Since posting Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice I have wanted to do this follow-up. In that article images depicted everything clean, as if the cross of Christ was never used. The crowns were those of earthly kings. The precious sweet lamb was untouched, alive in the green grass.
As the church plans to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this Lord’s Day I am reminded that we seldom think about the events that led to this celebration. Too often we skip the crucifixion and the tomb, forgetting the suffering and the sacrifice that made our salvation possible. Some people can look at blood and gore and are insensitive to it. I, as others, usually avoid it at all costs. Even the sounds of violence from a distance make me cringe. Still others will not consider their need for a bloody Savior. The rich man of the South who said, “I don’t need anyone to die for me,” didn’t know his own heart.
But understanding how we are reconciled to God through the blood of His own Son is necessary ~ if we are to experience the power of His love and grace working on our behalf.
Even as I am studying the humility of Christ this year, I wanted this season to be different, and so am praying, as I write, that the Lord will give me a deeper understanding of His sacrificial atonement. I pray that you, the reader, will receive something of what He is showing me; to know the love that was in the blood that was shed for us; to so let that love fill us that we love Him even more; and as Paul spoke to the Roman church, that we be so humbled by His mercy that we respond by offering ourselves as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) for our God, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.” Ephesians 2:4
A Bloody CrownCharles Spurgeon said in his sermon The Bloody Crown
“Beloved, I always feel as if my tongue were tied when I come to talk of the sufferings of my Master. I can think of them. I can picture them to myself. I can sit down and weep over them, but I know not how to paint them to others! Did you ever know pen or pencil that could? A Michelangelo or a Raphael might well shrink back from attempting to paint this picture! And the tongue of an archangel might be consumed in the effort to sing the griefs of Him who was loaded with shame because of our shameful transgressions.”
“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. John 19:2
And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium;
and they call together the whole band.
And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns,
and put it about his head,
And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him,
and bowing their knees worshipped him.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels record the scourging and mocking right before Jesus was led away to be crucified. But John’s gospel records (and he was an eye witness) Pilate bringing him before the chief priests, the elders and the crowd before He was led away.
Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! John 19:5
What did Pilate mean by doing this? He may have thought that all that blood would discourage the Jewish leaders and the crowd, but no; they wanted more. What they saw from Jesus’ beating and the thorns on His head was not enough. They must have his life. They must see Him destroyed; no matter how much blood it took.
They could not know how powerful that blood would be to save His people, and to condemn them. The envy, the anger, the hatred, the malice from the enemy was the very reason that Jesus had to endure such suffering. God knew what was needed to accomplish our redemption ~ an innocent Lamb, a holy man, Himself in human form. He knew that in the presence of sinful men He would be massacred.
At any point, amid the pain and the humiliation from Pilate, the soldiers, and the Jews Jesus could have shown His power and position as God. Even in His physical weakness He could have spoken the word, or called down heaven and destroyed all or part of Jerusalem. (That would happen later.) But, all was part of the plan for our redemption. Jesus could not turn back now. From the sweat drops of blood in the garden, the betrayal of Judas, the forsaking of the disciples, the mocking of the soldiers, and the crown of shame, He was well into fulfilling the new covenant.
He was revealing the necessity for blood, the reality of atonement through His own blood. To endure all for our sake was the true manner of humility revealed to us.
“The pain which He had endured from the scourges caused Him to throb with exquisite anguish—but we read neither of tears nor groans—much less of angry complaints or revengeful threats. He does not seek pity, or make one appeal for leniency. He does not ask why they torture or why they mock. Brave Witness! Courageous Martyr! Suffering exquisitely, You also suffered calmly! Such a perfect frame as His—His body being conceived without sin—He must have been capable of tortures which our bodies, corrupted by sin, cannot feel.” Charles Spurgeon
A Bloody Cross
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11
The beatings and the blood on His head did not faze Jesus. He was the central figure in this greatest event in history. It is His story of redemption. The cross, saturated with His blood, is the main scene ~ the turning point for humanity and the gate leading to eternal life with Him. In the last decade I have given up watching mere men do this role in plays and movies. It is but an act. No man but Jesus Christ has done this part. It is better to read and meditate on His word for this reality in our own hearts than to see an imitation.
The cross was the means that God had chosen; that Jesus knew He must bear; it was the implement of God’s love and grace. It is the symbol for us to remember. We wear crosses around our necks. Most of them are gold and silver. None are bloody. But we must remember the blood of the cross of Christ; His life that was shed for us.
That blood was the blood of the new covenant. The beatings and the bloody crown were only the prelude to our own lifeline. Without the blood of His hands, His feet, and His side there would have been no reconciliation and peace between God and us. I use the words ‘God and us,’ instead of ‘us and God,’ because He is the initiator and the fulfillment of the covenant. We must see the blood, even as He had to see the blood, and therefore passed over our sins.
“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11
“Mark his brow-they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! . . . But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. ..They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make river of blood to run down his shoulders! This is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission…They fling him to the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air…Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet. . They pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water. Charles Spurgeon
A Bloody Sacrifice
“the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1:7
“After that tremendous struggle, the strength of Love mastered the weakness of Manhood—He put that cup to His lips and never shrank—He drank right on till not a drop was left! And now the cup of wrath is empty—no trace of the terrible wine of the wrath of God can be found within it! At one tremendous draught of love the Lord drank destruction dry, forever, for all His people. Charles Spurgeon
The blood on the crown of thorns and the stain on the cross was the blood of Jesus Christ. The pouring out of His blood on the ground was more than a sprinkling and spoke better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 13:24) There was life in that blood, the life of the Son of God who lived for one purpose ~ to lay down His life, to shed His blood for us.
“It is finished.” It was done according to His everlasting covenant. He was the bloody sacrifice for His people. We don’t have to look at a bloody cross anymore, but we must remember it. Nor do we need a crucifix with a figure of a man with no bloodstains.
He left us with two ordinances to remember His sacrifice; baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We need but to be baptized into His death once, but His sacrifice is to be remembered when we come together for worship. Blessed are we who celebrate the resurrection and remember His death with the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.
Peace Through His Blood
Jesus is no longer a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, a man on a cross, or wrapped in a linen shroud lying in a tomb. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords living today and forever as our merciful and faithful High Priest; sitting at the right hand of God, having offered the oblation of His blood for His people; making reconciliation for us; and now, as our mediator, interceding for us.
We would be blessed today and tomorrow to read and mediate on the crucifixion of our Lord, so as to come to worship and celebrate this Lord’s Day with a deeper sense of His mercy and grace.
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit,
unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
1 Peter 1:2
“The blood is one of the strangest, the deepest, the mightiest, and the most heavenly of the thoughts of God. It lies at the very root of both Covenants, but specially of the New Covenant. The difference between the two Covenants is the difference between the blood of beasts, and the blood of the Lamb of God! The power of the New Covenant has no lesser measure than the worth of the blood of the Son of God! Your Christian experience ought to know of no standard of peace with God, and purity from sin, and power over the world, than the blood of Christ can give! If we would enter truly and fully into all the New Covenant is meant to be to us, let us beseech God to reveal to us the worth and the power of the blood of the Covenant, the precious blood of Christ!” Andrew Murray
Dear heavenly Father, just as we cannot paint the picture of Christ, your Son, for others, neither can we put into words our praise and gratitude for so great a salvation, performed as planned and executed in your timing and place. Let the blood of Christ, that is efficacious, doing all that you planned it to do, work in us the power over sin. Cleanse us and keep us always looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.