Part IV: Triumph Over Death
Lamb Of God And
Lion Of Judah
And Abraham said,
My son, God will provide Himself
a lamb for a burnt-offering.
the Lamb of God
who taketh away the sin of the world.
Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the root of David
The Lord Jesus
Christ. His full title! Born to be a Saviour (Luke 2:11):
born to be a King (John 18:37): Lord, the Alpha
and Omega, the beginning and the ending; who is, and was, and
is to come; the Almighty (Revelaton l:8).
He is, first of all, LORD, the
Jehovah of the Old Testament, the same whom Elizabeth acknowledged
as Lord when Mary visited her in her home (Luke 1:43); the same
who said to the disciples, "Ye call Me master and Lord,
and ye do well, for so I am" (John 13:13); the same whose
glory Isaiah saw (Isaiah 6:1 and John 12:41).
second name, JESUS, identified Him in his role as Saviour: "Thou
shalt call his name Jesus, for He shall save his people from
their sins" (Matthew 1:21). According to Jewish tradition
regarding the meaning of Isaiah 52:7, Elijah was to appear as
a forerunner of Messiah, heralding his coming first of all with
the words: "Salvation cometh to the world: salvation
cometh to the world. . . ," * and then after that,
with the words: "Thy King cometh."†
The wonderful thing is that the word salvation in the
original Hebrew is JESHUAH, a word which underlies the Greek
word so familiar to us as JESUS.
And thirdly, his title Messiah
or CHRIST as the Greek has it, identifies Him as the one born
to be King. He Himself said to Pilate, "To this end was
I born, and for this cause came I into the world" (John
Thus He is truly the Lord Jesus
Christ, Jehovah-Saviour and Messiah the King. So here we have
his full identity: Lord first, then Saviour, and finally King.
And it is important to recognize that in the order of events
He was first of all Lord, then Saviour, and only after that King.
Herein lies a very important truth, a truth which was not altogether
clear even to his disciples and much less so to the Jewish people
as a whole. It is also a truth which has been blurred in our
time, for we are often invited to accept the Saviour as Lord
before we have accepted the King as Saviour. Even his contemporaries
did not recognize the priority in time of his role as the Lamb
of God. He had to become the Lamb before becoming the Lion.
the Lord Jesus in these two complementary roles; first as the
Lamb of God and only then as the Promised Messiah. They were
two roles that were related and yet quite distinct, in which
the fulfillment of the first was essential to the fulfillment
of the second. These two roles are revealed clearly enough in
the Old Testament when we look back in retrospect upon the events
of his life, but they were not nearly so clear to those who witnessed
them at the time. Even those who were spiritually perceptive
in Israel had difficulty in
* In Ecclesiasticus 48:9 and 10 we find these
words with reference to Elijah:
2 of 13
who wast taken up in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot of fiery horses,
is written that you are to come at the appointed time with warnings,
allay divine wrath before its final fury,
to turn the heart of the father unto the son. . . .
This mission of Elijah is clearly reflected
in Luke 1:17, "And he [John the Baptist] shall go before
Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn
the hearts of the faither to the children."
† Edersheim, Alfred, The
Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, New York, Herrick &
Co., 1886, vol. II, p.708.
reconciling the statements
of Scripture in this respect. For on the one hand they discerned
that the sacrificial system of their Temple worship looked forward
to a day when God would provide Himself a lamb, but they also
shared with their less spiritual contemporaries the hope that
God would one day restore to them a glorious successor to David.
They perceived, in part at least,
that the "Suffering Servant," clearly portrayed in
the passage which runs from Isaiah 52:13 through to the end of
chapter 53, was to be fulfilled by One who should bear the sins
of Israel as a nation. This Suffering Servant was identified
readily enough with the Lamb of God foretold by Abraham in Genesis
22:8. But it was very difficult to see how this Suffering Servant
could also be the Lion of Judah. Thus while a spiritually perceptive
minority in Israel were expecting that one day it would be expedient
for that One to die for the nation, everyone in Israel
looked forward to One who would be the Messiah, or Anointed King,
and who would elevate Israel to the headship of the nations,
making Jerusalem the capital of the world. The question was,
How could one reconcile these two roles ‹ Lamb of God and
Lion of Judah ‹ in one individual?
