Series: The Suffering Savior: Meditations on the Last Days of Christ by F. W. Krummacher (1796-1868)
[learn_more caption=”Introduction and Preface”] CMC Editor’s Note: In the following preface are the words of F.W. Krummacher introducing his readers to his work. It is our intention to post all fifty three of his meditations. Krummacher is regarded as one of Germany’s greatest preachers and was often compared to Great Britain’s C.H. Spurgeon. The reader will learn much of Christ through this series of devotional meditations on the final scenes in the life of Christ on earth. The printed work (first published 1854) has been described as the greatest single volume of the entire nineteenth century on the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry. The meditations are structured around the Old Testament tabernacle. It’s our prayer that you will be richly blessed his writings.
In the following meditations I trust I have succeeded in displaying to my readers at least a portion of those riches which are contained in the inexhaustible treasury of our Savior’s sufferings. Unmutilated scriptural truth, such as I believe I promulgate, still finds a favorable reception in the world, which I have been permitted to experience in the most gratifying manner. I mention it, solely to the praise of God, and for the satisfaction of those who are like-minded, that my writings, or at least a part of them, are, as I hear, already translated into English, French, Dutch, Swedish, and as I am assured, though I cannot vouch for the fact, into the Danish language also. My “Elijah the Tishbite” has even appeared in a Chinese attire. But that which is of greater importance, is the news I am constantly receiving of the manifold blessing which the Lord of his great and unmerited favor has bestowed upon my labors. That in his condescension and loving-kindness, He would also deign to bless this my most recent work is so much the more my heartfelt wish and ardent prayer, since it has for its subject the chief supporting pillar of the whole church—the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The division of the work into the “Outer Court,” the “Holy Place,” and the “Most Holy Place,” is intended merely to point out the different stages of the Redeemer’s sufferings, from their commencement to their close, but by no means to attach a less or greater importance to them. Had the latter been the case, I would naturally have assigned the institution of the Lord’s Supper its appropriate place in the “Most Holy Place,” instead of the “Outer Court.” But in the plan of this volume, it falls among the class of events, which immediately precede the propitiatory work of the Mediator.
~ F. W. Krummacher [/learn_more]
THE HOLY PLACE
Meditation – XVI
Christ Before Annas
“First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.”
— John 18:13
The armed band have executed their object, with regard to Christ, and the Eleven, perceiving it, have fled to the right and left. A young man who also belonged to the little flock, and resided near, having heard the tumult, in holy indignation against the banditti, had hastened from his couch to the revolting scene, in his night-dress. But no sooner was he observed by the mercenaries, than he was laid hold of, and only escaped from bonds and probably even death, by leaving in their hands his linen covering, and fleeing away naked. This little circumstance is related by one of the Evangelists, doubtless in order to point out and excuse the flight of the disciples, as rendered imperative by the most imminent danger.
Surrounded by a bristling forest of swords and spears, the Lord Jesus suffered his hands to be bound, like a captive robber, by a troop of crude mercenaries, in the name of public justice. Think of those hands being bound which were never extended except to heal and aid, to benefit and save, and never to injure, except it be considered as a crime to uncover to mankind their wounds, in order to heal and bind them up; to destroy the Babels of delusion, and in their place to erect the temple of truth; and to pull down the altars of false gods, in order to make room for that of the only true God.
Jesus bound! What a spectacle!
How many a prophetic type of the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in this fact! If you inquire for the antitype of Isaac, when bound by his father as a lamb for a burnt offering; or for that of the ram on Mount Moriah, which was caught in the thicket because God had destined it for the sacrifice; or of the sacred ark of the covenant, when it had fallen into the hands of the Philistine, only, however, to cast down the idols of the latter; or of that of Jacob’s son, arrested and imprisoned in Egypt, whose path lay through the company of criminals, to almost regal dignity and crowns of honor; or for that of the paschal lambs, which, before being slaughtered for the sins of the people, were accustomed to be tied up to the threshold of the temple; or finally, for that of the captive Samson, who derided Delilah’s band, and came forth victoriously from the conflict with the Philistines—all these types and shadows found their entire fulfillment in Jesus, thus bound, as their embodied original and antitype.
