But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate said to them, Shall I crucify your King?…
As the "Crucify Him!" falls upon our ears, it is simply the cry of an excited mob, instigated by the chief priests and elders. It falls painfully upon our Christian, and even upon our civilized, ears. We do not like to see human nature wrought up to such a pitch of frenzy. And if He whose cruel execution is thus demanded is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, then this cry pierces our very souls. But let us, while we gather around the cross, close our outward ear and hear with the ear of faith. Then other voices will reach us, and, though they utter the very same sentence, it will sound very differently and produce a far different impression. We hear a voice —
I. FROM THE DIVINE SIDE.
1. From the throne of God. "Let Him be crucified" is the decree of the Almighty, the "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." This shedding of the precious blood of Christ, as of "a lamb without blemish and without spot," was "fore-ordained before the foundation of the world." We cannot discern the point at which God's sovereignty and man's free agency meet: we know that they were without excuse who nailed the Redeemer to the tree; but underlying all, overruling all, accomplishing all, is the Divine purpose. Through that guilty act of man there was wrought a mysterious bat most real purpose of Divine love. "God so loved the world," &c. We shall never know at what a cost nor understand the terrible strain upon the heart of the infinite Father. But though there entered into His ear that deepest wail of sorrow, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" He only answered by His silence — "Let Him be crucified." It was a terrible price to pay, but only thus can sin be taken away and man be saved from everlasting death.
2. From the cross itself. Christ had prayed a little before that if it were possible for human salvation to be secured in any other way He might be spared. But not otherwise. It was for this purpose He had taken human nature upon Him. "Lo, I come," &c. And now, He asks not for deliverance; nay, though He is able to come down from the cross, yet will He not do it. "Let Me be crucified" is the utterance of the willing sufferer. "I have power to lay down My life, and I will lay it down for My sheep." "For the joy that is set before Me I will endure the Cross and despise the shame." "Father, forgive them," &c.
3. The Holy Spirit joins His voice. In all that He had caused to be written He had foreshadowed the death of the Son of God. The sacrifice in Eden; the sacrifice of Abel; the paschal lamb and the scapegoat; the sacrifices offered every day upon the Jewish altar; all pointed to this Lamb of God now laid upon the altar of the cross. How then, saith the Spirit, shall "all be fulfilled" unless He be crucified?
II. FROM THE HUMAN SIDE. Is there no petition for this atoning death from the lips of the sinners themselves whom God has so loved? I will suppose that we are gathered about the cross of Christ, and that the consciousness of our sin and misery has dawned upon our minds and is burdening our souls. Shall we enter our protest? Shall we say, "Let Him not be crucified." Oh, then, if He should heed our cry, what would become of us? We cannot by any means save ourselves. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die"; and we cannot make ourselves alive. We are sold unto Satan; we are powerless to deliver ourselves; only One can do that, and He in one way only, viz., by being crucified. If He dies the death, at that instant the doors of our prison-house will fly open and Satan will be powerless to hold us. But not otherwise. And so we cry, "O Son of God, die for us." Are we selfish? Would we have Him perish that we may live? Ah, if the condition of our salvation were His everlasting destruction, God forbid that we should demand the awful sacrifice! For what would heaven be with such a memory as that? But when we know that, "having died for our sins, He will rise again for our justification"; that He would far rather die for us thus than to have us lost; and that our salvation will be a source of joy to Him for ever, we can say, while we mourn that our sins have pierced Him and made it necessary for Him to die, "Let Him be crucified." Conclusion:
1. Let nothing draw you who are Christians away from Christ crucified even for one careless moment.
2. What shall be said to those who seem so indifferent about this great event? Shall heaven and hell be moved by this scene, and any of us men, for whose salvation it occurred, pass by it?
The chief priests answered, We have no king
but Caesar. —
No king but Caesar: —
1. There is nothing which shows more completely what sin is, than the scenes which centre about the death of our Lord. We see wicked men now, but they act generally under restraint; but here sin seemed to be without restraint; and it carried the Jews on to a wickedness unparalleled in history. For Christ did nothing in the whole course of His life to anger men. What aroused evil passions was simply the righteousness that was in Him. Therefore, if we desire to understand what sin itself is, we must look at it in those wicked men, who would have nothing but the blood of the sinless Saviour.
2. In the text we see the degradation of sin. These Jews renounced every thing of national honour and greatness, every hope concerning the Messiah; every principle of patriotism; and they confessed themselves the abject slaves of their Roman conquerors. Heretofore, their highest glory was that God was their King; and in the strength of this position they had endured, with a certain air of grandeur, their oppression. But the language, "We have no king but Caesar," was a complete abandonment of all their claims. What was it all for? Simply that hatred might satiate itself in the blood of One who had conferred upon them the highest benefits. It was sin in the heart, acting without restraint, showing its true self. In order to carry out purposes of wrong, it is not unusual to find men falsifying their whole past record, and placing an indelible stain upon their characters. See what avariciousness and covetousness will make a man stoop to, the many mean, tricky, and dishonest actions. See what ambition will bring men to. See how the in. ordinate appetite for strong drink will bring men from respectability to the gutter. See how impurity, unchastity, and all the vices of fleshly sensuality, destroy manhood. He abandons every thing, to serve the Caesar of his own sinful lusts and passions.
3. In the end these Jews got more than they wanted from Caesar. When they were made to feel the iron heel of the despot in the destruction of their city, how their minds must have reverted to the day when they cried out to Pilate, "We have no king but Caesar"! So is it with sin when it has finished its work. Its imperious will must be submitted to. When at last the man has reached that awful end in eternity, when there is no thought, desire, affection, will, but to do iniquity; when he is entirely under the control of sin, and is enduring the suffering consequent upon sin — then will be realized the bitter degradation and curse to which sin legitimately tends.
Parallel VersesKJV: But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
WEB: They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"