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THE SOCIAL LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN
‘And both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage.’
The Christian must necessarily at times be sorely perplexed in regard to what is right and what is wrong for him in the matter of social engagements.
The narrative of the marriage at Cana in Galilee shows us clearly that our Lord did not disdain the festive board. He went to the wedding-feast and took His disciples with Him. There is no reason why His disciples of to-day should abstain from social entertainments, but we must be quite sure that we can take Him with us. It is a matter of common experience that there are social engagements to which we are invited where, our own instinct tells us, He would not, if I may so express it, feel at home. Where the Master cannot go is no place for the disciple.
I. Some cautions.—But when we go into society let us beware lest, by our own act, or by assenting to the actions of others, we may do harm.
(a) Pride may come there ( Matthew 23:6).
(b) Vanity may come there—vanity of dress, vanity of face, vanity of manners, vanity of conversation. Souls have been lost in society, having acquired there the habit of turning everything to account for one end—self-display.
(c) Charity may not come there. It comes not, or it stays not, where scandal is—discussion of other men’s affairs, conduct, character.
(d) Even reverence may be wanting. How often has a jest, pointed and winged by Scripture—a ludicrous quotation, or a humorous allusion—planted in some memory an association not to be lost, ruinous to the future use of a whole text or context of inspiration!
II. Positive duties.—But in all watchings against evil there should be a positive striving after good. Let a high aim and a Christian motive go with us into society, and we shall not be there like men armed for self-defence or chained against offending, but rather as free and large-hearted friends, fearing no evil, because God is with us. We must go as Christians.
(a) Earnest prayer for a special blessing will be the preliminary and safeguard of all.
(b) There are many other ways in which he may speak and use influence for his Master. He can win others by the charm of a thoroughly Christian, and therefore powerfully attractive, spirit. Sometimes a word, or scarcely a word of his, will not only check the running down of some maligned character, but even rectify the misapprehension from which slander had started. Sometimes in a crowded reception-room, that which could not, without obtrusiveness, have been said at the table, has been uttered with saving power to an individual guest.
The effect of a Christian man’s presence in common society should be to make others feel that they were in a good atmosphere.
‘Christ and His religion are meant for every day. If Christ began by going to a wedding, it is plain that Christ’s religion must have something to do with weddings; if Christ went to what we call a wedding-party, it is plain that Christ’s religion has something to do with our wedding-parties. If Christ took the trouble to find them more wine it is plain that religion has something to do with such things as eating and drinking. Christ began his work by going among people when they were merry and by helping them to be merry too, and so He teaches us that we must have our religion with us when we are merry, and that if we do, He will help us to be merry much better than we can do it ourselves. For you will see that the wine Christ gave them was better than what they had of their own.’
KNOWLEDGE FROM OBEDIENCE
‘Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.’
Mary, the mother of our Lord, speaks only on three occasions (in the sacred records), and those three utterances of hers are like three clear notes of a bell—of metal sound, and rich. ‘Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.’ Here her words reveal the disciple’s perfect loyalty.
I. Mary struck there the note of all the best Christian experience that has come down through all the ages since. How familiar has become the simple attitude of the puzzled soul which cries: ‘Lord, reveal Thyself in dealing with me; I will not hinder Thee; I will obey Thee. Whatsoever Thou sayest unto me, I will do it.’ In submissive acceptance of God’s Will we shall understand that which no mere study of His words could teach us. But yet the words of Mary here do not allow us to forget that all true waiting for Christ’s self-revelation is of an active and not merely of a passive sort. ‘Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.’
II. There is something to be done, in order that Jesus may show out completely what He is trying to make manifest.—(This is His will in His dealings with us.) And acts become little or great only according to the degree in which God manifests Himself and works through them. It was not because she knew that they would have wine or something better, it was because her Son would surely show Himself through their obedience, if they obeyed, that Mary cared what these servants did. Our Lord, then, will not perfectly reveal Himself except in His action on and through obedient men.
III. But another question comes.—‘Intelligence comes by obedience; but can I obey Him till I first know what He has to say? Can I admit the right of another to bid me obey?’ Now here it is necessary to distinguish clearly between ‘faith’ and ‘sight.’ Faith is the knowledge of a person; sight is the perception of a thing. To believe any one on faith is to believe it because that person is trustworthy. To believe anything on sight is to believe it because we ourselves perceive it to be true. We see then what a perfect right one has—one who knows Christ by a true experience, as Mary here—to bid others obey Him, even though they know not what orders He may give.
