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saying that He Himself is Christ, a King." Thus they pretended to have discovered by what He said, that He had a design of setting up Himself as King of the Jews, in opposition to Cesar, the Roman Emperor.
But in the confession or declaration of our Saviour, we see that He claimed for Himself almighty power. He acknowledged Himself to be the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,18 the Son of God, and the Son of man.19 In derision of these His titles and attributes, the Evangelist records, Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee ?19 But as He had referred them to the judgment of the, great day, He meekly submitted to all the mockery, and insult, and injury which they heaped upon Him, without a murmur or complaint. As St. Peter observes, When He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. In which He hath left us an example that we should follow His steps; an example, however, which in the time of trial it is by no means easy to follow. Let it be our prayer that the same mind may be in us which was also in Christ Jesus, that we may manifest ourselves to be Christians, not in word,
17 Luke xxiii. 1, 2. 18 Mark xiv. 61. 19 Mat. xxvi. 63, 64, 67, 68.
neither in tongue only, but in deed and in truth.20 Although our blessed Saviour submitted to be ill-treated and reviled in the most contemptuous manner, yet He was a King indeed; but His kingdom was not of this world. What He asserted on this subject, however, together with the declaration of the Jews, that He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God, seems to have excited Pilate's fears, lest he should experience His vengeance for the part that he took in condemning Him. When Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment-hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art Thou? But Jesus gave him no answer, as He had replied to that question before.
How great was the guilt of those who condemned and put to death the Holy One and the Just. We do not wonder that wrath came upon them to the uttermost for such an atrocious crime. They who refuse to acknowledge the Divine power of the Lord Jesus, have reason to fear lest they should be found among those who justify the Jews in condemning Him, and putting Him to death. Let them rather kiss, or submit themselves to the Son of God, lest He be angry, and they perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled, yea, but a little. For blessed are all they, and they alone, that put their trust in Him."
20 1 John iii. 18. 21 John xviii. 36, xix. 7-9. 22 Psalm ii. 12.
Although the imprecation recorded in the text was the most dreadful one that ever was uttered, and the transaction to which it led was the most atrocious crime ever committed, yet through the overruling goodness of God it was made the greatest blessing to mankind that ever occurred. The benefits derived from the bloodshedding and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, by His believing people, were to be considered in the
Second place. We are informed by the Apostle Paul that in Christ, the beloved Son of God, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, wherein He hath abounded toward us. The church of God is therefore said to have been purchased with His own blood,24 and we are told that, the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth us from all sin.25 This is the reason why the death of Christ is to be kept in continual remembrance. Had our blessed Saviour given up His life merely in testimony of the truth of the doctrines which He preached, there would have been no cause for commemorating His crucifixion and death to the end of the world. But the death of Christ is held forth in the holy Scriptures as a ransom price, an atonement, a propitiation for sin, by means of which sin is pardoned, and the sinner is reconciled to God.
23 Ephesians i. 6-8. 24 Acts xx. 28. 25 John i. 7.
In this point of view let us commemorate the death of Christ at this sacred season. view it as a sacrifice for sin in which we are personally interested, because He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. In consequence of His having made peace through the blood of His cross, it is declared that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.26 What a gracious declaration is this! It is familiar to our ears, and therefore we hear it as if it were a matter of little importance. But to be reconciled to God will one day be found by every individual of the human race of more importance than any thing else. For then it will appear that it had been good for that man if he had not been born who is not reconciled to God, who is not at peace with Him, who has not fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, through the operation of the Holy Ghost.
Here is set before us the way of pardon and peace with God. We have sinned, but our Lord Jesus Christ made His soul an offering for sin,29 and it is therefore declared that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Let us then
26 2 Cor. v. 19,21. 27 Mat. xxvi. 24. 281 Johni. 4,9. 29 Isa. liii. 10.
confess our sins at His footstool, imploring forgiveness for Christ's sake. Let us seek for true repentance from Him who is exalted to give it. And let us humble ourselves before Him with contrition of heart on account of our multiplied offences. If we are really anxious to obtain pardon for our sins past, we are invited to behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.30 Through faith in His blood forgiveness is to be received freely, not for our desert, but as the gift of Divine grace to the undeserving. Let us then look unto Jesus Christ our Redeemer, as wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, as having the chastisement of our peace laid upon Him, that with His stripes we might be healed." Him let us draw nigh to God, accepted in His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased,33 and we may be assured that though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,31 the guilt which could not possibly be otherwise removed, shall be as effectually discharged, as if it had never been incurred. This is the blessed news, the good tidings of great joy, which the gospel of Christ proclaims to the penitent sinner.
And thus through
The holy sacrament of the Lord's supper was instituted for the purpose of keeping up to the
30 John i. 29. 31 Isa. liii. 5, i. 18. 32 Ephes. i. 6. 33 Matt. iii. 17.