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 – XXII
“The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
the Lord has made them both.”
— Proverbs 20:12
We have now to proceed to the contemplation of a scene which, with regard to its horrible nature, is scarcely paralleled in the whole history of our Savior’s passion. We scarcely know, at first sight, what to say of such a spectacle. We shudder, are horrified, tremble, and look away from such ill-treatment, and, covering our heads, would gladly hasten from the mournful sight, exclaiming, “O my God, who can bear to witness such barbarity!” Let us not, however, hurry away from, but endure it, and throw light upon the revolting scene, which at first appears to us so incomprehensible, by referring to the “sure word of prophecy.” The seemingly impenetrable darkness will then be illumined, and that which is obscure find a consolatory solution.
The sentence is passed upon Jesus. Its import is nothing less than death to the Accused. The judicial assembly, after its first sitting, which began during the night, has been adjourned for a short time, amid wild and triumphant uproar. Meanwhile the Divine Sufferer is given up to the reckless band of officers and spearmen, who shamefully ill-treat him, and they do so the more boldly, because it is done with the assent and for the account of their superiors, aware that they thereby cause the latter satisfaction.
Jesus is now in their power, and he must dearly pay the penalty of his conduct. “But why must he suffer? What has he ever done to offend them?” O how much, notwithstanding his best intentions! Did he not, in his own sacred person, hold up to them a mirror, which presented to them the dark image of their own ungodliness?—and such treatment did not please them. Was not an evident proof afforded, by his brilliant example, that they were going the wrong road?—and convictions of this kind cut them to the heart. By his calling upon them to be reconciled unto God, had he not plainly told them to their face that they had hitherto lived estranged from God?—and such disclosures offend and cause pain, especially when the man’s own conscience unites in the accusation. Did he not repeatedly tell them that a new birth was an indispensable condition attached to the entering into the kingdom of heaven?—and what else were they to understand from this than that in their present state they were in danger of perishing?—but who likes to hear of such things?
It was thus that a mass of rage and vexation had by degrees accumulated within them. A horrible state, it is true, but one which only testifies for Jesus. Believe me, my readers, that the adversaries of the Lord and his word among us are, for the most part, like a wounded stag flying from the hunters. They feel that the teachings of Christ destroy their false peace, condemn their carnality, and demand the sacrifice of their idols; and hence they are averse to and incensed against him even to blasphemy. They joyfully greet every attempt which tends to degrade Jesus to a mere human Rabbi; for all their efforts are directed solely to escape from the obligations they lie under to him. Almost in every case where enmity against Christ is manifested, it may be traced to these corrupt motives. The Christian religion disturbs the hornet’s nest, tears away the plasters and coverings from secret wounds, and awakens the conscience, which had been rendered lethargic by a variety of magic potions; and hence their hatred and animosity to it.
Before we approach the revolting scene in the court-yard of the high priest’s palace, let us again call to mind who it is we have before us in the individual thus ill-treated. We are about to witness unheard-of outrages, at which the rocks might rend with horror. When, toward the close of the last century, the ruthless mob put the red revolutionary cap on the head of the unfortunate king of France, amid shouts of derisive laughter, and then cut their infernal jokes on his royal dignity—a cry of horror and indignation ran through the world; and he in whose heart there glimmered only a spark of piety and right feeling, turned away with disgust from such a revolting spectacle. But what was that, or any other event of the kind which the world’s history records, compared with the scene which we are now called to behold? If the person to whom our eyes are directed had been only an earthly dignitary, even then the contrast of his dreadful fate with his exalted position would greatly horrify us, and we should be unable to refrain from calling out, “You go too far; cease your ill-treatment; men whom the Lord places in such high positions ought not to be treated in so disgraceful a manner!”
