12 )  Let us contemplate the unique work of the Messiah


720 years before the coming of the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah contemplated the unique work of the Messiah who was going to pay the price for the salvation of the guilty sinners we were. Jesus alone with his pure soul understood the greatness of the offense done to this God so holy that it is impossible for us to understand with our nature soiled by sin, and he understood that if the righteousness of God could not be satisfied, Then his mercy could never be manifested (God had condemned the guilty by His Word, His Divine Law, and He could not retract). Jesus came therefore, moved by the love of God to offer himself as a substitute for the guilty.

Jesus said « 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.»  John 3



Isaiah 52 - 13 Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. 14 Like as many were astonished at you (his appearance was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men), 15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand.

Isaiah 53 - 1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form nor comeliness. When we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face; and we didn't respect him. 4 Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn't open his mouth. As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn't open his mouth. 8 He was taken away by oppression and judgment; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living and stricken for the disobedience of my people? 9 They made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him. He has caused him to suffer. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed. He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied. My righteous servant will justify many by the knowledge of himself; and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.




I borrow the following extracts from Frédéric GODET of his book "The Work of Jesus Christ"



The conscience of Christ was the pure reflection of divine holiness; That is why he was able to accept and suffer the punishment of sinners by giving himself up without revolt and without murmuring to this terrible dispensation of the divine will. In this narrow theater of the intimate conscience of Christ, two adversaries have met face to face, who are ordinarily contemplated only from far in our own conscience: the holiness of God in his most delicate susceptibility, and the sin of man under all its forms, the subtlest and the coarsest. There, in this direct contact between the holy God and Jesus, representing the guilty man, human sin was wept, judged, condemned, as it was to be, and as we can no longer do it. There have been shed holy tears, as we no longer know how to shed them. There was offered to God a moral reparation without deficit, as it would have been impossible to offer it. The cruellest death was humbly acknowledged and accepted as the earned wages of sin. Not only was the punishment of sin suffered, but it was with the complete adherence of the one who suffered it. And divine justice was able to accept with full satisfaction this remedial homage which was offered to him by one in the name of all.

It may even be asked whether without this cross the future and final judgment would still be morally possible; If it were not for the unrepentant sinner a kind of surprise, of which he would have some right to complain.

Could he not, indeed, say to God, if he had forgiven without demanding a solemn reparation: You has revealed Your mercy to me by such a great act of grace, that there is no more place in my mind to believe in the possibility of a final punishment. You have thus contributed yourself to distort my judgment and to lull my vigilance ...

But thanks to the sensational manifestation of God's right against sin on the cross, this sinner's language is made impossible. God has not forgiven without showing the horror he has of sin and the punishment he is determined to punish, if the sinner persists in it; And this frightening revelation, while making possible the forgiveness of those who adhere to it, expressly reserves the future act of judgment with regard to anyone who does not accept forgiveness or abuses it by not receiving it in the deeply holy sense where it is granted.

It is impossible to understand the object of faith, the expiation, reparation, fulfilled by Christ, without radically breaking with sin, the cause of such a death, and without the foundation of sanctification being thus laid in the heart.

Never had an act done on earth been more pleasing to God than this sacrifice inspired by the purest love for men and the deepest respect for divine holiness; Never was the person of Jesus the object of the good pleasure of his Father as at this moment when he voluntarily identified himself with the sin of humanity in order to exhaust in himself the curse which was attached to it, and where he suffered the abandonment of God himself.

It is because Jesus, as we have seen, satisfied the divine wrath not by satisfying it, but by recognizing its holiness and justice, and thus maintaining in the very act which served as a basis for forgiveness, the principle of judgment; this torture was an equivalent in quality, not in quantity.

From this point of view the substitution, against which so many objections have been raised, presents nothing which can offend the moral sense. Assuredly one could without injustice suffer for all if his suffering was not a compensation of theirs but a revelation presented to all of what all would have deserved to suffer and what will really suffer those who will not returned to God, repentants and believers, by the spectacle of this atonement.

Let one imagine a convoy which has derailed and rolled into the precipice. A savior comes; He at once succeeds in removing it from the abyss by placing it on the rails, and lead it at the end of the journey. Thus Jesus, in his passage on earth, at once consumed the moral development hardly begun of innocent humanity and removed the fallen humanity from condemnation.

Is it possible to acquiesce on the holy life of Jesus Christ, his incessant victory over the most legitimate natural instincts, his perfect consecration to the Father's will, his uninterrupted communion with him, recognizing the normal life of humanity, which ought to have been our own, without appropriating the moral principle of this life and making it the principle of its own? To adhere to such a consecration is to consecrate oneself.

Would it be possible above all to accept the moral reparation offered by Christ as an act which we ought ourselves to have accomplished, to ratify in our conscience the sentence which the conscience of the reparer has pronounced upon the sin of the world by voluntarily submitting him to the punishment, without this sentence becoming by the same fact, in our heart and will, the death of our own sin?

To adhere to the death of Christ for sin is to die to sin, that is, to break with him radically. This is the profound repercussion which the believer receives from the knock from which Christ was struck for him.

As long as the state of hostility between man and God subsists, God can not make man's heart enjoy the communication of his Spirit.

This gift is from God the one of his own personal life; It necessarily supposes the reconciliation effected, the peace restored between him and man.

But once the normal order has been restored, the gift of the Holy Spirit becomes as natural as before it was impossible. The condemnation which weighed upon man was the obstacle which prevented the Spirit from giving himself. This obstacle removed by the act of justification, man is placed before God in his true moral position, and immediately the divine blessing starts again its course necessarily interrupted. The effusion of grace begins again, and, like a torrent from which the dyke has been broken, the Holy Spirit is poured out into the justified heart.

