Sin Laid on Jesus
Delivered on Sunday Morning, June 10th, 1866, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."Isaiah 53:6.
HE VERSE OPENS with a confession of sin common to all the persons intended in the verse. The whole of the elect people of God seem to me to be here represented; they have all fallen, those of them who have lived to years of responsibility have all actually sinned, and therefore in common chorus they all say from the first who entered heaven to the last who shall enter there, "All we like sheep have gone astray." But the confession while thus hearty and unanimous, is also special and particular: "We have turned every one to his own way." There is a peculiar sinfulness about every one of the individuals; all are sinful, but each one with some special aggravation not found in his fellow. It is the mark of genuine repentance that while it naturally associates itself with other penitents, it also feels that it must take up a position of loneliness. "We have turned every one to his own way" is a confession importing that each man had sinned against light peculiar to himself, or sinned with an aggravation which he at least could not perceive in his fellow. This confession being thus general and particular has many other traits of excellence about it of which we cannot just now speak. It is very unreserved. You will observe that there is not a single syllable by way of excuse; there is not a word to detract from the force of the confession. It is moreover singularly thoughtful, for thoughtless persons do not use a metaphor so appropriate as the text: "All we like sheep have gone astray." Not like the ox which "knoweth its owner," nor even like the ass which "remembers its master's crib nor even like the swine which if it wandereth all day long cometh back to the trough at night, but "like sheep we have gone astray;" like a creature cared for but not capable of grateful attachment to the hand that cares for it; like a creature wise enough to find the gap in the hedge by which to escape, but so silly as to have no propensity or desire to return to the place from which it had perversely wandered; like sheep habitually, constantly, wilfully, foolishly, without power to return, we have gone astray. I wish that all our confessions of sin showed a like thoughtfulness, for to say that we are "miserable sinners" may be an increase of our sin unless we have really felt it, to use words of general confession without our soul entering into them may be but a "repentance that needeth to be repented of," an insult and mockery to high Heaven vented in that very place where there ought to have been the greatest possible tenderness and holy fear. I like the confession of the text because it is a giving up of all pleas of self-righteousness. It is the declaration of a body of men who are guilty, consciously guilty; guilty with aggravations, guilty without excuse; and here they all stand with their weapons of rebellion broken in pieces, saying unanimously, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way."
His Father's righteous ire."
Here is a rock to stand on, a safe resting-place for those who trust in Jesus. As for you who trust him not, your blood be upon your own heads! If ye trust him not, ye have no part nor lot in this matter, ye shall go down to your own punishment to bear it yourselves; the wrath of God abideth on you; you shall find that the blood of Jesus has made no atonement for your sins. You have rejected the invitation that was given, and put far from you the cross of Christ, and upon your heads the pardoning blood shall never drop, and for you it shall never plead, but you must perish under the law, seeing you refuse to be saved under the gospel.
II. Let us come briefly to the APPLICATION.
Dear hearer, a friend now puts a question to you. There is a countless company whose sins the Lord Jesus bore; did he bear yours? Do you wish to have an answer? Are you unable to give one? Let me read this verse to you and see if you can join in it. I do not mean join in it saying, "That is true," but feeling that it is true in your own souls. "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." If there be in you this morning a penitential confession which leads you to acknowledge that you have erred and strayed like a lost sheep, if there be in you a personal sense of sin which makes you feel that you have turned to your own way, and if now you can trust in Jesus, then a second question is not wanted; the Lord hath laid on him your iniquity, and the iniquity of all such as confess their sin and look alone to Christ. But if you will not trust to Christ, I cannot say to you that the Lord hath taken the sin from you and laid it upon Christ, for in my soul I know that living and dying as you now are, that sin of yours will rise up in judgment against you to condemn you. Dear friend, I will venture to say to you, are you reconciled to God's way of getting rid of sin? Do you feel any joy in your heart at the thought of Jesus bearing sin for you and suffering for you? If you do not, I cannot offer you the consolation, which the text gives to those who submit to it. But let me ask you, do you mean to bear your sin yourself? Do you know what that means? Jesus smarted when he bore the sin of his people, but what a smart shall yours be when you bear your own! "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." There are some now-a-days who are mightily angry at the doctrine of everlasting punishment; I, too, might be angry at it if it were an invention of man; but when it is most certainly threatened in God's Book, it is vain for me to kick against the pricks; my question should not