"I have trodden the winepress alone, and no one from the nations was with Me. I trampled them in My anger and trod them underfoot in My fury; their blood spattered My garments, and all My clothes were stained.
I. THE SAVIOUR COMES WITH A GREAT SACRIFICE. With "dyed garments;" for the cross lies at the foundation of the world's recovery. We are weary of all theories of atonement from Anselm's day downwards, but the atonement remains as the central truth of our religion. It rests on our Lord's own authority as well as upon St. Paul's; for he said himself, "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins."
II. THE SAVIOUR COMES IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. He is the express Image of the Father. "Glorious in his apparel," so that through all the ages men may see truth turned into life. Once in all history we see One who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." Christ was "clothed with light as with a garment,"
III. THE SALVATION IS ATTESTED IN EVERY AGE.
1. Mighty - in his own revealed grace and power.
2. Mighty - in that every degree of guilt and sin is reached by his infinite arm.
3. Mighty - in that he saves right through, which is the meaning of the word "to the uttermost." - W.M.S.
I. JESUS CHRIST WAS ABLE TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. This is characteristic of a great man, that he is able to stand alone. It does not follow that a man is great because he stands alone. He may be selfish; and not wishing to be pained by the sorrows of humanity, and not desiring to give his labour and substance for the alleviation of those evils which afflict humanity, he shuts himself off from society. Thus his self-inflicted loneliness will be self-inflicted torture. Greater would be his happiness if he had greater self-denial. The man who stands alone through nervous sensibility is in a measure to be pitied and to be helped. Every rough word strikes like a barbed arrow into the centre of his nature. But it was neither selfishness nor nervous sensibility which caused Jesus Christ to be a lonely man. The Saviour stood alone by reason of the sublime grandeur of His nature. The good man is satisfied from himself, and the Saviour was for Himself all-sufficient. Society was not needful to Him in the sense in which it is needful for other men. But it is when a man has to accomplish some vast enterprise that his power to stand alone is tested. The greatness of John the Baptist was revealed, not when the crowds thronged to his preaching, not when the multitudes flocked to his baptism; but when he was cast into prison, and alone he was left to ponder over the world's cruel baseness, and the difficulty of reforming sinning men. The greatness of Luther was seen, not when men admired his trenchant exposures of Romish errors, not when the crowds thronged his way and crowded the houses and windows to see him pass; but when he stood before that imposing gathering which held his life in its hands, and said, "Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen." Only great men can do the world's greatest works alone. Now the greatest work of all was that which Jesus Christ accomplished when He trod the winepress alone. Some say that He was only a great Teacher. But it is difficult to utter new truths; and great teachers have found it needful for their success to surround themselves with sympathizing adherents. As a great Teacher Jesus was able to stand alone. The rude world was not ready for His moral lessons, and even His disciples could not appreciate the spirituality of His utterances. But He was more than a great Teacher. He came to give Himself to be the light and the life of men. And in carrying out the mediatorial purpose He was able to stand alone; for the indwelling Divinity imparted sublime power. And we, looking back to His finished work, resting upon it by faith, and deriving from it unspeakable blessings, can triumphantly declare that Jesus Christ was able to tread the winepress alone.
I have trodden the winepress alone.I. THE INTERESTING FIGURE EMPLOYED. "I have trodden the winepress." This is Jesus speaking after HIS conquest over HIS foes,
1. This denotes the supreme contempt with which the mighty Conqueror regarded the enemies whom He had overcome. It is as if He had said, "I compare My victory over them to nothing but the treading of the winepress."
2. There is in the figure an intimation of toil and labour; for the fruit of the vine is not bruised without hard work. So the mighty Conqueror, though, in contempt, He says His foes were as nothing but the grapes of the vintage to His might; yet, speaking as a man like unto us, He had something to do to overcome His foes.