Jesus bound! Can we trust our eyes? Omnipotence in fetters, the Creator bound by the creature; the Lord of the world, the captive of his mortal subjects! How much easier would it have been for him to have burst those bonds than Manoah’s son of old! However, he rends them not; but yields himself up to them as one who is powerless and overcome. This his passive deportment must have for its basis a great and sublime intention. And such is really the case, as we have already seen.
Behold them marching off in triumph with their captive.
They conduct him first to Annas, the previous high priest, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, a sinner of a hundred years old. But why first to him? Perhaps out of compliment to the old man, who probably wished to see the fanatic of Nazareth. His being brought before him, however, seems to have been the result of a secret arrangement between him and his son-in-law; and he, the old Sadducee, was perhaps more deeply interested in the whole affair with Jesus than outwardly appears to be the case. The preliminary hearing, which now commenced, was doubtless instituted by him, and not by Caiaphas. Even the irregular course which it takes, places this beyond a doubt. What appears in the Gospels to contradict this assumption, loses all its importance, as soon as we suppose—for which there is sufficient reason—that Annas was residing in the high priestly palace with his son-in-law.
Thus, the Lord stands at the bar of his first judge—one of those miserable men, of whom, alas! not a few are to be found among us, and who, “twice dead,” estranged from the truth of God, and satisfied with the most common-place occurrences of life, think of nothing better, but treat the most sublime things at least only as a spectacle; and in their perfect unsusceptibility for everything that is divine, visibly bear on their fore heads the brandmark of the curse. Certainly, it was not one of the least of the sufferings of the Holy One of Israel to see himself delivered into the hands of such a man, so destitute of every noble feeling. And only look how the hoary-headed sinner domineers over and puffs himself up against the Lord of Glory, although he is not even the actual high priest, and while he was so, presented only an airy shadow of the true High Priest, who, Priest and King at the same time, stands now before him, in the person of the captive Nazarene!
Jesus, however, endures with resignation all the indignities to which he is subjected, and we know for what reason he does so. We are acquainted with the mysterious position he occupies, in which, he not only shows us, by his own example, that his kingdom is not of this world, and that honor is something different from what the world is accustomed to characterize by that name, but also that he fills it as our Surety, whom it became to present, to the Eternal Father, the sublime virtues of a perfect self-denial and resignation in our stead, and in opposition to our ungodly self-exaltation.
Annas proceeds with the hearing of the case, and interrogates our Lord respecting his disciples and his doctrine. He hopes that the statements of Jesus may enable him to bring an accusation against the former as a politically dangerous association, and against the latter as being a wicked and blasphemous heresy. In his questions, he is presumptuous enough to treat our Lord as the disguised head of a party, and a secret plotter, notwithstanding that he brought forward his cause in the most public manner, and walked every where in broad daylight. But the world still acts like Annas. Because it will not acknowledge that we possess the real and eternal truth of God: it stamps the latter as heretical, and brands us as a sect.
The world cannot bear that believers should call themselves “true Christians,” and never fails to attach some opprobrious epithet to them. However boldly we may preach our doctrine, and however completely we may prove that we confess and believe nothing else than what the whole Christian Church has believed and professed before us, and for which the noblest and most excellent of men in every age have blissfully lived and died—yet the world persists in maintaining that our faith is only the religion of conventicles, and we ourselves only narrow-minded fanatics. It strives, by these artful suspicions, to keep the truth, with its goads and nails, far from it, and thus to give its ungodly and carnal proceedings at least a semblance of correctness.
The Lord answers the old priest’s questions regarding his doctrine; for it was less requisite here to defend the honor of his person than that of his cause, which was, at the same time, the cause of God, and which he, therefore, felt called upon to vindicate. He also wished to make it clearly known throughout all ages, that he was condemned and crucified solely because of his asserting his Divine Sonship. “I spoke,” says he, “openly to the world”—that is, “I opened my mouth boldly.” Yes, in all that he spoke, the profound assurance and powerful conviction of being the Lord from heaven, who revealed that which he had himself seen and handled, was perceptible; not like the wise men after the flesh, who defend their propositions with many proofs and arguments against possible objections; but as knowing that he who was of the truth would hear his voice, and acknowledge his word to be the word of the living God. Nor did he deceive himself with reference to this.
To this day, when any one is delivered from the snare of the devil, and attains to the knowledge of his necessities, he needs no other proof of the truth of the words of Jesus; since his heart hears them as if spoken direct from heaven, and discovers between the language of Jesus and the most intellectual discourses of mere mortals, a gulf of difference so immense, that it is incomprehensible to him that he did not long before perceive it.
