A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, May 6, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *7/20/2012
He says to the Jews, “Behold your King.” [Joh 19:14]
1. Pilate said much more than he meant, and, therefore, we shall not restrict our consideration of his words to what he intended. John tells us considering Caiaphas, “and he did not say this on his own,” and we may say the same of Pilate. Everything said or done in connection with the Saviour during the day of his crucifixion was full of meaning, far more full of meaning than the speakers or actors were aware. Transformed by the cross, even the commonplace becomes solemn and weighty. When Caiaphas said that it was expedient that one man should die for the people, so that the whole nation does not perish, he little thought that he was enunciating the great gospel principle of substitution. When the Jewish people cried out before Pilate “May his blood be on us and on our children,” they little knew the judgment which they were bringing upon themselves, which would commence to be fulfilled at the siege of Jerusalem, and follow them, hanging like a heavy cloud over their descendants, for centuries. When the soldier with a spear pierced his side he had no idea that he was showing before all eyes that blood and water which are to the whole church the emblems of the double cleansing which we find in Jesus, cleansing by atoning blood and sanctifying grace. The fulness of time had come, and all things were full. Each movement on that awful day was brimming with mystery, neither could the Master or those around him stir or speak without teaching some gospel, or enforcing some lesson. Whereas on certain days frivolity seems to rule the hour, and little is to be gathered from much that is spoken; on the day of the passion even the most careless spoke as inspired men. Pilate, the undecided spirit, with no mind of his own, uttered language as weighty as if he too had been among the prophets. His acquittal of our Lord, his mention of Barabbas, his writing of the inscription to be fastened over the head of Jesus, and many other matters, were all full of instruction.
2. It was to the Jews that Pilate brought Jesus out arrayed in garments of derision, and to them he said, “Ecce rex” — “Behold your King!” It was by the seed of Abraham that he was rejected as their King; but we shall not think of them in order to blame that unhappy nation, but to remind ourselves that we also may fall into the same sin. As a nation favoured with the gospel we stand in many respects in the same privileged condition as the Jews did. To us is the word of God made known, the oracles of God are committed to our keeping in these last days, and we, though by nature shoots of the wild olive, are engrafted into that favoured stock from which Israel for a while has been cut off. Shall we prove equally unworthy? Shall any of us be found guilty of the blood of Jesus? We hear of Jesus today; are we rejecting him? The suffering Messiah will be brought out again this morning, not by Pilate, but by one who longs to do him honour, and when he stands before you, and is proclaimed again in the words, “Behold your King!” will you also cry, “Away with him, away with him?” Let us hope that there will not be found here hearts so evil as to imitate the rebellious nation and cry, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Oh that each one of us may acknowledge the Lord Jesus to be his King, for beneath his sceptre there is rest and joy. He is worthy to be crowned by every heart, let us all unite in beholding him with reverence and receiving him with delight. Give me your ears and hearts while Jesus is publicly brought out as standing among you, and for the next few minutes let it be your only business to “Behold your King.”
3. I. Come with me, then, to the place which is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew Gabbatha, and there “behold your King.” I shall first ask you to BEHOLD YOUR KING PREPARING HIS THRONE, yes, and making himself ready to sit on it.
When you look in answer to the summons, “Behold your King,” what do
you see? You see the “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”;
wearing a crown of thorns and covered with an old purple cloak, which
had been thrown over him in mockery; you can see, if you look
narrowly, the traces of his streaming blood, for he has just been
scourged, and you may also discover that his face is blackened with
bruises and stained with shameful spittle from the soldiers’ mouths.
Thus trimmed forth they bring him to the rout,
Who “Crucify him” cry with one strong shout,
God holds his peace at man, and man cries out.
