Pilate also had a notice posted on the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
I. ONE CROSS IS THE SYMBOL OF DIVINE LOVE AND OF HUMAN SALVATION. The central figure of the three is that which draws to it every eye.
1. There is in this cross what every spectator can discern. A Being undoubtedly innocent, holy, benevolent, is suffering unjustly the recompense of the evildoer. Yet he endures all with patience and meekness, with no complaint, but with sincere words of forgiveness for his foes. We conceive Jesus saying, "All ye that pass by, behold, and see; was there ever sorrow like unto my sorrow?"
2. What did Christ's enemies see in his cross? The fruit of their malice, the success of their schemes, the fulfillment, as it seemed to them, of their selfish hopes.
3. A more practical and interesting question for us is - What do we behold in the cross of Christ? To all Christ's friends, their crucified Lord is the Revelation of the power and the wisdom of God, none the less so because his enemies see here only an exhibition of weakness, of folly, and of failure. The voice that reaches us from Calvary is the voice that speaks Divine love to all mankind. Here Christians recognize the provision of full and everlasting salvation; and here they come under the influence of the highest motive which appeals to the spiritual nature, and calls forth an affectionate and grateful devotion.
"From the cross uplifted high, II. A SECOND CROSS IS THE SYMBOL OF IMPENITENCE AND REJECTION OF DIVINE MERCY. In the blaspheming robber who hung by the side of the Lord Jesus we have an awful example of human sin and crime; an awful witness to human justice and to the penalty with which transgressors are visited; and an awful illustration of the length to which sinners may carry their callous indifference to sin. An impenitent criminal reviles the one Being who has the power and the disposition to deliver him from his sin and from its worst results. Selfishness of the narrowest and meanest kind is left: "Save us!" i.e. from torture and the impending fate. A degraded life is followed by a hopeless death. Several terrible lessons are taught by this felon's character and fate. 1. How impossible it is for those to be saved who reject the means of salvation! 2. How possible it is to be close to Christ, in body, in communication, in privilege, and yet, because destitute of faith and love, to be without any benefit from such proximity! 3. How foolish it is to rely upon a late repentance, seeing that sinners are found to persevere in sin and unbelief even in the immediate prospect of death! III. A THIRD CROSS IS THE SYMBOL OF PENITENCE AND OF PARDON. The story of the repentant malefactor shows us that, even when human justice does its work, Divine mercy may have its way. 1. The process of seeking God, even in mortal extremity. Conscience works; conviction of sin ensues, and creates a new disposition of the soul; this prompts a fearless rebuke of a neighbor's sin; faith - in the circumstances truly amazing - is exercised; true, simple, fervent prayer is offered. 2. The manifestation of compassion and mercy. The dying Lord imparts to the dying penitent an assurance of favor; free pardon is announced; bright hope is inspired; immortal happiness is secured. 3. Lessons of precious encouragement are impressed upon the spectators of this third cross. It is possible for the vilest to repent. It is certain that the sincere penitent will be regarded with favor. Even at the eleventh hour salvation is not to be despaired of. There is a prospect before those who are accepted and pardoned, of immediate joy and Divine fellowship after this life is over. - T.
II. A SECOND CROSS IS THE SYMBOL OF IMPENITENCE AND REJECTION OF DIVINE MERCY. In the blaspheming robber who hung by the side of the Lord Jesus we have an awful example of human sin and crime; an awful witness to human justice and to the penalty with which transgressors are visited; and an awful illustration of the length to which sinners may carry their callous indifference to sin. An impenitent criminal reviles the one Being who has the power and the disposition to deliver him from his sin and from its worst results. Selfishness of the narrowest and meanest kind is left: "Save us!" i.e. from torture and the impending fate. A degraded life is followed by a hopeless death. Several terrible lessons are taught by this felon's character and fate.
1. How impossible it is for those to be saved who reject the means of salvation!
2. How possible it is to be close to Christ, in body, in communication, in privilege, and yet, because destitute of faith and love, to be without any benefit from such proximity!
3. How foolish it is to rely upon a late repentance, seeing that sinners are found to persevere in sin and unbelief even in the immediate prospect of death!
III. A THIRD CROSS IS THE SYMBOL OF PENITENCE AND OF PARDON. The story of the repentant malefactor shows us that, even when human justice does its work, Divine mercy may have its way.
1. The process of seeking God, even in mortal extremity. Conscience works; conviction of sin ensues, and creates a new disposition of the soul; this prompts a fearless rebuke of a neighbor's sin; faith - in the circumstances truly amazing - is exercised; true, simple, fervent prayer is offered.