So greatly in conflict were these
two concepts that it came to be quite generally believed they
were not reconcilable in the coming of a single Person. And not
unnaturally the glory to be revealed in the latter, a glory to
be shared by the nation as a whole, easily overshadowed the shame
to be revealed in the former.
Even the prophetic writers themselves
were puzzled by their own inspired writings and kept turning
over in their minds the strangeness of some of the things they
had been instructed to set down. For it was revealed to them
that the suffering of the Messiah was to precede "the glory
that should follow" (1 Peter 1:11). How could such a dying
One also reign for ever as King on the throne of David?
Thus it seemed simpler to hold
the view that two separate individuals were involved; and, human
nature being what it is, the One who was to be the Messiah attained
far greater importance in the public mind than the One who was
coming to be the Saviour. This became increasingly so as the
nation fretted under the oppressive heel of the Romans.
The timetable set forth in Daniel
(9:25) established the time when Messiah should come. But the
rather less welcome cue regarding the intermediate fate of the
Messiah revealed in Daniel 9:26 (that He was to be "cut
off but not for Himself") probably contributed to an almost
total preoccupation with his coming as Messiah. The Jewish people
were surely quite aware of the implications of Daniel 9:25, at
least within comparatively narrow limits, for the timetable there
set forth is very specific indeed. Sir Robert Anderson worked
the details of this timetable
and established a terminal period falling somewhere around 32
We do not need
to defend or challenge his calculations for the present purpose
but only note that by the time of the appearance of John the
Baptist, expectancy in Israel was high (Luke 3:15). Even if the
exact year of Messiah's coming was not positively established,
there is no doubt that everyone was conscious the day was approaching.
They were longing to be freed, to be "delivered out of the
hand of their enemies" as Zacharias put it (Luke 1:74).
Yet not everyone was fixing their attention upon national deliverance.
There were some seeking a personal Saviour, and Mary's psalm
of rejoicing establishes that she was one of them. For she spoke
of rejoicing in God her Saviour (Luke 1:47).
John the Baptist himself seems
to have shared the general messianic anticipation, for this is
the initial burden of his message. But he was also attentive
to the Spirit of God, for when Jesus finally appeared he did
not identify Him as the Messiah at all ‹ but as the Lamb
of God (John 1:29).
It appears that both the common
people and the Jewish national leaders failed to see the significance
of John's actual introduction, and they responded as though he
had in fact said, "Behold the Messiah!" For they submitted
to baptism in order to fulfill at least the outward requirements
of public preparation for the coming of the King whose Court
they expected to be by obeying John's call for ceremonial cleansing.
It has to be realized that after some four hundred years of silence,
John had appeared in the wilderness with all the hallmarks of
a prophet of old ‹ the message, the dress, the food, and
the aura. He was to them an object of intense speculation and
many must have taken it for granted that Elijah had returned
at last to prepare the people for their coming King. Their hour
of glory was fast approaching.
Edersheim provides us with a list
of Old Testament Scriptures which the Jewish doctors had interpreted
as having reference to the Messiah.† They
found such prophetic statements everywhere, bending
* Daniel 9:25 had foretold that Messiah would
come 69 weeks of years (or 483 years) after the decree to rebuild
the temple had been issued by Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1-6). Whether
this was the specific decree to which Nehemiah refers or not
is a matter of debate (dealt with at some length by Sir Robert
Anderson, The Coming Prince, London, Hodder and Stoughton,
1895, p.51, 129). But certainly everyone was in a high state
of expectation, and this expectation was encouraged by the Lord
when, at the time of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He had
said to the Pharisees that if the crowds had remained silent
the very stones would have cried out (Luke 19:40).
† Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus
the Messiah, New York, Herrick and Co., 1883, vol.
II, Appendix IX, pp.740-741.
words and stretching
phrases to make them point to the Messiah, sometimes in a way
which we find scarcely believable. In their eagerness they created
a messianic image largely patterned after the order of the emperors
of this world with whom they were all too familiar. It is no
wonder they entirely failed to recognize the One who nevertheless
did fulfill in his Person and in his ministry the hundreds of
predictions made about Him by the prophets. With hindsight we
find it hard to see how they could possibly have been so blind.
But part of their blindness was due to the fact that all their
attention was concentrated on the role which the Lord was to
play as Conquering King, while they gave almost no attention
whatever to the fact that He must first be the Suffering Servant.
It seems clear that some of them
understood how the Suffering Servant was to give his life: but
then how could He possibly be their Messiah at the same time?
Daniel 9:26 might have forewarned them. The implication of being
"cut off but not for Himself" ought to have prepared
them. And Isaiah 53:10 could have given them a further cue that
the cutting off would somehow be "undone," for He was
to "prolong his days." How else than by resurrection
from the dead? So they failed to see the resurrection as a solution
to the problem. This was true of the disciples also. The truth
is that the disciples did not anticipate his being cut off at
Whatever John the Baptist may personally
have hoped, the essence of his message when he introduced the
Lord was not that Jesus was the Messiah but that He was the Lamb
of God. Previously in his preaching he had called upon the nation
to prepare itself as a people for the coming of their King.
This, he proclaimed, must be done inwardly and outwardly,
by repentance and ritual cleansing. He had not preached a gospel
of personal salvation.
I think we should assume that John
shared to a large extent the current view that the Messiah and
the Suffering Servant were two different persons. And it seems
likely that for him, too, the messianic hope predominated.
When, under inspiration as
a prophet in the Old Testament sense, he saw Jesus coming towards
him, he did not see the Messiah at all but only the Lamb of God.
He did not apparently see any anomaly in what he had been preaching
about Messiah and what he actually declared about the identity
of Jesus. This would not be surprising if he did indeed share
the current concept of two persons rather than one.
And if he were perceptive, he may
also have seen himself as a prophet with two roles: a voice preaching
personal salvation, and a "forerunner" announcing the
coming King. But he seems to have
emphasized the latter
The fact is that John's actual
role could have been either of these and in a sense was both.
It all hinged ultimately upon the response of the nation as represented
by their own appointed authorities to this One whom
he identified as the Lamb of God. So long as the Lord was recognized
only as the Suffering Servant, John's role was simply to be the
Voice. Something more had to happen before he could assume also
the role of a miracle-working Elijah, the forerunner of Messiah.
Whether he was merely a Voice proclaiming
a Saviour or also Elijah proclaiming a King was dependent entirely
upon the subsequent course of events. Had the nation responded
to the Lord by accepting in his Person both Suffering Servant
and Messiah, John the Baptist would have served likewise ‹
both as a voice crying "Salvation!" and as Elijah crying,
"Behold your King!"
John's role therefore hung in the
balance until the Jewish authorities made their decision. Once
they had made up their minds that the Lord was not the
Messiah of their expectations, then John's role was limited to
the introduction of the Saviour, not the King. It was almost
certainly on the strength of this official rejection of the Lord's
Messiahship that Herod felt safe in seizing John and putting
him in prison. He had no fear of retaliation by the Jewish authorities.
John was therefore never called upon to assume the second role:
the role of Elijah, the forerunner of Messiah.
Consider the events which transpired
in John's life while the authorities debated the issue of the
Lord's identity. Had they accepted the Lord as the Messiah, John
would then have assumed his second role as Elijah, Messiah's
forerunner, his proclaimer to the nation at large. Unfortunately,
the Jewish authorities were really only concerned with the coming
of a Messiah of their own vain imagining. Their strong sense
of self-righteousness did not dispose them to look for a Saviour
in the personal sense at all. John's message had therefore had
a comparatively brief impact upon their lives.
