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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Part II: Embodiment: and Redemption

Chapter 15

The Dying of Jesus Christ

Animal die — NATURALLY — by design,
Man now dies — UN-NATURALLY — by execution,
Jesus Christ died — SUPER-NATURALLY — by an act of will.

     Man dies two deaths.
    The Saviour of man must therefore also suffer two deaths, first by dying spiritually as man dies spiritually, and then by dying physiologically as man dies physiologically. For such a Saviour both deaths are substitutionary, unique as to their nature and cause, and unique as to their effect. If the actual nature and cause of either death was the same for the Saviour as it is for us fallen men, they cannot be substitutionary because in our case both kinds of death are proof of personal guilt.
     Both dyings are acts of separation: the separation of the soul or spirit from the divine presence (which is spiritual death), and the separation of the spirit from the body (which is physical death).
     Let us consider these two dyings of the Saviour in order that we may see how the Word of God makes them entirely distinct and opposite in both character and effect to the spiritual and physical dyings of man which have resulted from Adam's disobedience.

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          I. The Spiritual Dying of Jesus Christ

     When man sins, he does so by choice and he thus commits spiritual suicide. It is an act of freedom: he elects to do it, and pays the price accordingly. "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4,20). Thereafter he is, spiritually considered, a dead man: dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), dead towards God whom he must now face not as his heavenly Father but as his Judge. He no longer has the immediate access that he formerly had, and as he matures in his fallen state the sense of God's presence gradually declines, to be replaced by a surrogate god after his own image and compatible with his own nature because of his own making.
     From the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ he has effectively cut himself off, separated himself — as Isaiah 59:2 puts it — until he becomes aware not only of his isolation but also of his comparative indifference to the loss. Paul describes this spiritual death as "eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord"
(2 Thessalonians 1:9, Revised Standard Version).
     But it may be asked, When did this kind of dying ever happen in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer is, On the cross in those three hours of darkness — as indicated when He cried out in his extreme isolation and agony of soul, "My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?" For in becoming an offering for our sins, He had suddenly experienced for the first time in the eternity of his being "destruction from the presence of the Lord," a destruction which for all He knew was final. It happened not by his choice (as it is with us) but by imposition when He was made sin, when He became guilty by imputation of all the horror and frightfulness of man's wickedness since history began with the murder of Abel.
     When this judgment fell upon Him, it was as though the murder, the torture, the rape, the mutilation, the degradation, and the utter cruelty of man towards man, became in effect his responsibility. When all the diseased conditions of man due to sin were laid upon his soul, He

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assumed the responsibility for them, being afflicted with our afflictions. It was a cup He had anticipated with such horror in Gethsemane that He cried, "Father, if You aree willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done" (Luke 22:42).
     Herein we observe the first fundamental difference between his experience and ours. We become sinful by choice: He, entirely against his will, willing it only in the sense that He surrendered to his Father's will that He should assume the burden of it. Thus every reference to this experience of separation from the Father because of sin is described by the use of the 'passive voice', signifying not a doing of his own but something done to Him. It was imposed upon Him, not assumed by choice, only by resignation.
     Isaiah 53:4, 5 and 8 hammers this home: "We esteemed Him stricken [passive], smitten of God [passive], and afflicted [passive]. He was wounded [passive] for our transgressions, He was bruised [passive] for our iniquities . . . .  He was cut off [passive] out of the land of the living: for the transgressions of my people was He stricken [passive]." In 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He was made a sin-offering for us," once again reflecting the same passivity.
And so it goes: always it is passive. In no way was his involvement in our sins something He sought as though it might be pleasurable, for pleasurable they can certainly be to us (Hebrews 11:25). Whereas man becomes engaged in sin with a kind of eagerness, the Lord faced the prospect with stark abhorrence. And when the pall of guilt fell suddenly upon his soul, He cried out in desolation, yet no longer to his Father but to a righteous God who now stood as his Judge. When the darkness of sin enveloped Him as He bare our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24), his cry of despair was a cry of one totally forsaken. He was indeed cut off, though not for Himself (Daniel 9:26), cut off out of the land of the living and counted among the spiritually dead.

