2311. Our Lord’s Last Cry From The Cross

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No. 2311-39:264. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, June 9, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, June 4, 1893.

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”: and having said this, he gave up the ghost. {Lu 23:46}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2311, “Our Lord’s Last Cry from the Cross” 2312}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2644, “Last Words of Christ on the Cross, The” 2645}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3178, “Preparatory Prayers of Christ, The” 3179}
   Exposition on Lu 23:27-49 Mt 27:50-54 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2311, “Our Lord’s Last Cry from the Cross” 2312 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 23:33-46 Joh 19:25-30 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2263, “Christ’s Plea for Ignorant Sinners” 2264 @@ "Exposition"}

1. These were the dying words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” It may be instructive if I remind you that the words of Christ on the cross were seven. Calling each of his cries, or utterances, by the title of a word, we speak of the seven last words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me rehearse them in your hearing. The first, when they nailed him to the cross, was, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke has preserved that word. Later, when one of the two thieves said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, ‘Today you shall be with me in paradise.’ ” Luke has also carefully preserved this. Further on, our Lord, in his great agony, saw his mother, with breaking heart, standing by the cross, and looking up to him with unutterable love and grief, and he said to her, “Woman, behold, your son!” and to the beloved disciple, “Behold your mother!” and so he provided a home for her when he himself would be gone away. This utterance has only been preserved by John.

2. The fourth and central word of the seven was, “Eloi, Eloi, lama, sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was the culmination of his grief, the central point of all his agony. That most awful word that ever fell from the lips of man, expressing the quintessence of extreme agony, is well expressed, as though it had need of three words before it, and three words after it, as its body-guard. It tells of a good man, a son of God, the Son of God, forsaken by his God. That central word of the seven is found in Matthew and in Mark, but not in Luke or John; but the fifth word has been preserved by John; that is, “I thirst,” the shortest, but not quite the sharpest of all the Master’s words, though under a bodily aspect, perhaps the sharpest of them all. John has also treasured up another very precious saying of Jesus Christ on the cross, that is the wonderful word, “It is finished.” This was the last word except for one, “It is finished,” the gathering up of all his life-work, for he had left nothing undone, no thread was left unravelled, the whole fabric of redemption had been woven, like his garment, from the top throughout, and it was finished to perfection. After he had said, “It is finished,” he uttered the last word of all, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” which I have taken for a text tonight; but to which I will not come immediately.

3. There has been a great deal said about these seven cries from the cross by various writers; and though I have read what many of them have written, I cannot add anything to what they have said, since they have delighted to dwell on these seven last cries; and here the most ancient writers, of what would be called the Roman Catholic school, are not to be excelled, even by Protestants, in their intense devotion to every letter of our Saviour’s dying words; and they sometimes strike out new meanings, richer and more rare than any that have occurred to the far cooler minds of modern critics, who are as a rule greatly blessed with moles’ eyes, able to see where there is nothing to be seen, but never able to see when there is anything worth seeing. Modern criticism, like modern theology, if it were put in the Garden of Eden, would not see a flower. It is like the sirocco {a} that blasts and burns, it is without either dew or unction; in fact, it is the very opposite of these precious things, and proves itself to be cursed by God, and a curse for men.

4. Now concerning these seven cries from the cross, many authors have drawn from them lessons concerning seven duties. Listen. When our Lord said, “Father, forgive them,” in effect, he said to us, “Forgive your enemies.” Even when they despitefully use you, and inflict terrible pain on you, be ready to pardon them. Be like the sandalwood tree, which perfumes the axe that fells it. Be all gentleness, and kindness, and love; and may this be your prayer, “Father, forgive them.”

5. The next duty is taken from the second cry, namely, that of penitence and faith in Christ, for he said to the dying thief, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.” Have you, like him, confessed your sin? Do you have his faith, and his prayerfulness? Then you shall be accepted even as he was. Learn, then, from the second cry, the duty of penitence and faith.

