But further, my brethren; this, I think, is the great lesson from Christ’s being slaughtered without the gate of the city - let us go forth, therefore, without the camp, bearing his reproach.
You see there the multitude are leading him forth from the temple. He is not allowed to worship with them. The ceremonial of the Jewish religion denies him any participation in its pomps; the priests condemn him never again to tread the hallowed floors, never again to look upon the consecrated altars in the place of his people’s worship. He is exiled from their friendship, too. No man dare call him friend now, or whisper a word of comfort to him.
Nay more; he is banished from their society, as if he were a leper whose breath would be infectious, whose presence would scatter plague. They force him without the walls, and are not satisfied till they have rid themselves of his obnoxious presence. For him they have no tolerance. Barabbas may go free; the thief and the murderer may be spared; but for Christ there is no word, but ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth! It is not fit that he should live.’
Jesus is therefore hunted out of the city, beyond the gate, with the will and force of his own nation, but he journeys not against his own will; even as the lamb goeth as willingly to the shambles as to the meadow, so doth Christ cheerfully take up his cross and go without the camp.
See, brethren, here is a picture of what we may expect from men if we are faithful to our Master. It is not likely that we shall be able to worship with their worship. They prefer a ceremonial pompous and gaudy; the swell of music, the glitter of costly garments, the parade of learning - all these must minister grandeur to the world’s religion, and thus shut out the simple followers of the Lamb. The high places of earth’s worship and honour are not for us.
If we be true to our Master we shall soon lose the friendship of the world. The sinful find our conversation distasteful; in our pursuits the carnal have no interest; things dear to us are dross to worldlings, while things precious to them are contemptible to us. There have been times, and the days may come again, when faithfulness to Christ has entailed exclusion from what is called ‘society’. Even now to a large extent the true Christian is like a pariah, lower than the lowest caste, in the judgment of some. The world has in former days counted it God’s service to kill the saints. We are to reckon upon all this, and should the worst befall us, it is to be no strange thing to us.
These are silken days, and religion fights not so stern a battle. I will not say it is because we are unfaithful to our Master that the world is more kind to us, but I half suspect it is, and it is very possible that if we were more thoroughly Christians the world would more heartily detest us, and if we would cleave more closely to Christ we might expect to receive more slander, more abuse, less tolerance, and less favour from men.
You young believers, who have lately followed Christ, should father and mother forsake you, remember you were bidden to reckon upon it; should brothers and sisters deride, you must put this down as part of the cost of being a Christian.
Godly working-men, should your employers or your fellow-workers frown upon you; wives, should your husbands threaten to cast you out, remember, without the camp was Jesus’ place, and without the camp is yours.
Oh! ye Christian men, who dream of trimming your sails to the wind, who seek to win the world’s favour, I do beseech you cease from a course so perilous. We are in the world, but we must never be of it; we are not to be secluded like monks in the cloister, but we are to be separated like Jews among Gentiles; men, but not of men; helping, aiding, befriending, teaching, comforting, instructing, but not sinning either to escape a frown or to win a smile.
The more manifestly there shall be a great gulf between the Church and the world, the better shall it be for both; the better for the world, for it shall be thereby warned; the better for the Church, for it shall be thereby preserved. Go ye, then, like the Master, expecting to be abused, to wear an ill-name, and to earn reproach; go ye, like him, without the camp.
C H Spurgeon, 1863