This message will bring to an end our consideration of the events at Calvary, relying on details from Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Psalm 69, and the Gospels. I have based the messages on my poem called “Victory Through Sorrow’s Deep Sea.”
“Let Me not be swallowed by the deep.
Dishonour has covered My face;
And what I did not sow, that I reap.
They gave Me gall for my food in My case.”
The opening stanza for this message relates closely to the closing one for the last message, where we see the Lord on the cross in a place of separation, agony, comfortlessness, and in rejection. We saw that He was forsaken of God and left to bear the wrath of God against sin alone. This is the opening for Psalm 69: Psalm 69:1-2 “Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.” That Psalm is a Messianic one, i.e., it speaks of the Lord in those hours on the cross.
There was dishonor for all who were crucified, dishonor and shame, and that was anticipated 1,000 years before the time – Psalm 69:19 “You know my REPROACH and my SHAME and my DISHONOUR. All my adversaries are before You.” The Apostle Paul speaks of the reproach – Romans 15:3 “for even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell upon Me.’”
None of us like being reproached, shamed, dishonored, rejected, scorned, and cruelly treated, especially when we are innocent. Jesus certainly was innocent, but He endured all that on the cross for us. Psalm 69:7 “because for Your sake I have borne reproach. Dishonour has covered my face.” Jesus did not sow sin, but He reaped the penalty for sin. He was made sin for us. The guiltless sower became the sin-laden reaper.
“My clothes became the sackcloth of shame.”
The drunkards’ song His death inspired.
Gate-dwellers gossiped about His Name.
“We rejoice,” say those who conspired.
“Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Me” (Matthew 5:11). That is what Jesus taught, but He had to endure it Himself, even on the cross. Mocking and slander were rife. The lines in the stanza are derived from these verses – Psalm 69:10-12 “When I wept in my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. Those who sit in the gate talk about me, and I am the song of the drunkards.” A byword – that is what the Lord meant to the general populace that day of crucifixion, and it is no different today. People curse with His name; they slander His name with blasphemies; they treat Him as irrelevant.
Jesus is my Saviour, the Lamb of God on the cross for me, taking the merits of my horrible sin. Psalm 40 is another Messianic Psalm and contains this verse – Psalm 40:12 “for evils beyond number have SURROUNDED me. My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see. They are more numerous than the hairs of my head, and my heart has failed me.”
The word “surrounded” in the NASB and “encompassed” in the AV means they have overwhelmed me like a flood (as the word in Jonah). The verse says, “My iniquities have overtaken me,” but I do not think David is talking about his own sin because that is out of context with the rest of the chapter. The Lord took MY iniquities and made them His. He owned them and paid the judgment for them. I am sure 40:12 fits the Calvary description perfectly.
“Answer Me, for I am in distress.
Hide not Your face from Your Servant.”
The enemies’ mockings are ceaseless.
Their vile desires are fervent.
The Lord had no one to turn to in His great distress, no one except the Father, and He was not answered. In the following verse, the day is day and the night is the three hours of darkness. Psalm 22:2 “O my God, I cry by day but You do not answer, and by night, but I have no rest.” We do not know these prayers from the cross in the New Testament because the description of Calvary is quite straightforward.
The particular verses that match the stanza are these – Psalm 69:17-18 “Do not hide Your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly. Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it; Ransom me because of my enemies!” There is a comment a lot of people make that is not supported by the Bible. These say, “The Father turned His face away” when Christ was on the cross. The prayer says, “Do not hide Your face.” The Lord was forsaken by God, but there is no support that God’s face was turned away.
The enemies were all around and crushing in, and the Father’s face was not discernable by Jesus on the cross. It was deep distress, but He endured the cross and is now at the right hand of the Father.
Where were the sympathizers? Not one.
“By reproach, My heart is broken.”
The vile crucifixion deed was done;
Not a comforting word spoken.
We have looked before at the Lord having no sympathizers, standing in a place of no standing but sinking in the mire of sin. We have an expression, “dying of a broken heart.” It is not literal but descriptive of intense grief. Now look at this verse that the stanza was built upon – Psalm 69:20 “Reproach has broken my heart, and I am so sick, and I looked for sympathy, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.” That is all forlorn, a sadness caused by becoming the sin offering for sacrifice. Charles Wesley was overcome by the reality of Christ’s death for him that he could pen –
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
It was full of awe and mystery – the very God who created the universe became as a Servant and died for the sins of the world.
