THE REDEMPTION OF THE LOST RACE
SATAN, though he had gained the world by causing the fall of Adam, was not left in undisputed possession of it. Ownership was never vested in Adam. God allowed him possession, not ownership. God still remained owner even when He had passed over possession to Adam.
And when Adam fell, what he lost was possession. The world is still God’s world. Satan has possession, but God is owner. Adam sold his life for death. And he sold his dominion for slavery. But he sold his dominion only as one tenant might sell a lease of a property to a more objectionable tenant without the consent of the owner. Even that wrongfully obtained leasehold of Satan has now been legally ended.
In the promise given to the woman in the Garden of Eden that her seed should bruise the serpent’s head, there was an assurance that God would destroy both the control and the life of Satan, and regain control of the planet that had passed wrongfully under Satan’s dominion. The earth was to be brought back to its first allegiance.
Satan saw in this promise that his control of the world and the human race would be disputed.
So he attempted to prevent the coming of the Seed of the woman, who threatened to overthrow his control. He brought all his malice and wisdom to bear to destroy the holy line from which the Seed was to come. He was defeated.
Satan Attempts to Defeat Christ
As the time drew near for the coming of the Seed, the time when God was about to send His only-begotten Son into the world to wrest it from the grasp of the devil and to win it back to it’s first allegiance to the Father, Satan drew his lines closer, planning to overthrow Christ if that should be at all possible.
Satan understands many of the prophecies. He knew that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and Satan was certain that this child was the long-expected Redeemer, the promised Seed (for Satan heard the message of the angels to the shepherds and beheld the coming of the wise men from the East), he immediately attempted to destroy the infant Saviour by arousing the jealousy of Herod.
As a consequence Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to destroy all the children there under two years of age, Satan designing thereby to destroy the One whom God had declared in the beginning would “bruise his head.”
Protected by God from the wrath of Satan on this occasion, Jesus was carried into Egypt. Having remained there until Herod died, His parents then took up their residence s in Nazareth in Galilee. Here the Holy Child received His early training from His mother, and grew in knowledge and grace. At the age of twelve He was taken by His parents to Jerusalem; and in witnessing the sacrifice of the lamb in the temple, He beheld His own great life mission opening before Him.
For eighteen years after this journey to Jerusalem He remained with His parents in the home at Nazareth, quietly doing the work of a carpenter in the humble little village. And then at the age of thirty, recognizing His call in the preaching of John the Baptist, He started upon His work of ministry, which was to lead Him to the cross.
The Temptation of Our Lord
Immediately upon the beginning of His ministry, as soon as He was anointed as the Messiah at His baptism, He was met and opposed by Satan. Having fasted forty days in the wilderness and being very hungry, he was visited by a being in the form of a bright, beautiful angel. This being talked with Him, saying that if He were indeed the Son of God, as He had just been told at His baptism, it would be an easy matter to demonstrate the truth of that tremendous assertion by turning stones into bread and thus appeasing His hunger. But Christ refused to exercise His power in His own behalf.
Failing also in tempting Christ to cast Himself down from a pinnacle of the temple and thus to presume upon the protecting care of God, Satan finally disclosed himself to Christ in his true character. He openly avowed himself to be, Lucifer, who had been exiled from heaven.
He knew full well, he declared, why Christ had come into the world. He knew he had come to try to regain the world from the power of Satan. He pointed out that in order to accomplish this purpose it would be necessary for Christ to die a most ignominious death and to undergo almost unbearable suffering.
He then declared that such a course was altogether unnecessary. If Christ had come to obtain possession of the world, He need not travel s&h a bloodstained path and die such a terrible death. The world, he said, was in his own power, and he could give it to whomsoever he chose. Taking Christ to a high mountain, he showed him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8, 9.
This was the great temptation. The world was indeed the very thing Christ had come to win, the race upon it the very beings He had come to save. He was now told He could have it all, and need not endure the shame and agony and ignominy of the cross in order to obtain it.
He saw at once, however, that to take it on such terms as were offered by Satan would be to acknowledge all that Satan had contended for: that he was superior to Christ, and that he was the rightful ruler. Christ saw also that He must hold the dominion of the earth, obtained on such terms, subject to Satan.
Seeing that the great conflict of the ages would thus be decided forever in favor of Satan, He turned to him with the words, “Get thee hence, Satan.” He determined to go forward with His work of establishing a kingdom of righteousness and truth, though the. decision meant that He must go down into the valley of the shadow of death.
The Great Cost of Redemption
Defeated in his purpose, Satan nevertheless was determined that even yet he would prevent Christ from gaining the final victory. He buffeted Him at every step, harassed Him wherever He went. He caused the Jewish leaders to reject Him. He did all he could to oppose and destroy His work. Finally he moved Judas to betray Him into the hands of His enemies. He was betrayed for the price of a slave, which was a mere thirty pieces of silver.
The redemption of the world was purchased at a heavy price to the Saviour. The strongest temptation with which Satan wrung the heart of Jesus was when He came into the garden of Gethsemane. Here the weight of the sins of the world was felt by Christ in all its awful force.
He saw that He must die with these sins upon Him. Because of these sins He must bear the frown of God. Such a consideration made Him fear that He would never have a resurrection, but must bear the frown of God against sin forever, and thus be forever separated from His Father by death. It was this that wrung from His tortured heart the terrible cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Matthew 26:39.
Unable to see that He could ever be brought again from the tomb if He died with the sins of the world upon Him, His own future became all dark and fearsome to Him.
