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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

John 11

Verse 3

Beloved, and Yet Afflicted

by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)


"Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." John 11:3 .

That disciple whom Jesus loved is not at all backward to record that Jesus loved Lazarus too: there are no jealousies among those who are chosen by the Well-beloved. Jesus loved Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus: it is a happy thing where a whole family live in the love of Jesus. They were a favoured trio, and yet, as the serpent came into Paradise, so did sorrow enter their quiet household at Bethany. Lazarus was sick. They all felt that if Jesus were there disease would flee at his presence; what then should they do but let him know of their trial? Lazarus was near to death's door, and so his tender sisters at once reported the fact to Jesus, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." Many a time since then has that same message been sent to our Lord, for in full many a case he has chosen his people in the furnace of affliction. Of the Master it is said, "himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses," and it is, therefore, no extraordinary thing for the members to be in this matter conformed to their Head. I. Notice, first, A FACT mentioned in the text: "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." The sisters were somewhat astonished that it should be so, for the word "behold" implies a measure of surprise. "We love him, and would make him well directly: thou lovest him, and yet he remains sick. Thou canst heal him with a word, why then is thy loved one sick?" Have not you, dear sick friend, often wondered how your painful or lingering disease could be consistent with your being chosen, and called, and made one with Christ? I dare say this has greatly perplexed you, and yet in very truth it is by no means strange, but a thing to be expected. We need not be astonished that the man whom the Lord loves is sick, for he is only a man. The love of Jesus does not separate us from the common necessities and infirmities of human life. Men of God are still men. The covenant of grace is not a charter of exemption from consumption, or rheumatism, or asthma. The bodily ills, which come upon us because of our flesh, will attend us to the tomb, for Paul saith, "we that are in this body do groan." Those whom the Lord loves are the more likely to be sick, since they are under a peculiar discipline. It is written, "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Affliction of some sort is one of the marks of the true-born child of God, and it frequently happens that the trial takes the form of illness. Shall we therefore wonder that we have to take our turn in the sick chamber? If Job, and David, and Hezekiah must each one smart, who are we that we should be amazed because we are in ill-health? Nor is it remarkable that we are sick if we reflect upon the great benefit which often flows from it to ourselves. I do not know what peculiar improvement may have been wrought in Lazarus, but many a disciple of Jesus would have been of small use if he had not been afflicted. Strong men are apt to be harsh, imperious, and unsympathetic, and therefore they need to be put into the furnace, and melted down. I have known Christian women who would never have been so gentle, tender, wise, experienced, and holy if they had not been mellowed by physical pain. There are fruits in God's garden as well as in man's which never ripen till they are bruised. Young women who are apt to be volatile, conceited, or talkative, are often trained to be full of sweetness and light by sickness after sickness, by which they are taught to sit at Jesus' feet. Many have been able to say with the psalmist, "It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes." For this reason even such as are highly favoured and blessed among women may feel a sword piercing through their hearts. Oftentimes this sickness of the Lord's loved ones is for the good of others. Lazarus was permitted to be sick and to die, that by his death and resurrection the apostles might be benefited. His sickness was "for the glory of God." Throughout these nineteen hundred years which have succeeded Lazarus' sickness all believers have been getting good out of it, and this afternoon we are all the better because he languished and died. The church and the world may derive immense advantage through the sorrows of good men: the careless may be awakened, the doubting may be convinced, the ungodly may be converted, the mourner may be comforted through our testimony in sickness; and if so, would we wish to avoid pain and weakness? Are we not quite willing that our friends should say of us also "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick"? II. Our text, however, not only records a fact, but mentions A REPORT of that fact: the sisters sent and told Jesus. Let us keep up a constant correspondence with our Lord about everything.

"Sing a hymn to Jesus, when thy heart is faint; Tell it all to Jesus, comfort or complaint."