The Lord Jesus continues: “I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where the Jews always resort.”
He had done so, and no one had ever been able to prove that he had taught anything which was not in strict accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures, and did not most beautifully harmonize with the nature and being of a holy God. The Masters in Israel were compelled, by his discourses, mutely to lay down their arms. Why then does Annas inquire respecting his doctrine? An expositor well observes here, that “We may discern in Jesus all the marks of a true teacher—confidence, which delivers its testimony before the whole world; persevering continuance in that testimony at all times; and a siding with existing divine and human ordinances.”
“In secret have I said nothing,” says the Lord Jesus further. No, not even that which was enigmatical, obscure, and mysterious, much of which was explained only in the course of centuries, while other things remain, to this hour, partially closed and sealed to us, and await their elucidation. He knew that these things would long be inexplicable to his people; but this did not hinder him from uttering them. This is another proof that he was clearly conscious that his doctrine was divine, and would therefore continue to the end of time.
“Why ask you me?”—says our Lord in conclusion—”Ask them which heard me what I have said unto them; behold, they know what I have said.” How could the Lord testify more strongly to the purity and divinity of his doctrine, than by calling upon his judge to summon before him all those, either friends or foes, who had ever heard him speak, and ask them if they were able to say anything against him which might furnish ground for accusation. Nor to the present day does he show any witnesses, but appeals as before, on behalf of his cause, to all who hear and receive his word; and these unanimously, from their own conviction, confirm it, and will ever do so, that the doctrine of Jesus is of God, and that he has not spoken of himself.
While the Lord is speaking, one of the servants of the high priest rises up and smites him on the face, while saying, “Answer you the high priest so?” From this circumstance, we may perceive what is intended with respect to Jesus. This first maltreatment gave the signal for all that followed. It did not escape the servant how completely his master was embarrassed by the simple reply of the accused; and this crude blow was the only and final means which presented itself of rescuing him from his painful and disgraceful dilemma. The fellow well knew that it would be allowed him—no, that he would only rise by it in the favor of his master; and thus the feeling of the family reflected itself, as is often the case, in the soul of the menial who wore its livery.
It was horrible to act thus toward the Lord from heaven.
For this very crime alone, which must not be placed to the account of a single individual, but to our corrupt human nature, to the guilty race of Adam, it was fit that hell should open its mouth and swallow it up, as the pit formerly did Korah and his company. But Jesus came not to hasten our perdition, but to prevent it. We therefore do not behold the wicked man scathed by lightning from heaven, nor his hand withered, like that of Jeroboam, on his stretching it out to smite; nor that the deeply insulted Jesus threatens or reviles, but resignedly endures the injury, which his holy soul must have felt more painfully than his body, while gently reproving the worthless man, and thus again fulfilling that which had long before been predicted of him, “Then I restored what I took not away.”
“Answer you the high priest so?” As if the Lord, who knew better than any one else what was becoming in his converse with mankind, had infringed upon reverence due to the sacerdotal dignity. But how often are we treated in a similar manner, when the truth which we proclaim to the men of the world can no longer be assailed. We are then called bold, presumptuous, obstinate, etc. And woe to us completely, when we presume to abide firmly by our belief before dignitaries and superiors, and refuse to deviate from the truth! How does hypocritical zeal for the preservation of the honor of authority start up against us, and how pompously it calls out to us, “Answer you the high priest so?” while it would also gladly smite us on the cheek. But what is left for us, in such situations, except to make use of our Master’s own words, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smite you me?”
How overpowering was this speech to both master and servant! It was like the stroke of a hammer, driving the sting of their evil conscience still deeper into the marrow. The blow on the cheek, with its accompanying brutal language, was only a clear proof that the miserable men felt themselves unable to bring anything of a culpable nature against the Lord. By acting thus, they only smote themselves in the face, since by their conduct they made it evident how deeply and painfully they had felt the truth.
Thus our Lord and Master came forth perfectly justified from this first examination, and the high priest and his satellites were covered with disgrace. In their fate we see reflected that of all those who dare to lift the shield against the Lord’s cause, which, through the power of inward truth, victoriously repels every attack. Whatever may be planned and undertaken against it, it invariably comes forth like the sun shining in the mists of the valley, and calmly looks down on all opposition and gainsaying as upon vanquished enemies.
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