Sermon 2443. The Determination of Christ to Suffer for His People
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, DECEMBER 15, 1895.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK.
"And they ga ve Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received it not."
OUR Savior, before He was nailed to the Cross, and on the Cross, several times had drinks of different sorts offered to Him.While they were nailing Him to the Cross, they endeavored to make Him drink wine, or vinegar as it is called, mingled withgall. But when He had tasted of it-He did taste it-He would not drink it. When He was on the Cross, the soldiers, mockingHim, offered Him vinegar, or their weak drink of which they ordinarily partook, pledging Him in their cups with scorn. Andonce more, when He said, "I thirst," they took a sponge filled with vinegar, dipped it in hyssop and put it to His lips.
This occasion of offering the wine mingled with myrrh is, I believe, different from all the rest. This wine mingled with myrrhwas given to Him as an act of mercy. Matthew Henry seems to think that it was prepared by those holy women who were knownto attend to the necessities of our Lord. They had followed Him in all His footsteps wherever He went. It was by their bountythat the bag which Judas kept was generally as full as it was required to be, so that out of the store they could go and buyfood for their Master and for His disciples. It was these holy women who prepared the spices to embalm Him at His burial.And Matthew Henry thinks that these women, prompted by their compassion for Him, prepared this cup of wine mingled with myrrhthat He might be strengthened for His miseries, and that those miseries might, in some degree-be alleviated by the partialstupefaction which a strong draught of wine and myrrh would give Him.
This time our Savior positively declined the cup-"He received it not." The wormwood He tasted, but this He received not atall. He would have nothing to do with it. Why? The answer is not to be found in our Savior's abstemiousness, for He was notabstemious-He was never self-indulgent, but He certainly was never abstemious. He was "the Son of Man" who "came eating anddrinking." He felt no repugnance to wine-He, Himself, made it, He Himself drank it. He even earned for Himself the name-"agluttonous Man and a winebibber"-not deservedly, but because, in contrast to John, who abstemiously refrained from ordinaryfood, Jesus Christ sat down with publicans and sinners, feasted with the feasters and ate and drank like other men.
Nor do I think the reason is to be found in any love of pain that Christ had, nor in any heartless bravado which would leadHim to say, "I will suffer and I will put the cup away from Me." Far be that from Christ! He never thrust Himself in the wayof suffering when it was unnecessary. He did not go to give Himself up into the hands of His enemies before His hour was come.He avoided persecution when the avoidance of the persecution would not be an injury to His cause. He withdrew out of Judeaand would not walk in that land because of Herod, who sought to slay Him. I believe that if our Savior had not been the atoningSacrifice-if His sufferings had been merely those of a martyr-He would have quaffed to the very dregs the cup that was offeredHim and would not have left any of it! The reason why He refused the cup, I think, is to be found in another thing altogether.
There is a glorious idea couched in the fact that the Savior put the myrrhed wine cup entirely away from His lips. On theheights of Heaven, the Son of God stood of old, and He looked down and measured how far it was to the utmost depths of misery.He cast up the sum total of all the agonies which a man must endure to descend to the utmost depths of pain and misery. Hedetermined that to be a faithful High Priest and, also, to be a suffering One, He would go the whole way, from the highestto the lowest, "from the highest throne in Glory to the Cross of deepest woe." This myrrhed cup would have stopped Him withina little of the utmost limit of misery and, therefore, He said, "I will not stop half-way,
but I will go all the way. And if this cup can mitigate My sorrow, that is just the reason why I will not drink it, for Ihave determined that to the utmost lengths of misery I will go, that I will do, and bear, and suffer all that Incarnate Godcan bear for My people, in My own mortal body."
Now, Beloved, it is this fact that I wish to bring out before you-the fact that Jesus Christ came into the world to suffer-andthat because the myrrhed cup would have prevented Him from reaching the lowest step of misery, "He received it not." I shallhave to show you, first, that this was very frequently the case throughout His life-that He would not take a step which wouldhave diminished His miseries because He was determined to go the whole length of suffering. Secondly, I shall try to showyou the reason for this determination. Then, thirdly, I shall close up by speaking of the lesson that we may learn from it.
