September 29, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Causes for His Suffering
“They hated Me without a case.”
The words of Psalm 69:4 are repeated by the Lord Jesus in John 15:25, applying this verse to Himself. He spoke them in the upper room to His disciples. He did not speak them out of self-pity or with a desire to elicit sympathy for Himself. He spoke them to prepare His disciples for the inevitable change in the response of the nation toward them. They would share and experience the same hatred.
There was nothing in the Lord Jesus to cause men to hate Him; yet there was everything in Christ which caused men to hate Him!
Immeasurable depravity confronted unsullied holiness.
Selfish carnality collided with selfless, perfect humanity.
Self imposed humility was met by boundless yet causeless pride.
The holiness of Christ exposed and condemned the sinfulness of men.
As the light shined on their lives, the darkness in the human heart raged against it. As absolute purity was displayed to the eyes of men, they shut their eyes and preferred their blindness. There were only two possible responses to the display of the heart of God: men could either bow in worship or rise up in wrath. At Calvary, they chose to rise up in wrath.
The Lord Jesus Christ was displaying to humanity all that God is. How would men respond to the revelation of God? What would men do if they actually could interact with God? The answer is in verse 9: “The reproaches of them that reproached Thee have fallen upon Me.” Such is our depravity that if we as sinful people could reach the throne of God, we would wrest Him from His throne and enthrone ourselves. All the natural enmity of the human heart against God was finally able to find expression against the Son of God. All the rebellion encased within the human will spewed out with volcanic power against one Man. To add to it and to fuel it further, Satanic hatred for God inspired them, as Satan now, for the first time, had a tangible target and liberty to attack God.
Men expressed all the hatred of their hearts toward God on the Lord Jesus Christ. He became a visible, tangible target for them. There was no justifiable cause for hatred toward Christ. But the cause was all endemic to the human heart and its sinfulness.
Psalm 69 also tells us of another reason or cause for His sufferings. “Then I restored what I took not away” (v 4). He suffered to bring man back to God and to restore to God, a race of men that had been hijacked by Satan centuries earlier in the Garden. Satan thought he had derailed and frustrated all God’s plans for the human family. With consummate skill he had brought sin, death, and alienation into the world. He was responsible for all the loss. Christ came to undo what had been done and to establish a righteous basis for God’s program to be fulfilled.
In His work He not only restored what had been lost but “added the fifth part” (Lev 6:5), enabling an unbroken fellowship between God and man, that will never again be subject to interruption (Rom 8:35-39).
He willingly allowed men to impale Him to a cross, enduring their reproach and hatred against God, in order to reconcile us to God. At the very time that we, His enemies, were many and mighty, He was showing ultimate mercy.