It is a terrible spectacle, but I ask you to gaze upon it steadily and see the establishment of the Redeemer’s throne. See how he becomes your mediatorial King. He was setting up a new throne on Gabbatha, upon which he would reign as the King of pardoned sinners and the Prince of Peace. He was King before all worlds as Lord of all by right of his eternal power and Godhead; he had a throne when worlds were made, as King of all kings by creation; he had also always filled the throne of providence, upholding all things by the word of his power. On his head were many crowns, and to Pilate’s question, “Are you a king then?” he appropriately answered, “You say that I am a king.” But here before Pilate and the Jews, in his condition of shame and misery, he was about to ascend, and first of all to prepare the throne of the heavenly grace, which now is set up among the sons of men, so that they may flee to it and find eternal salvation. See how he is preparing this throne of grace, it is by pain and shame endured in our room and place. Sin was in the way of man’s happiness, and a broken law, and justice requiring a penalty: and all this must be arranged before a throne of grace could be erected among men. If you look at our suffering Lord you see at once the ensigns of his pain, for he wears a crown of thorns which pierce his brow. Pain was a great part of the penalty due for sin, and the great Substitute was therefore severely pained. When Pilate brought out our martyr Prince he was the very mirror of agony, he was majesty in misery, misery worked up to its full height and stature. The cruel furrows of the scourge, and the trickling rivulets of his blood down his face were only the signs that he was about to die in cruel pangs upon the cross, and these together were incumbent upon him because there could be no throne of grace until first there had been a substitutionary sacrifice. It behoved him to suffer so that he might be a prince and a Saviour. Behold your King in his pains, he is laying the deep foundations of his kingdom of mercy. Many a crown has been secured by blood, and so is this, but it is his own blood; many a throne has been established by suffering, and so is this, but he himself bears the pain. By his great sacrificial griefs our Lord has prepared a throne upon which he shall sit until all the chosen race have been made kings and priests to reign with him. It is by his agony that he obtains the royal power to pardon: by his stripes and bruises he wins the right to absolve poor sinners. We shall have no reason to wonder about the greatness of his mediatorial power if we consider the depth of his sacrificial sufferings: just as his misery is the source of his majesty, so the greatness of his pains has secured for him the fulness of power to save. Had he not gone to the end of the law, and honoured justice to the highest degree, he would not now have been so gloriously able to dispense mercy from his glorious high throne of mediatorial grace. Behold your King, then, as he lays deep in his own pain and death the basis of his throne of grace.
5. Nor is it only pain, for he wears also the signs of scorn. That crown of thorns meant mainly mockery: the soldiers made him a mimic monarch, a carnival king, and that scarlet robe, too, was thrown over his shoulders in bitter scorn: his world derided its God like this. The evangelists give you the description in brief sentences, as if they stopped between each line to cover their faces with their hands and weep. So there he stands before the crowd, helpless, friendless, with no one to declare his generation or give him a good word. He is deserted by all who formerly called him Master, and he has become the centre of a scene of rioting and ridicule. The soldiers have done their worst, and now the chief men of the nation look at him with contempt, and are only kept back from the most ribald scorn by a hate too furiously eager for death to afford them leisure for their scoffs. His enemies had done everything in their power to clothe him with scorn, and they were asking for permission to do more, for they cried, “Let him be crucified.” Behold, how he has left all the honour of his Father’s house, and his own glory among the angels, and here he stands with a mock robe, a mimic sceptre, and a thorny crown, the butt of ridicule, scoffed at by all! Yet this must be, because sin is a shameful thing, and a part of the penalty of sin is shame, as they will know who shall wake up in the day of judgment to everlasting contempt. Shame fell on Adam when he sinned, and then and there he knew that he was naked; and now shame has come down in a tremendous hail upon the head of the Second Adam, the substitute for shameful man, and he is covered with contempt. “All those who see me laugh me to scorn.” It is hard to say whether cruelty or mockery had most to do with the person of our Lord at Gabbatha; but by enduring these two things together he laid the cornerstone of his dominion of love and grace on an immovable foundation. How could he have been the king of a redeemed people if he had not redeemed them like this? He might have been lord over a people doomed to die, the stern ruler of a people who continued in sin, and would so continue until they perished for ever from his presence; but he sought no such kingdom; he sought a kingdom over hearts that should eternally be under obligation to him, hearts that, being redeemed from the lowest hell by his atoning death, would for ever love him with the utmost fervency. His sorrow secured his power to save, his shame endowed him with the right to bless.
