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 – XV
The Offering and Sacrifice
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
We shall confine our present meditation to the state of resignation in which we left our great High Priest, at the close of the last chapter. He yields himself up to his adversaries, and suffers them to act with him as they please; and this very circumstance is for us of the greatest and most beneficial importance. His situation is deeply affecting. Imagine, as might actually have been the case, that immediately after the occurrences at Gethsemane a messenger had hastened to Jerusalem to inform his mother Mary of what had just befallen her son, outside the gates of the city. What must have been the feelings of the distressed woman! “What?” she would doubtless have exclaimed, “Has this happened to my child—is he in such a situation who was the best of sons—the Holy One, who is love itself, assaulted like a criminal?—the benefactor of mankind, their tenderly susceptible and gracious Savior, covered with such undeserved disgrace, and in the hands, and even in the fetters of jailors?” It would certainly have seemed to his grieved parent as if she had only dreamed of such horrible things; and on receiving a confirmation of the painful intelligence, can you suppose anything else than that she would entirely lose all command over herself; and burst into loud lamentations and floods of bitter tears?
It is from such a point of view that we ought to contemplate the occurrence at Gethsemane, in order to feel and comprehend it fully. And that you may view it in a still more lively manner, imagine to yourselves with what feelings the holy angel must have witnessed their Lord being thus taken prisoner—they whom the Savior’s humiliation never for a moment prevented from being conscious of his real character and dignity; and who, wherever he went, perceived in him the Lord of Glory and the King of kings, before whose throne they only ventured to approach with veiled faces. Let us realize, if possible, what they must have felt at that moment, when, looking down from the clouds, they saw the High and Lofty One surrounded by the officers, as if he had been the vilest of criminals; the Prince of heaven taken captive with swords and staves; the Judge of the world fettered like a murderer, and then dragged away under the escort of a crowd of ruthless men amid blasphemies and curses, to be put upon his trial! May not a cry of horror have rung through heaven, and the idea have occurred to those holy beings that the measure of human wickedness was now full, and that the day of vengeance on the ungodly earth had arrived? We can so easily forget, in his appearance as a man, whom it is that we have before us in the humbled individual of Nazareth; and it is only now and then that it flashes through our minds who he really is. But then our hearts become petrified with amazement, and we can only fold our hands in silent astonishment.
But however dreadful his position may be, the Savior bears with composure these outrageous proceedings.
He delivers himself up, and to whom?—to the armed band, the officers and servants. But we are witnesses here of another yielding up of himself, and one that is veiled and invisible; and the latter is of incomparably greater importance to us than that which is apparent to the outward senses. Christ here gives himself up to his Father, first, as “an offering” (Ephes. 5:2), and such a one as will doubtless satisfy the Father. How shall we sufficiently appreciate the excellency of this offering? Behold him, then, as One against whom all hell may be let loose without being able to cast the slightest blemish on his innocence; as One who endured the fiercest ordeal without the smallest trace of dross; who boldly withstood the storm of temptation, which only served the more rapidly to perfect his obedience; who, in a state of the most painful inward privations, preserved, unshaken, his love to his Father; and although his Father’s heart seemed turned away from him, yet regarded it, as before, as his meat and drink to do the will of Him who sent him; who, in a situation in which acute agony forced him to sweat blood, could nevertheless pray from the bottom of his heart, that not what he desired, but what the Eternal Father wished and had determined respecting him, might take place. Such is the dazzlingly pure, immutably holy, and severely tested offering, which Christ in his own person presents to the Father.
Regard him now as submitting himself, not only to the disgrace of a public arrest, but also to the fate of a common delinquent, in obedience to his Father’s will. But how willingly does this conviction cause him to descend to such a depth, and unhesitatingly to resign himself into the hands of sinners! Hear him address his enemies. With the majesty, freedom, and sublime composure of One who, far from being overwhelmed by that which befalls him, marks out himself the path on which he is to walk, and who, in accordance with his Father’s counsel, ordains his fate himself; he says to the multitude, and especially to their leaders, the chief priests, and the captains of the Jewish temple-guard, and to the elders, the assessors of the Sanhedrin, who, in the heat of their enmity to Jesus, had come out with the intention of encouraging the captors by their presence, “Are you come out as against a thief, with swords and staves to take me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you laid no hold on me, nor stretched forth your hands against me.”
