By Al Stoner
“We have heard out of the Law that Christ abideth for ever.”
“The people answered Him (Jesus), We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?” (Jn. 12:34; see vv. 32-33). “These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them” (v. 36).
The ones who were speaking to Jesus here were finding fault with what He had just previously declared unto them. Thus it is written that He departed and hid Himself from them. It seems however that the Lord Jesus must have derived comfort from these words, and that the old serpent overplayed his hand in provoking these men to taunt and oppose Him in this manner.
Within forty eight to seventy two hours of this time the Savior of men would be hanging on a cross, being made sin for us (II Cor. 5:21), and thus being forsaken by His Father (Ps. 22:1; Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34; cf. Isa. 53:3-4). How it must have comforted the Lord Jesus to be reminded that “Christ abideth for ever.” The truth of Christ’s eternality was affirmed over and again in Moses and the Prophets to such an extent that even His adversaries were conversant with it.
Our purpose here shall be to declare some of the many places in Moses and the Prophets where it is affirmed that God’s anointed One shall abide for ever, and then at the end to ask a very thought-provoking question. But first, let us consider some of the Scriptures where this reality is declared.
The Words of Nathan the Prophet. “He shall build an house for My Name, and I will stablish the throne of His kingdom for ever” (II Sam. 7:13).
These are the words of the Lord, which He spoke through Nathan the Prophet to David the king. Perhaps, in very limited sense, these words could apply to Solomon, but in much greater measure, they are speaking of Christ, who “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” and was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:3-4; cf. II Tim. 2:8; Acts 13:22-23).
The Witness of Psalm 72. “In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:7-8). “His Name shall endure for ever: His Name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed” (Ps. 72:17).
How these words must have comforted the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh, as He squarely confronted mortality, and ultimately “swallowed up” “the last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26) by His own sufferings and death!
“His Name shall endure for ever.” The Lord Jesus Christ was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:14). He was tempted by the cares associated with mortality, and of His life being taken away from Him (cf. Ps. 102:23-24; Heb. 1:10-12).
He was not at all impervious to such cares and temptations. As the Cross loomed ever before Him, He was not able to desensitize Himself against the sorrow, the grief, and the awful pangs of torment that would soon be His portion. But He had promises such as, “His Name shall endure forever.”
His Seed and His Throne are Forever. “His seed shall endure for ever, and His throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven” (Ps. 89:36-37). The promise of “forever” being associated with both His seed and His throne were also, no doubt, a great comfort to the Savior “in the days of His flesh” (Heb. 8:15). The prospect of considerations such as this enabled Him to willingly endure Golgotha’s dreadfully bitter cup (cf. Mt. 26:38-44). “And there appeared an angel unto Him from Heaven, strengthening Him” (Lk. 22:43).
This angel was dispatched from Heaven by God the Father, it appears, to bring to Christ’s remembrance promises, written aforetime of Him, which would buoy Him up when the powers of darkness (cf. Lk. 22:53) would pour out their unimaginable worst upon Him.
The Promise of an Eternal Priesthood. “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4).
The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. But prior to His baptism in suffering (cf. Lk. 12:50) the Lord acutely perceived the enstraitenment and encumberment of His own flesh. He was only able to benefit those who were in relatively close proximity to Him bodily. He could only heal one person or group of persons at a time, teach and preach one sermon to one audience at a time, and forgive one person at a time. And He was no stranger to the every day depletions of strength, expressing themselves in hunger and tiredness.
A Priest Forever. The promise of Christ being a Priest forever, being enabled of God “to save those to the uttermost who come unto God by Him” (Heb. 7:25), held forth the prospect of Him being able to minister to men without the restrictions of weariness, time, and space. We read the promise in Psalm 110:4 and are comforted by it knowing that Christ has been made a Priest forever, a High Priest such as we desperately need. But the Lord Jesus, prior to His crucifixion, considered this same promise, knowing that it was speaking of Him, and therefore was comforted, that He would soon be embarking upon an eternal ministry.
In View of These Things. These are but a few of the many promises regarding Christ abiding forever (see also Isa. 9:6-7; Ezek. 37:25; Dan. 2:44; 7:14; 9:25-26; Mic. 4:7). In view of these things, let us make a very crucial observation. The Lord Jesus was thoroughly acquainted with all of these promises pertaining specifically to Himself. Could He not then, especially as the time of His being offered up drew near, simply steel Himself against the suffering that would soon be His portion, having the promise that Christ would abide forever? Could He not, as it were, “bite the bullet” and, as it were, steel Himself through the suffering knowing that it would all be over within two or three days at the most. (Remember this confrontation with the people occurred just prior to the Lord’s “last supper” with his disciples recorded in John 13 through 17. And that memorable occasion immediately preceded His betrayal by Judas Iscariot and His arrest, which shortly would lead to His crucifixion). Could the Lord Jesus have avoided the agony in Gethsemane’s garden, knowing that very soon it would all be over?
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding NO! How then would the Scripture be fulfilled, which declare that “Christ must suffer many things” (Mt. 26:54; Mk. 8:31; 9:12; Lk. 9:22; 24:25-26). When the iniquities of us all were laid upon the spotless Lamb of God this was something that the Savior was unable to simply harden Himself against. The Lord Jesus Christ is holy, and pure, and blameless, and though He was tempted in all points to sin, yet He did no sin, and He knew no sin. But now, alas, He would become identified with sin. “Him who knew no sin (Christ Jesus) He (God the Father) made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21, ASV). At the Cross the sins of the whole world were laid upon the Savior.
Also, the thought of being forsaken by His Father horrified the Son of God, and was revolting to every fiber of His being (cf. Ps. 22:1-17), if we may so speak. Ungodly men may, alas, become accustomed to living away from the Presence of God, but not the Son. He was smitten of God, and afflicted because of our sin being laid upon Him. But either Jesus had to be forsaken, or we must be, resulting in our being cast forever away from the Presence of Him, whose Presence alone is associated with fulness of joy and pleasures forevermore (cf. Ps. 16:11). The justice of God unyieldingly demanded one or the other. Consequently, the Lord Jesus agreed, in times eternal, to His being abandoned by the Father on the Cross so that many redeemed sons and daughters might be brought forever back into the Presence of the Holy One.
Thus, in conclusion, despite the many promises which declared that Christ shall abide forever, yet it was necessary that, at the time appointed, He would give Himself to the suffering, which He alone could bear up under. And, in addition, the matter of Himself “being made sin” (II Cor. 5:21) and that of being forsaken by His Father were things that demanded of the Son of God every single ounce of attentive energy and earnest sobriety that He had, in order for Him to endure them, and also to fully satisfy the righteous demands of the Holy One. ─Editor