Krummacher: The Way to the Cross

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.

Author’s Preface

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]

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THE SUFFERING SAVIOR

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Meditation – XXXVIII

Simon of Cyrene

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene,
who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
(Mark 15:21 ESV)

Pilate, driven from the field by the determined opposition of the enemies of Jesus, contrary to the voice of justice in his bosom, has delivered the Holy One of Israel into the hands of his murderers, who hasten to carry the execution into effect as quickly as possible. No appeal was permitted to a rebel after being sentenced; on the contrary, a Roman law commanded that such should be led away to execution immediately after sentence had been pronounced. This was believed applicable to him, whom the people thought they could not remove soon enough from human society, as being a rebel against God, against Moses, and against the emperor.

We left the Savior at the close of our last meditation on the road to the fatal hill. The procession moves slowly forward enveloped in clouds of dust. What a running together from every side! What a tumultuous noise and horrible din! Spears, helmets, and drawn swords glitter in the sunshine. Soldiers on foot and horseback, priests and scribes, high and low, shrieking women and crying children, Jews and heathens, all mingled together in the crowd. At the head of the procession, surrounded by guards, the three delinquents, panting slowly forward under the weight of their instruments of death. Two of them robbers and murderers, and between them, he, to whom, on closer observation, the whole of this hideous exhibition has reference. Behold that bleeding man, who, according to appearance, is the most guilty of the three! But we know him. He also bears his cross, and thus claims our sympathy in the highest degree.

Crosses were often seen, under the dominion of the Romans. A rebellious slave was very frequently condemned to this most shameful and painful of all punishments. But there is something very particular and peculiar about the cross which we see the Holy One of Israel bearing to Calvary. If we refer to the roll of the Divine Law, Deut. 21:22: “If a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall in any wise bury him that day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), that your land be not defiled, which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.” This remarkable ordinance of God was punctually observed in Israel.

As often as a criminal was nailed to the tree of shame, he was regarded, according to the words of the law, as an object of profound abhorrence to the Almighty, and the people were conscious that God could only look upon the land with anger and disgust, so long as the dead body of the criminal was not removed out of his sight. But such of them as were enlightened, well knew that all this included in it a typical meaning, and had a prophetic reference to one who should hang upon a tree, on whom the vials of heaven’s wrath would be poured out, but in whose atoning sufferings, the curse and condemnation of a sinful world would reach its termination. But who would dare to seek in Christ, the individual thus laden with the divine curse, and assert that the ordinance in the wilderness had found its fulfillment on Golgotha, if the word of God itself had not justified such a conclusion? That such is actually the case, turn to Galatians, 3:13, where the apostle states frankly, and without circumlocution, that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.”

In the type of the brazen serpent, as well as in the divine ordinances respecting one that was hanged on a tree, the clearest light is thrown on the horrible cross which the Son of God is carrying to Calvary. Those beams evidently form the stake upon which, according to the promise, the storm of Divine judgment should be discharged. It is the scaffold where, according to Romans. 3:25, God resolved to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. The Moriah where, for the benefit of a sinful world, the curse pronounced in paradise is endured in the sacred humanity of the great Surety. The altar of burnt-offering, on which the Lamb of God submitted to the sum total of that punishment which ought in justice to have fallen upon me; and the dying bed, where death, over which Satan has power, and to which I was subject by a sentence of the Supreme tribunal, is permitted to seize upon, and slay another, in order that he might forever lose his claim upon me. Such is the mysterious cross which you see borne toward Calvary. It is the sepulcher of a world; for the innumerable host of those that are saved, died, in the eye of God, with Christ upon it. It is the conductor which carries off the destroying flash from our race, by his attracting it upon himself; the tree of life, “the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations.”

Jesus carries his cross. When did he ever show so plainly in his outward circumstances that he bore the curse, as now? If the voice of God had sounded directly down from heaven, and said, “This Just One is now enduring the sentence pronounced upon you,” it could not have afforded us more certainty than by this living figure of bearing the cross. Its language is powerful, and points out, even to a simple child, wherein we ought to seek the final cause of Christ’s passion. We find the Holy Sufferer, as you know, outside the gates of Jerusalem. The Scriptures attach great importance to the fact that he was led away out of the holy city. Thus we read in Hebrews 13:11, 12, “The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore, Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” Here Christ is evidently represented as the true antitype of the Old Testament sin-offerings. But since we know the nature of these, and how, by this devotional act, the sins of the transgressors were imputed to the animals to be sacrificed; that thus they became objects of abhorrence, and their bodies were not only removed from the neighborhood of the temple, but even burned with fire, in testimony of what was justly due to the sinner; and that the latter, after such sacrificial act, was absolved and declared blameless; so it almost clearly appears, that in the passage above quoted, the apostle cannot and does not intend to say anything else than that Christ, on his being led out of the gates, was in fact burdened with our sins, and bore our curse.