6. “Behold your King.” Look at him with steady eye and see what a King he now is by right of benefit conferred. Behold, he has put away sin for ever by the sacrifice of himself; and therefore all the ransomed ones agree that he should be king who struck the great dragon which devoured the nations. Behold by his stooping to shame he has dethroned Satan, who was the prince of this world; and who should occupy the throne but he who has won it, and cast out the strong one who ruled previously. Christ has done more for men than the prince of darkness could or would, for he has died for them, and so he has earned a just supremacy over all grateful hearts. As for death, Jesus, by yielding to death, has conquered it. Let him be crowned with the victor’s wreath who has destroyed the world’s destroyer. In his shame you also see the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilling the law and making it honourable. He who could honour that law, which otherwise would have cursed us, deserves to have all honour and homage paid to him by the sons of men, whom he has rescued from the curse. You see, then, our Lord, when he put on the old red cloak, and submitted his brows to be encircled with thorns, was really establishing for himself an empire the foundations of which shall never be shaken: he was performing that saving work which has made him king among sinners whom he saves, and Lord of the kingdom of grace, which through his death is bestowed upon men.
7. Notice this, too, that men are kings among their fellows when they can show deep sympathy, and give substantial help. He who can sympathise wins power of the best kind, not brute force, but refined spiritual influence. For this cause our Lord was afflicted, as you see him afflicted, so that he might have sympathy with you in your direst grief, and in your most grievous dishonour. As the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he himself also partook of the same, and as they must suffer, so the Captain of their salvation was made perfect by suffering. This gives him his glorious power over us. He is a faithful high priest, for he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and this ability to enter into our infirmities and sorrows makes him supreme in our hearts. Look at your King in pain and mockery, and see how royal he is to your heart! How sovereignly he commands your heart to rejoice. With what regal power he commands your fears to lie still, and how obediently your despondency yields to his word. Now, as it is with you, so it is on a larger scale in the world. The suffering nations will yet see their true deliverer in their suffering Lord. That sceptre of a reed will secure him power far greater than a rod of iron. His love for man is proved by his suffering to the death on their behalf, and this, when the Holy Spirit has made men wise, shall be to the myriads of our race the reason for proclaiming him Lord of all. The kings and princes who rule mankind by reason of their descent or by the force of arms have only the names of kings, the true kings are the great benefactors. The heroes are our kings after all. We look upon those as royal who can risk their lives for their fellow men, to win them liberty, or to teach them truth. Mankind forgets its masters, but it remembers its friends. Earth, except for Jesus, had been a vast prison, and men a race of condemned criminals, but he who stands before us in Gabbatha, in all his shame and grief, has delivered us from our lost estate, and therefore he must be King. Who shall deny this? If love must ultimately triumph; if selfless self-sacrifice must obtain homage, then Jesus is and shall be King. If eventually when the morning breaks and man’s heart is purged from the prejudice and injustice caused by sin, the might shall be with the right, and truth must prevail; then Jesus must reign. The eternal fitness of things demands that the best should be highest, that he who does men the most service should be most honoured among them; in a word, that he who was made nothing of for man’s sake should become everything to him. See, then, how the crown of thorns is mother to the crown which Jesus wears in his church! The scarlet robe is the purchase price of the vesture of universal sovereignty, and the mock sceptre of reed is the precursor of the rod of nations by which the whole earth will yet be ruled. “Behold your King,” and see the sources of his mediatorial power.
8. II. Oh you who see in your bleeding and rejected Lord “the King in his beauty,” come here yet again and BEHOLD HIM CLAIMING YOUR HOMAGE.
9. See in what way he comes to win your hearts. What is his right to be King over you? There are many rights, for on his head are many crowns, but the most commanding right which Jesus has over any of us is indicated by that crown of thorns: it is the right of supreme love: he loved us as no one else could have loved us. If we put all the loves of parents and of wives and children all together, we can never rival even for a moment the love of Christ for us, and whenever that love touches us, so that we feel its power, we immediately crown him King. Who can resist his charms? One look of his eyes overpowers us. See with your heart those eyes when they are full of tears for perishing sinners, and you are a willing subject. One look at his blessed person subjected to scourging and spitting for our sakes will give us more of an idea of his crown rights than anything else besides. Look into his pierced heart as it pours out its life-blood for us, and all disputes about his sovereignty are ended in our hearts. We acknowledge him as Lord because we see how he loved. How could we do otherwise? Love in action, or rather love suffering, carries an omnipotence about it. Behold what his love endured, and so “Behold your King.”
