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 SUFFERING SAVIOR
Meditation – XXXVII
The Way of the Cross
“So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas,
and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”
(Mark 15:15 ESV)
“Then delivered he him therefore unto them.” How mournful and horrifying this sounds! Alas for Pilate! Had he but known who it was, and all that he gave up in thus delivering him! We have tasted only a little of his heavenly manna, but we would not give him up for all the world. “Lord, to whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” We confess, indeed, with deep humiliation, that we are frequently guilty of denying his name, and whenever this is the case, we go out, weeping bitterly, with Peter, and after having been comforted by him afresh, we again say, with stronger emphasis than before, “We will never again deliver him up.” We renounce the friendship, favor, and honor, of his adversaries. If the whole world were offered to us, Jesus is not to be had in exchange. Our union with him bears the stamp and signature of eternity.
“Then delivered he him unto them.” Oh, if Pilate had had any idea of whose instrument he was at that moment! But he is unacquainted with the precious words, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,” and those of the apostle, “He who spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all: how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” These testimonies, however, are known to us; we also know their mysterious depth; we hang down our heads at the words, “Then delivered he him unto them,” sink down in the dust, and adore.
“Then.” He was now ready and prepared for the last great sacrificial act. He had fulfilled the law, had victoriously endured every trial of faith, and had proved himself in every ordeal to be pure and unalloyed gold. He was “the Lamb without spot,” obedient beyond compare, and it was just such a sacrifice as this that the God of holiness required. He must first be found worthy of a crown before he could bear the curse. All is now in readiness.
“Then delivered he him.” Now close the temple, you sons of Aaron; the types and shadows with which you had to do have done their duty, now that the substance has appeared. Lay aside the band from your foreheads, and the breastplate, you ministers of the sanctuary; for know that another now justly adorns himself with both, and that your priesthood has reached its termination.
The act of delivering over the accused has taken place; Jesus is now in the hands of his enemies, like a lamb amid wolves, or a dove in the claws of the vulture. How was David in the right when he said, “I will rather fall into the hand of the Lord, than into the hands of man.” Look how they treat the Holy One, now that they have him among them. They again assail him with the bitterest mockery, cruelly and rudely tear the purple robe from his bleeding body, and put on him his own clothes again, not from compassion, but because it seems to them that the horrible death to which they are now preparing to conduct him, is no longer to be treated as a jest or a scoff, but requires a certain solemn seriousness.
Have not the modern enemies of Christ arrived at a similar stage in their conduct toward him? When, fifty years ago, the French illumination spread itself over the nations like a poisonous atmosphere, Christ again stood as a mock king on the stage of the world; and he who thought he possessed anything of wit and humor made use of them to brand both him and his cause with the stamp of ridicule. The proceedings have since assumed another and more serious appearance. It is almost unanimously agreed, in the present day, that Christ is too great and too noble for mere trifling. His person and doctrine are thought worthy of being treated scientifically, and thus they put on the dishonored Jesus his garment again, inasmuch as they do not hesitate to restore to him the honor of being one of the wisest and noblest men that ever trod the earth. But all this gravity, regarded in the light, is nothing else than a solemn introduction to the act of crucifixion.
Christ, doubtless with gravity and decorum, is declared in the name of science, to be a mere man, and therefore an enthusiast and a blasphemer, justly condemned to be crucified, because he had affirmed on oath that he was more than a man, and hence was guilty of blasphemous perjury, in the judgment of the most modern philosophy. In truth, notwithstanding all appearance to the contrary, the anti-christian spirit has only entered upon a new and more dangerous phase of development, and has approached considerably nearer its perfect maturity. Beneath the scoff and scorn of earlier times there was always an accusing conscience, which was endeavored to be kept down and overpowered. Behind modern unbelief is encamped the deepest and most hopeless state of death. With philosophical pride they feel assured of the incontrovertible foundation for their views of Christ, and thus has unbelief expanded itself into strong delusion.
The change of garments which took place in the court of the praetorium reminds me of an act in our own life. In the days of our blindness we had also divested the Lord Jesus of the glory of his inherent splendor, while presuming to deny one or other particular concerning him, so as to leave him little more than the title of a Jewish Rabbi, or the Sage of Nazareth. But how did we afterward alter our course, when the Lord stripped us of the garments of our imaginary righteousness, and in the mirror of his law exhibited to us our real form! How hastily did we then put upon Immanuel his own clothing! We first gave you back your Messiah-crown, and then your sacrificial and priestly robes, and, finally, your diadem as the King of Glory; for the awakened necessities of our hearts had rectified our vision, and sharpened it for your beauty. Amid many tears of repentance and delight, we again clothed you in your original attire. You now stands before us in your full and complete array, and we will never cease to bow the knee before you, and to rejoice, and say with Jacob, “Judah, you are he whom your brethren shall praise!”
After the soldiers had made their preparations, the awful sign appears, which has since become the standard of the kingdom of Christ, and the token of our salvation. During the space of three thousand years it had been constantly symbolized to the view of the believing Israelites. It is even reflected in the peculiar manner in which the dying patriarch Jacob, with crossed hands, blessed his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. It glimmered no less in the wave-offerings of the tabernacle and temple, which, as is well known, were accustomed to be waved so as to make the form of a cross appear. In the wilderness, the sign was elevated to support the brazen serpent, and the spirit of prophecy interwove it in the figurative language of David’s Psalms, when placing in the mouth of the future Messiah the words, “They pierced my hands and my feet.”
