April 6, 2007
'Twas a Historic Week: The Crucifixion
Out of necessity, we skip 35 chapters of Krummacher's excellent book of meditations to get to Chapter 41, The Crucifixion, on this day. Again, my apologies for selectively choosing from this chapter. I don't know about you, but my heart is always heavy on this day of the year, even with Sunday's celebration in view. Grace & peace. Steve
"'The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.' Let these words of the prophet Habakkuk be the language of our hearts on entering into the Most Holy Place of the Gospel history.
"The most solemn of all days in Israel was, as we well know, the great day of atonement, the only day in the year on which the high priest entered into the most holy place in the Temple. Before he approached that mysterious sanctuary, the law enjoined that he should divest himself of his costly garments, and clothe himself from head to foot in a plain white linen dress. He then took the vessel with the sacrificial blood in his hand, and, thrilling with sacred awe, drew back the veil, in order, humbly and devoutly, to approach the throne of grace, and sprinkle the atoning blood. He remained no longer in the sacred place than sufficed to perform his priestly office. He then came out again to the people, and, in Jehovah's name, announced grace and forgiveness to every penitent soul.
"We shall now see this symbolical and highly significant act realized in its full and actual accomplishment. The immaculate Jesus, of whom the whole Old Testament priesthood, according to the divine intention, was only a typical shadow, conceals Himself behind the thick veil of an increasing humiliation and agony; that bearing in His hands His own blood. He may mediate for us with God His Father. He realizes and accomplishes all that Moses included in the figurative service of the tabernacle. The precise manner in which this was accomplished we shall never entirely fathom with our intellectual powers; but it is certain that He then finally procured our eternal redemption.....
"After having unclothed the Lord, and left Him, by divine direction, only His crown of thorns, they lay Him down on the wood on which He is to bleed; and thus, without being aware of it, bring about the moment predicted in Psalm 22, where we hear the Messiah saying, 'Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me about; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.' O what a dying bed for the King of kings! My friends, as often as we repose on the downy cushions of divine peace, or blissfully assemble in social brotherly circles, singing hymns of hope, let us not forget that the cause of the happiness we enjoy is solely to be found in the fact that the Lord of Glory once extended Himself on the fatal tree for us.
"Oh, see Him lie! His holy arms forcibly stretched out upon the cross-beam; His feet laid upon each other and bound with cords. Thus Isaac once lay on the wood on Mount Moriah. But the voice that then called out of heaven, saying, 'Lay not thine hand upon the lad!' is silent on Calvary. The executioners seize the hammer and nails. But who can bear to look upon what further occurs! The horrible nails from the forge of hell, yet foreseen the sanctuary of eternity, are placed on the hands and feet of the righteous Jesus, and the heavy strokes of the hammer fall. Dost thou hear the sound? They thunder on thy heart, testifying in horrible language of thy sin, and at the same time of the wrath of Almighty God. Oh, how many sleepers have awakened from their sleep of death under the echo of those strokes, and have escaped from Satan's snare! Awake also thou that art asleep in sin, and rouse thyself likewise, thou who are lulling thyself in carnal security! How many a proud and haughty heart has been broken into salutary repentance by those strokes! Oh, why does not thy heart also break? For know that thou didst aid in swinging those hammers; and that the most crying and impious act which the world ever committed is charged to thy account.
"See, the nails have penetrated through, and from both hands and feet gushes forth the blood of the Holy One. O these nails have rent the rock of salvation for us, that it may pour forth the water of life; have torn the heavenly bush of balm that it may send forth its perfume. Yes, they have pierced the handwriting that was against us, and have nailed it to the tree; and by wounding the Just One, have penetrated through the head of the old serpent. O let no one be deceived with respect to Him who was thus nailed to the cross! Those pierced hands bless more powerfully than while they moved freely and unfettered. They are the hands of a wonderful Architect who is building the frame of an eternal Church - yea, they are the hands of a Hero, which take from the strong man all his spoil. And believe me, there is no help of salvation, save in these hands; and these bleeding feet tread more powerfully than when no fetters restrained their steps. Nothing springs or blooms in the world, except beneath the prints of these feet. The most dreadful deed is done, and the prophetic words of the Psalm, 'They pierced my hands and my feet,' have received their fulfilment. The foot of the cross is then brought near to the hole dug for it; powerful men seize the rope attached to the top of it, and begin to draw, and the cross, with its victim, elevates itself and rises to its height. Thus the earth rejects the Prince of Life from its surface, and, as it seems, heaven also refuses Him. But we will let the curtain drop over these horrors. Thank God! in that scene of suffering the Sun of Grace rises over a sinful world, and the Lion of Judah ascends into the region of the spirits that have the power of the air in order, in a mysterious conflict, eternally to disarm them on our behalf.