6. When our Lord, in the third cry, said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” he taught us the duty of filial love. No Christian must ever be short of love for his mother, his father, or for any of those who are endeared to him by relationships which God has appointed for us to observe. Oh, by the dying love of Christ for his mother, let no man here unman himself by forgetting his mother! She bore you; bear her in her old age, and lovingly cherish her even to the last.

7. Jesus Christ’s fourth cry teaches us the duty of clinging to God, and trusting in God: “My God, my God.” See how, with both hands, he takes hold of him: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He cannot bear to be abandoned by God; everything else causes him very little pain compared with the anguish of being forsaken by his God. So learn to cling to God, to grip him with a double-handed faith; and if you even think that he has forsaken you, cry after him, and say, “Show me why you contend with me, for I cannot bear to be without you.”

8. The fifth cry, “I thirst,” teaches us to set a high value on the fulfilment of God’s Word. “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, says, ‘I thirst.’ ” Take good heed, in all your grief and weakness, to still preserve the Word of your God, and to obey the precept, learn the doctrine, and delight in the promise. As your Lord, in his great anguish said, “I thirst,” because it was written that he would say that, have regard for the Word of the Lord even in little things.

9. That sixth cry, “It is finished,” teaches us perfect obedience. Go through with your keeping of God’s commandment; leave out no command, keep on obeying until you can say, “It is finished.” Work your life-work, obey your Master, suffer or serve according to his will, but do not rest until you can say with your Lord, “It is finished.” “I have finished the work which you gave me to do.”

10. And that last word, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” teaches us resignation. Yield all things, yield up even your spirit to God at his bidding. Stand still, and make a full surrender to the Lord, and let this be your watchword from the first even to the last, “Into your hands, my Father, I commend my spirit.”

11. I think that this study of Christ’s last words should interest you; therefore let me linger a little longer on it. Those seven cries from the cross also teach us something about the attributes and offices of our Master. They are seven windows of agate, and gates of carbuncle, through which you may see him, and approach him.

12. First, would you see him as Intercessor? Then he cries, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Would you look at him as King? Then hear his second word, “Truly I say to you, ‘Today you shall be with me in paradise.’ ” Would you see him as a tender Guardian? Hear him say to Mary, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, “Behold your mother!” Would you peer into the dark abyss of the agonies of his soul? Hear him cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Would you understand the reality and the intensity of his bodily sufferings? Then hear him say, “I thirst,” for there is something exquisite in the torture of thirst when brought on by the fever of bleeding wounds. Men on the battle-field, who have lost much blood, are devoured with thirst, and tell you that it is the worst pang of all. “I thirst,” says Jesus. See the Sufferer in the body, and understand how he can sympathize with you who suffer, since he suffered so much on the cross. Would you see him as the Finisher of your salvation? Then hear his cry, “ Consummatum est ” — “It is finished.” Oh, glorious note! Here you see the blessed Finisher of your faith. And would you then take one more gaze, and understand how voluntary his suffering was? Then hear him say, not as one who is robbed of life, but as one who takes his soul, and hands it over to the keeping of another, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

13. Is there not much to be learned from these cries from the cross? Surely these seven notes make a wondrous scale of music if we only know how to listen to them. Let me run up the scale again. Here, first, you have Christ’s fellowship with men: “Father, forgive them.” He stands side by side with sinners, and tries to make an apology for them: “They do not know what they are doing.” Here is, next, his kingly power. He throws open heaven’s gate to the dying thief, and invites him to enter. “Today you shall be with me in paradise.” Thirdly, behold his human relationship. How near of kin he is to us! “Woman, behold your son!” Remember how he says, “Whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” He is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He belongs to the human family. He is more of a man than any man. As surely as he is very God of very God, he is also very man of very man, taking into himself the nature, not of the Jew only, but of the Gentile, too. Belonging to his own nationality, but rising above all, he is the Man of men, the Son of man.

