances of Roman soldiers added nothing to the direction of the Lord as He moved to Calvary. The devotion of His heart far outweighed the demands of cruel men urging Him onward.
He went forth, ‘knowing’ all that would transpire. He went forth, ‘knowing’ the cross meant an interruption in the enjoyment of a fellowship which had never, to that moment in time, known even the briefest of interruptions. “Jesus . knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth” (John 18:4).
1. Notice how often we have the Lord Jesus “going forth,” or He “went forth” in John chapters 18 and 19. Can you link these mentions with the different grades of the burnt offering?
2. Can you find a link with Isaac in Genesis 22 going to the mount in Moriah?
3. Animals were brought to the altar for burnt offerings in the Old Testament. Yet in how many ways can you contrast those victims with Christ willingly going to the altar of Calvary?