But it is not often that a man who seriously desires to know His Will can be in doubt about it. If Jesus were at hand, you would go out and ask Him: ‘Is it Thy Will, O Lord, that I should do this or that?’ Can you not ask Him now? Is that act right? Would He do it? Would He have it done? Will it help my soul? If the answer to these and such like questions is ‘Yes,’ and if the heart and conscience be clearly convinced, it is His bidding; it is His command as clearly as if His gracious Form stood visibly before you, and His Finger pointed to the task; and when, perhaps, the act is of itself obviously right, it is more than ever His command, just because it is the reassertion, the enforcement of essential duty. He does not make righteousness; He reveals it; and when the loving soul obeys it is conscious that it is doing at His command what it was bound to do.
Bishop Phillips Brooks.
‘We live before the open eye of God, we die at the beckoning of His hand, and our conscience will tell us whether we fail or whether we succeed. I could take you to some little homes where the great men of the world would write failure over the cottage door, but the Judge Supreme would write success. Why? Because that little life has been lived in faith—not any great financial success, not any great climbing up the ladder of human fame. No K.C.B. has been written after that Christian name, but the word ‘Faithful unto death’ is written in the Book of Heaven about that life, and that is success—Faithful unto death.’
That word ‘whatsoever’ lies very near the heart of Christianity.
I. There is the whatsoever of promise.—‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.’
II. There is the whatsoever of single-mindedness and self-forgetfulness.—‘Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’
III. There is the whatsoever of holy contentment.—‘I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
IV. There is the whatsoever of earnestness.—‘Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily.’ Or ‘do it from the very soul,’ as we might translate the Apostle’s phrase.
V. There is the whatsoever of brotherliness.—‘Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them.’
VI. There is the whatsoever of obedience.—‘Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.’ Christ Himself is the centre of our loyalty; for Christ ‘is the Head of the Church.’ How complete an example of obedience is wrapped up in that title! My head issues its commands to every member of my body. In obedience to its authority my hands work, my feet walk, my tongue speaks, and even my ears listen. There is no mutiny among the members of my body, unless they are injured or diseased, against the commands of my head. Their response to its authority is willing and immediate. Even so should it be between Christ and His Church: ‘Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.’
‘Christ only changed the water into wine when the pots had been filled to the very brim, and He has only promised to bless us “in due season, if we faint not.” Missionaries worked for twelve years in Sierra Leone without seeing any results, but in the thirteenth year they had filled their waterpots up to the brim, and the Lord began to give His blessing. In New Zealand, Samuel Marsden worked for nine years without a single convert, but at the end of that time he had filled his waterpot, and the ingathering of souls commenced. Are you halting to-day in your obedience? You may be halting on the very threshold of success. Your waterpot may be nearly full. Another effort and the command may be changed; the Master will no longer say, “Fill the waterpots,” but “Draw out now.” And your water of service will be transmuted into the wine of blessing.’
THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF CHRIST
‘Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.’
We cannot regard the physical character of this act as exhausting its whole import. We may, therefore, regard this act as suggesting that transforming influence which Christ came to exert for man.
I. Some of the transforming influences in the world.—It will be found in general experience that there are, apart from physical cause, three great moral and spiritual transforming influences in operation in the world.
(a) There is love, that great magician of life.
(b) The second great transforming power is thought.
(c) The third great influence is personality.
But these influences, great and beneficial as they are, have still their defects; they are at first mixed with the follies, the weakness, the faults which belong to our imperfect natures. They are also accidental in their operation, for too often this love and thought and noble companionship are denied to those very unfortunate ones who stand most in need of them.
II. Let us consider, then, the transforming power of Christ.
(a) That power was exercised over men.
(b) It was exercised upon life.
(c) Lastly, Christ transformed religion. From being a superstition, a gloomy oppression, or a lifeless theory, it became under His touch a thing of the highest spiritual comfort, of sublime beauty, noblest inspiration, and loftiest hope and service: a thing which reached up to the Heaven of heavens of the highest spirituality, even which yet came down to touch with light Divine the simplest things of earth: a great love and inspiration, and trust and zeal, and ennobling thought and impulse impelling to the highest aims and purest of services.
—Rev. A. B. Boyd-Carpenter.
