The Declaration of the Completeness
fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is a prophetic vision of the cross. The book
of Leviticus had given Israel in detail the standing symbols which were all
to be transformed into spiritual substances or verities in Christ crucified.
And this chapter of the prophet gives a summary of these truths, in
Levitical language, connecting them all with the seed of the woman, and His
bruising upon the tree.
For more than three thousand years the "bruised heel" had been held up
before the eye of the world, and specially of Israel (in their sacrifices),
as their deliverance and hope. But now the interpretation is given in more explicit
language. Its meaning, as expressing (in the varied details of this chapter)
the transference of the sinner's guilt to the Surety; as setting forth also
the mysterious person of the Man of sorrows, and, under all this, revealing
the deep free love of God to man,-is here proclaimed with a clearness and
fullness such as had not hitherto been vouchsafed either to the patriarchs or
to Israel. Nowhere is the work of the Messiah the sin-bearer more explicitly
revealed. The just One suffering for the unjust is the theme of this
the prophet breaks forth in his description of Messiah, seed of the woman,
son of Adam, son of Abraham, son of David: "He shall grow up before Him a
tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground." The soil and the air of
earth are alike uncongenial to this shoot from the stem of Jesse. Its
affinities are all with a purer climate than ours.
He rises up in the midst of us, but not to be appreciated and honored;
not to be admired, or loved. "He hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see
Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him." The light shineth in the
darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. "He is [the] despised and
rejected [one] of men"; i.e. of all men, the most despised and
rejected: for He came to His own, and His own received Him not. Here is the
beginning of His vicarious life ,--a life of reproach among the sons of men.
"A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Whence all this life-long
sadness? When angels visit earth, are they thus sorrowful? Does the air of
earth infect them with its troubles? Do they weep, and groan, and bleed? Are
they assailed with the blasphemies of earth? If not, why is it thus? Why is
the holy Son of God, from His childhood, subjected to this contempt, and
bowed down beneath this burden? Why is the cup of gall and wormwood set
beside His cradle? and why, day by day, in youth and manhood, has He to
drink the bitter draught? Angels see the sights and hear the sounds of
earth, as they attend us in their ministries, or execute the errands of
their King: yet they are not saddened; nor, when they return to their
dwellings of light, do they require the tears to be wiped from their eye, or
the sweat from their brow. How can we account for the difference between
Messiah and the angels, save the fact that His sin-bearing character made
Him accessible to and penetrable by grief, in a way such as no angel could
difficulty of such a case was obvious; and accordingly the prophet meets it
in the next verse. It is our griefs that He was bearing; it was
our sorrows that He was carrying. These were the things that made Him
the Man of sorrows. They that saw Him could not understand the mystery. They
said, God has smitten him for his sins, and afflicted him for some hidden
transgression that we know not. But, no; "He was wounded for our
transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement
of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are
healed." The wounding, the bruising, the chastening, and the scourging had
their beginnings before He reached the cross; but it was there that they
were all completed by "the obedience unto death."
[Jehovah] hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all"; or, bath made to rush or
strike upon Him the punishment of us all.
"It was exacted, and He became answerable,
And (therefore) He opened not His mouth.
As a lamb to the slaughter He is led;
And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
So He opened not His mouth.
From prison and from judgment He is taken,
And His generation (manner of life) who declareth?"
are the scenes before the Cross; while He was on His way to it. He
was dumb before His judges, because He had made Himself legally responsible
for our debt or guilt. Nor was there any one to come forward and declare His
innocence. He was carrying, too, our sins to the cross. After this we have
the cross itself:
"He was cut off out of the land of the living;
For the transgressions of my people He was stricken."
sin-bearing of the cross is fully brought out here. There He hung as the
Substitute, "the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God."
