#THE SUFFERING CHRIST SATISFIED
"He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied; by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many."
- Isaiah 53:11
IN these words we have God the Father speaking concerning His Son and declaring that since He had endured soul travail, He would guarantee to Him a satisfactory reward. How delightful it is to observe the co-working of the various persons of the sacred Trinity in the matter of salvation! It was so in the creation. It was the Father who said, "Let there be light," and there was light. But we read concerning the eternal Son that, "without Him was not anything made which was made," and we find express mention of the Spirit of God, who moved upon the face of the waters and created order out of chaos. Father, Son and Spirit worked together to make the world and, in the making of man, we all remember that gracious word, "Let Us make man in Our own image with Our own likeness." Even so is it in our salvation. The Father has chosen a people unto Himself. These people He has given unto the Son. To these people He has also given the Only-Begotten to be their salvation. It is through the abounding grace of the Father that salvation comes to the chosen, but only through Jesus Christ, for everywhere He is the Savior. We are redeemed by His precious blood. He it is that will bring the many sons unto glory and is the author and the finisher of their faith. Yet not without the Holy Spirit, for the blessed Spirit graciously condescends to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us. What God ordains, the Spirit executes. What the Son purchases, the Holy Spirit bestows. ‘Tis He who makes us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light—and when we are so meet—we are introduced to the inheritance by the hand of the glorious Son, and are led up to the throne of the eternal Father. Christians, live much in contemplation upon the God of your salvation! Magnify Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Shun that ministry which dishonors either of these blessed Persons and seek to be fully built up and instructed in the gospel teaching which glorifies Father, Son and Spirit in divine equality, and leads your own hearts into "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit."
With that by way of preface, we shall now come to the text at once, taking the words as well as the sense of them.
The Father says of the Son that, "He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied." The first point of consideration, very briefly, is—
I. OUR LORD’S PAINS AND SUFFERINGS, BY WHICH HE MADE AN ATONEMENT FOR OUR SINS.
These are described in the text as "the travail of His soul." You know the meaning of the word, "travail." I will not explain it—I will the rather do with it as the painter who drew the picture of Agamemnon and the sacrifice of his daughter, Iphigenia. He painted Agamemnon, but he threw a veil over his face, for he felt he could not express the grief that was in the father’s face and, therefore, the face was delicately concealed. Let us do the same. It may suffice for us to say that whenever in Holy Scripture a forcible word is needed to express fear, overwhelming pain, distraction and confusion, the word, "travail," is used. For instance, when the kings looked upon Mount Zion and saw how safe it was from their attacks, "fear took hold upon them, there, and pain as of a woman in travail." And in the description which is given by the prophet of the men of Babylon when their city was overthrown—he represents them as being "full of pain as if they were in travail." It is an unutterable amount of inward grief and trouble and a swelling of the inner man until it seems as if the whole fabric of nature, being delicately convulsed, would be utterly broken up to its ruin.
Observe the text says, "The travail of His soul." We are not to depreciate the bodily sufferings of Christ, but still it has been well said that "the soul-sufferings of Christ were the soul of His sufferings." Brothers and sisters, there was so much in the outward agony of Christ, that my ears have tingled and my heart burned with wrath when I have heard certain theologians speak lightly of it! Speak lightly of the sweat of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane? Speak lightly of the flagellations by Herod and Pilate when the bloody scourges made the sacred drops to roll? Think lightly of the shame, spitting and the crown of thorns? Oh, sirs, dare you think and speak lightly of the piercing of His hands and of His feet, and of the fever which those wounds engendered, and that thirst which the fever and the broiling sun together brought on, and the rending of those hands when the feet could no longer support the body and the iron tore through the nerves? Is nothing or little to be said of all this? God forbid, brothers and sisters! We believe that the body of Christ took its full share of the chastisement. By His stripes we are healed! By His scourging and bodily chastisements we get at least a portion of the healing balm which cures the disease of sin! Our sin was with the body and Christ’s atonement was with the body. Our flesh was sinful and, therefore, His flesh must suffer. Had we been simply spirits and as spirits alone had sinned, a spirit might have made atonement for us—and a soul bereft of a body might have been a perfect substitute—but we are sons of Adam and still wear this red earth about us! And as we sin in the body, so must the Savior, with hands, feet, brow and every member of His blessed frame, be made to suffer to make atonement for our guilt! Still, still, the travail of His soul was the chief matter and it is that the text speaks about! Where shall I find a golden reed with which to measure this city, or where shall I find a plumb line with which to fathom the depths of agony which I now see before me? Jesus Christ suffered so that I despair of conceiving His sufferings, or of conveying them to you by any form of words.