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     We cannot really have the slightest conception of what this experience meant to One who was completely without sin. It was a sudden total defilement. We ourselves are already sinful and when we compound the evil by further sins we feel little shame because we are inured to its effects. To Him it was truly his first personal, and only personal, experience of guilt.
     Now I know that any illustration from my own life will not really help here. Nevertheless I once experienced the impact of sudden contamination in a small way. At the time, I was comparatively "innocent" in the sense that any grown man may be innocent who has not yet had opportunity or occasion to be much else. I do not believe I had ever committed any "great" sin up to that time. My conscience was free, and inwardly I felt clean. I had been the Lord's child for some years and had an active ministry with young people which, I may add, continued for many years after this incident.
     But as a consulting engineer I had been unduly charmed by a member of the administrative staff where I was working. One lunch time, I found myself alone with her in my part of the building and in a moment of idiocy I kissed her. I may say she was quite unresisting. It would, I'm sure, have been viewed as a very small thing by many of my friends, certainly by my worldly ones. But I immediately fled from my office and out of the building and walked quickly along back streets in an attempt to be alone. It was lunch hour, and I had to escape. I felt utterly, utterly sick and inwardly defiled. I was appalled at what I had done. This is simply how I felt about it. I felt diseased, contaminated, self-condemned.
     I cannot put into words how the shame and sense of sinfulness flooded over my soul. It was springtime outside, but in my heart it was a cold, miserable gloomy day: the sun seemed to have gone in, the buildings looked drab and empty, the world was cloudy and hostile. I walked with my head on my chest and my spirit broken. I felt sick

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enough to vomit on the street. I was truly appalled and felt certain my future was ruined, my job in jeopardy, and every man must be ashamed for me. I felt a terrible need to tell someone what I had done, to confess and weep over it all. I cannot fully express today the darkness in my soul for the next hour or so until gradually my sense of the Lord's presence was recovered and I went back to my office a sober and a chastened man.
     Somehow the Lord graciously covered it all. In a fallen world such an act would hardly cause a stir, I suppose though for me it had been a devastating experience. It all happened so quickly, unplanned, unpremeditated, unexpected. It was like being plunged suddenly into icy cold water.
     If a man, already fully aware of his own fallen nature, can be so devastated by such an act, what must have been the effect of the defilement of sin upon the Lord Jesus in view of his matchless perfection and purity and holiness? Any first scratch on a new car, any first mark on a new cabinet, any first water stain on a new wall or ceiling, is distressing in a special way. What would the first impact upon his soul be as sin was laid upon Him? When He suddenly became identified and responsible personally for all the sins of human history in their total appalling immensity, the effect must have been shattering.
     I think that when we are told He bore our sins, we are to understand that He really in his own heart and mind became consciously guilty as though He had really committed these things. The effect of such a consciousness would be multiplied infinitely by the very sensitivity of his nature and his ability to identify so immediately with the effect of sin in the world around Him.
     When the blow fell, his Father turned from his beloved Son and forsook Him in the darkness of his hell while the very light of day failed and plunged the world around Him into unnatural darkness. And for how long? For three hours? No, surely not, but for an experienced eternity.

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    Our clocks ticked on for three hours of course, but the passage of time for Him was swallowed up in the now-ness of the intensity of that suffering. All sense of the passage of time, all that might have signalled to his consciousness that the end was near, must have been eclipsed entirely. What was experienced began to occupy an eternity.
     As Luther put it, with his characteristic bluntness, "Christ was accursed, and of all sinners the greatest. My sins caused Thee, dear Lord, to bear the wrath of God and become a curse, to taste the anguish of hell and to endure a bitter death. . . .  Christ had to feel in his innocent tender heart God's wrath and judgment against sin and to taste for us eternal death and damnation, and in a word, to suffer all that a condemned sinner has deserved and must suffer forever."
     Jonathan Edwards wrote about the matter thus: "Sin must be punished with an infinite punishment . . . the majesty of God requires this vindication. It cannot properly be vindicated without it, neither can God be just to Himself without this vindication."
(121) Satisfaction for sin demands equal penalty, and not until that penalty had been paid in full did the Father turn his face to his beloved Son again.
     It has been found that the Greek word which we recall so well in the translation "it is finished," was written across the bottom of Statements of Account in ancient Greece, and clearly meant PAID IN FULL!
(122) This cry, "Paid in full!" was therefore a cry of triumph, marking the end of his spiritual dying, an end which He could not possibly have foreseen so long as He was locked into the agony his suffering entailed. And because no end had been foreseeable, it had been effectively experienced as an eternity. *