I. OUR SAVIOR WOULD GO THE WHOLE LENGTH OF MISERY-He would suffer in every respect like as we suffer. He would bear the wholeof the tortures of Atonement without even the slightest shadow of mitigation or alleviation. Now, I think I can show you thaton many occasions in Christ's life He determined to be tempted in every point in which men are tempted and to be tempted tothe utmost limit of the power of temptation. Nor would He accept anything which would have limited the force of the temptationupon man. I will give you some proofs of this.
First, Christ knew that you and I would be exposed to peril. He, therefore, determined that He would be exposed to peril,too, and that He would not by any means, when it was in His power, escape from the peril. Let me show Him to you high up there,on the pinnacle of the Temple. There stands our Master and a fiend by His side, on a giddy eminence, with but little beneathHis feet. He stands poised aloft. He looks down the hill on which the Temple is built into the depths below-and the enemysays, "Cast Yourself down, commit Yourself to the care of the angels." It was like this myrrhed cup-"Do not stand in thisperil, cast Yourself upon that promise and risk Yourself upon the angels' wings, for they shall bear You up in their hands,lest You dash Your foot against a stone." But like as He would not receive this cup, so neither would He receive this deliverancefrom His peril! So there He stood erect, confident in His God, not using the means of deliverance which the tempter wishedHim to exercise, even as He would not drink this cup!
Take another case-Jesus Christ knew that many of His people would have to suffer bodily needs, poverty and woe. He thereforehungered. After forty days' fast, when He might have delivered Himself from His hunger by turning stones into bread, one wouldhave said, "It would have been a very innocent act to turn stones into bread and feed Himself." But, "No," says Christ tothe gnawing pangs of hunger, "I will let you go as far as you can. I will not turn these stones into bread. I will let hungerexercise all its power upon Me. I will let My body be gnawed by its fierce teeth! I will not mitigate its misery." He wouldnot receive that wine mingled with myrrh that the devil offered Him in the wilderness when he tempted Him to make the stonesinto bread-He would not take the lessening of His misery!
I will tell you another instance. Many men have attempted to have their lives cut short because they have so much misery andno more hope of being happy. They, therefore, have wished for death. They have wished that they might be as the untimely birth,that they might be forever shut up in the bowels of the earth. They have longed for death and desired it-and if an opportunityhad cast itself in their way in which they might have died with honor, without having the disgrace of suicide-how many wouldhave accepted the alternative of death! Here is our Savior in the same condition, for He is dragged to the brow of the hillof Nazareth. O Son of Man, Your wisest choice is to be dashed down the sides of the hill on which the city is built! If Youare wise, You will let them hurl You headlong-that would be an end of all Your misery, for there are years before You throughwhich You will be roasted at the slow fire of persecution! And afterwards You will have to pass through floods of deepestmisery! Do you not think the temptation started up in His mind, "Let Yourself be cast down"? He knew all about it. Had Hebeen cast down, He would have died an honorable death like the death of a Prophet slain in his own country-but no, "passingthrough the midst of them, He went His way," because, as He refused the wine cup, so He refused a hasty death which wouldhave delivered Him from His miseries.
Do you not observe that I have only just given you specimens? You will find that all through the Savior's life it was justthe same. You will not find Him in one instance working a miracle to lessen His own bodily fatigue, or to alleviate His ownbodily needs and necessities, but always letting the ills of this life wreak themselves upon Him with all their fury! He hushedthe winds, once, but it was for His disciples, not for Himself. He lay asleep in the boat and let the waves toss Him up anddown as much as they pleased! He multiplied the loaves and fishes, but it was for the multitude, not for Himself. He couldfind money in a fish's mouth, but it was to pay the tribute, not for Himself. He could scatter mercies wherever He went-openmen's eyes, and deliver many of them from pains-but He never exercised any of His skill upon Himself. If the wind blew, Helet it spend itself upon His cheeks and crack them. If the cold was bitter, He let the cold come round Him as it did in theGarden of Gethsemane. If journeying was troublesome, He journeyed where He might have traveled as His Father did-as old ThomasSternhold says in his fine translation of the Psalms-
"The Lord descended from above,
And bowed the heavens most high,
And underneath His feet He cast
The darkness of the sky.