In a coming judgment of the unbelievers at the great white throne, sins will be judged on their severity. Those who have utterly rejected Christ’s sacrifice and, worse still, scorn and blaspheme God will face a more severe penalty.
“The flood overflows. I sink in mire.”
He had no foothold in that dread.
“Answer Me, My God, this My desire.”
The scene of death before Him spread.
The thoughts expressed in this stanza have been mentioned before in this study, but we all know that in serious situations, our prayers become repetitive as we are earnestly calling on the Lord for deliverance or needing an answer. I am sure it was like that for Jesus as minute after minute passed. His burden did not get lighter. The very last drop in the cup of sin had to be drained. I find it most interesting that the only prayer on the cross was, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” but the many prayers not recorded in the gospels are found in Psalms 22 and 69, and were probably inaudible.
Jesus prayed in Gethsemane that the cup would pass from Him. That cup was full and horrible. The battle that was fought was not won until Jesus emptied that cup. A stanza of an old hymn comes to mind –
Death and the curse were in our cup,
O Christ, ‘twas full for Thee!
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop –
‘Tis empty now for me.
That bitter cup – love drank it up;
Now blessings’ draught for me. (Now cloudless peace for me.)
“Draw near to My soul to redeem it.
Known to You, My reproach and shame.
My enemies, before You they sit.”
Yes, Lamb of God, You bear man’s blame.
Psalm 69:18-19 “Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it; Ransom me because of my enemies! You know my reproach and my shame and my dishonour; All my adversaries are before You.”
The Lord prayed for Himself. He wanted intervention and deliverance, as His prayer in those two verses shows, but there was no doubt about doing the Father’s will, which meant the ordeal of Calvary; for without it, the human race was doomed. That is not being dramatic. Without Calvary, the whole conclusion would have been destruction. Will we understand what Calvary meant in heaven more than we do now? I don’t think we will know more of His distress and the pathos of the cross, BUT we will see Him, and that is all our souls need.
In Eden’s Garden, when the Lord God appeared after Adam and Eve’s sin, Adam blamed “the woman You gave me,” and Eve blamed the serpent. Human beings are very good at the blame game, taking no responsibility for their sins. In the last line of the stanza – “Yes, Lamb of God, You bear man’s blame,” we have the Saviour taking all human blame to Himself, and as the Lamb of God, He died for our sins. Our blame became His; our sin became His; our whole filthy worthlessness became His. He died the righteous One for the unrighteous ones.”
“My God, My God, forsaken I am.”
He cried in both the dark and light.
Silent, God was, when suffered the Lamb;
God answered not in His dark night.
The Lord was forsaken that we would never be. He was cursed that we would not be. The One who grew up as a tender shoot had no stately form or majestic appearance, but He was the Man of Sorrows on the cross, and we did not care for Him or esteem Him but only despised Him. That is, until the Holy Spirit opened our eyes to understand it was He who was pierced through for our transgressions. It was He who was crushed for our iniquities. Through all the hours of light and darkness when on the cross, He suffered alone, and God the Father was silent throughout.
What was the Lord doing through all those somber dark hours? Well, He was seeking and saving – Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” That is what we will never know. That “search” was through the deepest trial that could ever be, through sorrows’ deep sea. The hymn writer expressed this way –
But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed,
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through,
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert, He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die,
Sick and helpless and ready to die.
We esteemed Him not, the One despised;
From Him, hidden are our faces;
The Man of sorrows whom we misprized;
His love, our hardness replaces.
This stanza is derived from various verses in the Old Testament, such as this one – Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” In past stanzas, we have covered some of that material, but I want to question why men can have facts presented to them of an eternal nature, and in spite of that, they refuse either to listen or to believe.
Jeremiah examined that situation long ago as God revealed the following to him – Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it? ‘I, the LORD, search the heart. I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.’” Because of the old nature, the whole governing authority in man is rebellion and perverseness. None will seek God or come to Him. All will turn to his and her sinful ways and walk in a path that opposes God and turns to its own devious rejection.
I sometimes wonder how many turned to God at the cross on that day of crucifixion. I am inclined to say very, very few, even none except one who was not a Jew – Luke 23:46-47 “Jesus, crying out with a loud voice said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,’ and having said this, He breathed His last. Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’”
He was pierced through for our transgressions;
For our iniquities was crushed.
He encountered all men’s oppressions.
