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so swelled, and disfigured by blood, &c. that very few, who had even seen him before, would have known that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was led to execution. The wreath of thorns very probably remained on his head, as a public mark that the crime for which he was crucified was, That he had, in a seditious manner, according to the superscription over his head, given himself out to be the king of the Jews. The purple robe was left behind in the judgment-hall. But as this robe must probably in some parts have stuck to his body, now all bloody, and cruelly torn by scourging; the taking it off from our blessed Lord, in a rude manner, afforded new matter of sport to the insolent soldiers, as it must have caused very sensible pain to the Lord Jesus, by tearing open his stripes and wounds. So dearly did it cost the Son of God to recover for us the original garment of spotless innocence! Oh, that we may never put on our apparel, without thinking of this painful unclothing of our blessed Saviour! Certainly, such a consideration must be a powerful check to suppress in us all proud, wanton, and aspiring thoughts.
The Lord Jesus being again clothed in his own raiment, the cross was laid on his shoulders; and thus was he obliged himself to carry that heavy piece of timber on which he was to be crucified, to Golgotha. It was a custom among the Romans, that the criminal who was to be crucified, usually carried his own cross to the place of execution. But as the cross consisted of a long beam of timber, and a short transverse piece, the criminal, in carrying the cross, had his arms extended, and the transverse piece fastened to them; while the long beam was laid on his back parallel to his body, so that he dragged the lower end of it after him on the ground. To this the blessed Jesus alludes, when he forewarns Peter, that he should one day be crucified; When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shalt gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest
not,' (John xxi. 18.) And in this manner, we may suppose that Jesus was obliged to carry his cross. His extended arms were bound to the transverse beam, so that he was forced to exert all his strength in order to drag the whole cross after him. Thus, as St. John observes, he went forth bearing his cross. He had from his childhood bore it on his heart; but now he first bears it on his sacred shoulders, while pain and ignominy attend his weary steps in this mournful walk. How often must our blessed Savi, our's knees, already so spent and enfeebled as to be scarce able to bear his own body, have sunk under this oppressive weight! At the same time, to drag after him that instrument of punishment on which he was to be crucified, as an aborrence and execration to all the people, was a circumstance of the most sensible reproach and ignominy. Oh, the inconceivable depth of the humiliation of the Son of God, who goes forth in the appearance of a wretched slave condemned to death, and bearing his own cross! Nay, this was the more painful to our blessed Saviour, who was the surety of mankind, as it was a peculiar punishment of sin; so that on this cross he was to become a curse for us, to be forsaken of God, and as it were to taste the bitterness of eternal death. From this circumstance of our Saviour's passion, we shall deduce the following truths:
1. The mournful walk of our blessed Lord to the place of his crucifixion, has been productive of many comforts and blessings to mankind.
Every step in this painful walk was marked with blood; but at the same time, every step dropped down comfort to our souls. Many painful, weary steps did the blessed Jesus take in his sufferings for our sake; but all would have availed us nothing, had he not determined on this last sorrowful walk. We were all under sentence of death; and this sentence could no other way be reversed, than by our Mediator's suffering himself to be led to death in our stead.
To this he has submitted to the most chearful wil.
2. Nothing can make a christian more willingly and chearfully take up his cross, than the consideration that his Lord and Saviour bore the cross before him.
Who will now refuse to take upon him the cross, when he sees the Creator of the heavens bending under the weight of his cross on the earth? When a person of such a transcendent dignity, whose love to mankind was so great, sets us the example, and calls to us saying, Whosoever will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me,' it would be the basest crime to refuse it, if we should be required to
bear it for his sake. Whoever seriously considers that the eternal Son of God, who upholds all things by his powerful word, who always dwelt in the regions of bliss, and had dominion over innumerable hosts of adoring angels, should humble himself so low; should put his shoulders under the ignominious cross for his sake, that he might be delivered from the curse of God, and crowned with eternal blessings; will be ashamed of his timorousness and ingratitude in avoiding the cross, will humbly implore his Redeemer, and say with courage and resolution, While I live, will I follow thee, and bear thy cross. If therefore we would have comfort in the cross of the blessed Jesus, we must necessarily resolve to enter into fellowship with him, both by the inward crucifixion of the flesh, and by outwardly taking upon us the reproach of Christ. Now as the Lord Jesus suffered internally and externally, both in soul and body; so must his followers taste of both kinds of sufferings in some degree, and bring themselves to a willing resignation to bear the cross. For these are our blessed Saviour's own words: Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and follow after me, cannot be my disciple,' (Luke xiv. 27.) If we are sometimes exempt from reproach and persecution, we are to shew ourselves the more faithful, by daily crucifying the old man with its af fections and lusts, and by submitting to any inward sufferings, which it may please God to lay upon us.
II. We come now, in the second place, to consider the company which attended the Lord Jesus to Golgotha, or the place of a skull. A multitude of people were got together on this occasion, which generally happens even when common malefactors are carried to execution. Curiosity brought many of them; others came out of a malicious desire of entertaining their eyes with the pains and sufferings of Jesus of Nazareth. Others again were drawn to the place by different views. Nevertheless the love of God, from this attendance of the people, produced
a salutary effect. The consequence of it was this, that they returned home in a quite different temper and disposition of mind, from that with which they had set out. For when they came to see the extraordinary miracles which followed our Saviour's death, St. Luke informs us, that All the people who came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned,' (Luke xxiii. 48.) Thus a blessing attends our attending on the Lord Jesus, and adherence to him; though at first it may not proceed from a heart entirely free from guile.
Besides this mixed multitude of the people, there were in particular two malefactors led in company with the Lord Jesus, in order to be crucified with him. It appears from the accounts of the Evangelists, that these malefactors were murderers and robbers; crucifixion being the punishment of those crimes among the Romans. These notorious criminals, Pilate, the Roman governor, seems to have reserved for the feast of the Passover; that by execu ting them before an extraordinary concourse of peo, ple, who were at Jerusalem on account of the feast, a greater number might take warning by their example. It is probable that these murderers were of the number of the seditious persons, who at that time swarmed in Judea, and declared against any subjection to the Roman governor, under pretence that a Jew was to acknowledge no other sovereign but God; and possibly they might have been among those, who were taken with Barabbas in an insurrection, (Mark xv. 7.) As our blessed Lord was also accused of rebellion and high treason, the governor ordered that he should be carried to execution with the other revolters, that they who were supposed to be guilty of the same crime might together suffer the same punish
The Lord Jesus by descending so low, and thus debasing himself so as to be put to the level with