12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?
13 And they cried out again, Crucify him.
Stoning was the punishment for blasphemy under the Law of Moses (Lev 24:16), but by divine providence the Jews were not permitted to enforce capital punishment - 'Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death' (John 18:31).
Accordingly, by the intricate evolutions of providence the prophecy was fulfilled 'He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken' (Psalm 34:10).
14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
Crucifixion was the Roman punishment for treason - His life forfeit even though Pilate new he was innocent as also testified by the Centurion, 'Truly this man was the Son of God'.
25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
Such is the ungarnished record of the awful climax of the Lord's sufferings. The name of the spot has gone round the world in all languages, through all the ages with the cross of his shame and the name of his glory. Its particular locality is doubtful. It matters little. It is known to God, and is better not known to man in the state of things now upon the earth. It will doubtless be marked and honoured in the day of the Lord's glory when he reigns, with the nail marks in his hands where they were inflicted.
It is natural for men to be curious as to the exact site of Calvary. An attempt has recently been made to identify it in connection with its other name -- Golgotha, "the place of a skull". There is a prominence or spur outside the walls of Jerusalem on the eastern side resembling the shape of a skull, and it is supposed this was "the place" where the procession that led Jesus out to crucifixion came to a halt.
Wherever it was, arrived at Calvary, the soldiers proceeded to the work which an agonised imagination refuses to realise.
..."And they crucified him:" brief words. What unutterable anguish is crowded into them!
The soldiers would undress him: for it was the custom to crucify prisoners naked. Oh, what heart rending indignity. Shall we be afraid of being put to shame for his sake? It was for us he thus suffered:
"the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."
Then they would lay the cross on the ground; and taking hold of Christ, they would lay him down on his back upon it, and seizing hammer and strong nails, they would drive the nails through hands and feet as if he were a piece of senseless wood. Oh, the agonised face! Oh, the sweat-beaded brow! Oh, the cruel pangs and heavy groans of that holy bosom! O God, why this heart-crushing tragedy -- Thy dear Son, Thy beloved Son, given thus into the hands of sinners, torn and mangled as by beasts of prey, subjected to every indignity in the power of man to inflict?
We know the answer:
"By one man sin entered into the world."
He himself has said
"The cup which my Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink?"
But we are weak. We can ill bear this sight.
"Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."
Father, thou art great, and sin is terrible.
"It pleased the Lord to put him to grief."
Thou wilt yet divide him a portion with the strong in the bright and endless day for which thou art thus preparing. When we think of this, we draw a sigh of relief.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
The thief on the cross
He believed in the kingdom of God, and acknowledged Jesus, while in His lowest estate, as "King of the Jews," and therefore future Monarch of the nation. He was by constitution one of "the children of the kingdom" (Matt. 8:12), though he had proved himself a very disreputable citizen. It was only necessary in his case that his faith and change of mind and disposition should be counted to him for repentance and remission of sins; for without this lie could not enter the kingdom of God.
The Lord Jesus, who then alone upon the earth had power to forgive sins, granted his petition, and so constituted him an heir of the righteousness which is by faith in the gospel of the kingdom. The case of the thief was unique, and one to which there has been none like before or since.
Elpis Israel 1.6.
32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
Reason, if it works correctly, will not only have no fault to find with the cross of Christ, but will rapturously recognize the glory of eternal wisdom in an institution of salvation which exalts God to the highest and abases man to the uttermost, while securing for man a wellbeing that is "unspeakable and full of glory."
We look back then at the sufferings of Christ. They were real and terrible to him. We have known them so long by report that we may not always realise their dreadfulness. It was no performance he went through when he laid down his life for us. We have only to watch him in the garden of Gethsemane to feel this. See him throw himself on his face ã on his face ã the most abject posture of entreaty it is possible for man to assume. See him do so three times. Hearken to the petition he offers: -
My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done!"
Mark the tokens of his mental anguish: he sweats as it were great drops of blood. Behold an angel strengthen him. Does it not all tell us of the terrible reality of his sufferings? The cup did not pass. Therefore it could not.
As we behold him drink it in the agony of painful, faithful resolution, let us learn the high and ineffable majesty of God who, though full of loving kindness and tender mercy, cannot forgive and receive sinners unto life eternal except on the basis of His authority vindicated -"His righteousness declared" - His law upheld in the person of one entirely acceptable to Him, to whom He can confide the dispensation of His love for all who implicitly and unreservedly, and with the humility of little children, accept and identify themselves with all that has been accomplished in him.
It is a truly magnificent arrangement of wisdom that has given us such an one in Christ, -who" as Paul with lucid fullness remarks,
"of God, is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
At once the Son of God and the Son of Man, Davidês Lord and David's Son, the partaker of our common mortality, and yet the vanquisher thereof by the spotlessness of a perfect obedience and submission to the death passed on all men, he is the central meeting point of all sympathies and all greatness.
He appeals to our tenderest love in the laying down of his life; he commands our complete homage in the intimacy of his relation to the Father with whom he declared himself one. He engages our highest admiration as the Master who stooped to be a servant: the Heir who voluntarily submitted to poverty: the most honorable King and Lord who humbled himself to keep the company of the lowly, and endure the insults of the base.
