« EdellinenJatka »
1 CORINTHIANS 1. 23.
We preach Christ crucified.
TO-DAY again we are met, according to the custom of our Church, to remember the death of Christ upon the cross
There is no day of our life when this remembrance is not called for—no day when it does not befit us to give God thanks for our redemption through the sacrifice of His dear Son.
But on this day such a remembrance is an especial duty. For it is the day on which the sacrifice was made—when the Passover was killed—the anniversary of our Lord's death—that death for us upon the tree—the cruel, lingering agony of crucifixion.
On such a day there is but one topic for the Christian preacher- We preach—and we must preach-Christ crucified! May God give us grace to handle with all reverence such a subject, and to set it before you ever as it is plainly delivered in the Scriptures !
I say plainly-for if there be one doctrine more surely in the Bible than another, it is this of Christ's death for sinners on the cross. Through both the Old and New Testament it is made the centre on which God's revelation turns. We see it shadowed out beforehand in the sacrifices of the Jewish law-we see it in the prophecies, waxing more and more distinct as the time drew on-we see it in the Gospels-in the words used by Christ Himself signifying what death He should die-we see it commented upon in the Epistles. Each and every part of the inspired Book bears its testimony: and that united concurrent testimony cannot by any subtlety be set aside.
To a plain man reading the Bible with an honest desire to get at its true meaning, I will be bold to assert that this great fact will become clear—that Christ died for our sins : that we are redeemed to God not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot : who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world.
And this brings me to speak of the absolute necessity of our Lord's death arising out of God's determinate pre-appointed counsel.
He is called in Holy Scripture the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Even from the beginning the great plan was laid. Even then, as it would appear, it was arranged by the Almighty that Christ should suffer !
We ought not to overlook this. It adds greatly to the interest, greatly to the awe with which we contemplate the closing scene of our Lord's mortal life.
In that scene, which has been so fully set before us in the Scriptures for this day, human instruments appear in the foreground. The bitter hatred of the Pharisees the covetousness of Judas—the time-serving of Pilate, these seem the immediate cause of our Lord's crucifixion. But behind these, and above these, a higher agent was at work—even God's will, His prepared plan that so it should be.
The Lord Jesus knew of that plan, and was a consenting party to it. He came into the world to carry it out-with a body prepared, to do Thy will, O God. He kept that object steadily in view. He never wished it to be altered or set aside. Though once, for a moment His Spirit seemed to sink, and in His agony He cried out, Father, save me from this hour !-yet it was but for a moment. His brave beart rallied, and He added instantly, But for this cause came I unto this hour! .
And so it was shortly afterwards, when Peter, in his hasty zeal, drew a sword to defend his Master from being taken, He rebuked him with these stedfast words—Put up thy sword into the sheaf ; the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions ? But how then shall the Scripture be fulfilled that thus it must be ?
This, I think, is not enough considered-how entirely our Lord was aware of His death from the beginningand not only aware of it, and consenting to it, but aware of the great end it was to accomplish. Witness those words of His—And I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto me. This is my body, which is broken for you. This is my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
We see then, brethren, that the death of Christ upon the cross, though brought about by man as the instrument, was pre-determined, fixed as a thing that must be, by Him who ordereth all things both in heaven and earth.
We come next to consider why it was fixed-why it must be.
Had Jesus done any wrong to any man ? Had He ever done anything but what was pleasing to God, and beneficial to mankind ? You answer, Nothing. He had no sins, then, of His own to atone for. Why, then, His cruel death ?-why that heavy chastisement of which we read again to-day ?-why those stripes ?why that agony ?—why that shame ?—why that sense as of one forsaken ? Not, I repeat, for any fault of His own-He was perfectly holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners—not for His fault, but for ours. As Isaiah had foretold it centuries before,—He was wounded for our transgressions : He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Yes—there is the true cause of Christ's death-He died to save others from death—He made there upon the cross, without Jerusalem - as our Church teachesby the one offering of Himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, redemption, propitiation, and
satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual.
Holy Scripture declares the same in no doubtful phrase. Christ came, we are told, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself—to make reconciliation for iniquityto obtain redemption—to give Himself a ransom for all. The words are varied, but their meaning is the sameHis death was for others--for the lost, ruined, condemned descendants of Adam-Scarcely for a righteous man will one be found to die : yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die ; but God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
So far of the mystery of the Atonement as it is contained in the Scripture, and taught in the formularies of our Church.
It is, I have said, taught plainly. But there are depths in it beyond our fathoming-depths which the angels may desire to look into—which shall be clear to the redeemed in another state of being. At present we know only in part—but we know enough for all purposes of good—enough to fill our hearts with thankfulnessenough to make us joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the Atonement !
Hold fast then, brethren, this great doctrine of your redemption to God by the blood of the cross, which is preached to you to-day. Hold fast by it, as the sheet anchor of your religion. It is, we know, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to some—we were told beforehand that it would prove so—but blessed is he who