RPM, Volume 16, Number 30, July 20 to July 26, 2014

The Poor Man's Portions

And Pilate Marvelled

By Robert Hawker

And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead. - Mark xv. 44.

Precious Jesus! Had the unjust judge but known thy soul travail and agonies, instead of wondering at the speediness of thy death, all his astonishment would have been that nature, so oppressed, and so suffering, could have held out so long; for what would have crushed in a moment all creation, as well angels as men, in sustaining the wrath of God, due to sin, Jesus endured on the cross for so many hours! In point of suffering, he wrought out a whole eternity due to sin, on the cross: and in point of efficacy, he "for ever perfected them that are sanctified." Jesus therefore accomplished more in that memorable day, than all the creatures of God could have done for ever. Wonderful were the works which God dispatched in creation; but the wonders of redemption far exceed them.

The six hours which Jesus hung upon the cross, wrought out a more stupendous display of almighty power and grace, than the six days God was pleased to appoint to himself in making the world. But, indeed, Pilate need not. on another account, have marvelled at the quickness of Christ's death, had this unjust judge but reflected on the previous sufferings of the Redeemer. They who have spent sweet hours in tracing Jesus's footsteps through the painful preludes to his death, and especially in the concluding scenes, have been able to mark many a sorrowful part which (besides the soul agonies of Jesus in accomplishing redemption-work) bore hard upon his body also.

My soul, if thou wert to trace back the solemn subject, thou wouldest find enough to excite thy astonishment that Jesus lived so long on the cross, rather than that he died not before. His agony evidently began four days before the Passover. The evangelist Luke tells us, that he spent the whole night in prayer, and the whole day in preaching to the people in the temple, Luke xxi. 37, 38. Read also Matthew's account four days before his crucifixion, in the prospect of what was coming on, Matt. xx. 18, 19. And again, before a single assault was made upon him in the garden, Matt. xxvi. 38. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful," said the dying Lamb, "even unto death." And the beloved apostle's relation is to the same amount, four days before his crucifixion: "Now is my soul troubled (said the holy sufferer); and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour! But for this cause came I unto this hour!" John xii. 97. And if to these agonies of soul, before the tremendous season of Gethsemane and Golgotha arrived, be added the exercises of the Redeemer in body; all must have contributed to wear out and exhaust his strength, and hasten on the pains of death. When we call to mind how the Lamb of God was driven to and fro; hurried from one place to another; from Annas to Caiaphas, and from the judgment hall to Calvary; we cannot be surprised at his fainting under the burden of the cross. Many a mile of weariness did he walk, before nine of the o'clock in the morning of the day of his crucifixion; and many a bodily fainting must he have felt from the thorny crown, the soldiers scourging, and their buffetings and smitings with the palms of their hands.

Unfeeling Pilate! Thy marvellings will be now, and to all eternity, of another kind. As for thee, my soul, take thy stand at the foot of the cross, and do thou marvel, whilst thou art looking up, and beholding Jesus dying, that He who might have commanded twelve legions of angels to his rescue, should in love to his church and people, thus give "his soul an offering for sin," and die, "the just for the unjust, to bring us unto God!"

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