John would not have had this incident fixed fast in his memory unless he had detected, according to his manner, the presence of a deep universal law emerging and making itself felt through some tiny circumstance, apparently remote and casual and unmarked. He always loved to trace the mystic symbolism which makes a passing incident to become a sacrament, through which the inner reality of things breaks and gleams and vanishes.
Something of this there was, he felt, in the chance phrases that fell from men’s lips unaware, under the pressure of a domestic trouble round a table in the Galilæan village. Behind it all, in the accidental experiences and expressions, he caught the powers at play. We, too, may take the flying hints, enjoying, as he did, the remote unconsciousness that gave their hidden meaning all its force.
I. And first—achievement, we can remind ourselves, is more especially to be left in God’s own hands.—Achievement is exactly that which we cannot ensure. Man can but lift the cry of dismay as he sees his own succours fail, his own resources lapse. ‘We have no wine.’ Only the Lord Himself, entering upon the scenes of our distress, has authority to pronounce the signal, ‘Draw out now, and bear.’ Effort is ours. We can set ourselves to it. We can surrender ourselves to the discipline. We can study and try, and work and try again, and never give in, and still begin at the beginning, and still renew the labour, and still win new experience and skill. But we can never make ourselves wholly masters of the favoured hour when the consummation will be sealed and crowned.
II. All fulfilment is God’s; and this, because fulfilment is always just beyond our human powers. God enters into action just at the point where our effort flags and drops; and we always flag or drop before the end is touched, before the consummation is attained. That is our essential human characteristic. At our very highest we prophesy. Prophecy is our vocation; and prophecy means that we suggest that which is more than ourselves. We indicate what might be true, but is not. We point on to something further than ourselves.
III. You and I will win no particular crown; you and I will do no very wonderful thing here on earth. We shall not bring in the Kingdom of God amongst men. Why should we? Are we worth it? But yet, believe me, God is doing His great wonder all the time; He is bringing His Christ into the world; He is winning His victory, and this not without us. Nay, rather invoked into action by our unavailing effort, if only we still sustain it, and still plead its inadequacy. God wins; God achieves; and never more so than at some moment when we, sick and disheartened, spent and dry, are filled through and through with that bitter lamentation—‘There is no wine. We have no wine.’ No wine! Life has lost its savour, its richness. Supplies and success that once ran freely at our need have strangely lapsed. Nerve fails us and energy is sucked out of us, and we are come to an end while still the pressure is on us. No wine! We are no good; we never attain; we cannot last out; we must give in; we see no result; we gain no footing; we cannot go on; there is no wine!
Then it is, at such hours of our depression, that we hear the signals of the Divine arrival. Then it is that we are to look up. When we come to an end, God is sure to begin.
Rev. Canon H. Scott Holland.
‘In Mr. Wells’s brilliant book on America there is no more vivid scene than that in which he challenges the President, Mr. Roosevelt, to say how he can be sure that this stupendous American civilisation will arrive anywhere, will not end in collapse after all. “Mr. Roosevelt,” he says, “with one of those sudden movements of his, knelt forward in his garden chair, and addressed me very earnestly over the back, clutching it, and then thrusting out with his familiar gesture a hand first partly open, and then closed, ‘Suppose it all ends in collapse,’ he said slowly, ‘that doesn’t matter now. The effort is real. It is worth going on with. The effort is worth it, even then.’ ” An heroic word. “It is the very expression of the creative will of man, in its limitations, its doubtful adequacy, its valiant persistence amidst perplexities and confusion.” ’
MANIFESTATION OF GLORY
‘This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him.’
All the miracles that our Lord wrought were so many manifestations of His grace and power to save. They showed forth His glory, and proved Him to be the Son of God ( Acts 2:22).
Here we have an account of His first miracle. It was at Cana of Galilee. It was at a wedding-feast; and thus does Christ first manifest His gracious power in the home circle, and sanctify one of the brightest occasions of domestic happiness. Let us study the two striking points in the narrative.
