Page images
[ocr errors]

persecute us. And like Jesus, too, let us submit, because it is our Father's will. Let this reflection cause us to take joyfully every trial, scorching though it be, through which we are called


to pass. Again, let us observe the time when the priests succeeded in extorting from Pilate his unjust sentence against Jesus ; "it was the preparation of the passover”—that passover which so remarkably typified the one sacrifice of the Lamb of God, which was to take away the sins of the world. The wicked rulers of the Jews little thought, that while they were in their hatred of Jesus, neglecting to make the ordinary preparations for the feast, they were in reality preparing the true Lamb for the sacrifice, of which that feast was but a shadow, and which when once completed was for ever to abrogate and annul the first and imperfect sacrifice. Like Balaam of old, who, intent on cursing Israel for his own gain and worldly advantage, was compelled to bless them; so the chief priests, intent on seizing the inheritance, by murdering the heir, were mere instruments in God's hand of effecting his purposes of mercy and love, through him in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed.

Again, when sentence was passed by the Roman judge, there was no delay in the execution. They at once "led him away,” and “he bearing his cross, went forth; “bearing his cross,” that is, the tranverse beam on which his hands were to be nailed, and which was always laid upon

the criminal when he was taken to be crucified. Here we mark the great antitype of Isaac, on whom Abraham his father laid the wood for the burnt-offering. Here we mark the fulfilment of the promise uttered on that occasion: “God will provide himself a Lamb:” “He then, bearing his cross, went forth.” And, oh, who would not follow thee, thou despised and suffering Jesus ! who would not take up his cross, and go after thee!who would not in thy steps“ go forth without the camp, bearing thy reproach!” Blessed Lord, let me be found always at thy side; never for a moment apart from thee in thy sorrows, but counting it “all joy” to endure “shame for thy name," and to know the “ fellowship of thy sufferings." Let me turn my back on the devoted city, though that was at one time the city where thy name was placed – let me follow thee to Calvary, and there, where thy blood-stained tree was reared, let me, at the foot of the cross, shut out every object of desire and love but thee; and “ learning obedience” also in suffering, let me experience at length the blessed realizing of that promise which shall never fail : “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him."

And farther, as Christ had an eminence in suffering, so likewise he had an eminence in shame and in ignominy. Two other malefactors were to be crucified with him. They had not passed through what he had done; and now, as if to mark him as the chief malefactor of the three, they "crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst." The remarkable prophecy of Isaiah must not be passed by without notice here: “He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” The more accurate translation of this passage is allowed to be, “ His grave was appointed with criminals, but with the rich man was his tomb.” And it is even said by some, that the original Hebrew in this place will bear the interpretation, “ His grave was appointed with two criminals.” “Heaven and earth shall pass away;" but one word of the Lord shall never pass away!

We must delay to another opportunity dwelling on the conversion of one of the malefactors, and in the meantime let us recal to mind this one additional circumstance, connected with that part of our Lord's sufferings under our present review. When Pilate, giving Jesus to be crucified, was anxious to save the appearance of injustice as much as possible, and to free himself from the guilt of condemning the guiltless, the chief priests and rulers cried out with fearful emphasis, “ His blood be on us and on our children.” Terrible imprecation !-awfully and fatally accomplished. That generation had not passed away, before, in the destruction of their city, near which they crucified Jesus, they reaped the first part of the terrible harvest, which they had sown by their sins. The Jewish historian tells us, that when Titus took Jerusalem, though generally considered a person of humane disposition, he crucified the Jews near the walls of the town, probably on Calvary itself, and that in such numbers that there was no room left for raising more crosses.

And what does the history of the Jewish people give us from that day to this ?- What but the record of a people, bowed down under a great curse. Just as Cain was driven forth a fugitive and a vagabond upon the face of the earth, under the curse of his brother's blood, so have the Jews for about eighteen hundred years been branded with the curse of his blood whom they slew on Calvary. But blessed be God, this blood, fearful as its curse has been on the Jews, yet “speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Those who are now overwhelmed by its wrath shall yet, " when they look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn,” find it to be like the ladder in the patriarch's vision, the means of communication between earth and heaven, by which they may rise from “tribulation and anguish ” to “glory, honour, and immortality.”

May we, beloved, have this interest in the shedding of this precious blood; may it be “ upon us,” not in the way of judgment but of mercy, and then it will “cleanse us from all sin,” it will "purge our consciences," and seal

“ our admission into the glories of his presence, who, as he has once offered himself a sacrifice for sin, shall yet appear a second time without sin unto salvation.”


JOHN XIX. 19_42.

And Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was,

JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OP THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews : for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews ; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout : They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be : that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfi , saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vesse full of vinegar : and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the rinegar, he said, It is finished : and he bowed his head, and gare up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath-day, (for that sabbath-day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they

« PreviousContinue »