Изображения страниц

millenniums of observance which He thus laid aside. So I say that is a strange exercise of authority.

What does it imply? It implies two things, and I must say a word about each of them. It implies that Christ regarded the whole of the ancient system of Judaism, its history, its law, its rites of worship, as pointing onwards to Himself, that He recognised in it a system the whole raison d'être of which was anticipatory and preparatory of Himself. For Him the Decalogue was given, for Him priests were consecrated, for Him kings were anointed, for Him prophets spake, for Him sacrifices smoked, for Him festivals were appointed, and the nation and its history were all one long proclamation: The King cometh! go ye forth to meet Him.' You cannot get less than that out of the way in which He handled, as is told in this Gospel, Jacob's ladder, the Serpent in the wilderness, the Manna that fell from Heaven, the Pillar of Cloud that led the people, the Rock that gushed forth water, and now, last of all, the Passover, which was the very shining apex of the whole sacrificial and ritual system.

And remember, too, that this way of dealing with all the institutions of the nation as meaning, in their inmost purpose, Himself, is exactly parallel to His way of dealing with the sacred words of Mosaic commandment and prohibition in the Sermon on the Mount, where He set side by side as of equal—I was going to say, and I should have been right in saying, identical-authority what was said to them of old time' and what I say unto you.' Amidst the dust of our present controversies as to the processes by which, and the times at which, the Old Testament books assumed their present form, there is grave danger that

the essential thing about the whole matter should be obscured. The way in which what is called Higher Criticism may finally locate the origins and dates of the various parts of that ancient record and that ancient system does not in the slightest degree affect the outstanding characteristic of the whole, that it is the product of the divine band, working (if you will) through men who had more freedom of action whilst they were its organs than our grandfathers thought. Be it so; but still that divine Hand shaped the whole in order that, besides its educational effects upon the generations that received it, there should shine through it all the expectation of the coming King. And I venture to say that, however grateful we may be to modern investigation for light upon these other points to which I have referred, the ignorant reader that reads Jesus Christ into all the Old Testament may be very uncritical and mistaken in regard to details, but he has got hold of the root of the matter, and is nearer to the apprehension of the essence and spirit and purpose of the ancient Revelation than the most learned critic who does not see that it is the preparation for, and the prophecy of, Jesus Christ Himself. And the vindication of such a position lies in this, among other facts, that He in the upper room, in harmony with, and in completion of, all that He had previously spoken about His relation to the Old Testament, claimed the Passover as the prophecy of Himself, and said, 'I am the Lamb of God.'

I need not dwell, I suppose, on the other consideration that is involved in this strange exercise of authorityviz., the naturalness, as without any sense of doing anything presumptuous or extraordinary, with which Christ assumes His right to handle divine appointments

with the most perfect freedom, to modify them, to reshape them, to divert them from their first purpose, and to enjoin them with an authority equal to that with which the Lord said unto Moses, 'Keep ye this day through your generations.' There is only one supposition on which I, for my part, can understand that conduct-that He was the possessor of authority the same as the Authority that had originally instituted the rite.

And so, dear brethren! when our Lord said, 'Do this in remembrance of Me,' I pray you to ask yourselves, What did that involve in regard to His nature and the source of His authority over us ? And what did it involve in regard to His relation to that ancient Revelation ?

II. And now another point that I would suggest is-we have, in this substitution of the new rite for the old, our Lord's clear declaration of what was the very heart of His work in the world.

This do in remembrance of Me.' What is it, then, to which He points? Is it to the wisdom, the tenderness, the deep beauty, the flashing moral purity that gleamed and shone lambent in His words ? No!

No! Is it to the gracious self-oblivion, the gentle accessibility, the loving pity, the leisurely heart always ready to help, the eye ready to fill with tears, the hand ever outstretched and ever laden with blessings ? No! It is the death on the Cross which He, if I might so say, isolates, at least which He underscores with red lines, and which He would have us remember, as we remember nothing else. Brethren! rites are insignificant in many aspects, but are often of enormous importance as witnesses to truths. And I point to the Lord's Supper, the one rite of the Christian

Church, which is to be repeated over and over and over again, and see in it the great barrier which has rendered it impossible, and will render it impossible, as I believe, for evermore, that a Christianity, which obscures the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, should ever pose as the full representation of the Master's mind, or as the full expression of the Saviour's word.

What do men and churches that falter in their allegiance to the truth of Christ's redemptive death do with the Lord's Supper? Nothing! For the most part they ignore it, or if they retain it, do not, for the life of them, know how to explain it, or why it should be there. The explanation of why it is there is the great truth, of which it is the clear utterance and the strong defence, the truth that •Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,' and that'the Son of Man came . . to give His life a ransom for the many.'

What did that Passover say ? Two things it said, the blood that was sprinkled on the lintels and on the door-posts was the token to the destroying Angel, as with his broad, silent pinions he swept through the land, bringing a blacker night into Egyptian darkness, and leaving behind him no house 'in which there was not one dead.' All the houses of which the occupants had put the ruddy mark on the lintels and on the doorposts, and were wise enough not to go forth from behind the shelter of that mark on the door, were safe when the morning dawned. And so to us all who, by our sinfulness, have brought down upon our heads exposedness to that retribution, which, in a righteously governed universe, must needs follow sin, and to that death which the separation from God-the neces

sary result of sin-most surely is, there is proffered in that great Sacrifice shelter from the destroying sword.

But that is not all. Whilst the blood on the posts meant security, the Lamb on the table meant emancipation. So they who find in the dying Christ their exemption from the last consequences of transgression, find, in partaking of the Christ whose sacrifice is their pardon, the communication of a new power, which sets them free from a worse than Egyptian bondage, and enables them to shake from their emancipated limbs the fetters of the grimmest of the Pharaohs that have wielded a tyrannous dominion over them. Pardon and freedom, the creation of a nation subject only to the law of Jehovah Himself—these were the facts that the Passover festival and the Passover lamb signified, and these are the facts which, in nobler fashion, are brought to us by Jesus Christ. So, I beseech you, let Him teach you what His work in the world is, as He lays His own hand on that highest of the ancient festivals, and endorses the Baptist's declaration, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!

III. Now, lastly, let me ask you to notice how, in this regal and authoritative dealing by our Lord with that ancient festival, there lies a loving provision for our weakness.

Surely we may venture to say that Jesus Christ desired to be remembered, even by that handful of poor people, and by us, not only for our sakes, but because His heart, too, craved that He should not be forgotten by those whom He was leaving. As you may remember, the dying king turned to the bishop standing by him, with the enigmatical word which

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »