1683. The Great Cross-Bearer And His Followers

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No. 1683-28:553. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, October 8, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. {Mr 15:20}

And he bearing his cross went out. {Joh 19:17}

And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. {Mr 15:21}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1683, “Great Crossbearer and His Followers, The” 1684}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1853, “Up From the Country, and Pressed Into the Service” 1854}
   Exposition on Mr 15:1-41 Lu 8:1-3 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3099, “Double Forget-Me-Not, The” 3100 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mr 15:15-39 Lu 23:27-4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2443, “Determination of Christ to Suffer for His People, The” 2444 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 69:1-21 Mr 15:15-23 Lu 23:26-33 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3360, “Pleading with the Indifferent” 3362 @@ "Exposition"}

1. When our Lord had been condemned to die, the execution of his sentence was hurried. The Jews were in a great hurry to shed his blood: so intense was the enmity of the chief priests and Pharisees that every moment of delay was wearisome to them. Besides, it was the day of the Passover, and they wished to have this matter finished before they went with hypocritical piety to celebrate the festival of Israel’s deliverance. We do not wonder at their eagerness, for they could not bear themselves while he lived, since his very presence reproved them for their falsehood and hypocrisy. But we wonder about Pilate, and herein he is much to be blamed. In all civilised countries there is usually an interval between the sentencing of the prisoner and the time of his execution. Since the capital sentence is irreversible, it is good to have a little time in which possible evidence may be forthcoming, which may prevent the fatal stroke. In some countries we have thought that there has been a cruelly long delay between the sentence and the execution, but with the Romans it was usual to allow the reasonable respite of ten days. Now, I do not say that it was incumbent upon Pilate according to Roman law to have allowed ten days to a Jew, who did not have the rights of Roman citizenship; but I do say that he might have pleaded the custom of his country, and so have secured a delay, and afterwards he might have released his prisoner. It was within his reach to have done so, and he was culpable, as he was all along, in yielding like this to the clamour for an immediate execution for no other reason than this, that he was “willing to satisfy the people.” When once we begin to make the wishes of other men our law we do not know to what extremity of criminality we may be led into; and so the Saviour’s hasty execution is due to Pilate’s vacillating spirit, and to the insatiable bloodthirstiness of the Scribes and Pharisees.

2. Being condemned to death, our Saviour was led away; and I suppose the painters are right when they put a rope around his neck or his loins; for the idea of being led in an open street would seem to imply some kind of leash: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.” Alas, that the Emancipator of our race should be led out as a captive to die!

3. The direction in which he is led is outside the city. He must not die in Jerusalem, though multitudes of prophets had perished there. Though the temple was the central place of sacrifice, yet the Son of God must not be offered there, for he was an offering of another kind, and must not lie upon their altars. Outside the city, because by the Jews he was treated as a flagrant offender who must be executed at the Tyburn {a} of the city, in the appointed place of doom known as Calvary or Golgotha. When Naboth was unjustly condemned for blasphemy, they carried him outside of the city, and stoned him with stones so that he died; and afterwards Stephen, — when they cried out against him as a blasphemer, they cast him out of the city, and there they stoned him. Our Saviour therefore must die in the ordinary place of execution, so that in all respects he might be numbered with the transgressors. The rulers of the city so loathed and detested their great Reprover that they rejected him, and would not allow him to die within their city walls. Alas, poor Jerusalem, in casting out the Son of David, you cast out your last hope: now you are bound over to desolation.

4. He was led outside of the city because from that time no acceptable sacrifice could be offered there. They might go on with their offering of daily lambs, and they might sacrifice their young bulls, and burn the fat of fed beasts; but from that day the substance of the sacrifice had gone away from them, and Israel’s offerings were vain oblations. Because the true sacrifice is rejected by them the Lord leaves them nothing but a vain show.

