by Ben Bowden, Marketing Assistant.
Charles H. Spurgeon was a renowned English preacher of the nineteenth century. No preacher since has been as widely cited for devotions and sermons. This Holy Week I’ve had the privilege to read and reflect on Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Passion of Christ.
The passion narrative is the climax of the entire Bible. The whole Old Testament points forward, prepares for, and warns of this event; the rest of the New Testament looks back and reflects on its meaning and implications.
Spurgeon illuminates many important features of Christ’s Passion in his sermons, but here are a few that stood out to me the most.
The Work Begins in Gethsemane
After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples go to the garden of Gethsemane, a place Jesus often retreated to for prayer. Here, Jesus prays an incredibly moving and fervent prayer. This prayer is his final hour to resist temptation. His agony is so great, Luke tells us, that he actually sweats drops of blood.
Spurgeon reminds us that the blood of lambs was precious to God in the Old Testament, how much more precious is the blood of his son? Christ’s blood is what cleanses us of sin, but the first drops shed were a result of this poignant prayer of Jesus in the garden. Spurgeon points out that just as sin began with Adam and Eve in a garden, so the redemptive work of Christ, the new Adam, begins in a garden.
Barabbas as the Representation of Sin
Spurgeon paints Barabbas as a representation of all sin. In taking Barabbas’ place, then, Jesus is stepping into the role of the sinner to be condemned. When the crowd asked for Barabbas they were choosing sin over Jesus. Even today, people still prefer Barabbas over Jesus. Whenever we place anything over Christ we are again saving the sinful Barabbas and condemning Jesus to die on the cross.
The Contradiction of the Cross
Christ’s death on the cross is a terrible and beautiful thing. It’s terrible in that it is the death of a friend, one who loved us before the world was created. But it is beautiful in that a friend willingly lays down his life for us. This contradiction of the cross, its simultaneous terror and beauty, causes us not only to mourn a tragedy but to rejoice in the victory over sin and death.
An innocent man dying for the sake of the guilty, this is another contradiction. The blood of God’s son was spilled so the blood of man could be spared. From the first drop shed in Gethsemane to the last one to fall from the cross, his blood redeems sinners, unites believers, and bids others to come into its cleansing power.