This message originially was over 7,000 words long and since I know that many of you would never read that much, I have edited it to the greatest points. You will not want to miss reading it though it is still very long.
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, JANUARY 30TH, 1859,
AT THE MUSIC HALL, ROYAL SURREY GARDENS.
Ah! no; let us go to Calvary this morning, and see this great sight. Jesus Christ, for the joy that was set before him, enduring the cross, despising the shame.
Beloved, I wish to show you the SHAMEFUL SUFFERER.
Perhaps there is nothing which men so much abhor as shame. We find that death itself has often been preferable in the minds of men to shame; and even the most wicked and callous-hearted have dreaded the shame and contempt of their fellow-creatures far more than any tortures to which they could have been exposed.
We find Abimelech, a man who murdered his own brethren without compunction; we find even him overcome by shame, when â€œa certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelechâ€™s head, and all to break his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armor bearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.â€ Shame was too much for him. He would far rather meet the suicideâ€™s death â€” for such it was â€” than he should be convicted of the shame of being slain by a woman.
So was it with Saul also â€” a man who was not ashamed of breaking his oath, and of hunting his own son in-law like a partridge upon the mountains â€” even he fell upon his own sword rather than it should be said of him that he fell by the Philistines.
And we read of an ancient king, Zedekiah, that albeit he seemed reckless enough, he was afraid to fall into the hands of the Chaldeans, lest the Jews who had fallen away to Nebuchadnezzar should make a mock of him.
These instances are but a few of many. It is well known that criminals and malefactors have often had a greater fear of public contempt than of ought else. Nothing can so break down the human spirit as to be subject continually to contempt, the visible and manifest contempt of oneâ€™s fellows; in fact to go further, shame is so frightful to man that it is one of the ingredients of hell itself; it is one of the bitterest drops in that awful cup of misery. The shame of everlasting contempt to which wicked men awake in the day of their resurrection; to be despised of men, despised of angels, despised of God, is one of the depths of hell.
Shame, then, is a terrible thing to endure; and many of the proudest natures have been subdued when once they have been subjected to it.
Besides some minds are of such a delicate and sensitive disposition that they feel things far more than others. There are some of us who do not so readily perceive an affront, or when we do perceive it, are totally indifferent to it. But there are others of a loving and tender heart; they have so long wept for othersâ€™ woes, that their hearts have become tender, and they therefore feel the slightest brush of ingratitude from those they love, and if those for whom they are willing to suffer should utter words of blasphemy and rebuke against them, their souls would be pierced to the very quick.
A man in armor would walk through thorns and briars without feeling, but a man who is naked feels the smallest of the thorns; now Christ was so to speak a naked spirit, he had stripped himself of all for manhood; he said, â€œThe foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.â€ He stripped himself of everything that could make him callous, for he loved with all his soul; his strong passionate heart was fixed upon the welfare of the human race; he loved them even unto death, and to be mocked by those for whom he died, to be spit upon by the creatures whom he came to save, to come unto his own, and to find that his own received him not, but actually cast him out, this was pain indeed.
Ye tender hearts can weep for othersâ€™ woes, and ye that love with a love as strong as death, and with a jealousy as cruel as the grave, ye can guess, but only you, what the Savior must have endured, when all did mock him, all did scorn him, and he found none to pity none to take his part.
Shame is peculiarly abhorrent to manhood, and far more to such a manhood as that which Christ carried about with him â€” a noble, sensitive, loving nature, such as no other manhood had ever possessed. And now come and let us behold the pitiful spectacle of Jesus put to shame. He was put to shame in three ways â€” by shameful accusation, shameful mockery, and shameful crucifixion.
And, first, behold the Saviorâ€™s shame in his shameful accusation. He in whom was no sin, and who had done no ill, was charged with sin of the blackest kind. He was first arraigned before the Sanhedrim on no less a charge than that of blasphemy.
Nor did this content them. Having charged him with breaking the first table, they then charged him with violating the second: they said he was guilty of sedition; they declared that he was a traitor to the government of Caesar, that he stirred up the people, declaring that he himself was a king.
But next, Christ not only endured shameful accusation but he endured shameful mocking. When Christ was taken away to Herod, Herod set him at nought. The original word signifies made nothing of him. It is an amazing thing to find that man should make nothing of the Son of God, who is all in all.
You will observe that in Christâ€™s mocking, from Herodâ€™s own hall, on to the time when he was taken from Pilateâ€™s hall of judgment to his crucifixion, and then onward to his death, the mockers were of many kinds.