We scorned, when we ought to have blushed.
We scorned when we ought to have blushed. Yes, we did not understand. Some of those at the cross looking on did not understand; others were hurling abuse, such as the Pharisees and scribes in their hate. People of our day are in blind ignorance of the sacrifice made at Calvary and show no regard. Even when told, most reject the message. Well could Isaiah have said – Isaiah 53:1 “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” People don’t want to believe, and in fact, more and more today are doing the devil’s work in absolute opposition, a hateful sowing of the enemy.
There will be a judgment of the lost at the great white throne. People of the first century and people today who stood, and stand against Christ, will one day be accountable and stand before a God of wrath, and be consigned to the lake of fire.
Is that serious? It certainly is. That is why there was no other way for mankind’s acceptance and salvation other than the cross on Calvary’s hill. Those who scorned should have blushed.
Lamb of God, this One at the slaughter;
The silent sheep that did not speak –
Hear His cry, “I thirst.” Give Him water;
The bruised Servant, lowly and meek.
There are two names of Jesus here, Lamb of God and Servant. The bruised Servant – Isaiah 53:11 “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge the Righteous One, MY SERVANT, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.” He was Servant because He came in obedience to the Father’s will to serve His people Israel, but in serving them, He was also the Lamb of God who offered Himself up for the sins of His people.
At His trial, the Lamb of God was silent. He did not need to justify Himself. The people sealed their own guilt and future judgment. 750 years before the event, Isaiah prophesied of the sacrificial Lamb – Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a LAMB THAT IS LED TO SLAUGHTER and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.”
Anguish of soul is the way Isaiah wrote of it in this coming verse. Out of death comes life; out of bitterness comes sweetness; out of condemnation comes justification. Isaiah 53:11 “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge THE RIGHTEOUS ONE, MY SERVANT, will justify the many as He will bear their iniquities.”
Cut off from the land of the living;
With wicked men He shared His grave.
At Calvary, He was forgiving;
Redemption now, to fully save.
Isaiah 53:8 “By oppression and judgment He was taken away, and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? Isaiah 53:9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.”
Cut off is severed. That is what men thought about the dear Lord – cut Him off and dismiss Him. BUT HE ROSE FROM THE TOMB! The work of Calvary was complete, and the victory through sorrow’s deep sea was likewise complete. Jesus has brought salvation to all who will believe, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.
Verse 9 says his grave was assigned with wicked men. Benson writes, “And although he did not die for his own sins, but only for those of mankind, yet he was willing to die like a malefactor, or like a sinner, as all other men are, and to be put into a grave as they use to be; which was a further degree of his humiliation. He said, he made his grave, because this was Christ’s own act, and he willingly yielded up himself to death and burial.”
The Lamb of God was our sacrifice.
For my sins, on the cross He died.
His victory rang through Paradise!
We love Him, the One crucified.
The term “the Lamb of God” has been used often in this series of messages, but it is important to remember that this name for the Son of God will always be to the fore. To confirm its importance, look at this verse – Revelation 5:6 “and I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders, a LAMB STANDING AS IF SLAIN, having seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” In addition to that, we have the following –
“fell down before the LAMB” – verse 8
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” – verse 12
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the LAMB, be blessing and honour and glory and dominion forever and ever.” – verse 13
The LAMB is the LION – “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome…”
Through all eternity, the work of Calvary will always be central to the Lord Jesus Christ and not shelved in some back cupboard.
Paradise was where the righteous ones went prior to the ascension of the Lord. It was like a holding place until heaven could be prepared by the sacrifice of Christ. Can you imagine the joy there? For I am sure that when the Lord went to Paradise after the cross, the whole place was overcome with joy.
Do you love the Lord for His sacrifice for you? He gave His all. Have you given Him your all, or do you hang back? Behold, this is the day of salvation. Do not delay.
We close this three-part series focused on Calvary as we have tried to gain a greater understanding of the Saviour’s death on the cross for us. It is almost too great for us, but wrapped around the whole episode is “GOD IS LOVE.” The last stanza is a concluding summary, and I leave it without comment:
Through Calvary on Golgotha’s hill;
Through scourging and mocking disgraced,
The Lord through death won the battle’s prize!
Vict’ry through sorrow’s sea, embraced!
My poem may be used for the Lord’s service.
Poem written 23-26 July 2020 R E Ferguson 9-8-9-8
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