5. Still more forcible is the fact that our Lord must die outside the city because he was to be consumed as a sin offering. It is written in the law, “And the skin of the young bull, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung, even he shall carry the whole young bull outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire.” There were several kinds of offerings under the law: the sweet savour offerings were presented upon the altar, and were accepted by God, but sin offerings were burnt outside the camp or gate, because God can have no fellowship with sin. Once let sin be imputed to the sacrifice and it becomes abhorrent to God, and must not be presented in the tabernacle or the temple, but burned outside the circle where his people have their habitations. And here let our hearts gratefully contemplate how truly our Lord Jesus became a sin offering for us, and how in every point he followed the type. With his face turned away from his Father’s house he must go to die: with his face turned away from what were once his Father’s people he must be led out to be crucified. Like an accursed thing, he is to be hung up where felons suffer a just punishment. Because we were sinners, and because sin had turned our backs to God, and because sin had broken our communion with God’s accepted ones, therefore he must endure this banishment. In that sorrowful march of the cross-bearing Saviour my soul with sorrow sees herself represented as deserving to be made to depart to death; and yet joy mingles with this emotion, for the glorious Sin Bearer has taken away our sin like this, and we return from our exile: his substitution is infinitely effective. Well may those live for whom Jesus died. Well may those return in whose place the Son of God was banished. There is entrance into the holy city now, there is entrance into the temple now, there is access to God himself now, because the Lord has put away our sin through him who was led to be crucified outside the city gate.

6. Nor do I think that even this exhausts the teaching. Jesus dies outside Jerusalem because he died, not for Jerusalem alone, nor for Israel alone. The effect of his atonement is not circumscribed by the walls of a city nor by the bounds of a nation. In him shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Out in the open he must die, to show that he reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God. “For he is the propitiation for our sins,” says Paul, who was himself a Jew, “and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Had he been the Saviour of Jews only, seclusion in the place of his offering would have been appropriate, but since he dies for all nations, he is hung up outside the city.

7. And yet, once more, he suffered outside the gate so that we might go out to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. “Come out from among them; be separate, do not touch the unclean thing,” henceforth becomes the command of God to all his sons and daughters: behold the Son of sons, his Only-Begotten, leads the way in nonconformity to this present evil world, being himself officially severed from the old Jewish church, whose elders seek his life. He dies in sacred separation from the false and corrupt corporation which vaunted itself to be the chosen of God. He protested against all evil, and for this he died, so far as his murderers were concerned. Even so must his followers take up their cross and follow him wherever he goes, even though it is to be despised and rejected by men. See what instruction is found in the choice of the place where our great Redeemer offers himself to God.

8. I. Let us draw near to our Lord for a while, and carefully observe each instructive detail. Our imagination pictures the Blessed One standing outside the gate of Herod’s palace in the custody of a band of soldiers with a centurion at their head, and we begin at once to observe HIS DRESS.

9. That may seem a small matter, but it is not without instruction. How is he dressed? Our text tells us that when they had mocked him they took off the purple robe from him and put his own clothes on him; but we are not told that they took off the crown of thorns, and hence it has been currently believed that he continued to wear it to the cross and on the cross. Is this not highly probable? Surely if the thorny crown had been taken off this would have been the place to have said, “They took off the purple robe from him and removed the crown of thorns”; but it is not so written, and therefore we may believe that the sorrowful coronet remained on him. Pilate wrote upon his accusation “the King of the Jews,” and it was fitting that he should continue to wear a crown. Jesus died a crowned monarch, king of the curse. The Lord God in justice said to rebel man, “Cursed is the ground for your sake: thorns also and thistles shall it produce for you”; and lo, the man by whom we are redeemed is crowned with that product of the earth which came from the curse.

   Oh sacred head surrounded
      By crown of piercing thorn;
   Oh bleeding head, so wounded,
      Reviled and put to scorn.

10. Probably also, as I have said, he was bound; for they led him as a sheep to the slaughter; but this binding was probably more abundant than what we have hinted at, if it is indeed true that by Roman custom criminals were bound with cords to the cross which they were doomed to carry. If this was the case, you may picture our Lord with his cross bound to himself, and hear him say, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar.”