The Sacrifice for Sin
Here it was that the fiercest temptations of the devil wrung the agonized heart of the Lord. Almost was He tempted to let man bear the consequences of his own guilt and die for his own sins while He gave up the attempt and returned to that place at the right hand of His Father which He occupied before He came into the world. The sacrifice to be made for sinners seemed almost too great if it meant that He must be blotted out of the universe.
“The wages of sin is death.” Eternal death. Christ had volunteered to suffer for sin in the place of the sinner. Now the sins of the world were on Him, and He was realizing all their terrible guilt for the first time. He experienced what the sinner will feel when he suffers the consequences of transgression.
It is taught by many today that the punishment of the wicked will be eternal torment in hell-fire. This cannot be true, for if it were, then Christ, in taking our punishment upon Himself, must remain forever in torment. If eternal conscious punishment is the lot of the lost sinner, then Christ could never have been released from the suffering which it would have been necessary for Him to bear in order to save us from it.
It is evident that Christ could not take our place as our sin bearer without experiencing the awful fear and dread of separation from God. It was this thought that forced from His pores while in the garden the sweat which “was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22: 44.)
His Father’s face was hidden from Him. He was conscious of His Father’s frown. He felt that the burden of the world’s sin which He bore was separating Him from God. He feared that if He should die with these sins upon Him, He could not hope for a resurrection. He was unable to see through the grave. His hope in the future was dimmed. The agony seemed greater than He could bear.
Would He make the sacrifice? Would the Son of God take the place of guilty man and die in his stead? The fate of the world and of the race hung upon the answer.
When the struggle seemed about to become too great for His strength, He was given a view of the human race which He came to save. He saw it lost in sin, under condemnation of death and eternal separation from God. He saw that unless He took upon Himself its guilt and punishment, the race must perish and the world be lost. He saw that mankind could never enter the pearly gates of the heavenly city unless He laid down His life.
He saw that no human being could ever walk on the streets of gold throughout all the ages of eternity unless He carried out the purpose which brought Him to earth.
It was either His life or theirs. It was separation from God for Himself or for them. Someone must die for that broken law. It was either the race as a whole or the Sacrifice which God had freely offered, and which Christ had volunteered to be.
He Took Our Punishment
With the vision of the lost race before Him unless He made the sacrifice, and facing the darkness shrouding His own future if He did make the sacrifice, Christ made His decision.
He would go forward upon His great mission at any cost to Himself. “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” John 13:1.
He faced again the great decision for which He came into the world. He made that decision in favor of the race which He loved. That His people might live with God throughout eternity, though He might not be there Himself, He decided to take their place, their guilt, and their fate upon Himself, and die in their stead.
So He set His face steadfastly toward the cross. As He rose from the ground for the last time, He cried: “If this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” Matthew 26:42.
While the disciples slept, the great decision was made. Alone, with none to help or comfort, He drained the last scalding drop of the fiery cup-the cup which none else could drain. If men were to be saved, there was no way out for Him but this.
And having made the decision, His temptation was over -the temptation to escape by His own divine power the fate in store for the human race. From this time onward the flesh was conquered.
He had determined to meet the full penalty of sin, and no lesser pain could now make him afraid. The priests and rulers might insult and jeer Him. The whole nation might taunt and jibe. But His mind was occupied with mightier matters than insults and jibes. Not one cry would be forced from those lips by pain, or thirst, or glaring noonday sun, or thorns, or nails, or prison chains, or smiting of sin-stained hands. As a sheep before its shearer, so He would be dumb.
So they hurried Him before Annas and Caiaphas, then Pilate, then to Herod, and back again to Pilate, always in the midst of the vociferating multitude, who buffeted Him, and smote Him with the palms of their hands, and spat in His face, speaking sneeringly of His birth and demanding that He perform for them a miracle.
As He came the last time from Pilate’s judgment hall after the sentence of crucifixion had been pronounced, the soldiers crushed down upon His weary head the cruel crown of thorns and bowed the knee in mockery, crying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
The World’s Redeemer
With no rest through the long night, hurried from one proud ruler to another, travel-stained, weary, footsore, bruised and lacerated with the cruel scourging He had received, He, in addition, was laden with the weight of the heavy cross.
With no covering on His head from the broiling sun but the crown of thorns, which tore His brow in heavy gashes, He staggered on, the world’s Redeemer, through taunts and jeers and mocking words.
Reaching the place of Calvary, they stretched Him on the cross and drove the nails through His quivering flesh. Then raising the cross with the Saviour of the world upon it, they dropped it in the hole prepared for it, tearing wider the wounds of the hands and feet. With jeers and mockery they watched His dying agonies.
Thus, the Son of God gave up His life for you and me, and for the world which was lost.
If Jesus had committed one sin Himself, He never would have been brought from the tomb, and the human race would have been hopelessly lost. But because His own life was spotless, and there was not the stain of one sin upon His character, He was brought up again from death and given a glorious resurrection.
In this way Jesus regained the world which had been lost by sin. In this way He laid the foundation for the plan of human salvation. In this way He made it possible to justify the sinner, remove the sentence of death, restore his lost purity, confer upon him eternal life, and renew his hope of an eternal inheritance in this redeemed world.
Jesus became the last Adam. He won the victory over sin which the first Adam had lost. He met the devil on his own ground, in his own dominion, and wrested the control of the world from him. He regained the lost dominion. He made a way of escape for all who had fallen under subjection to the devil.
It follows, then, that the dominion of Satan over man’s body and soul and mind, as well as over this revolted province of God’s universe, is legally ended. All that remains is the delivery of the purchased possession.
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