And yet there are two lines of thought which might help us. And the first is this—the perfection of our Lord’s nature. Just think of this for a minute. Our Lord was utterly and altogether free from sin or any tendencies to sin—and yet He came into this world and He lived in the midst of sinners—and He must, in consequence of this, have suffered a torture to which you and I are utter strangers, except in some small measure! Now think for a while—inasmuch as Christ was perfect, He was capable of an amount of sympathy at which you and I have only made a guess. What a dreadful thing it is for us, sometimes, to have to go and walk through a hospital. I know I would feel it to be one of the most painful days in my life if I had to spend a day in the operating room of a hospital. I think I would have to be taken out within the first five minutes! But to be obliged to stay on and see my fellow creatures suffer beneath the knife, even when used most carefully, and tenderly, and wisely, would, I think, be too much! Some of you who have never seen the depths of poverty, if you were obliged to go to those parts and places where men are dying of starvation—if you were taken away just now to Orissa, or made to stop in the famine-stricken districts of Algeria, or even compelled to live for a while in some of the very poorest districts of this great, but just now, poverty-beaten city, you would feel it to be a great pain. I tell you, when sometimes there are half a dozen poor cases before us and we have to help them, and then there come half a dozen more, and we cannot help them, it is one of the pains of life! It is one of the worst ills a man can have to bear, to be so public as to have all this evil gathered round his feet, and yet be unable to relieve it! Now we will not say that our Savior was unable to relieve it, but some sufferings which men had brought upon themselves by their sin came before Him perpetually, and they must have pierced and penetrated His tender and sympathetic heart, riddling it, as it were, with the barbed arrows of grief. Still, He took upon Himself our infirmities and carried our sorrows all His lifetime.
But there was worse than this. Our Lord, being perfect, must have shuddered as He came into daily contact with sinners. Shut a good man up in a den with drunks, unchaste person, and swearers—and what worse hell could you devise for him? Might not one prefer to be enclosed in a den of tigers or vipers sooner than with some classes of society? Now that kind of shuddering which comes over a chaste man when he is obliged to listen to the lascivious song, or the holy heart when it is compelled to hear blasphemy and horrid libels against the Most High—that existed to a pre-eminent degree in the the hypocrisy of the Pharisee, or the infidelity of the Sadducee, or the formalism of the Scribe. There was not a step that He took but there was something to grieve Him! Even His own disciples—not merely by ignorance, but by worse than that—pierced Him to the very quick, so that He endured a soul travail in some respects during the whole of His life!
But the point I want to bring you to is this. He was such a perfect being and yet sin was actually laid upon Him, and what must this have been! I would like to express myself cautiously and carefully. Jesus Christ never was a sinner, never could have been one, never was guilty of sin. In Him was no sin. Yet the sin of His people was imputed to Him, for so I understand the words, "The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." What a word! "And He bore the sin of many." This chapter has the expression, I think, three or four times over that God actually laid upon Christ, human sin! Now what a load for Him to carry! What a pain for sin thus to come into contact with the perfectly holy soul of the blessed Jesus! You do not know what a very hell is included in the thought that sin came to be laid upon Christ. Think of it yourselves. You are perfectly innocent, tonight, of anything like murder. Suppose yourselves arraigned tomorrow morning at the police court and accused of it? How would you feel? You may tell me that your innocence might and would, sustain you. I have no doubt it would, but still, what a shame it would be to stand before the vulgar crowd and to be pointed at as having been guilty of an infamous deed! And suppose that, although you had not committed the deed, you were, nevertheless, unable to plead guiltless, for, for certain reasons, it was necessary that the guilt of the action should lie upon you? Can you now conceive what strength you would need to keep your tongue from speaking so as to deny it—and to stand there like the sheep before the shearers—dumb to your own confusion?
Can you imagine yourselves being condemned to die, though the sin was not yours, yet out of some great love which you bore to another, you are condemned? And you can add another supposition— condemned to die justly, too, although you, yourselves, had not personally been guilty. Can you picture yourselves coming shuddering up the gallows stairs to face that dreadful throng assembled around the gallows, with no eye to pity you among them all, but the whole assembled multitude thrusting out the tongue, pointing, mocking, jeering and saying, "He trusted in God that He would deliver him. Let Him deliver him, seeing he delights in Him." Now the mere dying you could bear, as martyrs have done, but not the dying with all that weight of sin legally placed upon you! Oh, who can tell what must have been the horror which took hold upon the Savior, and how true must have been His expression when He said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death"? The holy One in the sinner’s place! An angel in a dungeon! The God of heaven veiled in human flesh to be hung upon the gallows as a malefactor—start as you think of it and then try to conceive, if you can, what must have been the horror of His soul!