If he had assumed this second role,
John the Baptist would not actually have become a different person:
but his significance to the nation, his message, and very likely
his fate, would have been different. And had the Jews themselves
accepted the Lord as Saviour as well as Messiah, John's stature
in the role of Elijah would have made Herod afraid even to imprison
him, let alone putting him to death. And very probably with continued
freedom, John's ministry would have parallelled Elijah's in terms
of miraculous performance as predicted in the Old Testament.
That he did not fulfill this second
role was not his fault but the fault of the Jewish authorities
who had failed to recognize their own
Messiah. Thus although
as a consequence of this failure John actually performed no miracles
such as characterized the ministry of Elijah, the Lord was careful
to point out that this in no way diminished his stature as a
prophet. Indeed, the Lord said, "If ye will receive
it, this IS Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:12-14),
or to put this cryptic statement a little more explicitly, "If
ye will receive the Kingdom with Myself as King, this is Elijah
who was to come. It was for this reason that the Lord was to
say to the disciples later on, in a context of particular significance
(Matthew 17:12), that as they had killed John the Baptist, so
they would kill Him. The two actions are inseparably connected.
Because John could only fulfill half his mission, it would transpire
in time that the Lord also would only fulfill half his mission
before the Jewish people at that time. But because He knew that
in the end He would indeed fulfill both roles, He could also
tell them with assurance that Elijah would indeed yet come (Matthew
Once John had completed his role
as a Voice crying in the wilderness and had been the means of
identifying the Lord as the Lamb of God so successfully that
men who had previously been his followers now began to
turn from John and become the disciples of Jesus, then the Lord
moved away from the area in which John baptized, being sensitive
to the effect that his presence was having on John's ministry
(John 4:1‹3). It was then that John's true greatness was
manifested as he openly declared his acceptance of his own lessening
role: "He must increase but I must decrease" (John
Then, for reasons not directly
connected with John's ministry in preparing the way for Jesus,
Herod imprisoned him. The experience must have come as something
of a shock to John, for he may have expected he would receive
special protection against such a contingency from the Lord Himself.
As he languished in prison, it seems to have troubled him even
more that the Lord did not, as a proof of his true identity,
do something dramatic to secure his release. John may have thought
to himself, "Could it be, after all, that Jesus is only
the Suffering Servant and therefore not really in a position
to assert his lordship? Why does He not act on my behalf? Because
He cannot?" So he sent word to Jesus asking Him, "Art
Thou He that should come (a common synonym for the Messiah]
or do we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3).
I do not think for one moment that
John ever had any doubts about the Lord's identity as the Lamb
of God. But when he found himself in prison it must have been
very difficult for him, as he reflected on the events of the
past months, to reconcile the Lord's apparent acquiescence in
his own imprisonment with his identity as Messiah. Could it be
that He was, after all, only the Suffering Servant of Isaiah
53 and no more? Could
it be that there was another who was yet to come in the role
of Messiah? There seems to be little doubt that this was the
basis of his inquiry as recorded in Matthew 11:2ff.
The Lord's reply to John was a
gracious reminder of the fact that He was indeed fulfilling the
role of Messiah precisely as set forth in Isaiah 35. He was opening
the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf as verse 5 promised,
the lame were wonderfully healed and the dumb praised the Lord
exactly as verse 6 predicted. Since Jewish commentators had always
applied these verses to messianic times,* John could only draw
one conclusion: namely, that Jesus who was indeed the Lamb was
also the Messiah.
