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Lowell Brueckner

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He Poured Out His Soul to Death


Taken from the third chapter of the book, We Have an Altar... THE SUPREME SUFFERING OF CHRIST

He poured out His soul to death

A book about the cross
Good Friday was a day for demons that delighted in inciting men to do their absolute worst to inflict all the punishment possible on the Son of God. The demons were surely present in the unseen world around the cross. In his inspired prophecy, David wrote, “Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me” (Ps.22:12) and “dogs have surrounded me” (v.16). A few verses later he speaks of “the paws of the dog… the lion’s mouth… the horns of the wild oxen…” He was not speaking of literal animals, but of spiritual beasts, which attacked His soul. This battled raged, in addition to the physical suffering. Jesus fought them in the spirit and triumphed in the cross. He foretold it in John 12:31, “The ruler of this world will be cast out.” Paul stated (I quote from the Amplified Version, Col.2:15), [God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]”.

Please allow me - I think it is worthwhile to get some confirmation and some excellent observations from leading commentators: Warren Wiersbe says: “The death of Christ on the cross looked like a great victory for Satan, but it turned out to be a great defeat from which Satan cannot recover… He ‘disarmed the powers and authorities’.” Albert Barnes: “There can be no doubt, I think, that the apostle refers to the ranks of fallen, evil spirits which had usurped a dominion over the world… Satan and his legions had invaded the earth and drawn its inhabitants into captivity, and subjected them to their evil reign. Christ, by his death subdues the invaders and recaptures those whom they had subdued… Paul says that this was now done ‘openly’ - that is, it was in the face of the whole universe - a grand victory; a glorious triumph over all the powers of hell.” Matthew Henry: “The Redeemer conquered by dying… Never had the devil's kingdom such a mortal blow given to it as was given by the Lord Jesus…” And John Wesley: “And having spoiled the principalities and powers - The evil angels, of their usurped dominion, He - God the Father, exposed them openly - Before all the hosts of hell and heaven. Triumphing over them in or by him - By Christ.”

The cross produced yet greater torment within the very depths of Christ’s being. Above all, we must concentrate upon it, if we are to understand to any degree the significance of the cross. We come now to the heart of the substitutionary work in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

He was sinless. In a human body for 33 years He knew the power of temptation, but never once succumbed to it. We must understand also that not only in life, but in all eternity not once had sin ever marred Him. Throughout endless past ages, never had He felt the inner pangs of uncleanness for having committed some kind of unrighteous, untruthful or dirty act. Never had he known what it meant to feel guilty for having disobeyed God or having harmed another human being. 

Now we read: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross…” (1 Pt.2:24). Sins were heaped upon Him. They were dragged from all parts of the earth and from every period of history. They were pulled from concentration camps, abusive homes, the assassins’ hide-out and the palace of the oppressor. Have you thought about it? The most shameful offenses, the filthiest acts, and the cruelest deeds – He felt the weight of them all. Torture, hatred, greed and abuse were placed upon the spotless Lamb. He not only carried evil acts, but also evil thoughts and motives, which were never actually performed. He was spared nothing – God “did not spare His own Son” (Ro.8:32). Far beyond the physical torture, this was what He suffered.

However, He not only carried our sins, but the apostle declares, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin…” (2 Co.5:21). He not only is holy, but He is the Author of all holiness that has ever been manifested or experienced in heaven or upon earth by men or by angels. He, who was the eternal fountain of holiness, became sin. It is one of the mind-boggling mysteries of the cross, for which we can never find a satisfactory explanation. The embodiment of holiness and purity in a human vessel, not only took sins upon Himself, but sin became His state-of-being. I repeat, Jesus Christ became sin upon that cross! Such was the depth of His pain; it reached to the core of His being.

I remember reading, “Run, Nicky, Run”, the testimony of Nicky Cruz, many years ago. The saddest part of the book takes place near its beginning. Nicky’s mother and father were deeply into witchcraft. On one occasion to punish the little boy, his father left him to panic in a dark room. It was a demonic act, only out-done by one from his mother. Surely in the throes of an evil spirit, she lashed at him, “I hate you! You are not my son; I have never loved you as a son!”  Nicky was hurt many times in rumbles on the streets of New York. Once he was kicked into unconsciousness and his assailants continued to kick him thereafter. But no bodily pain ever matched the cruelty of those words by his own mother, which ripped his soul to shreds.

Ah, it is a poor, human example, but I submit it, because it may give our little finite understanding some small idea of what follows. We have come now to the apex of Jesus’ pain. In the first chapter, we faced the immense problem of the scriptural truth that God, in Christ, was put to death. “I am the life,” Jesus said (Jn.14:6). Life died! We have just tried to deal with the complexity of His holiness and the fact that He became sin. Now, we contemplate another great mystery of the cross: Seemingly, perfect, eternal love and communion were broken.

There had never been the slightest friction within the godhead in all the history of the universe and before history in the timeless ages of eternity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit always enjoyed the sweetest fellowship. The love is deep, beyond compare and human comprehension. Its failure was unthinkable, for God’s “love never fails” (1 Co.13:8). When John the Baptist doubted, when his disciples did not understand Him, when His people, the Jews, rejected Him and the Romans mistreated Him, Jesus could always count on His Father’s love. The Father had declared at His baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration that He was well pleased with Him.  

The Father looked upon the cross from heaven and this time He saw putrid sins amassed in infinite quantity. In the transaction of taking on sin and as a sacrifice for it, the fierceness of the unbridled wrath of God was poured out without measure upon Him. His Father’s holy eyes could no longer gaze on the scene and He turned His back. Darkness covered the earth in the middle of the day. For three hours, Jesus kept silent, but the pain reached a peak and He could no longer contain the grief nor restrain his voice. Please, hear His loud cry in Mark 15:34: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” It was the most horrible moment in time and eternity.

Click to enlarge the letters
Perfect righteousness was satisfied and justice had been served to its fullness. The Lord Jesus deserved none of it, for He knew no sin. He was a Lamb without spot or blemish. Why then did all this punishment fall upon Him? There is only one answer. That answer echoes down the corridors of time for anyone who will hear. It has lost none of its awe or wonder in this century of secular humanism and damning materialism. Why does He hang there? Why does He suffer so? This is why: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn.3:16)

The Father placed Him there in love for us and the Son hung as a substitute for you and me, offering Himself through the eternal Spirit, in love. It was a work of the triune God. It is love beyond understanding, untarnished and unmixed in its purity, unbounded in its reach. It is unmatched by any love known on earth. No mother knows this kind of love for her baby; no man can equal it in his affection for his bride. This is an intense, passionate love that takes enemies into its scope. Let Paul help us to describe the indescribable: “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love (His unique, incomparable love) toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Ro.5:6-10). This is our heart-breaking altar, adorned by the love of God…


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