NOTES OF A SERMON
preached by Mr. B. A. RAMSBOTTOM, B.A., at Shaw Street, Liverpool, on Sunday evening, 8th October, 1961.
“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 transgressorsÂ”. (Isaiah 53. Latter part of verse 12).
There is something very special to a living soul in the sacred humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will find some things, even in true religion, which are more important than others. The sacred truths here set forth before us are vital. If you have a living understanding and experimental knowledge of them, then you will reach heaven. But O! how solemn to be destitute of any knowledge of Christ and Him crucified! If your religion is real, you will feel a sweet attraction in the “Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief”. The world sees no beauty in Him that they should desire Him, but if you are taught of the Lord, there will be a blessed attraction in Christ, and above all, as you see Him in the garden and upon the Cross, you will be brought to love His sacred humanity. This will be precious to you because you will view Him standing in the sinner’s place. This is the preciousness of Christ in His sacred humanity. Dr. Watts sweetly says:
“Behold a scene of matchless grace,
‘Tis Jesus in the sinner’s place;
Heaven’s brightest glory sunk in shame,
That rebels might adore his name”. (Gadsby).
As a true believer, you will be brought to admire salvation by grace, but if you would view grace abounding in its most blessed measure, it must be viewed in Gethsemane and at Calvary. What matchless grace here in the condescension of God’s dear Son to be made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death; to “bear all incarnate God could bear, with strength enough but none to spare”! How low the Lord of life and glory humbled Himself that He might bring in eternal salvation! My friends, this is the point which makes Him so precious, that grace abounds in Christ and Him crucified to unworthy sinners.
If you get a glimpse of this tonight, there will be two things which will affect you. One will be a sense of your utter and complete
unworthiness. You will truly say “Why me, O Lord? Why should such an unworthy sinner have an interest there?” And the other thing will be this. You will be brought to admire redeeming love and blood, and Christ will be exalted in your affections. There is something which will fill you with wonder and amazement, in true religion. If you have never had any sense of wonder, my friends, then your religion is solemnly deficient. You will view this as a wonder of wondersÂ—God’s dear Son suffering as the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief that poor, unworthy sinners might reach heaven. This is the way to heaven; no salvation, no hope without it.
You will find that whenever there has been the death of a great man, there has been some account written of all that he has done. At the end of this sacred chapter, the blessed Holy Ghost Himself has left a gracious epitaph of the life, sufferings and death of God’s dear Son. What a gracious summary of that which Christ wrought out in His sufferings and His death! “He poured out his soul unto death. He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”. These are sacred truths. If you enter into them, in any measure by faith, you will realise that the place whereon you walk is holy ground. You will tread with true reverence and holy fear to view God’s dear Son sunk so low in bringing in eternal redemption.
“He hath poured out his soul unto death”. How solemn are the sufferings of God’s dear Son here set forth! It was to this end He came into this world of sin and ruin. From all eternity He set His face to go to Jerusalem, and here the wonders of redeeming love can be admired as, at times, living faith is favoured with a glimpse of God’s dear Son in the Garden and upon the tree. “He hath poured out his soul unto death”. How it speaks of those awful sufferings He received at the hands of ungodly sinners when He was bruised and buffetted and put to shame, and “he poured out his soul unto death”.
There were also the sufferings of His holy soul as the Sins of the whole Church of God were charged to His account. O, the mystery of redemption! God’s dear, holy, spotless Son made sin for His people. And in the solemn agonies of His soul. He poured it out unto death. The preceding verse speaks of this as the “travail of his soul”. O, what travail He there suffered in the Garden and upon the Cross! With the awful iniquity of His people charged to His account, with the hiding of His Father’s face, forsaken by His friends and forsaken by His God; and he bowed His head in death. “He hath poured out his soul unto death” and O! how blessed! “He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied”. (Isa. 53, 11). My friends, if ever there has been a word in
Scripture which has affected me, it has been that. In my early days, as I used to read this chapter, my heart was melted with the sufferings of God’s dear Son, and I felt I could not have borne it had it not been for this word “He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied”. My friends, these were great sufferings, great agonies when he poured out His soul unto death. But He was satisfied with them. O! what a mystery! Satisfied with them, satisfied with seeing
unworthy sinners brought to heaven. It was for this joy that was set before Him that “He endured the Cross and despised the shame” (Hebrews 12, 2), the joy of seeing His dear people gathered with Him in glory.