But here, as you know, is a greater than any human potentate. He who is maltreated yonder is the same who spoke to the storm and the waves, saying, “Be still,” and they obeyed; who, with a word, called forth the dead from the coffin and the tomb; at whose bidding stand the angelic hosts of heaven; no, through whom, and to whom are all things that were created, and who could justly say, “I and my Father are one.” “He who sees me, sees the Father.” “My Father works hitherto, and I work.” “All men shall honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” It is upon him, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, that the recreants trample with their dirty feet. It is in the face of Eternal Love that they spit. It is the Source of Life whom they smite with their fists, and it is him whom the heavens adore that they insult with their venomous tongues, which are set on fire of hell. Yes, it was upon him that all this was inflicted, who had just before affirmed on oath, in the full consciousness of his divine dignity, that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and who had afterward added, “I say unto you that hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
It is, therefore, a monstrous spectacle which is presented to our view. The world never afterward beheld anything similar. What we call compassion does not seem here to correspond with the subject; nor is there any room for the idea of an unfortunate and pitiable mortal, such as is the case in other instances. Every one feels that here is an occurrence entirely isolated from the rank of similar events in the world’s history, and that it must necessarily be of an extraordinary nature. Every one must be conscious that the individual freely and voluntarily gave himself up to the horrible treatment he experienced; and that the idea of One who was overcome, and yielded to superior power, must be wholly excluded. He who was thus covered with insult was neither weaker nor less powerful than at the moment when, with a single word, he overthrew the whole company of his adversaries. In the nameless wretchedness in which we now find him, he was not less the “stronger” than “the strong armed man,” than at the moment when the legion of foul fiends, entreating to be spared, fled before his face. Though he may seem to be nothing but a broken reed and a worm trodden under foot, yet the sword of Omnipotence is not the less girded upon him, nor the bow of his strength broken. What but a single word from him was requisite, and the murderous band would have lain annihilated at his feet? But he did not make use of his power. He suffered voluntarily. It is with his own consent that he is plunged into these depths of horror. Imagine, therefore, the magnitude of the purposes which lie at the basis of this resignation of the Holy One of Israel. The sufferings of Jesus as such, compel us to admit their atoning signification.
Let us come nearer to the scene. Imagine a Holy One appearing again in this sinful world. Scarcely does he show himself than mankind act toward him as if they were hyenas and devils. To such a degree is heavenly purity become odious to them, and that which is divinely reverent, abominable! Alas! what is done to you, you who are fairer than the children of men! How is your benignant countenance disfigured! One would gladly close one’s eyes to such a spectacle. Have you merited this at our hands, O Eternal Love? Is this the due reward for your loving-kindness? And yet, however much you are insulted, you will not forsake us, until you have rescued us from the curse, even though it should cost you your life. O what is left for us but to sink down in the dust, to cover our faces, and to melt into glowing tears of penitence and thankfulness!
Look what occurs! When sentence is pronounced upon a malefactor, and the judicial decision is read, a solemn silence usually pervades the auditory, and a feeling of solemnity takes possession of them. Every one feels the majesty of the law, which, whenever transgressed, justly demands satisfaction. It is as if Eternal Justice in person had come down and established its throne upon earth. And the condemned criminal is not merely an object of compassion, but he is regarded with a kind of reverence, because the moral government of the world demands him as an atonement. In the condemnation of Jesus however, no feelings of this nature appear to have been excited in the reprobate host of his adversaries. Scarcely has the word “Guilty” been uttered, when they fall upon him; and, O, what revolting scenes are now unfolded to our view!
The world had never before witnessed anything so horrible. Cain’s fratricide—Manasseh’s blood-guiltiness—what were they, compared with these flagitious acts? Alas! what will become of our Lord and Master! Ought we not to feel petrified with horror and astonishment? They have now got him among them, and they load him, first of all, with the vilest execrations and insults. But they are not satisfied with thus heaping ridicule upon him. They smite him with their hands. But even this does not satisfy their thirst for revenge. He must feel more painfully still how utterly he is despised. They open their mouths against him, and, horrible to relate! they spit upon his sacred face, with gestures and grimaces of the rudest kind. Nor is their rage yet cooled, nor their satanic inventions exhausted. “The wicked,” as the prophet says, “are like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” The reprobates seek for some new outrage, and it soon occurs to them. They have heard how the object of their ill usage had just before solemnly asserted in the council-chamber, that he was Christ, the Son of the living God, and for this he must now be especially punished. The arrows of their bitterest ridicule are therefore directed against his Messiahship, and particularly against his prophetical office. They bind the eyes of the patient sufferer with a cloth, then smite him with their fists; and exclaim, amid peals of sneering laughter, “Prophesy to us, you Christ, who it is that smites you!”
But I will let the curtain drop. Who can longer contemplate such a scene? O, it is too appalling! What infernal wickedness meets our view! And from whence does it proceed? From the human heart. But how could a race that is capable of such things be received into the favor of God, without an atonement and a mediator? What would have become of the glory of his justice and holiness, if he had suffered such degenerate beings to be spared without a satisfaction? Nor ought you to regard the perpetrators of the outrages we have been describing, as depraved above all others. Believe me, that according to its inmost being, every natural human heart is alike. Even those who refuse to hear of redemption and atonement, do not fail, unconsciously and involuntarily, to condemn human nature, every moment, in the most grievous manner. Hear their language, “Egotism rules the world.” “Every one seeks his own.” “Woe to him that falls into the hands of man!” “Friendship lasts only during prosperity.” “Every man has his price.” “Let no one be surety for another’s virtue.” “Opportunity is the ruler of mankind.” “In the misfortunes of our best friends we find something that does not displease us.” Such are the expressions which are constantly flowing from the lips of the men of the world. How completely do they thereby pronounce the human heart to be depraved and corrupt! Have they not therefore, sufficient cause to welcome a Deliverer with rejoicing, instead of coldly, or even sneeringly turning their backs upon him?
