We will now consider the work Christ had to perform as our Surety. Satisfaction was what the law and justice demanded of us. Perfect obedience, or punishment in case of disobedience. "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;" (Gen. 2:17) "The soul that sinneth it shall die." (Ezek. 18:4,20) But through the fall we are incapable either of perfect obedience or of satisfaction to divine justice. We cannot fulfill the law, because that requires perfect obedience; and we by nature, "are born in sin and shapen in iniquity." (Ps. 51:5) Nor can we as finite creatures, by our sufferings, satisfy an infinite and offended Being. And both of these, our Surety, who was God and man in our room and stead, could and did perform. He carried our sins; became a man of sorrows, suffered and died; whereby He has satisfied divine justice, made peace with God, and brought life and immortality to light.
1st. Christ by His active obedience fulfilled the Law for us. That He might accomplish this, He was "made under the law," that "He might redeem them that were under it." When the fulness of the time was come God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of Sons." (Gal. 4:4,5) He could not do that unless He paid what the law demanded, but He did it by His perfect obedience. Now there is a twofold righteousness necessary to the actual fulfilling of the law. One is external, the other internal. Both of these the law required. The former, "Do this, and live;" the latter, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." And the complete fulfillment of both was found in Christ. As to internal righteousness He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," and "offered Himself without spot to God." (Heb. 7:26; 2 Cor. 5:21) As to external purity "He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth," (1 Peter 2:22) and he said near the period of His final suffering, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." (John 17:4) Thus Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Rom. 10:4)
2nd. As Christ, by His active obedience, satisfied the demands of the law of God; so by His passive obedience, He suffered all the punishment due to us for its violation. With respect to this, He is said to be "made sin," for us. (2 Cor. 5:21) "Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree;" (1 Peter 2:24) "For Christ also hath once suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God;" (1 Peter 3:18) "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;" (Phil. 2:8) "He gave himself for us an offering, and a sacrifice to God, for a sweetsmelling savour;" (Eph. 5:2) "And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Heb. 9:15)
Now concerning the sufferings of Christ:
1st. His sufferings were voluntary, and not by constraint. We find Him saying, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life; no man taketh it from me; but I lay it down of myself." (John 10:17,18) His sufferings were also in obedience to His Father. "This commandment have I received of my Father," (John 10:18) If His sufferings had been involuntary, they could not have been a part of His obedience, and consequently, not meritorious.
2nd. The punishment endured by Christ as Surety, must be confined to the agony. Christ could not suffer eternal death, for it would have been contrary to the holiness and dignity of His person, and His suretyship would have been void. Had He endured death, He could not have conquered death, and delivered us from it. The punishment which Christ endured for us was proportionable to our sins, He endured all except the pollution and guilt of sin. "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him;" (Isa. 53:5) that is, the punishment of our sins was inflicted on Him, but He was not defiled by any participation with us in sin.
The sufferings of Christ due for our sins, were of body and soul. 1st. In body. Behold! the crown of thorns is on His head; the mob smit His cheeks; they spit on His face; and though Pilate finds no fault in Him, he yet orders Him to be scourged. The cross is on His back; the nails are mercilessly driven in His hands and feet; the spear is thrust into His side; He bows His head, and dies the accursed death of the Cross. 2nd. He suffered in soul,--"My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death." (Matt. 26:38) "When thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin." (Isa. 53:10) "Now is my soul troubled." (John 12:27) Christ assumed our nature, which was body and soul that He might suffer in the same in order to deliver our bodies, as well as our souls. As we read, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and to bring many sons unto glory." (Heb. 2:14) The agony Christ endured was in His soul. It was not the fear of death that made Him so heavy and sorrowful, but the bitter cup which He had to drink. "He shall see the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied, for he shall bear their iniquities." (Isa. 53:11) His bearing our iniquities was the cause of the agony of His soul.
1st. Christ was forsaken of His Father, that is as to the sensible enjoyment of Him. That He was forsaken for a time, is evident from these words, "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46) Christ remained God-man during this desertion, and God was present with Him in His sufferings, also the God-Head of Christ supported His human nature under His sufferings but it was only for a time that He was forsaken, and then only as respected the manifestation and sensible enjoyment of His Father's presence.
2nd. Christ as our Surety suffered in His soul for a time what we should have suffer eternally, not that he suffered as the damned, with black despair or gnashing of teeth, or impatience, or eternal separation from God; God forbid. These would be inconsistent with the purity and dignity of the office of a Mediator and Redeemer. Yet, I say that Christ suffered such horror, agony, and consternation as amounted to all that. "The sorrows of hell compassed me about, the snares of death prevented me." (Ps. 18:5) All the sins of the elect of God were "laid on Him." "And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. 53:6) This was the cause of His affliction and distress. "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet he opened not His mouth, He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter." (Isa. 53:7) "Who in the days of his flesh when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying, and tears unto Him, that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared." (Heb. 5:7) His agony in the garden was remarkable. He was afraid and amazed, and "began to be sore amazed and to be very heavy." "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death." And His sweat was "as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." All this could occur from no other than a sense of the wrath of God.
3rd. Christ was "made a curse" for us. "He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Gal. 3:13) So then, all the blessings which we enjoy come streaming down to us through the crimson sea of atoning blood.
My dear reader, let us gaze at Christ crucified. Pilate said, "Behold the man!" May the Spirit of God enable us to behold the God-man. There is a fourfold sight of Christ. 1st, When He came into the world. 2ndly, When He was leaving the world. 3rdly, When He shall receive His saints unto Himself out of the world. 4thly, When He shall come to judge the world. But the sight I would have you now to contemplate, is Christ on the cross, suffering and dying for you, as despised by man, forsaken by God, sorrowful to death, wounded for our transgressions, drinking the bitter cup, crying out in agony, dying the cursed death, and in death being made a curse for us. May you be enabled by precious faith, to look to Jesus, until you feel His infinite love in your soul, to behold Him thus suffering in your stead until your heart be melted for your sins, and warmed with love to Him who "first loved" you, and "gave Himself" for you.
Let us now see the comfort which is the result of Christ's sufferings. We shall never suffer to satisfy divine justice, nor be made to endure God's wrath, because Christ suffered to the uttermost all that the broken law demanded. So we read, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; for he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:21) What a foundation of comfort is here! Jesus Christ took upon him all our sins. They were all laid upon Him: the Father appointed Him for it, and accepted His sufferings as sufficient and effectual on our behalf. Look unto Christ; cleave to Him; plead by faith His merits. Do you feel sin a terror to you? Look to your Sin-bearer. Are you afraid of death? Look unto Him who has swallowed up death in victory. Are you afraid of the wrath of God? Remember Christ endured God's wrath, that He might deliver you from it. Are you in darkness of soul, and forsaken of God? Look to the Captain of your salvation who was "made perfect through sufferings." "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? it is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died; yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom. 8:33, "And, if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)