THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LORD’S DEATH FORE-ORDAINED
Luk_22:22. Truly the Son of Man goeth, as it was determined [Note: Another exordium might be to this effect:—[Persons educated in the Christian religion, take for granted that it is true; whilst yet they know but little how to defend it against the assaults of infidels. But it is desirable that we should all be conversant, in some degree at least, with the evidences of its truth. I will therefore set before you somewhat of the evidence that arises from the accomplishment of prophecy, and especially in reference to the death of Christ as being altogether decreed and determined by God.]].
THE doctrine of predestination is very mysterious. If it be so held as to destroy the free agency of man, it must be pernicious and false: but it cannot be denied without denying also the omniscience and immutability of God; nor, if properly understood, is it at all inconsistent with the responsibility of man. If we know not how to reconcile all the difficulties that arise from this doctrine, it is not therefore false. Certain it is that Judas was punished, and that eternally [Note: Mar_14:21.]; nor can we doubt but that the Judge of all the earth will do right [Note: Psa_145:17.]: yet his sin was among the things which had been fore-ordained. To this effect St. Peter speaks respecting the Jewish nation at large [Note: Act_2:23.]: to the same purpose our Lord speaks of Judas in particular [Note: The text.].
Our Lord’s death in general was fore-ordained—
No unprejudiced person can entertain a doubt of this truth: there are innumerable proofs of it in the Holy Scriptures.
Our Lord’s death was fixed before the foundation of the world—
[God foresaw the fall of man from eternity: he from eternity also determined to restore man again to his favour. The mean, by which he resolved to effect it, was the death of his own Son. Hence the Apostle speaks of Christ as “fore-ordained,” &c. [Note: 1Pe_1:20.]—]
It was predicted soon after man had fallen—
[God denounced a curse against the serpent. In that denunciation he foretold the destruction of Satan himself: he foretold it as to be effected by the death of Christ [Note: Gen_3:15.].]
It was shadowed forth in a variety of types—
[The paschal lamb represented it [Note: 1Co_5:7.]: it was prefigured by the daily sacrifices [Note: Joh_1:29.]: it was typified by the offerings on the great day of atonement [Note: Heb_9:13-14.]. The serpent in the wilderness was a striking representation of it [Note: Joh_3:14.].]
It was foretold by all the prophets—
[The prophetic writings are full of declarations respecting it. Isaiah seems rather to have composed a history than a prophecy. To quote particular passages is needless. St. Peter mentions it as foretold by all the prophets [Note: Act_3:17-18.]—. Our Lord himself speaks to the same effect [Note: Luk_24:25-27.]—.]
A body was prepared him on purpose that he might die—
[He freely undertook to suffer in our stead [Note: Psa_40:6-8.]. This was the ground on which a body was provided for him [Note: Heb_10:5-7. The Apostle explains the expression in Psa_40:6. “Mine ears hast thou opened,” by other words to the same effect, “A body hast thou prepared me.” The boring the ear of a servant bound him to his servitude for ever; Exo_21:6. And the preparing of a body for Christ fixed him to his engagements.]. This reason for his incarnation is often noticed in the Scriptures [Note: Heb_2:9; Heb_2:14.]—.]
It was foreknown and consented to by our Lord himself—
[Our Lord often spake of it to his Disciples [Note: Luk_18:31-33.]: it was the subject of his conversation with Moses and Elias [Note: Luk_9:31.]. He could have delivered himself from his enemies if he had chosen it [Note: He had frequently done so, Luk_4:29-30. Joh_8:59 and he could easily have done it then, Joh_18:6. Mat_26:53.]: but it was a season he greatly longed for [Note: Luk_12:50.].]
Hence we may conclude, that though the agents were guilty, as having acted freely, the actions themselves were fore-ordained [Note: Act_4:28.]. But there was not merely a decree respecting our Lord’s death in general;
Every particular respecting it was determined—
It would be endless to enumerate all the predictions respecting Christ, and to compare them with his history [Note: Matthew alone quotes above thirty passages that refer to Christ.]; but we will point out a few that relate more immediately to his death:
Those that were immediately to precede his death—
[It was foretold by whom he was to be betrayed [Note: Psa_41:9.]. Our Lord himself applies this prediction to Judas [Note: Joh_13:18.]—. The price that should be paid for his blood, together with the disposition of the purchase-money, was accurately foretold [Note: Zec_11:12-13.]. This very sum (the price of a slave) was paid, and afterwards so applied [Note: Mat_27:6-10.]. It was moreover foretold that he should be scourged [Note: Psa_129:3 and Isa_53:5.]. This was complied with to prevent his death [Note: Luk_23:22.]. He was also destined to be mocked, spit upon, and smitten [Note: Isa_50:6.]. His enemies vented their indignation in this very way [Note: Mat_27:26-30.]—.]
Those that were to accompany his death—
[It was foretold that he should be nailed to a cross [Note: Psa_22:16.]. The accomplishment of this was very singularly effected [Note: Joh_18:31-32. Crucifixion was not a Jewish, but a Roman punishment: yet he was put to death for a crime of which the Roman law would not have taken cognizance.]. He was to be crucified with others, malefactors [Note: Isa_53:12.]. The fulfilment of this also is particularly noticed [Note: Mar_15:27-28.]—. He was to experience fresh insults here [Note: Psa_22:6-8.]. This was fulfilled in the most literal manner [Note: Mat_27:41-43.]. He was also to suffer the hidings of his Father’s face [Note: Psa_22:1.]. David’s words were those used by Christ under his dereliction [Note: Mat_27:46.]—. He was to have vinegar offered him to drink [Note: Psa_69:21.]: he would not resign his breath till this was accomplished [Note: Joh_19:28-30.].]
Those that were immediately to follow his death—
[He was to be pierced [Note: Zec_12:10.]. This was fulfilled in a very remarkable manner [Note: Joh_19:34; Joh_19:36.]; yet he was not to have a bone broken [Note: Exo_12:46. This was very unlikely to be fulfilled, seeing that many of his bones were out of joint, Psa_22:14 and the bones of those who were crucified with him were broken.] This, too, received its accomplishment [Note: Joh_19:32-33; Joh_19:36.]. The manner in which his clothes were to be disposed of was also foretold [Note: Psa_22:18.]. The fulfilling of this strongly marked the overruling hand of God [Note: Joh_19:23-24.].]
We may say of every the most minute circumstance, as St. Matthew does [Note: Mat_26:56.]—
How certainly is Jesus the true Messiah!
[Such a variety of circumstances could not have concurred but from the express determination of Providence. Let us then receive Jesus as the promised Messiah: let us welcome him with acclamations and hosannas: let us depend upon his death as a sure ground of hope — — —]
How cheerfully may we leave ourselves to God’s disposal!
[How were the malice of Satan, the envy of the priests, the treachery of Judas, the cowardice of Pilate, &c. overruled for the effecting of the Divine purposes! Thus may God overrule the most adverse circumstances for our good. Let us then in all states rely on that gracious declaration [Note: Rom_8:28.]—.]