10. Jesus in the garb of mockery, marred with traces of his pain, also reminds us of his complete purchase of us by his deeds and death. “You are not your own, you are bought with a price.” Behold your King, and see the price. It is the price of immense suffering and of most cruel shame. It is an incalculable price, for the Lord of all is set at naught. It is an awful price, for he who only has immortality yields himself to die. It is the price of blood. It is the scourging and bleeding and woe of Jesus; no, it is himself. If you would see the price of your redemption, “Behold your King.” It is he who has redeemed us to God by his blood, he who “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant; and being found in the form of a man, humbled himself; and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” You acknowledge that claim, the love of Christ constrains you; you feel that henceforth you live for him alone, and consider it joy that in all respects he should reign over you with unlimited sway.
11. Jesus, because he suffered, has acquired a power over us which is far superior to any which could be urged in courts of law, or enforced by mere power, for our hearts have voluntarily surrendered to him and given him the right of our free submission, charmed to acknowledge allegiance to such imperial love. Is it possible for a believer to look at the Lord Jesus Christ without feeling that he longs to be more and more his servant and disciple? Do you not thirst to serve him? Can you behold him in the depth of shame without pining to lift him up to the heights of glory? Can you see him stooping like this for you without pleading with God that a glorious high throne may be his, and that he may sit upon it and rule all the hearts of men? There is no need to argue for the right of King Jesus, for you feel it; his love has carried you by storm, and it holds firm its captive. You cannot have a Saviour without his being your King, and seeing such a Saviour in such a condition, you cannot even think of him without delighting to ascribe to him all power and dominion. Could we escape his sway it would be bondage to us, and when we at any time fail to acknowledge it, it is our worst affliction.
12. “Behold your King,” then, for he himself is his own claim to your obedience. See what he suffered for you, my brethren, and henceforth never draw back from any labour, shame, or suffering for his dear sake. “Behold your King,” and expect to be treated like him. Do you expect to be crowned with gold where he was crowned with thorns? Shall lilies grow for you and briars for him? Never again be ashamed to acknowledge his glorious name, unless indeed you can be so vile as to prove a traitor to such a Lord. See to what shame he was subjected, and learn from him to despise all shame for his truth’s sake. Shall the disciple be above his master, or the servant above his lord? If they have maltreated the master of the house like this, what shall they do to the household? Let us expect our share of this treatment, and by accepting it prove to all men that the despised and rejected of men is really the King over us, and that the subjects do not blush to be like their monarch. Even though the cost is all the shame the world can possibly pour upon us, or all the suffering that flesh and blood can in any condition endure, let us be faithful in our loyalty, and cry, “Who shall separate us? Shall persecution, or distress, or tribulation separate us from our King? Indeed, in all these things we are more than conquerors. King of griefs, you are King of my soul! Oh King of shame, you are absolute monarch of my heart. You are King by divine right, and King by my own voluntary choice. Other lords have had dominion over us, but now, since you have revealed yourself in this way, only your name shall govern our spirit.” Do you not see, then, that Jesus before Pilate reveals his claim in the appearance which he wears. “Behold your King.”
13. III. “Behold your King,” for a third time, so that you may see him SUBDUING HIS DOMINIONS.
14. Dressed in robes of scorn, and with a visage marred with pain, he comes out conquering and to conquer. This is not very apparent at a superficial glance, for he is not arrayed like a man of war. You see no sword upon his thigh, nor bow in his hand. No fiery threatenings fall from his lips, nor does he speak with eloquent persuasion. He is unarmed, yet victorious; is silent, but yet conquering. In this garb he goes out to war. His shame is his armour, and his sufferings are his battle-axe. How can you say that? How can it be so? I speak no fiction, but sober fact, and it shall be proved.
