Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 3 - Christ Crucified: 03. Chapter 3: Christ’s Last Ministration of the Word

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 3 - Christ Crucified: 03. Chapter 3: Christ’s Last Ministration of the Word

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SUBJECT: 03. Chapter 3: Christ’s Last Ministration of the Word

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Christ’s Last Ministration of the Word

And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us, For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry.


NOW we are to study Christ’s last and final ministration of the Word. Some would call it His ultima ratio. It was a strange hour, and the place was most inappropriate for a service of the Word. Hence the discourse was very short. Nevertheless it was a ministration of the Word. He who was speaking always made His short addresses count heavily; as heavily as the ministry of the Word. Besides, the Word He spoke was public. Moreover, He spoke from the Scriptures.

The procession moved on farther along the road. Suddenly Jesus saw a commotion among the people. He heard terse words. A soldier snapped at another: Go to it: have at him. A priest spoke in a tempered and modulated voice. The cross was suddenly taken from His shoulder, and placed upon another man. You know his name; it was Simon of Cyrene.

Even if we have appreciated only the smallest part of the truth in our preceding chapter, we can feel free now to say that Jesus felt a piercing pain. He heard Himself defied. Yes, I am referring to what happened to Simon. I say that He was being defied. By whom? By men? But, from all outward appearances, these were not unfriendly to Him. Besides, He heard the sobbing of women; and Simon of Cyrene did accept the burden of the cross. Well, then, by whom was He defied? What is it that makes Him dare to speak of defiance now?

Be still, for He hears Himself being defied in the presence of God. But let us keep things from running together, and not mistake our words. He heard Himself being mocked by God.[1] For if Christ related the right of requisition which the Roman soldiers and the priests of Aaron had usurped to His own privileges as a King and to His own right of requisition, we can be sure that everything we mentioned in our preceding chapter not only pained Him far more grievously than we can state but also that He referred all those things to God Himself. Aha, God says to Him, Thou art the very one who rode into the city on a requisitioned colt, saying: Here am I, the owner of beasts of burden, of houses, of the clothes of citizens, and after a while, of the clothes of the priests also. Art Thou the same who established a memorial for Thyself at the Holy Supper in a requisitioned room? But I, saith the Lord, am making Thee to be sin; I take away from Thee all Thy rights of requisition. Thou must pay me, Thy God, for Thy requisitioned colt, and for Thy requisitioned room. Pay me the last cent. Give me my wages.

[1] For the difference between mockery and defiance, see Christ on Trial, Chapter 9: p. 182 ff,

Then Jesus felt Himself repulsed. God pushed Him aside. A cross had just been taken from His shoulder. O God, put another in its place at once, a cross as heavy as—as heavy as—the Word. Yes, Christ, Thou art outside of the gate here, Thou art enroute to the dunghill of the world.[2] Do not let this seem strange to Thee. Do not think it odd that the Lord is giving Thy honor to another, for, in the last analysis, there is but One to whom all toll must be paid. He is the Chief Requisitioner. His name is Lord of Lords.

[2] See Chapter 1, page 32.

Indeed, this was very tragic. It excited a greater and a more painful astonishment than the soldiers’ mockery of Him as a frustrated king. This suffering was worse than that of the crown of thorns, of the gorgeous robe, and of the reed. This was worse, for now it was God who mocked Him.

Did Jesus succumb? Did He fall back from God’s presence? Did He lose His Messianic consciousness, which, in God, had confirmed Him in His requisition? Did He say: Father, Judge, I am indeed the dry wood which will never again in all eternity bear any fruit. Did He Himself prove to be the accursed fig tree?

No, no, He did not recede, He did not fall back. Listen to Him, as He praises Himself: I am the green tree; I am the green tree; praise is becoming to me. “Not he that commendeth himself is approved, but he whom the Lord commendeth.” Would anyone chide Him with those words? But, remember that He is talking in the face of this fundamental statement: I am the green wood of Israel; I have not lost my right as a king. If the green wood is to be hewn down in the garden of Israel today that garden will undergo the same experience which is undergone in any garden where huge trees, which first stood in their “Eden,” are made to fall. My fall will be the fall of everyone. If they abuse Me Who am the green wood, the dry wood will be destroyed with Me in my fall. They will quickly gather it up, and burn it in an oven. Accordingly, Christ knows Himself to be the green tree, the tree of life in the Paradise of Eden. Perhaps you wonder why we refer to Eden here. We do so because we are thinking of the prophet Ezekiel in connection with this statement of Christ. Ezekiel sees the “mighty” of the earth; he compares these crown-bearers of the nations with trees that have been planted in a Paradise of “God,” the Father of creation.[1] Proud, imposing trees they are, things of beauty in the garden of God, they have been planted in Eden, the Eden of God. Common grace[2] and the culture which issues from it have given these beautiful trees a rich soil in which to flourish. The healthful waters on which the trees must feed have been hidden deep in the ground. Hence, when such trees are chopped down, the whole of Lebanon laments the fact. Then God spreads a curtain of crepe over the world. The fall of such trees means the same to God as the devastation of the natural Eden.[3] And this is being said only of the Eden of common grace, the beautiful parks which have been meted out according to the architecture of our natural life.

