Sermon 2803. The Saddest Cry From the Cross
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, NOVEMBER 2, 1902.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JANUARY 7, 1877.
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthaani? That is to say, My God, My God,why have You forsaken Me." Matthew 27:46.
DURING the time that "Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law," he, "came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb,"and there he saw a strange sight-a bush that burned with fire and yet was not consumed! Then Moses, apparently overtaken bycuriosity, was drawing near in order to examine this phenomenon when he heard God's voice say to him, "Draw not near here:take off your shoes from your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground." We also may well feel, as we think ofour Lord Jesus in His agony, that the voice of God speaks to us from the Cross and says, "Curiosity-bold, daring, prying intellect-drawnot near here! Take off your shoes from your feet, for the place where on you stand is the very Holy of Holies unto whichno man may come except as the Spirit of God shall conduct him."
I think I can understand the words, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" as they are written by David in the 22nd Psalm,but the same words, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" when uttered by Jesus on the Cross, I cannot comprehend, soI shall not pretend to be able to explain them. There is no plummet that can fathom this deep! There is no eagle's eye thatcan penetrate the mystery that surrounds this strange question! I have read that once upon a time Martin Luther sat down inhis study to consider this text. Hour after hour, that mighty man of God sat still-and those who waited on him came into theroom, again and again, and he was so absorbed in his meditation that they almost thought he was a corpse. He moved neitherhand nor foot, and neither ate nor drank, but sat with his eyes wide open, like one in a trance, thinking over these wondrouswords, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" And when, after many long hours, in which he seemed to be utterly lostto everything that went on around him, he rose from his chair, someone heard him say, "God forsaking God! No man can understandthat!" And so he went his way. Though that is hardly the correct expression to use-I should hesitate to endorse it-yet I donot marvel that our text presented itself to the mind of Luther in that light. It is said that he looked like a man who hadbeen down a deep mine and who had come up again to the light. I feel more like one who has not been down the mine, but whohas looked into it-or like one who has been part of the way down and shuddered as he passed through the murky darkness butwho would not dare to go much lower, for this cry, "Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani?" is a tremendous deep; no man will ever beable to fathom it.
So I am not going to try to explain it, but, first, to utter some thoughts about it And then, secondly, to draw some lessonsfrom it We may find many practical uses for things which are beyond the grasp of our minds-and this saying of our Lord maybe of great service to us even though we cannot comprehend it.
I. First, then, let me utter SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS STRANGE QUESTION-"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Jesus was accustomed to address God as His Father. If you turn to His many prayers, you will find Him almost invariably-ifnot invariably-speaking to God as His Father. And, truly, He stands in that relationship both as God and as Man. Yet, in thisinstance, He does not say, "Father," but, "My God, My God." Was it that He had any doubt about His Sonship? Assuredly not!Satan had assailed Him in the wilderness with the insinuation, "If You are the Son of God," but
Christ had put him to the rout-and I feel persuaded that Satan had not gained any advantage over Him, even on the Cross, whichcould have made Him doubt whether He was the Son of God or not.
I think that our Savior was then speaking as Man and that this is the reason why He cried, "My God, My God," rather than,"My Father." I think He must have been speaking as Man, as I can scarcely bring my mind to the point of conceiving that Godthe Son could say to God the Father, "My God, My God." There is such a wonderful blending of the Human and the Divine in thePerson of the Lord Jesus Christ that, though it may not be absolutely accurate to ascribe to the Deity some things in thelife of Christ, yet is He so completely God and Man that, often, Scripture does speak of things that must belong to the Humanityonly as if they belonged to the Godhead. For instance, in his charge to the Ephesian elders, the Apostle Paul said, "Feedthe Church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood"-an incorrect expression, if judged according to the rule ofthe logician-but accurate enough according to the Scriptural method of using words in their proper sense. Yet I do think thatwe must draw a distinction between the Divinity and the Humanity here. As the Lord Jesus said, "My God, My God," it was becauseit was His Humanity that was mainly to be considered just then.