11. But the chief point to be noted is that Jesus wore his own clothes, the usual garments which he was accustomed to wear, and this no doubt for identification, so that all who looked on might know that it was the same person who had preached in their streets and had healed their sick. They were under no misapprehension; they knew that it was Jesus of Nazareth: the keen hate of the Scribes and Pharisees would not have permitted any substitution of another. It was none other than he, and his garments were the evidence of that truth. He wore his own clothes also for another reason, namely, that there might be a fulfilment of prophecy. It may not strike you at first, but you will soon see it. Our Lord must not go to die in the purple robe: he must march to the cross in that vestment which was without seam and woven from the top throughout, or else the word could not have been fulfilled, “They parted my garments among them, and they cast lots upon my vesture.” Other clothing could readily have been torn and divided, but this garment, which was particular to the Saviour, could not have been so torn without destroying it, and therefore the soldiers cast lots for it. Little did those who put it on him dream that they were an accessory to the fulfilment of a prophecy. Does it not strike you as strange that the Pharisees, who were so full of hatred for Christ, did not carefully draw back from the fulfilment of so many types and prophecies? Their rabbis and teachers knew the prophecy of Zechariah, that the Messiah should be sold for thirty pieces of silver: why did it not occur to them to make their bribe to Judas twenty-nine or thirty-one pieces of silver? Why, again, did they throw the price to the potter by buying the field of blood from him? Could they not, so to speak, have thwarted the prophecy by it? Here were prophecies voluntarily fulfilled by themselves which condemned them. I shall have to show you the same thing further on; but meanwhile observe that if it had been their object to fulfil type and prophecy they could not have acted more carefully than they did. So they put his own garments on him, and unwittingly they furnished the possibility for the fulfilment of the prophet’s word: “They parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”

12. To me there occurs one other thought touching his wearing his own garments. I do not know if I can express it, but it seems to me to indicate that our Lord’s passion was a true and natural part of his life; he died as he lived. His death was not a new departure, but the completion of a life of self-sacrifice, and so he had no need to put on a fresh garb. Look! He goes to die in his ordinary everyday garments! Does it not almost seem as if people put on their Sunday clothes because they regard religion as something quite distinct from their common life? Do you not wish to see godliness in work-day clothes? religion in its shirtsleeves? grace in a smock-frock? {b} Do you not almost cry concerning some loud talkers, — “Put his own clothes on him, and then lead him out and let us see him?” It should be an integral part of our life to live and to die for our God. Must we become other men if we are to be God’s men? Can we not wear our own clothes, habits, characteristics, and peculiarities and serve the Lord? Is there not some suspicion of unnaturalness in services which require men to put on a strange, outlandish clothing? Surely they find their worship to be on another level than their life; they must step out of their way and dress up to attend to it. It is bad for a man when he cannot lead his fellows in prayer until he has gone to the wardrobe. There was a time when vestments meant something; but ever since our great High Priest went up to his one sacrifice wearing his common clothes, all types are fulfilled and laid aside. Now, we do not pray officially, or we should need the robe; but we pray personally, and our own clothes suit us well. Jesus continued the unity of his life as he approached its close, and did not even in appearance change his way; he lived to die a sacrifice; this was the climax of his life, the apex of the towering pyramid of his perfect obedience. No mark is set, no line is drawn between his passion and all the rest of his life; nor should there be a screen between our life and death. Somehow, I dread a death which is meant to be pictorial and exhibitional. I am not an admirer of Addison’s death, as some are, who praise him because he sent for a young lord, and cried, “Come, see how a Christian can die!” I like better Bengel’s wish when he desired to die just as a person would slip out from company because someone beckoned him outside. Such a person modestly thinking his presence or absence to be of little account in a great world, quietly withdraws, and friends only observe that he is gone. Death should be part of the usual curriculum, the close of the day’s work, the entrance into harbour which ends the voyage. It is good to feel that you can die easily, because you have done it so many times before. He who dies daily will not fear to die. Bathe in the Jordan often, and you will not dread the fording of it when your hour has come. Our blessed Lord lived such a dying life that he made no show of death, he did not change his tone and spirit any more than his garments, but died as he lived. They put his own clothes on him: he had not taken them off himself; it was no wish of his to wear the purple robe even for an hour either in reality or in mockery. He was always the same, and his own vesture suited him best.

13. Truly, blessed Master, we may well say, “All your garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia”; even though they do not take you out of “the ivory palaces where they have made you glad”; but out of the common guardroom, where they had made you to be despised and mocked and spit upon. Come from wherever you may, your vesture has a fragrant smell about it, and all your brethren rejoice in it.

14. II. Brethren, I ask you for a few minutes to look at HIS COMPANY.

15. Who were those who were with our Lord when he came to die? First and nearest to him were the rough Roman soldiers, strong, muscular, unfeeling men, ready to shed blood at any moment. In them human affection was kept down by stern discipline, they were the iron instruments of an empire of iron. They would do what they were told, and feeling and sympathy were not allowed to interfere. I only ask you to look at these guards to remind you that from beneath their eagle our Saviour won a trophy; for their centurion at our Lord’s death uttered the confession, “Certainly this was the Son of God.” This was a blessed confession of faith, and I delight to think of our Lord as becoming the conqueror of his conquerors by taking one out of them to be his disciple and witness, as we would gladly believe he was. Surely after publicly making the clear confession which the evangelist has recorded we may number him with believers.

