And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:…
It is to this position that our Lord owes His glorious title of Mediator. He is the Days-man who stands between the perfection of a holy Creator and the imperfections of His creatures. And it is in virtue of this office that He is entitled to His position as the central object in the economies of grace and of judgment. Very interesting and instructive it is to notice how frequently this position — "in the midst" — is assigned to our Lord. He is represented as —
I. "In the midst" OF HEAVEN (Revelation 5:6; Revelation 7:17). Twice the expression is employed of the mystical tree of life — the type of Christ (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2). His maintenance in this position is the secret of heaven's harmony. Just as in the solar system the planets observe a fixed relation to each other because they all have a common relation to the sun, just as their motions are the very embodiment of order and harmony because of this common relationship, so the countless intelligences of heaven all fall into their own proper relationships to each other because of their common relation to the central object.
II. "In the midst" OF THE CHURCH He was "in the midst" of that embryo Church, the simple peasants whom He gathered around His person (Luke 22:27). "Where two or three," &c. Here we have a description of the first component elements of the Christian Church. In keeping with this, we notice that He takes His rightful place at the moment when He greets His Church after His resurrection. "Jesus Himself stood in the midst." Once again we are permitted to gaze upon the risen Lord, now no longer visibly present, yet still "in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks," i.e., of the Church as she exercises her office of light-bearer. She shines by reflecting the light shed upon her by the Master, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. Or, once again, He is represented as in the midst of the Church in her worship, "inhabiting the praises of Israel" (Hebrews 2:12). But, alas! the great sin of the outward Church has ever been to put Christ on one side. How often has the Church placed a hierarchy, a system, a party, a creed, a superstition, &c., in the place that belongs to Him. Hence our unhappy and disastrous divisions. If Christians are to draw nearer to each other, it must be by a determined attempt to restore the Lord Jesus to His proper position. Then we shall find it possible to make some progress towards the enjoyment of that harmony in our relations with each other which ought to characterize the sons of God on earth, and which must bind all together in heaven.
III. As with the Christian Church at large, so with THE INDIVIDUAL HEART. "Know ye not that Christ is within you?" &c., not as a distinct part of our being, but as a power pervading and supreme over all. This is what St. Paul meant when he exclaimed, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Let us not think of assigning Him a corner in the palace. Christ will not accept such a subordinate position.
IV. When Christ is in the heart, He will also be "in the midst" of OUR HOME. Of how many of us may it be said, as it was said of Martha, that she "received Him into her house"? How many of us can fill in our name where the word Martha stands? If we would really have Him abiding with us, it must not be so much as a mere guest, "a wayfaring man turning aside to tarry for a night," but as the true though invisible Head of the house, just as He is the true though invisible Head of the Church. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." In our domestic arrangements, it is His will that must be consulted. We cannot keep Him in our closet, and deny Him the right of access to our scenes of social intercourse and pleasure. We cannot place Him at the head of our family on Sunday, and bid Him go into retirement for the remainder of the week.
V. "In the midst" of our WORLDLY BUSINESS. Ah, this fatal distinction between sacred and secular! how much it has done to drive religion out of our lives! Surely everything becomes sacred that is done with Jesus in the midst. Our offices are consecrated as actually as our churches; holiness to the Lord is written upon the very "bells of the horses;" upon our ledgers and cash-books.
VI. "In the midst" OF ALL CHRISTIAN ENTERPRISE. "They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them," &c. How possible it is to work for Christ, and yet in our very work to deny Christ His proper place in relation to the work; to be guilty of self-seeking even while we seem to be endeavouring to further His cause (Jeremiah 45:5). It is when we see Jesus in the midst that self loses its tyrant power, and worldly motives cease to influence us. Conclusion: How are we to ensure the presence of Jesus in the midst of our hearts, and therefore in the midst of our lives? By accepting Him as the Mediator between God and man.
(W. Hay-Aitken, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: