For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet he accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
The sinless One was to be numbered with the transgressors!
He that knew no sin, who did no evil, neither was guile found in His mouth, the Son of God in the flesh, was to be considered, reckoned and treated as a public enemy!
Well might the Savior warn His disciples in this darkest of hours, when the darkest forces of the powers of darkness would assemble to commit their darkest deed, that now they had better buy a sword, and sell whatever they had, if need be, to secure one!
For thus the Lord had spoken to the twelve!
And, though it must have sounded strange to them, coming from His mouth, the thing appealed to them, and they were ready.
Busily, very busily, the Lord had been instructing them in these last moments of His earthly presence and fellowship with them. Incessantly He had been speaking, exhorting, comforting them, praying feed them and with them, preparing them for the things that were impending, warning them of the darkness of this hour in which they would all be offended in Him, and one of them, one on whom they were inclined to look as a leader, would even deny Him. In the upper room, where they had eaten the paschal suppe1/ with Him, and on the way from that room, through the forsaken streets of the Holy City, and toward the garden of Gethsemane, He had never ceased talking to them.
And just now He was warning them about the danger of the “hour.”
Ah, the time had been, when He had sent them info the villages and cities of Israel, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, without purse and scrip and shoes.
In those days, He now reminds them: had they lacked anything then? And they said: Nothing.
Gladly the people had received them, and supplied their need!
How popular was their Master in those days!
How well He was known as the one that went throughout the land doing good, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, firmness of limb to the lame, cleansing the lepers, and raising the dead! How ready they were to receive them in their homes, that they might know more about Him, about His marvelous works, and about the kingdom He preached and had come to establish! Was He not the Messiah that was to come? . . . .
Glorious days those!
But now! . . . .
Now they would not be able so to pass through the land! Now the inhabitants of the towns and villages of Israel would not receive them with open arms, ready to supply them with food and drink and shelter. On the contrary, fear, suspicion, enmity, hostility and opposition they would meet!
No time it was to go without purse and scrip and shoes, relying on the good will of the people.
No time it was at all to go through the land preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
It was time for the sword!
“He that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip”. . . .
And if need be, let one sell his garment to buy a sword!
For it is the hour of the powers of darkness!
And in that hour must be accomplished in the Christ of God, what is written of Him: “And he was reckoned among the transgressors!”
The sinless One must be delivered to the wrath of the ungodly, and He must suffer and die as a transgressor!
As a public enemy!
Hour of horror!
Reckoned with the transgressors!
Yes, indeed, you are, perhaps, ready to say: thus it must needs be, for the Savior had to bear our sins, and to accomplish this, He must needs be made sin, that we might become righteousness of God in Him!
But wait! . . . .
Do not as yet look at that awful hour of perplexity and offense in the light of our more perfect understanding of it, in the light of the gospel of the glorious resurrection and exaltation of our Lord, and in the light of God’s infinite wisdom and clearly revealed purpose to reconcile the world unto Himself, and that, too, by causing His only begotten Son in the flesh to be reckoned among the transgressors!
O, to be sure, all this is true, we know!
But this “hour” is an hour of perplexity, not of clear understanding of the mystery of redemption! It is not yet time for the formulation of dogma’s of forgiveness and atonement and reconciliation and the love of God. . . .
Wait! . . . .
It is the hour of darkness!
And the text in Luke, the word as the Lord addressed it to His disciples in that night of His deliverance into the hands of sinners, does not first of all signify that God numbered Jesus with the transgressors, but that this would be done by men!
That was the dreadfulness of the hour!
With the transgressors He would be reckoned, He the sinless One, by ungodly sinners! A transgressor is one that rebels against the established law. Such is the meaning of the word in the Scripture that mus1 be fulfilled, and that, in its literal form is found in the twelfth verse of the marvelous fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. And the word used here in Luke signifies those that are lawless. With rebels against the law of God and man must He, the Son of God in sinless human nature, be reckoned. But even so the horror of this thing is not fully expressed. For “transgressors” or “rebels” or “lawless ones” is not to be understood here in its common and general sense. It has a special meaning. It refers to a special class of sinners, to those lawless ones that are set apart as such even by sinful men themselves. All men are transgressors before God. But even among men there is a difference. Men, sinful men, classify themselves. And according to this classification some are “members in good standing” while others are “sinners and publicans”; some are honorable and decent members of society, while others are criminals; some are good citizens, while others are public enemies. . . .
And with the latter the Lord was to be reckoned!
Sinners were to reckon Him as not worthy to live even in the society of sinners!
Transgressors were to set Him apart as One that was worthy of being judged and condemned even by transgressors!
He was to be numbered with the outcasts of society, with public enemies, with the scum of the world!
That was the dreadfulness of the hour!
And that, too, was its offense!
