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From the Cradle to the Cross
The Holy Spirit in various parts of the Old Testament gave us all that we need to know beforehand about the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord. The Second Coming and the Reign of Christ was also given by the Spirit in the Old Testament writings, in a detailed way.
We will just now confine ourselves to this: "From the cradle to the Cross." We will use only such Scriptures as are given us by the Prophet Isaiah. We are not dealing with the birth of Christ inasmuch as that part of the theme was presented in another study.
1. Our Scripture says: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse." As we think of this statement, we must remember that David was the stem of Jesse, and that Christ was the stem of David. The lineage covering each distinctive son from Jesse to Christ is given us in the Book of Matthew. This lineage comes down to us by the way of Solomon and presents the kingly line concluding with Joseph, the legal but not actual father of Christ. Had Joseph been the actual father of Christ, the Lord Jesus could never sit on the throne of David and prosper. This is established by a verse of Scripture found in Jeremiah 22:30 , where the following words are spoken concerning Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. "Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his day: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah."
A second genealogy is given in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus Christ is traced back to David and beyond, through Nathan, David's son. This genealogy starts with Heli, the father of Mary, and does not cover the kingly line. Jesus, therefore, is the stem of Jesse and of David through Nathan and Heli and Mary without being the son of Joseph. His right, judicially, to the throne of David is therefore doubly his. He has that right as a son of David, through Nathan. He also has it as the legal son of David, through Solomon, inasmuch as by Joseph's marriage to Mary, Christ became the legal heir to the throne.
2. Our Scripture suggests that the watchful eye of God, the Father, was upon God the Son as He grew up before Him as a Branch out of Jesse's roots. When we think that the Word of God, is forever settled in Heaven, and that it was given unto men by the Spirit; we cannot but also think of how the Father has watched over the written Word, through many translations. Through the centuries which have intervened since the Bible was written it has been Divinely kept from mutilation. We believe that we have the Bible, today, without any doctrine or vital message marred by reason of the years or of translations.
When we think of Jesus Christ, the Logos made flesh, and dwelling among us; we cannot but remember how the eye of God also watched over Him in the days of His infancy. Both the written Word, and Christ, the Living Word, were kept sacredly secure from harm in the hand of God. Both were hated and yet preserved; both have been maligned, thrust by human sword, and yet both still live, and are alive forevermore.
That Jesus grew up before the Father, and under the Father's watching eye, is established by the word of the angel commanding Joseph to flee into Egypt, when Herod sought the young Child to slay Him. The hidden years from the cradle to the twelfth year, and from the twelfth year to the baptism may be hidden to men, and to history; but they were never hidden to God. There was not a moment that God was not watching over His Son.
This is all certified by the words which were spoken by the Father at the baptism, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
I. THE FORERUNNER OF CHRIST (Isaiah 40:3 )
"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
Following the birth of Christ, we are brought by God, through the Prophet Isaiah, to the hour preceding His baptism and public ministry.
1. We have before us the preaching of John the Baptist. We remember the story of how Zecharias, the father of John, had his lips opened, as he, filled with the Holy Ghost, prophesied at the circumcision of his infant child John, who afterward became known as John the Baptist.
Zecharias said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David." Then turning to his child, and quoting from Isaiah 40:3 , our key text, he said: "And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways."
2. We have before us a prophecy that proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord and God. Men of today may hesitate to ascribe unto Jesus Christ the dignity of Deity, but the Prophets of old never so hesitated. Nor did the angel who made announcement to Mary of Christ's birth, so hesitate; nor did the Father, Himself, so hesitate.
Isaiah, the Prophet, time and again ascribed Deity to Christ. In this same 40th chapter of Isaiah, we read in Isaiah 40:9 a command concerning Christ: "Lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" The next verse continues, " Behold, the Lord God will come."
II. THE SPIRIT'S ANOINTING (Isaiah 11:1-3 )
During the years in Nazareth Christ was known in no large way, because God was seeking to hold back the further annunciation of His Sonship, until the hour came for His public ministry. Thus, after thirty years of almost unrecognized and unknown experiences, Jesus Christ was suddenly thrust upon the conscience of the Jewish people by His Baptism.
1. The journey to the Jordan. It was at least sixty miles that Christ pressed along His way, perhaps afoot; to the place where John was baptizing in the river Jordan. John had already announced that there was One coming after him, who was preferred before him, because He was before him. In this statement John acknowledged the Deity and eternity of Christ, the Son of God, inasmuch as Christ was not before John in any physical sense; John being six months older than Jesus. Jesus was, therefore, before John only, in the sense that He was the Eternal Son, without beginning and without end.
2. The baptism in the Jordan. When Jesus came to John, John hesitated, saying: "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" Jesus immediately replied: "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Then, John suffered Him.