On cherub and on cherubim
Full royally He rode,
And on the wings of mighty winds
Came flying all abroad."
So might Jesus, if He pleased, but He journeyed on in weariness. He might have made the water leap out of the well to Hishands, but there He sat and thirsted, while He had power to make fountains gush even from the stone on which He sat! On theCross, "I thirst," was His cry and yet, if He pleased, He might have opened in Himself rivers of living water- He had themfor others, but He had none for Himself. You will observe this fact that in all the history of Christ, never once did He takeanything which could have lessened His miseries-He went the whole length-and as on this occasion He refused the wine druggedwith myrrh and, so never did He receive anything that had a tendency to prevent Him from going to the requisite lengths ofsuffering.
II. Now let me show you THE REASON FOR THIS. Was it out of any love to suffering that He thus refused the wine cup? Ah, no,Christ had no love of suffering. He had a love of souls, but like we, He turned away from suffering. He never loved it. Wesee He did not, for even in the garden He said, "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." It was His Human Naturestruggling against suffering, as human nature rightfully does-God has made us so that we do not naturally love suffering-andit is not wrong for us to feel some repugnance to it, for God has implanted that repugnance in us. Christ did not suffer becauseHe loved suffering. Why, then, did He suffer? For two reasons-because this suffering to the utmost was necessary to the completionof the Atonement, which saves to the utmost, and because this suffering to the utmost was necessary to perfect His Characteras "a merciful High Priest" who has to care for souls that have gone to the utmost of miseries themselves-that He might knowhow to succor them that are tempted.
First, I say it was necessary to make the Atonement complete. I think that if our Savior had drunk this myrrhed cup, the Atonementwould not have been valid. It strikes me that if He had drunk this wine mingled with myrrh, He could not have suffered tothe extent that was absolutely necessary. We believe Christ did, on the Cross, suffer just enough, and not one particle morethan was necessary for the redemption of His people. If, then, this wine cup had taken away a part of His sufferings, theransom price would not have been fully complete-it would not have been fully paid. And if it had but taken away so much asa grain, the Atonement would not have been sufficiently satisfactory. If a man's ransom is to be paid, it must be all paid,for though but one single farthing is left unpaid, the man is not fully redeemed and he is not yet totally free. If, then,this drinking of the wine cup had taken out the smallest amount from that fearful price of agony which our Savior paid, theAtonement would have been insufficient only to a degree, but even insufficiency to a degree, however small, would have beenenough to have caused perpetual despair, yes, enough to have shut the gates of Heaven against all Believers! The utmost farthingmust be paid! Relentless Justice has never yet omitted so much as a fraction of its claim! Nor would it, in this case, haverelented in any measure-Christ must pay it all! The wine cup would have prevented His doing that, therefore He would sufferand go the whole length of suffering! He would not stop, but would go through it all.
Again, I say it was that He might be made a compassionate High Priest. Someone might have said, "When my Master died, He didnot suffer much. He suffered somewhat, but the wine cup prevented much suffering. I dare not touch the wine cup-at least,I dare not take it so as to alleviate my sufferings at all-then I must suffer more than He, for that drugged wine I must notdrink. Surely, then, my Master cannot sympathize with me, if I, for conscientious motives, bear suffering without acceptingalleviations which some think are wrong." "No," said the Master, "no, you shall never say that! If you have to suffer withouta comfort, I will let you know that I suffered without a comfort, too." You say, "Oh, if I had some myrrh given me which couldmitigate my woe, it would all be well!" "Ah," says the Savior, "but I have had it offered to Me and I will not drink it inorder that you may see that I suffered woe without the comfort, without the cordial, without the consolation which you thinkwould enable you to endure it."