“He hath poured out his soul unto death”. When the dear Redeemer bowed His head on the accursed tree, when He poured out His soul unto death, when he cried with a loud voice, “It is finished” (John 19, 30), He viewed every sinner for whom He stood; He viewed them saved with an eternal salvation and was satisfied with the travail of His soul.
When a sinner ventures, feeling his guilt and unworthiness, wondering if he will find acceptance, wondering if there is room in the Father’s house for him, the dear Redeemer sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied.
“Come, then, repenting sinner, come;
Approach with humble faith;
Owe what thou wilt, the total sum
Is cancelled by his death”. (Hart).
“He hath poured out his soul unto death”. But this word “poured out” not only speaks of the awful nature of His sufferings, but also His willingness to suffer. “Poured out His soul unto death”. There was no holding back, no unwillingness here; faith at times gets a little glimpse of this, the willingness of the dear Redeemer from all eternity to suffer, bleed and die for unworthy sinners.
“How willing was Jesus to die,
That we fellow-sinners might live!
The life they could not take away,
How ready was Jesus to give”. (Swain).
“He hath poured out his soul unto death”. When you feel your own unworthiness and guilt, there will be something blessed in the willingness of the dear Redeemer to lay down His life a sacrifice.
Then there is this, in pouring out His soul unto death. He opened the fountain for sin and uncleanness. This will be unspeakably precious to you as you feel your need, and you will realise that if you reach heaven, it must be pardon through redeeming blood. How do you stand in these matters? If you are taught of the Lord, then you will see something sweetly attractive in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. You will realise what sin abounds in your heart, what vileness, what evil thoughts, what idolatry, and, at times, when you look within, you will feel this:
“Had I not Thy blood to plead.
The sight would sink me to despair”.
“He hath poured out his soul unto death” that there might be a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. The value, the preciousness of that atoning blood which could make the vilest sinner whiter than snow! How do you feel, my friends? Do you feel your need of it? “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”. (Isaiah 1, 18). This is the blessedness of the gospel; it speaks of pardon and cleansing through the Redeemer’s blood, “The fountain opened for sin and uncleanness”. (Zechariah 13, 1).
“He hath poured out his soul unto death”. This blessed work of Christ on the Cross is the channel through which every blessing, every favour flows to unworthy sinners. There can be no blessing apart from this. You will be brought to realise it by divine teaching. You and I do not deserve any favour at the hand of God. Any favour, any blessing we receive flows through this deeply-cut channel of the Redeemer’s sufferings and death. This will give the blessings you receive a double valueÂ—for what they are in themselves, and because of the channel through which they flow.
“And he was numbered with the transgressors”. This was literally fulfilled when He hung on the Cross between the two thieves, one on the right hand and one on the left. Faith gets a glimpse of this:
“Is this the Man? Can this be he
The prophets have foretold
Should with transgressors numbered be,
And for their crimes be sold?” (Allen).
Â“Numbered with the transgressors”.
But, my friends, this must not be linked to its literal fulfilment. He was numbered with transgressors in the Covenant of Grace when it pleased Him to enter into eternal union with His unworthy people. He was numbered with transgressors. What a sacred word that is which is found in the Epistle to the Hebrews-“He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2, 11). People upon earth are ashamed of any with whom they are connected who have done wrong, but God’s dear Son is “not ashamed to call them brethren”. There is something sacred in this. God’s dear Son, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and yet willing to be numbered with transgressors.
“He was numbered with the transgressors” when He came to this earth, when He took our nature, without sin, into union with His Godhead. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2, 14). Numbered with the transgressors that He might suffer in our nature, that He might be a faithful and compassionate High Priest, that He might be “Man to suffer. God to save”. Numbered with the transgressors when He hung on the Cross, standing in union with His people, bearing their sins, that shame which was justly theirs, yet, bringing in for them an everlasting righteousness, and putting away the guilt of their sin. “Numbered with the transgressors”. O, what matchless condescension in God’s dear Son to humble Himself! I love the line of the hymn “For Jesus was humbled that grace may abound”. So great was His love to His unworthy people that He was willing to be humbled, willing to be put to shame, willing to be numbered
with the transgressors that grace might abound unto His unworthy people. “And he was numbered with the transgressors”.
