Master Sermon List
Ambassadors For Christ
by Robert Murray M'Cheyne
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" 2 Corinthians 5:20
1. MEDITATE ON THE GROUND of the gospel message, verse 21. "He hath made him to be sin", etc. What a remarkable description of Christ is here given, "He knew no sin". He was pure in His birth. The angel that came to Mary called Him "that holy thing which shall be born of thee". He was pure in His life, "He did no sin, neither was guile found his his mouth" (I Peter 2:22). He was pure in His death, "He offered himself without spot unto God". But here we are told "he knew no sin". He did not know the feeling of sin.
He did not know the swelling of pride, the burning of lust, the rankling of envy in His pure bosom. He knew suffering well, but He knew no sin. Learn, O my soul, the loveliness of Christ. "He is altogether lovely." His loveliness consists mainly in this, that He knew no sin. It is this that ravishes the hearts of the redeemed above while they sing, "Who shall not fear thee, and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy". Learn the suitableness of Christ. If Christ had had a spot of sin He could not have suffered for ours. "Such an High Priest became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
But how did God deal with this sinless One? "He hath made him to be sin for us." In Isaiah 53:6 we are told, "The Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all". But here it is described in a more dreadful manner. The Lord heaped upon Him the thousands and millions of our sins, till at last He was so covered, in God's sight, that nothing but sin appeared. He was looked upon, by His Father, as one entire mass of sin.
He was dealt with by God as if He were all sin from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head. Learn, O my soul, the deep agonies of Christ; He knew no sin, and yet He was made sin. Nothing can be more agonising to a pure mind, than to have sins imputed to him. This was Christ's deepest sorrow. Hence the heart-rending cries recorded in the 22nd, 40th and 69th Psalms – cries that often resounded through the silent vale of Kedron. Learn the amazing love of Christ; "it passeth knowledge".
But why was He made sin? It was "that we might be made the righteousness of God in him". Just as Christ was so covered with our innumerable sins that in the eye of a holy God He appeared one mass of sin, so the vilest of sinners who consents to be found in Christ, is so covered with His glorious righteousness, that in the eye of God he appears one mass of divine righteousness. The sinner is lost and swallowed up in the righteousness of Christ.
O my sinful soul! what an amazing provision is here set before thee for thy complete pardon and acceptance with God. As truly as Christ was made the sin of men, so truly may I be made the righteousness of God. As truly as our sin covered Him, so that none of His heavenly beauty appeared, so truly may His righteousness cover me that none of my hellish blackness may appear. Christ held down His head for shame on account of my sin, I may hold up my head in peace on account of His righteousness.
2. Meditate on the gospel embassy, verse 20: "We are," etc. Christ was God's greatest ambassador. He was "the messenger of the covenant". He was sent to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." He was "the faithful Witness". He was sent to tell men the way to the Father.
But when He ascended upon on high, He sent His believing followers in His name, "Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21). "When He ascended up on high, he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ," "Now then (all faithful ministers may say) we are ambassadors for Christ."
(i) This shows that ministers should speak with authority. The people were astonished at the doctrine of Christ, "for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes". He spoke with a holy certainty and boldness, and so should ministers now. "These things command and teach; let no man despise thy youth" (I Timothy 4:11-12). A faithful minister should be like Jeremiah (1:18), "I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land".
He should hear God saying to him as He did to Ezekiel (2:7), "Thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear". How fearful is the curse threatened if we alter the gospel of Christ, Galatians 1:8; if we add to, or take away from, the message committed unto us, Revelation 22:18-19.
(ii) Ministers should speak with divine tenderness. "God is love", and so should His ambassadors be. There is in the heart of God the deepest compassion for perishing sinners. Hear His words (Deuteronomy 5:29), "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever" (compare 32:29; Ezekiel 33:11). When God was manifest in flesh He showed this holy tenderness through His whole life (Luke 19:41), "When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it" (compare Matthew 23:37). Such should be the heart of every faithful minister. Paul used to preach with many tears, Acts 20:31. His tears often fell upon the parchment on which he wrote his epistles, Philippians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 2:4.
Surely if we could realize an eternal hell into which the most are dropping, an eternal heaven which the most are losing, and a divine Saviour whom the most are rejecting, we would preach as Jeremiah did, "O that my head were wafers, and mine eyes a fountain of tears" (9:1). We would be mercifully bold, like the angels at Sodom, laying hands on lingering sinners, and pulling them out of the fire.
(iii) This shows the message which ministers bear. "We pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled unto God." There is a quarrel between sinners and a holy God. "God is angry with the wicked every day." The dark heavy clouds of divine anger are resting upon their heads, ready to break every moment. Sinners are angry at God. Their carnal mind is enmity against God. They are night and day fighting against God.
Now God sends His ministers with a white flag of truce, and He puts this word in their mouths, "Be ye reconciled unto God". O my soul, hast thou heard and received the "good tidings of great joy"? Have I submitted to the way of pardon here revealed? Then in a moment God's anger is all turned away, and my heart is changed from bitter enmity to love and praise.