Jesus knows all about us, but it is a great relief to pour out our hearts before him. When John the Baptist's broken-hearted disciples saw their leader beheaded, "they took up the body, and went and told Jesus." They could not have done better. In all trouble send a message to Jesus, and do not keep your misery to yourself. In his case there is no need of reserve, there is no fear of his treating you with cold pride, or heartless indifference, or cruel treachery. He is a confident who never can betray us, a friend who never will refuse us. There is this fair hope about telling Jesus, that he is sure to support us under it. If you go to Jesus, and ask, "Most gracious Lord, why am I sick? I thought I was useful while in health, and now I can do nothing; why is this?" He may be pleased to show you why, or, if not, he will make you willing to bear his will with patience without knowing why. He can bring his truth to your mind to cheer you, or strengthen your heart by his presence, or send you unexpected comforts, and give you to glory in your afflictions. "Ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us." Not in vain did Mary and Martha send to tell Jesus, and not in vain do any seek his face. Remember, too, that Jesus may give healing. It would not be wise to live by a supposed faith, and cast off the physician and his medicines, any more than to discharge the butcher, and the tailor, and expect to be fed and clothed by faith; but this would be far better than forgetting the Lord altogether, and trusting to man only. Healing for both body and soul must be sought from God. We make use of medicines, but these can do nothing apart from the Lord, "who healeth all our diseases." We may tell Jesus about our aches and pains, and gradual declinings, and hacking coughs. Some persons are afraid to go to God about their health: they pray for the pardon of sin, but dare not ask the Lord to remove a headache: and, yet, surely, if the hairs outside our head are all numbered by God it is not much more of a condescension for him to relieve throbs and pressures inside the head. Our big things must be very little to the great God, and our little things cannot be much less. It is a proof of the greatness of the mind of God that while ruling the heavens and the earth, he is not so absorbed by these great concerns as to be forgetful of the least pain or want of any one of his poor children. We may go to him about our failing breath, for he first gave us lungs and life. We may tell him about the eye which grows dim, and the ear which loses hearing, for he made them both. We may mention the swollen knee, and the gathering finger, the stiff neck, and the sprained foot, for he made all these our members, redeemed them all, and will raise them all from the grave. Go at once, and say, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." III. Thirdly, let us notice in the case of Lazarus A RESULT which we should not have expected. No doubt when Mary and Martha sent to tell Jesus they looked to see Lazarus recover as soon as the messenger reached the Master; but they were not gratified. For two days the Lord remained in the same place, and not till he knew that Lazarus was dead did he speak of going to Judea. This teaches us that Jesus may be informed of our trouble, and yet may act as if he were indifferent to it. We must not expect in every case that prayer for recovery will be answered, for if so, nobody would die who had chick or child, friend or acquaintance to pray for him. In our prayers for the lives of beloved children of God we must not forget that there is one prayer which may be crossing ours, for Jesus prays, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." We pray that they may remain with us, but when we recognize that Jesus wants them above, what can we do but admit his larger claim and say, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt"? In our own case, we may pray the Lord to raise us up, and yet though he loves us he may permit us to grow worse and worse, and at last to die. Hezekiah had fifteen years added to his life, but we may not gain the reprieve of a single day. Never set such store by the life of any one dear to you, or even by your own life, as to be rebellious against the Lord. If you hold the life of any dear one with too tight a hand, you are making a rod for your own back; and if you love your own earthly life too well, you are making a thorny pillow for your dying bed. Children are often idols, and in such cases their too ardent lovers are idolaters. We might as well make a god of clay, and worship it, as the Hindus are said to do, as worship our fellow-creatures, for what are they but clay? Shall dust be so dear to us that we quarrel with our God about it? If our Lord leaves us to suffer, let us not repine. He must do that for us which is kindest and best, for he loves us better than we love ourselves. Did I hear you say, "Yes, Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, but he raised him up again"? I answer, he is the resurrection and the life to us also. Be comforted concerning the departed, "Thy brother shall rise again," and all of us whose hope is in Jesus shall partake in our Lord's resurrection. Not only shall our souls live, but our bodies, too, shall be raised incorruptible. The grave will serve as a refining pot, and this vile body shall come forth vile no longer. Some Christians are greatly cheered by the thought of living till the Lord comes, and so escaping death. I confess that I think this no great gain, for so far from having any preference over them that are asleep, those who are alive and remain at his coming will miss one point of fellowship, in not dying and rising like their Lord. Beloved, all things are yours, and death is expressly mentioned in the list, therefore do not dread it, but rather "long for evening to undress, that you may rest with God." IV. I will close with A QUESTION "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus" does Jesus in a special sense love you? Alas, many sick ones have no evidence of any special love of Jesus towards them, for they have never sought his face, nor trusted in him. Jesus might say to them "I never knew you," for they have turned their backs upon his blood and his cross. Answer, dear friend, to your own heart this question, "Do you love Jesus?" If so, you love him because he first loved you. Are you trusting him? If so, that faith of yours is the proof that he has loved you from before the foundation of the world, for faith is the token by which he plights his troth to his beloved. If Jesus loves you, and you are sick, let all the world see how you glorify God in your sickness. Let friends and nurses see how the beloved of the Lord are cheered and comforted by him. Let your holy resignation astonish them, and set them admiring your Beloved, who is so gracious to you that he makes you happy in pain, and joyful at the gates of the grave. If your religion is worth anything it ought to support you now, and it will compel unbelievers to see that he whom the Lord loveth is in better case when he is sick than the ungodly when full of health and vigour. If you do not know that Jesus loves you, you lack the brightest star that can cheer the night of sickness. I hope you will not die as you now are, and pass into another world without enjoying the love of Jesus: that would be a terrible calamity indeed. Seek his face at once, and it may be that your present sickness is a part of the way of love by which Jesus would bring you to himself. Lord, heal all these sick ones in soul and in body. Amen.