Our Lord, by these words, intends, first, that they shall serve as a testimony, not merely to those that heard them, but also to the whole world, that he was led guiltless to the slaughter, and that the shadow, which Peter’s smiting with the sword might have cast upon him and his adherents, was entirely dispelled; and next, that no power on earth would have been able to overcome him, had he not, when his hour was come, voluntarily yielded up himself in free submission to his Father’s will. Until he had completed his ministerial office, no enemy dared to touch him. Nor had they been able to discover anything in him which might have enabled them to prosecute him. The invisible barrier is now removed. “This,” continues the Savior, to the profound confusion of his adversaries, “this is your hour and the power of darkness.” His meaning is, “By an act of the Divine government the chain of Satan has been lengthened, the bridle of hell, whose armor-bearers you manifest yourselves to be, has been removed, that it may do with me as it pleases.” What self-possession and divine composure are in these words! With such unreserved willingness does he yield himself up to the most disgraceful treatment. Not even the slightest feeling of a disturbed or revengeful affection rises up within him against the reprobates. His soul continues in a state of equanimity and serenity, just as if they were not jailers’ assistants, who bound him with cords, but followers and friends, who were winding chaplets for him.
But what benefit do we derive from the fact of Christ’s giving himself up so completely and devotedly to the Father?
The greatest and most beautifying of which thought is capable. Listen! Jehovah says in his law, “You shall not appear before me empty.” Consider, that if we wish to inherit heaven, we cannot do without that, to which salvation is promised as the reward. We now possess it, and the days of our grief and shame are at an end. We may now boldly appear before the Father, and need no longer apprehend anything discouraging from him when we express our desire that he should love us, and open the gates of his palace to us. “But what have we to exhibit to him that is meritorious?” Sufficient, my readers—yes, more than the angels possess. We have, indeed, nothing of our own. In the records of our lives we perceive only transgression and guilt. But God be thanked that we need nothing of our own, and are even interdicted from trusting and depending upon anything of the kind. We are instructed to appeal to the righteousness of another, and this is the living “offering” of which we speak—Christ, with the entire fullness of his obedience in our stead.
If he was accepted so are we, since all that he did and suffered is placed to our account.
For, “as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Those who are in Christ are no longer transgressors in the sight of God, but pure, blameless, and spotless. What a blissful mystery! If you are unable to believe it, grant it, at least, a place in your memory. The hour may come in which you will be able to use it; for we have often had occasion to witness how it has fared at the last with those who supposed themselves among the most pious and holy of mankind. Whatever of a meritorious and approved character they imagined they possessed, nothing remained when the light of eternity and approaching judgment threw its penetrating rays upon their past lives. The splendor of their virtues expired, their gold became dim, and that which they had preserved as real worth, proved only tinsel and valueless.
What is to be done in such a case?
How weave together, in haste, such a righteousness as God requires, and without which no man can enter heaven? What answer are we to make to the accusers that open their mouths against us—Satan, the law, and our own consciences, which say to us, “You are the man?” Really, if we are not to give ourselves up to despair, something which is not ours must be bestowed upon us, which we may offer unto God as the ground of our claim to salvation. The living offering which Christ made of himself can then alone suffice, and that abundantly, to recommend us to God. Possessing this, we no longer need be mute in the presence of our accusers. In Christ, as our Surety, we fulfilled the conditions to which the heavenly inheritance is attached. Henceforth, who will accuse us, who will condemn us? We rejoice with Paul, and say, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Lord Jesus appears in our narrative, not only as an “offering,” but also as a “sacrifice.”
Our sins are imputed to him, and in his sacred humanity he endured what they deserved. Let us, therefore, now consider him in the character of our representative, and the sufferings he endured, and the wrongs he sustained, will then appear in their proper light.
A horrible scene presents itself to my mind, in which every one ought to recognize his own likeness. I see a murderer; for it is written, “He who hates his brother is a murderer.” I perceive a robber; one who is guilty in two respects; toward God, in depriving him; by unbelief and pride, of his glory; and toward his neighbor, whom he has injured by envy or evil-speaking. Thus the curse of the law impends over him, and the divine denunciations attend his steps. A dreadful fate awaits the unhappy mortal—first, an assault in an hour of darkness, and then a dreadful arrest and captivity. He proceeds for a while freely and securely upon his path, and yields obedience to his fleshly lusts fearing no evil. But before he is aware, the sentence is pronounced over him, “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe!” Horrible beings, the one more dreadful than the other, put themselves in motion. The day has disappeared, the night has overtaken the man. The gloom of his dying hour envelops him.
