The Cross of Calvary # 3
The Effect of the Cross in Heaven (verse 12)
"He bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors."
In this brief sentence, we are given a glimpse into the heavens to see the Victor from Calvary within the veil, "before the face of God" on behalf of all for whom He died.
"Numbered with the transgressors," He could make intercession for the transgressors, "touched with the feeling" of their sorrows, having been Himself tempted in all points like as they (yet without any sin), and "suffered being tempted" when He walked on earth as man.
Let us go to Calvary, and in the light thrown on it by the prophecy of Isaiah, behold Him, Who for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross despising the shame. The hour had come for which He had entered into this world. Hear the God-Man cry "It is finished" as He bows His head, and yields up His spirit into His Father's hand. We know now that He is the Father's provided Lamb, the guilt-offering for sin. The One Who with a visage more marred than any man's was wounded and bruised for our iniquities, so that by His stripes we may be healed.
Sometimes later, after the day of Pentecost had fully come, a man of authority was riding in his chariot in the desert, reading the prophecy of Isaiah. At the moment he reached the words - "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter", "His life is taken from the earth", a certain disciple named Philip drew nigh, and was hidden of the Holy Spirit to join himself unto the chariot. Sitting the eunuch, he preached unto him JESUS from the prophecy of Isaiah, the Spirit-given foreshadowing of the Cross, and now again the Spirit-given message to a seeking heart through a messenger taught of Him.
Thus did the Holy Spirit bear witness that Isaiah, had truly foreshown the Christ of God, and that "He saw His glory, and He spake of Him."
The Cross Interpreted By the Ascended Christ
"The gospel which was preached by me ... is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man; nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11, 12).
We have already noticed the words of the Apostle Peter that the Spirit of Christ was in the old-time prophets, testifying beforehand to the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow.
This testimony revealed the Son of God, not only as suffering the death of the Cross when His hour had come, but as being the Spirit of prophecy concerning Himself from the beginning of the world. By the Holy Spirit He inspires the preaching of His coming Cross in the centuries preceding His manifestation to the world. Since this was so before His passion, He would not have ascended into heaven after His death, and committed the interpretation and proclamation of His Cross entirely to the wisdom of men.
The apostles were eyewitnesses of His sufferings, but they were not left to preach what each may have thought to be the meaning of the Cross, for in the upper room on the day of Pentecost we find that the Third person of the blessed Trinity - the Spirit of Truth which proceeded from the Father - takes possession of the chosen band of witnesses to equip them for their work.
The Holy Spirit, the gift of the Father to the Son for His redeemed on earth, comes forth Himself to bear testimony to the crucified One, and, through His disciples, to witness to His death and rising again.
"Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me," the Risen Lord had said, and now, energized by the Holy Spirit, we find the chosen witnesses bearing testimony to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
"Ye ... did crucify and slay," but "God raised up". "God hath made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." "Ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of Life; whom God raised from the dead." "Ye crucified, whom God raised."
This was the burden of the message born witness to by "distributions of the Holy Spirit", and by signs and wonders done through the name of the crucified and risen Son of God.
Stephen in particular, "full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people", bearing witness before the Jewish council to the crucified Jesus, and crowning his testimony by laying down his life for the One who had died for him.
The fruit of the Cross was manifested in a signal way through the death of Stephen, for from his death sprang the one who was to proclaim in mighty powers the full meaning of the sacrifice of the Son of God.
In the death of Stephen, and the resulting conversion of Saul the Pharisee, we have an object lesson of the way in which the message of the Cross is the power of God; since it is the word of the Cross spoken by the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with the spirit of the Cross imparted to the messenger, that produces the fruit of the Cross in other souls.
It may even be said that Saul the Pharisee was an eyewitness of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus in His martyr Stephen, when he heard the dying Stephen pray, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge", just as the Lord had prayed on the Cross for those who crucified Him, saying, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
We may well believe that an arrow of conviction pierced the heart of Saul that day, and when he so suddenly met the Risen Lord on the way to Damascus, and heard his say, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me", "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks", Saul knew that he had seen the Spirit of Christ in the martyr Stephen,and the "chosen vessel" was won to the feet of the Lord.
(continued with # 4)