Now will you notice, please, before we come to the immediate fact of Calvary, one thing that I will touch only briefly, the sacrifice in His life. Calvary was written over the life of our Lord Jesus before it was written in great black letters of sin, and red letters of blood, and golden letters of love on that Hill itself.
The sacrifice in His life is shown in His coming at all. Son of God, God the Son, “very God of very God,” Creator of our world, the Spokesman of God to all the world in the Old as in the New, and always,— He came from the glory of the Father’s own presence down into our midst. That was the beginning of His sacrifice, and the beginning in Himself of Calvary.
And then, second, the way He came, namely, as a man, and, more yet, as a servant. And then, third, mark this,—before His birth, sacrifice was spelled out in a way that meant very, very much, in that His mother was under cruel suspicion, in the one thing that touches a pure woman’s heart and life most. Because of that she suffered in spirit as God’s messenger in bringing His Son. In His mother, as His own birth came on, the Calvary suffering began. And then it was in His birthplace—a manger.
And then His whole life was a bit of sacrifice; that narrow humble life that He lived in Nazareth for those thirty years; and His occupation, a carpenter, a common hand-working man. And yet, remember He had in His own blood, in His own human blood, in His lineage, He had that which we commonly reckon as making men aristocrats. I hesitate to call our Lord Jesus an aristocrat, lest you may not understand what I mean. But I do say this, He had in Him to the finest degree the presence of that rich, old, blue blood, humanly, by which we reckon the aristocracy among the nations of the earth today. And yet He became a carpenter for our sakes,—a bit of the Calvary sacrifice in His life.
And then His ministry was a continual pouring out of His strength for others; it was sacrificial. Over all His life you can write down this word, “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” His whole life, from before the cradle until the hour of the Calvary transaction, was a living sacrifice.
And now I wish I might speak very much more quietly as we come to talk about the Calvary fact. Bare your head, and bow very low, and hush your heart, for here we must come, even though it hurt our hearts to recite the story, we must come for a few moments and look at the fact of Calvary itself.
At the close of a service in Christ Church, where I chance to be ministering for a bit, a lady said, “Mr. Gordon, what do you mean by the blood of Christ? You mean His life, do you?” “No,” I said, “I don’t: I mean His life poured out.” We do not commonly speak of life as blood. Blood means life poured forth. And when we come now to seeing our Lord pouring forth His blood, we are coming to the very centre of all, to all the world and to our own hearts.
It is what we call Thursday night, maybe Wednesday night,—we will not discuss that. The Master is pouring out His heart in the Garden in anticipation. And if we might stop here, I believe we should find all the suffering of Calvary packed, in spirit, into those few hours under the gray, gnarled, olive trees beyond the Creek of the Cedars. Then the crowd comes, the soldiers and the Jewish escort, with Judas in the fore. And the Master yields to arrest, and is taken from the garden into the Palace, first of all, of Annas.
Annas was not technically the high priest, but he was the man who, by force of character, held the high priest’s office in his grip, controlling it in a way not unfamiliar in political usage in other times than his. Before Annas a painful farce of examination is made, and in the midst of it one of the underlings smites the Master on the face.