I. How the want of wine was caused.—It would appear that Mary was staying as a friend or guest in the house. Our Lord and His disciples, having come, perhaps, to see her, appear to have been invited ( John 2:2), and as extra guests, caused the deficiency in the supply of wine. Oh, what a blessed cause of want! Till Jesus is asked into the heart, it thinks it has enough to satisfy all its wants ( Luke 12:19; Luke 16:25; Hosea 12:8; Revelation 3:17). But the coming of Jesus teaches us our need ( John 4:10; John 9:39; Luke 19:42). His Blessed Spirit shows us how insufficient is all that we before prized so much ( Luke 5:8; Acts 2:33; Php_3:7 ). Our only recourse is to apply to Jesus ( Revelation 3:18; Acts 16:31). So it was on this occasion ( John 2:3; cf. chap. John 11:3; Php_4:6 ). But the application must be in faith and obedience ( John 2:5; chap. John 6:35; Romans 10:9).
II. How the want of wine was remedied.—As it was caused, so it was supplied, by Christ ( Php_4:19 ). His gentle but decided rebuke to His mother ( John 2:4) was to show her that human relationships must not interfere in Divine things ( Acts 4:19; Matthew 10:37). He commands the waterpots ( John 2:6; Mark 7:3) to be filled with water to the brim ( John 2:7); there could therefore be no doubt of their contents. He convinces before He changes the heart. Mark what follows. He says, ‘Draw out now’ ( Psalms 31:19). He only gives the word ( Numbers 20:8; Matthew 8:8), and the very best wine is at once produced ( John 2:9-2 Samuel :; Psalms 103:5; Psalms 107:9; Jeremiah 31:14; Jeremiah 31:25). Thus was the want supplied, and all anxiety taken away ( Psalms 34:5-Joshua :; Deuteronomy 8:3; Proverbs 3:9; Proverbs 10; Malachi 3:10).
We learn from this incident many lessons, but one particularly. If we would have the glory of God manifested in ourselves or others, we must bring our wants and theirs to Jesus ( Mark 1:32); Psalms 32:5-Joshua :). Do not forget this, and the result will be the glory of God through Jesus Christ ( Galatians 1:24; Matthew 9:8).
Bishop Rowley Hill.
‘This first sign was offered in the circle of the family, and not among the people or in the world. The occasion was a marriage festivity in a village of which the identification is doubtful, but which certainly was fairly close to Nazareth. Our Lord’s presence at it was a striking illustration of the contrast between the asceticism of His Forerunner and the more genial characteristics of His own ministry. “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” “At the same time”—writes one well acquainted with Jewish customs—“it must be borne in mind, that marriage conveyed to the Jews much higher thoughts than merely those of festivity and merriment. The pious fasted before it, confessing their sins. It was regarded almost as a Sacrament. Entrance into the married state was thought to carry the forgiveness of sins.” It has been suggested, too, that the evident authority with which the Virgin Mary addresses the servants points to the conclusion that this was the wedding of one closely connected with her, perhaps some member of the Holy Family. However this may be, the scene brought before us is the house of the bridegroom, whither the bride has been escorted at eventide, covered with the long bridal veil, preceded by drums and flutes, accompanied by her friends carrying branches of myrtle and wreaths of flowers, surrounded by torches or lamps, her road enlivened by songs and dances. The wedding festivities in Galilee were simpler and less protracted than in the south of Palestine.’
THE UNEXPECTED MIRACLE
I. Supernatural in its character.—A miracle not against but above nature. So far from violating or opposing nature, the power which operates a miracle begins by inserting itself in and working along the lines of nature as far as these go, after which it sweeps out into the region beyond and executes results of which nature by itself is wholly incapable.
II. Unostentatious in its execution.—So little open to a charge of vulgar display was Christ on this occasion that no one now can, as probably no one then could, tell at what point exactly the miracle was wrought. Like the Kingdom of God ( Luke 17:20), of which it was an emblem and for which it was a preparation, it came without observation. In this Christ followed the silent methods of working adopted by His Father in nature ( Ecclesiastes 3:11); by this He calls His followers to do their righteousness in secret, before their Father in heaven rather than before the gaze of men ( Matthew 6:1).
III. Beneficent in its design.—He Who refrained from employing His Divine power to relieve His own necessities in the wilderness ( Matthew 4:4) could not remain deaf to the appeal made to His loving heart to supply the wants of others. So Christ ever pleased not Himself ( Romans 15:3), but sought His Father’s glory ( John 7:18; John 8:50) and the good of man ( Matthew 11:4-Joshua :; Acts 10:38). Nor were the miracles of the cursing of the fig tree ( Matthew 21:19) and the destruction of the swine ( Matthew 8:32) exceptions if we include in the good of man his higher spiritual as well as lower material interests.
