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§  4. He endured the Wrath of God.

Our standards specify “the wrath of God,” as a distinct particular of the burden of sorrow which Christ, for our sakes, humbled Himself to bear. The word wrath is the familiar Scriptural term to express any manifestation of the displeasure of God against sin. Christ, although in Himself perfectly holy, bore our sins. He was “made sin” (2 Cor. v. 21); or, treated as a sinner. He was “numbered with the transgressors” (Is. liii. 12), not only in the judgment of men, but in the dealing of God with his soul when He stood in the place of sinners. Such Psalms as the sixteenth, fortieth, and especially the twenty-second, which treat of the sufferings of the Messiah, represent Him as passing through all the experiences consequent on the punishment of sin, save those which have their source in the sinfulness of the sufferer. We therefore find that even such language as that in Psalm xl. 12, “Innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up: they are more 615than the hairs of mine head; therefore my heart faileth me,” may not inappropriately be taken as the language of his holy soul. In that case “mine iniquities” (עֳונֹתַי), as parallel with “evils” (רָעוֹת), must mean “my sufferings for sin,” i.e., the punishment I am called to bear. The words uttered by our Lord upon the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” show that He was suffering under the hiding of his Father’s face. What that experience was it is impossible for us to understand. Yet as in other cases He suffered anxiety, fear, a sinking of the heart, and other natural states of mind incident to the circumstances in which He was placed; so also He suffered all that a holy being could suffer that was enduring the divinely appointed penalty for sin, which penalty He sustained for his people. Into the relation between his divine and human nature as revealed in these experiences, it is in vain for us to inquire. As that relation was consistent with his human nature’s being ignorant, with its progressive development, with all its natural affections, with its feeling apprehension in the presence of danger, and dread in the prospect of death, so it was consistent with the feeling of depression and anguish under the obscuration of the favour of God. As the sufferings of Christ were not merely the pains of martyrdom, but were judicially inflicted in satisfaction of justice, they produced the effect due to their specific character. This of course does not imply that our Lord suffered as the finally impenitent suffer. Their sufferings are determined by their subjective state. The loss of the divine favour produces in them hatred, venting itself in blasphemies (Rev. xvi. 10, 11), but in Christ it produced the most earnest longing after the light of God’s countenance, and entire submission, in the midst of the depressing and overwhelming darkness.

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