The Consequences of His Death
In recent months, we have looked together at the Cause and the Character of our Lord’s death. We will now look at the Consequences of His death.
The consequences are, of course, many and exceedingly wide-ranging. Indeed, human history since, and the ages to come, are all affected by what took place at the cross. To attempt to list all the consequences, let alone discuss or describe them, would be a massive undertaking, and nothing that would be written could ever do justice to the results of the work of Calvary. Over the next few months, in the will of the Lord, we will do little more than mention, with minimal discussion, some consequences of the death of Christ.
This month, we will think a little about what His death meant to God the Father. We do not need to go very deep to see that it was well pleasing to Him. Paul wrote: “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” (Eph 5:2). Paul is doubtless linking His sacrifice to the “sweet savour” sacrifices of old. Such a description is given of the burnt offerings Noah made following the flood (Gen 8:20-21), and also of some of the offerings that became such an important part of the rituals associated with tabernacle worship (see especially the first few chapters of Leviticus). These offerings were well pleasing to God, not only because the offering of them indicated His people’s obedience to Him, but, more pertinently, because they pointed forward to the ultimate, final offering, that of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross. We can be sure that, when such offerings were made down through the centuries of time, it gave God pleasure to look forward to the time when they would find their fulfilment in the death of His Son.
We also read: “Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law” (Heb 10:8). That this statement includes the “sweet savour” offerings, and not only the sin offerings, is evident from the fact that burnt offerings are explicitly mentioned. Is the Bible contradicting itself by indicating that the offerings were acceptable to God, and then saying that He did not have pleasure in them? Of course not! They did bring pleasure to God as far as they went – they were typical and preparatory; but the point being made by the writer to the Hebrews is that those offerings did not have any inherent efficacy. Thus, in and of themselves, they could never bring full pleasure to the heart of God.
What could bring full pleasure to God’s heart? That is what the writer to the Hebrews is bringing before us: “A body hast Thou prepared Me” (10:5). God’s blessed Son came, saying, “I come to do Thy will, O God” (10:9). And He carried out that will by His death, as verse 10 shows: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Here, in this once-for-all sacrifice, and in it alone, was total pleasure brought to the heart of God.
The Lord Jesus said, “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again” (John 10:17). This may appear, at first sight, to be a puzzling statement. Did not the Father already love the Son long before He came to earth to die? He surely did. The love between Divine Persons is eternal. Is the Lord saying that the Father loves Him only on account of His laying down His life? Certainly not! The Father has always had innumerable grounds for loving the Son, but it is true that His willingness to die, and to take up His life again, is one of the reasons for God’s love – and a weighty one at that.
We note that the Lord said, “Therefore doth My Father love Me” (present tense); not “Therefore shall my Father love Me” (future tense). He was stating something that was already true, while He was speaking. The Father was not waiting until the day of His Son’s death to bestow this love upon Him; this love was already His. When did the Lord Jesus begin to be willing to come and to die? There was no time when He began to be willing. He Who is eternal was ever devoted to the will of the Father, and always anticipating His coming to die. And, just as surely as this disposition had no beginning, there was no time when the Father started to love Him for this willingness – He always has. It is all bound up in His eternal love for His Son.
Everything that the Lord Jesus did while on earth was according to the will of His Father (John 6:38), and it was all well pleasing to Him (Matt 3:17; 17:5), yet it was continually before the Lord that it was all with a goal in view. Doing the Father’s will would take Him to the cross. This is particularly brought before us in John’s gospel: “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (4:34; see also 5:36; 17:4). We can scarcely even begin to comprehend what pleasure it must have given to the heart of the Father to hear Him finally declare, “It is finished” (19:30); pleasure that He could never have received from countless numbers of animal sacrifices, even though they had been instituted by Him, and were offered to him by many pious saints down through the centuries.
How fitting for Isaiah to write, “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” (53:10).