IV. Symbolic in its significance.—(1) In reference to Christ’s Person, it was a manifestation of His glory. (2) In relation to Christ’s disciples it was a picture of the joyous life to which they were called in contrast to the asceticism practised and enjoined by His forerunner ( Matthew 11:18-Psalms :; Mark 2:18-Psalms :; John 16:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). (3) As regards Christ’s work, it was a reminder that He had come not to condemn but to save, not to diminish but to increase the sum of human happiness, not to abstract a single blessing from the lot of man, but to transform even common mercies into gifts of celestial love, and to suffuse the happiness of earth with the felicities of heaven.
‘ “The manner of working the miracle is described with singular minuteness and yet with singular reserve.” The external means were furnished by the large stone waterpots which were used to store the water needed (accorded to Jewish custom) for the personal ablutions of the guests, and for the cleansing of the cups and dishes. These our Lord ordered to be replenished with water; and the attendants carried out their instructions with such zeal that the great jars were “filled to the brim.” Then came the further command, “Draw out now, and bear unto the ruler of the feast.” The “half playful” words in which the guest who occupied this position praised the new wine have found a place in the Evangelist’s record. “Every man setteth on first the good wine; and when men have drunk freely, then that which is worse: thou hast kept the good wine until now.” Such was the first “sign.” Such was the first of the rewards to be vouchsafed by the Son of God to faith. Such were the surroundings—“an obscure village, an ordinary wedding, a humble home, a few faithful peasant guests”—of the first manifestation of that wondrous glory, which passing through the “suffering of death” was to find its culmination in the Resurrection and Ascension. To His disciples who beheld it, the miracle—worked to “minister to the fullness of human joy in one of its simplest and most natural forms”—was a sufficient earnest of His Divine vocation. They “believed on Him.” ’
‘MY FATHER’S HOUSE’
‘And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple.… The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up.’
John 2:15-Esther :
Though in the actual letter of the thing we, perhaps, are not liable to incur the condemnation of these guilty Jews, yet, let us never forget that, before God, the inner life of thought is as real life as the outer life of action.
I. We, who are necessarily so much material, and so mixed up with material things, can scarcely conceive how a perfectly spiritual being can look on things on this earth.—But, remember, a spirit deals with spirit; and therefore God, I would almost say, deals more with the spirit of people’s minds than He does with that which, being outward, is tangible and visible to creatures like ourselves. And, to a spirit, thoughts, affections, feelings, are almost really more seen than that which is outward and substantial. Therefore, thoughts in this house are as real to our heavenly Father as any act can be. And if a man or woman should come to this house, and, while apparently listening to a sermon or even, perhaps, when on their very knees in prayer, should think of worldly transactions, if their thoughts should go to their business, to matters of loss and gain, then those people, though they do not actually, with their hands, pass the material substance, yet their thoughts being thus gone after it, those thoughts are as verily guilty before God as were those actions of the market-men in the Temple at Jerusalem, because they are as real in the sight of a spirit. And which of us must not be brought in guilty? If, when within sacred walls, to think of secular transactions be so reprehensive in the sight of God, which of us is not brought in guilty before His omniscient eye?
II. But it is not only in the letter that we are to study this passage, we ought to look at it rather in its spirit.—Now, in the spirit of it, the first thing that strikes us is the love which Christ had to the Church—‘the Church’ commonly so called; to the actual building. He made His first visit there, and, as we know, spent most of His time there when in Jerusalem; and even in His last holy week He spent most of His days there, even though He spent His nights in the house of Martha. How dear to Christ was His ‘Father’s house’! Such a house—though not so simple—as the one in which we are now assembled. And what a blessed thing is sympathy with ‘the mind of Jesus’! Do you love to be here? So did Christ. You could not have much of ‘the mind of Christ,’ if you did not love these holy courts. There are some who think it a very indifferent matter whether they attend their church or no; who think and speak as if to read and pray at home was the same as engaging in the public service. But He, Who had the Spirit ‘without measure,’ did not do so! He, then, who has most of the mind of Christ, is he who loves most the house of his God.
III. But it was not only ‘the house’ that He loved, He was anxious for the purity of its worship.
—Rev. James Vaughan.
‘When He was in Jerusalem … many believed in His name.… But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them.’