14. See, next, his taking our sin. You say, “Which note is that?” Well, they are all to that effect; but this one chiefly, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was because he bore our sins in his own body on the tree that he was forsaken by God. “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin,” and hence the bitter cry, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” Behold him, in that fifth cry, “I thirst,” taking, not only our sin, but also our infirmity, and all the suffering of our bodily nature. Then, if you would see his fulness as well as his weakness, if you would see his all-sufficiency as well as his sorrow, hear him cry, “It is finished.” What a wonderful fulness there is in that note! Redemption is all accomplished; it is all complete; it is all perfect. There is nothing left, not a drop of bitterness in the cup of gall; Jesus has drained it dry. There is not a farthing to be added to the ransom price; Jesus has paid it all. Behold his fulness in the cry, “It is finished.” And then, if you would see how he has reconciled us to himself, behold him, the Man who was made a curse for us, returning with a blessing to his Father, and, taking us with him, as he draws us all up by that last dear word, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

    “Now both the Surety and sinner are free.”

Christ goes back to the Father, for “It is finished,” and you and I come to the Father through his perfect work.

15. I have only practised two or three tunes that can be played on this harp, but it is a wonderful instrument. If it is not a harp of ten strings, it is, at any rate, an instrument of seven strings, and neither time nor eternity shall ever be able to draw all the music out of them. Those seven dying words of the ever-living Christ will make melody for us in glory through all the ages of eternity.

16. I shall now ask your attention for a little time to the text itself: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

17. Do you see our Lord? He is dying; and as yet, his face is towards man. His last word to man is the cry, “It is finished.” Hear, all you sons of men, he speaks to you, “It is finished.” Could you have a better word with which he should say “Adieu” to you in the hour of death? He tells you not to fear that his work is imperfect, not to tremble lest it should prove insufficient. He speaks to you, and declares with his dying utterance, “It is finished.” Now he is finished speaking to you, and he turns his face the other way. His day’s work is done, his more than Herculean toil is accomplished, and the great Champion is going back to his Father’s throne, and he speaks; but not to you. His last word is addressed to his Father, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” These are his first words in going home to his Father, as “It is finished,” is his last word as, for a while, he leaves our company. Think of these words, and may they be your first words, too, when you return to your Father! May you speak like this to your Divine Father in the hour of death! The words were much hackneyed in Roman Catholic times; but they are not spoiled even for that. They used to be said in the Latin by dying men, “ In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. ” Every dying man used to try to say those words in Latin; and if he did not, someone tried to say them for him. They were made into a kind of spell of witchcraft; and so they lost that sweetness to our ears in the Latin; but in the English they shall always stand as the very essence of music for a dying saint, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

18. It is very noteworthy that the last words that our Lord used were quoted from the Scriptures. This sentence is taken, as I daresay most of you know, from the thirty-first Psalm, and the fifth verse. Let me read it to you. What a proof it is of how full Christ was of the Bible! He was not one of those who think little of the Word of God. He was saturated with it. He was as full of Scripture as the fleece of Gideon was full of dew. He could not speak even in his death without uttering Scripture. This is how David put it, “Into your hand I commit my spirit: you have redeemed me, oh Lord God of truth.” Now, beloved, the Saviour altered this passage, or else it would not quite have suited him. Do you see, first, he was obliged, in order to apply it to his own case, to add something to it? What did he add to it? Why, that word, “Father.” David said, “Into your hand I commit my spirit”; but Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Blessed advance! He knew more than David did, for he was more the Son of God than David could be. He was the Son of God in a very high and special sense by eternal filiation; {sonship} and so he begins the prayer with, “Father.” But then he takes something from it. It was necessary that he should do so, for David said, “Into your hand I commit my spirit: you have redeemed me.” Our blessed Master was not redeemed, for he was the Redeemer; and he could have said, “Into your hand I commit my spirit, for I have redeemed my people”; but he did not choose to say that. He simply took that part which suited himself, and used it as his own, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Oh, my brethren, you will not do better, after all, than to quote Scripture, especially in prayer. There are no prayers so good as those that are full of the Word of God. May all our speech be flavoured with texts! I wish that it were more so. They laughed at our Puritan forefathers because the very names of their children were taken from the passages of Scripture; but I, for my part, would much rather be laughed at for talking much of Scripture than for talking much of trashy novels — novels with which (I am ashamed to say it) many a sermon nowadays is larded, indeed, larded with novels that are not fit for decent men to read, and which are coated over until one hardly knows whether he is hearing about a historical event, or only a piece of fiction — from which abomination, good Lord, deliver us!

