Jesus Christ had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
Last time we began to look at the hymn “Hallelujah! What a Savior” by Philip Bliss (1838–1876). We continue that study here, looking briefly at the hymn’s words and lessons we learn from it. You can go back to read Part 1.
Stanza #1 Man of Sorrows! What a name For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim: Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Stanza #2 Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood: Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Stanzas #3 Guilty, vile, and helpless, we; Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! Can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior!
The word atonement literally means “at-one-ment.” God rebuilds the bond between Himself and rebellious human beings. God’s love is the mainspring and motivation for His action, and Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension is how God accomplishes the atonement.1 Scripture says:
God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them…. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Cor 5:19-21 NLT)
The New Testament emphasizes Jesus’ death as central to salvation and so His cross has become the symbol of the Christian faith. Other religions have martyrs, but Christ is not in that category. He is the God-man who was intentionally born to die as our Savior. He took our place and died our death. Jesus said: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”2
Lifted up was He to die, “It is finished!” was His cry:
Now in heav’n exalted high: Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Comment: Jesus announced His death and resurrection many times before they happened. He was the Virgin Mary’s offspring foretold in Genesis who came to crush Satan’s head.3 Christ also spoke ahead of time about being lifted up on the cross because His crucifixion was no accident.4 God did it this way so that He may be counted just, and the Justifier of people who believe on Jesus.5
When Christ’s six hours of suffering on the cross were ended, He said, “It is finished,” meaning that He successfully completed the work He came to do.6 Christ left no unfinished business behind. He called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” then Christ purposely breathed His last.7
But death could not hold Christ captive. He was raised by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit and by His own divine power.8 Earlier He said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”9 Jesus foretold His own death and resurrection in the Gospels and Isaiah foretold the same 700 years in advance.
Quotes: A dead Christ I must do everything for; a living Christ does everything for me. (Andrew Murray) Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can have peace during even the most troubling of times, because we know Christ is in control of all that happens in the world. (Paul Chappell)
When He comes, our glorious King, All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing: Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Comment: In the New Testament, Jesus’ second advent is foretold in 1 out of every 30 verses. Christ promised, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you….My Father’s house has many rooms… and I am going there to prepare a place for you. And I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”10 Jesus will return for us in His resurrected body at the end of the age to dwell with us forever! So the Bible closes with these words:
God’s dwelling place will now be among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away. (Rev 21:3-4)
Quote: The center of Christianity is the coming of the Son of God into the world as a real man to destroy the devil’s works and to create a new people for His own glory. Christ did this by obeying God’s law, dying for His people’s sins, rising victorious over death, ascending to God’s right hand with all His enemies under His feet, and sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ Second Coming is the completion and consummation of His saving work. (John Piper) The Coming of the Prince of Peace is God’s promise that everything that is damaged by sin will be restored. (Paul David Tripp).
Notes (various translations): 1 See The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance by Leon L. Morris (1984). 2 Mark 10:45. 3 Gen 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Matt 1:18-25; Gal 4:4-7. 4 John 3:14, 8:28, 12:32-34. 5 Rom 3:26. 6 John 19:28-30. 7 Luke 23:46. 8 Acts 3:15; Gal 1:1; Rom 1:4, 8:11; John 2:19-21. 9 John 10:18. 10 John 14:2-3,18.