There is no doubt
that the Lord must have longed to set John free, for when He
received the report of John's death by beheading, He was deeply
moved. He had lost one who was personally important to Him in
a special way. But the national die had also been cast, for Herod
had correctly read the common temper of his countrymen and had
confidence that there would not be any outcry at the execution
of Messiah's supposed forerunner. The Lord, of course, knew what
this portended in its immediate context, although as we know
from Mark 13:32, He was not yet certain as to the final outcome.
He Himself was apparently kept at first from absolute certainty
of his final rejection, but John's death was certainly an ominous
The confusion that clouded John's
mind seems to have been shared by the disciples also, although
their confusion prior to the crucifixion stemmed from a rather
different cause. Whereas John had identified the Lord as the
Lamb but evidently had doubts as to his role as Messiah, the
circumstances surrounding Peter's great confession (Matthew 16:13‹16;
Mark 8:27‹33; Luke 9:18‹21) show by contrast that the
disciples had identified the Lord as Messiah but had not understood
his role as the Lamb of God. In Mark 8:29 Peter made his great
confession, "Thou art the Messiah." But in verse 31
the Lord "began to show them that the Son of man must suffer
many things, and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests,
and scribes, and be killed and after three days rise again."
Moreover, we are told in verse 32 that He "spake that saying
openly" ‹ that is to say, plainly, without equivocation,
not as a remote possibility but rather as an absolute certainty.
And Peter at once took Him to task and began to rebuke Him. Matthew
16:22 shows that Peter was very vehement. "Be it far from
thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee." But the Lord turned
and rebuked him in no uncertain terms. The fact is that Peter
did not recognize the Lamb
* Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times
of Jesus the Messiah, New York, Herrick and Co., 1883,
vol.II, Appendix IX, especially p.725.
even though it was as
the Lamb of God that John had directed him to Jesus in the first
place.* Moreover, it is doubtful if Peter paid any attention
to the Lord's words, "and shall rise again the third day."
He simply could not admit the Lord's death as a possibility.
The Lord was the Messiah and Messiah was to reign for ever.
This may have been
one reason why Peter's courage failed him when Jesus was brought
to trial. He simply did not believe that the Lord, if He were
truly the Messiah, would accept such indignities without any
resistance whatever. And the doubt that wedged its way into his
mind created an inner conflict in his heart that simply cancelled
him out. He lost all his bearings, overcome with a crippling
sense of indecision.
This same doubt had obviously been
shared equally by those whom the Lord overtook on the way to
Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31). This is a marvelous account, a masterpiece
of inspired literature. The details will be familiar enough,
but I want to draw particular attention to verses 21‹27.
Disappointment echoing in every word, the two travellers said,
"We trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed
Israel." I believe they thought only in terms of national
redemption, of a Messiah who should set them free from Roman
domination. They do not seem to have thought at all in terms
of personal salvation. It was not a Saviour but a Messiah who
had been their hope.
But now everything seemed to be
in a shambles since obviously Jesus could not possibly have been
the Messiah. He had been put to death and sealed in a tomb. He
had submitted to the Romans, not conquered them.
He had stood meekly in Pilate's court, flogged by Roman soldiers,
crowned by Roman soldiers in mockery, abused by Roman soldiers
in the most shameful way, and crucified by Roman soldiers. How
could He possibly be the Messiah?
As He walked along beside these
two disappointed travellers, Jesus gently rebuked them for their
lack of understanding. So blinded were they that they did not
even recognize Him. Perhaps it was already getting dark. But
He said to them, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe
all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Messiah to have
suffered many things, and [only then] to have entered into his
glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the prophets,
He spoke unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning
Himself, for it is indeed "in the volume of the Book"
that it is written of Him!
It is very important to keep these
circumstances in mind, because this confusion between the two
roles which the Lord had to play was shared by almost everyone,
believers and unbelievers alike. That it
* Even then the disciples rejoiced in the
appearance of Messiah (John 1:41,49).
was a real factor in
the rejection by the Jewish people of their Messiah and that
it was the basic determinant in their insistence upon
his crucifixion, can be shown very readily from Scripture itself.
