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: 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. It’s our prayer that you will be richly blessed his writings. 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.
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 OUTER COURT
Meditation – I.
The history of our Savior’s passion is about to display before us its bleeding mysteries and its awful vicarious scenes. The “Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of the world,” submissive to the council of peace, which was held before the foundation of the world, approaches the altar of burnt-offering. Bonds, the scourge, the cross, and the crown of thorns, present themselves to our view in the distance; and the “seven words,” uttered by Jesus on the cross, sound in our ears, like the funeral knell of the kingdom of Satan, and like intimations of liberty and joy to the sinful race of man.
It was said to Moses from the burning bush, “Put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stands is holy ground.”—Exod. 3:5. With still stronger emphasis are these words uttered to us from the sacred spot, where that much-implying type found its actual fulfillment. O what wonders are we about to approach in our meditations! From the most appalling scene the world ever witnessed, a paradise of peace springs forth. From the most ignominious sufferings, we see the most glorious triumph emerge; and from the most dreadful of deaths, a divine and never-fading life arise!
May devotion, humbleness of mind, and child-like faith accompany us in our meditations, and penitential tears become our eye-salve! But do You, who have the key of David, unlock for us the gates to the sanctuary of your sacred passion, and in the awful scenes of your sufferings, enable us to discover the mystery of our eternal redemption!
Almost immediately after our blessed Lord had performed perhaps the most stupendous of his miracles, in raising Lazarus from the grave, after he had been dead four days, we are informed by the Evangelist, that “the chief priests and the Pharisees took counsel together to put Him to death.” What an humbling view does this circumstance give us of the depravity of human nature as exemplified in these men, who, while obliged to confess the fact of the miracles which Jesus wrought, not only refused to accept him as the Messiah, but even conspired together to rid themselves of him by condemning him to death! Thus confirming the words of Abraham to the rich man in torment, “Neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
“Jesus, therefore,” we are told, “walked no more openly among the Jews, but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. But when the time was come, that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
With this object in view, the Lord takes his twelve disciples apart. He has matters of importance to disclose to them. Destined, as they were, to lay the foundations of his Church, it was requisite that they should not be deficient in a comprehensive acquaintance with the counsel of God, for the redemption of the world. They soon perceive his intention, and hang upon his lips with increasing eagerness. They probably reckon on some cheering intelligence, and expect to hear, that the triumphant development of his kingdom is at hand. But what short sightedness and simplicity do they display! O the mighty chasm which intervenes between their thoughts and God’s thoughts! As though the restoration of fallen man were a thing of such easy accomplishment! As if sin had caused only a transient disturbance in the relations between God and man, and occasioned a breach which could be healed, either by a voluntary declaration of mercy from on high, or by a confession of sin on the part of the fallen!
The Lord opens his mouth, and to the astonishment of the disciples, announces to them in plain terms his approaching offerings, and at the same time his subsequent victory. “Behold,” says he, “we go up to Jerusalem; and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.”
Observe, first of all, how these words convey our Lord’s fixed resolution. His heart, under the impulse of love, is firmly and immutably bent on taking the way to the cross. You well remember with what impressive earnestness he rejected the advice of Simon Peter to spare himself, and not to go up to Jerusalem. “Get you behind me, Satan,” was his reply; “you are an offence unto me; for you savor not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” So evident was it to him, that the sufferings he was going to meet, were not merely an efflux of human depravity, but also the express will and counsel of his heavenly Father, that in the contrary advice of his disciple, he could recognize nothing but a temptation from the bottomless pit, and Simon as the unconscious instrument of it. No affectionate entreaty any longer restrains him in his course; no menace dictated by hatred deters him from it.
The bloodthirsty council has already assembled at Jerusalem, and is concocting its plan of treachery and murder. But the watchword of Jesus continues to be—”Behold, we go up!” and though another Red Sea were foaming at his feet, and though a hundred deaths awaited him, yet the only sentiment of his heart is—”We go up.” For it is his Father’s will, and the path to the great and ardently longed-for aim of the world’s redemption. O what resignation, what obedience, what love to sinners is here exemplified by our adorable Immanuel.
“Behold,” says our Lord, “we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.” Here we are informed what was his staff and his stay on the road to his sufferings. He found it in the “sure word of prophecy,” in which he read what was recorded of himself, and the counsel of God respecting him. And if any one still requires a definite authority for the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, it is here presented to him. Christ, the King of Truth, recognizes in the Scriptures nothing less than the infallible record of the revelation of his heavenly Father; he bears it, day and night, on his heart; he decides according to its statutes, as the Canon Law, which puts an end to all strife respecting the vital questions of human life, and directs his steps wherever it points the way. It is to him the infallible guiding-star of his life.
Whether the voice of his heavenly Father is heard direct from heaven, or sounds to him from this venerable record: it is the same to him. The one is as important as the other; and he reverentially bows to every title and iota of it. It is thus his ways are established; and every moment’s experience seals it to him, that he is actually obeying a divine command. Everything that the word enjoins becomes reality, and the most delicate trait assumes life and substance.
“Certainly,” some one may say, “it ought to strengthen our determination to proceed upon the path prescribed for us by the word of God, when, like Christ, we are aware that our way through life is not only divinely ordered and superintended, generally speaking, but also when we can survey it, from step to step, in the light of an infallible and divine revelation, even to its glorious termination.” But is not this really the case, if you have believingly and sincerely given yourself up to God? For can there be any situation in which the divine word, with its counsel, leaves you at a loss? Is it not also written respecting you, “The Lord will not suffer you to want any good thing?” “Through much tribulation you must enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But “when you pass through the waters, they shall not overflow you; and through the fire, the flame shall not kindle upon you, for the Lord is with you.”