19. So, then, you see how well the Saviour used Scripture, and how, from his first battle with the devil in the wilderness until his last struggle with death on the cross, his weapon was always, “It is written.”

20. Now, I am coming to the text itself, and I am going to preach from it for only a very short time. In doing so, firstly, let us learn the doctrine of this last cry from the cross; secondly, let us practise the duty; and thirdly, let us enjoy its privilege.

21. I. First, LET US LEARN THE DOCTRINE of our Lord’s last cry from the cross.

22. What is the doctrine of this last word of our Lord Jesus Christ? God is his Father, and God is our Father. He who himself said, “Father,” did not say for himself, “Our Father,” for the Father is Christ’s Father in a higher sense than he is ours; but yet he is not more truly the Father of Christ than he is our Father if we have believed in Jesus. “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Believe the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God to his people. As I have warned you before, abhor the doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God, for it is a lie, and a deep deception. It stabs at the heart, first, of the doctrine of adoption, which is taught in Scripture, for how can God adopt men if they are all his children already? In the second place, it stabs at the heart of the doctrine of regeneration, which is certainly taught in the Word of God. Now it is by regeneration and faith that we become the children of God, but how can that be if we are the children of God already? “As many as received him, he gave power to them to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in his name: who were born, not by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by God.” How can God give to men the power to become his sons if they have it already? Do not believe that lie of the devil, but believe this truth of God, that Christ and all who are living by faith in Christ may rejoice in the Fatherhood of God.

23. Next learn this doctrine, that in this fact lies our chief comfort. In our hour of trouble, in our time of warfare, let us say, “Father.” You notice that the first cry from the cross is like the last; the highest note is like the lowest. Jesus begins with, “Father, forgive them,” and he finishes with, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” To help you in a stern duty like forgiveness, cry, “Father.” To help you in severe suffering and death, cry, “Father.” Your main strength lies in your being truly a child of God.

24. Learn the next doctrine, that dying is going home to our Father. I said to an old friend, not long ago, “Old Mr. So-and-so has gone home.” I meant that he was dead. He said, “Yes, where else should he go?” I thought that was a wise question. Where else should we go? When we grow grey, and our day’s work is done, where should we go but home? So, when Christ has said, “It is finished,” his next word, of course, is “Father.” He has finished his earthly course, and now he will go home to heaven. Just as a child runs into his mother’s bosom when he is tired, and wants to fall asleep, so Christ says, “Father,” before he falls asleep in death.

25. Learn another doctrine, that if God is our Father, and we regard ourselves as going home when we die, because we go to him, then he will receive us. There is no hint that we can commit our spirit to God, and yet that God will not have us. Remember how Stephen, beneath a shower of stones, cried, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Let us, however we may die, make this our last emotion if not our last expression, “Father, receive my spirit.” Shall not our heavenly Father receive his children? If you, being evil, receive your children at nightfall, when they come home to sleep, shall not your Father, who is in heaven, receive you when your day’s work is done? That is the doctrine we are to learn from this last cry from the cross, the Fatherhood of God and all that comes from it to believers.

26. II. Secondly, LET US PRACTISE THE DUTY.

27. That duty seems to me to be, first, resignation. Whenever anything distresses and alarms you, resign yourself to God. Say, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Sing, with Faber, —

    I bow me to thy will, oh God,
       And all thy ways adore;
    And every day I live I’ll seek
       To please thee more and more.

28. Learn, next, the duty of prayer. When you are in the very anguish of pain, when you are surrounded by bitter griefs of mind as well as of body, still pray. Do not drop the “Our Father.” Do not let your cries be addressed to the air; do not let your moans be to your physician, or your nurse; but cry, “Father.” Does not a child so cry when he has lost his way? If he is in the dark at night, and he wakes up in a lonely room, does he not cry out, “Father”; and is not a father’s heart touched by that cry? Is there anyone here who has never cried to God? Is there one here who has never said “Father?” Then, my Father, put your love into their hearts, and make them say tonight, “I will arise, and go to my Father.” You shall truly be known to be the sons of God if that cry is in your heart and on your lips.