Look, yonder they bring it! According to the Roman custom, all who were condemned to the punishment of the cross were compelled to carry that instrument of their death to the place of execution; and even the divine sufferer is not spared this disgrace and toil. Without mercy they lay on his wounded back the horrible instrument of torture; and, after having given him for his escort two grievous criminals, similarly burdened and condemned to the same death, they open the gate of the courtyard toward the street, in order at length to satisfy the people, who had been impatiently awaiting the cruel spectacle. A low murmur of malicious joy and profound excitement pervades the mass when the three cross-bearers make their appearance. The procession sets itself in motion. In the van, an armed troop on foot and on horseback; then the three victims, with their crosses, surrounded by their executioners; behind these, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of the nation; and, finally, the crowding, gaping, innumerable multitude.
We silently join them in spirit. Oh, what a path is that which we now tread! Only think, it is thus the unhappy world repels the man who entered upon it heralded by angels, and in the midst of heavenly songs of praise. It is thus she rewards him for the unwearied love with which he poured upon her the abundance of all conceivably benefits and mercies! Oh, who that is still inclined to doubt whether mankind was worthy of eternal perdition without the intervention of a mediator, let him cast a look at this path of suffering, and convince himself of the contrary! For why is the Holy One thus dragged along, unless it be that we loved sin too ardently not to hate a man, even to the death, who made himself known as the deliverer from it.
Look there, he bends beneath his heavy burden! Dreadful and horrible is his situation! All his friends have forsaken him, and even heaven is silent above him, as if it also had rejected him. An ancient legend states, that Veronica, a young maiden, stepped up to him weeping from the crowd, and with compassionate hand wiped the bloody sweat from his wounded brow. In gratitude for this service, the Lord left her his image on the napkin. This is only a fiction and a legend, but the sentiment it conveys is significant and true. Whoever is brought by love to the Savior, he impresses his thorn-crowned likeness on their hearts, as the gift of his reciprocal affection; so that he who has received it, henceforth carries it about with him as a most valuable legacy, and can never more turn away his eyes from beholding it.
According to another legend, as Jesus was passing by, the Jew Ahasuerus stepped out of his dwelling, and with devilish hatred, hit, with his foot, the Holy One of Israel, in consequence of which, he began to totter beneath his load, and even to sink to the ground. This occasioned the denunciation, that he should henceforward wander restless and fugitive through the world, and not die until the Lord should come again. This Ahasuerus is “the Wandering Jew.” Here again we have to do with a myth; but it also has its truth and deep meaning. The wandering Jew represents the people of Israel, who crucified our Lord, and in satanic delusion pronounced upon themselves the awful anathema, “His blood be upon us and our children.” They now roam about, fugitive and homeless, aliens among all nations, the offscouring of the world; and die not, and will not die, until the Lord shall come again to complete his kingdom upon earth. But then they will die, by ceasing to be an excommunicated and outlawed people, and rise again as a new and glorious race, singing Hosanna to David their true King. The wondrous stars of the promises given to Abraham’s seed shine for thousands of years, and send their beams to the end of days.
Yonder they conduct the Man of Sorrows!
One cannot reflect who it is that is thus laden with the accursed tree, without feeling one’s heart petrified with surprise and astonishment. But it is well for us that he traversed the path. Only observe now the form of the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world, is so clearly expressed in him. Behold him, and say if you do not feel as if you heard the ancient words proceed from his silent lips, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, a body have you prepared for me. Lo! I come, I delight to do your will, O my God! yes, your law is within my heart.” Had he shrunk back from this fatal path, his road to suffering would have represented to us that on which, when dying, we should have left the world. Instead of soldiers, the emissaries of Satan would have escorted us; instead of the accursed tree, the curse of the law itself; instead of fetters, the bands of eternal wrath would have encircled us, and despair have lashed us with its fiery scourge. Now, on the contrary, angels of peace, sent by Eternal Love, will at length bear us on a path of light, illumined by heavenly promises, to Abraham’s bosom. To whom are we indebted for this? Solely to the man who totters yonder under the most horrible of all burdens; and who carries away with him everything which stood opposed to us and threatened us with destruction.
Certainly, it may still be the case, that during our earthly pilgrimage we are led on similar paths to that on which we see Jesus, our Head, proceeding. For the world hates his members like himself; and Satan ceases not to desire to have his redeemed, that he may sift them as wheat. But heaven is no longer closed over our path of suffering and disgrace, nor does the black cloud of rejection and the curse obscure it. The sword of God has returned to its scabbard, and peace and hope are the gracious companions who walk by our side. Christ has deprived our fearful path of its horrors, our burdens of their overpowering weight, our disgrace and need of their deadly stings, and placed us in a situation to say with the royal psalmist, “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
Blessed, therefore, be the path of our Prince of Peace to the cross! Let us not cease to accompany him daily thereon in the spirit. It will unspeakably sweeten our own painful path; for why does he take this horrible road, but to enable us to traverse ours with heads erect, because we are freed from curse and care. Upon his path he not only carries all our sins to the grave, and breaks a passage through all the obstacles which blocked up our access to the Father, but he makes, at the same time, all the bitter waters of the desert sweet, and neither leaves nor forsakes us, until he brings us safe to our heavenly home.
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