[1] Ezekiel 31; see chapter 28.

[2] “God,” not “Lord” (Jahweh).

[3] Eze_31:15-16.

Today, however, Christ—even on the way which leads Him outside of the gate, and leads Him up to the boundary line of the dunghill of the whole world—is still, as He Himself sees it, standing on holy ground. He is walking within the confines of special grace. He is the green tree in Eden, the beautiful park which has been meted out by the architecture of the God of all grace and of all comfort. The soil of this holy ground has not yet been given up to devastation. This is not an “Eden” of nature, but is still an “Eden” of grace. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, as the holy city, as the institute, you are the headquarters of all the chariots of Israel, and of all their horsemen. And as the holy garden, as “Eden,” as the organism, you are the beautiful park, the forest of God’s magnificent trees. Your name is “the garden of Eden.” That is your name not in terms of nature, but in terms of grace and of the Word. It happens, however, that the great, the one, the flourishing, the green tree of that “garden of Eden,” is being hewn down today. That tree is the tree of life. It is the green tree. Hence God will spread a curtain of mourning over the mountain of Zion. Lebanon will weep because of the fall of this one tree. The fastnesses of the earth will tremble at its impact with the ground. The architects of the city (the institute) will say to themselves: We are removing an obstacle. As a matter of fact they are taking the cornerstone away. Hence their building will crumble to ruins. The keepers of God’s garden, of the Eden of God’s people of revelation (the organism) will say: We are taking the parasite out of our beautiful park; now all the trees can flourish again. But their trees are dead already; never will life reanimate them. Now that the one tree whose beauty induced the Owner to preserve the garden from destruction has been felled, only the dry and rotted wood is left. What can the Lord of the garden do with all these stumps? He will abandon the garden, and cast the dead pieces into the oven. The judgment will begin at the place of this one, green, uprooted tree. The judgment! The days are coming in which they shall say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and blessed be the garden which is fruitful no longer, blessed be Eden, also the Eden of nature, to which God has locked the door. For what we, Christ’s murderers bear, is but the generation of vipers, and does not deserve to live. Even if the stump could live, there would be no fruit, for that on which it feeds has disappeared. God withdraws the nutritious waters that flowed beneath our barren soil. We have only the dry trees left, the bare branches: just so much kindling for the oven. That which our garden still produces is but the hot-house plants of Asmodeus,[1] the poisonous plants of hell. Jerusalem is blessed not because of her children, but because of her barrenness, for she has put her great Child to death.

[1] The Hebrew name for the chief of the demons; see Tob_3:8 and Tob_6:14.

Frankly now, this statement sounds like foolishness, coming at this hour and spoken by this mouth, does it not? Yes, indeed, “foolishness and offense” Gamaliel would say, and his pupil, a certain Saul, will repeat it until his death. The statement is sheer foolishness and offense. For Jesus Christ never fears great folly. He cannot do without it; with it Paul would have nothing to say. On the other hand, however, can you say that the statement contains anything but Messianic self-consciousness? God mocks Him. God has the devils tear His requisition-papers to pieces; the fragments twirl about His cloak of mockery. Nevertheless Christ knows that the God who mocks Him will take Him seriously; He knows that this day is not a ludus angelicus, a game of the angels bent on pleasure, but the drama of all the worlds. He is so convinced of this that He lays claim to the whole world, saying: Here is the one important thing.

How did this all happen? Whence this astonishing word, spoken from this dull procession. This is how it happened. As Jesus went on the way to the cross, the “daughters of Jerusalem” accompanied Him. Now these were not the well known Galilean women, for they, prompted by their love, had constantly followed Jesus and we see them standing at a distance later. They brought up the rear, or, if you will, fetched a large compass around the master. Nor were these “daughters of Jerusalem,” as some suppose, women from Judea or Galilee in general. The name “Jerusalem” does not designate the whole of Israel. No, these are the women of Jerusalem, the ladies of the “great city.”

Now we know that women of the big city know how to resort to tears. They know what is meant by weeping, and especially what is meant by sentimental love. They have read the beautiful statement in the Bible which says that the daughters of Jerusalem must be told that there is a bride who is sick with love. This message does not escape them. The theme of “the sick with love” grips them. However, even though they are fond of discussing this theme without asking whether they can excite a genuine love, they cannot evaluate these things correctly. Just when people are sick with love and just where the energies of love—in its sublime manner—can flourish wholesomely they cannot exactly say. Love seems to them to be a beautiful adventure and, accordingly, being sick with love also charms them. For the rest everything is rather vague. But who in matters of love looks for learned definitions? These women have heard it said, and that by very interesting men, that definitions have no place here. And with that they can heartily agree.

Consequently, there is much work to be done by these ladies of the big city. There is a great prophet. No one can deny that He is aflame with love. That He is sick today is also obvious enough. This moves the women to follow Him. Many prophets of the inner chamber[1] have comforted them. Everything is vague here. That is just the point. There is a love, and it is sick. Just what health is . . . well, that is a different matter . . . Come, sisters, let us weep. Someone with a vague love is sick. Who would not weep!

[1] Christ in His Suffering. Chapter 19, p. 339; Christ on Trial, Chapter 2, p. 33.

They weep. Such weeping always causes a commotion in the world. Thus the day has brought to pass the sorrows of the daughters of Jerusalem.

We suggest that you do not busy yourself too much about those learned dissertations which try to find out whether their sorrow was genuine or not. Roman Catholics even ask whether it was “natural” or “supernatural.” Other Christians evaluate these tears by consulting their list of the “marks of grace” and then—as is their way—still grope in the dark. Do not emulate them. The daughters of Jerusalem are many. Among them are those whom God has predestined for the joy of His Pentecost. Who can say what preparatory grace is accomplishing in their soul at this time? There are also among them those who will not hold out against the fire of Pentecost, and these “daughters” will be sick, will continue, that is, to live in death. But Christ, as He ministers His word, addresses them all as daughters of the holy city. He still calls the city by its own name; He faithfully administers God’s Word to it; He points it to the connection between this day and the great day of days, and also to the connection between His own fruitful death-travail, and their fruitless labor.

Daughters of Jerusalem, ye who have no future, who are the last children of a barren city, weep not for me. Such is Christ’s pure reaction. It is a reaction which is good for all. For everyone.

The true and the false is mingled in the weeping of these women. Among them are those who pour out their hearts as though they were in the presence of God. But there are also falsetto voices among them. Jesus hears their lamenting. Now the word “lamenting” has nothing repulsive in it. Lamentation is a technical term: it was the gesture of mourning which, together with all of its ceremonies, was the custom with the Jews whenever death cast its shadows upon them. The Jews had mourning women; they even hired them. These knew how to weep, and had the time to weep. The Jews liked to use people who had the time to do things. For the synagogue they hired ten visitors, whose duty it was to visit the synagogue; ten of them, the required minimum, and these ten are people who “have time for such things”; they are the opus operatum. Just so the Jewish rulers proceed to hire mourners, people who understand the art of weeping, and who have time to do it, the opus operatum [1] Jesus, who had always opposed the idea of the opus operatum, now also opposes these mercenary, insincere mourners. When they caused a tumult in this or that house, Jesus more than once drove them out. He who would purge temples, must go on from the temples into the houses.

[1] A piece of work, generally religious, which is sufficient to itself, which, once done, has no further purpose. It satisfies those who would save themselves by works mechanically dispatched.

Today, however, He does not have to drive people out any longer; nor does He have to distinguish between the true and the false. He has the same message for all. What else has He, but the ministry of the Word?

He gives what He has. He presents God’s Word. But, in order to minister the Word, He must first purge Himself of their tears. For their weeping is not what it should be. It seems to us that the meaning of those who would relate this episode to the Talmud is too far-fetched. These interpreters point to the fact that the Talmud forbade the mourning of the death of someone who had been condemned by the Sanhedrin. Consequently, they regard the weeping of the women as a protest against the government. This is altogether incredible. Even if the sound of mourning was intended as a note of protest, would that have justified it and made it pleasing to God? Whoever does not put the death of Jesus into relationship with the crises of his own life has lost himself, though he weep never so much. Hence Jesus—looking neither to the right nor to the left—turns abruptly around and says to the women: Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.

To these words He adds a discourse. The discourse is long enough for one whose back has been scourged, whose every step brings Him nearer His death; and it is brief enough for One who has so comprehensive a view of all things of time and of eternity as He has.

We can discover the true meaning of this statement of Christ only if we find its place in the history of the passion. We have already mentioned the fact that this statement is a public statement; it is a public ministration of the Word. The day of Pentecost has not yet come; hence that is not the reason for which He must address Himself to the people of the city. After He pronounced this short discourse, He never again made any public address. He did not speak to the public from the cross, for His seven utterances from Golgotha were not directed to the people in general. After His resurrection, too, Christ never once used His human tongue to direct a public address to the people at large. The discourses of Jesus, the Son of David, have an end. Does that not make you tremble? If this is the last public discourse which Christ Jesus pronounced on earth, we may be sure that this statement was for God (to whom a thousand years are as one day) immediately bound up with the forthcoming public discourse which Christ will address to the community which is in the world. You ask what the scene of that forthcoming public address will be? That will be on the last day, when the world will quake, and when everything that is said here will be completely fulfilled. Then the sound of lamentation will be addressed to the mountains demanding that these fall on them, and to the hills asking that they cover them. That will be when man will desire to live no more, nor any womb to give birth.

