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Jesus’ Murderer

There was a day, as I took my walks abroad, when I came hard by a spot for ever engraved upon my memory, for there I saw this friend my best, my only friend, murdered. I stooped down in sad affright and looked at him. He was basely murdered. I saw that his hands had been pierced with rough iron nails, and his feet had been rent with the same. There was misery in his dead countenance so terrible that I scarcely dared to look upon it. His body was emaciated with hunger, his back was red with bloody scourges, and his brow had a circle of wounds about it: clearly could one see that these had been pierced by thorns. I shuddered, for I had known this friend full well.

He never had a fault; he was the purest of the pure, the holiest of the holy. Who could have injured him? For he never injured any man: all his life long he “went about doing good;” he had healed the sick, he had fed the hungry, he had raised the dead: for which of these works did they kill him? He had never breathed out anything else but love. And as I looked into the poor sorrowful face so full of agony and yet so full of love, I wondered who could have been a wretch so vile us to pierce hands like his.

I said within myself “Where live these traitors? Where can they live? Who are these that could have smitten such an one as this?” Had they murdered an oppressor we might have forgiven them; had they slain one who had indulged in vice or villainy, it might have been his due desert; had it been a murderer and a rebel, or one who had committed sedition, we would have said, “Bury his corpse: justice has at last given him his due.” But when thou wast slain, my best, my only beloved, where lodged the traitors? Let me seize them, and they shall be put to death. If there be torments that I can devise, surely they shall endure them all.

Oh! what jealousy; what revenge I felt! If I might but find these murderers what would I do with them! And as I looked upon that corpse I heard a footstep, and wondered where it was. I listened, and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at hand. It was dark, and I groped about to find him. I found that somehow or other wherever I put my hand I could not meet with him, for he was nearer to me than my hand would go. At last I put my hand upon my breast. “I have thee now,” said I; for lo! he was in my own heart; the murderer was hiding within my own bosom, dwelling in the recesses of my inmost soul. Ah! then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered Master, should be harbouring the murderer; and I felt myself most guilty while I bowed over his corpse and sung that plaintive hymn:

‘Twere you my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were:
Each of my crimes became a nail
And unbelief the spear.

Revenge! revenge! Ye that fear the Lord, and love his name, take vengeance on your sins, and hate all evil.

— Charles H. Spurgeon
The Metropolitan Tabernacle (Banner of Truth Trust, 1876), Ps 97:10.