"And there was appointed Him a grave with the wicked,
But with the rich man was He in death."
was assigned to Him a place with the wicked not only on the cross, but in
His burial; He was condemned not only to die an ignominious death, but to
have a like sepulchre. From this latter, however, He was delivered by the
rich man of Arimathea, who unexpectedly came forward and begged the body,
which would otherwise have been consigned to a malefactor's grave. He was
"with the rich in His death"; that is, when He died, or after His death,
when He was taken down from the cross.
"Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him,
He bath put Him to grief."
was well pleased with His bruising,--nay, took plea-sure in bruising Him.
Never was Messiah more the "beloved Son" than when suffering on the cross;
yet Jehovah was "well pleased" to put Him to grief. Though the
consciousness of communion was interrupted for a time, when he cried,
"Why has Thou forsaken me?" yet there was no breaking of the bond. There was
wrath com-ing down on Him as the Surety, but love
resting on Him as the Son. Both were together. He knew the love, even
while He felt the wrath; nay, it was the knowledge of the love that made Him
cry out in amazement and anguish, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken
"Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin;"
more exactly, "a trespass-offering"; a sacrifice for willful, conscious sin.
Of this trespass-offering it is written, "The priest shall make an atonement
for him before the Lord, and it shall be forgiven him for anything of all
that he hath done in trespassing therein" (Lev 6:7). The various offerings
of the tabernacle and the altar all center in and cluster round the cross.
It is THE SOUL that is here said to be the trespass-offering; implying that
when the soul was parted from the body, when Christ commended His spirit to
His Father, then the trespass-offering was completed. Atonement was made,
once for all. Before the body of the Surety had reached the tomb, the great
work was done. The lying in the grave was the visible and palpable sign or
pledge of the work having been already finished; and resurrection was
the Father's seal from above set to the excellency of that completed
sacrifice, and to the perfection of Him by whom it had been accomplished on
"Upon the labor of His soul He shall look,
He shall be satisfied."
in the days of His flesh, often used language like this regarding His
soul: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death"
(Matt 26:38); "Now is my soul troubled" (John 12:27); "The Son of man
came. ..to give His soul a ransom for many" (Matt 20:28); "The good
shepherd giveth His soul for the sheep" (John 10:11); "I lay down my
soul for the sheep" (John 10:15). Thus the life, the soul, the blood,
are connected together; and with that which was accomplished by them in life
and in death He is satisfied Whether it is Himself that is
satisfied, or the Father, matters not. The truth taught is the same.
"By His knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many;
For He shall bear their iniquities."
It is the Father that here speaks. He calls Messiah, "My righteous Servant," and
proclaims that by giving the knowledge of Himself He shall justify many. The
knowledge of Christ is that which secures our justification; the knowledge
of Christ as the sin-bearer: for it is added, as the justifying
thing in this knowledge, "He shall bear their iniquities"; thus again
linking justification with the cross, and the finished work there.
verse is very remarkable, as bringing out fully the Father's reasons for
glorifying His Son; reasons connected entire-ly with the cross and the
"Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He hath poured out His soul unto death.
And He was numbered with the transgressors;
And He bare the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors."
So that the resurrection, with all the subsequent glory and honor
conferred on Him, is the recompense and result of His justifying work on the cross. On that
tree of death and shame the work was FINISHED. There He poured out His soul;
there He was numbered with the transgressors; there He bare the sin of many;
there He made intercession for the transgressors, when He cried out,
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
finished" were His words as He died. The justifying work is done! If
anything else besides this finished work is to justify, then Christ has died
finished," He said, and gave up the ghost. "Father, into Thy hands I commend
my spirit"; and to the Father that spirit went. The Father received it; and
in receiving it, bore testimony to the completeness of the work. The Roman
soldiers, "perceiving that he was dead already," may be said to have
testified to the completion of the work of pouring out His soul unto death.
