“He was reckoned among the transgressors.”
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here [are] two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.”
There are many things revealed in these verses that we need to read often and lay to heart, asking God the Holy Spirit to graciously and effectually apply them to us continually.
Š Our great enemy, Satan, the prince of darkness, constantly seeks the everlasting destruction of our souls. He desires to have us. He is “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He is “the accuser of the brethren.” He constantly works evil in the world, among men, and in the churches of Christ.
Š The great and only security of our souls from the adversary is our Lord Jesus Christ, His power, His grace, His sacrifice, and His mediation and intercession. He says to His own, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (v. 32). “They that are with Him [in heaven] are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14) because He has made them so.
Š When God’s elect fall, they shall be converted. The Lord Jesus said to Peter, “when thou art converted.” There was no possibility that Peter might not be restored (Malachi 3:6). “A just man falleth seven times and riseth up again” because the Lord raises him up by His grace (Proverbs 24:16), “for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand” (Psalm 37:24).
Š We, who experience God’s grace, ought to take great pleasure in helping one another, especially counting it our privilege and honor to help those who are fallen. — “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Galatians 6:1-2).
Š Learn this too: We ought to devote all to Christ, and use every reasonable means at our disposable for our Master, to faithfully serve Him (vv. 35-36).
“And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”
Our Lord’s words here are not to be taken literally, but as a proverbial saying. Until our Savior comes again, we are to make a diligent use of everything God has given us. We are not to expect miracles to be performed to save us from trouble and labor. We are not to expect bread to fall from heaven into our mouths, if we refuse to work for it. We are not to expect difficulties and enemies to be overcome, if we will not wrestle, and struggle and take pains. J. C. Ryle wrote…
“We shall do well to lay to heart our Lord’s words in this place, and to act habitually on the principle which they contain. Let us labor, and toil, and give, and speak, and act, and write for Christ, as if all depended on our exertions. And yet let us never forget that success depends entirely on God’s blessing! To expect success by our own ‘purse’ and ‘sword’ is pride and self-righteousness. But to expect success without the ‘purse and sword’ is presumption and fanaticism. Let us do as Jacob did when he met his brother Esau. He used all innocent means to conciliate and appease him. But when he had done all, he spent all night in prayer (Genesis 32:1-24).”
Those are all very important lessons. We need to be often reminded of them. But, in this study I want to focus your attention on our Savior’s statement in verse 37. — “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.”
First, the Lord Jesus says, “that this that is written must yet be accomplished.” The Scriptures speak of many things that simply must be; they must be because the Lord God has ordained them and declared that they must be. Let me remind you of just a couple of them.
There is a multitude of sinners in this world, who are the objects of God’s everlasting love and grace in Christ, who must be born again (John 3:7). The Lord Jesus did not simply say to Nicodemus, “You really should be born again,” or “You need to be born again,” or “I urge you to be born again.” Our Savior said to Nicodemus — “Ye must be born again!”
This is not a matter of speculation on my part. John tells us later on in his Gospel (19:38-40) that Nicodemus came with Joseph of Arimathaea to beg the body of the Lord Jesus from Pilate, and made considerable sacrifice for His burial. At the appointed time of love and grace, Nicodemus was, according to the purpose of God, born again.
I take Nicodemus to be a representative of all God’s elect. The Lord Jesus says, concerning all chosen sinners, “Ye must be born again;” and they shall, every one of them, at God’s appointed time, be born again. This is a matter of absolute certainty, because it is a matter of absolute necessity.
Why must God’s elect be born again? What necessity is there for this? God’s elect must be born again because we need it. — Though chosen and redeemed, though predestinated to eternal salvation, none of God’s elect can ever be saved apart from the new birth. Here are seven clearly revealed reasons why God’s elect must be born again.
1. We must be born again because we were all born wrong the first time (Psalms 51:5; 58:3). Because we were born wrong the first time, unless we are born again, we can neither see nor enter into the kingdom of God.
2. Every one of the elect must be born again because God, who cannot lie, promised it, before the world began (Titus 1:2; Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Timothy 1:9).
3. All the chosen must be born again because election demands it (2 Thessalonians 2: 13-14). If even one of those chosen to salvation should fail to obtain salvation, then God’s election is meaningless, His purpose is useless, His love is worthless, and His Word is comfortless! If God cannot be trusted to do this, to save the people He purposed to save from eternity, He cannot be trusted to do anything (Ephesians 1:3-6).
4. God’s elect must all be born again, because predestination arranged it. Predestination is God’s appointment and arrangement of all things from eternity to secure the salvation of His chosen (Romans 8:28-30).
5. Every one of God’s elect must, without exception, be born again, because the sin-atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ has obtained it and demands it (Hebrews 9:12).
6. Every chosen, blood-bought sinner in this world must be born again, because our God wills it. It is written, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Someone may ask, “How do you know that is what 2 Peter 3:9 teaches?” We know because 2 Peter 3:15 tells us so. — “The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”
7. And all the chosen, all who were predestinated to eternal life, all the redeemed, all of them must be born again, because the Holy Spirit was sent here to do it (John 6:37-40, 44-45, 63).
In John 4:4 we read that the Son of God must go through Samaria, because the time of love had come for a chosen sinner in Samaria. When the appointed time of love has come, the time in which the chosen, redeemed sinner shall be born again, then our great God and compassionate Savior “must needs” go to where the chosen, redeemed sinner is and give life to the object of His love; and He shall. Election marked the house into which Christ must come. Predestination set the time of His coming. Blood atonement paved the road on which He would come. Providence brings Him to the appointed house at the appointed time. Efficacious grace brings Him in (Isaiah 55:11).