15. Missionaries have gone out to win the heathen for Christ, and they have begun with the uncivilized sons of sin by telling them that there is a God, and that he is great and just: the people have listened unmoved, or have only answered, “Do you think we do not know this?” Then they have spoken of sin and its punishment, and have foretold the coming of the Lord to judgment, but still the people did not stir, but coolly said, “It is true,” and then went on their way to live in sin as before. At last these earnest men have let slip the blessed secret, and spoken of the love of God in giving his only-begotten Son, and they have begun to tell the story of the matchless griefs of Emmanuel. Then the dry bones have stirred, then the deaf have begun to hear. They tell us that they had not long told the story before they noticed that the eyes were glued on them, and that countenances were beaming with interest which had been listless before, and they have said to themselves, “Why did we not begin with this?” Indeed, why not? for it is this that touches men’s hearts. Christ crucified is the conqueror. He does not subdue the heart in his robes of glory, but in his vestments of shame. He does not at first gain the faith and the affections of sinners when sitting upon the throne, but as bleeding, suffering, and dying in their place. “God forbid that I should glory,” said the apostle, “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”; and though every theme that is connected with the Saviour ought to play its part in our ministry, yet this is the master theme. The atoning work of Jesus is the great gun of our battery. The cross is the mighty battering ram by which to break in pieces the brazen gates of human prejudices and the iron bars of obstinacy. Christ coming to be our judge alarms, but Christ the man of sorrows subdues. The crown of thorns has a royal power in it to compel a willing allegiance, the sceptre of reed breaks hearts better than a rod of iron, and the robe of mockery commands more love than Caesar’s imperial purple. There is nothing like it under heaven. Victories ten thousand times ten thousand have been achieved by him whom Pilate led out to the multitude, — victories distinctly to be ascribed to the thorny crown and vesture of mockery, are they not written in the book of the wars of the Lord? There will be more such as he is more frequently presented in his own fashion, and men are asked to behold in the Man of sorrows their King.
16. Has it not been so at home as well as among the far-off heathen? What wins men’s hearts to Christ today? What except Christ in shame and Christ in suffering? I appeal to you who have been recently converted; what has bound you as captives to Jesus’ chariot? What has made you henceforth vow to be his followers, rejoicing in his name? What except this, that he bowed his head to the death for your sake and has redeemed you for God by his blood? You know it is so.
17. And oh, dear children of God, if ever you feel the power of Christ upon you to the full, until it utterly overcomes you, is it not the memory of redeeming grief which does it? When you become like harps, and Jesus is the minstrel and lays his finger among your heart strings and brings out nothing but praise for his dear name, what is it that charms you into the music of grateful love except the fact of his condescension on your behalf? Is not this your song, that he was slain and has redeemed you for God by his blood? I confess I could sit down at the foot of his cross and do nothing else but weep until I wept myself away, for his sufferings make my soul to melt within me. Then if the call of duty is heard I feel intensely eager to plead with others, ready to make any sacrifice to bring others under my Lord’s dominion, and full of a holy passion that even death could not quench — all this, I say, if I have only just come from gazing on the Redeemer’s passion, and drinking from his cup and being baptized with his baptism. The sceptre of reed rules as nothing else ever did, for it rouses enthusiasm. The thorn-crown commands homage as no other diadem ever did, for it braces men into heroes and martyrs. No royalty is so all commanding as what has for its insignia the chaplet of thorn, the reed, the red cloak, and the five wounds. Other sovereignties are forced, and feigned, and hollow compared with the sovereignty of “the despised by men”: fear, or custom, or self-interest make men courtiers elsewhere, but fervent love crowds the courts of King Jesus. We do not merely say that the marred countenance is the most majestic ever seen, but we have felt it to be so on many an occasion, yes, and feel it to be so now. Do you want to make our hard hearts soft? Tell us of Jesus’ grief. Would you turn our strong men into children? Set the Man of sorrows in our midst; there is no resisting him.