16. Next to these guards were two malefactors, led out with him to execution. That was intended to increase his scorn, he must not be separated from the basest of men, but he must be led out between two thieves, having previously had a murderer preferred to him. They seem to have been very hardened scoundrels, for they reviled him. I mention them because our Lord won a trophy by the conversion of one of them, who dying said, “We suffer justly, but this man has done nothing amiss,” and then prayed, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This dying thief has brought more glory to Christ than hundreds of us, for in every place wherever this gospel has been preached this has been told as a memorial of him, and as a comfort to the guiltiest to look to Jesus. In the act of death he believed in Christ, and believed when the Lord himself was in the act of death, and that day he was with him in paradise. How have you conquered, oh you despised by men! How have you won by your gentleness both Roman legionaries and Jewish thieves.

17. Beyond the prisoners were the Scribes and Pharisees, and high priests. I could not picture their faces, but surely they must have been about the worst lot of human characters that were ever seen, as with a fiendish delight they stared at Jesus. He had called them “hypocrites”: he had spoken of them as “making clean the outside of the cup and platter,” while their inner part was very wickedness, and now they are showing their venom, and silencing his reproofs. But their hate was so insatiable that it was accompanied with fear, and that night it was seen that Christ had conquered them, for they crouched before Pilate and begged a guard to prevent their victim from leaving the tomb. In their heart of hearts they feared that after all he might be the Son of God. So they were also vanquished: though to them the Lord Jesus was a savour of death to death, yet they could only be affected by him and vanquished by his death. Their hate brought with it alarm, and fear, and agitation: they trembled before the Nazarene. Look at the scene! Although the despised and sorrowful One is bowed down beneath his cross you can see at a glance the majesty which dwells in him; but as you look at them, the base, wretched seed of the serpent, they seem to go upon their bellies, and dust is their food. He is all truth and openness, and they are all cunning and craft. You can see at a glance that as an angel is to the fiends of hell, so is the Christ to his persecutors. That face stained with spittle, and blackened with blows, and surrounded with thorns wears a more than imperial glory, while their faces are as the countenances of slaves and criminals.

18. Around these there is a great rabble, and if you look into the mob you see with surprise that they are the same crowd, who a week ago shouted “Hosanna! Hosanna!” They have changed their note and cry, “Crucify him: crucify him”; they were bribed for a few pence to do so: they were an ignorant, fickle mob. When such do hiss at you for doing right, forgive them. When they point the finger of scorn at you for being a Christian, do not regard them. It matters little what they may say or do; they yelled at him who was their best Benefactor and ours. The Lord Christ endured the popular scorn as he had once received the popular acclamation. He lived above it all, for he knew that men of low degree are vanity. Vanity of vanities; all that comes of vain man is vanity.

19. Indeed, but there was a little change for the better in the company: there was just a streak of light in that cloud, for kindly women were in the throng. These were not all his disciples, perhaps few of them were such, for otherwise he would not have told them to weep over a woe which his disciples escaped; but they were tender-hearted women who could not look upon him without tears: it is said by Luke that they bewailed and lamented him. They knew how innocent he was, and how kind he had been. Perhaps some of them had received favours from his hands, and therefore they wept grievously that he should die. It was well done of them. In all the Evangelists there is no example of a woman who had any hand in the death of Christ. As far as they are connected with the matter they are guiltless, they rather oppose his death than promote it. Woman was last at the cross and first at the sepulchre, and therefore we can never say a word about her being the first in the transgression. Oh, kindly eyes that gave the Lord of love the tribute of their pity! Blessed be you by a compassionate heaven! But the Saviour did not desire at that time that human sympathy should be spent upon him, for his great heart was full of sorrows that were not his own. He knew that when the children of those women had grown up, and while yet some of the younger women would still be alive, their awful woe would make them exclaim, “Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bear, and the paps that never gave suck.” When they saw the slain by the Romans, and the slain by their own contending factions then they would mourn. The Master therefore said — 

   Weep not for me! Oh! weep not, Salem’s daughters,
      Faint though ye see me, stay the bursting tear;
   Turn the sad tide — the tide of bitter waters — 
      Back on yourselves for desolation near.

