"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to
THE PLEASURE OF GOD
It is difficult to talk about a sovereign God without talking
about His pleasure. The reason is simple: God has
promised, "I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah 46: 10). One cannot separate who God is from what
God does. Therefore, because God acts only in the way that brings Him pleasure, He is sublimely hedonistic.
Yes, God values His pleasure as the highest good. He delights most in being delighted. He finds the greatest
pleasure in being pleased. God's ultimate purpose is simple: He acts to please Himself.
Two questions naturally follow from this statement of truth.
First, what pleases God? God is pleased with that
which magnifies and exalts Himself. For example, the Father testifies that He is "well pleased" in the Son
(Matthew 17:5). Why? Because the Son "[had] glorified [Him] on the earth" (John 17:4). Similarly, God takes
pleasure in saving lost souls. The wondrous work of salvation is said to be wrought "according to the good pleasure
of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace" (Ephesians 1:5-6). In other words, because God is glorified in
saving, He is pleased to do the same. God delights in that which praises and glorifies His perfection.
Second, what is our response to the fact that God is hedonistic?
Because "all things ... for [God's] pleasure are
and were created," believers are to acknowledge and celebrate His "glory and honour and power" (Revelation 4:11).
In short, because God performs all His pleasure for His pleasure, we worship Him. A God of perfection who values
His pleasure as the highest good and acts accordingly is a God who is deserving of our highest praise! Thus, we praise
Him and delight in Him and mightily rejoice in His worthiness!
Isn't it surprising to read in Isaiah's prophecy that the Father
took pleasure in the death of the Son? When Jesus Christ
was brutally murdered at Calvary, God did not weep. His heart was not broken. No sigh of inconsolable misery fell
from His lips. The day of Jesus' death was no day of sadness for the Father; instead, it was a day of greatest pleasure.
This is surprising. It seems unnatural. When Jacob was told of the apparent death of his son Joseph, he "mourried
for his son many days," "he refused to be comforted," and he purposed to carry his grief "down into the grave"
(Genesis 37:34-35). Likewise, when Job learned of the loss of his children, he "rent his mantle, and shaved his head,
and fell down upon the
ground" (Job 1:20). Again, when Absalom was killed in battle, David pitifully wept. Although Absalom had rebelled
against David, driving him from his throne and capital and waging war against him, David wailed at the sad news,
"0 my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, 0 Absalom, my son, my son!"
(II Samuel 18:33). The death of a son brings pain to the father. The actions of the above-mentioned men are not
surprising, but unlike them, God took pleasure in the death of Christ. Not only so, He was pleased to execute that
death Himself, for He [the Father] bruised Him [the Son], and He [the Father] put Him [the Son] to grief.
Remembering that God takes pleasure in that which magnifies Himself, we must pause to ponder why the Father
took pleasure in the death of the Son.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST DEMONSTRATES GOD'S FAITHFULNESS
First, the death of the Son pleased the Father because it demonstrated
His faithfulness. What does it mean to say
that God is faithful? To make this claim, one must assume three things. First, if God is faithful, then He does not lie.
Does God lie? Certainly not. It is "impossible" for Him to do so (Hebrews 6:18). Second, if God is faithful, then He
does not change. God does not change, He is the "same yesterday, and today, and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8). Not
even the "shadow of turning" can be discerned in Him (James 1: 17). Moreover, because He is God, and not a man,
He "will not lie or repent" (I Samuel 15:29). In other words, God will not even change His mind. Finally, if God is
faithful, then He is able to fulfill His promises. While I can promise anything (i.e. the moon on a string), I know that
I do not possess the means to deliver such. However, because God is sovereign, because His authority and power
extend to all things, He is able to perform what He promises. Paul asserts that Abraham was "fully persuaded" of
this fact--i.e. "what [God] had promised, he was able to perform " (Romans 4:21). God is faithful,
then, because He neither lies nor changes, and because He is able to fulfill His promises.
So, how is God's faithfulness demonstrated by the death of the
Son? God had been promising that the Christ would
be "bruised" and "put ... to grief' at Calvary for at least 4,000 years. When God promised that the serpent would
"bruise [the] heel" of the Seed (Genesis 3:15), He was promising that Jesus would die. Similarly, when Daniel
prophesied that the "Messiah shall be cutoff' (Daniel 9:26), when Isaiah prophesied that He would "[pour] out his soul
unto death" (Isaiah 53:12), and when Zechariah prophesied that He would be "wounded in the house of [His]
friends" (Zechariah 13:6), God was promising that Jesus would die. Again, when Moses smote the rock to provide
water for the people (Exodus 17:6), when he lifted up the serpent of brass in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9), when
the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies and stained the mercy seat with the blood of animal sacrifices
(Leviticus 16:15), God was promising that Jesus would die. The death of Jesus Christ fulfilled the many promises
of God. Therefore, it demonstrates God's faithfulness. When we look to Calvary, we are reminded, "he is faithful
that promised" (Hebrews 10:23). Because the Father's faithfulness is demonstrated, God is Himself exalted.