be, "How can I dispute against it?" but "How can I escape from it?" Dear hearer, do not venture into God's presence with your sins upon yourself; even our God is a consuming fire, and his fury will break forth against you when you come to stand there. Have you an imagination that your own merits may make atonement for sin? I pray you think what Christ had to do before he could cast sin off from himself, what griefs he bore, through what an ocean of wrath he passed; and do you think that your poor merits, if they be merits, can ever avail to do what the Savior suffered so much to accomplish? Do you hope to escape without a punishment? If you do, let me pray you to think the matter over; for if God smote his own Son, do you think he will permit you to go scot-free? If the King of Glory, when he only takes others' sins upon him, must needs die, what think you will become of you, poor worm of the dust? Think you that God will be unjust in order to save you? Do you suppose that he will be hail fellow, well met! with you, and revoke his own sentence, because you do not choose to be saved by a plan which is both just to him and safe to you? Shall God be unjust to pander to your fancies, or indulge your lusts? Sinner, bow the knee to this plan of salvation, for be it known to youand I speak now, knowing what I say, and coolly toothere is, none other plan of salvation under heaven. There may be other ways of salvation preached, but other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ the Righteous. If thou shalt struggle after salvation individually, and hope to get to heaven apart from the head-ship of Christ, thou mayest struggle, but thou shalt be like the Jews of old, who had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge; if thou shalt be going about to establish thine own righteousness, but not submitting thyself to the righteousness of Christ, thou shalt perish. But let me ask thee, does not this plan commend itself to thee? If I trust Jesus, this is to me the evidence that he took my sins and suffered in my stead. Oh the joy it gives me! I speak to you honestly of my own experience now; there is no doctrine that fires my soul with such delight as that of substitution. The doctrine of atonement, as it is often preached, is a hazy, misty doing of something by which the law is honored, or perhaps dishonored, for I scarce know which to call it; this yields me no joy; but when I know that Christ was literally and positively, not metaphorically and by way of figure, but literally and positively the substitute for his own people, and when I know that trusting in him I have the evidence of being one of his people, why my soul begins to say, Now let me live! I'm clean, through Jesu's blood I'm clean. Now let me die! for I shall boldly stand in the day of resurrection, through Jesus my Lord. Why, soul, it seems to me as if it were enough to make you leap into the arms of Christ, crucified! covered with blood for you! disinterestedly suffering for his own enemies that they might live! Oh stay not away!
Like doves to Jesu's wounds;
This is the welcome gospel-day,
Wherein free grace abounds.
God loved the church, and gave his Son
III. Now consecrate a few minutes to hallowed CONTEMPLATION.
You do not want talk, you want thought: I will give you four things to think of. The first is the astounding mass of sin that must have been laid on Christ. Now do not jump at it, and say, "Yes, the sins of the millions of his elect." Do not leap at that, get at it by degrees. Begin with your own sin. Have you ever felt that?your own sin. No, you never felt the full weight of it; if you did you would have been in hell. It is the weight of sin that makes hell. Sin bears its own punishment in its own weight. Do you remember when you felt that the pains of hell get hold upon you, and you found trouble and sorrow? That hour when you called upon the name of the Lord, saying, "O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul!" Then you only felt as it were the little end of your sins, but all your sins, what must they weigh! How old are you? You know not how old you may be before you enter into rest, but all the sins of all your years he carried. All the sins against light and knowledge, sins against law and gospel, week-day sins, Sabbath sins, hand sins, lip sins, heart sins, sins against the Father, sins against the Son, sins against the Holy Ghost, sins of all shapes, all laid upon him; can you get the thought now? Now multiply that. Think of the sins of all the rest of his people; persecutions and murders at the door of such an one as Saul of Tarsus; adultery at the door of Davidsins of every shape and size, for God's elect have been among the chief of sinners; those whom he has chosen have not been the best of men by nature, but some of them the very worst, and yet sovereign grace delighted to find a home for itself where seven devils had dwelt before, nay, where a legion of devils held their carnival. Christ looks abroad among the sons of men, and while a Pharisee is passed by, Zaccheus the publican is selectedand the sins of all these with their full weight laid upon him. The weight of sin would have crushed all these into hell for ever, and yet Christ bore all that weight; and what if I venture to say the very eternity and infinity of wrath that was due for all that mass of sin, the Son of God, marvellously sustained by the infinity of the Godhead within, bore and sustained the whole. I would like to stop a minute and let you turn it over, but when you go home perhaps you will spend half an hour very profitably in thinking that
Was on my Savior laid;
With woes as with a garment he
For sinners was array'd."