Verses 14-15

A Mystery! Saints Sorrowing and Jesus Glad!

August 7th, 1864 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him" John 11:14-15 .

There lived in the little village of Bethany a very happy family. There was neither father nor mother in it: the household consisted of the unmarried brother Eleazar, or Lazarus, and his sisters, Martha and Mary, who dwelt together in unity so good and pleasant that there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. This affectionate trio were all lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and were frequently favoured with His company. They kept open house whenever the Great Teacher came that way. Both for the Master and for the disciples there was always a table, a bed, and a candlestick in the prophet's chamber, and sometimes sumptuous feasts were prepared for the whole company. They were very happy, and rejoiced much to think that they could be serviceable to the necessities of one so poor, and yet so honoured as the Lord Jesus. But, alas! affliction cometh everywhere; virtue may sentinel the door, but grief is not to be excluded from the homestead. "Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward;" if the fuel be a log of sweet-smelling sandal wood, yet the sparks must rise, and even so the best of families must feel affliction. Lazarus sickens. It is a mortal sickness beyond the power of physicians. What is the first thought of the sisters but to send for their friend Jesus? They know that one word from His lips will restore their brother: there is no absolute need that He should even risk His safety by a journey to Bethany; He has but to speak the word and their brother shall be made whole. With glowing hopes and moderated anxieties, they send a tender message to Jesus "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." Jesus hears it, and sends back the answer which had much comfort in it, but could hardly compensate for His own absence: "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." There lies poor Lazarus after the message is come; he does not recover; he is a little more cheerful, because he hears that his sickness is not unto death, but his pains do not abate; the clammy death-sweat gathers on his brow; his tongue is dry; he is full of pains and racked with anguish, at last he passes through the iron gate of death, and there lies his corpse before the weeping sisters' eyes. Why was not Jesus there? Why did He not come? Tender hearted as He always was, what could have made Him thus unkind? Why tarrieth He so? Why is He so long in coming? How can His words be true? He said, "This sickness is not unto death"; and there lies the good man cold in death, and the mourners are gathering for the funeral. Look at Martha! She has been sitting up every night watching her poor brother; no care could have been more constant, no tenderness more excessive. There is no potion in the range of her housewifery which she has not compounded; this herb and the other she has gathered, and she has administered all sorts of medicinal drinks and nourishing foods; and anxiously has she watched until her eyes are red for want of sleep. Jesus might have spared her all this. Why did He not? He had only to will it, and the flush of health would have returned to the cheek of Lazarus, and there would have been no more need of this weary nursing, and this killing watchfulness. What is Jesus doing? Martha was willing to serve Him, will He not serve her? She has even cumbered herself about much-serving for His sake, giving Him not only necessaries but dainties, and will He not give her what is so desirable to her heart, so essential to her happiness her brother's life? How is it He can send her a promise which He doth not seem to keep, and tantalize her with hope, and cast down her faith? As for Mary, she has been sitting still at her brother's side, listening to his dying words, repeating in his ear the gracious words of Jesus which she had been wont to hear when she sat at His feet, catching the last accents of her expiring brother, thinking less about the medicine and about the diet than Martha did, but thinking more about his spiritual health and about his soul's enjoyment. She has endeavoured to stay the sinking spirits of her beloved brother with words like these, "He will come; He may wait, but I know Him, His heart is very kind, He will come at the last; and even if He let thee sleep in death it will be but for a little; He raised the widow's son at the gates of Nain, He will surely raise thee whom He loves far more. Have ye not heard how He wakened the daughter of Jairus? Brother, He will come and quicken thee, and we shall have many happy hours yet, and we shall have this as a special love-token from our Master and our Lord, that He raised thee from the dead." But why, why was she not spared those bitter tears which ran scalding down her cheeks when she saw that her brother was really dead? She could not believe it. She kissed his forehead, and oh! how cold was that marble brow! She lifted up his hand "He cannot be dead," said she, "for Jesus said this sickness was not unto death;" but the hand fell nerveless by her side: her brother was really a corpse, and putrefaction soon set in, and then she knew that the beloved clay was not exempt from all the dishonour which decay brings to the human body. Poor Mary! Jesus loved thee, it is said, but this is a strange way of showing His love. Where is He? Miles away He lingers. He knows thy brother is