The Teaching of Jesus eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about The Teaching of Jesus.
and follow Me.”  His death was the supreme illustration of a law which binds us, the servants, even as it bound Him, the Master.  In the path of every true man there stands the cross which he must bear, or be true no more.  Let no one grow impatient and say this is no more than the fringe of Christ’s thoughts about His death; even the fringe is part of the robe, and if, as the words I have quoted seem clearly to indicate, Christ thought of His death as in any sense at all a pattern for us, let us not miss this, the first and simplest lesson of the Cross.

There are few more impressive scenes in the history of the Christian pulpit than that in which Robertson of Brighton, preaching the Assize Sermon at Lewes, turned as he closed to the judges, and counsel, and jury, and bade them remember, by “the trial hour of Christ,” by “the Cross of the Son of God,” the sacred claims of truth:  “The first lesson of the Christian life is this, Be true; and the second this, Be true; and the third this, Be true.”

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But though this be our starting-point, it is no more than a starting-point.  If Jesus was only a brave man, paying with His life the penalty of His bravery in the streets of Jerusalem, it is wasting words to call Him “the Saviour of the world.”  If His death were only a martyrdom, then, though we may honour Him as we honour Socrates, and many another name in the long roll of “the noble army of martyrs,” yet He can no more be our Redeemer than can any one of them.  But it was not so that Christ thought of His death.  The martyr dies because he must; Christ died because He would.  The strong hands of violent men snatch away the martyr’s life from him; but no man had power to take away Christ’s life from Him:  “I lay it down of Myself,” He said.  The Son of Man gave His life.  He was not dragged as an unwilling victim to the sacrifice and bound upon the altar.  He was both Priest and Victim; as the apostle puts it, “He gave Himself up.”  True, the element of necessity was there—­“the Son of Man must be lifted up”; but it was the “must” of His own love, not of another’s constraint.  Not Roman nails or Roman thongs held Him to the Cross, but His own loving will.  It is important to emphasize this fact of the voluntariness of our Lord’s death, because at once it sets the Cross in a clearer light.  It changes martyrdom into sacrifice; and Christ’s death, instead of being merely a fate which He suffered, becomes now, as Principal Fairbairn says, a work which He achieved—­the work which He came into the world to do:  “The Son of Man came ... to give His life."[20]

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The Teaching of Jesus from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.