Matthew’s Mountains --Part 5

Matthew’s Mountains
Part 5

George Sharp

We leave the high and holy mountain of Chapter 17 and climb another mountain which is also high and holy. It is Calvary’s mountain and is delineated in Matthew chapter 27. The people and their rulers, both religious and political, regarded Calvary as neither high nor holy. Nevertheless, that which took place there became the centre of all Eternity for all look with rapt adoring eyes onward and backward to it. Says one of our poets:

“Oh cross of Christ, Oh glorious tree,
What place can be compared with thee;
Where God’s own Son was crucified,
And for our sins a ransom died.”

At Calvary man sank to his lowest depths for there he manifested the wickedness of his heart in crucifying the Prince of Life; in denying the Holy One and the Just and in desiring a murderer instead.

Multitudes arrived at Jerusalem for the holiday and all were in a festive mood. The soldiers seemed to catch the temper of the people, and after the arrest of our Lord Jesus they blindfolded Him and taunted Him to prophesy, and smashed their cruel fists mercilessly against His blessed face. The hairs were plucked from His cheeks; His back was furrowed as a plowed field by the Roman lash. They mocked Him as they stripped Him and put on Him a purple robe, and as they placed a reed in His hand and knelt before Him, they hailed Him as King of the Jews. So much physical torment was thus heaped upon Him that Pilate as he presented Him to the people, cried, “Behold the Man,” Isaiah’s prophecy had come to pass, “As many were astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Pitilessly the people cried, “Away with Him, crucify Him.” Bearing His cross He was led away to be crucified. Note that it is called “His cross.” It was really ours, was it not? We were guilty, not He! We deserved to die, not He! He took the cross willingly as His own. How strange it must have seemed to the soldiers who had undoubtedly crucified others as they resisted with oaths and screams to the very end, to find One whom they could lead as a lamb to the slaughter. No resistance, no recriminations, only a continous prayer, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

He was laid upon the cross and nailed through the hands and feet. Excruciating pain racked this Wonderful Person who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. Why? For you and for me! Let it grip each heart afresh in a real and personal way. It was for me.

The cross was lifted from the ground and dropped into the hole digged for it with a sickening thud. The words of the Psalmist come to mind, “All my bones are out of joint.” Much of this might move our hearts; we are only reviewing the physical suffering and shame and He despised the shame.

Furthermore, there is the other phase of His suffering, “He endured the cross.” Others had endured crosses, but their crosses had exhausted them and they had died as a result of their suffering and exhaustion. This Blessed One endured His cross and exhausted it and all for which it stood, both in relation to God and to man. First, let us remember that the Holy Trinity is here working in unison for the Glory of God and for the good and blessing of the creature. We read in Hebrews 9:14 that Christ, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God. Notice how all three persons of the Godhead are active agents in the cross work of our Lord. Second, far greater than any physical suffering was His spiritual suffering, “He was made sin for us.” If we as sinful mortals find sin to be ugly, what must it have meant to the Holy One who knew no sin to be made sin for us? We cannot comprehend it. Last, the scene was so holy and so terrible that God enshrouded it with darkness for three hours. What a darkness while God dealt with Christ as the Sin Bearer! We can only meagrely measure the agony, the desolation, the judgment as the silence is broken and we hear Him cry out from the depths of His Holy Being, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? In view of all this we say, “Blessed be His Holy Name for the cross did not exhaust Him, but rather He endured and exhausted it. He emerged from the darkness a mighty Conqueror in fullest consciousness of all that had been fulfilled. Triumphantly He cried, “IT IS FINISHED.” He had endured the cross and instead of dying in weakness and exhaustion, in the exercises of his own will, He dismisses His Spirit.

Truly, the scenes on this mountain both melt our hearts to tears and bow them in adoring worship. Oh, how seldom we climb this mountain to be reminded of the riches of His grace, of the majesty of His Person, of the glorious effect of His accomplishment! There we see the actual outpouring of the life and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God as a lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.