And O my Brothers and Sisters, does it not show us what a real Man the Christ of God was, that He could be forsaken of HisGod We might have supposed that Christ being Emmanuel-God With Us-the Godhead and the Manhood being indissolubly united inone Person, it would have been impossible for Him to be forsaken of God. We might also have inferred, for the same reason,that it would have been impossible for Him to have been scourged, spit upon and especially that it would not have been possiblefor Him to die! Yet all these things were made not only possible, but also sacredly certain! In order to complete the redemptionof His chosen people, it was necessary for Him to be both God's well-beloved Son and to be forsaken of His Father. He couldtruly say, as His saints also have sometimes had to say, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Persecuted and forsakenBeliever, behold your Brother in adversity! Behold the One who has gone wherever you may have to go, who has suffered morethan you can ever suffer and who has taken His part in the direst calamity that ever happened to human nature so that He hadto cry out, in the agony of His soul, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
What was this forsaking? We are trying to come a little closer to this burning yet unconsumed bush-with our shoes off ourfeet, I hope, all the while-and in this spirit we ask, "What was this forsaking?" A devout writer says that it was horrorat the sight of human misery. He affirms what is quite true, that our Lord Jesus Christ saw all that man had to suffer becauseof sin-that He perceived the total sum of the miseries brought by sin upon all the past, present and future generations ofthe human race-and that He must have had a holy horror as He thought of all the woes of man, caused by sin, in this life andin that which is to come-and being completely one with man, He spoke in the name of man and said, "My God, My God, why haveYou forsaken Me?" That is all true, yet that explanation will not suffice, my Brothers and Sisters because our Savior didnot say, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken MAN?" but, "Why have You forsaken Me?" This forsaking was something personaltoHimself.
Others have said that it was a dreadful shrinking in His soul on account of human sin. I have read of a child who had donewrong and whose father had faithfully rebuked and punished him. But the boy remained callous and sullen. He sat in the sameroom with his father, yet he refused to confess that he had done wrong. At last the father, under a sense of his child's greatwickedness, burst into tears and sobbed and sighed. Then the boy came to his father and asked him why he sorrowed so, andhe answered, "Because of my child's hardness of heart." It is true that our Lord Jesus Christ did feel as that father felt-onlyfar more acutely-but our text cannot be fully explained by any such illustration as that. That would be only explaining itaway, for Christ did not say, "My God, My God, why has man forsaken You, and why have You so completely left men in theirsin?" No, His cry was, "Why have You forsaken Me?" It was not so much the God of man to whom He appealed, but, "My God, MyGod."It was a personal grief that wrung from Him the personal cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" For this forsaking,by His Father in whom He trusted, related peculiarly to Himself.
What was this forsaking? Was it physical weakness Some of you may know that when the body is in a low condition, the soulalso sinks. Quite involuntarily, unhappiness of mind, depression of spirit and sorrow of heart will come upon you. You maybe without any real reason for grief and yet may be among the most unhappy of men because, for the time, your body has conqueredyour soul. But, my Brothers and Sisters, this explanation is not supposable in the case of Christ,
for it was not many moments after this that He shouted, "with a loud voice," His conquering cry, "It is finished," and sopassed from the conflict to His coronation! His brave spirit overcame His physical weakness and though He was brought intothe dust of death," and plunged into the deepest depths of depression of spirit, yet, still, the cry, "My God, My God," whichalso was uttered, "with a loud voice," proves that there was still a considerable amount of mental strength, notwithstandingHis physical weakness, so that mere depression of spirit caused by physical reasons could not account for this agonizing cry.
And, certainly, my Brothers and Sisters, this cry was not occasioned by unbelief You know that, sometimes, a child of Godin sore trial and with many inward struggles, cries out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" when, all the while,the Lord has been remembering the tried soul and dealing graciously with it. As long ago as Isaiah's day, "Zion said, TheLord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me." But the Lord's reply was, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, thatshe should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget you. Behold, I have engravedyou upon the palms of My hand." Unbelief often makes us talk about God forgetting us when He does nothing of the kind, butour Lord Jesus Christ was a stranger to unbelief. It was impossible for Him to cherish any doubt about the faithfulness andloving kindness of His Father-so His cry did not arise from that cause.
And, another thing, it did not arise from a mistake. I have known Believers, in sore trouble, make great blunders concerningwhat God was doing with them. They have thought that He had forsaken them, for they misinterpreted certain signs and dealingsof God, and they said, "All these things are against us. The hand of God has gone out against us to destroy us." But Christmade no mistake about this matter, for God hadforsaken Him. It was really so! When He said, "Why have You forsaken Me?" Hespoke Infallible Truth of God and His mind was under no cloud whatever! He knew what He was saying and He was right in whatHe said, for His Father had forsaken Him for the time.
What, then, can this expression mean? Does it mean that God did not love His Sod? O Beloved, let us, with the utmost detestation,fling away any suspicion of the kind that we may have harbored! God did forsake His Son but He loved Him as much when He forsookHim as at any other period. I even venture to say that if it had been possible for God's love towards His Son to be increased,He would have delighted in Him more when He was standing as the suffering Representative of His chosen people than He hadever delighted in Him before. We do not indulge, for a single moment, the thought that God was angry with Him personally,or looked upon Him as unworthy of His love, or regarded Him as one upon whom He could not smile because of anything displeasingin Himself. Yet the fact remains that God had forsaken Him, for Christ was under no mistake about that matter. He rightlyfelt that His Father had withdrawn the comfortable Light of His Countenance, that He had, for the time being, lost the senseof His Father's favor-not the favor, itself, but the consciousness of that Divine aid and succor which He had formerly enjoyed-soHe felt Himself like a Man left all alone-and He was not only left all alone by His friends, but also by His God.
Can we at all imagine the state of mind in which our Lord was when He cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" No,that is not possible, yet I will try to help you to understand it. Can you imagine the misery of a lost soul in Hell-one whois forsaken of God and who cries, in bitterest agony, "God will never look upon me in mercy, or delight, or favor"-can youpicture that sad state? Well, if you can, you will not, even then, have got anywhere near the position of Christ-because thatsoul in Hell does not want God's favor and does not seek it, or ask for it. That lost soul is so hardened in sin that it nevertroubles about whether God would receive it if it repented-the truth is that it does not want to repent! The misery that menwill suffer in the world to come will be self-created misery arising out of the fact that they loved sin so much that theybrought eternal sorrow upon themselves. It must be an awful thing for a soul, in the next world, to be without God, but, asfar as its own consciousness is concerned, it will be so hardened that it will abide without God, yet not realizing all thatit has lost because it is, itself, incapable of knowing the beauty of holiness and the perfection of the God from whom itis separated forever. Yet how different was the case of our Lord Jesus Christ when upon the Cross! He knew, as no mere mancould ever know, what separation from God meant!
Think of a case of another kind. King Saul, when the witch of Endor brought up the spirit of Samuel, said to him, "God isdeparted from me, and answers me no more." You recollect the state of mind that he was in when the evil spirit was upon himand he needed David's harp to charm it away. But at last, even thatfailed, and I know of no more unhappy character than Saulwhen God had departed from him. But, somehow, there was not the anguish in the soul of Saul that there would have been ifhe had ever really known the Lord. I do not think that he ever really did, in his inmost soul,
know the Lord. After Samuel anointed him, he was "turned into another man," but He never became a newman and the sense ofGod's Presence that he had was not, for a moment, comparable to that Presence of God which a true saint enjoys and which Christalways enjoyed, except when He was on the Cross. So, when Saul lost the consciousness of that Presence, he did not sufferso great a loss and, consequently, so great an anguish as afterwards happened to our Lord.
Coming nearer to our own circumstances, I remind you that there are some of God's people who do really love Him and who havewalked in the Light of His Countenance, yet, for some reason or other, they have lost the comfortable enjoyment of God's love.If any of you, dear Friends, know what that sad experience is, you are getting a faint impression of the meaning of this cry,"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!" Oh, what an anguish it is-what heart-break-to think that one is forsaken of God!I have heard of people dying of broken hearts, but I believe that the man who has been made to utter this cry has gone asnear to dying of a broken heart as anyone might well do without actually dying. To be without God is to be without life. Andwe who love Him, can say with Dr. Watts-
"My God, my Life, my Love,
To You, to You I call!