Here, in Luke 22:37 the Son of God tells us of the absolute necessity of His death upon the cursed tree as our Substitute. — “This that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors.” The Son of God must die as he did, because the Scriptures must be fulfilled (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53). The particular passage He quotes here is Isaiah 53:12.
“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world with a commission, on a mission of mercy, under the bondage of His own voluntary suretyship engagements, which He assumed for us as the Surety of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews 7:22; Matthew 1:21).
The death of our Lord Jesus Christ was no accident. It was not something which came to pass because of man’s free will, or because the Jews would not let Him be their king! The Lord Jesus died at Calvary, because He must die at Calvary. As He Himself declared, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:22).
The word “must” means “necessary” or “binding.” It is used to describe that which is absolutely vital. Why? What necessity was there for the death of the Son of God upon the cursed tree? Why must this Holy One be made sin for us? Why must this Savior be put to death? Our Savior has told us that His death as our Substitute was necessary, because the Scriptures, which declared hundreds of years earlier, “He was reckoned among the transgressors,” must be fulfilled. But there are other things that made His sacrificial, sin-atoning death upon the cursed tree necessary.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ must die at Jerusalem as He did, because God the Father purposed it from eternity (Acts 2:23).
2. Our dear Savior had to die at Jerusalem, in order to fulfil His covenant engagements for us. Our Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily assumed all responsibility for our souls in the covenant of grace; but once He assumed that responsibility, He must fulfil it. He is honor bound to do so (Genesis 43:8-9; John 10:18; Acts 13:29).
3. It was absolutely necessary for the Lord Jesus Christ to die as He did upon the cursed tree, lifted up from the earth, in order for the holy Lord God to save us from our sins (Romans 3:24-26; John 3:14-17). If God would save us from our sins, He could only do it this way, because righteousness must be maintained, sin must be punished, justice must be satisfied, forgiveness must be legitimate, and the love of God must be blameless.
The Lord God was not, in any way, compelled, by anything outside Himself, to save anyone. But, having determined to save some of Adam’s fallen race, He could not do so except upon the grounds of justice satisfied. He was not compelled to save us. But, having chosen to save us, He could not do so except by the sacrifice of His own dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. — “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged.”
Have an End
Now, look at the last line of Luke 22:37. Our Savior says, “the things concerning Me,” all of them, all the things written of Him in the Old Testament Scripture, all things decreed from eternity concerning Him, He said, “have an end.” That is to say, everything decreed, purposed, and written concerning Me have a specific design, goal, and intent, a conclusion, a termination, a predestined result, and a divinely ordained finality.
When He who knew no sin was made sin for us, when He bearing our sins in His own body on the tree was made a curse for us, when He had suffered all the fulness of God’s wrath and justice as our Substitute, our blessed Savior cried, “It is finished!...Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Then, He reverently bowed His head as an obedient servant, whose work was finished, presenting Himself to the Father, and gave up the ghost. At that moment, all things decreed and written of Him had achieved their goal and predestined result with finality, and came to their end, their conclusion, and their termination (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22:12; Isaiah 53:5-12; Daniel 9:25-26; Zechariah 12:10; 13:6-7).
All the requirements of His engagements as our covenant Surety, all His obligation as our Surety ended. All the shadows, types, promises, and prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures ended. The law of God ended (Romans 10:4). The fury, wrath, and vengeance of Divine justice was ended for Him and for all His people. Jehovah declares to His chosen, “fury is not in me” (Isaiah 27:4). Judgment ended for His redeemed. Our sin and guilt before God ended (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 2:13-17; 1 Peter 4:1-2; Romans 8:1).
How we ought to rejoice and give thanks to our God for the fact that the designed purpose of our Savior in coming into this world had its end (Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 10:10-14). — “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (John 13:31).
In the light of all this, let me show you one more thing that must be. In John 3:29-30 we read…
“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Christ is the Bridegroom. — “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom.” Gospel preachers are friends of the Bridegroom. We stand before the Bridegroom. We listen for the Bridegroom’s voice. We rejoice to hear His voice. Our joy is fulfilled when we are used of God to bring the bride and the Bridegroom together.
And the Bridegroom’s friend, every true servant of God, is anxious to turn honor and attention away from himself to Christ, the Bridegroom. This is the prayer, desire, and determination of every true, faithful servant of God. — “He must increase; but I must decrease.” Christ is from heaven and is heavenly. We are just men of the earth, and earthly (v. 31). We will soon fade away. Christ is eternal. Christ is Himself the Revelation of God. We are just His messengers (v. 32). Christ has the Spirit without measure. We have the Spirit as He is measured to us (v. 34). To believe me or any other man is meaningless. To believe him is to seal this fact to your own heart, that God is true (v. 33). Christ must increase, because the Father has put all things in His hands (v. 35). Christ must increase, because He alone is our Savior. — “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
“He must increase; but I must decrease.” The more I decrease, the more I delight just to stand before Him and hear His voice. And the more I stand before Him and hear His voice, the more He will increase before me, and I decrease before Him.
Oh, let Christ increase and me decrease! We cannot be occupied with more than one thing at a time. Let us ever be occupied with Christ, and not with ourselves! The more we are occupied with Him, the less we shall be occupied with ourselves.
Humility is not something we cultivate. Rather, it is something that comes from beholding the Lord Jesus Christ. The more I try to be humble, the more proud I become. But the more I stand in His presence, hear His voice, and behold Him, the more I am occupied with Him, the more humbled I am before Him. — “He must increase; but I must decrease!”
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