The taking down from the cross was another testimony. Joseph and Nicodemus
were like the Levites carrying away the ashes from the altar. The burial was
another testimony. The resurrection began the divine and visible testimony
to this same thing. The ascension, and "sitting" at the Father's right hand,
were the attestations from above,--the heavenly responses to the voice from
the cross, "It is finished." All after this was the result of that
finished work. The presentation of His blood was not to complete the
sacrifice, but to carry out what was already done. The sprinkling of the
blood (at whatever time that may have been done) was the application of the
sacrifice, not the sacrifice itself.
finished!" He who makes this announcement on the cross is the Son of God; it
is He who but the day before had said in the prospect of this consummation,
"I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou
gavest me to do." He knows what He says when He utters it; and He is "the
faithful and true witness." His words are true, and they are full of
He makes this announcement before the Father, as if calling on Him to
confirm it. He makes it before heaven and earth, before men and angels,
before Jew and Gentile. He makes it to us. Listen, O sons of men! The work
that saves is perfected. The work that justifies is done.
completeness thus announced is a great and momentous one. It is one in which
all the ends of the earth have an interest. Had ought been left unfinished,
then what hope for man or for man's earth? But it is begun, carried on,
consummated; and no flaw is found it in; no part is left out; not a jot or
tittle has failed. It is absolutely perfect.
perfection or consummation proclaims to us such things as these: the
completion of the Father's purpose, the completion of atonement, the
completion of the justifying work, the complete-ness of the sin-bearing and
law-fulfilling, the completeness of the righteousness, the completeness of
the covenant and the covenant seal. All is done, and done by Him who is Son
of man and Son of God; perfectly and for ever done; nothing to be added to
it or taken from it, by man, by Satan, or by God. The burial of the
Substitute does not add to its completeness; resurrection forms no part of
that justifying work. It was all concluded on the cross.
It is so
finished that a sinner may at once use it for pardon, for rest, for
acceptance, for justification. Standing beside this altar where the great
burnt-offering was laid and consumed to ashes, the sinner feels that he is
put in possession of all blessing. That which the altar has secured passes
over to him simply in virtue of his taking his place at the altar, and thus
identifying himself with the victim. There the divine displeasure against
sin has spent itself; there righteousness has been obtained for the
unrighteous; there the sweet savor of rest is continually ascending from
God; there the full flood of divine love is ever flowing out; there God
meets the sinner in His fullest grace, without hindrance or restraint;
there the peace which has been made through blood-shedding is found by the
sinner; there reconciliation is proclaimed, and the voice that pro-claims it
from that altar reaches to the ends of the earth; there the ambassadors of
peace take their stand to discharge their embassy, pleading with the sons of
men far off and near, saying, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as
though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye
reconciled to God."
The resurrection was the great visible seal set to this complete-ness.
It was the Father's response to the cry from the cross, "It is finished." As at
baptism He spoke from the excellent glory, and said, "This is my beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased"; so did He speak, though not with audible
voice, at the resurrection, bearing testimony thereby not only to the
excellency of the Person, but to the completeness of the work of His
only-begotten Son. The resurrection added nothing to the propitiation of
the cross; it proclaimed it already perfect, incapable of addition or
The ascension added to this testimony, and especially the sit-ting at
God's right hand. "This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for
ever, SAT DOWN at the right hand of God" (Heb 10:12). "When He had by
Himself purged our sins, SAT DOWN on the right hand of the Majesty on high"
(Heb 1:3). The standing p05-ture of the ancient priests showed that their
work was an unfinished one. The sitting down of our High Priest
intimated to all heaven that the work was done, and the "eternal redemption
obtained." And what was thus intimated in heaven has been pro-claimed on
earth by those whom God sent forth in power of the Holy Ghost, to tell to
men the things which eye had not seen nor ear heard. That "sitting down"
contained in itself the gospel. The first note of that gospel was sounded at
Bethlehem, from the manger where the young child lay; the last note came
from the throne above, when the Son of God returned in triumph from His
mission of grace to earth, and took His seat upon the right hand of the
Majesty in heaven.
these two extremities, the manger and the throne, how much is contained for
us! All the love of God is there. The exceeding riches of divine grace are
there. The fullness of that power and wisdom and righteousness, which have
come forth, not to destroy, but to save, is there. These are the two
boundary walls of that wondrous storehouse out of which we are to be filled
throughout the eternal ages.
