The gospel provision, available to any sinner, includes peace and healing — peace with God, and healing for our sin-diseased souls. These blessings are given freely to anyone who comes to Christ for redemption. But what did it cost the Lord Jesus to be able to provide these things? John Welsh of Irongray preached a sermon on Isaiah 53:5, “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.” In the following updated extract, Welsh shows the depths of Christ’s atoning sufferings by referring to the desperate depths of our lostness and the magnitude of what needed to be done to rescue us. In this way Welsh lays the doctrinal groundwork for summoning all who hear the gospel message to embrace Jesus Christ by faith without delay.
Why do we need redemption?
By nature, elect sinners just like others are in a very sad, lost state. It’s not only the world that is called transgressors and enemies, but also those whom the Lord has chosen out of the world to save. Even the elect are by nature lying in a very deplorable condition.
I have often spoken of the sadness of their case, and therefore shall be very short on it now. Yet I must mention the great corruption of our whole nature, as well as our actual transgressions, by which we are defiled, enemies to God, liable to His curse and wrath to all eternity. This is the case of all the elect, men and women. There is no basis then for a sinner, to whom God has shewed mercy, to boast, if they look to the rock from whence they are hewn. Our state is just the state of the wicked world, that gets hell in the end. It is only free grace that has made the change, for in ourselves there is no difference.
What was the cost of redemption?
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, undertook many a great suffering in order to bring healing and peace to sinners.
This is a vast subject. To go into details I would need to tell you what He suffered in His conception, and what He suffered when He was brought forth into the world in His childhood, and what He suffered before He entered on His public ministry. I would need to tell you what He suffered when He was taken and arraigned and brought before the judgement seat of Herod and Pilate, and condemned; and to tell you what He suffered on His body, and what He suffered on His soul. I say it would take very much time, and I would only spoil it in the speaking too. I recommend to you the last chapter of Matthew, and the last chapter of Luke, and the last chapter of John, and what is here recorded of Him by Isaiah.
Still, I shall tell you of some things which make it clear that His sufferings were very great (I pray you, take heed).
So many people
Consider what was the debt that He undertook to pay. It was not the debt of one or two, but of the whole elect, men and women, many thousands and millions of them, that cannot be counted. What He suffered was what they should have suffered through eternity.
So many sins
Consider that He suffered in order to satisfy the justice of God. Divine justice was up in arms and set against the Son, in order to revenge a broken law and a broken covenant. The Son of God had the justice of God to satisfy for the original and actual transgressions of all the elect — for all the breaches of the commands of God, for that person’s breaking of this command, and for this person’s breaking of that command, and each one’s sins are more than the hairs of his head for number.
Such divine attributes
Consider this, to see that it must have been great sufferings that He underwent — because His sufferings were as much to manifest a just God, as the creation of the universe manifested a powerful, almighty God. His sufferings do as much to manifest a powerful and omnipotent and just God.
Consider the distress to which His sufferings brought Him. For they were such as put the Son of God so sore to it, that it put Him to a strait, as it were. It put Him into a distress like someone who was charged for a great sum. Our Lord was put to such distress that He cries, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I do?” And He was put to pray to the Father.
So many details
Consider how hard were the sufferings that He undertook in particular, and you will see that they were very many and great. Look at His sufferings in His incarnation — He did not have a room to be born in, He had to be brought forth in a stable, and all He had for a cradle was a horse manger. Look at His sufferings through all His lifetime — how many times He lay outdoors, with only a stone to lay His head on, and how many times He was hungry and weary. Look at His sorrow, what grief of mind He had, to see people crying out against Him, just in the midst of His sufferings, and to see Peter deny Him even when He was suffering for him. Look what He suffered in the garden, when He drank the cup that made Him sweat the great drops of blood that came trinkling out of Him. He did not have only outward sufferings but inward also. He was bearing the wrath of God on His soul. That was what made blood and sweat come out of him, and made Him so faint that He could not carry His own cross, but had to get help. Then look at what a shameful death He was put to, what a painful death, and what travail of soul He was put to (not only travail in body, but travail in soul), that made Him cry out with strong cries and tears unto Him that heard Him. He was made to cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Who benefits from it?
When you look at Isaiah 53 as a whole, you clearly see who it is that He suffered for — it was the elect world. You see that Christ suffered for those who gave Him no thanks; He suffered for those who helped on His sufferings. He was despised, and counted smitten of God. They thought nothing of Him; they saw no beauty nor comeliness in Him. These are the ones for whom He suffered.
Those for whom He suffered, included many that had pierced and crucified Him. “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10; John 19:37). It was for those who gave Him no thanks for His sufferings. He suffered for those who said He deserved it, and for those who looked upon Him as despised and rejected of men. He was a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief.
For whom did He suffer? For those who had denied Him, and like the disciples turned their back upon Him. He was killed for those who esteemed Him not, though smitten and wounded. It was for those who were like sheep going astray. It was for sinners and transgressors that He suffered all this, a company of poor men and women who were so far from giving him thanks for His sufferings, that they helped on His sufferings, and some of them added to these sufferings.
Why did He suffer like this?
Why was it that He suffered? In brief, it is to tell you how holy a God He is, and how just a God He is, and how faithful He is in the execution of His threatenings, that He will not pass by one sin unpunished. He said, “In that day thou eatest thou shalt surely die the death” (Gen. 2:17), and He will have this fulfilled, either in the one who has eaten or in their surety substitute.
What does He provide to us?
What are the benefits that redound to us by His sufferings? Two are mentioned here — peace with God, and healing to our souls. What do sinners get by Christ’s sufferings? They get both the feud that is between God and them taken away, and they get healing to their transgressions. They are not done away without His blood purging them away, but we may be purged from all our sins by His blood. Sinners must have clean water to sprinkle them, and to cleanse them from all their transgressions. He gives them peace with God through His suffering, and peace, everlasting peace, in their own consciences — a peace that passeth all natural understanding.
What was the underlying reason?
How did His sufferings come to be brought about? How did it come about that the justice of God falls upon Him? This leads us to the great contrivance of the covenant of redemption, in which this matter was contrived in the counsel of God from all eternity. Christ was to have a considerable number of lost men and women, and He was to satisfy for them for a broken covenant, and He was to keep them from the wrath of God that would otherwise come on them by right for breaking His law. All this was done by His sufferings in their nature for them.
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