The Restraints of Divine Love


Luke 2:7, John 18:12, John 20:25

Part one of this article appeared in the October 2009 issue but we felt that it was best to put the whole article in this issue for your edification (the editor)

There are two references in the Old Testament to a sacrificial victim being bound, in Genesis 22:9, Abraham is said to have "bound Isaac his son," and in Psalm 118:27 "bind the sacrifice with cords." These words seem to bring before us the power of divine love that would never turn aside from carrying out what that same love had determined. When the Lord Jesus said, "Father save me from this hour," He then referred to the divine cause that had brought Him to this hour.

In the above mentioned scriptures there are three things that humanly speaking held the Lord Jesus. As to His Godhead glory, nothing could hold Him in as He is omnipotent, but divine love had planned a pathway that had to be trodden that would end in the death of the cross.

Having laid aside His glory, or emptied Himself of the exterior display of His glory and having taken His place amongst men, He accepted the restrictions of humanity in order to bring the grace of God that had come into this world in His person to such as you and I. In order to become our high priest according to Hebrews 2:14 He took part in that condition that was our natural lot, but apart from sin, in order that He might experience all the conditions that manhood involved. So when He was born perfectly naturally of a woman He was, "wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger." Those swathing bands showed that He was truly a little child and needed to be kept warm and protected just as any newly born baby would need, but it speaks so much more. He was even then "God over all" but had come right where we were in order to lift us up to where He is eternally.

He had stooped into a place of dependence and, during His pathway for thirty years, He never once departed from that place. We read as to His youth that He was subject to His parents (Luke 2:51). At the banks of the Jordan at the beginning of His public ministry He went under the waters of baptism to take His place with a repentant remnant of Israel and the heavens were opened and the Father’s voice declared His delight in that perfect pathway of thirty years. Being lead of the Spirit through the wilderness and for forty days being tempted of Satan, He never departed from dependence on God. He could have turned stone into bread but you and I cannot. He could have cast Himself down from the temple without any harm to Himself but that would not have been natural to men. He could have taken the kingdoms of this world from the hand of Satan, as many men since then have tried to do, but that was not an act of dependence upon God. On every temptation He only used what is available to us, the word of God.

During His pathway He walked on the sea, He commanded the wind and stilled waves, He healed the sick, the lame and the blind but every miraculous act was for the benefit of others, never for Himself. He hungered, He was weary, He wept. He felt compassion and sorrow and at the end of His sinless life, endured pain and abuse. When offered something to ease the physical pain of crucifixion He refused it because divine love had planned a pathway that would plumb the depths into which sin had brought us. Only thus could the power of God’s love be seen to be greater than all that sin had brought into this world.

Passing over the brook Cedron from the garden of Gethsemane the Lord Jesus was met by Judas and the band of men from the chief priests and officers with their lanterns, torches and weapons. He goes forth knowing what was about to happen and said to them "Whom seek ye?" The glory of His person is seen both in His knowledge of what was about to happen as also in their going backward and falling to the ground when in answer to their words "Jesus of Nazareth" and His saying "I AM." Had He not delivered Himself up they never would have been able to take Him. But once again we see the "cords of love" that lead Him onward in the path that His Father had planned. He indeed would drink of that cup which He had taken in perfect obedience from His Father in the garden.

Isaiah had prophesied many years before "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth." So He allowed them to take Him and to bind Him and to lead Him away. How unnecessary were those cords, "the cup which my Father giveth me shall I not drink it," He had said. He had come forth to do the will of His Father and the hour had come when the pathway which love had planned was to draw to its end and nothing could turn Him away from what that pathway involved. It was not the cords that bound him as a prisoner and neither could they force Him to go with them, but love demanded it. "This commandment have I received from my Father."

Only Thomas speaks of the nails that humanly speaking held the Lord Jesus to the cross: "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails." Not all victims of crucifixion were actually nailed to a cross, some were just bound. But to show their hatred of the Jews, the Romans usually nailed them in crucifixion. So even in this act the Lord Jesus took the place of the "despised and rejected of men." Once again it had been testified before concerning the sufferings of Christ in Psalm 22:16, "For dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet." Also in Zechariah 12:10, "and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced."

Of old it had been said, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Not only did they make a crown of thorns, the result of sin entering into the world, and put it upon His head, but they also hanged Him on a tree. Before the curse could be removed it had to be endured and crucifixion perfectly fulfilled these prophetic scriptures.

But once again, it was not the nails that held the Saviour to the tree. In mockery the chief priests said, "Let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe on Him," and He could so easily have come down but divine love had planned otherwise. One of the malefactors who were crucified with Him said "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us," but that was impossible:

Himself He could not save, love’s stream too deeply flowed,
Himself in love He gave, to pay the debt we owed.
Obedience to the Father’s will and love to us did all fulfil’.

When Thomas was confronted by the Lord with the words "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing," he answered and said, "My Lord and my God," May it be that by meditating upon these restraints of divine love, a similar response of adoration and affection will be produced in our hearts, for His name’s sake.

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