3. Moreover, there is an allusion to the staining of the garments.
II. THE GLORIOUS FACT STATED. "I have trodden the winepress."
III. THE SOLITARY CONQUEROR DESCRIBED. "I have trodden the winepress alone."
IV. SOME SWEET AND SALUTARY CONSIDERATIONS SUGGESTED BY THIS SUBJECT.
1. The first inference is, there is no winepress of Divine wrath for thee, O believer, to tread.
2. There are winepresses of suffering, although not of punish. ment, which thou wilt have to tread. But I want thee to remember that thou wilt; not have to tread these winepresses alone.
3. But since Jesus trod the winepress alone, I beseech you give all things to Him. Alone He suffered; will you not love Him alone? Alone He trod the winepress; will you not serve Him? Alone He purchased your redemption; will you not be His property, and His alone?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
II. JESUS CHRIST WAS WILLING TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. The perfectly-constituted and fully-developed man loves society. The great man loves solitude; but he also delights in social pleasures; and, though able to stand alone, may not be willing to do so to the extent that his circumstances demand. Or, again, a man may be able to do some great work for the world's benefit, but says, " If there is no one to help, if there is no one with sufficient benevolence to sacrifice himself for the good of humanity, I shall not single-handed undertake the work. Now Jesus Christ did not move through this world as a gloomy recluse, and yet He did not give full play to the social part of His nature, because it was needful for Him to be much in solitude that His Divine mission might be successful.
III. JESUS CHRIST WAS CONSTRAINED TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. By the sting of the lash the unwilling slave may be compelled to get into the winepress and tread out the grapes, but no such compulsion could be applied to the Redeemer. He had all power — power over Himself as well as over others; but He kept His power in check. He was compelled by the sweet force of His own great love. And the solitariness of Jesus brings to our view the greatness of His love most vividly.
IV. JESUS CHRIST SORROWED TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. He possessed a sympathetic nature, and He would be made sorrowful by the fact that His mission separated Him from the loves and the sympathies of mankind.
V. JESUS CHRIST REJOICED TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. There is great joy as well as great sorrow in all spiritual work; and Jesus tasted both in fullest measure. This is the climax of benevolence, that it can rejoice in suffering for the welfare of others. And Jesus rejoiced to tread the winepress alone, for He foresaw the beneficent and widespread results of His labours. The treader-out of grapes is producing a refreshing beverage for society; but Jesus Christ was producing not only a refreshing but a healing and reviving remedy for humanity to the very close of the world's history. Alone He trod the winepress, but not alone does He drink of the new wine, for He saves men in order that they may participate in the results of His solitary labours. Learn —
1. To each man there is a winepress to tread. We must in a sense tread the winepress the Saviour trod, for we must be crucified together with Christ; we must penitently and believingly recognize the fact that He suffered for our sins. But more than that, each man will have his own winepress to tread. Each man has his own work to do, his own cup of sorrow to drink, his own besetting sin to conquer, his special thorn to endure.
2. This winepress must be trodden alone. We cannot be saved by proxy. Jesus Christ, even in the higher departments of HIS work — work which we cannot do — left us an Example, or indirectly taught us how we are to work. Alone each one must tread the winepress. The great works of life must be done alone. Moral victories must be gained when there are none present to applaud.
3. The blessed results of lonely treading will be diffusive. No man can do faithful soul-work without blessing others as well as himself.
4. The glorious rewards of lonely treading will be publicly bestowed. In a measure it is so in this world. In a complete measure it will be so in that world where rewards are rightly administered. The scholar works alone, but receives his prize in public. The investigator toils in solitude, but publicly his labours are acknowledged. We sow in the tears of solitary working but we reap in the joy of many approvals. The truth commands so few admirers in this world of error that we are often found almost alone in its defence and in its advocacy; but to every faithful defender of truth will Jesus Christ say in the presence of assembled nations, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
(J. Caird, D. D.)
I. ALL HIS SUFFERINGS WERE, LONG ERE THEIR ACTUAL OCCURRENCE, CLEARLY AND FULLY FORESEEN.
II. THEY WERE THE SORROWS OF AN INFINITELY PURE AND PERFECT MIND. As it is the cup that is deepest that can be filled the fullest — as it is the tree that rears its head the highest that feels most the fury of the storm, so it is the soul that is largest and most exalted that is capable of the greatest sorrows. A little, narrow, selfish, uncultured mind is liable to comparatively few troubles. The range alike of its joys and its sorrows is limited and contracted. It presents but a narrow target to the arrows of misfortune, and it escapes uninjured where a broader spirit would be "pierced through with many sorrows." The insect, in the. summer, breeze, brimful of mere animal happiness, is exposed to mere animal privation and pain. Its life is but one long sensation. The little child, again, has fewer capacities of suffering, fewer cares and anxieties, and troubles, than the mature-minded man,-the savage than the civilized being, — the ignorant, unrefined, unreflecting man, than the man of high intellectual and moral culture, of thoughtfulness and refinement Of taste and feeling. It is the great law of life that every advancing power, every improvement, physical, intellectual, moral or spiritual, which a man gains, carries with it, as the necessary penalty, an additional liability, a new degree of exposure to surrounding evils. Turn your thoughts to one who has begun to receive that highest of all culture, the renewing influence of Divine grace, — is it not so that he, too, becomes susceptible, in such a world as this, of pains and sorrows unfelt before? The blind know not the pains of sight, nor the deaf of sound, nor the dead and insensible of living ,and breathing men. And so the quickening touch of God's Spirit wakes the believer's soul from a state of moral insensibility and death, to one in which the inner eye can be pained by deformities, and the ear by discords, and the spiritual nature by sicknesses and troubles, of which hitherto it had been all unconscious. But if all this be so, how far beyond all human experience, how far even beyond all human comprehension, must have been the sufferings of the soul of Jesus. Conceive of the sun struck out of yonder heavens, and the world suddenly overwhelmed with the horror of perpetual darkness and cold. Imagine the sustaining providence of God withdrawn from the universe, and everything hurrying to desolation and ruin. But no emblem, no comparison can convey to us but the faintest conception of what it was for God's dear Son, as if God-deserted, to die.
III. IT WAS THE SORROW OF A CREATOR AMID HIS RUINED WORKS, The feelings of Jesus in beholding and living amidst the moral ruin and degradation of mankind were not those merely of an exquisitely pure and sensitive human spirit: they flowed from a far deeper and more awful source. It was nothing less than the world's great Creator that, concealed in that humble guise, surveyed and moved for thirty years amidst the ruins of His fairest, noblest work, lying widespread around Him! (Genesis 6:5, 6; Luke 19:41, 42.) There is a sort of sentimental melancholy which gathers over the mind of one who surveys the scene of some great nation's bygone glory, now, it may be, strewn, only with wreck of departed, greatness. But surely an emotion of a far deeper kind may well be called forth in the thoughtful mind when contemplating the mournful moral and spiritual degradation of humanity, as contrasted with the glory of its original structure, and the splendours of that destiny for which it was created I Even the body, the mere tabernacle in which the soul resides, a work which only Deity could create, is a work over whose ruin even Deity might mourn. Yet every sick-bed by which Jesus stood, and every sufferer's cry He heard, and every bier and grave to which His steps were led, were to His eye the ruthless destruction of another and another glorious work of God — the proofs of the triumph of the destroyer over the results of infinite wisdom and skill. But the destruction of the body is insignificant in comparison with the ruin of the soul. Shall we wonder, then, that the Creator of such a work as this — so noble, so deathless, so Divine, should have experienced bitter grief for its ruin? Reflections:
1. All such views of the sufferings of Jesus are most obviously suggestive of gratitude for His marvellous self-devotion on our be if.
2. Is not this subject fraught with a most solemn warning to all who are living in carelessness or indifference to the spiritual interests of themselves and others? What more awful intimation could be conveyed to us of the evil of sin, and of the infatuation of those who are indifferent to its fatal consequences, than in the sorrow of Jesus?
