Jesus’ “sorrow unto death”



“But what, we may reverently ask, was the cause of this sorrow unto death of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Not fear, either of bodily or mental suffering: but Death. Man’s nature, created of God immortal, shrinks (by the law of its nature) from the dissolution of the bond that hinds body to soul. Yet to fallen man Death is not by any means fully Death, for he is born with the taste of it in his soul. Not so Christ.  It was the Unfallen Man dying; it was He, Who had no experience of it, tasting Death, and that not for Himself but for every man, emptying the cup to its bitter dregs. It was the Christ undergoing Death by man and for man ; the Incarnate God, the God-Man, submitting Himself vicariously to the deepest humiliation, and paying the utmost penalty: Death — all Death. No one as He could know what Death was (not dying, which men dread, but Christ dreaded not); no one could taste its bitterness as He.  His going into Death was His final conflict with Satan for man, and on his behalf.  By submitting to it He took away the power of Death; He disarmed Death by burying his shaft in His own Heart.  And beyond this lies the deep, unutterable mystery of Christ bearing the penalty due to our sin, bearing our death, bearing the penalty of the broken Law, the accumulated guilt of humanity, and the holy wrath of the Righteous Judge upon them. And in view of this mystery the heaviness of sleep seems to steal over our apprehension” (Aflred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 2:538-39).

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