It was good on the woman’s part; it was better still on his, that he gently set the draught of sympathy to one side, because their coming sorrow oppressed him more deeply than his own.

20. We must now leave the company, but not until we have asked, “Where are his disciples?” Where is Peter? Did he not say, “I will go with you to prison and to death?” Where is John? Where are they all? They have fled, and have not yet returned to speak a word to him or for him. Holy women are gathering, but where are the men? Though the women are brave and act like men, the men are fearful and act like women. We are poor helpers to our Master. Had we been there, we should have done the same as they did, if not worse, for they were the flower of our Israel. Ah, me, how little worth are we for whom the Ever-Blessed paid so much! Let us give clearer proof of loyalty, and follow our Prince more closely.

21. III. But now, come closer to the Saviour: break through the company, and hear my third point with you while you look for a little while on HIS BURDEN. May the good Spirit teach me how to depict my Lord. We are told by John that our Saviour “went out bearing his cross.” We might have supposed, as far as the other three evangelists are concerned, that Simon the Cyrenian had carried the cross all the way, but John fills up the blank space in their accounts. Our Lord carried his own cross at the beginning of the sorrowful pilgrimage to Calvary.

22. This was done, first, by way of increasing his shame. It was a custom of the Romans to make felons bear their own gibbet, and there is a word in the Latin, furcifer, which means “gallows bearer,” which was hissed at men in contempt, just as nowadays a despised individual might be called a “gallow’s bird.” Nothing was more disgraceful, and therefore that must be added to the Redeemer’s load of shame. He made himself of no reputation for our sakes.

23. Notice, next, its weight. Usually only one beam of the cross was carried: it may have been so now. It does not look so, however; for the expression, “bearing his cross,” would naturally mean the whole thing. It is highly probable that, although that load could easily be borne by the rough, coarse criminals who ordinarily suffered, yet not so readily by the tender and more exquisite frame of our divine Lord. It is difficult to find any other reason why they should have laid the cross on Simon, unless it is true, as tradition says, that he fainted beneath the burden. I care nothing for tradition, nor even for conjecture; but still there must have been a reason, and since we cannot believe that these people had any real mercy for Christ, we think they must have acted upon the cruel wish that he might not die on the road, but might at least live to be nailed to the tree. “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” This I leave.

24. And now I call your attention to the fact that there was a typical evidence about this. If Simon had carried Christ’s cross all the way, we should have missed the type of Isaac, for Isaac when he went to Mount Moriah to be offered up by his father carried the wood for his own sacrifice. I think if I had been a Jew, full of hate for Jesus Christ, I would have said, “Do not let him carry his cross: that will be too much like Isaac carrying the wood.” No; but knowing the type, they wantonly fulfil it. It is their own will that does it, and yet the predestination of the Eternal is fulfilled in every jot and tittle, and our great Isaac carries the wood with which he is to be offered up by his Father. How marvellous it is that there should be a fixed decree and yet an altogether unlimited free agency.

25. The spiritual meaning of it, of course, was that Christ in perfect obedience was then carrying the load of our disobedience. The cross, which was the curse, for “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” is borne on those blessed shoulders which were submissive to the will of God in all things. Our Lord’s cross-bearing is the representation of his bearing all our sin, and therefore we rejoice in it.

26. It also has a prophetic meaning: that cross which he carried through Jerusalem shall go through Jerusalem again. It is his great weapon with which he conquers and wins the world: it is his sceptre with which he shall rule, governing the hearts of his people by no more forceful means than by the love revealed on his cross. “The government shall be upon his shoulder”; what he bore on his shoulder shall win obedience, and those who take his yoke upon them shall find rest for their souls.

27. IV. I wish I had an hour during which I might speak upon the last point, which bristles with points of interest; but I must give its lessons to you rather in rough remarks than in studied observations. The last thing to consider is HIS CROSS-BEARER.

