Lord���s Day 11, 2011
I was glad when they said to me, ���Let us go to the house of the Lord.���
My every sense, member, faculty, affection,
is a snare to me,
I can scarce open my eyes but I envy those
or despise those below.
I covet honour and riches of the mighty,
and am proud and unmerciful to the rags
If I behold beauty it is a bait to lust,
or see deformity, it stirs up loathing and disdain;
How soon do slanders, vain jests, and wanton
speeches creep into my heart!
Am I comely? what fuel for pride!
Am I deformed? what an occasion for repining!
Am I gifted? I lust after applause!
Am I unlearned? how I despise what I have not!
Am in authority? how prone to abuse my trust,
make will my law, exclude others��� enjyments,
serve my own interests and policy!
Am I inferior? how much I grudge others���
Am I rich? how exalted I become!
Thou knowest that all these are snares
by my corruptions,
and that my greatest snare is myself.
I bewail that my apprehensions are dull,
my thoughts mean,
my affections stupid,
my expressions low,
my life unbeseeming;
Yet what canst thou expect of dust but levity,
of corruption but defilement?
Keep me ever mindful of my natural state,
but let me not forget my heavenly title,
or the grace that can deal with every sin.
���The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002).
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ���Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.��� 20 Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, ���Do not write, ���The King of the Jews���; but that He said, ���I am King of the Jews.������ 22 Pilate answered, ���What I have written I have written.���
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24 So they said to one another, ���Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be���; this was to fulfill the Scripture: ���They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.��� 25 Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother���s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ���Woman, behold, your son!��� 27 Then He said to the disciple, ���Behold, your mother!��� From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.
He that can read a passage like this without a deep sense of man���s debt to Christ, must have a very cold, or a very thoughtless heart. Great must be the love of the Lord Jesus to sinners, when He could voluntarily endure such sufferings for their salvation. Great must be the sinfulness of sin, when such an amount of vicarious suffering was needed in order to provide redemption.
We should observe, first, in this passage, how our Lord had to bear His cross when He went forth from the city to Golgotha.
We need not doubt that there was a deep meaning in all this circumstance. For one thing, it was part of that depth of humiliation to which our Lord submitted as our substitute. One portion of the punishment imposed on the vilest criminals, was that they should carry their own cross when they went to execution; and this portion was laid upon our Lord. In the fullest sense He was reckoned a sinner, and counted a curse for our sakes.���For another thing, it was a fulfillment of the great type of the sin-offering of the Mosaic law. It is written, that ���The bullock for the sin-offering, and the goat for the sin-offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp.��� (Lev. xvii. 27.) Little did the blinded Jews imagine, when they madly hounded on the Romans to crucify Jesus outside the gates, that they were unconsciously perfecting the mightiest sin-offering that was ever seen. It is written, ���Jesus, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.��� (Heb. xiii. 12.)
The practical lesson which all true Christians should gather from the fact before us, is one that should be kept in continual remembrance. Like our Master, we must be content to go forth ���outside the camp,��� bearing His reproach. We must come out from the world and be separate, and be willing, if need be, to stand alone. Like our Master, we must be willing to take up our cross daily, and to be persecuted both for our doctrine and our practice. Well would it be for the Church if there was more of the true cross to be seen among Christians! To wear material crosses as an ornament, to place material crosses on churches and tombs, all this is cheap and easy work, and entails no trouble. But to have Christ���s cross in our hearts, to carry Christ���s cross in our daily walk, to know the fellowship of His sufferings, to be made conformable to His death, to have crucified affections, and live crucified lives,���all this needs self-denial; and Christians of this stamp are few and far between. Yet, this, we may be sure, is the only cross-bearing and cross-carrying that does good in the world. The times require less of the cross outwardly and more of the cross within.
We should observe, secondly, in this passage, how our Lord was crucified as a King.
The title placed over our Lord���s head made this plain and unmistakable. The reader of Greek, or Latin, or Hebrew, could not fail to see that He who hung on the central cross of the three on Golgotha, had a royal title over His head. The overruling hand of God so ordered matters, that the strong will of Pilate overrode for once the wishes of the malicious Jews. In spite of the chief priests, our Lord was crucified as ���the King of the Jews.���
It was meet and right that so it should be. Even before our Lord was born, the angel Gabriel declared to the Virgin Mary, ���The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.��� (Luke i. 32, 33.) Almost as soon as He was born, there came wise men from the East, saying, ���Where is He that is born King of the Jews?��� (Matt. ii. 2.) The very week before the crucifixion, the multitude who accompanied our Lord at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, had cried, ���Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.��� (John xii. 13.) The current belief of all godly Jews was, that when Messiah, the Son of David came, He would come as a King. A kingdom of heaven and a kingdom of God was continually proclaimed by our Lord throughout His ministry. A King indeed He was, as He told Pilate, of a kingdom utterly unlike the kingdoms of this world, but for all that a true King of a true kingdom, and a Ruler of true subjects. As such He was born. As such He lived. As such He was crucified. And as such He will come again, and reign over the whole earth, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Let us take care that we ourselves know Christ as our King, and that His kingdom is set up within our hearts. They only will find Him their Saviour at the last day, who have obeyed Him as King in this world. Let us cheerfully pay Him that tribute of faith, and love, and obedience, which He prizes far above gold. Above all, let us never be afraid to own ourselves His faithful subjects, soldiers, servants and followers, however much He may be despised by the world. A day will soon come when the despised Nazarene who hung on the cross, shall take to Himself His great power and reign, and put down every enemy under His feet. The kingdoms of this world, as Daniel foretold, shall be swept aside, and become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ. And at last every knee shall bow to Him, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We should observe, lastly, in these verses, how tenderly our Lord took thought for Mary, His mother.
We are told that even in the awful agonies of body and mind which our Lord endured, He did not forget her of whom He was born. He mercifully remembered her desolate condition, and the crushing effect of the sorrowful sight before her. He knew that, holy as she was, she was only a woman, and that, as a woman, she must deeply feel the death of such a Son. He therefore commended her to the protection of His best-loved and best-loving disciple, in brief and touching words: ���Woman,��� He said, ���behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.���
We surely need no stronger proof than we have here, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was never meant to be honored as divine, or to be prayed to, worshiped, and trusted in, as the friend and patroness of sinners. Common sense points out that she who needed the care and protection of another, was never likely to help men and women to heaven, or to be in any sense a mediator between God and man! It is not too much to say, however painful the assertion, that of all the inventions of the Church of Rome, there never was one more utterly devoid of foundation, both in Scripture and reason, than the doctrine of Mary-worship.
Let us turn from points of controversy to a subject of far more practical importance. Let us take comfort in the thought that we have in Jesus a Saviour of matchless tenderness, matchless sympathy, matchless concern for the condition of His believing people. Let us never forget His words, ���Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.��� (Mark iii. 35.) The heart that even on the cross felt for Mary, is a heart that never changes. Jesus never forgets any who love Him, and even in their worst estate remembers their need. No wonder that Peter says, ���Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.��� (1 Pet. v. 7.)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.