This public statement of Christ was a threatening one, and He who pronounced it was a broken Man. Nevertheless He was highly exalted. The full expression of the Messianic consciousness, the full strength of Jesus’ sinless soul is in it. Is He harmed by it? He is harmed by everything. And yet by nothing. He is very sound; the simplest word is the best here. God and Satan are here, inciting these women to tears. The Lord incites them; such is the Biblical language. Satan incites them also; that, too, is Biblical language. God compels them to follow Jesus; He makes them weep their tears. God wants to try His Son. Satan constrains them to follow Jesus; he makes them weep their tears; he wants to tempt the Son. He would wrench the steadfast Soul loose from its steadfastness. Well, nothing human is strange to Jesus. We may as well admit that it is not easy for any human being to be unaffected by tears which another human being sheds for him. It is not easy, when tears begin to fall, to give expression boldly and emphatically to that well-known, dignified statement of office-bearers, to that stately first and final predication of the ministration of the word, to the effect that the people must look beyond the minister, and beyond the speaker who is at the same time the complainant. Tears of the audience and spectators are a temptation to the office-bearer of God. Let everyone weep for himself. Let him not stop at the speaker who excites the tears, but let him look beyond the speaker. That is easy to say, but is it as easy to mean? Those of us who know ourselves will immediately say that it is not. But Christ, who is our Surety, never lets Himself be thrust outside of the official sphere, from which alone He may acknowledge His God. We see Him as Prophet, as King, and as Priest. Let us not tire of seeing Him again as He is in this three-fold office. For whoever thinks this spectacle tiresome is one whose “knowledge” is not prompted by “love.” In other words, he becomes puffed up. And nowhere does such pride express itself as foolishly as on the via dolorosa.

We said that Christ is a Prophet here. Hardly dismissed by the judge, He addresses a discourse to the crowd. The transition from the second volume to the third volume of this work really is an astonishing one. The note of silence was very prominent in our second volume. As a matter of fact, the whole of it was dominated by this motive: But Jesus held His peace. At times He made a statement, but for the most part His speaking was subordinated to His silence. But now, as soon as we have been allowed to penetrate the third part of Christ’s passion, something else impresses us forcibly. The dominant motive now is not “Jesus held His peace.” Now He speaks. He speaks in the ministration of the Word. He speaks His seven utterances from the cross. He cries aloud. He cries with a loud voice. Crying with a loud voice He gives up the ghost. Who can say that this is not prophecy? We must give this fact even more careful attention when we observe again that Christ does His speaking out of the Scripture. “You and your children”; that is the language of the Bible. From the days of Abraham the phrase has been repeated again and again. You and your children. Thereupon, Christ speaks of that distant, nearby day in which they shall say to the mountains, “Fall on us,” and to the hills, “Cover us.” Who is there that does not recognize in this Hos_10:8 : “And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty.” And who could fail, when he hears the words “daughters of Jerusalem” to remember the cadences of the Song of Solomon.[1] Certainly, then, if Christ during His last hours still speaks from the Scriptures, He remains the Prophet. Then He is being obedient to His prophetic office as a man also. If ever a Prophet of God was tempted to keep the moment which he was experiencing before his own mind and before the minds of others, and to accentuate that moment at the expense of God’s one continuous work, it was He, the Prophet of our confession, Christ Jesus. All of His humanity, His nerves, His heart, His scourged back, cries aloud: It is good to weep for me. The moment is a horrible one; in this broken flesh the world is breaking. Listen, you can hear it breaking, you can hear it cracking in God’s universe. Weep for me, for by my fall God causes the heathen to tremble. No, His prophetic spirit masters His flesh, puts it into service; His prophetic spirit makes the flesh subservient to the laws of the eternal Spirit. In this way He immediately links His own specific moment with the chain of the “times and seasons” of God. Although though His tongue cleaves to the roof of His mouth because of the thirst He suffers, it immediately gives voice to the whole of the Scriptures again. His discourse includes the whole of prophecy, and in this He is being God’s official minister.

[1] We do not mean to say that Christ is intentionally quoting from the Song of Solomon.