3. Such views of the sufferings of Jesus afford to every penitent soul the strongest encouragement to rely on the Saviour's love. Your salvation was an object which even at such a fearful cost He was willing to seek; and think you He is less willing to seek it now
(J. Caird, D. D.)
I. DESERTED BY HUMAN FRIENDS. No human friends could understand or sympathize in the work of Christ. It is the fate of many men to go through life alone. They may have many relatives, acquaintances, companions, and derive much ,,pleasure from their society; but they may never meet with a truly "kindred spirit. Them are two kinds of loneliness — the isolation of distance and the loneliness of the heart; and the latter is the far more complete and sad of the two. The fisherman, alone at night upon the sea, with no other living being near, no sound but the plashing of the wavelets, no sight but of the occasional struggling of a star through the clouds, may be in spirit at his cottage home upon the beach, and space and time are annihilated, and his heart peopled with many a dear familiar form. But far different is the loneliness of the heart! What solitude is there comparable to the spiritual loneliness of him who, with a soul filled with sadness, finds himself jostled in the midst of a gay and pleasure-seeking crowd? So is it with the man of transcendent goodness or genius. Such a one must, to a greater or less extent, be lonely. This it was which constituted the peculiar bitterness of the trial of Elijah (1 Kings 19:14). It has often been said that the possession of a real and truehearted friend is at once the greatest and the rarest of earthly blessings; such a friend as was Jonathan to David. But if such friendships are rare among men, how utterly impossible was it that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, should find a friend and sympathizer, in the truest sense of those words, among the sons of men. Twelve chosen associates, indeed, He had, but they were utterly incapable, as long as He lived below, even of understanding Him, much less could they enter into, and sympathize with, the great work of His life and death. That work was essentially a lonely one. For —
1. He alone could accomplish our redemption.
2. Christ was alone in His foreknowledge. We often hear those who have passed through some heavy trial say, " If I had known beforehand what I had to endure, I could not have borne it; I should have sunk under the appalling prospect!" So mercifully has our Heavenly Father, knowing our frame, hidden the things that are to be from our eyes. But there was this ineffable aggravation of the grief of the "Man of sorrows, that, to the suffering of the present, there was superadded the heavier prospect of the future.
3. Then, too, from the Divine purity and loftiness of His soul, Christ suffered far more than any mere man could suffer. The more refined and elevated a man's nature is, the more sensitive he is apt to he; the keener are his sorrows, and the more ecstatic his joys. But sin, and death its punishment, the whole world's burden of which rested upon the pure soul of the Redeemer, had for Him a dark and dreadful reality of horror, inconceivable by any of us whose innermost heart has been tainted with the love of sin.
4. Moreover, in another way, the grief of the Lord Jesus Christ in this world was what the sorrow of no mere man could be, the sorrow of the Creator in the midst of His mined works.
5. Yet again, in His power of omniscience He stood "alone." "He that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow." If we could discern the secrets of all hearts, if the thoughts and desires of a crowd could be rendered audible to us, how continually should we be overwhelmed with shame and horror. But Christ knew all men.
II. LEFT ALONE BY GOD. When He foretold to the disciples their desertion, He added, "And yet I am not alone, because My Father is with Me." But in the hour of His deepest agony there was an exception even to that companionship of eternity. Far otherwise has it been with the martyrs of Jesus, and with all His faithful people since, in the "article of death." Conclusion:
1. Christ "trod the winepress alone" for you. Mourn, therefore, and rejoice.
2. Christ will "tread the winepress alone" again: the winepress of the wrath of God.
3. It is oftentimes the lot of God's people to be called upon in some degree to "tread the ,winepress alone." Daniel had to do so. But remember for your encouragement that, in the highest sense, you never can be alone in the conflict. Your Saviour met the world, the flesh, and the devil alone, that you might never have to wage a single-handed warfare, never be left without a higher Presence in the good fight of faith.
