Chapter 55 Five Things The Lord Became

I am He that liveth, and was dead (Revelation 1:18).

The good tidings of great joy which constitute the Gospel are summed up in five things which our Lord became in order to redeem us.

He Became Flesh

“The Word was made (or became) flesh” (John 1:14). “The Word” is our Lord’s eternal name. As such He is the Revealer of God—the Exponent of the Godhead. He is so now, He was so in the days of His flesh. He has been so from all eternity. John 1:1 tells of His eternal existence and 1:14 that He became flesh. This is the mystery of godliness. There is no argument about it. It is “without controversy” (1 Timothy 3:16). The Word is the divine or upper portion of the mystery, His becoming flesh the lower portion. By His doing so the incomprehensible became comprehensible; the inaccessible became accessible; the far off became near. He who was God entered or took up our humanity and entered the world as a little Child, suckled at a woman’s breast, dandled upon a woman’s knee. Without ceasing to be God, and without the surrender of any divine attribute, He became man—his holiness not making Him less human; His flesh not making Him less holy.

He Became Poor

“Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). This I believe to be the first meaning of Ephesians 4:9—He “descended … into the lower parts of the earth,” that is, into the poorest existence possible to human kind. He went through every existence of human circumstance for “in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren” (Hebrews 2:17), and thus was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (4:15). He was rich—rich in glory—rich in the love of the Father—rich in possessions, but for us men and our salvation He became poor—stooping in self-abasement to take upon Him our human nature—being born in a cattle stall—working in a carpenter’s shop—living much of His life in a ghetto called Nazareth—spending His youth in a home in which the family did not believe on Him—and in His Messianic ministry knowing betrayal and denial by His own—and then exiting by death. How poor!

He Became Obedient

“He … became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). The Lord’s way was not to make a show in the flesh. He invented no way of making Himself ridiculous, as some do. He dressed in no special garb by which to attract attention to Himself. He simply did what the Father wanted Him to do. He came into this world in the office of a Divine Servant, not to do His own will but the will of His Father in heaven. There is no humility like obedience. “To obey is better than sacrifice,” said Samuel. “Lo, I come,” said our Lord, … “to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). This was an altogether new experience for Him. As God, there was none higher to obey. In becoming a Servant He became subject to the Father as God, and so “learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

He Became Sin

“He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). It almost seems that our blessed Lord was turned into a body of sin as He assumed the role of Sin-Bearer. All our sins were laid upon Him by an act of transference. He was the Scapegoat of the Old Testament with all the sins of His people placed upon Him that He might carry them away out of sight for ever (Leviticus 16:8-10). Enlightened souls could say even in that day, “My burden leaves me. The scapegoat takes it away and I am relieved.” Sins were borne by the scapegoat beyond the camp—beyond all sight—beyond the track of man—to the far borders of a wild desert. There is a depth in these words which we cannot fathom. It is probably the profoundest word in Scripture, but our Lord became that in order that we might become “the righteousness of God in Him.”

He Became Dead

“I am He that liveth, and was (became) dead” (Revelation 1:18). All those things which our Lord became were entirely voluntary and of His own will. You and I have to die. Death has a claim upon us. We have no choice. But death had no claim on the Son of God. He died, I believe, not the first death first, but the second death first, which is the ultimate of death—banishment from the presence of God. That was the meaning of the central cry from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). He became dead for us, that is, He entered into death that He might destroy the power of it and “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15).

The Lord was never a dying man. Death had no claim upon Him. It could not put forth a clammy hand on His blessed brow. He laid down His life. He voluntarily surrendered to death that He might blast to bits the power of it and set us free.

I know that my Redeemer lives:
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, Who once was dead;
He lives my everlasting Head.

He lives to bless me with His love,
And still He pleads for me above;
He lives to raise me from the grave,
And me eternally to save.

He lives my mansion to prepare;
And He will bring me safely there;
He lives, all glory to His Name!
Jesus, unchangeably the same!

—Samuel Medley