Jesus Christ Himself – The Essence Of His Own Work
By Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
“Jesus Christ Himself” is the marrow and essence of the Gospel. When the Apostle Paul meant that the Gospel was preached, He said, “Christ is preached” (Phil 1:18), for the Gospel is Christ Himself! If you want to know what Jesus taught, know Him! He is the incarnation of that truth of God which by Him and in Him is revealed to the sons of men. Did He not Himself say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)? You have not to take down innumerable books, nor to pore over mysterious sentences of double meaning in order to know what our great Teacher has revealed. You have but to turn and gaze upon His countenance, behold His actions, and note His spirit and you know His teaching. He lived what He taught. Study His wounds, and you understand His innermost philosophy.
“Jesus Christ Himself” is the essence of His own work, and therefore how readily we ought to trust Him. He Himself is the soul of His own salvation. How does the apostle describe it? He “loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). He gave His crown, His throne, and His joys in heaven for us, but that was not all – He gave Himself! He gave His life on earth, and renounced all the comforts of existence. He bore all its woes. He gave His body, He gave His agony, He gave His heart’s blood; but the summary of it is He gave Himself for me. “Christ…loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree…” (1 Pet. 2:24). No proxy service here! No sacrifice which runs as far as His own person, and there stops! There was no limit to the grief of Jesus like that set upon the suffering of Job – “…Only upon himself put not forth thine hand…” (Job 1:12), or “…only spare his life” (2:6). No, every reserve was taken down, for Jesus gave Himself. “He saved others, Himself He cannot save” (Matt. 27:42), because He Himself was the very essence of His own sacrifice on our behalf.
It is because He is what He is that He was able to redeem us! The dignity of His person imparted efficacy to His atonement. He is divine, God over all, blessed forever, and therefore infinite virtue is found in Him. He is human and perfect in that humanity, and therefore capable of obedience and suffering in man’s place. He is able to save us because He is Emmanuel – “God with us” (1:23).
Always think, then, when you view the atonement, that it is Jesus Himself who is the soul of it. Indeed the efficacy of His sacrifice lies there. Therefore the apostle, in Hebrews, speaks of Him as having “by Himself purged our sins” (Heb. 1:3). This purging was worked by His sacrifice, but the sacrifice was Himself. “He offered up Himself” (7:27). He stood as a Priest at the altar offering a bloody sacrifice, but the offering was neither bullock, nor ram, nor turtle dove – it was Himself! “…Once in the end of the world has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (9:26).
The sole reason why we are well pleasing with God is because of Him, for He is our sweet-smelling offering. And the only cause for the putting away of our sin is found in Him because He is our sin offering. The cleansing by the blood, and the washing by the water are the result, not of the blood and the water in and of themselves, and separate from Him, but because they were the essentials of Himself.
Now, because of this, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Object of our faith. Is He not always so described in Scripture? “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth…” (Isa. 45:22) – not, “Look to My cross,” nor, “Look to My life,” nor, “to My death,” much less, “to My sacraments, or to My servants,” but, “Look to ME.” From His own lips the words sound forth, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). In fact, it is the Christian’s life motto, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2).
Now you who have been looking to your faith, I want you to look to Jesus Himself rather than at your poor feeble faith! Now you who have been studying the results of faith in yourselves, and are dissatisfied, I beseech you turn your eyes away from yourselves, and look to Jesus Himself! Now you who cannot understand this, and cannot understand that, give up wanting to understand for a while, and come and look at Jesus Christ Himself, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). The Lord grant us grace to view Jesus Christ Himself in the matter of our salvation as all in all, so that we may have personal dealings with Him.