December 07, 2015
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
The Mathematics of Mercy
“They that hate … More than the hairs of My head;
they that would destroy Me … Mighty.
Then I restored that which I took not away.”
Calvary was preeminently a transaction between God and Christ. The work which put sin away and made salvation possible was the result of the bruising inflicted by the hand of God (Isaiah 53:10). But Scripture does not ignore the treatment He received from men. Verse 4 reminds us of several things about those who placed Christ on the cross.
As to their number, they were more than the hairs of His head. As to their feelings, they hated Him. As to any justification, it was without a cause. Think of the “many” arrayed against the Son of God: Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, they that sat in the gate and drunkards; there was every strata of society and men from every walk of life.
Hatred, a hatred fueled by the fury of Satan against Him, filled them. Nothing short of His death would quench their violent thirst for His extermination. This was not merely popular sentiment turning against Christ. This was hatred born from hell. Consider how the One Who is pure love must have felt so intensely even the hatred of men against Himself.
But we are told that it was without cause. There was absolutely nothing in Him to merit their treatment of Him. There was no cause for hatred that could be found in His treatment of others, His words to them, or His actions for them. In fact, Peter tells us in Acts that “He went about doing good; healing all …” Public benefactor, champion of the underdog, caretaker for the poor – these and other titles would have been given to any other who had done what He had done. But while there was no cause in Him for their hatred, the cause is in our hearts. The perfect holiness, the selfless life, the kindness and compassion, the moral beauty of His ways only served to reveal to our own hearts how far short we come. The choice was either to own our sinfulness, or to remove the measuring rod which revealed our shortcoming.
But notice that “then”- at the moment when we showed how sinful we are, at a time when we actually took our Creator and cast Him out of His creation, at the time we hated Him with all the intensity of our being, “then” He restored what He had no part in causing – the separation between God and man.
1. We did not touch on the other expression, “they that would destroy Me, being Mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty.” Consider its teaching.
2. Think of some other significant “then” expressions concerning Christ (Ps 40:7; John 18:7; Luke 23:34).
3. The background of Psalm 69 is the trespass offering of the Old Testament in which the man who trespassed against His neighbor had to restore what he had taken and then to add 20% or a fifth part above and beyond what he had taken. How has the Lord Jesus added a fifth part to our relationship with God in the “restoring” which He did?