Today is Good Friday. On this day we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus, the Son of God. The temptation to rush through the crucifixion is always there whenever I read the gospels. The gory details are more than I can bear. But we cannot move onto Easter Sunday — that is, we cannot celebrate the Resurrection until we know the crucifixion.
Below are a few paragraphs I’ve extracted from F.W. Krummacher’s sermon, “The Crucifixion.” I’ve read it five times since Tuesday. Each time I am overwhelmed. Enter into what Krummacher calls, “the Most Holy Place of Gospel History” where a dreadfully violent murder had to occur so that poor penitent souls, like you and me, could know peace with God.
“Alas! Alas! what is it that now takes place on that bloody hill? Four barbarous men, inured to the most dreadful of all employments, approach the Holy One of Israel, and offer Him, first of all, a stupefying potion composed of wine and myrrh, as usual at executions. The Lord disdains the draught because He desires to submit to the will of His heavenly Father with full consciousness and to drink the last drop of the accursed cup. The executioners take the Lamb of God between them, and begin their horrid occupation by tearing, with rude hands, the clothes from off His body. There He stands, whose garment once was the light, and the stars of Heaven the fringe of His robe, covered only with the crimson of His blood, and divested of all that adorned Him, not only before men, but also in His character as Surety, before God.
After having unclothed the Lord, and left Him, by divine direction, only His crown of thorns, they lay Him down on the wood on which He is to bleed. Thus, without being aware of it, they bring about the moment predicted in Psalm 22, where we hear the Messiah saying: “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me about; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.” What a dying bed for the King of kings! My friends, as often as we repose on the downy cushions of divine peace, or blissfully assemble in social circles, singing hymns of hope, let us not forget that the cause of the happiness we enjoy is solely to be found in the fact that the Lord of glory once extended Himself on the fatal tree for us.
See His holy arms forcibly stretched out upon the cross—His feet laid upon each other. Thus Isaac once lay on the wood on Mount Moriah. But the voice that then called out of Heaven, saying: “Lay not your hand upon the lad!” is silent on Calvary. The executioners seize the hammer and nails. But who can bear to look upon what further occurs? The horrible nails from the forge of Hell, yet foreseen in the sanctuary of eternity, are placed on the hands and feet of the righteous Jesus, and the heavy strokes of the hammer fall. Do you hear the sound? They thunder on your heart, testifying in horrible language of your sin, and at the same time of the wrath of Almighty God.
Awake you that are asleep in sin, and rouse yourself likewise you who are lulling yourself in carnal security! How many proud and haughty heart has been broken into salutary repentance by those strokes! Why does not your heart also break? For know that you did aid in swinging those hammers; and that the most crying and impious act which the world ever committed is charged to your account.
See, the nails have penetrated through, and from both hands and feet gushes forth the blood of the Holy One. These nails have rent the rock of salvation for us, that it may pour forth the water of life; have torn the heavenly bush of balm that it may send forth its perfume. Yes, they have pierced the handwriting that was against us, and have nailed it to the tree; and by wounding the Just One have penetrated through the head of the old serpent. Let no one be deceived with respect to Him who was thus nailed to the cross! Those pierced hands bless more powerfully than while they moved freely and unfettered. They are the hands of a wonderful Architect who is building the frame of an eternal Church—yes, they are the hands of a Hero, which take from the strong man all his spoil. There is no help or salvation save in these hands; and these bleeding feet tread more powerfully than when no fetters restrained their steps. Nothing springs or blooms in the world, except beneath the prints of these feet.
The most dreadful deed is done, and the prophetic words of the Psalm: “They pierced my hands and my feet,” have received their fulfillment. The foot of the cross is then brought near to the hole dug for it. Powerful men seize the rope attached to the top of it, and begin to draw, and the cross, with its victim, elevates itself and rises to its height. Thus the earth rejects the Prince of life from its surface, and, as it seems, Heaven also refuses Him. But we will let the curtain drop over these horrors. Thank God! In that scene of suffering the Sun of grace rises over a sinful world, and the Lion of Judah ascends into the region of the spirits that have the power of the air in order, in a mysterious conflict, eternally to disarm them on our behalf.
Look what a spectacle now presents itself. The moment the cross is elevated to its height, a crimson stream falls from the wounds of the crucified Jesus. This is His legacy to His Church. We render Him thanks for such a bequest. It falls upon spiritual deserts, and they blossom as the rose. We sprinkle it upon the doorposts of our hearts, and are secure against destroyers and avenging angels. Where this rain falls, the gardens of God spring up, lilies bloom, and what was black becomes white in the purifying stream, and what was polluted becomes pure as the light of the sun. There is no possibility of flourishing without it, no growth nor verdure, but everywhere desolation, barrenness, and death.”
You can read the entire sermon here.