sick; yea, He knows that he is dead, and yet He abides still where He is. Oh! sorrowful mystery that the pity of such a tender Saviour should sink so far below their plumb-line to gauge, or His mercy should range so high beyond their power to reach. Jesus is talking of the death of His friend, let us listen to His words; perhaps we may find the key to His actions in the words of His lips. How surprising! He does not say, "I regret that I have tarried so long." He does not say, "I ought to have hastened, but even now it is not too late." Hear, and marvel! Wonder of wonders, He says, "I am glad that I was not there." Glad! the word is out of place? Lazarus, by this time, stinketh in his tomb,and here is the Saviour glad! Martha and Mary are weeping their eyes out for sorrow, and yet their friend Jesus is glad! It is strange, it is passing strange! However, we may rest assured that Jesus knoweth better than we do, and our faith may therefore sit still and try to spell out His meaning, where our reason cannot find it at the first glance. "I am glad," saith He, "for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe." Ah! we see it now: Christ is not glad because of sorrow, but only on account of the result of it. He knew that this temporary trial would help His disciples to a greater faith, and He so prizes their growth in faith that He is even glad of the sorrow which occasions it. He does as good as say, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there to prevent the trouble, for now that it is come, it will teach you to believe in me, and this shall be much better for you than to have been spared the affliction." We have thus plainly before us the principle, that our Lord in His infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon His people's faith, that He will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. Let us try to press the wine of consolation from the cluster of the text. In three cups we will preserve the goodly juice as it flows forth from the winepress of meditation. First of all, brethren, Jesus Christ was glad that the trial had come, for the strengthening of the faith of the apostles; secondly, for strengthening the faith of the family; and thirdly, for giving faith to others; for you find by the forty-fifth verse that the goblet passed round to sympathizing friends "Many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him." I. Jesus Christ designed the death of Lazarus and his after-resurrection FOR THE STRENGTHENING OF THE FAITH OF THE APOSTLES. This acted two ways: not only would the trial itself tend to strengthen their faith; but the remarkable deliverance which Christ gave to them out of it would certainly minister to the growth of their confidence in Him. 1. Let us at once observe that the trial itself would certainly tend to increase the apostle's faith. Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith. I believe in the existence of faith in men who have no trials, but that is as far as I can go. I am persuaded, brethren, that where there is no trial faith just draws breath enough to live, but that is all; for faith, like the fabled salamander, has fire for its native element. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are trainers, and the lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds come howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, yet it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars so bright as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Thus saith the Lord, by the mouth of the prophet, "I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." Now, why afflicted and poor? Because there is an adaptation in the afflicted and poor among the Lord's people, to trust in the Lord. He does not say, "I will leave in the midst of thee a prosperous and rich people, and they shall trust." No! these scarcely seem to have such capacity for faith as the afflicted ones have. Rather I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they, by reason of their very affliction and poverty, shall be the more graciously disposed to repose their faith in the Lord. Untried faith is always small in stature; and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. There is no room in the placid pools of ease for faith to gain leviathan proportions, she must dwell in the stormy sea if she would be one of the chief of the ways of God. Tried faith brings experience; and every one of you who are men and women of experience, must know that experience makes religion become more real to you. You never know either the bitterness of sin or the sweetness of pardon, till you have felt both. You never know your own weakness till you have been compelled to go through the rivers, and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. All the talk about religion which is not based upon an experience of it, is mere talk. If we have little experience, we cannot speak so positively as those can whose experience has been more deep and profound. Once when I was preaching upon the faithfulness of God in time of trial in the earlier days of my ministry, my venerable grandfather was sitting in the pulpit behind me; he suddenly rose up and took my place, and coming to the front of the pulpit, said, "My grandson can preach this as a matter of theory, but I can tell you it as a matter of experience, for I have done business upon the great waters, and have seen the works of the Lord for myself." There is an accumulation of force in the testimony of one who has personally passed through the things whereof others can only speak as though they had seen them in a map or in a picture. Travellers who write from their easy chairs what they have seen from their bedchambers, may indite books to beguile the idle hours of those who stay at home; but he who is about to traverse regions full of danger, seeks a guide who has really trodden the road, The writer may excel in florid words, the veritable traveller has real and valuable wisdom. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more she is exercised with tribulation, and the more she hath been cast down, and lifted up again. Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without your seeking for them; the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have. Praise Him for that whereunto you have attained; walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains, and conquer impossibilities. It may be asked, what is the method by which trial strengthens faith? We might answer in various ways. Trial takes away many of the impediments of faith. Carnal security is the worst foe to confidence in God. If I sit down and say, "Soul, take thine ease, thou hast much goods laid up for many years;" faith's road is barricaded, but adversity sets the barn on a blaze, and "the much goods laid up for many years," cease to block up the path of faith. Oh, blessed axe of sorrow, which clears a pathway for me to my God by cutting down the thick trees of my earthly comforts! When I say, "My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved," the visible fortification, rather than the invisible protector, engages my attention; but when the great earthquake shakes the rocks, and the mountain is swallowed up, I fly to the immovable Rock of Ages to build my confidence on high. Worldly ease is a great foe to faith; it loosens the joints of holy valour, and snaps the sinews of scared courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut: affliction doth this sharp service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortable in the husk it is useless to man, it must be threshed out of its resting-place before its value can be known. Trial plucks the arrow of faith from the repose of the quiver, and shoots it against the foe. Nor is affliction of small service to faith, when it exposes the weakness of the creature. This trial would show the apostles that they must not depend upon the bounty of any one man, for though Lazarus may have entertained them and filled their little bag with food, yet Lazarus dies, and Mary may die, and Martha may die, and all friends must die, and this would teach them not to look to broken cisterns, but to fly to the ever-flowing fountain. Oh, dear friends, we are in much danger of making idols of our mercies! God gives us his temporal favours as refreshments by the way, and then straightway we kneel down and cry, "These by thy gods, O Israel." It is of the Lord's mercy that these idol-gods be broken in pieces. He blasts the gourds under which we sat in ample shade, in order that we may lift up our cry to Him, and trust in Him alone. The emptiness of the creature is a lesson we are so slow to learn, and we must have it whipped into us by the rod of affliction; but learned it must be, or else faith can never attain to eminence. Furthermore, trial is of special service to faith when it drives her to her God. I make a sad confession, over which I mourn, that when my soul is happy and things prosper, I do not as a rule live so near to God as I do in the midst of shame and contempt, and casting down of spirit. O my God, how dear Thou art to my soul in the night; when the sun goeth down, Thou Bright and Morning Star, how sweetly dost Thou shine. When the world's bread is sugared and buttered, then we devour it till we grow sick; but when the world changes our diet, fills our mouth with vinegar, and makes our drink gall and wormwood, then we cry for the breasts of our dear God again. When the world's wells are full of sweet but poisonous water, we pitch our tents at the well's mouth, and drink again and again and forget the well of Bethlehem which is within the gate; but when earth's water becomes bitter like the stream of Marah, then we turn away all sick and faint, and cry after the water of life, "Spring up, O well!" Thus afflictions fetch us to our God, as the barking dog drives the wandering sheep to the shepherd's hand. And then trial has a hardening effect upon faith. As the Spartan lads were prepared for fighting by the sharp discipline of their boyish days, so are God's servants trained for war by the afflictions which He sends upon them in the early days of their spiritual life. We must run with footmen, or we shall never be able to contend with horses; we must be thrown into the water, or we shall never learn to swim; we must hear the whizzing of the bullets, or we shall never become veteran soldiers. The gardener knows that if his flowers were kept always under glass and fostered in a great temperature, when he might put them out, should there come a cold night they would quickly die; so he does not give them too much heat, but exposes them by degrees and gets them used to the cold, that they may stand in the open air; and thus the only wise God does not put His servants in hothouses and rear them delicately, but He exposes them to trial that they may know how to bear it when it comes. If you want to ruin your son, never let him know a hardship. When he is a child carry him in your