The Sufferings of Christ
O Jesus! You were a sufferer from Your birth, a man of sorrows and grief’s acquaintance. Your sufferings fell on You in one perpetual shower, until the last dread hour of darkness. Then not in a shower, but in a cloud, a torrent, a cataract of grief, Your agonies did dash upon You. See Him yonder! It is a night of frost and cold, but He is abroad. It is night, He sleeps not, but He is in prayer. Hark to His groans! Did ever man wrestle as He wrestles? Go and look in His face! Was ever such suffering depicted upon mortal countenance as you can there behold? Hear His words? “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” He rises: He is seized by traitors and is dragged away. Let us step to the place where just now He was engaged in agony. O God! And what is this we see?
What is this that stains the ground? It is blood! Whence came it? Had He some wound which oozed afresh through His dire struggle? Ah! No! “He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” O agonies that surpass the word by which we name you! O sufferings that cannot be compassed with language! What could you be that thus could work upon the Savior’s blessed frame, and force a bloody sweat to fall from His entire body? This is the beginning; this is the opening of tragedy.
Follow Him mournfully, you sorrowing church, to witness the consummation of it. He is hurried through the streets, He is dragged first to one bar and then to another. He is cast and condemned before the Sanhedrin, He is mocked by Herod, He is tried by Pilate. His sentence is pronounced – “Let Him be crucified!” And now the tragedy comes to its height. His back is bared, He is tied to the low Roman column, the bloody scourge ploughs furrows on His back, and with one stream of blood His back is red – a crimson robe that proclaims Him emperor of misery. He is taken into the guard room. His eyes are bound, and then they buffet Him, and say, “Prophesy, who it was that smote You.” They spit into His face, they plait a crown of thorns, and press His temples with it, they array Him in a purple robe, they bow their knees, and mock Him. All silently He sits, He answers not a word. “When He was reviled, He reviled not again,” but committed Himself unto Him whom He came to serve.
And now they take Him, and with many a jeer and jibe they drive Him from the place, and hurry Him through the streets. Emaciated by continual fasting, and depressed with the agony of spirit He stumbles beneath His cross. Daughters of Jerusalem! He faints in your streets. They raise Him up, they put His cross upon another’s shoulders, and they urge Him on, perhaps with many a spear-prick, till at last He reaches the mount of doom. Rough soldiers seize Him, and hurl Him on His back, the transverse wood is laid beneath Him, His arms are stretched to reach the necessary distance, the nails are grasped, four hammers at one moment drive four nails through the tenderest parts of His body, and there he lies upon His own place of execution dying on His cross. It is not done yet. The cross is lifted by the rough soldiers. There is the socket prepared for it. It is dashed into its place, they fill up the place with earth, and there it stands.
But see the Savior’s limbs, how they quiver! Every bone has been put out of joint by the dashing of the ross into the socket! How He weeps! How He sighs! How He sobs! Nay, more, hark how at last He shrieks in agony, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” O sun, no wonder you did shut your eye, and look no longer upon a deed so cruel! O rocks! No wonder that you did melt and rend your hearts with sympathy, when your Creator died! Never man suffered as this man suffered! Even death itself relented, and many of those who had been in their graves arose and came into the city.
This however, is but the outward. Believe me, brethren, the inward was far worse. What our Savior suffered in His body was nothing compared to what He endured in His soul. You cannot guess, and I cannot help you guess, what He endured within. Suppose for one moment – to repeat a sentence I have often used – suppose a man who has passed into hell – suppose his eternal torment could all be brought into one hour, and then suppose it could be multiplied by the number of the saved, which is a number past all human enumeration. Can you now think what a vast aggregate of misery there would have been in the sufferings of all God’s people, if they had been punished through all eternity?
And recollect that Christ had to suffer an equivalent for all the hells of all His redeemed. I can never express that thought better than by using those oft-repeated words: it seemed as if hell was put into His cup, He seized it, and, “At one tremendous draught of love, He drank damnation dry.” So that there was nothing left of all the pangs and miseries of hell for His people to ever endure. I say not that He suffered the same, but He did endure an equivalent for all this, and gave God the satisfaction for all the sins of all His people, and consequently gave Him an equivalent for all their punishment. Now can you dream, can you guess the great redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ?
C. H. Spurgeon
Sermon #181 – Particular Redemption
Preached on February 28, 1858