O blessed Lord Jesus, You were "tempted in all points like as we are"! Blessed be Your name! This myrrh cup could have puta plate of steel upon Your breast! It would have blunted many darts of suffering and, therefore, You put it aside that Youmight, naked, suffer every shaft to find its target in Your heart! This myrrh cup would have steeled Your feelings so thatYou could not be torn by the whips of anguish and, therefore, You would not take its steeling influence, its hardening qualities.You, who did stoop to become a poor, weak worm, "a worm and no man," did bear the agony without making the agony less, orstrengthening Your own body to bear it, O blessed High Priest!
Go to Him, you tried and tempted ones! Go to Him and cast your burdens on Him-He can bear them! He has borne burdens heavierthan yours! Cast your burden on the Lord, as His shoulders can sustain it! And His shoulders, that have borne trouble withoutcomfort, can bear your troubles, though they are comfortless ones, too! Do but tell them to your Master and you shall neverfind a lack of sympathy in Him.
III. And now, what have we to say by way of A LESSON for this short discourse?
When Christ was offered this cup, He would not receive it. Sometimes, Beloved, it is in your power to escape from sufferingsfor Christ's sake-and you may rightly do so if you can escape from them without injuring the mission upon which your Fatherhas sent you-for as He sent His Son into the world, even so has He sent you into the world. You have your mission and thereare times when the acceptance of a cordial, or the reception of an escape from peril, would be a degradation to your highdignity, an injury to your office and, therefore, there are times when you should decline even the cup of consolation, itself.You and I are called to hold fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. Perhaps our business places us where we have to holdfellowship with Christ in the suffering of contempt. The finger is pointed at us. The lips are sometimes protruded in derision.Sometimes an expression is used towards us, calling us a hypocrite, a cant, a formalist. You may be apt to think, "Oh, thatI could avoid all this! I wish I could escape." Can you avoid it and serve your Master, as well? If you can, then drink themyrrh cup, and avoid the misery! But if you cannot-and if it is proven that your position is one of duty and one in whichyou can honor your Master-it is at your peril that you exchange your situation for an easier one, if you exchange it for oneless useful!
"Oh," says one, "I work among wicked men and I have to bear a testimony for the Truth of God in their midst. May I not leavethe place at once? I feel that I am doing good, there, but the jeers and taunts are so hard to bear that the good I do seemsto be always counterbalanced by the misery I suffer." Take care, take care, lest you let the flesh prevail over the spirit!It would be like a myrrh cup to you, for you to leave your job and go to another! It would be the removal of your pain, butponder a long time before you do it, weigh it well. If your Maker has put you there, to suffer for His name's sake, come notdown from the cross to which He has nailed you by a daily crucifixion till you have suffered all! And take not the myrrh cupof an escape until you have borne all for Christ. I think it was holy Polycarp who, when the soldiers came to him to takehim to prison, made his escape. But when he found, afterwards, that his doing so had dispirited some Christians and had beenattributed to his cowardice-when next the soldiers presented themselves and he had an opportunity to escape, "No," he said,"let me die." It had been foolhardy of him if he had run into the teeth of men, the first time, in order to be put to death.But when he saw that he would serve His Master better by His death than by His life, it would have been an unrighteous thingif He had drunk of the wine cup-if he had made his escape and not died for his Master's sake.
O my Brothers and Sisters, I think that there are many cordials which the world, too, has to offer to the Christian whichhe must not drink because if his Master wishes him to have fellowship with Him in His suffering, it is his to suffer so faras his Master wills! You are, perhaps, a man or a woman of a sorrowful spirit. You are given to solitude and loneliness. Thereare certain amusements which some men say are harmless-they tell you that they are meant for you and ask you to go and takethem. You think, "Well, in my low state, surely I might take these things. If I were happy and joyous, I should not need them,but surely my Father, 'like as a father pities his children,' will pity me. And if I do these things, I do them merely fortemporary comfort, for my heart seems as though it would break if I had not this little temporary excitement."
