preaching. All our Saviour's life was a perfect example. He kept every rule of life which he laid down for us, and obeyed all the commandments of the Old Testament, for he said, "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it."

In the fifty-third verse above, he says to his disciples, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" Perhaps the disciples did not fully understand that Jesus had come on earth for the purpose of dying for sinners; and that now he had performed his works, finished his preaching, and appointed the Lord's Supper to be kept in remembrance of him, he was ready "to be offered." It may be my young reader has never thought on the subject, or really understood that Jesus died a voluntary death, that is, that he gave himself up willingly to die that sinners might be saved. Many christians have died for the cause of the truth, because they had rather die than become wicked. Such persons are called martyrs; but Jesus Christ was more than a martyr. They could not escape death but by telling falsehoods, or doing something wrong; Jesus could have taken himself away from his enemies in an instant, or he could have taken their breath away from them, and have made the whole multitude a vast body of lifeless corpses stretched on the ground, with their swords and staves lying powerless beside them; or, as he told his disciples, he could have commanded twelve legions of angels. One legion is from three to six thousand, and Jesus no doubt meant by this that if he chose to do it he could at once call to his aid a countless

number of heavenly beings; for he, whom vile, insignificant man despised and murdered, angels worshiped and obeyed. "But how then," said Jesus, "shall the scriptures be fulfilled."

After sin entered our world by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God pitied the race of man, and promised at some future time to send a Saviour to redeem them. All the good people of whom we read in the ancient scriptures, believed and trusted in that Saviour, and looked forward to the time of his coming as we now look back to it. The prophets were taught by the spirit of God to foretell his coming, and describe the manner of his death. Isaiah said, "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." If Jesus had called the angels, these scriptures would not have been fulfilled, and that offering would not have been made through which you and I may hope for mercy, and through which every human being is saved, if saved at all. But Jesus, our merciful Saviour, did not shrink back in the hour of danger and suffering. He loved us with an everlasting, an almighty love. Had he been only a man, his pity for us might have been lost in the midst of his own sufferings; but with the unchangeable purpose of a God he had given himself a sacrifice for sin, and with a love and pity which nothing could quench, he went steadily forward to finish the work of man's redemption.

Does not your heart warm with gratitude and love towards the Redeemer of lost men, as you read of his giving himself a willing sacrifice for sin, that ruined man might be saved? If not, my

dear reader, are you not fearful that you partake of the spirit of the chief priests and scribes, who could see nothing lovely in the character of the Saviour, and hated him without a cause?



MATT. xxvii. 46.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.

FROM the first of our Saviour's public ministry, we find that the chief priests were seeking to put him to death, and now as the time had arrived when he chose to give himself up to them, they were able to accomplish their purpose. I hope my reader will understand that these wicked men did not know that Jesus suffered himself to be taken by them, because he came to die for sinners, and therefore they were none the less guilty. They did not believe that he was the Saviour of the world, but they ought to have believed it; and to have loved him with all their hearts. They heard his gracious words, and saw his wonderful works, and it was only because they would not believe, and give their hearts to him, that they became so hardened in sin.

After the soldiers took Jesus, by order of the priests, he was led to the high priest, that he might examine him When Caiaphas, the high priest,

asked him if he was Christ, the Son of God, Jesus answered that he was, and he also said to him, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." At this the high priest rent his clothes, saying, "He hath spoken blasphemy," which means very wicked language against God, and as he asked the people what they thought of it they said, "He is guilty of death;" and here the blessed Saviour was treated in the most abusive and insulting manner. They even spit in his face, and buffeted, or struck him with the fist. After this the chief priests and elders of the people consulted together about putting the Saviour to death, and then he was bound and led away to Pilate, the Roman governor. We are told by other evangelists that he was also carried before Herod, a Jewish ruler. Pilate, it appears, could not find any reason why Jesus should be crucified, and he urged the people to have him released, but the chief priests and elders persuaded the people to join in the cry, "Crucify him, crucify him." The Saviour was therefore delivered up to the envious, blood-thirsty Jews, and led away to be crucified. He was scourged, or beaten, and then the soldiers put on him a scarlet robe, and platted a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and bowed the knee before him, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews." This was done on purpose to mock and insult the meek and lowly Saviour. After this we are told they again spit on him, and smote him on the head. When they were weary with this derision and cruelty, they fastened his precious body to the cross. A cross is a straight piece of wood, with another

piece fastened across it near the top. Large nails were driven through the Saviour's feet to confine him to the wood, and his arms were stretched out and confined to the cross piece by nails driven through the palms of his hands. The cross was set up in such a manner as to leave the feet of the Saviour about one yard from the ground. After Jesus was thus extended, his murderers sat down to watch him, and not satisfied with witnessing his sufferings in silence, they reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise, also, the chief priests, mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save."

Once more, my dear reader, think of the blessed Saviour, and review his life from the time you first read of him as the sweet babe of Bethlehem, to this hour of his death. You remember how he sat on the bleak mountain side, speaking the words of love and wisdom to the ignorant multitude; how he banished disease and suffering, and produced health and happiness by his miraculous power; and how he loved little children, and wept over the sins of those who were too hardened to repent; and now behold him stretched upon the cross, dying a lingering death, surrounded by an insulting mob, who take a malicious pleasure in beholding his distress. And why is this? Are you not astonished and perplexed to think an innocent person should suffer thus? And then when you think of his benevolence, that he not only injured none, but did good to all; and, added to all this, when you think of his miracles, which

« VorigeDoorgaan »