We can say, then, that a great compassion characterizes Christ’s prophecy at this time. We can put the truth this way: The announcement of the devastation, of the conquest of the vicious circle, the circle of natural life, concerning which we heard Christ speak in our second volume,[2] is now being transferred from the “intimate” judgment hall to the public domain of the via dolorosa. If Jesus Christ had uttered His royal word, His word of life, in the judgment hall alone, it would never have reached the people to whom He was sent. True, He had, before this time, repeatedly testified to that people that He was the Messiah whom they, whom “this generation,” would see as He came in glory. But today He relates His coming in glory to this particular moment. “This generation” now witnesses the day of His final dissolution. But this generation will also see that in His dissolution He also dissolves. “From now on ye shall see”—with that statement He admonishes the Sanhedrin and with that statement He now addresses the masses. He is taking His final prophecy out of seclusion and making it a worldwide proclamation. Now He lets the people, the many, see that He is breaking the cycle of natural life on this day.

[2] Christ on Trial, Chapter 7, especially p. 139.

As He does so He thrusts—Jews, do you see how terribly logical He is?—the mourning women away from His own death bed. For we must know that these women of the great city are pushing Jesus into the circle, the daily circle of life’s funeral march; they weep for Him just as they weep for “a” son of man. But Jesus manifests Himself as “the” Son of man. He shows that His day is the day of the whole world. From now on, from this hour on, judgment will break over the heads of all. He reveals Himself now, not as a man who can be compared with any other, but as the One, who has His own peculiar essence, as the one green tree in a forest of dry trees. He shows them how He is loosing judgment upon them, how condemnation is breaking overhead. All because of Him. He laughs about that foolish pairing of names which had been drawn up some time ago,[1] even though a trio[2] of names now defies Him in His spirit. Judgment now comes upon Him. What judgment? Is it the wrath of Rome, which will devastate the city of David after a while? No, it is not that; or, better, it is not that alone. Christ shows us (see Matthew 24), that “the day of the Lord” is one day; therefore He organically relates the wailing and weeping for the downfall of Jerusalem to the last judgment day. Thus Christ speaks to His people, administering God’s word. He speaks to those who are still His own[3] in a plain, adequate way. There is not the hint of a maschil[4] in His discourse. The manifest character of revelation characterizes the whole of His final ministering of God’s word. He raises His head high above the disdain of men. He sees Himself and His cross as a power sufficient to darken the sun. Thus He enters into communion with the swarm of grasshoppers of whom Joel, the prophet, spoke. Just as Joel—how nervous that prophet was—saw the beginning of the judgment day in the plague of grasshoppers of his time—the insects darkened the sun—and just as Joel saw the fiery chariots of Jahweh at the head of the cloud of grasshoppers, so Christ now announces: The God of the grasshoppers darkens the sun before Me now; soon darkness will impinge upon the city and upon the temple. God’s fiery chariots are drawing Me to Golgotha. He hastens to set up my cross as a stumbling block to the Jews. Simon, I can go on; the Lord is with Me, Him will I fear. Did you want to help me, O man? But who can hope to move the heavy wheels of God’s chariots when they are standing still? And who can put his hand to the spokes if the chariots are hastening on?

[] Jesus-Barabbus. See Christ on Trial, Chapter 24, p. 455 ff.

[2] His, and those of the two murderers.

[3] Joh_1:11.

[4] See Christ on Trial, Chapter 4, p. 81 ff.

This is beautiful prophecy, is it not? Satan, thou hast sent the women in pursuit of Jesus; Thou wantedst to see whether He would remain true to Himself. It is true, is it not, that He very frequently drove the mourners away when He had to fight death, and had to make of a death-bed the work-room of His life? Thou wouldst like to know whether He will let them weep for Him today. This is His answer, Satan. He drove the women away again.

He remained true to Himself. For this Jesus has now seen the way of the cross as the work-room of His life. The way of the cross is a work-room rather than the death-bed of Jairus’ daughter. He purged the atmosphere which was contaminated by the women. He did not thank them, not even now when they gave Him their tears.[1] Alas for Him if He had done that!

[1] This interpretation is not at all like that of P. G. Groenen, op. cit., p. 445, who says: “The Saviour, consequently, recognizes the noble disposition (of the weeping women), and as a reward He speaks to them lovingly.” Surely this is a typical Roman Catholic attitude of mind.

Then His prophecy would have been lost with Him in that shedding of tears which has drowned so many good words. The women weep; and tears always dim the eyes of men. But Jesus’ eye is not dimmed, neither by blood, nor by sweat, nor by tears. He knows that these women are weeping only for “Jesus.” The masses have no eyes with which to weep for “Christ.” And “Jesus” does not wish tears which are wept for a “Jesus” who has been separated from the “Christ.” He does not because of pity for Himself wrench Himself apart. For Himself He has no pity. His person is one person; it is undivided. That one person governs His two natures. His will is one. The pity of men cannot harm or wound Him. He is conscious of Himself, but He never stops there as human pity does. And now it is my turn. And yours. For He has driven the women away. It is our turn. This His prophecy is sounded everywhere. As Jesus, He does not want to be lamented; He wants to be believed as Jesus Christ. We listen to Bach’s Passion of St. Matthew, and to its closing chorus: “Wir setzen uns mit Tranen nieder.” As often as that chorus is being sung, as often as the singers run through the piece, and the ladies of “the great city” have their ermines handed to them, Jesus stands at the rear of the hall and says: Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children; for the days will come in which those who have not wept because of me shall call upon the mountains and the hills to take away the sight of God and to protect them from the wrath of God. What shall we say to these women? We may as well be honest: Jesus also stands in many a church. He stands in many an orthodox church, in which the preacher by a “beautiful” sermon has caused tears to fall here and there. He has described rather than prophesied; his is a church in which “Jesus” was pictured, and Christ was not proclaimed.