(H. E. Nolloth, M. A.)I. CHRIST WAS ALONE IN THE VIEW HE HAD OF THE WORK HE CAME TO ACCOMPLISH. The people were looking for one thing, and He was labouring for another. Of all earthly beings His mother was, for a long season, the nearest to Him. She cherished in her heart, as amongst her choicest treasures, all the words which both human and angelic prophets had spoken to her. But we get a glimpse of a great gulf between even her and Him. All the sadness involved in this kind of solitude we cannot appreciate. We can only get some faint perceptions of it from illustrations drawn from human experience. We know that if a man have some loving purpose in his heart, and some great plan for achieving it, there is nothing so cheers him as to meet with some one who sees the matter very much as he sees it, and who will listen intelligently and with interest while he sets forth the wisdom of his plan and the worth of his purpose. Think of a Christian man going to a strange shore, where painted savages dwell. He sets his heart and his hands to the work of educating and evangelizing them. When he begins his work, who amongst them can understand what he wants to do? When he wants to feel that another heart beats in harmony with his own, he must turn from man to God. Inquire of him, and he will tell you that this is one of the heaviest trials he has to bear. Christ came from heaven to earth on the grandest errand that wisdom ever designed or mercy ever proposed. He saw this world wandering far away from God, to perish there. He set His heart on bringing back the soul from its wandering to the bosom of Him who made it; but, strange to say, He had suffered, died, come back from the dead, risen again to His native skies, before even His own disciples had clear ideas of why He had clothed Himself in mortal flesh, passed through a baptism of agony, and shed His blood on the Cross.
II. HE WAS ALONE IN HIS BURNING ZEAL FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS WORK. a child sees that his father is very earnest about some matter. He cannot see clearly what it is, still less can he explain it to others, and yet he catches the fire from his father's heart, and in his little way he is all burning with desire that his father may succeed in that about which he is so zealous. The heart may be quick to sympathize where the head is not wise enough to understand. Not even such help as this did Jesus have when He for us was leading the life of sorrow, when He for us was dying the death of shame. In this matter His own disciples were not much better than the carnal-minded multitude. Do not we too frequently leave the Saviour in the same solitude even now? We know what His desires are concerning us. "This is the will of God, even our sanctification." But, alas I how often it happens that while He looks and longs for that, our strongest desires and most diligent endeavours tend in another direction; while His Word and Spirit, while His providence and grace, arc striving for our holiness, how often we make some other thing supreme t
III. JESUS WAS ALONE IN HIS THOUGHTS AS TO THE MANNER OF ACCOMPLISHING HIS WORK. There was one thing the Saviour could not make His disciples clearly see — that He had come into the world to die, and that His death was to be the life of the world. This kind of solitude we may make the Saviour to suffer even now. We do in this same way put Him to shame when we think that His will can be done without uplifting His Cross, in the full and frequent setting forth of His atoning death.
(C. Vince.)I. A GENERAL VIEW OF THE PROPHECY, It stands by itself. The general subject of the chapter is the destruction of the enemies of God. The scene is one of surpassing sublimity, as one which tells of a conquering Messiah. Every enemy shall be trampled under foot; but it shall be Christ's own work, and one in which He will have no helper.
II. THE LESSONS THAT MAY BE GATHERED FROM THIS VIEW OF THE PROPHECY.
1. Christ is alone in His great work, as against all other mediators, all other saviours, all other intercessors, all who, whether as saint, angel, or glorified spirit, should be set up by a false theology to bridge over the infinite gulf between us and God. And therefore the work can be done by none but Christ.
2. The work of Christ is alone-has been supplemented and helped by no human works and services.
3. This repudiation of anything in ourselves that shares in the honour of Christ's mediation is to be extended to our faith. I believe there are very many persons who would have a holy and jealous shrinking from having a saviour in their works, who do not see how near they may go towards having a saviour in their faith; yet this they do when, as the ground of their justification, they trust on the realized experience of a strong personal confidence, and that because it is strong. The mistake arises from their not perceiving that they must be justified by something out of themselves, and not by anything in themselves — by what Christ has wrought for them, and not by anything which the Spirit may have wrought in them. This thought should be comforting to us under those fluctuations of trust and weakened hold upon the promises which may fall to the lot of every one of us.