2. The manifestation of compassion and mercy. The dying Lord imparts to the dying penitent an assurance of favor; free pardon is announced; bright hope is inspired; immortal happiness is secured.
3. Lessons of precious encouragement are impressed upon the spectators of this third cross. It is possible for the vilest to repent. It is certain that the sincere penitent will be regarded with favor. Even at the eleventh hour salvation is not to be despaired of. There is a prospect before those who are accepted and pardoned, of immediate joy and Divine fellowship after this life is over. - T.
And Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross.I. A GLORIOUS FACT UNCONSCIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO THE WORLD — the royalty of Jesus. This is one of the greatest truths of the Bible, although Pilate only meant it in scorn. How often the worst of men utter the highest truths I Some event strikes on the soul, and the truth flashes out like fire from flint. Hence the utterances of ungodly men may repay attention.
II. A REVENGEFUL PASSION GRATIFYING ITSELF BY FRAUD. The Jews compelled Pilate to violate his conscience. Now it is over, his passion finds vent in a falsehood such as would torment the instigators of his crime. He did not believe Jesus to be a king at all. No passion is more ravenous than revenge; and fraud in the form of slander is, in these days, its most potent weapon.
III. A WICKED TRANSACTION, BRINGING ITS OWN PUNISHMENT. The accusation was that Christ had made Himself a King, and now the Jews find over the cross a statement that the Crucified was their King. How intolerable to these descendents of illustrious patriarchs and monarchs! How bitterly they must have felt the haughty reply, "What I have written," &c. "I have been pliable in working out your designs, now I am inexorable. I scorn you." Thus a small instalment of their retribution came at once. "Be sure your sin will find you out."
IV. A MORAL OBLIQUITY WHICH ESTIMATES WHAT IS TRULY GLORIOUS A DISGRACE. Had the Jews seen things in a right light they would have gloried in this superscription. That Malefactor was "the glory of His people Israel." As Sage, Saint, Hero, King, there never had been or would be one like Him. Depraved men are ever acting thus. Sinners see degradation when there is nobility. If men saw things as they are, they would often see ignominy on thrones, and royalty in the beggar's hut.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)I. WHAT IT TESTIFIES — Of Jesus of Nazareth.
1. His Majesty.
2. His victory.
3. The foundation of His kingdom.
4. His jurisdiction and government.
II. IT WAS —
1. Read of all.
2. Vexatious to many.
3. Obstinately defended by one.
III. LEARN —
1. Wilt thou pass it unheeded?
2. Wouldst thou alter it?
3. Wilt thou not accept it?
(J. P. Lange, D. D.)
I. JESUS, i.e., Saviour. If He has delivered you from sin and its consequences you need not be greatly concerned about the mere scratches of life.
II. NAZARETH. If you are poor, unknown, despised, remember that Christ your Redeemer came from Nazareth. Despite your present condition, you may yet do something in the world.
III. KING. Never forget that your Saviour is supreme. You, therefore, are safe.
IV. JEWS. We owe much to the Jews. By a Jew we are saved. Conclusion: Put this inscription on your cross and it will lighten it. On the cross of —
1. Persecution. You are not alone; your Master bore this before you.
2. Public profession. Remember Christ, and you will find nothing to be ashamed of.
4. Poverty and pain. Jesus bore them all and will surely keep you.
(C. Spurgeon, jun.)
I. THE UNCONSCIOUS TESTIMONY OF BAD MEN TO THE TRUTH. Pilate the vacillating, the superstitious, the cowardly, the civil, causes a statement to be written about Christ, than which no apostle's argument, no angel's song could be more truthful. The Kingship of the carpenter's Son, the royalty of the peasant teacher of Nazareth. Similarly Balaam and Caiaphas, and they who cavilled at Christ because He received sinners, were all unconsciously testifying to great truths, e.g., Balaam to the moral fascination of a godly nation, Caiaphas to the necessity of vicarious sacrifice. the cavillers to the mercy of the great philanthropist.
II. THE FAILURE OF MERE CULTURE TO EFFECT THE HIGHEST ENDS. These three languages the unlettered could not understand; but he who could read all used his knowledge in the service of the deadliest murder. Culture without religion is but civilized barbarism and disguised animalism. "Not by might nor by power," &c.
III. THE OMNISCIENT ARRANGEMENTS OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE. The fact that these languages were employed reminds us of the historic marvel that this was just the epoch when most naturally Hebrew faith, Greek eloquence, and Latin empire, could combine to serve the propagation of the new evangel. Christ came "in the fulness of time."