We may also honor the Saviour-Messiah as King on this occasion. The word which Jesus directs to the people on this day is a reference to what the people themselves have said. We remember that Pilate once asked: Shall I crucify your King? Shall his blood be upon you? Then the people had replied: His blood be upon us and our children.

This King is here now, and He says: My blood shall be upon you and upon your children. Time will come when you cannot endure your children because you will pronounce the name “lost son” proleptically (very different from prophetically) in referring to your child. The travail of My death will never still the travail of your birth-pangs. The day of My death will make your maternity chambers a funeral grotto. You will know this, and will say this, and will sigh because of it. You are taking the true Life out of your midst. Hence you will be unable to live after a while, unless you repent. In that day you will seek out death, and will not be able to find him. Your delight will be a burden to you, and each new child a brutal martyrdom. You want to be a community. And as a community you said: We shall purge ourselves of the blood of the Nazarene; we shall cut this piece of Jesus’ flesh out of our common body; we shall safeguard ourselves and our children against this accursed individualist. But now you will not have the strength for a community life, for you will be unable to bear children. You will praise the barren as the blessed among you, because you cannot achieve a community of fellowship any longer, nor build a community any farther. Your sin will divide every man against every other after a while, the father against the child, the man against the woman. Your sin will be the disintegrating influence which will break up the form of the community and will make it an impossible conglomeration of antipodes, a concussion of reciprocally repulsive elements. And this basic denial of life, this piercing scream accompanying the sundered community will culminate in your absolute death. Judgment, dread, the fear of the Lord — in those forms My royal blood will be upon you and upon your children.

The King knows Himself; that much you can hear. Not for one moment is He dependent upon His subordinates. He does not use the tears of men to justify Himself in the eyes of others. He even wrenches the crown of the martyrs off His own head. He does not wish the tears in which the impotent opponents protest against the overbearing vindicators of the right of revolution. He does not use their complaints to divide His judges from their subordinates, and to assert Himself overagainst the people. This King asks for no Totenklage, neither before nor after His death.

No muted tramp, no mourning weeds,

No funeral dirge His body needs.

For His kingdom is not dependent upon men. His royal majesty remains purely itself in its self-manifestation.

Consequently He is also able to discriminate nicely between the true and the false weeping of men. When His mother begins to weep later, He dries her tears; her sadness is in conformity with God. But these tears are impersonal, and He sends the weeping crowd only to the temple, and to the Word of prophecy. This message is good for all: it is a last admonition. When love and faith weep together, He gives the mother a son, a son whom she has not borne. For the spiritual fellowship which is born of the Spirit of Christ dominates nature. By sheer Spirit it binds mother and son together, even though the same blood does not course in their veins: Woman, see thy son; son, see thy mother. But where faith is lacking, and love is not active, Christ tells the mothers: Woman, thou art no longer able to see thy son; son, never again wilt thou find thy mother. Woman, thou wilt not even bear a son in thy thoughts, for thou regardest thyself as very blessed when thou no longer needest to bear Abraham’s children, because he will certainly refuse to acknowledge them, now that thou hast refused this, his great, Child.

Thus the Spirit of Christ governs the bonds of flesh and blood also. That Spirit governs blood and nature, the synthetic and the antithetic, binding and loosing. But always the Spirit will govern. He ties new fetters: Woman, see thy son. That is synthesis, a joining together. He tears old fetters apart: Woman, thou hast no son, thou dost not want him, thou dost even reject him in thy thoughts. That is antithesis.

Thus does Christ as a king break the vicious circle of life: from now on they shall see Him as the life-giving Spirit and not as the living soul. They shall see Him positive and negative, binding together and loosing, organizing and disrupting. As the life-giving Spirit He will become manifest to all nations. For His Spirit constrains the blood, and constrains His posterity. His Spirit robs Abraham’s oppressed but impenitent mothers of their fleshly children, and by His will calls into life children who are full-grown men. These He calls into life in Abraham’s oppressed and yet, in Him, comforted widows. Woman, lose thy son. Woman, see thy son. Son, leave thy mother. Son, see thy mother. Spirit, constrain the dust, for he who would weep in Jesus’ presence must weep in spirit and in truth. The old covenant will not perpetuate itself in the superficial tears of women, but in the powerful sermon of a fisher of men. The son and the mother whom the Spirit of Jesus has brought together will not be lacking at the banquet which sanctifies all tears and which makes sacrifices of thanksgiving of them ( Act_1:13-14),

O second Adam, life-giving Spirit, come, preach in our fellowship. We will suppress the tears, O Lord.