29. The next duty is the committal of ourselves to God by faith. Give yourselves up to God, trust yourselves with God. Every morning, when you get up, take yourself, and put yourself into God’s custody; lock yourself up, as it were, in the treasure chest of divine protection; and every night, when you have unlocked the box, before you fall asleep, lock it again, and give the key into the hand of him who is able to keep you when the image of death is on your face. Before you sleep, commit yourself to God; I mean, do that when there is nothing to frighten you, when everything is going smoothly, when the wind blows softly from the south, and the barque is speeding towards its desired haven, still do not comfort yourself with comforts of your own making. He who carves for himself will cut his fingers, and get an empty plate. He who leaves God to carve for him shall often have fat things full of marrow placed before him. If you can trust, God will reward your trusting in a way that you do not know as yet.

30. And then practise one other duty, that of the personal and continual experience of God’s presence. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” “You are here; I know that you are. I believe that you are here in the time of sorrow, and of danger; and I put myself into your hands. Just as I would give myself to the protection of a policeman, or a soldier, if anyone attacked me, so I commit myself to you, you unseen Guardian of the night, you unwearied Keeper of the day. You shall cover my head in the day of battle. I will trust beneath your wings, as a chick hides beneath the hen.”

31. See, then, your duty. It is to resign yourself to God, pray to God, commit yourself to God, and rest in a sense of the presence of God. May the Spirit of God help you in the practice of such priceless duties as these!

32. III. Now, lastly, LET US ENJOY THE PRIVILEGE.

33. First, let us enjoy the high privilege of resting in God in all times of danger and pain. The doctor has just told you that you will have to undergo an operation. Say, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” There is every probability that that weakness of yours, or that disease of yours, will grow worse, and that eventually you will have to take to your bed, and lie there perhaps for many a day. Then say, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Do not fret; for that will not help you. Do not fear the future; for that will not aid you. Give yourself up (it is your privilege to do so) to the keeping of those dear hands that were pierced for you, to the love of that dear heart which was set abroach with the spear to purchase your redemption. It is wonderful what rest of spirit God can give to a man or a woman in the very worst condition. Oh, how some of the martyrs have sung at the stake! How they have rejoiced when on the rack! Bonner’s coal cellar, {b} across the water there, at Fulham, where he locked up the martyrs, was a wretched place to lie in on a cold winter’s night; but they said, “They roused them in the straw, as they lay in the coal cellar; with the sweetest singing outside of heaven, and when Bonner said, ‘Fie on them that they should make such a noise!’ they told him that he, too, would make such a noise if he was as happy as they were.” When you have commended your spirit to God, then you have sweet rest in time of danger and pain.

34. The next privilege is that of a brave confidence, in the time of death, or in the fear of death. I was led to think this text over by using it a great many times last Thursday night. Perhaps none of you will ever forget last Thursday night. I do not think that I ever shall, if I live to be as old as Methuselah. From this place until I reached my home, it seemed one continued sheet of fire; and the further I went, the more vivid the lightning flashes became; but when I came at last to turn up Leigham Court Road, then the lightning seemed to come in very bars from the sky; and at last, as I reached the top of the hill, and a crash came of the most startling kind, down poured a torrent of hail, hailstones that I will not attempt to describe, for you might think that I exaggerated, and then I felt, and my friend with me, that we could hardly expect to reach home alive. We were there at the very centre and summit of the storm. All around us, on every side, and all within us, as it were, seemed nothing but the electric force; and God’s right arm seemed bared for war. I felt then, “Well, now I am very likely going home,” and I commended my spirit to God; and from that moment, though I cannot say that I took much pleasure in the peals of thunder, and the flashes of lightning, yet I felt quite as calm as I do here at this present moment; perhaps a little more calm than I do in the presence of so many people; happy at the thought that, within a single moment, I might understand more than all I could ever learn on earth, and see in an instant more than I could hope to see if I lived here for a century. I could only say to my friend, “Let us commit ourselves to God; we know that we are doing our duty in going on as we are going, and all is well with us.” So we could only rejoice together in the prospect of being soon with God. We were not taken home in the chariot of fire; we are still spared a little longer to go on with life’s work; but I understand the sweetness of being able to be finished with it all, to have no wish, no will, no word, scarcely a prayer, but just to take one’s heart up, and hand it over to the great Keeper, saying, “Father, take care of me. So let me live, so let me die. I have henceforth no desire about anything; let it be as you please. Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