IV. THE UNIVERSAL AVAILABLENESS OF CALVARY. The fact float most concerns the peoples of all centuries and climes is not transcendental, but an event which all can understand — a death —
1. The death of a Man. Its availableness is illustrated in its relation to the population of the city then. For it happened not at the distance of a long pilgrimage, but "near the city." And it was explained in three languages, one or other of which the motley group that passed by could understand. So it is with the spiritual meaning of that fact — "Say not in thy heart who shall ascend... the Word is nigh thee."
V. THE WORLD-WIDE VICTORIES OF THE CROSS. Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, have known, or is gradually knowing, the triumph of Christ. And His wondrous biography, infallible teaching, and redeeming power, is now proclaimed not in three, but in hundreds of languages, and "every tongue shall confess that Christ is Lord."
(U. R. Thomas.)
Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
I. THE UNIVERSAL LOVE OF GOD TO HIS CREATURES.
1. That is why it is so truly called Good Friday. It has its good news as much as Christmas or Easter Day. It was by His death, more even than by His life, that He showed how His sympathy extended far beyond His own nation, friends, family. "I, if I be lifted up," &c.
2. This is a truth which comes home to us with a peculiar force in Palestine. What is it that has made this small country so famous; that has carried the names of Jerusalem and Nazareth to the uttermost parts of the earth? The death of Christ. Had He not died as He did, His religion, name, country, would never have broken through all the bonds of time and place as they have.
3. This universal love of God in Christ's death is specially impressed upon us in Nazareth. What Christ was in His death, He was in His life. And if we wish to know the spirit which pervades both, we cannot do so better than consult His first sermon at Nazareth (Luke 4:18). "The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him" —(1) "To preach the gospel to the poor," the glad tidings of God's love to the humble, neglected, dangerous classes, the friendless, the oppressed, the unthought for, the uncared for.(2) "To heal the broken-hearted," as a good physician heals, not with one medicine, but with all the various medicines and remedies which Infinite Wisdom possesses, all the fractures, and diseases, and infirmities of our poor human hearts. There is not a weakness, a sorrow, a grievance, for which the love of God, as seen in the life and death of Christ, does not offer some remedy.(3) "To preach deliverance to the captive." Whatever be the evil habit, inveterate prejudice, master passion, or the long indulgence, which weighs upon us like a bondage, He feels for us, and will set us free.(4) To "give sight to the blind." How few of us there are who know our own failings, who see into our own hearts, who know what is really good for us! That is the knowledge which the thought of Christ's death is likely to give us. For every one of these conditions, He died. Not for those only who are professedly religious, but for those who are the least so. Christianity is the only religion of which the Teacher addressed Himself, not to the religious, the ecclesiastical, the learned world, but to the careless, the thoughtless, the rough publican, the wild prodigal, the heretical Samaritan, the heathen soldier, the thankless peasants of Nazareth, the swarming populations of Galilee.
II. WHATEVER GOOD IS TO BE DONE, IN THE WORLD, even though it is God Himself who does it, CANNOT BE DONE WITHOUT A SACRIFICE.
1. So it was especially in the death of Christ. So it was in His whole life, from the time when He grew up, "as a tender plant," in the seclusion of this valley, to the hour when He died at Jerusalem, was one long struggle against misunderstanding, opposition, scorn, hatred, hardship, pain. He had doubtless His happier and gentler hours — we must not forget them: His friends at Bethany, His apostles, His mother. But here, amongst His own people, He met with angry opposition and jealousy. He had to bear the hardships of toil and labour, like any other Nazarene artisan. He had here, by a silent preparation of thirty years, to make Himself ready for the work which lay before Him. He had to endure the heat and the cold, the burning sun, and the stormy rain, of these hills and valleys. "The foxes" of the plain of Esdraelon "have holes," "the birds" of the Galilean forests "have their nests," but "He had," often, "not where to lay His head." And in Jerusalem, though there were momentary bursts of enthusiasm in His behalf, yet He came so directly across the interests, the fears, the pleasures, and the prejudices of those who there ruled and taught, that at last it cost Him His life. By no less a sacrifice could the world be redeemed and His work be finished.
2. In that work, in one sense, none but He can take part. "He trod the winepress alone." But in another sense, often urged upon us in the Bible, we must all take part in it, if we would wish to do good to ourselves or to others. We cannot improve ourselves, we cannot assist others, except by exertion. We must, each of us, bear our cross with Him. When we bear it, it is lightened by thinking of Him. When we bear it, each day makes it easier to us. Once the name of "Christian," of "Nazarene," was an offence in the eyes of the world; now it is a glory. But we cannot have the glory without the labour which it involves.
(Dean Stanley.)Acts 22:8). Taking these things into consideration, we find that what was done by man only in contempt, has been turned by God into the most effectual means of exalting the Saviour and preaching the gospel.
I. "THE CROSS," on which the writing was placed, first arrests our attention.
1. Was it like the thing sometimes looked at before the glass, put on admiringly, then taken off, then dropped among the tinkling trinkets? Like the thing that sparkles in the crown, or blows in the banner, or flames on the spire? We need have no superstitious fancy about this artistic device; only let us be careful not to allow the sight of it to deaden the sense of what Christ's cross really was. It was a shame! And when it was lifted up, I should have thought that any man would look another way. Any dying man is a sacred being, any dying scene a sacred place; but Jesus was nailed upright in a crowd to die. And then it was that Pilate hammered over the dying head the mocking proclamation.
2. I would not make the physical cross a theme for merely descriptive or declamatory wards; nor do I make a venture into the sea of God's deep thoughts about the atonement; but I know that Jesus on that cross, dying for sinners, did in some way suffer what is instead of His people dying. We may enter this scene, but not as artists, sculptors, poets, musicians, talkers with a hard, ready rattle of syllables, but as priests, with stilled hearts and reverential steps; we may pause, but with prayer; we may look, but through tears. Pilate was the instrument of the fulfilment of Christ's words — "I, if I be lifted up from the earth," &c.
II. THE NAME "JESUS." "Joshua," to which "Jesus" corresponds, means "the Lord's salvation," or, "the Lord of salvation."
1. By the time of our Lord's advent, the Jews had got to place the lowest possible construction on the predictions of a Saviour. They thought only of a political salvation; and every leader of an insurrection was tempted to call himself the Jesus of prophecy. There is some ground for the opinion that Barabbas played the part of a false Christ, taking the name of Jesus. The Roman governor of Judaea would know that the Jews looked upon the name Jesus as belonging to "the coming man," who should save them from the Romans. This to his mind would make it a name of scorn. At this hour the Jews were also ashamed of it.
2. Never was greater mistake about a name than this. Its true interpretation had been given by the angel, "For He shall save His people from their sins;" and if the same angel was the one who announced His resurrection, it is no wonder that the first word of announcement was "Jesus." He would triumph in that name. We share in this triumph. Some persons mainly think of Christ as a Saviour from penalty. We know indeed that by the cross the Saviour removes legal impediments in the way of pardon; but is that all? Is He simply like one who clears off old scores for us; wipes out the past as a child wipes off a false sum from his slate; who says, "Let bygones be bygones;" who holds the paper with the dreadful writing on it in the flame until it burns right away and says, "There, I have nothing against you!" Is that all? Not so. He will says me by setting me right, and not merely by setting right my relation to His law. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
III. THE APPELLATIVE "OF NAZARETH." The Jews had objected to part of Pilate's superscription, but not to this, for it expressed exactly what they were determined to affirm. According to His own account, He was "Jesus of heaven" (John 8:23, 42). Just see what this implies.
1. A contradiction of Christ's claims to be the Heavenly Witness. Yet it was overruled so as to be the means of their glorious vindication. Keep in mind the distinction between a teacher and a witness. A teacher is one who imparts knowledge; a witness is one who gives evidence. We expect him to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from what has passed in his own personal presence. This is what Christ claimed to be. When Nicodemus said, "We know that Thou art a Teacher sent from God," His answer meant, "More than that, I am a Witness." "We speak that we do," &c. So at last with Pilate, He claimed to be the Heavenly Witness. "To this end was I born," &c. Of course no mere mortal could give evidence about anything that happened before He was born. God might say to any one of us (Job 38:4-7); but Christ, being the Witness giving the gospel revelation, had from the nature of the case to give evidence as to facts that belong to a place far above this world, and to a period far before it. Of course this claim includes the claim to be the Son of God. If a real Witness, it is plain that His birth was not the point of emergence from the blank of non-entity; but the arrival of a Traveller who said, "I am crone forth from the Father, and am come into the world." Of course it is a mystery — the doctrine that Eternity should clothe itself in the garment of Time. But Mystery is the sign of the Infinite; and that which is not mysterious is not Divine. The animus of the inscription on the cross is endorsed by the Jews. "He is only Jesus of Nazareth." But this most public contempt of Christ's claims only led to their most public and irresistible vindication. The cross, which called attention to the one, calls attention to the other. The death on the cross led to the stupendous miracle of the Resurrection, by which He has been "declared to be the Son of God with power."