arms, when he becomes a youth still dandle him, and when he becomes a man still dry-nurse him, and you will succeed in producing an arrant fool. If you want to prevent his being made useful in the world, guard him from every kind of toil. Do not suffer him to struggle. Wipe the sweat from his dainty brow and say, "Dear child, thou shalt never have another task so arduous." Pity him when he ought to be punished; supply all his wishes, avert all disappointments, prevent all troubles, and you will surely tutor him to be a reprobate and to break your heart. But put him where he must work, expose him to difficulties, purposely throw him into peril, and in this way you shall make him a man, and when he comes to do man's work and to bear man's trial, he shall be fit for either. My Master does not daintily cradle His children when they ought to run alone; and when they begin to run He is not always putting out His finger for them to lean upon, but He lets them tumble down to the cutting of their knees, because then they will walk more carefully by-and-by, and learn to stand upright by the strength which faith confers upon them. You see, dear friends, that Jesus Christ was glad glad that His disciples were blessed by trouble. Will you think of this, you who are so troubled this morning, Jesus Christ does sympathize with you, but still He does it wisely, and He says, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there." He is glad that your business does not prosper; He is glad that you have those pains and aches, and that you have so weak a body, to the intent that you may believe. You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you to take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant of grace. 2. But not to tarry here, let us notice that the deliverance which Christ wrought by the resurrection of Lazarus, was calculated also to strengthen the faith of the apostles. At the worst Christ can work. Why, what a plight were they now in! Here was a case which had come to the very worst. Lazarus is not merely dead he has been buried; the stone has been rolled to the mouth of the sepulchre worse than that, he had become putrid. Here are miracles so many, that I must describe the resurrection of Lazarus not as one miracle, but as a mass of wonders. We will not go into detail, but suffice it to say, we cannot suppose anything to be a more prodigious exhibition of the divine strength, than the restoration of health and life to a body through which the worms did creep and crawl; and yet in the very worst case Christ is not brought to a nonplus. Here was a case where human power evidently could do nothing. Now bring the viol and the harp, and let music try its charms. Bring here, physician, thy most potent draught, now, for the true aqua vitoe! Now see what thou canst do. What! does the elixir fail? The physician turns away disgusted, for the stench may sooner destroy the physician's life, than he restore the corpse. Now, seek ye round the world and ask all men that are Herod and his men-at-arms, and Caesar on the imperial throne "Can you do anything here?" Nay, death sits with ghastly smile laughing at them all. "I have Lazarus," says he, "beyond your reach." Yet Jesus Christ wins the day. Here divine sympathy became most manifest. Jesus wept when He thought of Lazarus and his weeping sisters. We do not find it often said that He wept. He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," but those were precious and rare drops which He shed over that dead body. He could do no more when He thought of Jerusalem: He doth no less now that He thinks of Lazarus. What an exhibition these disciples had of the divine power as well as the divine sympathy, for Christ does but say, "Lazarus, come forth," and death can hold his captive no longer. Forth from the charnel house he comes, restored to perfect health. Do you not think that all this must tend to confirm the apostles' faith? It seems to me to be a part of the best education they could possibly receive for their future ministry. I think I see the apostles in after-time shut up in prison: they are condemned to die, but Peter comforts John by saying, "He can bring us out of prison: do you not remember how He brought Lazarus out of his grave? He can certainly appear for us and set us free." When they went forth to preach to sinners, how would they be strengthened by remembering these cases! Their hearers were debauched, depraved, immoral the apostles went into the midst of the worst conditions of human nature, and yet they feared not for the result, for they knew that putrid Lazarus revived at Christ's word. Peter would argue, "Did not Christ restore Lazarus when his body was stinking and decayed? He can certainly bring the most reprobate hearts to the obedience of the truth, and raise the vilest of the vile to new life." Many of the apostolic Churches were far gone; they had in them unworthy members; but this would not too much buffet the faith of the apostles, for they would say, "That same Christ Who raised up Lazarus, can make Sardis, and Pergamos, and Thyatira, yet to be a praise in the earth, and Churches which seem to be corrupt and foul in the nostrils of the Most High, may yet be made a brightness and glory, and a sweet-smelling savour unto him." I am persuaded that very often such a miracle as this would recur to them, and strengthen them in the times of their suffering and labour and make them able to bear afflictions, and even martyrdom itself, in confidence