But to return to the question—”Prophesy unto us, you Christ, who it was that smote you?” From the lips, by which these words were uttered, they were only blasphemous ridicule and a burst of depravity. But in themselves, and apart from the feeling which accompanied them, they appear in the form of a question of the first importance; and he who has found the right answer to it, is acquainted with the groundwork of our salvation and entire redemption.
Many have impiously repeated the inquiry of the reprobate troop, and have thought within themselves, “How does he know whether we honor him, or trample upon him? Where is he to be found? Eighteen centuries ago, he went the way of all flesh, and the dead rest in their graves.” By acting thus, they have, as far as they are concerned, again bound his eyes, and sneeringly said to him, “Prophesy, if you are still alive, and hear, and see, who it is that smote you!” I could relate to my readers, how he has, in part at least, replied to them. One he answered by reducing him to extreme poverty. Another, by disgracing his name before the world. A third, by striking him with madness; and others, again, by giving them up to the paths of the destroyer, and permitting them to sink into the lowest depths of depravity, and suffering despair to seize upon them on their death-beds, and rendering their descent into the regions of darkness palpable to the horror-stricken bystanders. And how many of those who now say, “Who is Jesus, that I should be afraid of him, or even humble myself before him?” when once he replies to them, will call upon the rocks to fall upon them, and the hills to cover them, that they may be hidden from the face of him that sits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb! O let no one suppose that the Judge of the world will suffer himself to be mocked with impunity. Rather let them “kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and they perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.”
“Prophesy to us, you Christ, who it is that smote you!” The mockers received no reply to this question. Jesus was silent. But we may give a different turn to the inquiry, and the answer will prove consolatory. Let those who are earnestly seeking salvation, and the contrite in heart, humbly inquire, “Who it was that smote the Lord?” and they will receive a satisfactory reply. At first, indeed, it will alarm them; for it will be, “not those miscreants; but it is you who have made me to serve with your sins, and wearied me with your iniquities. For your transgressions was I smitten.” And when he himself prophesies this to you by his Spirit—how evident it will then become to you; how will you humble yourselves in the dust before him; how the wish will then depart to lay the blame upon Caiaphas, Annas, and the spearmen; how vitally are you persuaded that they were only your representatives, and how will you hang down your heads, and learn to smite upon your breasts with the tax-collector! How will you tremble for your souls, and earnestly seek for salvation and a Mediator!
But know that this is only half the answer to your question. Continue to ask, and it will not be long before a gracious message will be delivered you. This will be its import: “The hand that smote me would have crushed you. The curse fell upon me which was destined for you. I drank the cup of wrath which your sins had filled. I drank it, that it might be replenished for you with everlasting mercy.” And when this conviction pervades you, do not doubt that it is really from him. As the Lord lives, it is his own communication; and if you are still unwilling to believe, listen to the cheering words of the apostles and evangelists, who assure you that “God made him to be sin for us;” and that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us.”
You now know who it is that smote the Savior, and that it was the sin of each of us. Does not this clearly appear from the circumstances of our Lord’s passion themselves? Does it not seem strange to you that Jesus acted so patiently, meekly, and resignedly, under such barbarous treatment? Is it not wonderful that his tormentors were suffered to go unpunished? Are you not in the highest degree astonished that the ruthless band were not crushed by lightning from heaven; and that on the contrary, the Almighty observed silence, as if nothing had happened which was not in the regular course of things? Korah and his company had no sooner rebelliously attacked only Aaron’s priestly dignity, than the Lord rent the ground beneath their feet, and sent them down quick into the pit. Uzzah was guilty of a seemingly slight irreverence toward the ark, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against him, and smote him, so that he fell dead on the ground. But how much more is there here than the ark and Aaron the priest! Here they trample the Son of God in the mire, and the Judge of quick and dead is mute, as if all was right. Tell me, does not all this amaze you? Does it not excite in you the most fearful and yet the most stupendous expectations? Give room to the latter, and you will find them not unfounded. Rightly understood, it is God himself, who smites the sufferer, on whom the chastisement of our peace was laid; and what he endures are the strokes of that sword, to which Jehovah said, “Awake, against my Shepherd and the man that is my fellow.” They fall upon him, that we sinners might be forever exonerated.
Such, my readers, is the solution of this great mystery, and the complete answer to the question, “Who smote you, you Christ?” No sooner does the light of a propitiation shine upon the obscurity of the events of the passion than all is cleared up, and the deepest mysteries are unsealed.
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