     Suddenly, it was all over. The sun broke through the gloom, the fellowship of the Father was his again; and the

120. Luther: quoted by A. B. Macaulay, The Death of Jesus, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1938, p.138.
121. Edwards: The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Edward Hickman, London, Banner of Truth Trust, 1976, vol. II, p.565.
122. Tetelestai: see J. H. Moulton & G. Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-literary Sources, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1972, p.630.
* How a mere three hours by our clocks could for Him be an eternity is explored is depth in the author's Journey Out of Time.

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"My God!" of that black night became the "My Father" of his last spoken words from the cross as He commended his spirit into his Father's hands.
     Such was the spiritual death that the Lord Jesus Christ experienced as Man and for man, that the way might be opened for the forgiveness of man's sins. All that is asked of the sinner now is that he believe this and accept this spiritual death of the Saviour as a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice and satisfaction for his sins.
In this death, He had died for man's SINS. There yet remained a dying for man's SIN. *

          II. The Physical Dying of Jesus Christ

    We have observed that when man dies spiritually his death is the direct result of an action deliberately undertaken. To act sinfully is pleasurable, at least in anticipation. Sometimes it seems almost as though this would be the definition of what is sinful — "that which gives pleasure"!
    Whatever the form our particular sins happen to take (and for each individual they differ according to personal preference!), sins are freely engaged in even though we may sometimes persuade ourselves that we are "doing it against our will." We all die spiritually — or better, we all destroy ourselves spiritually, by active choice. Spiritual death for man is indeed a form of suicide because it is voluntary.

* As man lives two lives, So he dies two deaths. In both realms, the physical and the spiritual, the effect of the Fall was to introduce death. SIN brings death of the body: SINS, the death of the spirit. SIN is now the cause of physical death, and it is the root of SINS of the spirit. SIN is to be taken away (John 1:29), put away (Hebrews 9:26), and cleansed (1 John l :7), but not forgiven; whereas SINS are forgiven. Accordingly, on the Day of Atonement two goats were "sacrificed," the one as a SIN offering (Leviticus 16:9), the other (the scapegoat) for the SINS of the people.
  In the theology of the Epistles, the distinction is constantly being assumed. John Calvin recognized this and commented on it succinctly (Institutes, Bk. 2, ch.1, sect. 5). Peter Lange in his Commentary on Holy Scripture (Romans vol. x, Zondervan reprint, p. 176, col. a.) has a most useful excursus on the subject. Griffith Thomas points out that "The Bible distinguishes between SIN and SINS, the root and the fruit, the principle and the practice; and Article II of the Thirty-Nine Articles teaches that our Lord's atonement covers both of these" (Principles of Theology, Baker reprint, 1979, p.50).