“And he bare the sin of many”. His sufferings were under the weight of sin which His Father charged to His account. “He bare the sin of many “, and in bearing that awful load of sin, He for ever took it out of the way. We have a blessed type of this in the scapegoat. The high priest laid the sins of the people on the scapegoat and the scapegoat took away their sins into the land of forgetfulness. And Christ, in fulfilling this type, bore the sins of many, took them for ever away. The sins of God’s dear people, as borne by Christ, are to be remembered against them no more for ever. Micah speaks of thisÂ—”and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea”. (Micah 7, 19). O, the greatness of this ocean of atoning love and blood which swallowed up the sins of all God’s dear people! My friends, it is a great mercy if our sins are there.
“O, grace, thou bottomless abyss,
My sins are swallowed up in thee!
Covered is my unrighteousness;
From condemnation I am free”. (Rothe).
“He bare the sin of many”, and this is the ground of pardon and forgiveness. This will be an exercise of soul to you if you are taught of the Lord; the grand point will beÂ—”Is there pardon for me? Is there forgiveness for me?” You will realise sin is mixed with all you do, and you will realise too the solemnity of eternity, and your concern will be thisÂ—”Is there any hope of pardon, forgiveness for a sinner like me?” If the blessed Spirit teaches you your need of forgiveness. He will make you know there is forgiveness with your God and that on the grounds of the atonement. He will reveal to you, my friends, that there is no pardon of sin without blood. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7, 18). And believing there is pardon on the grounds of Christ’s shed blood, this will afford a plea for you; you will plead for pardon and forgiveness, you will plead the merit of the Redeemer’s death. How sacred a promise in its gracious simplicityÂ—”If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1, 9). “He bare the sin of many” that His dear people might be pardoned. That sin which Christ bore can never be charged to His people’s account; He bore His people’s sins that they might eternally go free. Is the great exercise and concern of your soul to be found amongst these “many” for whom Christ died, who are pardoned through His blood and by His grace?
“And made intercession for the transgressors”. O, the value of the intercession of Christ! Before He lay down His life a sacrifice, He turned aside to pray on behalf of His unworthy people. He prayed that they might all be pardoned, kept, that they might be with Him where He is, that they might behold His glory. Peter had an interest in that intercession; how he was tried and tempted
by Satan but Christ said. “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not”. (Luke 22, 32). Peter fell, but his faith failed not and he went out and wept bitterly. The Lord’s prayer was answered for poor, unworthy, sinful Peter.
“And made intercession for the transgressors”. He made intercession for the transgressors when He hung on the Cross. How mercifully He interceded for transgressorsÂ—”Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. The hymn-writer sweetly puts it like this:
Hark, how he prays (the charming sound
Dwells on his dying lips) “Forgive!”
And every groan and gaping wound
Cries, “Father, let the rebels live”. (Watts).
He made intercession for transgressors.
But this blessed word goes beyond the Cross, beyond the grave. It leads up to a view of a once-crucified but now ascended Lord. The resurrection, the ascension is here. “For this dear Man in heaven now reigns”. The dear Redeemer is exalted at the Father’s right hand, and there He ever lives to intercede. He appears there on behalf of His unworthy people. He bears their names upon His heart, prays for them through the merit of His shed blood. O, the value of it, my friends! we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. At times we realise the value of having an interest in the prayers of our friends on earth, but O! to have an interest in the intercession of Christ! There is salvation in it, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7, 25).
“And made intercession for the transgressors”. The preciousness of it that the intercession of Christ is on behalf of unworthy sinners, that have no claim themselves. At times, they feel they cannot pray for themselves, but the dear Redeemer intercedes on their behalf, “Points to their names upon His breast and spreads His wounded hands”, and His intercession is an all-availing intercession. The intercession of Christ is His unfinished workÂ—it will never be finished until every saved sinner is brought home to glory.
“And made intercession for the transgressors”. Do you see any sweet attraction in these sacred truths? If you are taught of the Lord you cannot live without them, they are the bread of life to your hungry soul, the foundation upon which you build for eternity, they are the savour of life unto life for your soul. Truly you will be brought to admire the riches of divine grace and the blessedness of eternal love in Christ for His people in dying and in rising from the dead to intercede on their behalf.