Categories
Excerpts

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.

Categories
Excerpts

Jesus Suffered for Our Sins

Jesus Christ did feel and suffer the wrath of God which was due unto us for our sins. The prophet Isaiah, chap. 53:4, saith, ‘That he was plagued and smitten of God’; and ver. 5, ‘The chastisement of our peace was upon him.’ To be plagued and smitten of God is to feel and suffer the stroke of his wrath; and so to be chastised of God, as to make peace with God or to appease him, is so to suffer the wrath of God as to satisfy God and to remove it. And truly how Christ should possibly escape the feeling of the wrath of God incensed against our sins, he standing as a surety for us with our sins laid upon him, and for them fully to satisfy the justice of God, is not Christianly or rationally imaginable.

And whereas some do object that Christ was always the beloved of his Father, and therefore could never be the object of God’s wrath:
I answer, By distinguishing of the person of Christ, whom his Father always loved, and as sustaining our sins, and in our room standing to satisfy the justice of God; and as so the wrath of God fell upon him and he bore it, and so satisfied the justice of God, that we thereby are now delivered from wrath through him. So the apostle, Rom. 5:9, ‘Much more, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath by him;’ 1 Thes. 1:10, ‘And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.’

Thomas Brooks
The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1867), 5:101.
Categories
Excerpts

The Sufferings of Christ Melt the Believer’s Heart

The sufferings of Christ are exceedingly powerful, to melt believers’ hearts into godly sorrow.

The eye of faith is a precious eye; and according to its various aspects upon Christ, it produceth various effects upon the hearts of men. Eyeing Christ as our complete righteousness; so it pacifies and quiets the heart: Eyeing him as our pattern; so it directs and regulates our actions: Eyeing him as a sacrifice offered up to divine justice for our sin; so it powerfully thaws the heart, and melts the affections.

By meltings, I do not only understand tears; as if they only were expressive of all spiritual sorrow: For it is possible, the waters of sorrow may run deep in the heart, when the eye cannot yield a drop.

There be two things in repentance; trouble and tears. The first is essential, the last contingent. The first flows from the influence of faith upon the soul; the last much depends upon the temper and constitution of the body. It is a mercy, when our tears can flow from a heart filled with sorrow for sin, and love to Christ; yet it often falls out, that there is an heavy heart, where the eyes are dry. But that there is efficacy in faith to melt the heart, by looking upon the sufferings of Christ for sin, is undoubted.

How is it so powerful an instrument to this end?

  1. Faith eyes the dignity of the person of Christ, who was pierced for us; how excellent and glorious a person he is. … Here, by faith, the believer sees the Prince of the kings of the earth, the only begotten of the Father, equal to God, in nature and dignity, He, whom all the angels worship, hanging dead upon the cursed tree. Faith sees royal blood, the blood of God poured out by the sword of justice, for satisfaction and reconciliation; and this cannot but deeply affect the believing soul.
  2. Faith eyes the severity of divine justice charged against Jesus Christ, and the extremity of his sufferings; and this sight is a melting sight. The apostle tells us that he was made a curse and execration for us (Galatians 3:13). It relates to the kind and manner of his death upon the cross, which was the death of a slave: A freeman was privileged from that punishment. It looks upon, and well considers the sad plight and condition Christ was in, in the days of his humiliation for us. It is said of him in Matthew 26:28 that he was surrounded with griefs; exactly answerable to his name, as “a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). Let him look which way he would, outward or inward, upward or downward, to friends or enemies; he could behold nothing but sorrow, and what might increase his misery. Another evangelist saith, he was sore amazed (Mark 14:33). The word notes such a consternation, as makes the hair of the head stand upright. A third tells us, his soul was troubled (John 12:27). Here is a word from whence hell is derived; and denoting the anguish and troubles of them that are in that place of torment. And the fourth tells us, he was in an agony (Luke 23:44); all expressing in several emphatical notions and metaphors, the extremity of Christ’s anguish and torment. This cannot but greatly affect and break the believer’s heart.
  3. But then that which most affects the heart, is Christ’s undergoing all this, not only in love to us, but in our room and stead. He suffered not for any evil he had done, for there was no guile found in his mouth (Isaiah 53:4-5). But the just suffered for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). It was for me, a vile, wretched, worthless sinner. It was my pride, my earthliness, the hardness of my heart, the corruption of my nature, the innumerable evils of my life, that brought him down to the dust of death: “He was made sin for us, who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Who can believingly eye Christ, as suffering such pains, such wrath, such a curse, in the room of such a sinner, such a rebel, so undeserving, and so ill-deserving a creature, and not mourn as for an only son, and be in bitterness as for a first-born?
  4. Faith melts the heart, by considering the effects and fruits of the sufferings of Christ, what great things he hath purchased by his stripes and blood for poor sinners; a full and final pardon of sin, a well-settled peace with God, a sure title and right to the eternal inheritance; and all this for thee, a law condemned, a self-condemned sinner. Lord, what am I, that such mercies as these should be purchased by such a price for me? For me, when thousands and ten thousands of sweeter dispositions must burn in hell for ever! Oh, what manner of love is this!
  5. Faith melts the heart, by exerting a threefold act upon Christ crucified: (1) A realizing act, representing all this in the greatest certainty and evidence that can be. These are no devised fables, but the sure and infallible reports of the gospel. (2) An applying act; “He loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). “He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). (3) By an inferring or reasoning act. If Christ died for me, then I shall never die: If his blood were paid down for me, then my sins, which are many, are forgiven me: If he was condemned in my room, I am acquitted, and shall be saved from wrath to come, through him. O how weighty do these thoughts prove to believing souls!