18. Look also at backsliders if you would see the power of the despised Nazarene. If they have gone away from Christ, if they have become lukewarm, if their hearts have become obdurate to him who once could charm them, what can bring them back? I know only one magnet which in the hands of the Holy Spirit will attract these sadly fallen ones: it is Jesus in his shame and pains. We tell them that they crucified the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame, and they look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him. Oh you who after having sipped of the communion cup have gone to drink at the table of Bacchus, the god of wine, you who after having talked about love for Christ have followed after the lusts of the flesh, you who after singing his praises have blasphemed the sacred name with which you are named — may his omnipotence of love be proved in you also. What can ever bring you back except this sad reflection, that you also have twisted for him a crown of thorns and caused him to be blasphemed among his enemies? Still the merit of his death is available for you: the power and efficacy of his precious blood have not ceased even for you, and if you come back to him — and oh, may a sight of him draw you — he will receive you graciously as at the first. I say to you, “Behold your King,” and may the sovereignty of his humiliation and suffering be proved this morning in some of you as you shall come bending at his feet, conquered by his great love and restored to repentance and faith by his marvellous compassion. A sight of his wounds and bruises heals us, so that we grieve at our rebellions and long to be brought home to God, never to wander any more.
19. Ah, dear brethren, we shall always find, as long as the world stands, that among saints, sinners, backsliders, and all classes of men Jesus Christ’s power is most surely felt when his humiliation is most faithfully declared and most believingly known. It is by this that he will subdue all things to himself. If we will only preach Jesus Christ to the Hindu it will not be necessary to answer all his metaphysical subtleties — the sorrows of Jesus are as a sharp sword to cut the Gordian knot. If we will go down among the degraded inhabitants of Africa we shall not first need to civilize them; the cross is the great lever which lifts up fallen men: it conquers evil and establishes truth and righteousness. The most depraved and hardened learn his great love, and hearts of stone begin to beat; they see Jesus suffering to the death for nothing else except love for them, and they are touched by it, and eagerly enquire what they must do to be saved by such a Saviour. The Holy Spirit works in the minds of many by presenting the great love and grief of Jesus. May we who are his ministers have great faith in his cross, and henceforth say, as we preach the suffering Jesus, “Behold your King.”
20. IV. In the fourth place I ask you to “Behold your King” SETTING OUT THE PATTERN OF HIS KINGDOM.
21. When you look at him you are struck at once with the thought that if he is a king he is like no other monarch, for other kings are covered with rich apparel and surrounded with pomp, but he has none of these. Their glories usually consist in wars by which they have made others suffer, but his glory is his own suffering; no blood except his own has flowed to make him illustrious. He is a king, but he cannot be put in the list of sovereigns such as the nations of the earth are compelled to serve. When Antoninus Pius set up the statue of Jesus in the Pantheon as one of a circle of gods and heroes, it must have seemed strangely out of place to those who gazed upon its visage if the sculptor was at all true to life. It must have stood out as one that could not be numbered with the rest. Neither can you set him among the masters of the human race who have crushed mankind beneath their iron heel. He was no Caesar; you cannot make him appear like one: do not call him an autocrat, emperor, or czar, — he has an authority greater than all these, yet not after their kind. His purple is different from theirs, and his crown also, but his face differs more, and his heart most of all. “My kingdom,” he says, “is not of this world.” For troops he has a host of sorrows, for pomp a surrounding of scorn, for lofty bearing humility, for adulation mockery, for homage spitting, for glory shame, for a throne a cross. Yet there was never a truer king, indeed all others are kings in name only except for this King, who is a real ruler in himself and of himself; and not by extraneous force. Very royal indeed is the Nazarene, but he cannot be compared to the princes of earth, nor can his kingdom be compared with theirs. I pray that the day may soon come when no one may dream of looking upon the church as a worldly organisation capable of alliance with temporal sovereignties so as to be patronized, directed, or reformed by them. Christ’s kingdom shines as a lone star with a brightness all its own. It stands apart like a hill of light, sacred and sublime: the high hills may leap with envy because of it, but it is not of them nor like them. Is not this obvious even in the appearance of our Lord as Pilate brings him out and cries, “Behold your King!”?
