TUESDAY, THIRD WEEK IN LENT
ON THE LESSONS CHRIST TEACHES IN HIS PASSION
Consider first, that the devotion to the passion of our Lord brings with it other great advantages to the soul, inasmuch as it teaches us many excellent lessons for the regulating our lives according to his blessed example. The Son of God came down from heaven, not only to shed his blood for us to pay our ransom, but also to give himself to us as a perfect pattern of all virtues for us to follow in the practice of our lives; that so the image of God in man, which had been disfigured by sin, might be repaired and reformed according to this great original. Now, although the whole life of Christ was full of admirable examples of all Christian virtues, yet they nowhere shine forth more brightly than in his passion, in which he has drawn, as it were, under one view, all the great lessons of virtue he had taught in his life, both by his words and his works. So that the passion of Christ is the great school that the Christian must frequent by devout meditations, if he desire to learn the virtues of his Redeemer. He must look on by contemplation, and execute in work what he sees in this devout pattern, which his Lord here shows him, on Mount Calvary, if he desire to make his soul a living tabernacle for the living God. And it was said to Moses when he was to make the tabernacle of the covenant:- ‘See that thou make all things according to the pattern which was shown thee on the Mount,’ Heb. viii. 5.
Consider 2ndly, what the lessons are that Christ more particularly desires to teach us in his passion. The Apostle informs us, Phil. ii. 5, 8, that they are principally his obedience and his humility. ‘He humbled himself, become obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross;’ and this, that we might learn to be of the like mind. O let us study well these great lessons. Adam fell from God by disobedience; to gratify himself, he transgressed the holy law of God; and so entailed both sin and death upon all his offspring. By the obedience of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, we are delivered from sin and death, but upon articles of learning and practising his obedience, and that also unto death; by a constant and perpetual will of sticking close to the commandments of God at all events, and of rather dying than transgressing his holy law. This is the obedience that Christ expects we should learn from his cross, so as to be ever willing to part even with our dearest affections, rather than offend our God; and to submit to any sufferings whatsoever rather than to disobey. This is true Christian obedience, and nothing less will bring us to God. My soul, thou must learn this lesson at the foot of the cross.
Consider 3rdly, what a lesson of humility Christ has given us in the whole course of his passion; becoming therein, ‘as a worm and no man; the reproach of men and the outcast of the people,’ Ps. xxi. 7. See how he humbled himself, under the malediction of our sins, in his prayer in the garden. How he humbled himself, in suffering with silence, all manner of calumnies, affronts, and disgraces. How he humbled himself under those ignominious and infamous torments of scourging at the pillar, crowning with thorns, and his carriage of the cross. In fine, how he humbled himself, in his being crucified between two thieves, and in dying that most disgraceful death of the cross. But who is this, my soul, that thus humbles himself, and makes himself thus mean and contemptible for thee? Why it is the Lord of Glory; it is the Most High; it is the great King of heaven and earth. And why does he thus debase himself? It is to teach thee his humility; a lesson so necessary, that without learning it thou canst never please God, nor have any part with him.
Conclude to study well these necessary lessons, by a daily attendance upon our Lord in his passion. He came down from heaven to be our teacher; and his cross is the pulpit from which he most feelingly and effectually preaches to our souls.