Thus it is we that tread the path to the place of execution; for he does so in our stead. That such is really the case, and that He does not proceed upon that road as the holy Jesus, but as the representative of our sinful race, becomes more apparent at every step. Hence it is comprehensible how the Eternal Father could give him up to such nameless ignominy and torment. It is on this account that no angel from above hastens to his aid; no fire falls from heaven to consume his murderers; rather do the clouds pass quietly and silently over the dreadful scene, as if assent were given above to the horrible transactions below; no, the Just One may, for this reason, while wearied to death, be ready to break down under the burden of his cross, without any one in heaven or on earth appearing to grieve at it. The gates of the eternal sanctuary are closed; the portals of the Almighty’s abode are shut; and the same God who delivered righteous Lot out of Sodom, Daniel from the den of lions, and commanded the enraged Laban to speak only kindly to Jacob, and who says to all his saints, “Fear not, for I am with you”—this Keeper of Israel seems to slumber and sleep with regard to his best Beloved, and to have forgotten respecting him who was his “fellow,” his sweet words of promise: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget you.” All the circumstances in which we see the Savior are truly dreadful and appalling; but all exclaim, with the most powerful emphasis, “Behold the Lord Jesus, laden with the sinner’s curse!”

We have been contemplating Jesus with the sinner’s cross. The scene now changes, and a new figure presents itself to our view—the sinner with the cross of Jesus.

Simon of CyreneThe Holy One had proceeded forward some distance with his heavy burden, when his blood-thirsty attendants begin to fear lest he should break down under his load, and entirely succumb from exhaustion before the execution. To prevent this, they look about for some one on whom they may lay the cross of Jesus for the remainder of the way; and their eyes soon light upon a stranger, just coming from the field, whom they the sooner select for this purpose from thinking they see in his looks a secret sympathy with the Nazarene. This was Simon, born at Cyrene, in Africa. We are not informed whether he belonged, at that time, to the secret friends of Jesus; but he was certainly regarded as such by the people, and probably not without reason. At least Simon’s two sons, Alexander and Rufus, were afterward designated as true Christians; and the inference from the sons to the father is probably correct. Suffice it to say, this Jew, Simon, was stopped, and compelled to bear the Lord’s cross. At first he resisted being thus burdened and disgraced, but he soon reconciled himself to it, and then bore it willingly.

With reference to this circumstance, the words of Jesus are accustomed to be applied—”Whoever will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me;” and occasion is then taken from the history of this part of the passion, to treat of the reproach we have to bear for Christ’s sake. But this seems to me not entirely correct, since Simon does not bear his own cross, but that on which Jesus died. Something very different is, therefore, reflected in the symbolical form of the cross-bearer. It presents to our view the inward position of faith with respect to the cross of Christ, that is, to the sacrifice and act of redemption accomplished upon it. We ought to be cross-bearers in the same sense in which Simon was, only spiritually so. We are such, when the cross of Christ becomes ours in the way of self-accusation, believing appropriation, and continual dying with Christ.

He who, in spirit, sees Jesus proceeding toward Calvary under the burden of his cross, will, in so far, immediately become like Simon, in being compelled, by compassion and right feeling, to remove the dreadful load from the innocent Jesus, and cast it upon the wicked Jews, or upon a blind and merciless power, which he calls fate and chance, or even upon the all over-ruling God himself, whom he secretly accuses of not having prevented such a piece of crying injustice. But relieving Christ of his burden in this manner, only proves great mental blindness. It is true, the commencement of all Christian life begins by our being inwardly constrained to take the burden from the Savior, not, however, in order to hurl it upon others, but in sincere self-condemnation, to take it upon ourselves. An enlightened conscience urges upon us the conviction of our own guilt. We shrink back from it, and resist with all our power, but in vain. The holy law, the dreadful mirror of the Divine perfections, now no longer misunderstood, stands before us, and who will undertake to belie or deceive it? Possibly the lightning that strikes us, flashes upon us, at first, only from one of the ten commandments. We then think we may be able to save ourselves in the other nine, and we cast ourselves, as into a safe fortress, perhaps into the first command, “You shall have no other gods before me.” But the Spirit, who has now begun to enlighten us, conducts us ever deeper into the inmost nature of the divine law, and it is then said to us, “You who suppose you have kept the first commandment, have you loved God from your infancy, with all your heart, and mind, and strength?”

On hearing this heart-searching question, we hasten to turn our backs on the first, and then flee, say to the sixth. We are aware of never having sought another’s life, nor ever committed murder. Nevertheless, we now hear it thundered in our ears, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer;” and thus the supposed fortress of the sixth commandment has a breach.

We cast ourselves into the ninth, and think we have never been guilty of bearing false witness. But it is then said, “How do you dare to appeal to the ninth commandment? Have you never told a falsehood, never deceived, dissembled, nor flattered? We hear, but do not let the voice of conscience finish its speech, before we retire, without hesitation, into the seventh, and say, very confidently, “I have kept this, I never committed adultery.” But we immediately hear the appalling words, “He who looks upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery;” and we flee from the seventh commandment as from a fire which threatens to consume us.