28. We are not told why the Roman soldiers laid the cross on Simon. We have made a conjecture; but we leave it as a conjecture, although a highly probable one. If it is true, it lets us see how truly human our Master was. He had been all night in the garden, sweating as it were great drops of blood in his anguish: he had been before the Sanhedrin, he had been before Pilate, then before Herod, then before Pilate again; he had endured scourging; he had been mocked by the soldiers; and it would have been a great wonder if the human body had not shown some sign of exhaustion. Holy Scripture, by its example, teaches us great reticence about the sufferings of Jesus. Some of the medieval writers and certain good people who write devotional books are too apt to expound on every supposed grief of our Master, so as to harrow up your feelings; but it is the part of wisdom to imitate the ancient painter who, when he depicted Agamemnon {c} as sacrificing his daughter, veiled the father’s face. It is indelicate and almost indecent to write as some have done who would seem to be better acquainted with anatomy than awed by divinity. Much that Jesus endured must for ever remain veiled to us; whether he fainted once or twice or thrice, or did not faint at all, we are not informed; and therefore we leave the idea in the obscurity of probability, and reverently worship him who was tender in body and soul, and suffered even as we do. Oh, love surpassing knowledge which could make him suffer so!

29. There was a great distinctiveness in the providence which brought Simon upon the scene just when he appeared. The right man came forward at the right moment. That Simon did not come at first, and that they did not place the cross on him from the beginning was for the fulfilment of the type of Isaac to which allusion has been made: hence providence arranges all things wisely.

30. Observe that Simon was compelled into this duty. The word used means that the person is conscripted into the royal service. Simon was a conscripted man, and probably not a disciple of Christ at the time when he was loaded with the cross. How often has a burden of sorrow been the means of bringing men to the faith of Jesus! He was coming in from the country about some business or other, and they compelled him to bear his cross, conscripting him into the service which otherwise he would have shunned, for “he passed by,” and would have gone on if he could. Roman soldiers were not accustomed to make many bones about what they chose to do. It was sufficient for them that he came under their notice, and he must carry the cross.

31. His name was Simon: and where was that other Simon? What a silent, but strong rebuke this would be to him. Simon Peter, Simon son of Jonas, where were you? Another Simon has taken your place. Sometimes the Lord’s servants are backward where they are expected to be forward, and he finds other servants for the time. If this has ever happened to us it ought gently to rebuke us as long as we live. Brothers and sisters, keep your places, and do not let another Simon occupy your place. It is of Judas that it is said, “Another shall take his office”; but a true disciple will retain his office. Remember that word of our Lord, “Hold firm what you have, so that no man takes your crown.” Simon Peter lost a crown here, and another head wore it.

32. Simon was a Cyrenian — an African — I wonder if he was a black man. In the Acts of the Apostles, we find mention of a Simeon who was called Niger, or black. {Act 13:1} We do not know whether he was the same man or not, but anyway he was an African, for Cyrene lies just to the west of Egypt, on the southern coast of the Mediterranean. Surely the African has had his full share of cross-bearing for many an age. Oh that the pangs of his sorrow may produce a birth of joy! Blessed is he, whether African or Englishman, or whoever he may be, who has the honour of bearing the cross after Christ.

33. He was coming in from the country. How often the Lord takes into his service the unsophisticated country people who as yet are untainted by the cunning and the vice of the city. Some young man is just come up from the country this very week, and is beginning his apprenticeship in London. How I wish my Master would conscript him at the city gates, and do it in that divine way of his to which the will of the conscripted person yields a sweet consent. Oh that you would come at once and take up the cross of Jesus just at the city gate, before you learn the city’s sin and plunge into its dangers. Happy is the Simon coming in from the country who shall today be led to bear Christ’s cross. Good Master, fulfil our heart’s desire, and lay your cross on some unaccustomed shoulder even now.

34. We are told he was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Which, my brethren, is the greater honour to a man, to have a good father, or to be the father of good sons? Under the Old Testament rule we usually read about a man that he is the son of such a one, but here we come to another style, and find it to a man’s honour that he is the father of certain well-known brethren, — “the father of Alexander and Rufus.” Surely, Mark knew these two sons, or he would not have cared to mention them; they must have been familiar to the church, or he would not have described their father like this. It was their father who carried the cross. It is extremely likely that this Rufus was he of whom Paul speaks in the last chapter of his epistle to the Romans, for Mark was with Paul, and by this means knew Simon and Rufus. Paul writes, “Greet Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” His mother was such a motherly person that she had been a mother to Paul as well as to Rufus. Surely, if she was a mother to Paul, she was another disciple of Jesus, and it would look as if this man, his wife, and his two sons all became converts to our Lord after he had carried his cross. It is certainly not the most unlikely circumstance that has been accepted by us on the basis of probability. Oh, what a blessing to a man to be known by his sons! Pray, dear Christian friends, you who have an Alexander and a Rufus, that it may be an honour to you to be known as their father.

