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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Appendixes


     

Part IV: Triumph Over Death

Chapter 26

Lamb Of God And Lion Of Judah

And Abraham said,
My son, God will provide Himself 
a lamb for a burnt-offering.

(Genesis 22:8)

Behold!
the Lamb of God
who taketh away the sin of the world.

(John 1:29)

Weep not!
Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the root of David
hath prevailed.

(Revelation 5:5)

     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).

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     His 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 18:37).
     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.

     Consider, then, 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:
          Thou who wast taken up in a whirlwind of fire,
          and in a chariot of fiery horses,
          It is written that you are to come at the appointed time with warnings,
          To allay divine wrath before its final fury,
          And 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.

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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 out

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the details of this timetable and established a terminal period falling somewhere around 32 A.D. *
     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.

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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 all!
     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

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emphasized the latter role.
     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  

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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 17:11).
     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 4:13). 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 3:30).
     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

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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 harbinger.
     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 16:1316; Mark 8:2733; Luke 9:1821) 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.

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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 2127. 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).

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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 aspects.
     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 9:28 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 man blasphemeth."
     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 thine house."
     And he arose, and departed to his house.
     But when the multitude saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

     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,

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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.

     What, then, 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  

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crucifixion, as Isaiah had foretold (Isaiah 53:4), they really did consider Him "smitten of God."
     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 (Matthew 21:1-9).
     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 23:3739). 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  

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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.
     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 be saved.
     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.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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