A Tension at the Cross

As I was preparing last week’s post, reading and re-reading it again and again, it occurred to me that a brief follow up post would be necessary to highlight the tension that takes place in the Bible between God’s sovereignty and providence and the actions of men, particularly as it relates to the cross.  Remember in that post, I asked the question given Isaiah 53:5, who ultimately is doing the actions of “wounding and crushing” Jesus Christ for “our transgressions and iniquities” and a “chastisement” or punishment that miraculously brings believers peace.  Remember from that post that the Jews, i.e. Caiaphas and the people (see Matthew 26:62-67 and John 19:15) wanted Jesus punished for His alleged blasphemy.  They had no idea that there was any transaction about to take place between the Father and Son on behalf of believers, not the least of which was Christ dying on the cross for the sins of men. 

Now think through this for just a moment, men are physically beating and scourging the Son of God, they physically place Him on the cross, by their physical hands they have mutilated the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet none of this compares to the spiritual torture of being wounded and crushed for our iniquities and transgressions.  Yes both are taking place, both are necessary, yet God has sovereignly planned and ordained all of it.  A man does not have the power to wound God’s Son for taking on the sins of men.  Men do not have the power to offer up a punishment to Christ that subsequently brings peace to believers.  The hands of men have no power to propitiate God’s wrath or expiate the sins of men.  This is why it was absolutely necessary that Jesus be both fully human and fully divine, in order to suffer the physical death at the hands of men and defeat it through His resurrection, but also to suffer divinely at the hand of God in order to remove the sin, guilt, and punishment of those who place their faith in Him.  Both are necessary and as we will see highlighted in a handful of passages below, the sovereignty of God and the willingness of Christ were on display at the cross as the ordained plan of God was performed at the hands of men.

Isaiah 53:6b “and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53:10 ESV “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.”

Isaiah 53:10 KJV “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put [Him] to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see [his] seed, He shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.”

Matthew 16:21-23 “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!  This shall never happen to you.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are a hindrance to me.  For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Luke 22:22 “For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by who He is betrayed!”

Luke 24:26-27 “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This charge I have received from my Father.

Acts 2:23 “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Acts 3:18 “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He thus fulfilled.”

Acts 4:27-28 “for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand had predestined to take place.”

Acts 13:23 “Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as He promised.”

Acts 13:27 “For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize Him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning Him.”

Acts 26:22-23 “To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Philippians 2:5-10 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Hebrews 2:9-10 “But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

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