And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.
....."He was led as a sheep to the slaughter." Alas, that the Emancipator of our race should be led forth as a captive to die!
The direction in which he is led is outside the city. He must not die in Jerusalem, though multitudes of prophets had perished there. Though the temple was the central place of sacrifice, yet must not the Son of God be offered there, for he was an offering of another kind, and must not lie upon their altars. Outside the city, because by the Jews he was treated as a flagrant offender who must be executed at the Tyburn of the city, in the appointed place of doom known as Calvary or Golgotha. When Naboth was unjustly condemned for blasphemy, they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones that he died; and afterwards Stephen,—when they cried out against him as a blasphemer, they cast him out of the city, and there they stoned him. Our Saviour therefore must die in the ordinary place of execution, that in all respects he might be numbered with the transgressors. The rulers of the city so loathed and detested their great Reprover that they rejected him, and would not suffer him to die within their city walls. Alas, poor Jerusalem, in casting out the Son of David, thou didst cast out thy last hope: now art thou bound over to desolation.
He was led outside of the city because from that time no acceptable sacrifice could be offered there. They might go on with their offering of daily lambs, and they might sacrifice their bullocks, and burn the fat of fed beasts; but from that day the substance of the sacrifice had gone away from them, and Israel's offerings were vain oblations. Because the true sacrifice is rejected of them the Lord leaves them nothing but a vain show.
Still more forcible is the fact that our Lord must die outside the city because he was to be consumed as a sin-offering. It is written in the law, "And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung, even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire." There were several sorts of offerings under the law: the sweet-savour offerings were presented upon the altar, and were accepted of God, but sin-offerings were burnt without the camp or gate, because God can have no fellowship with sin. Once let sin be imputed to the sacrifice and it becomes abhorrent to God, and must not be presented in the tabernacle or the temple, but burned outside the circle wherein his people have their habitations. And here let our hearts gratefully contemplate how truly our Lord Jesus became a sin-offering for us, and how in every point he followed out the type. With his face turned away from his Father's house he must go to die: with his face turned away from what were once his Father's people he must be led forth to be crucified. Like a thing accursed, he is to be hung up where felons suffer condign punishment. Because we were sinners, and because sin had turned our backs to God, and because sin had broken our communion with God's accepted ones, therefore must he endure this banishment. In that sorrowful march of the cross-bearing Saviour my soul with sorrow sees herself represented as deserving thus to be made to depart unto death; and yet joy mingles with this emotion, for the glorious Sin-bearer hath thus taken away our sin, and we return from our exile: his substitution is infinitely effectual. Well may those live for whom Jesus died. Well may those return in whose place the Son of God was banished. There is entrance into the holy city now, there is entrance into the temple now, there is access unto God himself now, because the Lord hath put away our sin through him who was led to be crucified outside the city gate.
Nor do I think that even this exhausts the teaching. Jesus dies outside Jerusalem because he died, not for Jerusalem alone, nor for Israel alone. The effect of his atonement is not circumscribed by the walls of a city nor by the bounds of a race. In him shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Out in the open he must die, to show that he reconciled both Jews and Gentiles unto God. "For he is the propitiation for our sins,'' saith Paul, who was himself a Jew, "and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Had he been the Saviour of Jews only, seclusion in the place of his offering would have been appropriate, but as he dies for all nations, he is hung up without the city.
And yet, once more, he suffered outside the gate that we might go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. "Come ye out from among them; be ye separate, touch not the unclean thing," henceforth becomes the command of God to all his sons and daughters: behold the Son of sons, his Only-begotten, leads the way in nonconformity to this present evil world, being himself officially severed from the old Jewish church, whose elders seek his life. He dies in sacred separation from the false and corrupt corporation which vaunted itself to be the chosen of God. He protested against all evil, and for this he died, so far as his murderers were concerned. Even so must his followers take up their cross and follow him withersoever he goeth, even though it be to be despised and rejected of men.....