But I have got another plumb line with which, perhaps, if the Holy Spirit helps us, we shall be able to fathom the depth better. Think, beloved, of what our sins deserved. It is undoubtedly the teaching of Scripture that a single sin deserves death from God’s hand. The very sparks of sin set hell on a blaze but what do you deserve who have transgressed ten thousand times ten thousand times told? And Christ did not die for you, alone—He died for a multitude that no man can number! Will you multiply, then, the desert of the sin of one human being by that of all the countless myriads who are now before the throne of God and the yet greater numbers that shall yet be brought there? Now I will not say that Christ suffered precisely and exactly what all these ought to have suffered as the result of their sin, but I will say that what He offered to God was certainly not a less vindication of His justice, but a greater one than all that would have been, for if all the myriads of the elect had laid in hell forever and ever, their debt would have been no nearer payment after ten thousand times ten thousand years than at the first! And yet this man, by His one offering of Himself, has put away all the sin and all the punishment to all the multitudes for whom He shed His blood! Transcendent mystery! Angelic minds shall fail to explore the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadth of this atoning sacrifice! Can you now guess at it? You can, yet you cannot tell it, for it surpasses language—the travail of the Redeemer’s soul!
I ask you now to think of your Lord in His bitter pangs and tormenting griefs. View Him prostrate in the garden. See Him sweating great drops of blood for you. Behold Him tortured by Pilate and Herod, and then see Him, with broken heart, going up to the accursed tree and there being made a curse for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him! We must now pass on to observe that there are—
II. CERTAIN RESULTS GUARANTEED FROM THE SUFFERING OF THE LORD.
The Eternal Father says, "He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul." That is, He shall see the fruit of it. Jesus is not dead! The travail was enough to kill Him, but He remembers no more His travail for the joy of the blessed fruit which is brought into the world thereby. He looks down from heaven, tonight, as He has been looking down ever since He ascended there and He beholds the sweet results of all His pains and griefs. Now attentively observe one thing. It has always seemed to us, and I think it will seem reasonable to you, that if Jesus Christ is to see of the travail of His soul, and to be satisfied, then whatever was His intention when He laid down His life will be given Him. This is not far-fetched because if it is written, "He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied," how is a man satisfied if he does not have the result, the full result of his labor, above all such labor—labor even unto death? If a man does not achieve by his dying all that he died for, then he cannot be satisfied—unless his first intention is amended, which would imply that he had been in error. Do you see the drift of this observation? Jesus Christ did not, then, on the cross, intend to save every man! It is not true that Jesus Christ died with the intention of saving every man of the human race. But this is true—Christ died that every man might be spared—and they are spared. You are here tonight as the result of His death. And in that sense He "tasted death for every man." He died that every man might have the gospel preached to Him, that there should be an honest declaration that whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall be saved. I this night, for the ten thousandth time, announce to you that gospel—that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you shall be saved! And this gospel is to be preached not to some, but to every creature under heaven! And the proclamation of this gospel comes universally to all mankind as the result of Christ’s death— and in that sense He tasted death for every man.
But, mark you, He stood as a substitute for none of you unless you believe in Him, or shall believe in Him. He suffered for those who trust Him, but if you trust Him not, you have no part nor lot in this matter! He had no design to save you. If He had, neither you nor the devil in hell could have frustrated that design. But this is His design, "God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him has everlasting life." This is the mark of the people for whom Christ died—that they come and trust in Jesus! By this "broad arrow" are the blood-bought known, and the blood-redeemed discerned from the unregenerate mass—by their trusting in Jesus! He has redeemed us from among men. He loved His Church and gave His Son for it. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. All that the Father gives Him shall come to Him, and him that comes unto Him, He will in no wise cast out. We know and feel, then, that what was Christ’s intention by His death, He will certainly accomplish! And oh, what a blessed thought this is for those of us who have to preach the gospel, that the gospel will not be preached in vain, that we do not preach it at haphazard, or perhaps, or casting dice, as it were, for men’s souls! He bought them and He will have them! They were given Him of old in the decree, and He will have them, snatching them from between the lion’s jaws by the power of His own irresistible grace. Christ sees of the travail of His soul whenever a sinner touches the hem of His garment and receives the virtue that comes out of Him. He is satisfied as saints advance in grace, as they make progress in the divine life. He is most of all satisfied as, one by one, they go up the glittering pathway to the gates of pearl and enter into rest. He will be completely satisfied when all the chosen company shall be on the streets of gold like unto transparent glass and shall, without the lack of a single voice in the divine choir, sing, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His blood, unto Him be glory forever and ever."