I cannot live, if You remove,
For You are my All-in-All."
But, my dear Brothers and Sisters, you have not got the whole truth yet, for no saint knows the Presence of God as Christknew it. No saint has, to the fullest, enjoyed the love of God as Christ enjoyed it and, consequently, if he does lose it,he only seems to lose the moonlight whereas Christ lost the sunlight when, for a time, the face of His Father was withdrawnfrom Him! Only think what must have been the anguish of the Savior, especially as contrasted with His former enjoyment. Neverdid any mere human being know so much and enjoy so much of the love of God as Christ had done. He had lived in it, baskedin it-there had never been any interruption to it. "I do always those things that please Him," He said, concerning His Father.And His Father twice said, concerning Him, "This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Now, as our Lord Jesus Christhad enjoyed the love of God to the very fullest, think what it must have been for Him to lose the conscious enjoyment of it.You know that you may go into a room and blow out the candle, but the blind people will not miss it. They miss the light mostwho have enjoyed it most-and Christ missed the Light of God's Countenance most because He had enjoyed it most! Then, reflectupon His intense love to God. Jesus Christ-the Man Christ Jesus-loved God with all His heart, mind, soul and strength, asyou and I have never yet been able to do. The love of Christ towards His Father was boundless. Well, then, for a frown tobe upon His Father's face, or for the Light of that Father's face to be taken away from Him must have made it correspondinglydark and terrible to Him.
Remember, too, the absolute purity of Christ's Nature. In Him there was no taint of sin, nor anything approaching to it. Now,holiness delights in God. God is the very sea in which holiness swims-the air which holiness breathes! Only think, then, ofthe perfectly Holy One, fully agreed with His Father in everything, finding out that the Father had, for good and sufficientreasons, turned His face away from Him! O Brothers and Sisters, in proportion as you are holy, the absence of the Light ofGod's Countenance will be grief to you! And as Jesus was perfectly holy, it was the utmost anguish to Him to have to cry toHis Father, "Why have You forsaken Me!"
After all, Beloved, the only solution of the mystery is this-Jesus Christ was forsaken of God because we deserved to be forsakenof God. He was there, on the Cross, in our place! And as the sinner, by reason of his sin deserves not to enjoy the favorof God, so Jesus Christ, standing in the place of the sinner and enduring that which would vindicate the justice of God, hadto come under the cloud-as the sinner must have come if Christ had not taken his place. But, then, since He has come underit, let us recollect that He was thus left of God that you and I, who believe in Him, might never be left of God. Since He,for a little while, was separated from His Father, we may boldly cry, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" And,with the Apostle Paul, we may confidently affirm that nothing in the whole universe "shall be able to separate us from thelove of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Before I leave this point, let me say that the Doctrine of Substitution is the key to all the sufferings of Christ. I do notknow how many theories have been invented to explain away the death of Christ. The modern doctrine of the apostles of "culture"is that Jesus Christ did something or other, which, in some way or other, was, in some degree or other, connected with oursalvation. But it is my firm belief that every theory concerning the death of Christ which can only be understood by the highly-cultured,must be false. "That is strong language," says someone. Perhaps it is, but it is true. I am quite sure that the religion ofJesus Christ was never intended only for the highly-cultured, or even for them in particu-
lar. Christ's testimony concerning His own ministry was, "The poor have the Gospel preached to them," so if you bring me aGospel which can only be understood by gentlemen who have passed through Oxford or Cambridge University, I know that it cannotbe the Gospel of Christ! He meant the good news of salvation to be proclaimed to the poorest of the poor. In fact, the Gospelis intended for humanity in general, so, if you cannot make me understand it, or if, when I do understand it, it does nottell me how to deliver its message in such plain language that the poorest man can comprehend it, I tell you, Sirs, that yournewfangled gospel is a lie! I will stick to the old one, which a man, only a little above an idiot in intellect, can understand!I cling to the old Gospel for this, among many other reasons, that all the modern gospels that leave out the great centralTruth of Substitution, prevent the message from being of any use to the great mass of mankind.
