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“I Am Become Vile”
As we read this passage of Holy Scripture, we hear the all-holy Christ, the spotless, sinless Lamb of God make a shocking confession. — “See, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile!” How can this be? Can these truly be the words of him who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners?” Is it possible that that One who had no sin, did no sin, and knew no sin could bow before the triune Jehovah with broken heart and cry, “I am become vile”?
For a man to say that of him, would be utter blasphemy at its greatest depth, if he did not declare it himself. But if he declares it of himself, though no man can comprehend the mystery or explain the wonder of it, we can and should fall on our faces before him and worship in utter astonishment.
When our Lord Jesus Christ was made sin for us, when the reproaches of them that reproached the Almighty fell on him, when he bare our sin in his own body on the tree, the Lamb of God made himself vile before the triune Jehovah that he might be justly punished as our Substitute. Read what the Savior says about himself, when he was made sin for us who knew no sin (Psalm 40:12; 69:5-9, 19-20); and hear him with humble faith and reverent joy.
Let me give you just one illustration of this vileness which our blessed Savior claims as his own for us. O wonder of wonders! O mercy of mercies! His beauty made ours makes us the perfection of beauty, only because our vileness made his made him vile, when he was made sin for us!
In Ezekiel 4 the Lord God sent his prophet to the nation to declare wrath and judgment. But, in the midst of the declaration, he gave a picture of hope. Ezekiel was required to lay on his side, first on his left for 390 days and then on his right for 40 days. Each of the 390 days represented the 390 years of Israel’s open rebellion and turning to idolatry in setting up their golden calves at Dan and Bethel. The 40 days on his right side represented the 40 years of idolatry under Manasseh’s wicked, idolatrous reign in Judah.
Ezekiel was required to lay on his side as one man bearing the sins of many, and bearing them to the full extent of their just punishment, “according to their iniquity!” As he did so, he made himself polluted, unclean, and vile by God’s command, eating his bread (one 12 ounce loaf a day made of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and fitches) smeared over with cow’s dung (vv. 12-15).
2 Corinthians 5:21
So it was with our blessed Savior, when he suffered the wrath of God in our stead upon the cursed tree. — “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Every effort of men to explain how the Son of God was made sin for us falls infinitely short and should be an embarrassment to the man who made the effort. Who can understand, let alone explain this wondrous mystery? Rejoice, my soul, in knowing this — The Lord Jesus Christ really was made sin for us, and God’s elect really are made the righteousness of God in him!