35. This privilege is not only that of having rest in danger, and confidence in the prospect of death; it is also full of consummate joy. Beloved, if we know how to commit ourselves into the hands of God, what a place it is for us to be in! What a place to be in, — in the hands of God! There are the myriads of stars; there is the universe itself; God’s hand upholds its everlasting pillars, and they do not fall. If we get into the hands of God, we get where all things rest, and we get home and happiness. We have gotten out of the nothingness of the creature into the all-sufficiency of the Creator. Oh, get there; hurry to get there, beloved friends, and live henceforth in the hands of God!

36. “It is finished.” You have not finished; but Christ has. It is all done. What you have to do will only be to work out what he has already finished for you, and show it to the sons of men in your lives. And because it is all finished, therefore say, “Now, Father, I return to you. My life henceforth shall be to be in you. My joy shall be to shrink to nothing in the presence of the All-in-all, to die into the eternal life, to sink my ego into Jehovah, to let my manhood, my creaturehood live only for its Creator, and reveal only the Creator’s glory.” Oh beloved, begin tomorrow morning and end tonight with, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” May the Lord be with you all! Oh, if you have never prayed, may God help you to begin to pray now, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — For Me” 296}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Patience and Resignation — ‘Yet What I Shall Choose I Wot Not’ ” 700}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — Sweet Fields” 875}

{a} Sirocco: An oppressively hot and blighting wind, blowing from the north coast of Africa over the Mediterranean and affecting parts of Southern Europe. OED. {b} Bonner’s Coal Hole: John Philpot was locked up in Bishop Bonner’s coal hole or cellar in Fulham Palace in 1555 before he was burned at the stake in Smithfield. See Explorer "http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/foxs-book-of-martyrs/mr-john-philpot.html" Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Lu 23:27-49 Mt 27:50-54}

From Luke’s account:

27. And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, who also bewailed and lamented him.

Their best Friend, the Healer of their sick, the Lover of their children, was about to be put to death, so they might well bewail and lament.

28-30. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, when they shall say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts which never nursed.’ Then they shall begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on its’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’

Our Saviour looked forward to the terrible siege of Jerusalem, the most tragic of all human events. I think I do not exaggerate when I say that history contains nothing equal to it. It stands alone in the unutterable agony of men, women, and children in that dreadful time of suffering.

31. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

If the Christ of God is put to death even while the Jewish capital seems vigorous and flourishing, what shall be done when it is all dry and dead, and the Roman legions surround the doomed city?

32. And there were also two others, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.

Every item of scorn was added to our Saviour’s death; and yet the Scriptures were so literally fulfilled, for “He was numbered with the transgressors.”

33, 34. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they parted his clothes, and cast lots.

Do you hear the hammer fall? “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ ” Do you see the bleeding hands and feet of Jesus? This is all that is extracted by that fearful pressure, nothing but words of pardoning love, a prayer for those who are killing him: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

35. And the people stood watching. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is Christ, the chosen of God.”

You know how mockery puts salt and vinegar into a wound. A man does not at any time like to be reviled; but when he is full of physical and mental anguish, and his heart is heavy within him, then ridicule is particularly full of acid for him.

36, 37. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

These rough legionaries knew how to put their jests in the most cruel form, and to press home their scoffs on their suffering victim.

38. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew,

These were the three languages that could be understood by all the people there.

38. THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

And so he is, and so he shall be. He has never left the throne. The Son of David is still King of the Jews, though they continue to reject him; but the day shall come when they shall recognise and receive the Messiah. “Then they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

39. And one of the malefactors who was hanged railed on him, saying, “If you are Christ, save yourself and us.”

Matthew and Mark speak of both the thieves as railing at Jesus. We must take their expressions as being literally correct; and if so, both the malefactors at first cast reproaches in Christ’s teeth.

40, 41. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward for our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss.”

Not only has he done nothing worthy of death, but he has done nothing improper, nothing out of place: “This man has done nothing amiss.” The thief bears testimony to the perfect character of this wondrous Man, whom he nevertheless recognised to be divine, as we shall see in the next verse.

42-47. And he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, ‘Today you shall be with me in paradise.’ ” And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”: and having said this, he gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous man.”

He was assigned there as the head of the guard, to watch the execution; and he could not help saying, as he observed the wonderful signs in heaven and earth, “Certainly this was a righteous man.”

48. And all the people who came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, beat their breasts, and returned.

What a change must have come over that ribald crowd! They had shouted, “Crucify him”; they had stood there, and mocked him; and now they are overcome with the sight, and they beat their breasts. Ah, dear friends, their grief did not come to much! Men may beat their breasts; but unless God strikes their hearts, all the outward signs of a gracious work will come to nothing at all.

49. And all his acquaintance, and the women who followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

Let “these things” be before your mind’s eye this evening, and think much of your crucified Lord, all you who are of his acquaintance, and who are numbered among his followers.

(Since the Exposition is shorter than usual, an appropriate extract is added from Mr. Spurgeon’s Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew.)

50. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

Christ’s strength was not exhausted; his last word was uttered with a loud voice, like the shout of a conquering warrior. And what a word it was, “It is finished!” Thousands of sermons have been preached on that little sentence; but who can tell all the meaning that lies compacted within it? It is a kind of infinite expression for breadth, and depth, and length, and height altogether immeasurable. Christ’s life being finished, perfected, completed, he yielded up the ghost, willingly dying, laying down his life as he said he would: “I lay down my life for the sheep. I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”

51-53. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks split; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many.

Christ’s death was the end of Judaism: The veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. As if shocked at the sacrilegious murder of her Lord, the temple tore her garments, like one stunned with horror at some stupendous crime. The body of Christ being torn, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. Now there was an entrance made into the holiest of all, by the blood of Jesus; and a way of access to God was opened for every sinner who trusted in Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

See what marvels accompanied and followed the death of Christ: The earth quaked, and the rocks split; and the graves were opened. So the material world paid homage to him whom man had rejected; while nature’s convulsions foretold what will happen when Christ’s voice once more shakes not only the earth, but also heaven.

These first miracles performed in connection with the death of Christ were typical of spiritual wonders that will be continued until he comes again, — rocky hearts are split, graves of sin are opened, those who have been dead in trespasses and sins, and buried in sepulchres of lust and evil, are quickened, and come out from among the dead, and go to the holy city, the New Jerusalem.

54. Now when the centurion, and those who were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

These Roman soldiers had never witnessed such scenes in connection with an execution before, and they could only come to one conclusion about the illustrious prisoner whom they had put to death: “Truly this was the Son of God.” It was strange that those men should confess what the chief priests and scribes and elders denied; yet since their day it has often happened that the most abandoned and profane have acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God while their religious rulers have denied his divinity.