Take care, take care that it is not the wine cup that prevents you, my Friends! If your Master gives you the wine cup, thegolden wine cup filled with the precious wine of the Covenant, the strong promises and sweet fellowship in Christ,
drink it without a moment's hesitation! Drink it and be glad, for God has said, "Give strong drink unto him that is readyto perish," and this is the strong drink He gives to you in the golden wine cup of the Savior's fellowship. Drink it and behappy! But if men offer it to you, look long and hard before you drink it! It may be you may be right in drinking it-it maynot be a wrong thing-but it may be, too, that even a thing that is innocent to others, may be wrong to you! And the takingof that amusement and pleasure into your hands might be like our Savior's taking the myrrh cup and drinking it. It would bea stultifying of you, a preventing you from learning all the lessons of your misery, from going in all the steps of your Redeemerwho wishes us to follow Him through all the miseries which He has ordained for us, that they may be the means of fellowshipwith Him in His suffering.
This is the only lesson I desire to give you at this time. If the Lord impresses it on our minds, it may be of use to us.Only let me say how many there are who would have drunk this wine cup if it had been offered to them! Your Savior has takenfrom you the desire of your eyes with a stroke! He has robbed you of one who is dear and near to you. Say, Christian, if youhad had the myrrh cup put before you, if it had been said, "If you like, that loved one of yours shall live." If it had beenoffered to you that the life that has been taken away should be spared-could you, with fortitude, have said, "Not my will,but Yours, be done"? Could you have put it away and said, "No, my Master, if this cup may not pass from me except I drinkit, Your will be done. And what is more, if it may pass from me, if I need not the suffering, yet if I can honor You moreby suffering, and if the loss of my beloved one will serve You and please You, then so let it be. I refuse the comfort whenit comes in the way of Your honor. I reject the favored mercy if it comes in the teeth of Your Glory. I am willing to suffer-I care not for Your consolations if I can honor You better without them"?
There are some among you in the time of mourning. Let me just, in conclusion, note a very beautiful thought of a good manon a passage of Scripture. Jesus says in His prayer, "Father, I will that they, also, whom You have given Me, be with Me whereI am." Do you know why good men die? Do you know why the righteous die? Shall I tell you what it is that kills them? It isChrist's prayer-"Father, I will that they be with Me." It is that that fetches them up to Heaven! They would stay here ifChrist did not pray them to death! Every time a Believer mounts from this earth to Heaven, it is caused by Christ's prayer."Now," says this good old Divine, "many times Christ and His people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your kneesin prayer and say, 'Father, I will that they whom You have given me be with me where I am.' Christ bends His knees and says,'Father, I will that they whom You have given Me be with Me where I am.'"
So, you see, one gets hold of him, and the other, too. He cannot be in both places! The beloved one cannot be with Christand with you, too! Now, what shall be the answer? Put the prayers side by side. You are praying, "Father, I will that theywhom you have given me be with me where I am." And there is your Savior, praying that they may be with Him where He is. Now,if you had your choice-if the King should step from His Throne and say, "Here are two supplicants. They are praying oppositeto one another-their prayers are clearly contrary to each other-I cannot answer them both." Oh, I am sure, though it wereagony, you would start from your feet, and say, "Jesus, not my will, but Yours be done." You would give up your prayer foryour sick husband's life, for your sick wife's life, for your dying child's life, if you could realize the thought that Christwas praying in the opposite direction, "Father, I will that they whom You have given Me be with Me where I am."
And now we come to the Supper of our Master! Oh, may the Master give us fellowship with Him! Poor sinners that know not Christ,I have hardly a moment in which to address you, but remember, the separation which will be made between you and the Church,tonight, is but a picture of an awful separation which shall be made between you and the Church at the Last Great Day! Youwill sit upstairs, some of you, to look down upon the solemnity-remember, you may look upon it here, but you will not lookupon it in Heaven unless your hearts are made new by Christ and unless you are washed in His precious blood!
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MARK 15:15-39; LUKE23:27-49.
We will read two short passages from the Gospels this evening. May the blessed Spirit, who taught the Evangelists to recordthe sad story of our Lord's sufferings and death, help us to fully enter into the blessed meaning of it while we read it!First turn to Mark 15, verse 15.
