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This shows us what we need. It is the business of faith, to set before us things that are not, as if they were : to enable us to see in Jesus, not the “ man of sorrows" who stood before Pilate, but the Son of man who “ shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him.” It is the business of faith to give a substantial existence to “ things hoped for," so as to produce a real effect upon the mind, and enable it to overcome the world. The truths to which Jesus bore witness must be imprinted on the heart by the Spirit : and so realize things future and unseen, that earthly objects shall lose their hold : shall prevail no further than they justly and rightly may. We must see their perishable nature : how little they profit, and for how short a time. What remains to Pilate of all that he gained by complying with the sinful malice of the Jewish rulers? What but the worm of remorse “ that never dieth,” and the darkness which no light shall relieve? And such at last will be the case with all, who in this present time of trial prefer the pleasures, or the gains, or the opinions of the world, before a consistent life of faith in the Son of God. For he has said,
For he has said, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his father with the holy angels."
6 Mark viii. 39
JOHN xix. 17-30.
17. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a scull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha :
18. Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
19. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city : and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
21. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilato, Write not, The King of the Jews ; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
22. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
Thus God overrules the wrath of man, and causes it to minister to his praise. Pilate was disconcerted; angry with the chief priests, because they had urged him to act against his conscience and better judgment : and in obedience to his own humour, he refuses to gratify them further, or alter the title which he had framed, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Caiaphas had already been
led to say,
It is expedient that one man die for the people." So Pilate now testifies the truth, which before he was most anxious to deny. He had no scruple in allowing Jesus to be called the King OF THE Jews, now that he had been crucified. And it was as Christ crucified that he was king: and king not of that nation only, but “God had given him power over all flesh, that he might give eternal life to all the children of God that are scattered abroad."
23. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woren from the top throughout.
24. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
This is a part of a prophecy which David was inspired to utter. In the midst of complaints which refer to himself and his own circumstances, he introduces many things which never did occur to himself, and which could only have been left written for the instruction and conviction of those who should live in future times. (Ps. xxii. 1, 7, 8, 14—18,) “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my complaint? All they that see me, laugh me to scorn ; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord, that he would deliver him ; let him de
liver him, seeing he delighted in him. poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint : my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws : and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me : they pierced my hands and my feet : I may tell all my bones ; they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”
No one can read these words, and perceive that they did not and could not apply to David in his own person, but were put into his mouth for the purpose of confirming our faith, and showing us that nothing happened to the Lord which had not been foreseen and predetermined in the divine counsels.' So that both in his death, and in the minute circumstances of his death, he was truly " the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Lord, increase our faith! It is not the Lamb slain, but the Lamb believed on and adored, which can avail to the saving of the soul.
25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved,' he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son !
Acts iv. 28; xiii. 27.
? Rev. xiii. 8. 3 So St. John commonly describes himself.
27. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
28. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
29. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar : and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 4
30. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished : and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
It is finished. Much that we know, and much more that is too mysterious to be known, is contained in this word.5 That has been finished which was predicted at the first, that the serpent should “ bruise the heel” of the woman's seed, and that he should “ bruise the serpent's head.”
This was done : the prince of darkness had had his hour, and now his dominion was broken, his power weakened, his “ works destroyed.”6
That was finished which had been prefigured in the law, by the rite of the passover, by the daily sacrifices, by the various purifications, by the
4 Raising it on the stem of a species of hyssop, which resembles that of a reed. Thus fulfilling the scripture, which had said, (Ps. Ixix. 21,) “ They gave me also gall for my meat, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.” The accomplishment of this prophecy depended upon the attendance of the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion. This vinegar, mixed with water, was their beverage.
5 The original contains more than can be briefly expressed : τετελεoται. .
6 1 John iii. 8.