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      On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ became involved in our sins with a perfect hatred, so fulfilling Psalm 139:22 in its deeper sense. For Him it as a far more dreadful involvement than the experience of physical death because spiritual death is a kind of continuous dying whereas physical death is normally a once-only experience.
     For Him spiritual death was a totally unwilling involvement, something undertaken with horror. For Him it was an execution. But now He must also undertake to experience the "tasting" of physical death in order to complete his work.
     Here we have a total reversal. For men, spiritual death is a form of suicide but physical death is clearly an execution. For the Lord spiritual death was clearly an execution, whereas his physical death was effectively a kind of suicide. Such is the contrasting position of the two Adams in their two kinds of dying. Let us look at the evidence for this statement.
     First of all, we have to bear in mind that while, by reason of his Incarnation He had made Himself vulnerable and could therefore have been killed by accident or by human hands at any time had this been allowed of God (see Matthew 4:6 and John 19:11), He had nevertheless by his supernatural conception escaped the mortogenic factor that we all inherit which brings us inevitably to the grave. He was, therefore, truly in the position that it was quite possible for Him never to have experienced death at all. After being transformed on the Mount of Transfiguration, He might have gone on into glory without ever passing through death and never have returned to his earthly life. Instead, He came down from the Mount, and did so specifically that He might taste of death.
     But to what extent does the New Testament support the view that his physical death was wholly without compulsion, a dying of active choice and not merely a willingness to be put to death, a deliberate dismissal of life without any external or circumstantial constraint

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in the process?
     The New Testament witnesses to this extraordinary fact in a number of remarkable ways that have largely remained unrecognized in commentaries of the past century or so but which were clearly perceived by the earliest of the Church Fathers and by not a few of the earlier Reformers. Perhaps the reason for this comparative silence on the matter today is that it is difficult to state the case with clarity and precision without labouring the point, and to labour such a truth has something of impropriety about it. Perception of the truth has to be left largely to the reader.

      There are three points of view from which his death can be considered: 1. as an HISTORICAL fact: 2. as a MORAL fact: and 3. as a THEOLOGICAL fact. These three conceptual points of view can be treated quite separately and are so indicated in Scripture.

          1. The HISTORICAL View.

     In the simplest terms, Jesus Christ was crucified and slain. It may seem rather unnecessary to emphasize the order of these two words, crucified and slain, since it seems so obvious that crucifixion was a mode of capital punishment. But in point of fact the phrase is rarely found in Scripture in that order, since in Jewish practice condemned men were not crucified and slain, but slain first and then crucified afterwards. Crucifixion was performed by the Jewish people for the sole purpose of shaming the dead and never as a mode of execution.
     Crucifixion is generally considered to have been a Carthaginian invention, and was used there as a form of maximum punishment, inflicting death with the greatest possible cruelty. Not the least element of cruelty was the extraordinary time of survival on the cross before death overtook the victim and freed him from his agony. Both men and women have endured crucifixion for up to nine

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days before death has set them free. In some cases men so crucified have remained there alive long enough for birds to peck out their eyes; and they were of course totally unable to defend themselves. It was a truly awful form of execution.
     The Romans had adopted this form of punishment for treasonable offenses and for even lesser offenses among commoners. But in Palestine they had been persuaded by the Jewish authorities to make a concession. It became permissible to kill the victim before the end of the Jewish day (which came at 6 p.m.) in order that the body might not be left on the cross beyond sunset. The Jewish people had long practiced crucifixion — or as the Old Testament has it, "hanging on a tree"; but the Mosaic Law had forbidden the retention of the body on the cross after sundown in order that the land be not defiled (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23). Burial of some kind was required before the day's end. As a consequence, the victim's death had to be ensured before sundown and this was carried out by the simple device of breaking the legs presumably to induce a form of suffocation, the whole weight of the body being thrown on the shoulders and chest.
     However, the Jews themselves never once crucified men alive as far as we know. For them, it was never a form of execution, though it had been practiced for centuries all around them. Prior to the Roman occupation, it had always served the sole purpose of desecration of the dead. * The order of events is always the same: first slaying, and then crucifixion.
     In their view, and according to Mosaic Law, any person thus "hung on a tree" was doubly cursed: cursed by society, and cursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:23). And in the Lord's case, there is no question that the Jewish authorities wished

* This fact is amply borne out by reference to such passages as the following: Joshua 8:29; 10:26; 2 Samuel 4:12; Genesis 40:19 (from Egypt); and in the New Testament, Matthew 23:34.

