« EelmineJätka »
be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” And again, John 3: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Paul says that he did not know anything and was “determined not to know anything," "save Jesus Christ, aud Him crucified."
Christ was crucified so that He might sanctify, deliver and justify us, who, had we been left to ourselves, would have eterrally remained and perished under sin and death, and under the tyranny of Satan.
And should we now be offended at the cross ? Was it, after all, an ignominious death? We should heartily thank God that His Son hangs upon the cross, bearing the curse under which we should still be on account of our sins. There He hangs as one condemned, and as one whom God hates and visits now with shame and want and agony. This is so, Paul says, for thy sake and for my sake, that the blessing might come on us.
For if the curse had continued to rest on us, we would never have received the blessing. But lo, the blessed Seed draws near and takes the curse, which rests on us, upon Himself, and the blessing, which rests on Him, He gives to us. Since He would and should become a curse for us, no other death except this death on the cross was suitable, for this is the death which God's Word had declared accursed.
Let us, then, thoroughly learn here to judge, not according to what the eye perceives, but according to what the Word of God declares. According to appearances the Lord Jesus' death is a shameful death and, as God Himself calls it, an accursed
death; and the tree on which He dies, an execrable tree,-a cursed cross, and this because all our sins hang on it. For sin and the curse, or God's anger, and every misfortune,-all these belong together. Therefore Isaiah says: “Many were astonished at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Again : “When we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” This is the way these things appear, and it is impossible for human reason to see them in a different light, because God calls every one accursed who dies on a tree. The cross is cursed; He who hangs on it is cursed; the cause of His hanging there is also cursed, for sin demands the curse; and the greater the number of sins that lie on the Lord Jesus, the greater also the curse.
But let us look a little further and find what follows from this that Christ, the blessed Seed, dies such an accursed death and becomes a curse for us Himself. Paul, in very appropriate words, states this as the result: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles," and that thus "we might receive the Holy Spirit.” This we find to be altogether different from that which we can see with the bodily eye. This disgraceful death which God has cursed is an offence to the eye, but to us it is a blessed death, for it takes the curse away
from us and brings God's blessing to us. The tree which in itself is an accursed tree, is for us a blissful tree. It is that precious altar, upon which God's Son
offers Himself to God, His Father, for our sins. It is that glorious altar, at which He appears as the true and eternal priest. For He is brought to the tree, and He makes it a blessed altar, that we might be released from sin, and receive God's grace and be God's children.
No wonder, then, that the old teachers entertained such excellent thoughts about the cross and the accursed tree. There in Paradise, they say, a beautiful tree occasioned our falling into sin and death; here, however, an old, dry, yes accursed tree occasioned our deliverance from sin and our receiving everlasting life. Here hangs God's Son with arms extended as a testimony that He will cast no one out, but gladly receive every one and draw all unto Him, as He says He will, John 12. His head is lifted toward heaven, pointing out to us the way of life eternal. His feet reach toward the ground where they bruise the head of Satan, that old serpent creeping on the earth, forcing from him all That power over
which Satan received because of our sins he surely loses now, in virtue of the dear Lord Jesus' hanging on the cross, where He atones for our sins with His death and becomes a curse in our stead.
Therefore, let us here learn to acknowledge and to praise our merciful heavenly Father's gracious will toward us. For He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up to die, yea, to die upon the cross, and suffered Ilim to be made a curse; so that we might obtain the blessing, be set free from sin, receive the Holy Spirit, and through Him become God's children and be eternally saved. God grant this to us all. Amen.
CHRIST's PRAYER ON THE CROSS.—THE MALEFACTOR
ON THE Right. LUKE 23, 32–43. 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. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying. If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself. And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This is the King of the Jews. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, sive Thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? and we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds : but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remeinber me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Che holy Evangelist here mentions two things So that are very consolatory. Therefore, although the other Evangelists have omitted them in their record of Christ's sufferings, we shall treat of them here, so that this record may be before us in its completeness. The first of these things is, that Christ, immediately after the cross, to which He had been nailed, was erected, began to pray, saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The other thing we wish to notice is, that the malefactor on the right of Christ, hearing this prayer,
learned from it that Jesus was the Son
of God and the very Christ, and therefore desired to be remembered by Him when He should have come into His kingdom.
Let us now consider these two things, for they are full of consolation and we can never sufficiently meditate upon them nor explain them. And, besides all this, it is necessary for us, not only to behold the works and sufferings of this Man, but also most carefully to heed the words proclaimed by Him; for these declare the reason of His deeds and sufferings, and their consequence.
It is of the greatest importance, however, to distinguish between the suffering of our Lord Jesus and that of all other men. This distinction is momentous, not only because Jesus Christ is eternal God, who created heaven and earth and all things, but also because His suffering had a peculiar cause, and because the benefit, or fruit, of His suffering is such that it could not have been produced by the suffering of any other man, or of an angel, or of any creature. He suffered, as you lately heard, not for Himself, but for us, that we might be delivered from sin and death. This we also learn from the words He here speaks in our text, which words it behooves every Christian to observe and to entwine in his soul as his most precious treasure and comfort.
The words He spoke upon the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” clearly show, that He was attending to His true priestly office even while suspended in the air upon the cross; and that He was fulfilling the work which brought Him to earth, not only with His suffering, in that He sacrificed Himself, but also