MAN'S WOUNDED GOD
THE PAIN OF GOD
The title of this article is startling, and needs some explanation. In the previous articles has been considered the coming into heaven of God's perfect Man, bearing in His body the marks of His wounding, the evidences of His dying.
Attention still being fixed upon Him, it must be remembered that in that glory as ever, two things are true concerning Him. First He is God's Man; and secondly, He is man's God.
Apart from Him, man has no perfect understanding of God. In Him man finds the full and final revelation of the Father. It is impossible for men to come; either in understanding or in actual communion, to the Father except through the risen glorified Son.
To state this positively therefore is to declare that man approaching God, does so forevermore, as He has revealed Himself in and through Jesus of Nazareth. Thus the ascended One is man's God.
It is impossible to omit from that ascended and reigning One the wounds He bears. They are part of His Personality, and speak of the fulfillment of a PURPOSE which was THE PURPOSE OF GOD, and which was carried out by God in and through Jesus. If the perfect Manhood of Jesus be the perfect unveiling before the eyes of men of the essential glories of God, so the wounded Personality of Jesus is the unveiling before the eyes of men of that wounding of the heart of God, through which His grace was manifested, and wrought its mightiest victory.
In Apocalyptic vision John saw "in the midst of the throne . . . a Lamb as though it had been slain." (Rev. 5:6) The reference is without question to Christ. Two things are manifest, first that He occupies the position of proper Deity. He is in the midst of the throne. Secondly that He retains the evidences of suffering. It is "a Lamb as though it had been slain." This double fact speaks forevermore of the deepest fact that lies behind man's redemption. This fact is that of THE PAIN OF GOD.
In the book of Proverbs, the preacher asks,
"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; But a broken spirit who can bear?” (Prov. 18:14)
Therein is recognition of the fact that while the spirit of a man gives him physical infirmity, the
deepest fact of sorrow possible to man is sorrow of the spirit.
deepest fact of sorrow possible to man is sorrow of the spirit.
Bearing in mind that illustration taken from the lower realm of human experience, turn now to a passage in the prophecy of Isaiah. "I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not My face from shame and spitting." (Isa. 50:6) Whatever the local and incidental application of these words, there is a general consensus of opinion that they are Messianic in their final application, finding their perfect fulfillment only in the experience of Jesus.
Turning to another passage in the same prophecy, "Surely He hath accepted our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." (Isa. 53:4-5) The idea that He was smitten of God and stricken of God is not accurate. It is rather the portrayal of One Who in perfect cooperation with God is bearing the smiting and the bruising that comes upon human guilt through the operation of the inexorable law of God. The suffering Servant is seen here as receiving those stripes which will make possible the healing of such as ought to have endured their own penalty. The word to be specially noticed now is the word "smitten." That is the word translated "broken" in the quotation from the Proverbs. While the wounding of the body of Jesus was the outward and visible sign, it was in the wounding of the Spirit that the deepest mystery of His atoning suffering lie. Thus in Jesus, God is revealed, not only in His love, in His holiness, and in His justice; but in His sorrow, and in His pain.
At this point there are strong divergences of opinion. It has been maintained that God is incapable of sorrow, and that it was only in the fact of His Manhood that Jesus suffered in the place of man. Such a conception of God would seem to be utterly unwarranted by the whole revelation made of Him in Scripture, and finally in the Person of His Son. If the Man was a revelation of God, surely the Man of sorrows was a revelation of the God of sorrow. This capacity for sorrow is most evidently pre-supposed in the injunction of the apostle, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." (Eph. 4:30) The word "grieve" here is purely a word indicating SORROW. There is no suspicion of anger in it. The injunction does not mean, do not make the Spirit angry. It most certainly means, do not cause Him SORROW. The fact to be established is that or the possibility of sorrow in the consciousness of God. If once this is established, then a new light shines through the entire book. The final proof of the proposition is most evidently to be found in the simplest statement concerning God, namely, "God is love." (1 John 4:8) Love is the capacity for joy. It is therefore, moreover, the capacity for sorrow. Joy and sorrow are twin sisters. They are so closely related that it is impossible to have capacity for one, without having also capacity for the other. That Jesus was the revelation of God in His marvelous wisdom, in His splendid strength, no one denies. When against tyranny, and oppression, and wrong, His anger flamed, it is at once conceded that the indignation of God was being revealed. Can it then be denied that the tears He shed in presence of the grief of the bereaved sisters, were revelations of the exquisite tenderness of the heart of the Divine, or have we any right to affirm that when the Man of Nazareth gazed upon beautiful Jerusalem the curse alone was the revelation of the Divine will? Were not the tears and the tones of emotion in the voice, equally means of manifesting to men the love and the sorrow of the heart of God? It must of course be immediately granted that God can never have any sorrow which is merely that of limitation or that caused by the sense of mystery. His sorrow must forever be that of sympathy, with that which is the result of His entering into the actual experiences of another, and making His own what that other feels. To understand this is to read with new intonation the startling questions that occur in the first book of the Bible. When God cried to Adam "Where art thou," (Gen. 3:9) it was not so much the voice of outraged holiness, speaking in anger, as a violated love, but crying in compassion.
Jesus the wounded is therefore in expression to man, and in the fact of His own Personality, MAN'S WOUNDED GOD. As the God-man on the earth was the Revelation of the Father in all the wondrous facts of His Personality, so the Lamb slain in the midst of the throne is still the Revelation of the Father in the unsullied light of the heavenly places. The harmony between Father and Son is unbroken (John 10:30). In the High Priest, Who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, there exists One Who expresses thus the fact of God's consciousness of all human infirmity and all human sorrow.
The risen and ascended God-man, having received His Name, now assumes His place in the economy of God, and the Divine purpose is declared that every knee shall bow, in submission; and every tongue shall confess in acclamation that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10). Thus we may see in Him the order of a new economy as to its central Personality, and as to the nature of its administration.