2. To insinuate the charge of sin; but it has been overruled to call attention to His spotless holiness. Nazareth was looked upon as the very sink of Galilee. There have been such Nazareths in old England. London had one in a place called Alsatia; many a nest of wreckers by the seaside was a social Nazareth. There are Nazareths now, to be in which implies loss of character; places that are like hells on earth; but Jesus lived thirty years in Nazareth of Palestine. Even the candid Nathanael said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? "But the critics of Christ can find no spot in Christ even there. Christ's pure life in polluted Nazareth was a great fact in the great gospel apparatus. It provided for the most searching chemistry of character; and after living so long under the action of such a test, He was found perfect. Such a human diamond found in filth, yet drinking in and flashing out again the pure light of God, could owe nothing to the filth in which it was discovered. Such holiness in Nazareth must be that before which all angels cry aloud, Holy, Holy, Holy!
3. This appellative pleased those who scorned Christ as the "son of a carpenter," for as such He was well known at Nazareth; but it reminds us of the honour due to Him as the Friend of poor and working people. It was as much as to say, "a carpenter is not a king;" but, besides that, it was meant to suggest, "Who would belong to a religion that has for its sacred central personage a carpenter?" The same spell would work in the same way now, and thousands who now profess Christianity would not do so, if doing so would make them look so low, socially, as did the first followers of the Carpenter. Let us call to mind the significance of the fact that the man Christ Jesus was a carpenter, and trace afresh the reasons why we should glory in it. It helps to make Him very real and homely; to make us feel that our religion is not a thing that belongs to some mysterious world of its own; but a thing for use, for the work-day world, for the majority. It helps to make us feel that He belongs to us all. Human princes take territorial names for their own distinction; Jesus takes a territorial name. And what is it? "Jesus of Paradise?" "Jesus of Glory?" "Jesus of Jerusalem the Golden?" No! but "Jesus of Nazareth," the place where He was only known as "the Carpenter." He was insulted by that name in His last hour on earth, but, now, it is one of the names by which He is known in the heraldry of heaven.
IV. THE TITLE, "The King of the Jews." In writing this, Pilate intended to express the most extreme contempt. Not contempt for the religion of Jesus. In matters of religion he had no bias one way or the other; in his opinion, one religion was as good as another. He was not conscious of any active contempt for the person of Jesus; but he thought to use Him as an instrument to mortify the Jews. It was as much as to say, "There, you vile Jews! Your King is that! then what are you? Your own grand monarch is now nailed on His throne. Know yourselves!" They would have made no objection if Pilate had written, "He said, I am King of the Jews!" At the time when Jesus was born, men were eagerly asking, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" No one, however, thought for a moment of looking for Him at Nazareth. As was shrewdly said in a London yard by one of its native evangelists, "If the Prince of Wales had lived thirty years in Raymond's Yard, folks would not have believed that he was the Prince of Wales. I expect that Nazareth was a poor sort of place, like this; yet there He was. If you find a sovereign in the mud, you think it only a farthing till you come to change it; and so, because they found Jesus at Nazareth, they never thought that He could be a King!" Even so. At the same time, it was not altogether the thought of Nazareth that made the Jews refuse to bend the knee. There was a time when that was no insuperable difficulty. The cause was in their own worldly nature, which He, by disappointing, had infuriated. They were mad because they thought He could break the Roman yoke for them, but would not. The priests thought they had got their revenge on Jesus for refusing to trample down the Romans. But when the cross was lifted, to their amazement, the truths they had tried to kill stood written over it, and the Crucified One was proclaimed their King! The wretched Pilate little knew that he had thus written one of the grandest truths. Appearances did seem to be against such a fact; yet, for God to be manifest in one place is no greater stoop of condescension than to be manifest in the other; and only our vulgar ideas of the majestic make us feel it to be a greater mystery there than anywhere else. The mystery was that He should appear as man anywhere.