Dear brothers and sisters, comfort one another with these words, that Christ will have His own! He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. Up with the red flag once again! Sound the trumpet, you heralds of the cross! Defy the hosts of hell! You may defy modern rationalism and modern Popery, too. You may despise the sneers of the critics and the banter of the ignorant, and the threats of the persecutors! None of these can trample that flag beneath their feet. The King sits upon the throne of God in Zion, working His way and having His will. Has He said and shall He not do it? Shall He purpose and shall it not come to pass? Over your heads there sounds like the trumpet of doom, the sound of Jehovah’s words, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion upon inhabitants of this lower world! He shall see His seed! He shall prolong His days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hands!
But again we must pass on. One of the results of the Savior’s passion is now specified in the text, "By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many."
The former part of my discourse has been addressed to believers. I should now like to catch the ear of the unbeliever. Do you know what it means to be justified? It means, very simply, to be made just—to be accepted by God—as if you were always just. You have not been just, but a very long way from it! You have done the things you ought not to have done. Now if ever you are to be saved, you must be, before God, righteous. How can you be made righteous? The only way is the way mentioned in the text—by the knowledge of Christ shall Christ justify many. "What?" says one, "I thought we were to be made holy through what we do!" No, not by what you do, but through what you know! "But I know a great many things," says one. Do you know Jesus Christ? You know about Him, you say. Do you know this about Him—that He came into the world to save sinners? Do you know that you are a sinner and do you know that, therefore, if you cast yourself upon Him, He will save you? "Well," you say, "we do know that." Well, I want to know whether you know it in your heart, not merely as a common piece of news, but whether you know it by experience in your soul? In other words, do you trust in Him? Do you know Him so as to believe Him? When you know a man well, if he is a good man, you trust him. You cannot help trusting him when you know him. So do you know Christ so as to trust Him? If you do, you shall be justified—that is, God will treat you as if you were perfectly just and look upon you as if you never did wrong in all your life! And He will bless you and take you to heaven as if you had been an innocent from your mother’s breast. "But am I not to do something?" Nothing. "But am I not to feel something?" Nothing. The doing and the feeling will come afterwards—the way to be justified is by knowing.
"How can I know, then?" asks one. Well, listen. Incline your ears and come unto me. Listen, and your souls shall live, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Attend much where the gospel is preached, and when you hear it, do not reject it, but accept it! Oh, my dear hearer, I wish you would accept the gospel now—tonight! It all lies in a nutshell. It is just this—Jesus Christ put Himself into the sinner’s place and whoever will trust Him, Christ put Himself into that man’s place. And that man’s sins are not his sins any more. They were put on Christ and Christ’s righteousness belongs to that man. "What? Even if he has been a drunk?" Yes, if he has been a drunk ever so deep. "What? If he has been a swearer?" Yes, yes! If he trusts Christ, his blasphemy shall not be imputed to him. It was laid on Christ. Christ suffered on the red cross where He poured out His life’s blood, suffered for that man’s blasphemies. "Well, but he has been in sin all this afternoon." I care not if he has been in sin up till the last tick of the clock—if he comes and casts himself upon what Christ has done, with a simple, hearty, earnest faith—he may come in, for his sins, which are many, are all forgiven him. "Will he go and do as he did before?" Not if his sins are forgiven him, for he will love God and he will so love God that he will hate the things he once loved. He will turn his cups bottom upwards. And his oaths he will vomit forever. And he will begin now, once and for all, to walk in the ways of holiness, serving God whom once he despised. Yes, yes—it is by knowing Christ that men are justified, and only by this!
"Oh," says one, "I wish I were justified so!" Well, look at the text, "By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many." Justify many! Then why not you? "Lord, are there few that shall be saved?" And the answer comes, "He shall justify many." Oh, that He would justify all in this Tabernacle! And why not? The justifying righteousness of Christ has an unbounded efficacy about it, just as His blood has—and He will justify not only many—but all who know Him and rely upon Him shall be found just in the sight of God!