"Look what a spectacle now presents itself! The moment the cross is elevated to its height, a crimson stream falls from the wounds of the crucified Jesus. This is His legacy to His Church. We render Him thanks for such a bequest. It falls upon spiritual deserts, and they blossom as the rose. We sprinkle it upon the door-posts of our hearts, and are secure against destroyers and avenging angels. Where this rain falls, the gardens of God spring up, lilies bloom, and what was black becomes white in the purifying stream, and what was polluted becomes pure as the light of the sun. There is no possibility of flourishing without it, no growth nor verdure, but every where desolation, barrenness, and death.
"There stands the mysterious cross - a rock against which the very waves of the curse break. He who so mercifully engaged to direct this judgment against Himself hangs yonder in profound darkness. Still He remains the Morning Star, announcing an eternal Sabbath to the world. Though rejected by heaven and earth, yet He forms the connecting link between them both, and the Mediator of their eternal and renewed amity. Ah see! His bleeding arms are extended wide; He stretches them out to every sinner. His hands point to the east and west; for He shall gather His children from the ends of the earth. The top of the cross is directed toward the sky; far above the world will its effects extend. Its foot is fixed in the earth; the cross becomes a wondrous tree, from which we reap the fruit of an eternal reconciliation. O, nothing more is requisite, than that God should grant us penitential tears, and then, by means of the Holy Spirit, show us the Saviour suffering on the cross. We then escape from all earthly care and sorrow, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. For our justification in His sight, nothing more is requisite than that, in the consciousness of our utter helplessness, we lay hold on the horns of that altar which is sprinkled with the blood that 'speaketh better things than that of Abel.' and the Man of Sorrows displays to us the fullness of His treasures, and bestows upon us, in a superabundant degree, the blessing of the patriarch Jacob on his son Joseph: - 'The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.'
"There stands erected the standard of the new covenant, which, when it is understood, spreads terror around it no less than delight, and produces lamentation no less than joy and rejoicing. It stands to this day, and will stand forever. And wherever it is displayed, it is surrounded by powerful manifestations and miraculous effects. Look how the missionary fields become verdant, and a spring-time of the Spirit extends itself over the heathen deserts! Hark how the harps of peace resound from the isles of the sea; and behold how, between the icebergs of the north, the hearts begin to glow with the fire of divine love! From whence these changes? these resurrection-wonders? From whence this shaking in the valley of dry bones? The cross is carried through the land, and beneath its shade the soil becomes verdant and the dead revive.
"'I am crucified with Christ,' exclaims the apostle, and by these words points out the entire fruit which the cross bears for all believers. His meaning is, 'They are not His sins, for which the curse is there endured, but mine; for He who thus expires on the cross, dies for me. Christ pays and suffers in my stead.' But that of which Paul boasts is the property of us all, if by the living bond of faith and love we are become one with the crucified Jesus. We are likewise exalted to fellowship with the cross of Christ in the sense also that our corrupt nature is condemned to death, our old man, with his affections and lusts. We see the cross of Calvary unfold its full and peace-bestowing radiance. It arches itself, like a rainbow, over our darkness, and precedes us on our path of sorrow like a pillar of fire. O that its serene light might always shine upon our path through this vale of tears, and as the tree of liberty and of life, strike deep its roots into our souls! Apprehended by faith, may it shed its heavenly fruit into our lap, and warm and expand our hearts and minds beneath its shade!
From, "The Suffering Saviour: A Series of Devotional Meditations," F.W. Krummacher, first written in 1856, published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004.