in Christ. I will not, however, say more, because the thing seems obvious enough; only you must not forget the principle we are trying to bring out, that in the case of the apostles, Christ considered that for them to have strong faith was worth any cost. No matter what pangs it cost Mary and Martha, or in what grief it might involve Himself or His apostles, they must bear it, because the result was so exceedingly beneficial. The surgeon handles the knife without tears, sharp is the cut, but he knows it will cure. The mother puts the draught to the child's mouth, and the child cries, and heaves, and loathes the bitterness, but the mother says, "Drink it all up, my child," because she knows there is life in every drop. So Christ is glad for the apostles' sake that He is not there, to the intent that they may believe. II. Jesus Christ had an eye also to THE GOOD OF THE FAMILY. Mary and Martha had faith, but it was not very strong, for they suspected Christ's love when they said, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." There was a sort of under whisper "Why wast Thou not here? Dost Thou love us? Wherefore then didst Thou tarry?" They certainly doubted His power. Martha, when she could believe in the resurrection, but could not believe in the present resurrection for her brother; and when again she said, "He has been dead four days," had faith, but it was very weak. Christ therefore sent the trial to Mary and Martha for their sakes, and was glad to send it, to the intent that they might believe. Observe, dear friends, that these were choice favourites of the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves all the elect. They were three special favourites upon whom very distinguishing regard was set, and therefore it was that He sent them a special trial. The lapidary, if he takes up a stone and finds that it is not very precious, will not spend much care in cutting it; but when he gets a rare diamond of the first water, then he will be sure to cut, and cut, and cut again. When the Lord finds a saint whom He loves loves much He may spare other men trials and troubles, but He certainly will not this well-beloved one. It is an awful thing to be a favourite of heaven. It is a thing to be sought after and to be rejoiced in; but remember, to be of the King's council-chamber is a thing involving such work for faith that flesh and blood might shrink from the painful blessing. The gardener gets a tree, and if it is but of a poor sort he will let it grow as it wills, and take what fruit comes from it naturally; but if it be of a very rare sort, he likes to have every bough in its proper place, so that it may bear well; and he often takes out his knife an cuts here and there, because, says he, "That is a favourite tree, and it is one which bears such fruit that I would have much from it, and would leave nothing whatever that would cause it detriment." You who are God's favourites must not marvel at trials, but rather keep your door wide open for them, and when they come in, say, "Hail, messenger of the King! the sound of thy Master's feet is behind thee; thou art welcome here, for thy Master sent thee." Special trial was attended with a special visit. It may be that Christ would not have come to Bethany if Lazarus had not been dead; but as soon as there is a corpse in the house, there is Christ in the house too. O Christian, it shall be much for your comfort, and for the strengthening of your faith, if Christ comes to you in your troubles. I tell you, if you see no smiles in His face in your prosperity, you shall not be without them in your adversity. The Lord Jesus will go out of His way to see you. You know when a mother is most kind to her child: she lets it run about, and scarcely notices it when it is well; but when it cries. "My head, my head!" and when they take it to the mother and tell her it is ill, how tender she is over it! How all the blandishments of love and the caresses of affection are lavished upon the little sick one! It shall be so with you, and in receiving these special visits, you shall know yourself to be highly favoured above the rest. This special visit was attended with special fellowship . Jesus wept wept with them that wept. Ah! you shall have Jesus sitting by the bedside, and weeping with you when you are sick. You may be well, and strong, and have but little fellowship with Christ, but He shall make all your bed in your sickness. Though you might walk along the green sward without the Saviour, when you come into the midst of the fire, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you shall not be without Him then. I witness that there is no fellowship with Christ so near and sweet, as that which comes to us when we are in deep trials. Then the Master unbosoms Himself, and takes His child, not upon His knee, but to His very heart, and bids him lay his head upon His beating bosom. Christ will reveal His secrets to you when the world is against you, and trials surround you. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant;" but they shall never have such discoveries of that secret and that covenant, as when they most need it, in the darkest and most trying times. There are special loves, special trials, special visits, and special fellowship. And soon you shall have special deliverance. In days to come you will talk about these trials. You will say, I fretted myself, and worried over it, but oh, if I could have seen the end as well as the beginning, I should have said