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the common people to see that Jesus, by the very fact of his crucifixion, had been accursed of God — thus effectively undermining any claim He might have made as their Messiah. The very fact of crucifixion totally invalidated any such claim.
     But there was another very important reason why crucifixion was necessary for the Lord, and why no other form of execution would have served God's purposes. He had to die TWO kinds of death, and his execution had therefore to be sufficiently prolonged that He could fulfil both while in this position of condemnation. Just as there had to be two goats on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus16) in order that these two kinds of death might be accomplished — one the "sending away" to the wilderness of the scapegoat which foreshadowed the hours of darkness on the cross, the other the shedding of the blood of the second goat which foreshadowed His physical death on the cross — so there had to be time for the accomplishment of these things on Calvary: time for both kinds of dying of the Saviour.
      In any one of the then current Jewish forms of capital punishment (strangling, beheading, stoning, etc.), only a miracle could have kept the Lord alive to perform these two functions of the Atonement, occupying as they did several hours. As it turned out, it was only by a miracle that He died when He did — and this solely because He was condemned to be crucified. No other setting for his dying could have accommodated these things which were essential to make his total sacrifice truly an offering for SINS and an offering for SIN; and in that order.
     It was not, therefore, the crucifixion that really ended his life. He died ON the cross, but not FROM crucifixion. The cross was the occasion but not the cause of his dying. He was dead within less than six hours, a circumstance almost unheard of. The minimum time to death by crucifixion has been established by some writers of that time as about 32 hours, or over five times as long. It is therefore no wonder that the centurion in charge of the crucifixion

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detail was so amazed (Mark 15:39), and that Pilate also was incredulous (Mark 15:44) that He was so soon dead. Both were Romans: both probably had had considerable experience in such matters. To them it was a most exceptional circumstance.

           2. The MORAL View.

     How, then, does the New Testament describe this extraordinary situation? Partly, as rather frequently in Scripture, by the use of contradictory statements in order to arrest the attention of the dedicated reader.
Thus when Peter preached his first sermon dealing with the Lord's death, he accused his contemporaries of having by wicked hands crucified and slain the Lord (Acts 2:23). But when he preached his second sermon he again accused them of the same crime by saying "whom you slew and hanged on a tree" (Acts 5:30) — this time, it will be noted, reversing the order. First they had crucified and slain the Lord: now he tells them that they slew and crucified the Lord.
      In the first instance he was stating what was historically the order of events but in the second case he was giving the moral order of events, which was in fact much nearer the truth of the matter. For these same Pharisees had indeed already slain Him by the time they demanded his crucifixion. They had hated Him and in their hatred had effectively murdered Him, for hatred is murder (1 John 3:15).
     In fact, crucifying Him was not, in their minds, to secure his death but rather to totally discredit Him. Simply to have had Him deliberately put to death by Pilate would have made Him a hero or a martyr. They may even have believed that if He did die on the cross He would indeed have been proved an impostor and thus their bringing Him to justice would turn out to their credit.
      With respect to Peter's transposition of the words "crucified and slain," some versions have rendered this

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passage in a way which appears to contradict the sense of the King James Version. It is translated "whom you slew by crucifying Him," thus reconciling the second sermon with the first one. It is a possible rendering. But it is actually contradicted by what we know about the Jewish attitude towards crucifixion. They did not slay by crucifying.
     It will be noted that this reversal of order is also to be observed in Acts 10:39. Here Peter again contradicts his first sermon, placing death before crucifixion. Yet to place death before crucifixion is simply to affirm what is said elsewhere throughout Scripture of the order of events in such a case. In Peter's hearing, the Lord Himself had said that they themselves would be killed and crucified (Matthew 23:34). From all of which I think it is fair to say that Peter's perception of the matter had been sharpened as he had later reconsidered some of the very specific statements the Lord had made to the effect that no man was going to take his life from Him, but rather that He was going to lay it down of Himself.
     And so we come to the third aspect of the crucifixion.