 The Sword and the Trowel
 Table of Contents, June, 1893.
 A Full Christ for Empty Sinners and Saints. A prayer-meeting address delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, November 23rd, 1868. By C. H. Spurgeon.
 “Rutherford’s Witnesses.” Cited by Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon.
 The Power and the Importance of Unction in Preaching. By Dr. Pierson. Part I.
 Tell your Children your own Experience. By C. H. Spurgeon.
 The Soul and the Saviour: a Dialogue. (Poetry.) By Pastor E. A. Tydeman, Sidcup.
 Mr. Spurgeon’s Last Drives at Mentone. By Joseph W. Harrald. (Illustrated.)
 June 19th, 1893. A reminder from John Ploughman’s Almanac.
 The Round of the Prayer-meetings. VI. Worthing Baptist Chapel.
 A Free Salvation. By Pastor John Kemp, Southsea.
 The People of Fez. By Dr. Churcher, of the Pastors’ College Missionary Association.
 The Minister’s Personal Equipment for his Work. A Paper read by Pastor J. McAuslane, Crawley, at the Pastors’ College Conference.
 Report of the Pastors’ College Conference.
 After the Conference. (Poetry.) By Pastor Isaac Bridge, Rayleigh.
 Pastor Charles Spurgeon’s Return to Greenwich. By Pastor E. Spanton, Modbury.
 Notes. (Pastor Thomas Spurgeon. Mr. Spurgeon’s Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew. Death of Dr. D. A. Doudney. Poor Ministers’ Clothing Society. College. Evangelists. Orphanage. Colportage. Baptisms a Metropolitan Tabernacle. Personal Notes, by Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon.)
 Notices of Books.
 Lists of Contributions.
 Report of the Pastors’ College, 1892-3.

 104 pages. Price 3d. Post free, 5d.
 London: Passmore and Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.


Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
296 — For Me
1 The Son of God, in mighty love,
   Came down to Bethlehem for me,
   Forsook his throne of light above,
   An infant upon earth to be.
2 In love, the Father’s sinless child
   Sojourn’d at Nazareth for me;
   With sinners dwelt the Undefiled,
   The Holy One in Galilee.
3 Jesus whom angel hosts adore,
   Became a man of griefs for me:
   In love, though rich, becoming poor,
   That I, through him, enrich’d might be.
4 Though Lord of all, above, below,
   He went to Olivet for me;
   He drank my cup of wrath and woe,
   And bled in dark Gethsemane.
5 The ever blessed Son of God
   Went up to Calvary for me:
   There paid my debt, there bore may load
   In his own body on the tree.
6 Jesus, whose dwelling is the skies,
   Went down into the grave for me;
   There overcame my enemies,
   There won the glorious victory.
7 ‘Tis Finish’d all: the veil is rent,
   The welcome sure, the access free;
   Now then, we leave our banishment,
   Oh Father, to return to thee!
                        Horatius Bonar 1856.


The Christian, Patience and Resignation
700 — “Yet What I Shall Choose I Wot Not”
1 Lord, it belongs not to my care,
      Whether I die or live;
   To love and serve thee is my share,
      And this thy grace must give.
2 If life be long I will be glad,
      That I may long obey:
   If short — yet why should I be sad
      To soar to endless day?
3 Christ leads me through no darker rooms
      Than he went through before;
   He that into God’s kingdom comes,
      Must enter by this door.
4 Come, Lord, when grace hath made me meet
      Thy blessed face to see;
   For if thy work on earth be sweet,
      What will thy glory be?
5 Then I shall end my sad complaints,
      And weary, sinful days;
   And join with the triumphant saints,
      That sing Jehovah’s praise.
6 My knowledge of that life is small,
      The eye of faith is dim;
   But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
      And I shall be with him.
                        Richard Baxter, 1681.


The Christian, Heaven
875 — Sweet Fields
1 There is a land of pure delight,
      Where saints immortal reign;
   Infinite day excludes the night,
      And pleasures banish pain.
2 There everlasting spring abides,
      And never-withering flowers:
   Death, like a narrow sea, divides
      This heavenly land from ours.
3 Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
      Stand dress’d in living green;
   So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
      While Jordan roll’d between.
4 But timorous mortals start and shrink
      To cross this narrow sea,
   And linger, shivering on the brink,
      And fear to launch away.
5 Oh! could we make our doubts remove,
      Those gloomy doubts that rise,
   And see the Canaan that we love
      With unbeclouded eyes!
6 Could we but climb where Moses stood,
      And view the landscape o’er,
   Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood,
      Should fright us from the shore!
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

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).

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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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