It was especially that element and aspect of the suffering of their Lord which the disciples could not understand, and which they would not accept. For it they were not prepared in that night of nights. 0, plainly and repeatedly their Master had forewarned them that they must be prepared for just that dreadful event. Again and again He had told them in words a child could have understood, not merely that He would have to suffer in order to enter into His glory, but that He would have to be delivered into the hands of the leaders of the Jews, to be condemned as an evil doer, and that, therefore, He must be numbered with the transgressors, and as a public enemy He would have to suffer and die. But the disciples had not received it. Once, indeed, by the mouth of Peter, they had indignantly contradicted that saying. That would never be! But since then they had kept their peace whenever the Lord had spoken of His decease at Jerusalem. But in their deepest heart they had never believed it. Christ’s words had not registered in their consciousness. The saying “was hid from them!”
And even in this darkest hour they did not understand, witness their reaction and their answer to Jesus’ warning that this was an hour for the sword. For, with a certain joy of heart they had taken the Lord literally at His word this time, and had replied: “Lord, behold, here are two swords!”
They had prepared themselves, and exactly because of their preparedness they were not ready for the hour!
Their Lord numbered with the transgressors? Be it far from Him! That would never be!
O, perhaps, they vaguely understood that the Messiah would have to suffer somehow. Did not all the shadows of the old dispensation point to this suffering? Had not the prophets plainly spoken of the suffering Servant of Jehovah? Hardly could they be wholly ignorant in respect to the suffering of the Christ that was to come, and that had now been with them these three blessed and marvelous years. That somehow a sacrifice had to be made by the Messiah in order to enter into His kingdom of glory, they must have apprehended, be it ever so vaguely.
However, it makes a world of difference how a man suffers!
Even suffering may be glorious!
Give a man a sword, and let him die on the battlefield, and he will be honored as a hero. Or let a man plainly and openly sacrifice himself for his fellowmen, and even men will praise his courage and nobility of soul and spirit. Or again, let a man die as a martyr for a noble cause, and the generations that follow will erect monuments in his honor.
But the Christ must not die as a hero. . . .
He may not die as a martyr. . . .
It may not even appear to men that He dies to sacrifice Himself for others.
He must die without glory, without the praise of men even in and because of His suffering.
He must be reckoned with the transgressors!
Die He must as a public enemy!
Such, indeed, it was for our Savior.
For, first of all, let us remember that He was the absolutely sinless One!
And who can fathom the suffering of Him that was without sin as He was numbered among the transgressors?
O, to be sure, that He was the sinless One meant that He was without guilt, that He was innocent of the crimes of which they would accuse Him, and on the basis of which they would reckon Him with the scum of society. It meant, moreover, that He had always done good, that He had been a public benefactor of men, healed them, blessed them, preached the gospel of salvation to them.
But it meant much more.
It implied that He knew no sin! Not merely me:i must fail to find any accusation against Him, but God Himself must pronounce Him blameless, the Judge of heaven and earth could only declare that this was His beloved Son, in Whom He was well pleased. He, the Lamb without blemish, knew no sin! His own conscience never accused Him. He hated sin and loved righteousness. He dreaded sin. He was filled with horror at the very sight of sin. The very contact with sin was repulsive to Him. His whole soul rejoiced in righteousness, and in the love of God! His very meat it was to do the Father’s will.
He was to be numbered with the scum of a sinful world!
Who shall fathom the sorrow of His soul?
But, in the second place, consider the dreadful way He must travel because with the transgressors He was reckoned!
For, indeed, it meant that He was set apart as a public enemy. It implied that those who had received power from above would book Him as a criminal. But it meant, too, that as a criminal He was treated! He was taken prisoner by those that were in authority. He was bound, indicted, tried, found guilty, condemned. He was treated as one whom everyone had the right to despise, to reproach, to fill with contempt. He was beaten, buffeted, mocked at, spit upon, scourged, sentenced to death, publicly, by the law, in, the presence of all men! . . . .
But even so, we have not said enough.
For the Scriptures must be fulfilled! What was written in the Scriptures must be accomplished, finished, perfected in Him!
And that implies that there had, indeed, been others, all through the old dispensation that, even as He, had been reckoned with the transgressors, and that, too, for the very cause He represented, and although they were innocent of the crimes of which they were accused; but that in Him this Scripture was to reach its end, its climax, its complete and ultimate fulfillment.
None had been perfectly sinless as He.
And none had ever been so reckoned with the transgressors as this sinless One!
He was condemned and treated, not merely as a criminal, but as the chief of all evil-doers, as public enemy number one!
He was condemned to the death of the cross!
And to make sure, that all that would might understand the meaning of this horrible thing, they crucified two other public enemies with Him!
And Jesus in the midst!
Why must this Scripture be fulfilled?
Why must the sinless One be reckoned among the transgressors and die as public enemy number one?
O, awful hour! The world must be exposed in all the horror of its iniquity, that it may be condemned, and God may be justified when He judgeth! If, in the hour of judgment, the world shall be asked: why did you number the sinless One with the transgressors? they will answer: because in our darkness we could not tolerate the Light!
O blessed mystery! God, too, had numbered Him with the transgressors, in His eternal good pleasure, that they might be made righteous in and through Him!
O, depth of riches!