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October 26 Today’s Reading: Luke 21-22
“Being in an Agony”
What was the cause of Your agony, O blessed Savior? What was the cause of this great heaviness and sorrow, this grief and agony that crushed Your holy heart? What was the great heaviness of Your tender soul that night? What so greatly disturbed You, my Redeemer? I know it was not the fear of physical pain, the fear of death, or even the fear of dying upon the cross.
It was not death on the cross that our Redeemer agonized over in Gethsemane. He stated very emphatically that He came for the purpose of dying as our Substitute upon the cursed tree. We should read the record of our Savior’s agony here in light of His earlier temptation in the wilderness. After that temptation, Satan left Him for a season, awaiting another opportunity to assault Him (Luke 4:13). In Gethsemane the prince of this world launched his final assault upon the Lord Jesus. Just as he assaulted Adam in the garden of Eden, he assaulted the last Adam in the garden of Gethsemane. In Gethsemane the serpent bruised the heel of the woman’s Seed; and in Gethsemane the woman’s Seed again overthrew his assault.
Agony of Anticipating
That which crushed our Savior’s heart was the anticipation of being made sin for us. The heavy, heavy burden which crushed His very soul was the enormous load of sin and guilt, the sin and guilt of all God’s elect, which was about to be made His. Our Savior’s great sorrow was caused by His anticipation of being made sin for us. “It was,” wrote J.C. Ryle, “a sense of the unutterable weight of our sins and transgressions which were then specially laid upon Him.” He who knew no sin was about to be made sin for us. He who is the only man who really knows what sin is, the only man who sees sin as God sees it was about to become sin. He who is the holy, harmless, undefiled Lamb of God was about to be made a curse for us. The holy Son of God was about to be forsaken by His Father.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “began to be sore amazed,” to be in great consternation and astonishment, at the sight of all the sins of His people coming upon Him, at the black storm of Divine wrath that was gathering thick over Him, at the sword of justice which was brandished against Him, and at the curses of God’s holy law and inflexible justice, which, like thunderbolts of vengeance from heaven, were directed at Him. In consideration of these things, our Savior began “to be very heavy!” That which crushed our Savior’s very heart and soul was the very thing for which He came into the world: — the prospect of what He must endure as our Substitute.
The message of the Word of God in its entirety is Substitution. The Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate God, our Mediator and Surety, died in our place, in the place of God’s elect as our Substitute. By His own blood, when He was made sin for us, when He was slain in our stead, He satisfied the justice of God for us, magnified His holy law, made it honorable, and purchased for us the complete, everlasting forgiveness of all our sins. He died, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Christ died at Calvary so that God might be both just and the Justifier of all who believe. It is written, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged” (Proverbs 16:6; Romans 3:19-28; Ephesians 1:7). Since the Lord Jesus Christ died as the sinners’ Substitute, since He has met and fully satisfied the justice of God for us, believing sinners have no reason ever to fear condemnation by God, accusation before God, or separation from God (Romans 8:1-4, 31-39).
It was the enormous load of our sin and guilt which crushed our Divine Substitute’s heart in Gethsemane (Isaiah 53:4-6).
What a horrible, monstrous, ignominious thing sin must be! Nothing so displays the exceeding sinfulness of sin as the death of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. When the holy Lord God found sin on His own darling Son, He killed him. God poured out all the unmitigated fury of His wrath upon His own darling Son, when He found sin upon Him, and forsook Him. Those facts ought to startle every human being. They assure us that if God finds sin on us, He will do the same thing to us forever. Let us never look lightly upon sin. At the very thought of being made sin for us, our dear Savior’s heart was broken and He sweat “great drops of blood falling to the ground!” O Spirit of God, let me never look lightly upon that horrid evil in me for which my dear Savior suffered such agony and died such a horrible death in my stead!