It may indeed be the case that men will revile and persecute you; but if you faithfully endure, your reward shall be great. The light shall always rise upon you after the darkness;—and after sorrow, joy shall again visit your threshold. Nor shall any one be able to snatch you out of the Lord’s hands; but after having fought the good fight, you shall finally receive the crown of righteousness, shall not see death, but pass from death unto life, and triumph eternally. Does not all this, and manifold more stand written of you; and is not therefore your path pointed out and prophetically indicated? May you not also say, in your measure, with the Lord Jesus, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all shall be accomplished, that stands written by the finger of God, respecting me, a poor sinner, since I am no longer my own, but belong to Christ?” O certainly you may say this! How ought we not, therefore, with such a consciousness, to put on a cheerful courage, during our pilgrimage, and feel as if heavenly triumphal music preceded us on our path through life!
My dear readers, let us only place a firm reliance on the word of truth, and, in its light, ascend the precipitous road; according to its instructions, proceed forward with firm and steady steps, unmindful of the tumult of the world, and not deviating a hand-breadth from the way prescribed. Let us meet him who would direct us otherwise, with a voice of thunder, and exclaim, “Get you behind me, Satan, for you savor not the things that be of God, but those that be of man!” The Almighty will then be favorable to us; we shall then carry the peace of God, that choicest pearl! in our bosoms; and literal accomplishments of the divine promises, which we have taken for our compass, and for a lamp unto our feet, will daily fall upon our path, like lights from heaven.
The Lord’s face is toward Jerusalem; and we have already seen for what purpose. His intention is, to suffer and to die. O there must be something of immense importance connected with his passion! It appears as the crisis of the work for the accomplishment of which he left his Father’s bosom, and came down to earth! Were this not the case, to judge of it in the most lenient manner, it would have been tempting God thus to rush to meet death, after having completed his prophetic office in Jerusalem; and the over-ruling Majesty on high would have exposed his justice to well founded reproach, in giving up the Holy One, who had fulfilled his commands, to the horrible fate of a malefactor and reprobate, in the most glaring opposition to the axioms of his own government.
But the Eternal Father had included in his counsels the cross, the scourge, and the crown of thorns, long before the sons of Belial thought of having recourse to these instruments of torture; and all his prophets, however reluctantly, were compelled in spirit to interweave these horrid emblems along with the majestic image of the Messiah, which they portrayed. Thus the Lord could say with profound truth, “All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished; for he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on, and they shall scourge him and put him to death.”
Such were the ingredients, deducible, from the prophetic writings, which filled the cup that Satan, in accordance with the counsels of Eternal Wisdom, was to present to the Son of the Most High. And believe me, these counsels went far, very far beyond all that we understand by martyrdom, chastisement, purification, or trial. The immaculate and righteous Savior did not require correction as for himself; and if a purification had been salutary for him, it needed not—unless some gigantic shadow had for a time obscured divine justice—to have come upon the Holy One of Israel in the form of such degrading infamy, unheard-of reproach and humiliation, and such unparalleled suffering.
The passion of our Lord has an infinitely more profound significance; and it requires only a cursory glance at the narrative to discover that this was the case. Observe what the Evangelist informs us respecting the way and manner in which the Twelve received their Master’s communication. He states, that “they understood none of these things, and this saying was hidden from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
How striking is this circumstance! Who can resist inquiring what it was they did not understand? They could not possibly have mistaken what their Master said respecting his suffering and dying at Jerusalem. That he intended to seal the truth of his doctrine by his death, was an idea which must also have occurred to them. Yet Luke assures us that “they understood none of those things, and knew not what it was that was spoken.” Is it not obvious that the Evangelist’s meaning is that he who would only apprehend the history of Christ’s sufferings, and regard his passion as a martyrdom, not essentially different from the bloody testimony borne by other saints, does not understand its true signification? We have here an evident reference to an infinitely deeper cause of the tragical termination of our Savior’s life before us.
It is confessedly true that the Eternal Father, by an almighty decree, might have annihilated the fallen race, in which sin had taken root, and thus have put an end to the evil. But we were to live and not die. And thus he has not only caused the sin of man to act as a foil for the display of the full radiance of his attributes, and especially of his love; but has also, by the offering up of his Son, provided a means of salvation by which we might attain to a much higher stage of glory and relationship to God than we once possessed in our progenitor, or than we should ever have attained if we had not fallen. Our fall afforded him the opportunity of showing that in the destruction of sin he could not only manifest his justice, but also glorify his mercy in remitting and forgiving sin, without infringing upon his righteousness.
We sinned, and were exposed to the curse. The word that was with God, and was God, then was made flesh. The eternal son became our brother; took upon himself our sin, in the way of a mysterious imputation; paid our debt to the majesty of the inviolable law; covered our nakedness with his righteousness; presented us, as those in whose stead he appeared, unblameable and acceptable to the Father; excited the hallelujahs of angels at our exaltation; elevated us to a participation of his own riches, blessedness, and privileges; pitched tents of peace for us around the throne of God; and connected us with himself by the bonds of eternal gratitude and affection. Such is the edifice which the Almighty reared upon the ruins of sin; and of which the disciples, at that time, had not the remotest idea. In the sequel, they recognized the divine method of salvation and of peace; and how happy were they, subsequently, in the knowledge of this “great mystery of godliness!”
Krummacher’s work is available through Amazon.