V. THE NOTICE placed over the head of Jesus "was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin." In the East, in the old time, when a government issued a notice intended to be read by the different nations of a large empire, it was the custom to write it on a tablet in the different languages of that empire, so that if men speaking these different languages would be able to read the inscription. Like the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum, showing one inscription in three dialects; like the inscribed rocks at Behistan, recording the fame of Darius Hystaspes in three forms of arrow-headed writing, so as to be understood by Assyrian, Median, and Persian readers — the inscription on the cross was written in three languages, and these were the three keys to unlock all the languages living in the world. So, without knowing what he was doing, Pilate thus began the publication of Christ to all the world; and all that evangelists at home and abroad have to do is to do by the Holy Ghost, and do thoroughly, what he began to do. Let the real meaning of what he wrote in these everlasting letters be brought out; and let all people in all languages read it or hear it, and Christ's missionary law will be fulfilled.
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
In Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. —
I. THESE LANGUAGES REPRESENT IN THEIR STRUCTURE THREE ENTIRELY UNLIKE TYPES OF CHARACTER.
1. The Hebrew has grandeur, but no grace.
2. The Greek is spoken beauty, yet fit more for nymphs than angels.
3. The Latin is the language of command, resolute purpose and decisive action, whose very study is a tonic. These three tongues were all familiar to the Jewish ear in the time of Christ; the Hebrew as still the language of worship, the Greek as the language of educated men, the Latin as the official language of the Roman Government.
II. THESE LANGUAGES CORRESPOND TO THE FORMS OF CULTURE which were grouped together in every land; for the Hebrews had long been a migratory people; the Greeks were the preceptors of the world; while Roman soldiers and officials swarmed in all parts of the empire.
1. The Hebrews were pre-eminently a religious people. Even their idolatry was in sad earnest, and from the time of the Captivity their zeal for God and the law has no parallel. Their first temple, long anterior to Greek art, was the most magnificent edifice in the world, and their apparatus of worship the most organized and majestic that the world has known. Nor was Judaism in its earlier days a mere ritual — witness the psalms and prophets. But in the time of Christ it had lapsed into a punctilious formalism.
2. The Greek culture was distinguished by the sovereignty of beauty. It gave transcendent grace and charm to daily life. But it lacked the religious element; and the reverence of the worshipper who gave credence to the myths embodied in its art could only minister to his degradation. This culture eventually lapsed into a feeble sensualism, and Greek adventurers carried into every land with their art and philosophy, luxury, effeminacy, and the vices that follow in their train.
3. The Roman culture was that of unbending law, rigid discipline, and hardy self-control; in their better days their religion was sincere, and their standard of purity high. But their advancing knowledge soon outgrew their faith, and their religion became a nonentity to the enlightened, and a mere police force to the populace. Rude and averse to refining influences, they at first resisted the influence of Greeks, but eventually succumbed. At the Christian era moral corruption had replaced the robust virtues of the early Romans.
4. These were the effete forms of culture, whose signature was written over the cross. Each was ready to perish for lack of the others.(1) Religion may exist alone in the individual soul; but as an element of social and national life it needs all the humanities, and can only live as a working force.(2) Art needs religion for its purity, grandeur and influence as an educational agency, and requires the element of law to blend vigour with grace.(3) Law demands a higher sanction than its own, and requires that its sternness be relieved by the humanizing influence of art.
III. JESUS COMBINES IN HIS PERSON THESE THREE FORMS OF CULTURE.
1. He is emphatically King of the Jews; for the intensity of the religious life is betrayed in His every utterance.
2. He is more than Grecian in the grace, amenity, and sweetness of His Spirit.
3. He is more than Roman in the perfectness with which He is the incarnate law of God, and alone finishes the work God gave Him to do.
IV. THESE ELEMENTS ARE BLENDED IN THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER WORTHY OF THE NAME.
1. It has the fervent religiousness of the Hebrew psalmists and Jews, only with less of the Sinai than of the Zion type.
2. However destitute of the wonted means of culture, it takers in a culture of its own, so that the grace of God assumes forms which man can recognize as graceful.
3. It is also a law-abiding Spirit, submitting not as to a hard yoke, but as to a loving service.
V. WE HAVE IN THE THREEFOLD CAPTION OF THE CROSS OUR OWN DIRECTORY OF DUTY.
1. Religion, the inmost consecration of the soul to God, is the main element.
2. But religion is a power which should diffuse itself; and this it can only do by alliance with whatever adorns, sweetens and elevates the life of man. There has been a religiousness destitute of grace, and even repulsive; but if those who seek to be Christians would only prize and cultivate the beauty of holiness, they would be much more efficiently missionaries for the faith.
3. We need equally the Roman element of law to make us Christians indeed. A thoroughly obedient life, pervaded by the spirit of service, is the result of nurture in the school of Christ.
(A. P. Peabody, D. D.)
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