22. Now as he sets before us in his own person the pattern of his kingdom, we may expect that we shall see some likeness to him in his subjects; and if you will gaze upon the church, which is his kingdom, from the first day of her history until now, you will see that it too is wearing its purple robe. The martyrs’ blood is the purple vesture of the church of Christ; the trials and persecutions of believers are her crown of thorns. Think of the rage of persecution under Pagan Rome, and the equally inhuman proceedings of Papal Rome, and you will see how the ensign of Christ’s kingdom is a crown of thorns; a crown and yet thorns, thorns but still a crown. The bush is burning, but it is not consumed. If you, beloved, are truly followers of Jesus, you must expect to take your measure of shame and dishonour, and you may expect your allotment of griefs and sorrows. The “Man of sorrows” attracts a sorrowful following. The lamb of God’s passover is still eaten with bitter herbs. The child of God cannot escape the rod, for the elder brother did not, and we are to be conformed to him. We must “fill up in our flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” [Col 1:24]
23. Remember, however, that Christ’s sufferings as a pattern were not for his own sins, nor brought upon him as a chastisement for his own faults, so that the sufferings which belong to his kingdom are those which are endured for his name and for his glory’s sake, and for the good of others. If men lie in prison for their own crimes, that has nothing to do with his kingdom; if we suffer for our sins, that is no part of his kingdom; but when a man looses his substance for Christ’s cause, lays himself out to toil even to death, bears contempt and suffers hardness as a Christian — this is according to the type of Christ’s kingdom. When the missionary goes out with his life in his hands among the heathen, or when a believer in any way divests himself of comfort for the good of others, it is then that he truly copies the pattern set for him in Pilate’s hall by our great King. I say to you Christians who court ease, to you who are hoarding up your gold, to you who will do nothing that would bring you under the criticism of your fellow men, to you who live for yourselves, — would it not be irony of the most severe kind if I were to point to Jesus before Pilate and say, “Behold your King.” Living in undue luxury, amassing wealth, rolling in ease, living to enjoy yourselves! Is that your King? You are poor subjects, and very unlike your Lord; but if there are among us those who for his sake can make sacrifices, we may look upon our King without fear. You who are undaunted by contempt, and who would give all that you have, yes, and give yourselves to know Jesus, and are doing so, to such I say, “Behold your King,” for you are part of his kingdom and you shall reign with him. In your conquest of yourselves you have already become kings. In reigning over your own desires and carnal inclinations, for the sake of his dear love, you are already kings and priests to God, and you shall reign for ever and ever. He who is ruled by his passions in any degree is still a slave, but he who lives for God and his fellow men has a royal soul. The insignia of a prince of God is still shame and suffering: which adornments are readily worn when the Lord calls him to do so. In Christ’s kingdom those are peers of the highest rank who are most like their Lord and are the lowest and humblest in mind, and most truly the servants of all. The secondary princes of his kingdom approximate less closely to him, and the lower you descend in the scale the less you are like him in those respects. The Christian surrounded with every comfort, who never endured hardness for Christ, who never knew what it was to be sneered at for Jesus’ sake, who never made a sacrifice which went so far as to hurt him in the least, he, if indeed he is a Christian, is least in the kingdom of heaven. Proud, rich men who give only trifles to Christ’s cause are pariahs in his kingdom, but they are the chief who are willing to be least of all, they are princes who make themselves the offscouring of all things for his name’s sake, such as were the apostles and first martyrs, and others whom his love has greatly constrained.