In the first place they mocked the Saviorâ€™s person. One of those things about which we may say but little, but of which we ought often to think, is the fact that our Savior was stripped in the midst of a ribald soldiery, of all the garments that he had. It is a shame even for us to speak of this which was done by our own flesh and blood toward him who was our Redeemer.
The person of Christ was stripped twice; and although our painters, for obvious reasons, cover Christ upon the cross, there he hung â€” the naked Savior of a naked race. He who clothed the lilies had not wherewith to clothe himself; he who had clothed the earth with jewels and made for it robes of emeralds, had not so much as a rag to conceal his nakedness from a staring, gazing, mocking, hard-hearted crowd. He had made coats of skins for Adam and Eve when they were naked in the garden; he had taken from them those poor fig leaves with which they sought to hide their nakedness, given them something wherewith they might wrap themselves from the cold; but now they part his garments among them, and for his vesture do they cast lots, while he himself, exposed to the pitiless storm of contempt, hath no cloak with which to cover his shame. They mocked his person, â€” Jesus Christ declared himself to be the Son of God; â€” they mocked his divine person as well as his human â€” when he hung upon the cross, they said. â€œIf thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross, and we will believe on thee.â€
But note next, they mocked all his offices, as well as his person. Christ was a king, and never such a king as he. What did they do? Did they bring crowns with which to honor him, and did the nobility of earth cast their robes beneath his feet to carpet his footsteps.
See, what they do? He is delivered up to rough and brutal soldiery. They find for him a mimic throne, and having put him on it, they strip him of his own robes, and find some old soldierâ€™s cloak of scarlet or of purple, and put it about his loins. They plait a crown of thorns, and put it about his brow â€” a brow that was of old bedight with stars, and then they fix in his hand â€” a hand that will not resent an insult, a secptre of reed, and then bowing the knee, they pay their mimic homage before him, making him a May-day king. Now, perhaps there is nothing so heartrending as royalty despised.
Here was a shame indeed, â€” the king mocked by his own subjects.
He was a prophet, too, as we all know, and what did they that they might mock him as a prophet? Why they blindfolded him; shut out the light of heaven from his eyes, and then they smote him, and did buffet him with their hands, and they said, â€œProphecy unto us who it is that smote thee.â€
But they also mocked his priesthood, Jesus Christ had come into the world to be a priest to offer sacrifice, and his priesthood must be mocked too. All salvation lay in the hands of the priests, and now they say unto him, â€œIt thou be the Christ save thyself and us,â€ Ah! he saved others, himself he could not save.
He was mocked, still further, in his sufferings. I cannot venture to describe the sufferings of our Savior under the lash of the scourge.
I know it must have been a terrible scourging, to be called wounding, bruising, chastisement, and stripes; and, remember, that every time the lash fell on his shoulders, the laugh of him who used the lash was mingled with the stripe, and every time the blood poured out afresh, and the flesh was torn off his bones, there was a jest and a jeer, to make his pain yet more poignant and terrible.
And when he came at last to his cross, and they nailed him upon it, how they continued the mockery of his sufferings!
They mocked him, and, at last, he called for drink, and they gave him vinegar â€” mocking his thirst, while they pretended to allay it.
But worst of all, I have one more thing to notice, they mocked his prayers. Did you ever read in all the annals of executions, or of murders, that ever men mocked their fellow-creatures prayers? I have read stories of some dastardly villains who hare sought to slay their enemies, and seeing their death approaching the victims have said, â€œgive me a moment or two for prayerâ€ â€” and rare has been the cases when this has been disallowed. But I never read of a case in which when the prayer was uttered it has been laughed at, and made the object of a jest. But here hangs the Savior, and every word he speaks becomes the subject of a pun, the motto of a jest.
And when at the last he utters the most thrilling death-shriek that ever startled earth and hell, â€œEloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,â€ even then they must pun upon it, and say, â€œhe calleth for Elias, let us see whether Elias will come and take him down.â€ He was mocked even in his prayer. O Jesus! never was love like thine; never patience that could be compared with thy endurance when thou didst endure the cross, despising the shame.
The cross! the cross! When you hear that word it wakens in your hearts no thoughts of shame. All the deaths in the world are preferable to this; they have all some slight alleviating circumstance, either their rapidity or their glory. But this is the death of a villain, of a murderer, of an assassin, â€” a death painfully protracted, one which cannot be equalled in all inventions of human cruelty, for suffering and ignominy. Christ himself endured this.
