The Mystery of Mercy
"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19
The humanity of Christ was the temple of God; for though it was more particularly united to one of the persons in Jehovah — yet in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. "God was in the anointed One." He could dwell in Jesus, because there was no sin in Him. He did dwell in Him, speak through Him, and work by Him; hence He said, "the Father that dwells in me — He does the works." Dwelling in Christ, He looked upon sinners with love; He pitied them as a Father, He felt the deepest sympathy. He manifested the greatest tenderness, and showed Himself full of compassion. Christ was the great manifester of God, "God was manifested in flesh," the flesh of Christ. He manifested the nature, mind, and purpose of God.
"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." Man never sought reconciliation with God — it did not once enter into his depraved mind! But God formed a plan of reconciliation in eternity, and in time He came in Christ to accomplish it. This was done by removing the cause of enmity, which was sin; this sin was laid upon Jesus, punished in Him, and forever put away by Him. It included the demands of the law, which demands were presented by Jesus, accepted by Him, and perfectly satisfied by His obedience unto death. It embraced the threatenings of the Word, and these were executed on Jesus; the Shepherd took the blame for the sheep, and paid the entire penalty they had incurred. "He redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." "He has made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
God, in Christ, holds out the greatest encouragement to sinners to return and be friends:
He invites us, though rebels;
He promises us all the fullness of God, though traitors;
He warns us, that He may not punish us;
He expostulates with us, because we are so stubborn;
and He sets before us examples of the greatest enemies, whom He has restored to His favor, introduced to His kingdom, and made honorable among His people.
He brings into friendship and fellowship, by accompanying His gospel with the power of His Holy Spirit, and winning over the heart by His grace.
The method He has adopted to reconcile sinners, is most surprising; it is thus expressed, "Not imputing their trespasses unto them." It is not denied that they are sinners, and many of them notorious sinners. It is admitted, that God would be just in punishing them eternally; but He does not lay their sins to their charge — or place their transgressions to their account.
Christ has suffered — that we may be spared.
He was condemned — that we may be justified.
Sin was charged on Him — that it may never be charged on us.
He died — that we may live forever.
The whole of the curse fell on Him — that we may inherit a blessing.
Justice was honored and satisfied, by His obedience and death. And now the sinner may be pardoned, justified, accepted, cared for, and glorified. Yes, now every penitent sinner, every one who believes in Jesus, must be pardoned, reconciled to God, and entitled to Heaven.
This is truly a mystery of mercy, and it is all of God. It was . . .
contrived by His wisdom,
approved by His justice,
executed by His Son,
published by His servants,
and applied by His Holy Spirit.
Man is treated with the greatest kindness, and God displays the richest grace and condescension. Sinner, look not at God as displayed in His judgments, or manifested in His works — but look at Him in Jesus, there He is a reconciling God; approach Him, plead with Him, believe His Word, and expect His blessing! He will not impute to you your sins, or punish you for your transgressions — but, "He will abundantly pardon!"