Mark 15:15, 16. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas to them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him,to be crucified. And the soldiers led Him away into the hall, called Praetorium. The guard room of Herod's palace, where thePraetorian guards were known to gather.
16-20. And they called together the whole band. And they clothed Him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put itabout His head, and began to salute Him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him on the head with a reed, and spit uponHim, and bowing their knees worshipped Him. And when they had mocked Him. To the utmost, and gone the full length of theircruel scorn!
20-23. They took off the purple from Him, and put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. And they compelledone Simon, a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His Cross. Andthey brought Him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave Him to drink winemingled with myrrh: but He received it not. They did for Him what they did for others who were crucified- they gave Him myrrhedwine, as a stupefying draught-"but He received it not." He came to suffer and He would bear, even to the end, the full taleof His suffering.
24-27. And when they had crucified Him, they parted His garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. Andit was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the superscription of His accusation was written over, THE KING OF THEJEWS. And with Him they crucified two thieves; the one on His right hand, and the other on His left. They gave Him the placeof eminence, as if He were a greater offender than either of the two thieves!
28. And the Scripture was fulfilled, which says, And He was numbered with the transgressors. Sinners to the right of Him,sinners to the left of Him, sinners all round Him-compassed about with those who sinned in the very highest degree by puttingHim to death. "He was numbered with the transgressors." Oh, that sweet word! It is the hope of transgressors, now, that Hewas counted with them! And for His sake all the blessings of Heaven now descend upon transgressors who accept Him as theirSubstitute and Savior!
29. And they that passed by railed on Him. Not only those who sat down to gloat their cruel eyes upon His miseries, but eventhe passers-by, "They that passed by, railed on Him."
29, 30. Wagging their heads and saying, Ah, You that destroys the Temple, and builds it in three day, save Yourself, and comedown from the Cross. He never said He would destroy the literal Temple. He did, however, say concerning the Temple of Hisbody, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up," and He did raise it up in three days after they had destroyedit!
31. Likewise also the chiefpriests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; Himself He cannot save.What they said in bitter scorn was true, for mighty love had bound His hands from self-salvation. Infinite in love, foundguilty of excess of love to men, "He saved others; Himself He could not save."
32, 33. Let Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the Cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucifiedwith Him reviled Him. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. A supernaturaldarkness which could not have occurred according to the laws of Nature. It did, as it were, "set a tabernacle for the sun"-theSun of Righteousness was canopied for a while in darkness, that no longer might those horrible eyes gaze upon His terribleanguish!
34. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani? which is, being interpreted,My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? There was a denser darkness over His spirit than was over all the land-and out ofthat darkness came this cry of agony!
35. And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, He calls Elijah. Ah, me! This was either a cruel jestupon our Savior's prayer or an utter misapprehension of it!
36. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink, saying, Let Him alone; letus see whether Elijah will come to take Him down. Jesus did receive this vinegar and so fulfilled Psalm 69:21-"In My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink."
37. 38. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the Temple was rent in two from the topto the bottom. Even as the flesh of Christ, which is the veil of the Incarnate God, was rent, so now was the veil of mysterytaken away! The Temple in her sorrow rent her veil. The old Ceremonial Law passed away with this token of grief by the rendingof the veil! It was a strong-I might say, a massive veil-it could not have been torn by any ordinary means, but when the handof God takes hold upon the veil of Jewish types, they readily tear and, into the innermost mystery of the Holy of Holies,we may gaze, yes, and through it we may enter!
39. And when the centurion, which stood over against Him, saw that He so cried out, and gave up the ghost, He said, Trulythis Man was the Son of God. Convinced by the Cross! Oh, the triumphs of Christ! The last word He speaks won this testimonyfrom the centurion in charge of the Crucifixion! Now we will read part of Luke's narrative.