24. V. Our concluding remark shall be, “Behold your King” — PROVING THE CERTAINTY OF HIS EMPIRE.
25. If, beloved, Christ was King when he was in Pilate’s hands, after being scourged and spit upon, and while he was wearing the robe and crown of mockery, when will he not be King? If he was King at his worst, when is it that his throne can ever be shaken? They have brought him very low, they have brought him lower than the sons of men, for they have made him a worm and no man, despised by the people, and yet he is King! Marks of royalty were present on the day of his death. He dispensed crowns when he was on the cross, — he gave the dying thief a promise of an entrance into Paradise. In his death he shook the earth, he opened the graves, he rent the rocks, he darkened the sun, and he made men strike on their breasts in dismay. One voice after another, even from the ranks of his foes, proclaimed him to be King, even when dying like a malefactor. Was he a King then? When will he not be King? and who is there who can by any means shake his throne? In the days of his flesh “the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers took counsel together, saying, ‘Let us break his bonds asunder, and cast his cords from us’ ”; but he who sat in the heavens laughed, the Lord had them in derision, and Christ on the cross was acknowledged, in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin, to be still the King of the Jews. When will he not be King? If he was King before he died and was laid in the grave, what is he now that he has risen from the dead, now that he has vanquished the destroyer of our race, and lives no more to die? What is he now? You angels, tell what glories surround him now! If he was King when he stood at Pilate’s judgment bar, what will he be when Pilate shall stand at his judgment bar, when he shall come on the great white throne and summon all mankind before him to judgment? What will be his acknowledged sovereignty and his dreaded majesty in the day of the Lord? Come, let us adore him; let us pay our humble homage in the courts of the Lord’s house today; and then let us go out to our daily service in his name, and make this our strong resolve, his Spirit helping us, that we will live to crown him in our hearts and in our lives, in every place where our lot may be cast, until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, and we behold the King in his beauty and the land that is very far off. No one can overturn a kingdom which is founded on the death of its King; no one can abolish a dominion whose deep foundations are laid in the tears and blood of the Prince himself. Napoleon said that he founded his empire by force, and therefore it had passed away; but, he said, “Jesus founded his kingdom upon, love, and it will last for ever.” So it must be, for whatever may or may not be, it is written — “He must reign.”
As for us, if we wish to extend the Redeemer’s kingdom we must be
prepared to deny ourselves for Christ, we must be prepared for
weariness, slander, and self-denial. In this sign we conquer. The
cross will have to be borne by us as well as by him if we are to
reign with Jesus. We must both teach the cross and bear the cross. We
must participate in the shame if we would participate in the glory.
No thorn no throne. When again shall be heard the voice, “Behold
your King,” and Jew and Gentile shall see him enthroned, and
surrounded with all his Father’s angels, with the whole earth subdued
to his power, happy shall he be who shall then in the exalted Saviour
behold his King. May the Lord grant us today to be loyal subjects of
the Crucified so that we may be favoured to share his glory.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Joh 19:1-30]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Christ Of God” 373]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — ‘The Love Of Christ Constraineth Us’ ” 295]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — Crucifixion To The World By the Cross” 282]
[a] Ecce Rex: Latin. Behold the King.
Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
373 — Christ Of God
1 Jesus, the Lamb of God,
Who us from hell to raise
Hast shed thy reconciling blood,
We give thee endless praise.
2 God, and yet man, thou art,
True God, true man, art thou:
Of man, and of man’s earth a part,
One with us thou art now.
3 Great sacrifice for sin,
Giver of life for life,
Restorer of the peace within,
True ender of the strife:
4 To thee, the Christ of God,
Thy saints exulting sing;
The bearer of our heavy load,
Our own anointed King.
5 True lover of the lost,
From heaven thou camest down,
To pay for souls the righteous cost,
And claim them for thine own.
6 Rest of the weary, thou!
To thee, our rest, we come;
In thee to find our dwelling now,
Our everlasting home.
Horatius Bonar, 1861.
Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
295 — “The Love Of Christ Constraineth Us” <7s.>
1 In the Lord’s atoning grief
Be our rest and sweet relief;
Store we deep in heart’s recess
All the shame and bitterness.
2 Thorns, and cross, and nails, and lance,
Wounds, our treasure that enhance,
Vinegar, and gall, and reed,
And the pang his soul and freed.
3 May these all our spirits sate,
And with love inebriate;
In our souls plant virtue’s root,
And mature its glorious fruit.
4 Crucified! we thee adore,
Thee with all our hearts implore,
Us with saintly bands unite
In the realms of heavenly light.
5 Christ, by coward hands betray’d
Christ, for us a captive made,
Christ, upon the bitter tree
Slain for man, be praise to thee.
John Mason Neale, 1851.
Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
282 — Crucifixion To The World By the Cross
1 When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
2 Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God,
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
3 See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown!
4 His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er his body on the tree,
Then am I dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
5 Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!
Isaac Watts, 1709.