          3. The THEOLOGICAL View.

     Matthew, Mark, and Luke present their record of events with little or no theological comment. John's Gospel is quite different in this respect. It is in John's Gospel that we find the words of the Lord, "I lay down my life for the sheep. . . .  Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but l lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (John 10:15, 17, 18).
     The Greek of these verses is so clear and straightforward and simple that it would make a beautiful exercise for any beginner studying the language. One of the most striking things about it is the repetition of the words, "I lay down my life." This phrase occurs in verses 15 and 17 and twice

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in verse 18. It is doubtful if the Lord could have placed greater emphasis upon anything He ever said to his disciples than He does by these simple words "I lay it down of myself."
     As I read these words, I see the Lord trying to impress upon his disciples that in no way is his life going to be taken from Him. He is going to die but it is going to be his act. He will not die as other men have died under compulsion. Nor will He merely choose the time when He will allow other men to put Him to death. In the simplest possible terms, the very act of dying will be his choice, regardless of circumstances.
     When John in his Gospel came to record the Lord's death, he used a word never elsewhere used in classical or biblical Greek for the death of any other man. In John 19:30 we have these words: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished, and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost."
     The impression one has from this is that He yielded up his spirit under the pressure of circumstance, even as Ananias and Sapphira are both said to have yielded up their spirits. But the Greek word for "gave up" which John employs in this instance is not at all the normal word used for expiration. It is the word paradidomi * which means not to surrender but to DISMISS.
But the other Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all employed words which were commonly used in Greek to describe man's passing, and indeed so did Peter in Acts. By contrast, Paul uses this word paradidomi on a number of highly significant occasions when speaking of the Lord's death, as will be seen by reference to Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:19; 5:2 and 25.
     When the Lord said He had power to lay down his life, He made his point clear by adding, "and I have power to take it again." It is obvious that while any man may commit suicide — i.e., has power to terminate his own life,

* A full discussion of this point will be found in Seed of the Woman.

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it is equally obvious that he does not have power to take it up again. The Lord had the same power both to lay down and to take up — or to put the matter slightly differently, He was entirely in charge of the process, both ways. He dismissed life by an act of will, and by an act of will later re-engaged it.
      Thus in his exercise of absolute authority over his own life He did not give up his spirit in the sense that other men give up theirs. He deliberately dismissed it, and the transformation of his body from a living organism into a dead body was so immediate that the centurion was amazed.
     No wonder, therefore, that it was a man in authority who could say to one under his command, "Go! and he goes," who suddenly perceived that One far mightier than he had been able to say to his own spirit "Go!" and it obeyed immediately. Thus had this Man died, at his own command and in no sense in obedience to a summons from any other authority. He cried out in triumph, "It is paid in full!", commended his spirit into his Father's hands, and deliberately "blew out the candle." When the time came, it all happened in a matter of minutes.
      He had thus accomplish the work his Father had given Him to do, partly in an eternity, and now finally in time.

     Thus, historically considered, Jesus was crucified and slain. From the moral point of view, they slew Him by their hatred and sealed it by a crucifixion. Theologically, the cross was only a stage upon which the Lord Himself voluntarily became his own executioner. These aspects of the crucifixion which are so seldom spoken about in modern commentaries, have been recognized from the earliest times.
     Tertullian (c. 160 — c. 215) wrote that when Christ was crucified "at His own free-will, He with a word dismissed from Him His spirit, anticipating the executioner's work."
(123) Two hundred years later, Methodius, Bishop of Olympas, observed: "Christ chose death to which He was not subject, that He might

123. Tertullian, Apology, chapter 21 in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, Cleveland Coxe in Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, vol.III, 1918, p.351].  

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deliver them which were the bondslaves of death." (124)
     In 1886 Alfred Edersheim put the matter this way: "His death, his resurrection — let no one imagine that it came from without! It is his own act. He has power in regard to both, and both are his own voluntary, sovereign, and divine act."
     In 1895 James Denney wrote a little more extensively, saying, "If death was precisely the same problem for Christ that it is for us, then the New Testament way of speaking about his death is simply incomprehensible. If the first Christians had been of this mind, the phraseology we find in every page of Scripture could never have arisen. But they were not of this mind. They believed that Christ was sinless, and therefore that death, although included in his vocation, had a unique significance . . . his death is a solitary phenomenon, the one thing of a kind in the universe — a sinless One, submitting to [I would have said embracing ACC] the doom of sin. It was his death, certainly, for He had come to die; but it was not his, for He knew no sin; it was for us, and not for himself that He made death his own."
     Fifty years later, John Murray underscored what we have been saying as follows: "[The death of Jesus] was unique because of the way in which He died. No other died as He died. How can this be? All others die because forces other than their own wrest life from them and sever the bond uniting body and spirit. Not so Jesus on the accursed tree. He was indeed crucified by others: He did not crucify Himself. But when He died, He dismissed his spirit, He laid down his life: He, in the exercise of his own agency and by the authority given Him, severed the bond."

     The difference between his dying and our dying can be illustrated by a series of short antithetical statements, which can be documented from Scripture either in the actual wording or as clearly implied. They may be tabulated, though over-simplified, as follows:

124. Methodius: "Some Other Pragments of the Same Methodius," Sect. III, translated by William R. Clark, in Ante-Nicene Fathers: Fathers of the Third century, edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, New York, Chrales Scribner's Sons, vol.VI, 1911, p.401.
125. Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, New York, Herrick & Co., 1886, vol.II, p.193.
126. Denney, James, Studies in Theology, Grand rapids, Baker reprint, 1976, p136.
127. Murray, John, "The Death of Christ" in Collected Writings, Edinburgh, Banner of Truth Trust, vol.1, 1976, p.37.

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 We are subject to death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  He became subject to death 
 We are humbled by death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  He humbled Himself 
 We, like Paul, are "offered"  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . He offered Himself 
 We surrender to death  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . He embraced it 
 We relinquish the spirit  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . He dismissed it 
 We may choose the time to die . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . He chose to die 
 We can only shorten our lives  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  He merely suspended his life, only to
re-engage it at will 
 A few have raised the dead  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  He raised Himself 
 Our death is passive,
     something we suffer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
His death was active, *
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . something He commanded 

He died on the cross but not from it.
He may even have died
            with a ruptured heart,
            but not because of it.

      All these things were both possible and meaningful because, in Augustine's words, while it was "not impossible for Him to die," it was "possible for Him not to die." And these conditions of his life in no way disqualified his nature as truly Man, because these same conditions of life applied to Adam before he fell. The significance of the miraculous conception is that by this means Jesus Christ escaped the physiological consequences of Adam's disobedience, namely, the inheritance of physical mortality.
     Unless this had happened, the Lord's death could only have been premature and not in any way vicarious. He would have been, as some have even suggested, merely the first Christian martyr. But his potential physical immortality certified that his death was vicarious. And yet his body was still truly a human body and He truly a representative of Man as the Last Adam. There is a circle here of cause and effect which cannot be broken — and the organic unity of the Christian Faith is critically involved in it.
     Furthermore, He must not merely be Man, He must

*In the light of 1 Peter 3:18. it might reasonably be argued that He was "put to death in the flesh," making his death as passive as our death always is. If so, we indeed have a contradiction of all the evidence to the contrary. However, it is important to note that the Greek word thanatoõ here rendered "put to death," can mean and is frequently translated "condemned, or delivered up, to die." It is so viewed in Mark 14:55 and Romans 8:36.

     pg.17 of 20    

be God-made-Man. For whereas one man may die for another man on the principle of balanced compensation, were He only man — no matter how perfect — He could not have substituted for more than one man. Only by being more than man, and yet man nonetheless, could He make in Himself a sufficient sacrifice not only for my sins but for the sins of any man who will avail himself of it.
     Moreover, the first man must not only have enjoyed the potential of physical immortality but he must also have possessed "original righteousness," by which is meant true moral freedom. The First Adam need not have sinned even as he need not have died, and thus the Last Adam was truly Man even though He never sinned.
     Besides these things, Adam must have had a sense of moral accountability which made him a unique creature with a conscience towards God and the full capability of recognizing the nature of sin and the rationale of judgment. On these foundations was built a species, every member of which is capable of redemption and able to perceive the rationale of salvation as it applied to himself. Man is such a creature that he can by grace recognize his need of salvation when fallen and can embrace it by exercising the necessary saving faith.
     These theological aspects of the biblical record of what happened to the two Adams, both as to their origins and their deaths, cannot be rationally integrated into an evolutionary world view applied to man.
Whereas it is true that the application of the redemptive process to the individual depends on the nature of man's spirit, it is also true that the manner of man's redemption has hinged upon the nature of his body. For this body was originally such as to permit the Son of God to be made Man in order to redeem man by his substitutionary death while at the same time in no way violating or surrendering his own divine nature. In short, man's sense of need originates in the unique properties of his spirit, and his redeemability hinges upon the unique properties of his body.

     pg.18 of 20    

     The theory of evolution applied to man makes a shambles of this Plan of Redemption. As Kirtley F. Mather observed in an article contributed to a volume of papers entitled Science Ponders Religion which were edited by none other than Harlow Shapley, "When a theologian accepts evolution as the process used by the Creator, he must be willing to go all the way with it." (128) And I venture to say that no one can accept the evolution of man and still hold firmly in a truly rational way to the Faith once for all delivered to the saints.

      In the very essence of its internal structure, the theology of redemption is challenged by evolutionary presuppositions and any satisfactory "wedding" of the two is logically impossible. The rationale of the Plan of Salvation is based entirely on the concept of balanced restitution, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, human life for human life. This simple fact lies at the very root of biblical theology.
      H. G. Wells was perfectly correct when he wrote in 1920: "If all the animals and man had been evolved in an ascendant manner, then there have been no first parents, no Eden and no Fall. And if there has been no Fall, then the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for the Atonement upon which the current teaching bases Christian emotion and morality, collapses like a house of cards."
(129) Such was the persuasion of a man who had no Christian convictions, but was more perceptive than many who have.
      In a similar vein James Orr observed, "I do not think it can be sufficiently emphasized that Christian truth forms an organic whole — has a unity and coherence which cannot be arbitrarily disturbed in any of its parts without the whole undergoing injury. Conversely, the proof that any doctrine fits in essentially to that organism and is an integral part of it, is one of the strongest evidences we can have of its correctness."
(130) As will be seen in Chapter 18, it is a great pity that a number of other stalwarts of the Faith have not

128. Mather, Kirtley F.,"Creation and evolution" in Science Ponders Religion, edited by Harlow Shapley, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960, p.37.
129. Wells, H. G., Short History of the World, edited by Raymond Poatgate, new enlarged edition, New York, Doubleday, 1949, p.987.
130. Orr, James, God's Image in Man, Grand Rapids, Eanimans, 1948, p.260.

     pg.19 of 20    

applied this test in their own thinking about the matter.
     For many devout Christians today who have adopted evolution in place of creation, the problem lies in their unwillingness to extend the consequences of their broadened faith. They can only live with the substitution of evolution for creation because, while their knowledge of biology is often profound in many respects, their understanding of the organic unity of the Christian Faith has not been adequately worked out and they are unaware of the real nature of its logical structure and how impossible reconciliation really is.


A single Old Testament passage sometimes foreshadows a whole series of events in the New Testament in a truly remarkable way. Thus in Exodus 12:5—7 we have the following words: "Your lamb shall be without blemish . . . and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening . . . and when I see the blood I will pass over you."
     Accordingly, we have the Lamb identified as "the Lamb of God" in John 1:29, brought to the bar in John 18:30 and declared de facto "without fault" in John 19:4 and 12, having been brought by the whole assembly (Acts 4:27), and then "slain and crucified" (Acts 5:30) "in the evening": and finally, the blood sprinkled (Hebrews 9:11—15) that the judgment of God may pass over us.

     pg.20 of 20    

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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