Therefore, the Father takes great pleasure in the death of the Son.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST DECLARES GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
Second, the death of the Son pleased the Father because it declared
His righteousness. Paul argues that the Father
"set forth [the Son] to be a propitiation" (Romans 3:25). In other words, God "spared not his own Son, but
delivered him up for us all" (Romans 8:32) to satisfy the demands of God's holiness and to appease the fury of His
wrath. Jesus is said to be "set forth" in this manner "to declare [God's] righteousness for the remission of sins
that are past" (Romans 3:25). This difficult passage requires a thoughtful explanation.
In order for an individual to have a relationship with God, the
individual's sin must be removed. How else can a
holy God have a relationship with an unholy person? How else can He allow fellowship with His righteous self to
an unrighteous human being? Thus, to be reconciled to God, one must be purged of sin. This poses a great
problem for the Old Testament saints because nothing was available in the Old Testament days to take away
their sin. What about the animal sacrifices prescribed by the Law? The writer to the Hebrews answers the
objection: "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Does
this mean that Abel, Abraham, Moses, and the other Old Testament saints went to Hell? Certainly not. Although
the blood of animal sacrifices could not affect true reconciliation for believers, it did accomplish the phenomenon
of atonement (e.g. Leviticus 16:24).
The English word atonement is the translation of the original
Hebrew word kaphar, which means "to cover."
The same Hebrew word is used to describe what Noah was commanded to do to the ark to protect it from
the waters of the flood--i. e. he was instructed to "pitch [kaphar, "cover"] it within and without with pitch"
(Genesis 6:14). Therefore, the offering of animal sacrifices demonstrated the faith of the one for whom the blood
was shed. It did not take away his/her sin; it simply provided a covering for it. Because blood was shed for a
believer, then, God passed over his/her sin until the death of Christ. Then, the Father "laid on [the Son] the
iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6), and the Son "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself " (Hebrews 9:26). Therefore,
God was righteous in passing over the "transgressions that were under the first testament" (Hebrews 9:15), and,
consequently, in treating those whose sins had been thus covered as His own people, for the covered sin was
taken away when Jesus died at Calvary. Because in the death of the Son, the Father's righteousness concerning
"the remission of sins that are past" (Romans 3:25) is declared, God is magnified. Therefore, the Father takes
great pleasure in bruising the Christ.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST DISPLAYS GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY
Finally, the death of the Son pleased the Father because it displayed
His sovereignty. God is sovereign. This means
that He possesses absolute power. In other words, His actions are prompted and regulated only by His desire. He
is sovereign because He "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Ephesians 1:1 ])and is determined to
"do all [His] pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10). The death of Christ displayed God's sovereignty because it showed that even
the Son is subject to the Father. When Paul states that "all things are put under [the Son]," he quickly adds that "it is
manifest that [the Father] is excepted, which did put all things under [the Son]." Paul continues: "And when all things
shall be subdued unto [the Son], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto [the Father] that put all things under
him, that God may be all in all" (I Corinthians 15:27-28). Jesus Christ, who "thought it not robbery to be equal with
God" (Philippians 2:6), and in whom "dwelleth all the falness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9), as a man,
subjected Himself to the Father's sovereign will. As Peter declares, He was "delivered by the determinate
counsel ... of God" (Acts 2:23). Furthermore, Paul maintains that Jesus was "obedient unto death, even the death of
the cross" (Philippians 2:8). Thus, His death is found to be sanctioned by God's sovereign will. So, if the authority of
the Father extends to the Christ, then it surely extends to all of God's creation. Because the Father's sovereignty is
displayed at Calvary, God is Himself exalted. Therefore, the Father takes great pleasure in the death of the Son.
The puzzling matter of the Father's taking pleasure in the Son's
death can be easily understood when one pauses
to consider the threefold way in which Christ's crucifixion magnifies the many perfections of God. First, it
demonstrates God's faithfulness by fulfilling His promise. Second, it declares God's righteousness by finalizing
His program. Third, it displays God's sovereignty by factualizing His preeminence. May we through the help
of the Holy Spirit carefully contemplate the reason for the pleasure of the Father in the death of the Son and
be sensitive enough to rejoice in the same!
Elder Deric McClard preached the above at
Longview Missionary Baptist Church in Gallatin, TN, on Sunday night, January 13, 2002.