John 2:23-Jeremiah :
Early believers at Jerusalem. As to whom, notice—
I. The object of their faith.—They ‘believed on His name’ ( John 1:12); i.e. recognised Jesus as the Messiah they expected; believing not on Him ( John 3:18), but on His name, as Christ (cf. Matthew 7:22). Contrast the difference in appealing to heathen. But note that the wise missionary takes advantage of any help which heathen or other beliefs afford in pointing to a god or to our God.
II. The ground of their faith.—‘They saw the miracles’—beheld with wonder the ‘signs’ Christ gave, signs still then going on, ἅ? ἐ?ποίει . In its way a legitimate reason for belief if rightly considered. The influence of Christ’s religion still a powerful plea. As seen in lives of converts. Though sometimes the white man’s life is a stumbling-block.
III. The nature of their faith.—Unreliable ( John 2:24), because the outcome rather of wonder than of reflection; sincere, as far as it went, but shallow. Many non-Christians of intelligence thus look in admiration at fruits of belief in Christ. But will not face the reproach of the Cross. We cannot leave them thus.
IV. The lessons of their faith.
(a) It is easy to believe when face to face with obvious manifestations of God’s power.
(b) It is easy to be satisfied with purely emotional faith.
(c) It is dangerous to be content with incomplete faith.
(d) It is idle to think that God is deceived as to our faith.
Seek, then, to have a full and clear faith, that we ourselves may be fitted to act as God’s messengers, and may be filled with a sincere yearning for the increase of Christ’s Church on earth.
CHRIST’S KNOWLEDGE OF MAN
‘He knew what was in man.’
No greater proof could be given of our Lord’s Divine nature than His marvellous knowledge of men’s hearts and ways. To know the secrets of men’s hearts is the prerogative of God alone, as it is written, ‘I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways” ( Jeremiah 17:10). But the Lord Jesus had this power: ‘He knew all men.’ Every one of those who lived in Judæa or Galilee, yea, even to the uttermost parts of the earth, were known to Him. ‘He knew what was in man.’ The most secret aim or imagination cherished in the recess of the soul, unknown and unsuspected even by the most intimate relative or friend, stands out before Christ plainly and distinctly without the least veil or covering.
I. What a help and encouragement to the sinner is the thought on which we are dwelling? Christ knows every secret of my heart. He knows every failing, every temptation, every root of mischief that is working in me. He knows each wrong desire which it is so hard to check. He knows the cause of that depression of spirit which sometimes overwhelms me. He knows those tendencies to anger, murmuring, envy, unbelief, which cause me so much distress. Moreover, He knows those longings for a higher and nobler life, those sighs over the sin that cleaves to me, those prayer-thoughts that arise to Him continually even when beset with temptations to evil which I abhor. The whole case lies open before Him. The evil that has been, that evil that is now, the evil that might yet arise, and whatever better thing His grace has given, all is perfectly known to Him. Is this no ground of confidence to the soul that would be saved, or to him who would rise to a much higher level than he has yet reached? The Saviour has come, and come close to you. He comes to give life, and to give it more abundantly. He comes to break down every barrier, to heal every disease, and to save even to the uttermost. And His perfect knowledge of you is one great element of hope. If He knows all that is amiss, you may be sure in His power and love He will heal and save you.
II. But Christ is coming again as the Judge of quick and dead. As King He shall sit upon the great white throne, and before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And it is in this aspect that we see the solemn importance of Christ’s perfect knowledge of man. For, as He knows all, so will He reveal all. ‘We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:10, R.V.). ‘In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel’ ( Romans 2:6). Imagine the man whose whole life has been given to accumulate wealth, and who has practised unnumbered acts of deceit and secret fraud in doing this. There has been an utter disregard of the claims of the workman, or the need of the widow, or the vast responsibility of his position. To get rich, to add thousands to thousands, has been the one aim, and all else has been sacrificed to this. How will such a man stand the test and answer for the utter neglect and abuse of the talent committed to him? Imagine the man who has borne a fair character in the world, and perchance has been regular in church and passed for a Christian, but yet all the time has been the slave of some hateful vice, and perhaps has drawn many others into the vortex of evil. Hidden now beneath the veil of a respectable exterior are multitudes of such as are but the grossest hypocrites in God’s sight. Like the Pharisees of old, they are as whited sepulchres. Outwardly they appear righteous before man, but within are full of corruption and iniquity.
—Rev. George Everard.
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 2". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent