Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts. Zach. 13:7.
Why did He made the sword of justice to awake and smite his Shepherd, the man that is his Fellow? That thus he might get all his divine attributes glorified in the highest. “Glory to God in the highest,” was the song of angels when he appeared in our nature, to receive this awful stroke. God’s honour was not more impaired and embezzled by the sin of man, than it was restored and repaired by the death of Christ. If all mankind, and all the angels with them, had fallen a sacrifice to the sword of divine justice, it could not have repaired the honor of God for one sin: though they had all been offered up in one whole burnt offering, it could not have satisfied infinite justice; yea, though they had all been damned in hell, to all eternity, justice could never have got full satisfaction. But here is justice glorified to the highest; “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;” and at the same time vindicated the spotless holiness and righteousness of God, that it may be known that God is holy and just, who will needs avenge sin in his own Son, the holy and innocent cautioner, when he interposes in the sinner’s room. This is the declared design of God’s awakening the sword of justice against Christ; “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus,” (Rom. 3:25). If God had exacted the satisfaction of the sinners themselves, by sending them to hell, it might have declared his justice and righteousness much but here it is more gloriously declared, and glorified to the highest; for, if we consider Christ in himself, and the elect in themselves, his death and sufferings are more than if all the elect had suffered eternally in hell. Here is mercy also and free grace glorified to the highest, while the sinner is liberated and not put to pay the debt in his own person. Here is divine power glorified to the highest; in the crucifying Christ, whom the power of God supported under that load of wrath that would have crushed ten thousand worlds. Here is wisdom glorified to the highest; “The manifold wisdom of God,” that there should be two natures, yet but one person; that mercy should be fully magnified, and yet justice fully satisfied; that sin should be punished, and yet the sinner unpunished: that the sinner should escape, and yet God should take vengeance upon sin. O the wisdom of God in a mystery!
It was even for the honor of the Shepherd, and the glory of the man his fellow. God designed that for his suffering of death, he should be crowned with glory and honor, (Heb. 2:9). That for his humbling himself, and becoming obedient to the death, he should be highly exalted above all, and have a name above every name, (Phil. 2:9). That for drinking of the brook in the way, he should lift up his head; that after he had drunk of the brook of divine wrath in our room, he should lift up his head above all principalities and powers, and have all power in heaven and earth given to him, and a number of elect to praise him forever. O it is a wonderful thing to think, what he gave, and what he got! What gave he? His body, his soul, his blood, his life: What got he? Even some of the black, ugly race of Adam to embrace him? he makes his soul an offering for sin, and then he sees his seed, he sees the travail of his soul, and is satisfied. He thinks all his pains well bestowed, when he gets his bride in his arms. O here is love! behold incarnate love! bleeding love! dying love! Shall not this glorious lover be exalted of God forever, and exalted by all the Redeemed with the highest praises, for opening his breast to receive the wound of the awakened sword of justice! yea, more, the song will be, “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain. Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”
By Ralph Erskine