We hear women weeping out of doors, we hear them sobbing; they say, and their saying it disturbs Thy preaching: Alack, where is His poor mother? Pitiable the breast that nourished Him in Nazareth. We hear the sobs, O Lord, and they are very human. But Thou lookest around Thee and dost say: They are looking for My mother. They want to press her hand and offer her condolences. Such is the custom of a great city. Who is My mother save he that doeth the will of My Father? Other than she I have no mother. Mother, do not accept their hand: Because Thou hast become My mother according to the Spirit, and doest My Father’s will, they will crucify thee with Me. Didst Thou say these words, here in our company, O Lord? Then look around the room again, convert us to the will of the Father. Teach us to keep our sins near the baptismal font on which are written about each of thy brothers in particular these words: Lord, unite us in the will of the Father. It might be that at some time we will not love each other any more, that we will be jealous of each other, even as Thou hast seen jealousy in genteel women. When our eyes, as we move along the via dolorosa, look out in two directions toward Jesus and also toward the priests — or even if our eyes, looking in one direction, only, see the humanity of “Jesus’’ without penetrating through, that humanity to the divinity of the Son and to the office of Christ, then our delicate weeping is the beginning of the jealousy of our own flesh.

Listen, He says to me: I am the king, but My kingdom is not of the earth. All kings who are not of the earth can use temporary faith very effectively for their purposes. Excitement, enthusiasm, and bursting tears reinforce their power. But I am the King of Zechariah 6; My kingship is united with the office of the priest. I do not like those tears, for in themselves these tears are but an expression of temporary faith. Woe is me if I do not wrestle with God for a saving faith, O weeping daughters of Jerusalem. Here is the Bridegroom, a king’s crown, a priest’s soul, and He does justice to the daughters of Jerusalem. He struggles for their preservation. He is not faithless to the law of marriage: He does not despise the tears, but only evaluates them, in order that the faithless bride of the Lord, the Maker, who was her Husband, might still honor Him.

In the third place, we consider the Priest of our confession. He knows that He is the Priest. Hence He is not satisfied with being the object of pity. He wants to suffer in His own strength, and in His own strength be a sacrifice for many. Now Claudia has her answer; now Pilate with his “ecce homo” also has his. Satan may tempt Him, the devil may try by means of the sadness of the women to make Him forget His own program of work, to distract Him from the demands of God’s holiness, to make Him flee from the wrath of God. But Satan will not succeed in this. Christ did not desire the superficial sentiment of the women of Jerusalem for Himself in order to withhold from faith His determined will to be a sacrifice. The tears of Delilah have not kept Samson from his work today. True, He is put into the prison of the Philistines, but not because of those tears. It was a part of His task to enter the prison. He derives His reasons for doing things from Himself even on the day of His death. There were women here who wanted to detain Him when He wished to pay the dowry of the true bride of His heart. He struggled through their thronging; He had to pay, and He would. He does not know what concubines are; the true bride can see Him and pay and buy in haste. In haste. He does not stumble, O bride, over the impediment of the strange eroticism of strange women who do not recognize a buyer in Him. Tears have always detained those who were running in the race course. But He went steadily on, quite undetained, on the way of genuine obedience. And thus He becomes the “chief leader and fulfiller of faith,” who will presently remove every burden from us, including the burden of tears wept by erotic women. The tear stricken face showing itself to the left and then to the right of Him, as He wiped the sweat from His eyes and could again see for a moment, that tear stricken face of a woman which longed for a glance from His marvellously deep eyes did not hinder Him from seeing the face of God. For God’s face demanded but one thing from Him: absolute condemnation. Justice had so arranged it.

The women did not mention it to each other in the evening, but they had admitted it to themselves for a second. After all, He had been less interesting than they had thought. But that precisely is the case: He curses all interesting people, the peddlers of the spirit, and their organizers.

This is the Priest who is meet for us. Once He Himself wept when He approached the city and said that she did not acknowledge her sins nor that which could work her peace for her. God is now evaluating the tears which Christ wept then. For all tears which man weeps now and then are not evaluated until they maintain themselves genuine and uncontaminated overagainst those of another. If Christ’s tears had fallen upon Jerusalem solely as tears of weakness — He could do no miracles because of unbelief! —these would have manifested that weakness now in an avid acceptance of the sadness of these women. If this soul the anima sensitiva — accepts the tears of others as a sacrifice of incense today, if He accepts them as they are, separated from the spirit which is in Him, then He as a Mediator will be disrupted. Precisely that is what constitutes the temptation of Satan by means of the women. Satan wishes to disturb and move Christ’s human soul; he would segregate it from the direction of His spirit. But now that He is maintaining Himself according to soul and spirit overagainst this extensive and yet limited sadness, He remains the strong. We know now that the tears which He wept yesterday are not to be separated from the blood which He sheds today. The tears of another have frequently hindered a person in offering his own deed; but Jesus was not hindered by them. Now that He has maintained His tears in their own pure strength they have remained united with His dear blood.

Now it is our turn to weep in His presence. We must weep with Him, through Him, and for Him. Whoever has seen Jesus’ tears and blood fall upon the road which He travelled as Surety, will not weep because of the weakness of “Jesus” but will find himself weeping in the strength of “Christ.” As a priest Christ reveals Himself, and lets Himself be seen.

Listen to what He tells the women. This is His priestly address: My death is not My natural fate but My supernatural deed. It is not My natural destiny, for I am not a dry tree, but a green and flourishing one. It is going against nature to hew down a green tree. Only dry and dead trees are justly cut down. A green tree when felled receives what it really has not deserved; such a tree is taking upon itself that which should have overcome the dry tree. Dry wood and dead branches are indeed fit for the fire. Such wood is but getting its deserts when it is cast into the oven. Well, every branch of the tree of Israel which acknowledges Me no longer is dead wood; it must be destroyed, for that is its destiny. But when I, the green tree, allow Myself to be despised and put to death today, I am assuming the fate of the dead branches. I am taking your lot upon Myself, O daughters of Jerusalem. I shall let Myself approve of your fate even in My death. Come to Me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden. Alas, if only you would acknowledge in this hour what it is that makes for your peace. Did Simon of Cyrene hear the sound of a dry sob? He could not be sure, for he could not look up, he could not look up into the eyes of the people.

Priest, High Priest, incomparable in grace. When, after a while, the people shall cry out, Mountains, fall on us, they will be trying to escape from God and the Word and from Thy priestly face. They sought to protect themselves from Moses’ dazzling face by asking that a veil separate his from theirs. That veil must become a mountain presently; as thick and solid as a mountain it will have to be. Mountains, cover us! For who can withstand the eyes of the Lamb? But this priest draws God and the Word toward Himself: He can withstand the eyes of God. He can look straight into them. He does His work consciously always.

Do not call Him Mara; do not call Him the most unfortunate of men; for that is the name given Him by the women of Jerusalem. That name spells defiance for Him. He who calls Jesus the most unfortunate of men is pronouncing His name in the same breath and placing Him in the same category with all those other “unfortunate” ones of this world, is failing to discriminate between the green wood and the dry, dead wood. But Christ has expressly distinguished Himself from all those others. He is the green tree in the decayed forest. He is not the most unfortunate of men, daughters of Jerusalem; He is the Mediator of all the condemned of God, of all those who reach out to Him, of all those who would live by His death. Say no more, “Lo there goes the most unfortunate of men. Ecce homo. Les miserables of Jerusalem are the women and the priests. With whom then would you compare Him? I hear someone say that He died of His own pity, but this hour has proved the falsity of that. My Priest, who in the distress of His death could still turn pity away can never die because of pity. He can only govern all. From a distance we already hear the Spirit praising Him by means of the Word, praising Him who can have a true sympathy for our weaknesses, and who teaches us that the sorrow of the world does indeed work death in us, but that the sorrow of God, the sadness which is in conformity with God, works a repentance unto salvation never to be regretted.

Give me my children. They were born in Jerusalem; it is late; the ends of the ages have converged upon us. Give me the children of the Jerusalem of the latter day. Otherwise they might escape from me. Fin de siecle. And unite me with my unborn child, with the child of my mind, unite me with him before the cross of Jesus Christ. And teach us as we are together here a Passover song.

But do not teach it to me too quickly. I mean, do not teach it to me prematurely. I may overlook nothing today. Jesus has preached destruction, and has preached it to the children within her walls: ceterum censeo Iesum esse delendum.[1] God will punish me if I dare not make this terrible statement, dare not make it on His authority. This is a wonderful day. Tears and tears — but God makes but one statement: namely, there is such a thing as authority.He makes it very difficult; for I hate authority, especially when it makes itself binding upon my tears. I found those tears so pleasing. Yes, yes, ceterum censeo Iesum esse delendum: Lord, do not destroy me.

[1] For the rest I mean that Jesus must be destroyed (a play on the familiar reference in classical literature).

Open my eyes that I may see,

Open my lips that I speak truth.

Oh keep me from all spurious ruth,

From sentimental sympathy;

For that would stain Thy majesty.[2]

[2] Adapted from Albert Verwey’s Christus-sonnetten.