2. The next subject I offer you for contemplation is this, the amazing love of Jesus, which brought him to do all this. Remember Paul's way of putting it. "Scarcely for a righteous (or strictly just) man will one die; peradventure for a good (or benevolent) man one might even dare to die; but God commendeth his love towards us in that, while we were yet sinners, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly." When Christ has renewed us by his Spirit, there may be a temptation to imagine that some excellency in us won the Savior's heart; but, my brethren, you must understand that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. Not that infant washed and swaddled, not that fair maiden with the jewel in her ear, and with the pure golden crown upon her head, not that lovely princess, presented like a chaste virgin to her husband; no, that was not what Jesus saw when he died. He saw all that in the glass of his prescience, but the actual condition of that fair maid was very different when he died for her; she was cast out, unwashed, unsalted, unswaddled, in her blood, a foul, filthy thing. Ah! my brethren, there is no filthy thing under heaven so filthy as a filthy sinner. When there was not a ray of beauty to be discovered in us, when neither without nor within a single thing could be found to commend us, but we were morally altogether abhorrent to the Holy nature of Christ, thenoh wondrous grace!he came from the highest heaven that the mass of our sin might meet on him. I met with this question the other day, which seemed a novel one to me. The question was asked thus: "Suppose you had a child that had the leprosy, or some other foul disease. Suppose this dear child of yours was infected and contaminated to the most loathsome degree in every part, till the eyes were blinded and the hands were rotting, and the heart was turning to stone, and the whole body was covered with wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores. Now, suppose there were no cure for this child but for your perfectly sane and healthy soul, suppose it to be such, to be put into that child's body, and for you to bear that child's diseases instead of that child; would you consent to it?" I can suppose a mother's love yielding even to that; but the more disgusted you had been with those putrifying sores, the more terrible would the task become. Now, that only touches the fringe of the work, which Jesus did for us when he himself took our sins and bore our sicknesses. Such a wonderful union is there between Christ and the sinner that I venture to say there are some expressions in the New Testament and in the Old with regard to Christ's connection with the sin of man that I would not dare to use except as direct quotations from Holy Writ; but being there you shall see how wondrously the love of Jesus Christ induced him to take upon himself our sad condition and plight. But, oh the love! oh the love! Nay, I will not speak of it; ye must muse upon it. Silence is sometimes the best eloquence; and it will he best for me to say to you, oh the depths of the love of Jesus! unsearchable, past finding out! God over all, blessed for ever, should have laid on him the iniquity of us all!
3. Wonder of wonders that I need another minute to set you thinking on another subject, the matchless security which this plan of salvation offers. I do not see in what point that man is vulnerable who can feel and know that Christ has borne his sin. I look at the attributes of God, and though to me, as a sinner, they all seem bristling as with sharp points, thrusting themselves upon me; yet when I know that Jesus died for me, and did literally take my sin, what fear I the attributes of God? There is justice, sharp and bright, like a lance; but justice is my friend. If God be just, he cannot punish me for sin for which Jesus has offered satisfaction. As long as there is justice in the heart of Deity, it cannot be that a soul justly claiming Christ as his substitute can himself be punished. As for mercy, love, truth, honor, everything matchless, Godlike and divine about Deity, I say of all these, "You are my friends; you are all guarantees that Mince Jesus died for me I cannot die." How grandly does the apostle put it! It seems to me as if he never was worked up by the Holy Spirit to such a pitch of eloquence as when speaking about the death and resurrection of the Savior, he propounds that splendid question, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" There, where eternal justice sits upon a flaming throne, the apostle gazes with eye undimmed into the ineffable splendor, and though some one seems to say, "The Judge will condemn," he replies, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." Can he justify and then condemn us? He justifies those for whom Christ died, for we are justified by his resurrection. How then shall he condemn? And then he lifts up his voice yet again"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who sitteth at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." On other grounds a man must feel unsafe, but here he may know himself sure. Go ye that will, and build upon your sandy foundations; run up your superstructures till they are as high as Babel's tower, and tumble about your ears unable to support their own weight; but as for me, my soul shall rest upon this solid rock of substitution; and clinging to the rock with confident resolve, I know that I have no cause for fear since Jesus died for me.
4. Lastly, I desire to give you as a subject for contemplation, and I pray you do not forget it, this question, What then are the claims of Jesus Christ upon you and upon me? Brethren and sisters, I have sometimes wished to be eloquent; never when I had a cause to plead in which I was myself involved, but when I have had to speak for Jesus. But indeed, there is no need of eloquence here. Your hearts shall be the pleaders, his agonies shall be the plea. Did our blessed Lord take your sin, my brethren, and suffer all its terrific consequences for you, so that you are delivered. By his blood and wounds, by his death, and by the love that made him die, I conjure you treat him as he should be treated! Love him as he should be loved! Serve him as he should be served! You will tell me that you have obeyed his precepts. I am glad to hear it. Are you sure that you have? "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Have you kept the ordinances as he delivered them? Have you sought to be obedient to him in all respects? In all your Lord's appointed ways have you scrupulously pursued your journey? If you can say this I am not content; it does not seem to me that with such a leader as Christ mere. obedience should be all. Napoleon singularly enough had power to get the hearts of men twisted and twined about him; when he was in his wars theme were many of his captains and even of his private soldiers who not only marched with the quick obedience of a soldier wherever they were bidden, but who felt an enthusiasm for him. Have you never heard of him who threw himself in the way of the shot to receive it in his bosom to save the Emperor? No obedience, no law could have required that of him, but enthusiastic love moved him to it; and it is such enthusiasm that my Master deserves in the very highest degree from us. It is out of and beyond all categories of law, it is far exceeding all that law ventured to ask, and yet not supererogation for all that, for ye are not under the law but under grace; and ye will do more out of love than ye would have done out of the compulsion of demand. What shall I do for my Master? What shall I do for my Lord? How shall I set him forth? My brethren and sisters, my highest aim before God, next to the conversion of the unconverted among you, is this, that you who do love Christ may really love him and act as if you (lid. 1 hope you will never become a dead cold church. Oh may my ministry never help to lull you into such a state as that! If Jesus Christ does not deserve everything of you he does not deserve anything; you do not know anything of his claims if you do not feel that
And duty did not call;
You love the Lord with zeal so great
That you must give him all."
Christ stands for me, oh may I learn to stand for him, and plead for him, and live for him, and suffer for him, and pray for him, and preach and labor for him as he may help me! May I remind you each individually as you all followed your own way, and individually had some sin to increase that burden, pay him individual service? Contribute of your substance to the common work of the church, and do that constantly, and as a matter of delight. Our College, which is doing so much service greatly needs, and demands the help of all who love our work, and love the Lord's truth. But in addition to that, do something for yourself, speak for Christ yourself, have some work in hand on your own account. Do, I say again, at all times assist the work of the combined body, for that will be a great work, God being in us as our life and stay, and let no man withhold of his substance from Christ's cause; but still that is not all, he does not ask your pocket only but your heart. It is not the pence, it is the activities of the soul; it is not the shillings and the guineas and so on, but it is your very inmost soul, the core of your spirit. O Christian, by the blood of Jesus devote yourself to him again! In the old Roman battles it sometimes happened that the strife seemed dubious, and a captain inspired by superstitious patriotism would stand upon his sword and devote himself to destruction for the good of his country, and then, according to those old legends, the battle always turned. Now, men and brethren, sisters, every one of you who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, devote yourselves this day to live, to die, to spend, and to be spent for King Jesus. You will be no fool, for no man ever had an ambition more worthy. You will not be devoting yourself to one who does not deserve it. You know how much you owe him; nay, you do not know, to the fullest extent, the depth of your obligation, but you know you owe him all that you have; your escape from hell and your hope of heaven. Follow me this morning in these verses
I am my Lord's, and he is mine:
He drew me, and I follow'd on,
Charm'd to confess the voice divine.
Now rest, my long-divided heart;
High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMONIsaiah 53.