Christ Crucified, Glorified, Satisfied, Magnified
The cross of Christ is our great lesson-book. There the glory of God has been maintained, while His heart of love has been manifested. There the perfect obedience of Christ, even unto the death of the cross has been shown. There the malice of Satan has been declared and his defeat determined. There the wickedness of fallen man, urged on by Satan, has been brought to light. There the world, Satan’s subtle snare and system, has been judged. Truly the “thoughts of many hearts” have been revealed. The cross measures all, revealing in fullest light the nature of each and all.
Generally the first view of the cross by the awakened sinner, who turns in faith to Christ, is that He “His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24). Blessed indeed is that view. The danger to be feared is that the believer should limit his thoughts of the cross to this.
All is infinite where the infinite God is concerned. Yet, remembering this, we may look at the subject relatively. So doing, we may come to see that our blessing is perhaps the smallest measure of the work of our Lord Jesus at Calvary.
Some of us have seen the nests of measures for cereals, fruits and vegetables, used by farmers and others. The bushel measure is the largest. The half-bushel fits into the bushel, the peck into the half-bushel and so on with the quart and the pint and the half-pint and the gill. Using that as an illustration we may think of the glory of God as the greatest measure of the cross. There has been expressed in all His righteousness, His judgment of sin, His holiness, His faithfulness, His love, His grace, His mercy, and His kindness. Every attribute of His holy being has been declared. Every claim of His righteous throne and of the law has been upheld. It was in anticipation of the cross that our Lord could say to His Father, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4).
The importance of Christ and His cross was such with the Apostle Paul that he determined to know nothing else among the boastful Corinthians. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” was his theme among them setting aside fleshly wisdom and boasting. It was the same in his ministry to the Galatian believers. They were in danger of putting themselves under the law for salvation. To them he cried, “I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:19-20). And again he exclaimed, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus. Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).
The cross of Christ is the great foundation for the maintenance of the majesty of the throne of God, for the fulfilment of His purposes to glorify Christ, for our rich blessing in this day of His grace, and for the ultimate deliverance of a broken, groaning creation.
The shame of the cross is past. No longer is our Lord upon the tree of dishonour for He rose in triumph over the power of death. Then from Bethany He ascended while blessing His disciples. Now He is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high.
It is there that faith sees “Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honour.” In prospect of His exaltation He had cried, at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). He spoke this in view of the Holy Spirit coming from Him when He was glorified. Those who believe on Him would receive the Spirit as their power for witness and service. “The Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Now that He is glorified the Holy Spirit has come. He indwells the bodies of all believers. He is “the anointing,” “the seal,” “the earnest,” “the firstfruits.” He empowers for worship and work and witness.
From Him and Him alone the living water flows. “He that believeth on Me” are the words. It was not “He who is My apostle.” It was not “He who has especial talent or gift.” It was not “He who is wealthy or scholarly or wise.” No! the word of promise and privilege was to the believer. Mark that well!
The Lord is still on the throne. The place of power, and pre-eminence is His. The believer is in living touch with Him and His omnipotence, and is left here so that as a channel from Christ there may be rivers (not rills or rivulets only) of living water flowing from His inmost affections and being.
We who profess to be believers do well to ask ourselves the questions—How far has this been true of my life? How far have I been made a blessing to others? If we have to confess and mourn our past failure to respond to our Lord’s desire (and who has not?) shall we not pause, and in our hearts cry, “Lord make it good in me!”
Our time for service here is short. “The Lord as at hand.” The honour of being channels of blessing in the “dry and thirsty land” of the world will soon be past. Shall we not seek earnestly for grace to buy up our opportunities and so redeem the time? It is as we behold “the glory of the Lord” that “we are changed into the same image,” even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Let us judge ourselves in everything contrary to our calling as Christians, keep in touch with our glorified Lord and walk in the power of an ungrieved Holy Spirit. Then the promised rivers of living water will flow from us for the blessing of all around.
Every true Christian is glad of heart as he contemplates the prospect of the fulfilment of that part of Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ, “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11). His sorrows and sufferings portrayed so graphically in the Scripture are past. They shall have their outcome. “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper an His hand. And He, Himself, will exult in the full accomplishment of the good pleasure of God.
Coming unto Manhood He had said, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God, yea, Thy law is within My heart” (Ps. 40:8). This had been the joy set before Him which led Him to endure the cross, despising the shame. With the accomplishment of that in prospect, He had uttered the words already referred to, “I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”
“He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be SATISFIED,” in having glorified His Father and carried out His holy will.
“He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be SATISFIED” in having His church, His bride with Him in His cloudless glory.
And so too shall He be SATISFIED, in beholding the present groaning creation, enjoying the liberty of the glory of the sons of God, and in His kingdom when He reigns in righteousness and peace, and has “dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” for then men shall be happy under His gracious sway and “all nations shall call Him blessed.”
And finally He shall be SATISFIED, “when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. . . when all things shall be subdued unto Him,” and then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
“Christ crucified” is past. “Christ glorified” is present. “Christ satisfied” is future. These are all effected without our aid. But in “Christ magnified” we may have a share. To be magnified is to be made more of; made greater. Christ cannot be made greater than He is personally, but He may be made greater in us, He may be better expressed in our lives and more honoured in our testimony.
It was this which the Apostle Paul as a bondman of Jesus Christ longed for. This was his earnest expectation and his hope, “that in nothing I shall be ashamed,” but that with all boldness, as always, “so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21).
He wrote this when he was about to appear before Nero. His fate was in the balance. The emperor’s decision might mean Paul’s martyrdom. This was, however, a matter of no consequence with him. It mattered everything that Christ should be magnified. If that might be brought about by his life in service for Christ it was well. If that would be effected better by his death that was equally well. To him “to live was Christ,” to be for His glory where he was on earth. To him to die was “gain,” to be with Christ where He is in glory.
It is said that years ago the Moravian Missionaries had a remarkable seal. In its centre was engraved an ox. On one side of the ox was a plough. On the other side of the ox was an altar. And the words inscribed above were “Ready for either.” Those who went forth to proclaim the gospel were to be prepared to live a life of sacrifice as the ox at the plough, or to die a death of sacrifice on an altar of suffering.
Shall we ask ourselves,—Am I ready for either? Is it with us, as with Paul, a consuming desire that Christ may be magnified in our bodies. “The supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” was enough for him to effect the fulfilment of his wish. That supply is sufficient for us today.
May it be ours to seek that the once crucified, now glorified and soon to be satisfied Christ, may be magnified in our lives today.