If those other gospels which are not really gospels, please your taste and fancy, and suit the readers of Quarterly Reviews,and eloquent orators and lecturers, there are still the poor people in our streets and the millions of working men-the vastmultitudes who cannot comprehend anything that is highly metaphysical-and you cannot convince me that our Lord Jesus Christsent, as His message to the whole world, a metaphysical mystery that would need volume upon volume before it could even bestated! I am persuaded that He gave us a rough and ready Gospel like this-"The Son of Man is come to seek and to save thatwhich was lost." Or this, "With His stripes we are healed." Or this, "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him." Or this,"He died, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God." Do not try to go beyond this Gospel, Brothers and Sisters-you willget into the mud if you do! But it is safe standing here! And standing here, I can comprehend how our Lord Jesus took thesinner's place and, passing under the sentence which the sinner deserved, or under a sentence which was tantamount thereto,could cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
II. Now, in closing, I am going to draw A FEW LESSONS FROM THIS UTTERANCE OF CHRIST.
The first lesson is, Behold how He loved us! When Christ stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus, the Jews said, "Behold howHe loved him!" But on the Cross He did not weep, He bled. And He not merely bled, He died and, before He died, His spiritsank within Him, for He was forsaken of His God. Was there ever any other love like this-that the Prince of Life and Gloryshould condescend to this shame and death?
Then, next, Brothers and Sisters, as He suffered so much for us, let us be ready to suffer anything for His sake. Let us bewilling even to lose all the joy of religion if that would glorify God. I do not know that it would, but I think the Spiritof Christ ought to carry us even as far as Moses went when he pleaded for the guilty nation of Israel and was willing to havehis own name blotted out of the Book of Life rather than that God's name should be dishonored. We have never had to go asfar as that and we never shall-yet let us be willing to part with our last penny, for Christ's name's sake, if He requiresit. Let us be willing to lose our reputation. Ah, it is a difficult timing to give that up! Some of us, when we first cameinto public notice and found our words picked to pieces-and our character slandered-felt it rather difficult. We have gotused to it, now, but it was very trying at first. But, oh, if one had to be called a devil-if one had to go through this worldand to be spat upon by every passer-by-still, if it were endured for Christ's sake, remembering how He was forsaken of Godfor us, we ought to take up even that cross with thankfulness that we were permitted to bear it!
Another lesson is that if ever you and I should feel that we are forsaken of God-if we should get into this state in any way,remember that we are only where Christ has been before us. If ever, in our direst extremity, we should be compelled to cry,"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" we shall have gone down no deeper than Christ Himself went! He knows that feelingand that state of heart, for He has felt the same. This fact should tend greatly to cheer you. Your deep depression is nota proof of reprobation-that is evident, for Christ Himself endured even more! A man may say, "I cannot be a child of God,or else I should not feel as I do." Ah, you do not know what true children of God may feel! Strange thoughts pass throughtheir minds in times of storm and doubt. A Puritan preacher was standing by the deathbed of one of his members who had beenfor 30 years in gloom of soul. The good old minister expected that the man would get peace at last, for he had been an eminentChristian and had greatly rejoiced in his Savior-but, for 30 years or more, he had fallen into deep gloom. The minister wastrying to speak a word of comfort to him, but the man said, "Ah, Sir! What can you say to a man who is dying and yet who feelsthat God has forsaken him?" The pastor replied, "But what became of that Man who died, whom God really did forsake? Whereis HE now?" The dying man caught at that, and said, "He is in Glory and I shall be with Him! I shall be with Him where Heis!"
And so the Light of God came to the dying man who had been so long in the dark! He saw that Christ had been just where hewas and that he should be where Christ was, even at the right hand of the Father! I hope, Brothers and Sisters, that you willnever get down so low as that, but I beseech you, if you ever meet with any others who are there, do not be rough with them.Some strong-minded people are very apt to be hard upon nervous folk and to say, "They should not get into that state." Andwe are liable to speak harshly to people who are very depressed in spirit and say to them, "Really, you ought to rouse yourselfout of such a state." I hope none of you will ever have such an experience of this depression of spirit as I have had-yetI have learned from it to be very tender with all fellow sufferers. The Lord have mercy on them and help them out of the Sloughof Despond, for, if He does not, they will sink in deep mire where there is no standing.