It can be said, in a manner of speaking, that it was this mistake
on their part which really made possible the ultimate fulfillment
of the Plan of Redemption in both its physiological and its spiritual
I believe it was a genuine
mistake, yet it was a mistake for all that. They certainly
hated the Lord (John 15:25): they hated Him partly because He
revealed their hypocrisy and thereby undermined their religious
authority. But they hated Him also because they genuinely believed
that the Messianic claims He made for Himself were invalid. Somehow
they had to find a way to have Him discredited as a pretended
Messiah, by placing Him in such a position that He would either
be rescued by God from his predicament as a sign that they were
mistaken in their judgment, or forsaken by God as a proof that
they were correct. It seems to me important to separate two motivating
forces underlying their behaviour towards the Lord. In the first
place, they hated Him murderously because He had already disabused
their pretended self-righteousness, openly and with tremendous
force. But because they had imposed their own ambitious dreams
upon their interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies, they
seem genuinely to have believed He could not possibly be the
Messiah since He was not fulfilling the kind of role they had
created for Messiah.
In Matthew 9:2‹8 we have a
revealing incident in this connection. Although we have already
had occasion to examine it, we must now view it once again in
a new light. Here it is written:
Behold, they brought to him
one sick of the palsy, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins
be forgiven thee."
And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, "This
And Jesus, knowing their thoughts,
said, "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For which
is easier to say, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee' or to say, 'Arise,
and walk'? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power
on earth to forgive sins," ‹ He then said to the sick
of the palsy ‹ "Arise, take up thine bed, and go unto
And he arose, and departed to his
But when the multitude saw it,
they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power
Now, what was
the Lord really doing here? In the context of Old Testament prophetic
announcements about the coming Redeemer, forgiveness was to be
the act of a Saviour, whereas healing was to be the act of a
Messiah. The Lord Jesus was saying, "It makes no difference
whether I act in the role of Saviour and say you are forgiven,
or whether I act in
the role of Messiah and heal his sickness. In either role, God
is with Me and the man will be healed." And in order to
demonstrate to them that God was not offended by the claim He
had just made, He then said to the man, "Arise, take up
your bed and go to your house." And the man did!
This must have genuinely puzzled
the Jewish authorities. How could this be possible? How could
this man make such claims with impunity? How could a man who
appeared so unlike their envisioned Messiah, claim prerogatives
belonging only to God without at once losing his power to do
miracles? Some said, "He is a blasphemer"; others said,
"Nay, but He has extraordinary powers to heal." So
the Jews were divided among themselves.
As a consequence, because they
discounted his messianic claims, they became increasingly determined
to see Him disqualified by the only means they knew ‹ by
having Him crucified. Crucifixion was the surest way of demonstrating
that the victim was not merely rejected of men but cursed
of God (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13). If God allowed
Him to be crucified, that would surely settle the issue.
is the evidence that they really were mistaken in this respect
and not merely hateful? Consider the following passages of Scripture.
The strongest evidence must surely be the Lord's prayer from
the cross: "Father, forgive them for they know not what
they do" (Luke 23:34). Peter may have learned of this prayer
later, for he was to say after the crucifixion, "And now,
brethren, I know that ye acted in ignorance, just as your rulers
did also" (Acts 3:17, NASB). Paul likewise supported Peter's
contention when, in 1 Corinthians 2:8, he said that had the princes
of this world known, "they would not have crucified the
Lord of glory."
Certainly during the Lord's ministry
there was much divided opinion among the authorities as to his
true identity (John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19). There were many who did
believe on Him even among the chief rulers (John 12:42), but
they were afraid to confess Him lest they be turned out of the
synagogues by the Pharisees. On the other hand, there were many
who did not believe on Him at all.