Where now? possibly to the fifth. Alas, both father and mother accuse us. To the eighth? It really seems as if we should find shelter there for we are no thieves. But woe unto us! not far from it stands the tenth, with its injunction, “You shall not covet!” This finally strips us of everything, and terminates the whole process by a general condemnation. All our boasting is then at an end. We hesitate, indeed, to give up. We assemble together all our so-called good works; but scarcely do we begin to derive comfort from this dubious source, when a light shoots down upon it from the sanctuary of God, in whose bright and burning rays, even our best performances appear as a worm-eaten fruit of impure self-love.

Thus we are compelled to pronounce sentence upon ourselves. But what threatens transgressors, such as we, during the remainder of our existence? “Tribulation and anguish upon every soul that does evil.” “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.” We read and tremble, “Woe is me,” we exclaim, “Miserable man that I am! I am already condemned, and accursed, and lost!” We refuse to believe it, but the appalling words, “You are the man!” resound on every side; and it seems as if the very walls of our chambers, and the joists and beams cried out against us. A thousand reminiscences of past transgressions crowd around us like avenging spirits exclaiming, “You shall surely die!” and the dreadful words haunt us even in our dreams. We imagine we read them in the stars, and that they are written on each of our days. Thus we are at length compelled to acknowledge that the sentence is just. Christ’s cross is laid upon us, that is, we find ourselves guilty of the cross, since we feel that we are ourselves exposed to the curse which Christ endured upon it.

When, in this sense, we have taken the cross of Christ upon us, God who has humbled us, is accustomed, in due time, to comfort us. We again arise from the darkness and horrors of self-condemnation into the crimson-colored sunshine of the atonement. In the cross of Christ, we recognize the mysterious tree, on which the sentence which menaced us with eternal destruction has long ago been endured. We apprehend the mystery of the cross in its consolatory depth, and enter into a new relation with it, embrace it as our only refuge, and believingly appropriate the merits of him who suffered upon it. We now take it in a different manner upon us than before; certainly more from necessity at first than desire. Proud human nature resists the idea of being saved by grace. In the sequel, however, we become reconciled to the wondrous burden, and finally bear it with delight, even as an heir his inheritance, as a king his scepter, as a warrior his sword and shield, as a conqueror the flag of victory, as a liberated debtor his receipt in full, and as a nobleman the diploma of his nobility.

Thus, in a spiritual sense, we become like Simon of Cyrene. We enter into the most vital, fervent, and blissful fellowship with the cross of Christ. We are every where and continually occupied with this cross, and it becomes the sign by which we are known. If listened to in our chamber, we are heard praying beneath the cross. If we say, “Abba, father,” it is the cross which encourages us to do so. If we hope for a favorable answer to our requests, the cross emboldens us to expect it. If our conversation is in heaven, the cross is the heavenly ladder, on the steps of which we rise above the world, death, and hell. The cross forms the focus of all our heartfelt melody. If a gleam of joy rests upon our foreheads, the cross is the sun from whence it proceeds. If we are courageous, it is in the shadow of the cross. If we overcome the temptations of the wicked one, the cross of Christ is the banner under which we conquer.

We do not indeed always embrace the cross with equal warmth and fervor. Occasionally, we bear it with indifference, unwillingly, and even as a burden. This is the case either when the root of our life again sinks imperceptibly deeper into the soil of this world; or when the Lord causes our mountain to stand strong, and we take fresh occasion to please ourselves with our own doings. But God, who is as faithful in humbling as in comforting us, knows how to render the cross sweet to us, by giving up our old man to a renewed crucifixion, and by reviving and refreshing in us the consciousness of our wretchedness in the midst of distress, disgrace, and pressure. Generally speaking the experience of all who, in faith, take upon them the cross of Christ, agrees in this, that they are ever longer drawn into the death of him who hung upon the tree. They decrease. They consciously become personally poorer, more worthless and helpless—no, in time, nothing remains in them of which they might boast as a ground of justification. But the more completely they suffer shipwreck as to everything of their own, the more valuable does the cross of Calvary become to them, as the only plank of rescue from the surge. How fervently is it then again embraced, how highly and loudly praised, and how bedewed with warm tears of grateful thanksgiving, until at length the whole inward life moves round the cross, in ever closer drawn circles, like the revolving planets round their several suns.

May the Lord be pleased to impress the form of Simon the cross-bearer ever more clearly upon our inner man; and in order that this figure may be the more fully produced in us, may he the more and more comprehensively unveil to us the corruption which adheres to us by nature! It is only thus that we learn to bear the cross of Christ with a holy pride. Only thus does it become to us a tree of life, from which we may pluck heavenly fruit. Only thus does it serve as a wondrous weapon, by means of which we overcome the world, death, and Satan.

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Krummacher’s work is available through Amazon.

Krummacher: The Way to the Cross

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.

Author’s Preface

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]

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THE SUFFERING SAVIOR

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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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