35. “They compelled him to bear his cross,” — perhaps the heavier end of it, if it was really bound to Christ, as they say; or as I judge, all of it. It does not matter how it was; but Simon is the representative of the church which follows Christ bearing his cross. Here we may recall the language of Paul: “I fill up what is behind,” may I paraphrase it? — I take the hinder end, — “of the sufferings of Christ for his body’s sake, that is the church,” Everyone who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. Jesus said, “Whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Here is a representative, then, of all the godly — this Simon bearing Christ’s cross.

36. Notice, it was not a cross of his own making, like those of monks and nuns who put themselves to pains of their own inventing. It was Christ’s cross; and he did not carry it before Christ, as some do who talk about their poverty as though it would get them to heaven, instead of resting on Christ’s cross. He carried it after Christ in its rightful place. This is the order, — Christ in front bearing all our sin, and we behind enduring shame and reproach for him, and counting it greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.

37. There is Simon, and we will view him as a lesson to ourselves. First, let Simon be an example to us all, and let us readily take up the cross after Christ. Whatever is involved in being a Christian, rejoice in it. If there is any shame, if there is any contumely, if there is no loss, if there is any suffering, even if it were martyrdom, yet gladly take up the cross. Behold, the Father lays it upon you for Christ’s sake.

38. The next is advice to any of you who have been compelled to suffer as Christians though you are not Christians. I wonder whether there is anyone here who is only a conscript and yet has to bear the cross. A working man became a teetotaller: he did not mean to be a Christian, but when he went to work his mates tempted him to drink, and since he would not join them they attacked him as a Christian, and said, “You are one of those pious hypocrites, those Wesleyans, those Presbyterians, or those Spurgeonites!” This is not true of you: but you see the cross is forced on you: had you not better take it up and bear it joyfully? They have conscripted you into this service: take it as an index of the will of providence, and say, “I will not be a conscript only; I will be a volunteer, and I will cheerfully carry Christ’s cross.” I know a man who merely comes to this place of worship because he is somewhat interested with the preaching, though he has no intention of ever being a converted man; yet in the street where he lives no one ever goes to a place of worship, and therefore they consider him a pious man, and some have even ridiculed him for it. Friend, you are in for it because you attend here, and you put me in for it too, for if you do anything wrong they are sure to lay all the blame on me. They say — “That is one of Spurgeon’s people.” You are not: I do not acknowledge you as yet; but the outsiders have pushed you into the responsibilities of a religious profession, and you had better go in for its privileges. They have laid the cross upon you, do not throw it off. Come on, and bring that dear motherly wife with you, and Alexander and Rufus too. The church will be glad to take you all in, and then as a volunteer you shall bear Christ’s cross. It is, however, a remarkable thing that some should first of all be forced into it and then become willing followers.

39. Last of all, if you and I are cross-bearers, here is a sweet thought. Are we carrying a cross which presses us heavily just now? You know you are to be like your Master, and if so there will be someone found to help you bear your cross. They found Simon to bear the cross of Jesus, and there is a Simon somewhere to help you. Only cry to the Lord about it, and he will find you a friend. If Simon is not forthcoming I will tell you what to do. Imitate Simon. If Simon was what I think he was, he became a converted man, and before long found himself in trouble through it, and he at once went to the Lord in prayer, and said, “Lord Jesus I am resting in you alone. You gave me the honour to carry your cross once, now, I beseech you, carry mine!” This is what I want you to do with your crosses at this time. You who have to endure hardness for Christ, and are glad to do it, ask him to bear your burden for you. He has borne your sins, and if you will only commit your troubles to him, through believing joy and peace shall stream into your souls by his Holy Spirit. May God bless you, for Christ’s sake.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mr 15:15-39]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 84” 84 @@ "(Song 1)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — Beneath His Cross” 818}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Life on Earth — Imitation Of Jesus” 263}
{See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3564, “Publications” 3566 @@ "Soul Winning Sermons"}


{a} Tyburn was used for centuries as the primary location of the execution of London criminals; the Old Bailey was the main criminal court of London.
{b} Smock-frock: A loose fitting garment of coarse linen or the like, worn by farm labourers over or instead of a coat and usually reaching to midleg or lower. OED.
{c} Agamemnon: See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agamemnon"