Human wisdom says: Gradually release yourself from the bonds of sin; Gradually learn to love God and live for him.

But in this way, we never radically break with sin and we never give ourselves completely to God.

On the contrary, faith elevates us, somehow at once, to the royal position now occupied by Jesus Christ, and which is already ours in Him.

From there we see sin under our feet; There we savor the life of God as our true essence in Jesus Christ.

Reason says: Become holy to be. Faith said, you are it; So become it. You are holy in Christ; Become it in your person.

One does not climb the degrees of the throne one by one; one goes there and sits in Christ by the act of faith that incorporates us in Him. Then, from this above position, holy in essence, one victoriously dominates the ego, the world, Satan, and all the powers of evil.

It is in this environment of absolute holiness where one is transported that one takes on the divine and human image of the Son of God.

Christ substituted for us before God, as our righteousness; Christ substituted for us in ourselves, as our sanctification: this is the fullness of Christian salvation. Let us learn from each other to consider Christ in this way, and the true formula of union will be found.

We have seen devoted men consecrate themselves to the rehabilitation of their impoverished or dishonored family.

We have seen others make the deliverance and glory of their country the object of all their ambition.

A man has proposed to himself a still higher goal. At a time when the notion of mankind was only beginning to appear in the most advanced minds, this mass which we call humanity, divided into hostile peoples, almost entirely disintegrated by the selfishness of individuals, is appeared to Him in its essential unity; He has pressed this entire humanity on his breast as his people to take up, as his family to save.

He looked directly at the two tyrants who oppressed him and whose domination seemed to be an integral part of the existence of this race: sin and death.

And he dared to say: This sinful and dying being is not the man whom God has willed and wants. God reigns! Let sin perish, let death follow. May holiness and incorruptibility, these two features of the divine work, shine on this earth which God created for the manifestation of his glory!

And this great thought, born in his heart, he adopted it, cultivated it.

This task he made that of his life; He did not shrink from the apparent impossibility of his accomplishment. In order to carry out the work which he alone dared conceive, he did not begin with some great plan of social reform.

He began by working on himself; He performed the good in the humble sphere of his personal existence, in that which immediately embraced his moral conscience.

There he struggled with the first enemy, sin, and he defeated him. He refused him the slightest foothold in his heart and in his life, and he made the holy will of God the absolute master of his existence.

This first victory won, he found himself in front of the second enemy, death. This adversary seemed still more invincible; For death is not, like sin, a free determination of the human will; It is a law which seems to weigh inevitably upon humanity and which envelops nature itself.

However, at this terrifying sight, the courage of the divine hero did not fail. He looked down at the dark tyrant, and, in the light of God, he understood that this was only a ghost, which the word of grace coming down from heaven would faint.

He has recognized the result of a condemnation in the death inflicted on man; And he boldly concluded that, once condemned, the throne of death would collapse.

This condemnation rested on two facts: the sin that provoked it and the law that pronounced it.

He had conquered sin in himself, and reserved himself to overcome it in humanity. Already in this world he had kindled a home of absolute holiness, and he saw all those who seek light and who make the truth gather around this celestial fire.

But the law? It is a divine manifestation. It is not treated as sin is treated; It cannot be destroyed; all that can be done is to disarm it; and this can only be achieved by satisfying all its just demands.

Here is how this man managed to defeat the law.

He had offered her in her life the perfect obedience she demanded; He offered her in his death the reparation required by the transgressions of his violators.

By this he has put on his side the righteousness of God, which until now was against us. And as God had pronounced on the guilty persons a condemnation which was their death, Jesus required him to implement by his sacrifice the pronounciation on the believers an absolution which will be their life.

Sin once overcome, the law thus satisfied, the two foundations of the power of death have been undermined, and his throne has collapsed.

In the resurrection of Jesus Christ burst forth for the first time the victory which had just been won over this enemy. And this first prey torn from the tyrant is the pledge of the deliverance and future resurrection of all justified humanity.

The glorified Church will be the magnificent harvest of which the resurrected Jesus was the first fruits. The complete incorruptibility, moral and physical, will crown the work which the heroic love of Jesus dared to conceive and succeeded in executing.

What was the work of the Napoleon, the Washington, and the Gandhi, beside that of such a liberator?

Since it is by man that death has come, it is also by man that the resurrection of the dead comes.

How can we be astonished that he who has conceived and accomplished such a work never ceases to unite around him all those on this earth who are slaves of sin and of death, feeling the weight of their chains, who exclaim with Apostle Paul:

Unfortunate! Who will deliver me? (Romains 7 – 24)

Is it surprising that this being had succeeded in obtaining a result of which the genius was astonished, which nothing seemed more likely to astonish? Jesus Christ has succeeded in making each human soul an adjunct to his own, must have said, in one of his intimate conversations, the prisoner of St. Helena (Napoleon).

Jesus made himself necessary to the human soul by becoming his indispensable collaborator in the accomplishment of his supreme task: the realization of his moral destination.

In his person, he has sanctified human life and raised it to the divine state that was destined for him and which he himself possessed before becoming a man: that is the mystery of his person.

This work accomplished in himself, he repeats it in all believers by his Spirit, after making it possible in them by the expiation and the forgiveness obtained for us: that is the meaning of his work.


Frederic GODET

Swiss Pastor, 1812-1900