—John Flavel
Adapted from Works, 6:441–443.

Categories
Excerpts

Sweetness of the Troubled Christ

“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” (John 12:27-28)

This holy soul, thus troubled, was like the earth before the fall, out of which grew roses, without thorns or thistles, before it was cursed. Christ’s anger, his sorrow, were flowers that smelled of heaven, and not of sin: all his affections of fear, sorrow, sadness, hope, joy, love, desire, were like a fountain of liquid and melted silver; of which the banks, the head-spring, are all as clear from dross, as pure crystal: such a fountain can cast out no clay, no mud, no dirt. When his affections did rise and swell in their acts, every drop of the fountain was sinless, perfumed and adorned with grace; so as the more you stir or trouble a well of rose-water, or some precious liquor, the more sweet a smell it casts out: or, as when a summer soft wind bloweth on a field of sweet roses, it diffuseth precious and delicious smells through the air. There is such mud and dregs in the bottom and banks of our affections, that when our anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, do arise in their acts, our fountain casteth out sin. We cannot love, but we lust; nor fear, but we despair; nor rejoice, but we are wanton, and vain and gaudy; nor believe, but we presume: we rest up, we breathe out sin, we cast out a smell of hell, when the wind bloweth on our field of weeds and thistles; our soul is all but a plat of wild corn, the imaginations of our heart being only evil from our youth. O that Christ would plant some of his flowers in our soul, and bless the soil, that they might grow kindly there, being warmed and nourished with his grace! If grace be within, in sad pressures it comes out. A saint is a saint in affliction; as an hypocrite is an hypocrite, and every man is himself, and casts a smell like himself, when he is in the furnace. Troubled Christ prays. Tempted Job believes, Job 19:25. The scourged Apostles rejoice, Acts 5:41.

—Samuel Rutherford
Christ Dying, and Drawing Sinners to Himself (Glasgow: Niven, Napier & Khull, 1803), 4–5.

Categories
Excerpts

The Sufferings of Christ

Christ was to make satisfaction by suffering all that we were to suffer. We are cursed, therefore Christ was made a curse (Gal. 3:13). We were to endure the wrath of God, therefore he bore our griefs (Isa. 53:4). We are to blame, and deserve shame, therefore he would undergo that, and suffer in his credit and honour. Our reproach is taken away, because Christ would take it upon himself: he was ‘the reproach of men’ (Ps. 22:6). We were sinners, and therefore Christ is called a murderer, a thief, a blasphemer, one that had a devil. This was a circumstance that commended the greatness of the satisfaction. What greater satisfaction could we expect or desire than that Christ, who is holiness itself, should not only suffer, but suffer under ignominies—that innocency itself should suffer as a malefactor? This made the sufferings of Christ exceeding great and valuable. Christ would lay aside all his glory, pleasure, and honour, and sacrifice everything for the good of the creature. You have the life of God, and the honour of God, and all. There is nothing that God prizeth so much as his honour, and Christ would suffer that God’s honour might not be obscured by these imputations, but repaired.

—Thomas Manton
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 3:478.