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 84 (Song 1)
1 How pleasant, how divinely fair,
   Oh Lord of hosts, thy dwellings are!
   With long desire my spirit faints
   To meet the assemblies of thy saints.
2 My flesh would rest in thine abode,
   My panting heart cries out for God;
   My God! my King! why should I be
   So far from all my joys and thee?
3 Bless’d are the saints who sit on high
   Around thy throne of majesty;
   Thy brightest glories shine above,
   And all their work is praise and love.
4 Bless’d are the souls that find a place
   Within the temple of thy grace;
   There they behold thy gentler rays,
   And seek thy face, and learn thy praise.
5 Bless’d are the men whose hearts are set
   To find the way to Zion’s gate;
   God is their strength, and through the road,
   They lean upon their helper, God.
6 Cheerful they walk with growing strength,
   Till all shall meet in heaven at length,
   Till all before thy face appear,
   And join in nobler worship there.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 84 (Song 2)
1 Great God, attend while Sion sings
   The joy that from thy presence springs;
   To spend one day with thee on earth
   Exceeds a thousand days of mirth.
2 Might I enjoy the meanest place
   Within thy house, oh God of grace!
   Not tents of ears, nor thrones of power,
   Should tempt my feet to leave thy door.
3 God is our sun, he makes our day;
   God is our shield, he guards our way
   From all th’ assaults of hell and sin,
   From foes without and foes within.
4 All needful grace will God bestow,
   And crown that grace with glory too;
   He gives us all things, and withholds
   No real good from upright souls.
5 Oh God, our King, whose sovereign sway
   The glorious hosts of heaven obey,
   And devils at thy presence flee;
   Bless’d is the man that trusts in thee.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 84 (Song 3) <148th.>
1 Lord of the worlds above,
   How pleasant and how fair
   The dwellings of thy love,
   Thy earthly temples are!
   To thine abode,
      My heart aspires
      With warm desires,
   To see my God.
2 Oh happy souls that pray
   Where God appoints to hear!
   Oh happy men that pay
   Their constant service there!
   They praise thee still;
      And happy they
      That love the way
   To Zion’s hill.
3 They go from strength to strength,
   Through this dark vale of tears,
   Till each arrives at length,
   Till each in heaven appears:
   Oh glorious seat,
      When God our King
      Shall thither bring
   Our willing feet.
4 To spend one sacred day,
   Where God and saints abide,
   Affords diviner joy
   Than thousand days beside:
   Where God resorts,
   I love it more
   To keep the door
   Than shine in courts.
5 God is our sun and shield,
   Our light and our defence;
   With gifts his hands are fill’d;
   We draw our blessings thence;
   He shall bestow
      On Jacob’s race
      Peculiar grace
   And glory too.
6 The Lord his people loves;
   His hand no good withholds
   From those his heart approves,
   From pure and pious souls:
   Thrice happy he,
      Oh God of hosts,
      Whose spirit trusts
   Alone in thee.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
818 — Beneath His Cross
1 Beneath thy cross I lay me down
   And mourn to see thy bloody crown:
   Love drops in blood from every vein,
   Love is the spring of all his pain.
2 Here, Jesus, I shall ever stay,
   And spend my longing hours away,
   Think on thy bleeding wounds and pain
   And contemplate thy woes again.
3 The rage of Satan, and of sin,
   Of foes without, and fears within,
   Shall ne’er my conquering soul remove,
   Or from thy cross or from thy love.
4 Secured from harms beneath thy shade,
   Here death and hell shall ne’er invade,
   Nor Sinai, with its thundering noise,
   Shall e’er disturb my happier joys.
5 Oh, unmolested happy rest!
   Where inward fears are all suppress’d,
   Here I shall love and live secure,
   And patiently my cross endure.
                  William Williams, 1772.


Jesus Christ, Life on Earth
263 — Imitation Of Jesus
1 Lord, as to thy dear Cross we flee,
   And plead to be forgiven,
   So let thy life our pattern be,
   And form our souls for heaven.
2 Help us, through good report and ill,
   Our daily cross to bear;
   Like thee, to do our Father’s will,
   Our brethren’s griefs to share.
3 Let grace our selfishness expel,
   Our earthliness refine;
   And kindness in our bosoms dwell,
   As free and true as thine.
4 If joy shall at thy bidding fly,
   And grief’s dark day come on,
   We, in our turn, would meekly cry,
   “Father, thy will be done.”
5 Kept peaceful in the midst of strife,
   Forgiving and forgiven,
   Oh may we lead the pilgrim’s life,
   And follow thee to heaven!
            John Hampden Gurney, 1851.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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