Luke 23:27-31. And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him. But Jesus, turningunto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, thedays are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which nevergave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these thingsin a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? Our Savior, even amidst the greatest sufferings, seemed almost to forget Hissuffering in the deep sympathy that He had for the people around Him! He pictured in His mind's eye that awful siege of Jerusalem.Who can read it, as Josephus describes it, without feeling the deepest horror? Oh, the misery of the women and of the childrenin that dreadful day when the zealots turned against each other within the city and fought to the death! And when the Romansoldiers, pitiless as wolves, at last stormed the place! Truly did the Savior say of it that there would be no day like it-neitherwas there-it was the concentration of human misery and our Lord wept because He foresaw what it would be. And He bade thesepoor women reserve their tears for those awful sorrows.
32, 33 And there were also two others, malefactors, led with Him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place,which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.O blessed Master they did not spare You any scorn! There was no mode of expressing their contempt which their malignity didnot invent! Truly, "He was numbered with the transgressors." You could not count the three sufferers on Calvary without countingHim-He was so completely numbered with the others that He must be reckoned as one of them!
34. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. It was all that He could say in their favor, andHe did say that. If there is anything to be said in your favor, O my fellow Sinner, Christ will say it! And if there is nothinggood in you that His eyes can light upon, He will pray on His own account-"Father, forgive them for My sake."
34. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots. His garments were the executioners' perquisites. Pitilessly they took themfrom Him and left Him naked in His shameful sorrow.
35. And the people stood beholding. There was no pity in their eyes. Not one of them turned away his face because he couldnot look upon so disgraceful a deed.
35. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is Christ, the chosenof God. I have already reminded you that there was a deep truth hidden away in what these cruel mockers said, for Jesus mustgive Himself up as a ransom if we were to be redeemed.
36-38. And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If You are the King of the Jews,save Yourself. And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, For these were thethree languages known to the throng, and Pilate invited them all to read in "Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew."
38,39. THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If You are Christ,save Yourself and us. Poor man, even though he is dying a felon's death, he must be in the swim with the multitude! He mustkeep in with the fashion so strong, so powerful-it is the popular current with all mankind!
40-42. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do not you fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we,indeed, justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man has done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord,remember me when You come into Your Kingdom. It was strange that Christ should find a friend dying on the cross by His side.Nobody else spoke to Him about a Kingdom. I am afraid that even His former followers began to think that it was all a delusion.But this dying thief cheers the heart of Jesus by the mention of a Kingdom and by making a request to Him concerning thatKingdom even when the King was in His death agony!
43. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with Me in Paradise. The Master, you see, uses Hisold phraseology. In His preaching He had been accustomed to say, "Verily, verily," and here He is, even on the Cross,
still the same Preacher, for there was such assurance, such confidence, such Truth, in all His words, that He never had toalter His style of speaking! "Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with Me in Paradise." Well does our poet put it-
"He that distributes crowns and thrones, Hangs on a tree and bleeds and groans." He was distributing these crowns and throneseven while hanging on the tree! "Tell it among the nations that the Lord reigns from the tree," may not be an exact translationof the Psalm, but it is true, Psalm or no Psalm! 44. And it was about the sixth hour. About noon, when the sun was at itsheight.
44. And there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Three o'clock in the afternoon.
45. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was rent in the midst. As if the great light of Heaven and the patternof heavenly things were both disturbed. The sun puts on mourning and the Temple rends her veil in horror at the awful deedenacted on the Cross!
46. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father-Is it not sweet to see how Jesus begins and ends His prayerson the Cross with, "Father"?
46-48. Into Your hands I commend My spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what wasdone, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous Man. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholdingthe things which were done, smote their breasts and returned. A strange ending to that day, was it not? The three hours' darknessand the death cry of the Christ had not converted them, but it had convicted them of sin. They felt that a great and heinouscrime had been committed and, though they had come together as to a mere show or sight, they went away from the spectacleimpressed as they had never been before-"All the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which weredone, smote their breasts, and returned."
49. And all His acquaintances and the women that followed Him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. In thesedoings on Calvary you and I have a share-in their guilt, or else in their merit. Oh, that we may not be condemned with thosewho were guilty of His death, but may we be cleansed by that precious blood which puts away the sin of all who believe onHim!