3. The coming of the Spirit. As Jesus stood in the waters, following His baptism, we read in the Bible that He prayed. As He prayed, the heavens were opened and the Spirit descended in bodily form, as a dove, and lighted upon Him. All of this was done that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the Spirit, through the Prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him." The Spirit, also, had written through the Prophet in Isaiah 42:1 , "Behold My servant whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him."
The Lord evidently stopped at the water's edge after His baptism, and claimed the promise of the coming of the Spirit as set forth in the references above.
The glory of this anointing of the Spirit, is set forth in our key text: "The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." May God grant to each one of us, that we may have a like anointing; and the Spirit resting upon us.
III. THE THREE YEARS OF MINISTRY OUTLINED (Isaiah 61:1-3 )
Our key verses proclaim to us, a resume of the three years which Christ spent among men, the years between His baptism and His ascension. If you want to sum up the Life of Christ, you will find it, here, in an epitomized form. The words in Isaiah, are quoted in the 4th chapter of Luke, and, afterward, we read, "And He began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." Let us note some of the things which Isaiah foretold of Christ:
1. Christ was to be anointed to preach good tidings unto the meek. The word "good tidings" is suggestive of "good news." The word "Gospel" covers the meaning of the word "good tidings." This is what Christ preached, and this same good news, is what He has given us to preach.
2. Christ was to be sent to bind up broken hearts. The Gospel is a balm to weary, bruised, and broken hearts. Wherever our Lord went, He went about doing good. He knew how to say: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
3. Christ was to come to set the captives at liberty. Here is a message to men and women, taken captives by the devil, and bound by the chains of sin. Jesus came to set them free. He actually did this thing, in many instances; noticeably, among them, may be mentioned the deliverance of Gadarene, and of Mary Magdalene, both of whom had been possessed of demons.
4. Christ was to come to give beauty for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. In other words, He came to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and to comfort all that mourn. People of today may imagine that being a Christian, robs one of his joy. The opposite is true. At His right hand, there are pleasures forevermore; and in His presence, there is fullness of joy.
IV. THE DAY OF GOD'S GRACE (Isaiah 42:2-4 )
There was a remarkable thing that happened in Nazareth. When Jesus entered the Temple there was given Him the roll of the Prophet Isaiah. He turned to that portion, known in our Bible, as Isaiah 61:1-3 , He read that portion of the Scripture in Isaiah which closed with the words: "The acceptable year of the Lord." He omitted to read the words: "The day of vengeance of our God."
There is another remarkable passage in Matthew 12:1-50 , beginning with Matthew 12:17 . Matthew, by the Spirit, told of certain things concerning Christ, and then said that those things happened "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the Prophet, saying, Behold My servant, whom I have chosen; My beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles." Then Matthew recorded how Christ quoted the remarkable words in Matthew 12:20 : "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory." Thus both Isaiah 42:1-25 , and Isaiah 61:1-11 , show us that the earthly life of our Lord was a life of mercy and of grace.
1. The day of Grace began with the Coming of Christ, and continues during this age. Frequently in the Book of Hebrews we read: "To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." The expression "to day" covers this wonderful age of opportunity, and privilege to unbelievers. God pity the man or the woman who is not saved today, but remains an unbeliever in spite of the love of God, in spite of the open Bible, in spite of the call of the Holy Spirit This is the day in which the Angel of God's mercy, pleads with men to be saved, and to flee from the wrath to come.
2. Our key text carries with it the thought that a day of judgment will follow the Day of Grace. Isaiah 42:3 says: "A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth." In Matthew it says: "Till He send forth judgment unto victory."
There is a time coming, therefore, when Christ will leave the Father's right hand, descend from Heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance upon those who know not God. Let us all get into the covert, the Rock of Ages cleft for us, before the storm of God's wrath falls, and before the judgments which are destined to follow this day of Grace, are upon the earth.
V. THE RUGGED CROSS OF CALVARY (Isaiah 52:14 )
Do we not become more and more amazed, that the Spirit of God should, through the Prophet Isaiah, have written, beforehand, so much of the details of the Birth, the Life, the Ministry and the Death of our Lord?
Let us study Isaiah's comments:
1. His visage was so marred marred more than any man's. Those who saw Jesus Christ in His hour of anguish and passion, were astonished as they beheld Him, How differently He looked, as He hung there for us, than He looked in the days when He went among men, teaching, preaching, healing the sick, and raising the dead. On the Cross His visage was marred more than any man's. We can remember how, under the orders of Pilate, the back of our Lord had been beaten with those terrible stripes; we can remember how the rough and rugged Cross had been thrown across His shoulders, and how He had gone down under its weight; we can also remember how the crown of thorns had been pressed upon His brow, After all of this, they laid the Cross upon the ground and stretched Him upon it:
"Hark, I hear the dull blow of a hammer swung low.