Of what is
contained in this treasure-house we know something here, in some small
measure; but the vast contents are beyond all measurement and all
conception. The eternal unfolding of these to us will be perpetual gladness.
Apart from the excellency of the inheritance, and the beauty of the city,
and the glory of the kingdom, which will make us say, "Truly the lines have
fallen unto us in pleas-ant places," there will be, in our ever-widening
knowledge of "the unsearchable riches of Christ," light and replenishment
and satisfaction, which, even were all external brightness swept away,
would be enough for the soul throughout all the ages to come.
present glory of Christ is the reward of His humiliation here. Because He
humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
Cross, therefore God hath highly exalt-ed Him, and given Him the name that
is above every name. He wears the crown of glory, because He wore the crown
of thorns. He drank of the brook by the way, therefore he has lifted up the
head (Psa 110:7).
is not all. That glory to which He is now exalted is the standing testimony
before all heaven that His work was finished on the cross. "I have finished
the work which Thou gavest me to do," He said; and then He added, "Now, 0
Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with
Thee before the world was" (John 17:4, 5).
of the completeness of the sacrificial work upon the cross are very full and
satisfying. They assure us that the work was really finished, and, as such,
available for the most sinful of men. We shall find it good to dwell upon
the thought of this completeness, for the pacifying of the conscience, for
the satisfying of the soul, for the removal of all doubt and unbelief, and
for the production and increase of faith and confidence.
degrees of rest for the soul, and it is in proportion as we
comprehend the perfection of the work on Calvary that our rest will
increase. There are depths of peace which we have not yet sounded,
for it is "peace which passeth all understanding"; and into these depths the
Holy Spirit leads us, not in some miraculous way, or by some mere exertion
of power, but by revealing to us more and more of that work, in the first
knowledge of which our peace began.
We are never done with the cross, nor ever shall be. Its wonders will be
always new, and always fraught with joy. "The Lamb as it had been slain"
will be the theme of our praise above. Why should such a name be given to
Him in such a book as the Revelation, which in one sense carries us far
past the cross, were it not that we shall always realize our connection
with its one salvation; always be looking to it even in the midst of glory; and always
learning from it some new lesson regarding the work of Him "in whom we have
redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to
the riches of His grace"? What will they who here speak of them-selves as
being so advanced as to be done with the cross, say to being brought face to
face with the Lamb that was slain, in the age of absolute perfection, the
age of the heavenly glory?
Dost thou not know that the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ endureth for
ever, and that thou shalt eternally glory in it, if thou are saved by it at
Wilt thou not join in the song below, "To Him that loved us, and washed us
from our sins in His own blood"? Wilt thou not join in the song above, "Thou
was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood"? And dost thou not
remember that it is from "the Lamb as it had been slain" that "the seven
spirits of God are sent forth into all the earth"? (Rev 5:6).
the Lamb who stands in the midst of the elders (Rev 5:6), and before
whom they fall down. "Worthy is the Lamb" is the theme of celestial
song. It is the Lamb that opens the seals (6:1). It is before the
Lamb that the great multitude stand clothed in white (7:9). It is the
blood of the Lamb that washes the raiment white (7:14). It is by the
blood of the Lamb that the victory is won (12:11). The book of life
belongs to the Lamb slain (13:8). It was a Lamb that stood on the glorious
Mount Zion (14:1). It is the Lamb that the redeemed multitude are
seen following (14:4); and that multitude is the first-fruits unto God and
unto the Lamb (14:4). It is the song of the Lamb that is sung
in heaven (15:3). It is the Lamb that wars and over-comes (17:14). It
is the marriage of the Lamb that is celebrated, and it is to the
marriage-supper of the Lamb that we are called (19:7,9). The church
is the Lamb's wife (21:9). On the foundations of the heavenly city
are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (21:14). Of
this city the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple (21:23).
Of that city the Lamb is the light (21:23). The book of life of
the Lamb, and the throne of the Lamb (21:27; 22:1,3), sum up this
wondrous list of honors and dignities belonging to the Lord Jesus as the
crucified Son of God.
glory of heaven revolves round the cross; and every object on which the eye
lights in the celestial city will remind us of the cross, and carry us back
to Golgotha. Never shall we get beyond it, or turn our backs on it, or cease
to draw from it the divine virtue which it contains.
be it palm, or cedar, or olive, can never be independent of its roots,
however stately its growth, however plentiful its fruit. The building, be it
palace or temple, can never be separated from its foundation, however
spacious or ornate its structure may be. So, never shall the redeemed be
independent of the cross, or cease to draw from its fullness.
ways our looking to the cross hereafter will benefit us; what the shadow of
that tree will do for us in the eternal kingdom, I know not, nor do I
venture to say. But it would seem as if the cross and the glory were so
inseparably bound together, that there cannot be the enjoyment of the one
without the remembrance of the other. The completeness of the sacrificial
work on Calvary will be matter for eternal contemplation and rejoicing, long
after every sin has been, by its cleansing efficacy, washed out of our being
ever exhaust the fullness of the cross? Is it a mere stepping-stone to
something beyond itself? Shall we ever cease to glory in it (as the apostle
gloried), not only because of past, but because of present and eternal
blessing? The forgiveness of sin is one thing; but is that all? The
crucifixion of the world is another; but is that all? Is the cross to be a
relic, useless though venerable, like the serpent of brass laid up in the
tabernacle; to be destroyed perhaps at some future time, and called
Nehushtan? (2 Kings 18:4). Or is it not rather like the tree of life, which
bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields its fruit every month, by the
banks of the celestial river? Its influence here on earth is transforming;
but even after the transformation has been completed, and the whole church
perfected, shall there not be a rising higher and higher, a taking on of
greater and yet greater comeliness, a passing from glory to glory; and all
in connection with the cross, and through the never-ending vision of its
Of the new
Jerusalem it is said, "The LAMB is the light [or lamp] thereof' (Rev 21:23).
The Lamb is only another name for Christ crucified: so that thus it
is the cross that is the lamp of the holy city; and with its light, the
gates of pearl, the jasper wall, the golden streets, the brilliant
foundations, and the crystal river, are all lighted up. The glow of the
cross is everywhere, penetrating every part, and reflected from every gem;
and by its peculiar radiance transporting the dwellers of the city back to
Golgotha, as the fountainhead of all this splendor.
light from Calvary that fills the heaven of heavens. Yet it is no dim
religious light: for the glory of God is to lighten it (Rev 21:23); and its
light is "like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper-stone, clear
as crystal; and there is no night there, and they need no candle, neither
light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light" (Rev 22:5). Yes, we
shall never be done with the cross and the blood; though, where all are
clean and perfect in every sense, these will not be used for purging the
conscience or justifying the ungodly.
It is the
symbol both of a dying and of a risen Christ that we find in the Revelation.
The "lamb as it had been slain" indicates both. But the prominence is given
to the former. It is the slain Lamb that has the power and authority to open
the seals; implying that it was in His sin-bearing or sacrificial character
that He exercised this right, and that it was His finished work on which
this right rested, and by which it was acquired. It is as the Lamb that He
is possessed with all wisdom and strength,-"the seven horns and the seven
eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Rev 5:6); the Holy Spirit, or the
Spirit of omniscience and omnipotence.
is one of His special and eternal titles; the name by which He is best known
in heaven. As such, we obey and honor and worship Him; never being allowed
to lose sight of the cross amid all the glories of the kingdom. As such we
follow Him, and shall follow Him eternally, as it is written, "These are
they that follow THE LAMB withersoever He goeth" (Rev 14:4).
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