The last clause of the text explains the reason of it all, "For He shall bear their iniquities." Three or four sentences upon this will be enough, for the clause is so very plain that it needs no explanation. The reason why Jesus Christ is able to forgive sin and to make unjust men, just, is this—because He bears their iniquities. My dear brothers and sisters, you know that in these modern times it is thought to be very old-fashioned and very ignorant to teach the literal substitution of Christ in the place of sinners! And to say that Christ actually bore our sin and that we bear Christ’s righteousness is thought to be an absurdity! Well then, absurdity or not, God is responsible for it, for these are His very words, "By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many, for"—for this very reason—"for He shall bear their iniquities." Then if Christ did not bear their iniquities, there is no justifying sinners! This is the very top, and bottom, and basis of Christ’s power to justify—that He, Himself, took the iniquity of those whom He justifies! There are gentlemen we sometimes meet with who bring forth new theories of the atonement—very pretty and very philosophical ones—and I have sometimes felt inclined to endorse those theories, for there was a great deal of attractiveness and glitter about them. But I now tell you my own experience in the matter. I never find my conscience made peaceful by any theory of the atonement, except this, that my sins were actually laid upon Christ and that His righteousness is put upon me—and it is only when I firmly believe in that divine exchange and blessed Substitution that I find quiet and rest within! And as long as this is the case, I shall cling to the old anchorage and let who will, try newfangled ways! If Christ really did suffer for sinners, then God is just in not punishing sinners. But if He did not actually suffer for sinners, then there is no atonement, the justice of God is not satisfied and there is no basis for a sinner to rest upon at all!
Now what say you, my hearers? Can you look to Christ upon the cross, with a load of sin upon Him, and can you say, "I lay my guilt there"? Can you look to Him in the throes of death, bruised beneath His Father’s rod, and can you say, "He was bruised for me—my sins I have confessed and laid them upon Him"? Then are you happy! But if there has been none to bear your sins, then remember, I beseech you, that you will have to bear them yourselves! And if they gave Christ a travail, oh, what will they give you? Oh, impenitent ones, if the imputed sins that were laid on Christ made Him sorrowful, even unto death, what will your actual sins do with you when you are made drunk with the wormwood and God makes you to break your teeth with gravel—when you are cast out into outer darkness, where there is weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth? If the veil were lifted, we might hear, tonight, the cries of spirits that are banished far from God without a hope. Within an hour that may be your portion, unconverted hearer! In a few more years, which will seem as short as an hour when you have looked back upon them, that will be your portion if you die impenitent! And if you do not repent tonight, what cause have you to hope that you will repent tomorrow? Hearts do not soften by delay! Spirits are not rendered more susceptible of gracious influences by procrastination! Christ’s word is, "now." Cast it not off with the devil’s word—"tomorrow." You must suffer, or Christ must be your Surety. What shall it be? Shall it be the hands fastened to the wood, yonder, or shall your hands be tormented in the flame? Shall it be that tongue which said, "I thirst," or shall it be your tongue which shall long for a drop of water in vain? Shall it be those feet that were fastened to the tree, or shall it be your members which have been servants to unrighteousness, and which shall be partakers in the divine wrath? As the Lord lives who once was crucified, I ask you to remember that I bade you this night in His name, close in with Him and trust Him! There is no door of hope for you but this—believe and live! So stands the Scripture. But if you laugh at this, if you despise this, if you forget this, if in any shape—
"Your ears refuse
The language of His grace
And hearts grow hard like stubborn Jews,
That unbelieving race.
The Lord, in vengeance,
Will lift His hand and swear—
‘You that despised My promised rest
Shall have no portion there.’"
If you believe not, it will be because you are not of His sheep, as He said unto you. But think not that you will make void His purpose, or disappoint the bleeding Lamb! Ah, no! If you will not come, others will. If you perish outside the ark, others shall enter and shall be saved. Perhaps your own wife, your own child shall be made willing, while you still reject. Oh, then, I pray you pause awhile this Sabbath evening, when the year is going on apace. When we have not long since passed, as it were, through the gates of the spring, and all the flowers are beginning to bloom, and the buds to burst forth, just ask whether it is not time for your hearts to open and your souls to bud—and your spirits to bring forth some hope, some love, some obedience to your Lord! And oh, may you do it! His shall be the praise, but yours shall be the great joy! And He shall have joy, too, as He shall thus see of the travail of His soul!
I could wish, and I do wish, that some of you would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ before you go home tonight. You may not have many more times to go home. This may be the very last time that you shall ever come here. It will not make you wretched on earth. It will increase your happiness here. It will help you to live and help you to die. It will make those eyes brighter, and put that heart at greater ease. And as for eternity, this is the true lamp for its darkness; this is the true light for all its gloom! What will you do without Christ? Oh, get Him and you shall be eternally blest! Amen.