They are nailing my Lord to the Tree."
Thus it was that Jesus was crucified, nailed to the tree. Then the Cross fell down into the hole which had been dug for it. Now, we think of those wounds; of those strained nerves; of His visage marred by the blood-clotted hair, as it fell over the bloodstained face.
2. His form was marred more than the sons of men. Christ's body seemed past recognition. It was this that startled the people. When we think of how Jesus Christ suffered for us, how little it makes all of our suffering for Him appear.
In the next chapter of Isaiah (53) we read of how Christ was despised and rejected of men. We behold Him as the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. We catch the vision of His being wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquity. We are told the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. Yet, whatever happened to Him in that awful day when man's judgment was a travesty, and man's voracity a tragedy, we say all was done in accordance with the purpose of the Father, for: "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief." It was God who made the soul of our Saviour, an offering for sin.
VI. THE PRAYER FOR HIS RETURN (Isaiah 64:1 )
The Holy Spirit through the Prophet Isaiah did not only pre-write the Birth, the Earthly Life, the Ministry and the Death of our Lord, he also wrote the story of the Resurrection and of the Return of Christ. We now carry you to the story of His Return.
1. The deeper meaning of Isaiah 53:1-12 . We cannot but feel, as we study this wonderful Calvary chapter, that the very words of this chapter breathe the prayer which the Children of Israel will utter when they see Christ coming in the clouds of Heaven.
We know according to Zechariah they will take notice of the wound marks in His hands.
It is then that Israel will say: "He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him."
It is then that the Children of Israel will say: "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."
It is at that time, when Christ comes again, and according to Revelation when "every eye shall see Him" that Israel will cry: "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." So we could go on through the chapter, but it is not necessary.
2. The astonished cry of Isaiah 63:1-3 . As Christ comes down, Israel cries out: "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength?" (This is Israel's cry.) Then comes the Lord's response: "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Once more the Children of Israel ask: "Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?" The Lord's reply: "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me."
3. Isaiah, in our key verse, gives us next the cry of Israel as, looking forward unto the skies, they plead for Christ's Return. Hear the words (Isaiah 64:1-2 ). Did you ever hear more tender, pleading words than these? The Lord shall hear this cry of His people and He will come down to deliver them. The City of Zion has long been as a wilderness, Jerusalem has long been as a desolation, but God is coming and Israel shall rejoice.
VII. THE AFTERMATH OF CHRIST'S RETURN (Isaiah 60:1-3 )
Isaiah now gives, in these verses, a resume of those events which shall follow hard upon the Return of Christ to Israel, and to the earth. Of course, all students of prophecy know that Christ will restore the twelve tribes into one kingdom. They know, also, that the man who is called the Branch, will arise and build the temple. They all know that the nation of Israel will be saved in one day. Then what happens? These stirring events:
1. Israel's glory will burst forth. Our first verse says: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." It will be a glorious day for Israel. Twenty-three hundred years have gone since Judah was carried into captivity in Babylon. The Jews have been trodden down under the feet of the Gentiles. We know there are some of the Gentiles who speak harshly of the Jews. We should remember, however, that God is going to take the stony hearts away from Israel and He will give her a heart of flesh. In that Day Israel will arise and shine. In that Day her light will have come and the glory of the Lord will have risen upon her.
2. Israel's light will shine unto the Gentiles. At present, darkness covers the earth, gross darkness hovers over the people. That darkness will deepen as the days pass, unto the end. Evil men and seducers will become worse and worse; there will be wars and pestilences; however, the Lord will come and in coming, He will dispel the darkness.
It is then that we read: "The Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
The whole world, therefore, will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. The Gentile nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. The nation and the kingdom that will not serve Him, shall perish and be utterly wasted.
Those who, of yore, afflicted Israel will bend their knees unto Israel and Israel's God. In that Day Jerusalem will be called the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel. God's people will be righteous, and will inherit the land forever.
"On the head of Christ are many crowns. He wears the crown of victory; He wears the crown of sovereignty; He wears the crown of creation; He wears the crown of providence; He wears the crown of grace; He wears the crown of glory for every one of His glorified people owes his honor, happiness and blessedness to Him."
I remember at one of our testimony meetings a man got up and said he had got a great blessing at Keswick. They asked him, "What can you say about it?" "Well," he replied, "I can say this: I was a Christian before I came to Keswick. Christ was my King, but I am afraid He was a constitutional sovereign and I was prime minister, Now He is absolute Lord, and that has made the difference in my life and brought a blessing." Aye, that makes all the difference in the world, "Make Jesus King." "Crown Him Lord of all," and you will know the liberty of the glory of the sons of the Kingdom. Rev. W. E. Moore.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Isaiah 11". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent