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My Suffering Saviour

My Suffering Saviour

Sacramental Meditation XXIV

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 278-9; minimally edited.

“For the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isaiah 53:8d)

Our sins and transgressions are great and various, and therefore our surety’s sufferings for them were heavy and manifold; He endured many wounds, bruises, chastisements, and stripes, which should still endear Him the more to us; “for He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed” (v. 5). Oh who can think on that verse without sorrow, or speak of it without tears! He was wounded and bruised, to save us from deadly wounds and bruises. And when dying, He left us His portraiture, with the marks of His wounds, that we might look upon it at His table, and mourn for our sins which gave Him these wounds. Oh, can I see my dear Saviour all wounded and mangled by my sins, and not be deeply affected for the transgressions for which my dear Jesus was stricken! Stricken He was many ways, by many hands, by many rods, by many stripes. He was stricken by the hand of God, by the hand of men, by the hand of devils; stricken by the rod of Moses, the rod of justice, the rod of the Jews, etc. Oh how early was He stricken by the ill usage He met with from men, being thrust out, to be born in a stable, and laid in a manger; and soon after was He stricken by the rod of persecution and banishment, being made to flee His native country for safety from Herod. All this He suffered for us, because we deserved to be deprived of all earthly accommodations and comforts, and to be banished from God and heaven forever.

He was stricken by the rod of poverty, and pinching straits. Though He was the King of the universe, and possessed all the riches in it, yet “for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:5). He was not born of a rich empress, but of a poor virgin; not in His own house, but in another man’s. He had no house nor foot of ground of His own to live or lodge in. Though the “foxes had holes, and the birds nests,” yet He that created them “had not where to lay His head.” His diet was oft a seeking, and commonly very mean, barley bread and small fishes. He had no money to pay His tax, but must borrow it from a fish of the sea. He travelled still on foot, except once He rode to Jerusalem to fulfil a prophecy; and then He had neither horse nor ass of His own, but must borrow another man’s ass. He had no fine mounting, but the clothes of them that followed Him. He had no burial-place of His own, but was laid in another man’s; and all this He submitted to for our sakes. He was also stricken by the rod of sore labour and toil, by working at a mechanical trade, until He was thirty years of age; therefore they said, “Is not this the carpenter?” (Mk 6:3). Man having eaten the forbidden fruit was doomed to sore labour, that he should eat his bread with the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:19), and to this doom our surety submitted for us. Man broke God’s covenant by eating of the tree, therefore his surety must die on a tree. Man lived a life of sinning, and therefore Christ must live a life of labour and sorrow; He even became a man of sorrows (Isa 53:3) that we might obtain everlasting joy and consolation.

He was stricken by men’s reproachful tongues, scoffs, and mockeries, being called a glutton, winebibber, deceiver, Samaritan, blasphemer, a devil, and one in compact with Beelzebub, the prince of devils. They derided Him in all His offices; as a prophet, by bidding Him prophesy who smote Him; as a priest, bidding Him save Himself, since He pretended to save others; as a king, by putting on Him a purple robe, a crown of thorns, and giving Him a mock sceptre. Yes, He endured the most cruel mockings, and, that in the midst of His sharpest sufferings and soul agonies, when He cried out on the bloody cross, Eli, Eli, etc. Oh, say they, this man calls for Elias, playing on the word Eli. It was not out of ignorance or mistake they said so, but out of malice and derision; for they understood the Hebrew language well enough, and knew He called on God, and that Eli signified, my God. But, in their spite, they would represent Him as an idolater; and, when dying, that He prayed not to God, but to His saints for help. He was stricken by the most open affronts and indignities from men, by spitting in His face, condemning Him to die for blasphemy against God, and treason against Caesar. By preferring Barabbas, a murderer, before Him, and posting Him between two thieves. Thus the King of Glory was despised and rejected of man for us. Isaiah 53: 3.

He was stricken by the scourges of plaited cords on His back, and with the thorns they drove into His head. That thorny crown was designed for torture, as well as derision; for, if it had been only to mock Him, a crown of straw would have served the purpose as well as one of thorns. He was stricken by the pincers that plucked the hair off His cheeks; and by the heavy cross tree laid on His bleeding shoulders, which He must carry to Calvary. He was stricken with iron nails through His hands and feet, on which His whole weight must hang. He was stricken with a burning heat and thirst, which the wrath of God for our sins created in Him, and dried Him up like a potsherd. This made Him cry out, I thirst, yet no wine, no fountain, no creature that He made must relieve Him at this time. He was stricken by a spear thrust into His side to let out His heart-blood, to be sure that no life remained. Well (said our dying lamb), let my dearest blood, my heart-blood, go for these lost sinners, that their souls may live and sing forever.

He was stricken by the ungrateful behaviour of His own disciples. By Judas’ betraying and selling Him for a small sum, the price of a slave. By Peter’s denying Him, and swearing he knew Him not. By all of them forsaking Him, and leaving Him in the midst of His enemies. Besides all this, He was stricken in His soul, by the glittering sword of justice, by the curses of the law, by desertion from God, by the vials of His wrath poured out on Him, which made fearful bruises, deep wounds, and wide gashes in His soul. Oh, our dear surety was stricken till He fell to the ground; was overwhelmed with wrath, and covered with blood. With these strokes our mighty Redeemer was thrown down, and broken with breach upon breach, till all the billows of divine vengeance went over Him. Oh, never was there any sorrow like my dear Saviour’s sorrow, which He suffered when stricken for my sins!

Lord, I am ashamed of the hardness and unconcernedness of my heart at this moving spectacle! Oh, did the earth tremble, the rocks rend, the graves open, the heavens turn black at the sight of a dying Jesus, stricken by the sword of justice? And shall not my rocky heart tremble and quake, rend and melt for my sins, that were the cause of it? Shall the history of Joseph in the pit move me more than that of Christ upon the Cross? Shall the news of a tragical death of a friend, or the sufferings of an acquaintance among the Turks, move me more than the death and sufferings of the Son of God on my account? Alas, my heart of stone will neither break nor melt, till Christ turn and look on me as He did on backsliding Peter. Lord, one look from thee can turn “the rock into standing water,” “and the flint into a fountain of water.” One blink of the Sun of Righteousness can melt the most frozen and icy heart in the world.

Oh how lovely is my stricken and bleeding Jesus! Even when bleeding and mangled by my sins, I see Him to be “white and ruddy,” and “the chiefest among ten thousand.” Every wound and stroke He got doth still beautify Him the more to me, and make my soul to cry, O my loving and lovely Jesus! Oh how can I see Him substituting Himself in my room, and making Himself the butt of the envenomed arrows of justice, and not be ravished with the warmest affection to Him! And at the same time filled with sorrow for my sins, which brought on all His strokes and wounds! Oh, my sins were the thorns that pierced His head, the nails which pierced His hands, and the spear that pierced His heart! My sins pressed Him down, and made Him sweat blood in the garden. My soul being exceeding sinful, made His soul exceeding sorrowful. May I always hate sin, and sorrow for it.