What occurs? In what situation does the miserable being find himself?
Are they ministers of vengeance which surround him? Are they demons and spirits from the pit? He hears the clashing of irons and the clanking of chains and fetters. He finds himself in the power of another, surrounded, seized, and apprehended. He can no longer go where he likes. A horrible guard take him between them, and an iron necessity indicates to him the way that he must take. As long as he sojourned on earth, it was, perhaps, only the flattering voice of applause and commendation that reached his ears. The hour of his accusers now arrives, and he hears on every side the thundering accusation, “You are the man!” Hitherto he had experienced so little annoyance from the powers of darkness that he thought himself at liberty to doubt their existence. They now emerge from their hiding-places, and he learns to believe in the devil, now that he finds himself in his power. For it is he, and his infernal bands, who have fallen upon him, in the midst of his fancied security, in order that they may bind him in chains of darkness, and drag the resisting criminal, with yells of execration, there, where he will be reserved for that burning day, when the Judge of the world will pronounce the final sentence, even the dreadful words, “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!” Such is the horrible future which presents itself to my mind. It is no empty product of a heated imagination, but contains in it real truth and substance; for in this representation we each behold ourselves, as in our natural state, and are conscious of the curse, which, as long as we remain in it, impends over us, and the gloomy fate that awaits us.
But to return to our narrative.
What does it present to us but a picture resembling in every feature that which we have just been contemplating? How wonderful and striking is this circumstance! We see at the entrance to Gethsemane one who would seem to be nothing better than a robber and a murderer. In the dead of night he is set upon by order of the public authorities with swords and spears, surrounded by an armed band, and taken prisoner. And what is the language of the captive? “This,” he exclaims, “is your hour;” by which he means to say, “You, my adversaries, have full liberty to deal with me as you please. Fall upon me, accuse me, disgrace me, and drag me to the scaffold; I am at your mercy.” And then he says further, “This is the power of darkness”—the meaning of which is, “Hell is now granted free access to me, and can do with me as it likes; for by a judicial decision I am given up to its power.” And lo, the man is actually seized, bound like a dangerous malefactor, dragged with crude threats before the bar of judgment, and before long we shall hear him cry, in the deepest distress, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
We here see the same situation and fate as we saw before was the deserved lot of every individual simmer. And who is the man on whom those horrors are poured out? One who is ignorant of it would say “Who can he be but a criminal of the worst description?” And this would be relatively correct. He who is arrested is such a one, and yet, at the same time, “the Holy and the Just.” How this can agree together is intimated by Paul, in the well-known words, “God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteous ness of God in him.”
A blissful and heart-cheering mystery is here presented before us.
If I possess saving faith, I find myself in a peculiar relation to the sufferer at Gethsemane. For know that the horrors he there experienced are not his curse but mine. The Holy and the Just submits himself, representatively, to the fate of the guilty and the damnable; while the latter are forever liberated, and inherit the lot of the holy Son of God. Wonderful and incomparably blissful truth! Our only shield and comfort in life and death!
O you blessed, who belong to Christ, who can worthily describe the glory of your state! We hail the wondrous exchange which the eternal Son of God has made with you. We glorify the Surety and the Liquidator of your debts. Never forget the nocturnal arrest of your High Priest. Paint it, in bright and vivid colors, on the walls of your chambers. If you are again reminded of the curse which your sins had brought upon you, accustom yourselves to regard it only in this sacred picture, where you no longer behold it lying upon you, but upon him, in whose agonies it eternally perished.
Therefore, let not shadows any longer disturb you. There will never be a period in eternity when you will be compelled to say to your enemies and accusers, “Now is your hour and the power of darkness.” Your representative uttered it, once for all, for you; and henceforward only the hour of triumph and delight, which shall never end, awaits you. Peace be with you, therefore, you who are justified by his righteousness, and forever perfected by his one offering! No longer dream of imaginary burdens, but know and never forget that your suit is gained to all eternity. Behold Christ yonder bears your fetters; and nothing more is required of you than to love him with all your heart, and embrace him more and more closely who took your entire anathema upon himself, that you might be able eternally to rejoice and exclaim, “Jehovah Zidkenu—the Lord our Righteousness.”
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