4. This is said to exclude from all part or lot in Christ's work, those frames, feelings, convictions, emotions of the spiritual mind, which too many regard as indispensable to their salvation, and which therefore they do in effect put in Christ's place.
(D. Moore, M. A.)I. IN HIS PERSONAL UNDERTAKING OF THE WORK OF SALVATION.
II. IN THE DIVINE INCARNATION.
III. IN THE PURITY OF HIS LIFE AND THE CHARACTER OF HIS MINISTRATIONS.
IV. IN HIS SUFFERINGS. YE IN HIS DEATH,
VI. IN HIS INTERCESSORY AND MEDIATORIAL WORK. Conclusion .
1. He is the alone Saviour for us.
2. Without faith in Christ there is no salvation.
3. How great the guilt of the rejecter of Christ!
4. How glorious the prospect of the believer in Jesus!
(S. D. Phelps.)I. IT HAS MANY SENSES, INWARD AND OUTWARD.
1. There is what I may call the loneliness of simple solitude. Solitude which is first voluntary, and secondly occasional, is but half solitude. Solitude which we fly to as a rest, and can exchange at will for society which we love, is a widely different thing from that solitude which is either the consequence of bereavement or the punishment of crime; that solitude from which we cannot escape, and which perhaps is associated with bitter or remorseful recollections.
2. There is the loneliness of sorrow. Is not loneliness the prominent feeling in all deep sorrow? Is it not the feeling of loneliness which gives its sting to bereavement?
3. There is the loneliness of a sense of sin. Whatever duties may lie upon us towards other men, in our innermost relation to God we are and must be alone. When the sense of sin is heavy upon us, how incapable is the soul of anything but solitude! And if such be the loneliness of repentance, what must be the loneliness of remorse, which is repentance without God, without Christ, and therefore without hope. If repentance is loneliness, remorse is desolation.
4. There is the loneliness of death.
5. Can we follow the soul one step further, and see it standing in judgement before the throne of God? "Every one shall give account of himself to God."
II. PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS. There are two senses at least in which you ought to practise the being alone.
1. Being alone in prayer. I do not mean that you must necessarily be in a place by yourselves, in order to pray: if this were essential to prayer, then the poor and the young in most cases could never pray. But I mean that in praying, whether by yourselves (which is, no doubt, a great advantage) or in the presence of others, you should try to shut out the recollection of any other presence than that of God.
2. If you are to die alone, and if you are to be judged alone, be not afraid also to think alone, and, if necessary, to act alone.
3. If the view of life thus presented seem to any one to be fiat and dreary, let him remember that, though we must pray alone, and judge alone, and sometimes act alone, and certainly die alone, and be judged alone, yet there is a reality of sympathy still, which we may find and rejoice in if we will. It is a sympathy independent of sight and word, secret yet real, unchangeable and eternal. Sympathy with Him who so loved that He died for us, and who is the same yesterday and to-day and for ever. Sympathy with Him, and with God through Him, exercised by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. This is the Divine aspect of Christian sympathy. But there is a human side also.
(F. D. Huntington, D. D.)
(A. P. Peabody.)
1. Christian fellowship. We are one in Christ. Our fellowship is with Him, and through Him with one another.
2. Direct communion with Christ.
3. We are not alone, for the Father is with us.
4. More intimate union than we can enjoy here is reserved for us in heaven: Shall not this hope bring us into nearer and happier fellowship even here?
(A. P. Peabody.)
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)"Let us go and die with Him;" but none of them ever did. The meaning of this is very plain. It was an infinitely wise precaution against mistake. It would, without a doubt, have misled some feeble minds if, by any accidental confusion, another name had been coupled with His in the dying hour on the cross. It was just as well that all those disciples forsook Him and fled. One Priest, one Lamb, was all that was needed.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
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