The cross, I say, is in this day no theme of shame. It has been the crest of many a monarch, the banner of many a conqueror. To some it is an object of adoration. The finest engravings, the most wonderful paintings, have been dedicated to this subject. And now, the cross engraven on many a gem has become a right, royal, and noble thing. And we are unable at this day, I believe, fully to understand the shame of the cross; but the Jew knew it, the Roman knew it, and Christ knew what a frightful thing, what a shameful thing its was to be put to the death of crucifixion.
Remember, too, that in the Saviorâ€™s case, there were special aggravations of this shame. He had to carry his own cross; he was crucified, too, at the common place of execution, Calvary. He was put to death, too, at a time when Jerusalem was full of people. It was at the feast of the Passover, when the crowd had greatly increased, and when the representatives of all nations would be present to behold the spectacle. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Greece, ay, and perhaps far-off Tarshish, and the islands of the sea. All were there to unite in this scoffing, and to increase the shame.
And he was crucified between two thieves, as if to teach that he was viler than they. Was ever shame like this? Let me conduct you to the cross.
The cross, the cross! Tears begin to flow at the very thoughts of it. The rough wood is laid upon the ground, Christ is flung upon his back, four soldiers seize his hands and feet, his blessed flesh his rent with the accursed iron; he begins to bleed, he is lifted into mid-air, the cross is dashed into the place prepared for it, every limb is dislocated, every bone put out of joint by that terrific jerk; he hangs there naked to his shame, gazed upon by all beholders, the sun shines hot upon him, fever begins to burn, the tongue is dried up like a potsherd, it cleaveth to the roof of his mouth, he hath not wherewith to nourish nature with
moisture. His body has been long emaciated by fasting, he has been brought near the brink of death by flagellation in the hall of Pilate. There he hangs, the tenderest part of his body, his hands and feet are pierced, and where the nerves are most numerous and tender, there is the iron rending and tearing its fearful way. The weight of his body drags the iron up his foot, and when his knees are so weary that they cannot hold him, then the iron begins to drag through his hands.
Terrible spectacle indeed! But you have seen only the outward, there was an inward, you cannot see that: if you could see, it though your eyes were like the angels, you would be smitten with eternal blindness. Then there was the soul. The soul dying.
Can you guess what must be the pangs of a soul dying? Christâ€™s soul was enduring the conflict with all the powers of hell, whose malice was aggravated by the fact, that it was the last battle they should ever be able to fight with him.
Nay, worse than that. He had lost that which is the martyrâ€™s strength and shield, he had lost the presence of his God, God himself was putting his hand upon him; it pleased the Father to bruise him; he hath put him to grief, he hath made his soul a sacrifice for sin. God, in whose countenance Christ had everlastingly seemed himself, basking in delight, concealed his face.
And there was Jesus forsaken of God and man, left alone to tread the winepress, nay, to be trodden in the wine-press, and dip his vesture in his own blood. Oh, was there ever grief like this! No love can picture it. If I had a thought in my heart concerning the suffering of Christ, it should excoriate my lips ere I uttered it. The agonies of Jesus were like the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar, heated seven times hotter than ever human suffering was heated before.
Every vein was a road for the hot feet of pain to travel in; every nerve a string in a harp of agony that thrilled with the discordant wail of hell. All the agonies that the damned themselves can endure were thrust into the soul of Christ. He was a target for the arrows of the Almighty, arrows dipped in the poison of our sin; all the billows of the Eternal dashed upon this rock of our salvation. He must be bruised, trodden, crushed, destroyed, his soul must be exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.
But I must pause, I cannot describe it. I can creep over it, and you can too. The rocks rent when Jesus died, our hearts must be made of harder marble than the rocks themselves if they do not feel. The temple rent its gorgeous veil of tapestry, and will not ye be mourners too? The sun itself had one big tear in its own burning eye, which quenched its light; and shall not we weep; we for whom the Savior died? Shall not we feel an agony of heart that he should thus have endured for us?
Mark, my friends, that all the shame that came on Christ he despised. He counted it so light compared with the joy which was set before him, that he is said to have despised it. As for his sufferings, he could not despise them, that word could not be used in connection with the cross for the cross was too awful for even Christ himself to despise. That he endured; the shame he could cast off, but the cross he must carry, and to it he must be nailed. â€œHe endured the cross, despising the shame.â€