now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. in his humiliation justice was denied him. who can describe his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth.” [acts 8:32-33]
the Good Shepherd becomes like a sheep. this is the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. this is what the church was founded upon. this is why stephen was killed. this is why the children of God were dispersed. this is why philip was talking to this eunuch now. and this is what should propel us through this life with zeal and joy.
God is just. Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, came to fulfill the justice of God. God’s justice requires that he uphold what is good. God’s name is good, and so he is obligated and delighted to uphold his name.
God is merciful. in his great mercy, he desires for man to be reconciled to himself. and so up to the point of Jesus coming to earth, God had just passed over the sins of his chosen people. [romans 3:25] but passing over sins would have been a heinous blow to God’s name, so he had a plan for his mercy to meet his justice. this plan was Jesus.
Jesus was willing. Jesus was not surprised by this plan. he and the Father are both fully involved in upholding and ruling all things. but because Jesus is also fully invested in upholding the good name of the Father, he willingly humbled himself. he did not hesitate to come as a baby. he was not squeamish at the idea of living in poverty. he never shied away from the truth, though he was reviled, mocked, and scorned. Jesus, our Good Shepherd was willing to be led to the slaughter. to lay his life down. to be denied human justice in order to uphold the justice of his heavenly Father. in order to win his bride, the church, that in the last day, she might be presented to him, pure and spotless, to live in a perfect union of joy and gladness forever.
Jesus has won. Jesus’ life was taken away from the earth. he had satisfied God’s justice. he had born the wrath of our sin. his work was finished and sufficient. but he was still God. death would not have victory over him! as Christ emerged from the grave, he proved his authority over death and hell forever! because of Jesus’ willingness to sacrifice, because of his sinless life, because of his blood sacrifice, and because of his triumphant resurrection, the Father has given him the greatest honor. a name that is above every name. he has given him all things! he has put all things in subjection under his feet. his bride is his own, and the power of the Spirit has sealed her in Jesus’ blood.
today, in the presence of your just, merciful, all-wise Father in heaven, thank him for Jesus. thank him for the perfect plan for salvation. thank him for pouring out his wrath on the only One who could bear it. thank him for the willingness of the Good Shepherd to become like a sheep. silent. willing. humble. for the joy that was set before him, for the claiming of his bride, for the name of the Father to be praised.
and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [philippians 2:8-11]