And through him, as we gaze upon him as our elder brother, the head of the family, we see shining the greatness and the glory, and the holiness, and the love of the Eternal Father, of whom are all things.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
The effluent power by which he had taught and worked was withdrawn from him for some time before he died. The Spirit no longer rested upon the Cherub, yet that Cherub continued to live as other men. In process of time he expired. He was now, like the Cherubic Veil of the Temple, "rent in twain." It was no longer affirmable that
"I and the Father are one";
but that "I and the Father are twain"; for the Father was no longer in him, nor he in the Father. In the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, the body was in the condition predicted in Psalm 38:
"Yahweh's arrows stuck fast in it, and His hand pressed it sore. There was no soundness in the flesh; its wounds stank; and its loins were filled with a loathsome disease; feeble and sore broken, his lovers and friends stood aloof from His stroke, which had consumed him, and laid him low in a horrible pit."
This was the death state of the Cherub. Will any one affirm that that dead body was the Father? That it had lived in the world before the world was? That it was the Creator of all things? Nay, it was the flesh only in which sin was condemned: and had it been left there, it would have crumbled into unprofitable dust (Psalm 30:9).
But, in the wisdom of the Eternal Substance, this could not be permitted. This flesh must be born again, and its ears must be opened (Psalm 40:6; Heb. 10:5). The Eternal sent forth His spirit, and "healed his soul" of that "evil disease," which his enemies said, "cleaved fast unto him, that lying down, he should rise up no more" (Psalm 41:4, 8).
But the Eternal Power defeated their machinations, and proved them to be liars; for He turned the body into Spirit, and made it "one in nature" with Himself - the Spirit - Son of the Eternal Spirit, equal in power and glory -- GOD.
Phanerosis - The Anointed Cherub
37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the spirit [He expired (exepneuse)] .
38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
Thus we see the breaking of the body of Jesus identified with the rending of the cherubic veil; thereby indicating that the latter was representative of the Lord.
We have arrived then at this, that
the Mosaic cherubim were symbolical of "God manifest in the flesh."
We wish now to ascertain upon what principles His incarnate manifestation was represented by the cherubim? First, then, in the solution of this interesting problem, I remark, that the Scriptures speak of God after the following manner.
"God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5); again, "God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24); and thirdly, "our God is a consuming fire" (Deut. 4:24).
In these three texts, which are only a sample of many others, we perceive that God is represented by light, spirit, and fire; when, therefore, He is symbolized as manifest in flesh, it becomes necessary to select certain signs representative of light, spirit, and fire, derived from the animal kingdom.
Now, the ancients selected the lion, the ox, and the eagle, for this purpose, probably from tradition of the signification of these animals, or the faces of them, in the original cherubim. They are called God's faces because His omniscience, purity and jealousy, are expressed in them. But the omniscient, jealous, and incorruptible God, was to be manifested in a particular kind of flesh. Hence, it was necessary to add a fourth face to show in what nature He would show Himself.
For this reason, the human face was associated with the lion, the ox, and the eagle. These four faces united in one human shape formed out of beaten gold; and two such, not separate and distinct symbols, but standing one on each end of the mercy-seat, and the same in continuity and substance with it, taken as a whole, represented Jesus, the true blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, or propitiatory, "in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Rom. 3:25; Col. 2:3-9).
All four faces were to look upon the mercy-seat, so as to behold the sprinkled blood of the yearly sacrifice. To accomplish this, two cherubs were necessary; so that the lion, and the ox, faces of the one, and the man, and the eagle, faces of the other, should all be "mercy-seat ward."
It will be seen from this view of things, how important a place the cherubim occupied in the worship of God connected with "the representation of the truth." They were not objects of adoration, but symbols representing to the mind of an intelligent believer, the Seed of the woman as God manifested in the likeness of sinful flesh.
This I take it was the significancy of the cherubim which the Lord God placed at the east of the garden, and which became the germ, as it were, of the shadowy observances of the patriarchal and Mosaic institutions, whose substance was of Christ.
Elpis Israel 1.5.
39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
A centurion was a career soldier. He was the highest officer within reach of an ordinary soldier, and the backbone of the Roman military. A centurion commanded 100 men. These things were all done under the authority of the centurion! It was only after Jesus' death when the sky was darkened and there was a great earthquake that the centurion and they that were with him - the soldiers (Matt 27:54), feared and acknowledged Jesus' innocence in identifying him as being, "righteous" (Luke 23:47) and the "Son of God" - a barren confession, at best, on their part.
Sis Valerie Mello
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
When even was come
Abram, having first sought the kingdom of God in leaving his father's house to "seek the city, whose architect and builder is God," had now become the subject of the righteousness of God by faith, so that the Lord was now prepared to add all other things to him (Matt. 6:33). He reminded him of the purpose for which He had brought him into the land of Canaan, saying, "I, the Lord, brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees to give thee this land to inherit it."
Abram had been in the country ten years. He had become well acquainted with the land, and he perceived that it was a noble and desirable inheritance. When, therefore, the angel referred to the Lord's promise, Abram requested a sign, saying, "Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall possess it?" In reply to this he was commanded to take "a heifer of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. Having killed them, "he divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another, but the birds divided he not."
This sacrifice was, representative of the qualities of the Christ, concerning whom confirmation was about to be made, attestative of Abram's and his Seed's possession of the land in the fulness of the times afterwards to be arranged. From the time of the sacrifice until the going down of the sun, Abram was engaged in watching the carcases, so as to keep off the birds of prey. It is probable that the sacrifice was exposed about three hours ; at all events, "when even was come" (Gen. 15:12), and the sun was going down, Abram fell into a state of figurative death, by a deep sleep and horror of darkness coming over him.
This is a very remarkable feature in the case before us. Abram had built altars, and had called upon the name of the Lord before; but there were no such attendant circumstances as these. Here, however, he stands watching the exposed sacrificial victims until even, and then he is laid powerless in the similitude of death, and in the intense darkness of the grave.
Elpis Israel 2.2.