It should be borne in mind that
the Lord Himself warned them that after they had crucified Him
they would realize their mistake: afterwards, but not
before (John 8:28). And this came to pass. For it will be remembered
that when He was buried, they were concerned that particular
care should be taken to prevent his body from being stolen lest
the claim should then be made that He had risen from the dead.
In Matthew 27:64 they made the damaging admission that if it
should be reported to the people that "He is risen from
the dead . . . the last error shall be worse than the
first." At the time of his
crucifixion, as Isaiah
had foretold (Isaiah 53:4), they really did consider Him "smitten
The final decision for an official
rejection seems to have come after an event which above all ought
to have produced precisely the opposite effect. This event was
the Lord's ride into the city and the presentation of Himself
under circumstances which, as we look back, were so obviously
fulfilling the role of the Messiah that we can only wonder at
their blindness. No doubt it was in precise keeping with the
timetable set by Daniel that the Lord thus rode into Jerusalem
just as Zechariah 9:9 had foretold He would: "Rejoice greatly,
O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy
King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly,
riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."
And this is exactly how He did ride into his city on this occasion
Most of those in the crowd entered
into the excitement, though perhaps hardly knowing why. But many
of the disciples, believing they understood the portent of his
action, welcomed Him in the appropriate words of certain messianic
psalms. When the authorities advised the Lord that He ought to
rebuke the enthusiasm of his disciples, He replied: "I tell
you that if these should hold their peace, the very stones would
immediately cry out" (Luke 19:40).
He proceeded then, as was proper,
to the Temple ‹ the seat of Jewish national authority. But
there He found ‹ as He must have known He would find ‹
no signs of a genuine change of heart such as might have been
expected at a time like this and in view of John's preaching
and their public response to it. How sadly He must have left
the Temple precincts and wended his way outside the city, weeping
over its fate. "O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . your house
is left unto you desolate; for I say unto you, you shall not
see Me [as your Messiah] henceforth, till you, too, are ready
to say [as these common people who welcomed Me this day have
said] 'Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.'"
(Matthew 23:37‹39). And according to Luke 19:42 and 44 He
said, "If thou hadst known, even thou, O Jerusalem, at
least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!
But now are they hid from thine eyes . . . and they shall lay
thee even with the ground, and thy children with thee; and they
shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou
knewest not the time of thy visitation."
Everything had combined to reveal his
identity: yet they had missed it through prejudice and pride.
Henceforth they could only be determined upon one thing, and
that was to prove Him an impostor.
The national leaders were thereupon
guilty of conducting a mockery of a trial designed to condemn
Him to be worthy of death by
crucifixion. Yet this
mock trial actually served a divine purpose, for it provided
an opportunity for public disclosure not of his guilt as a false
Messiah but of his absolute innocence as the Lamb of
God. It may have been entirely by inspiration or it may have
been the result of some kind of awareness of this wonderful truth
that the High Priest proclaimed at the end of the trial, "It
was expedient one man should die for the people" (John 11:50).
At any rate, his utterance seems to have been the last prophetic
statement ever made by a High Priest in Israel.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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And so as an official body they
performed the function of the priests in the Old Testament who
had the solemn duty of examining the Passover Lamb. Having first
established that this Lamb of God was absolutely without blemish
and without spot, they then declared it to be truly a worthy
sacrificial victim. This was not their intention and so
it came about that "by wicked hands" (Acts 2:23) they
effectively carried out the predeterminate council of God, a
predeterminate council without which no man could otherwise ever
The rest of this volume is concerned
with the events associated with that sacrificial death that had
to be specifically upon a cross, and with the Lord's bodily resurrection,
specifically after three days and without seeing corruption.
These two circumstances are crucial to our salvation for reasons
that are apt to be overlooked and, as will be seen, their critical
importance hinges upon the unique series of events surrounding
the preparation of his body ‹ for it was in his body that
He bore our sins on the cross and it was by his bodily resurrection
without seeing corruption that the validation of that death as
a sacrifice on our behalf was finally secured in heaven.