I pray God specially to bless this inference from our text. There is hope for you, Brother, or Sister, if you are in thiscondition. Christ came through it and He will be with you in it! And, after all, you are not forsaken as He was, you can besure of that. With you, the forsaking is only in the apprehension-that is bad enough-but it is not a matter of fact, for,"the Lord will not forsake His people," nor cast away even one of those whom He has chosen!
I will tell you what is a much more awful thing even than crying out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" If you areafraid that God has left you and the sweat stands on your brow in very terror-and if your soul seems to long for death ratherthan life-even in such a state as that, you are not in the worst possible condition! "Really," you ask, "is there anythingworse than that?" Yes, I will tell you what is much worse than that-that is to be without God and not to care about it-tobe living, like some whom I am now addressing, without God and without hope, yet that never concerns them at all! I can pitythe agony of the man who cannot bear to be without his God, but, at the same time, I can bless the Lord that he feels suchagony as that, for that proves to me that his soul will never perish!
But those, whom I look upon with fear and trembling are the men who make a profession of religion, yet who never have anycommunion with God and, all the while are quite happy about it. Or backsliders who have gone away from God and yet seem perfectlyat ease. You worldlings who are quite satisfied with the things of this world and have no longings for the world that is tocome-I wish you had got as far as to be unhappy. I wish you had got as far as to be in an agony, for that is the road to heavenlyjoy! It was thus that Christ won it for us and it is by such a path as this that many a soul is first led into the experienceof His saving power. Brothers and Sisters, weep not for those of us who sometimes have to cry out in anguish of soul! Mournnot for us who are cast down because we cannot live without Christ. You see, our Lord has made us covet the highest blessings!Our heads have been so often on His bosom that if they are not always there, we keep on crying till we get back to that blessedposition again! This is a sweet sorrow-may we have more and more of it! But, oh, I pray you, pity those who never ate theBread of Heaven-never drank of the Water of Life-never knew the sweetness of the kisses of Christ's mouth-and never knew whatit was to have a Heaven begun below in the enjoyment of fellowship with Him! In such cases, your pity is indeed required.
I have finished when I have just said this-as you come to the Table of your Lord, come, Brothers and Sisters, with this cryof Christ ringing in your ears to make you love Him more than ever and, as you eat the bread and drink the wine, do it allout of fervent love to Him! And the Lord bless you, for His name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW27:27-54.
Verses 27-30. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers.And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head,and a reed in His right hand, and they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And theyspit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. These soldiers were men to whom the taking of human life wasmere amusement, or, at best, a duty to be performed. If the ordinary Roman citizen found his greatest delight in the amphitheaterwhere men fiercely fought with each other, and shed each other's blood, or were devoured by wild beasts, you may imagine whatRoman soldiers-the roughest part of the whole population-would be like! And now that One was given up into their hands, chargedwith making Himself a king, you can conceive what a subject for jest it was to them and how they determined to make all themockery they could of this pre-
tended king! They were not touched by the gentleness of His demeanor, nor by His sorrowful Countenance, but they proceededto pour all possible scorn and insult upon His devoted head. Surely the world never saw a more horrible scene than this-theKing of Kings derided and made nothing of-treated as a mimic monarch by the very vilest and most brutal of men!
31. And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucifyHim. Their action, in restoring to Him His own seamless robe, was ordained by God-whatever their motive may have been-so thatnobody might say that some other person had been substituted for the Savior. He went forth wearing that well-known garmentwhich was woven from the top throughout, which He had always worn. And all who looked upon Him said, "It is He-the Nazarene.We know His face, His dress, His Person." There was no possibility of mistaking Him for anybody else.
32. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His Cross. It was too heavyfor Him to carry alone, so they bade Simon help Him and, truly, I think that Simon was thereby highly honored. If this wasSimon, who is called Niger, then there may be some truth in the common belief that he was a black man and, assuredly, theBlack race has long had to carry a very heavy Cross, yet there may be a great destiny before it. All Christ's followers arecalled to be Cross-bearers-
"Shall Simon bear the Cross alone, And all the rest go free? No, there's a cross for everyone, And there's a cross for me."If we belong to Christ, we must be as willing to take up His Cross as He was to carry ours and die upon it.
33. 34. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say a place of a skull, they gave Him vinegar todrink mingled with gall: and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink It was not because of its bitterness that ourLord refused it, for He did not decline to endure anything that would add to His grief. But this was a stupefying draught,a death potion, which was given to those who were executed, in order to somewhat mitigate their pains. But the Savior didnot intend that His senses should be beclouded by any such draught as that, so, "when He had tasted thereof, He would notdrink."
35. And they crucified Him. A short sentence, but what an awful depth of meaning there is in it! "They crucified Him"-drivingtheir iron bolts through His hands and feet, and lifting Him up to hang upon the gallows which was reserved for felons andfor slaves. "They crucified Him."
35. And parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet, They parted My garmentsamong them, and upon My vesture did you cast lots. It was the executioners' perquisite to have the garments of the man theyput to death, so, in order that no single portion of the shame of the Cross might be spared to the Savior, these soldiersdivided His garments among them and raffled for His seamless robe. It must have taken a hard heart to gamble at the foot ofthe Cross, but I suppose that, of all sins under Heaven, there is none that does so harden the heart as gambling. Beware ofit!
36. And sitting down they watched Him there. Some to gloat, in their fiendish malice, over His sufferings. Others to makesure that He did really die and, possibly, some few to pity Him in His agony. "Sitting down they watched Him there."
37-44. And set up over His head the accusation written against Him, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there twothieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and another on the left And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging theirheads, and saying, You that destroy the Temple, and build it in three days, save Yourself If You are the Son of God, comedown from the Cross. Likewise also the chief priest's mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; HimselfHe cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the Cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted inGod: let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucifiedwith Him, cast the same in His teeth. So that, as He looked all around, He met with nothing but ribaldry, jest and scorn.His disciples had all forsaken Him. One or two of them afterwards rallied a little and came and stood by the Cross, but, justthen, He looked and there was none to pity, and none to help Him, even as it had been foretold.
45. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour From twelve o'clock at noon, accordingto the Roman and Jewish time, till three in the afternoon, there was a thick darkness-whether over all the world, or onlyover the land of Palestine, we cannot very well say. It was not an eclipse of the sun, it was a miracle especially workedby God. Some have supposed that dense clouds came rolling up obscuring everything, but, whatever it was, deep darkness cameover all the land. Dore has, in his wonderful imagination, given us a sketch of Jerusalem during that darkness. The inhabitantsare all trembling at what they had done and, as Judas goes down the street, they point at him as the man who sold his Masterand brought all this evil upon the city. I should think that such darkness at mid-day must have made them fear that the lastday had come, or that some great judgment would overtake them for their wicked slaughter of the innocent Jesus of Nazareth.Even the sun could no longer look upon its Maker surrounded by those who mocked Him-so it traveled on in tenfold night, asif in very shame that the great Sun of Righteousness should Himself be in such awful darkness.
46-48. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a load voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani, that is to say, My God,My God, why have You forsaken Me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This Man calls for Elijah. Andstraightway one of them ran and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink ForHe had also said, "I thirst," which John records, specially mentioning that He said this, "that the Scripture might be fulfilled."
49-51. The rest said, Let Him be, let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him. Jesus, when He had cried again with a loudvoice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. That rendingof the great veil of the Temple was intended to symbolize the end of Judaism. The horror of the sanctuary that its Lord wasput to death. The opening of the mysteries of Heaven. The clearing of the way of access between man and God.
51. And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. Well says our poet-
"Of feeling, all things show some sign But this unfeeling heart of mine." 52-54. And the graves were opened; and many bodiesof the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after His Resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appearedunto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with Him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things thatwere done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.