"Sweet affliction! sweet affliction! Thus to bring my Saviour near."

I tell you, you will sit yet under your own vine, and under your own fig-tree, and talk to the poor tried saints, and say, "Do not be cast down, for I cried unto the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Perhaps in heaven this will help to make a part of your happiness, to remember God's love to you in your tribulations

"There on a green and flowery mount Our weary souls shall sit, And with transporting joys recount, The labours of our feet."

Shall we not tell to angels, and principalities, and powers, the faithfulness of Christ? We will tell all heaven that "His love was strong as death, and His jealousy as cruel as the grave" "many waters could not quench His love, neither could the floods drown it." What sayest thou, my friend, thou who are under the smarting rod? Wilt thou murmur any more? Wilt thou repine against it any more? I beseech you, rather take my text, and read it the other way say God help thee to say it "I am glad that my God did not deliver me, because the trial has strengthened my faith. I thank His name that He has done me the great favour to permit me to carry the heavy end of His cross. I thank my Father that He hath not left me unchastised, for 'Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word.' 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted.' " I tell you, this is the shortest way out of your troubles, as well as the most profitable spirit while you are in them. The Lord generally stays the rod when He finds His child receiving it as a favour. When thou art agreed with God's rod, then that rod will have no further quarrel with thee. When thou canst look into the Father's eyes, and say, "Thy will be done," then His afflicting hand has done its work. III. Now I come to the third point, and here may God the Holy Spirit bless the word. This trouble was permitted for GIVING FAITH TO OTHERS. I shall address myself chiefly to those who cannot say they are God's people, but who have some desire towards Christ. It is very likely you have had some great trouble in your life, and looking back, you wish you had never had it; but my Lord, who knows better than you do, says "I am glad for your sakes that I did not spare you that trouble, to the intent that you may be led to believe." Know assuredly that afflictions often lead men to faith in Christ because they give space for thought. The man was strong and hale and hearty, and went on working from day to day, and never had a thought about God. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib;" but he did not know, he did not care. He left all thoughts of eternity to those who were silly enough to be religious, but for him what did it matter to him? Death was a long way off, and besides, if it were not, he had not the time to think about it. An accident occurred; he had to lie upon his bed, and at first he fretted and fumed, but it could not be altered, and there in the ward of the hospital he groaned through many a weary hour at night. What could he think of? Why then the man began to think of himself, of his condition before God, of what would be his lot if he should die. When his life trembled like the even balance, and not one could tell which way it would turn, the man was forced to consider. Many a soul has been ploughed in the hospital, and then has been sown in the sanctuary. Many a man has been first brought to God by the loss of a limb, or by long sickness, or by deep poverty. Afflictions lead men to faith full often by preventing sin. A young man had resolved to climb a mountain: he had determined against good advice to reach the summit, though one far older than himself had warned him of the danger. He had not proceeded far up the mountain-side before a thick mist surrounded him. He was alarmed. The mist was so thick he could scarcely see his own hand. He retraced his steps following the way by which he came, and returned sorrowfully to his father's house, telling him that he had been in great peril. His father said he was glad of it; for if he had not met with that peril, he might have advanced a little farther, and fallen, never to rise again. Often trouble puts men out of temptation. They would have gone into bad company, to drunkenness, or lust, but they could not. The appointment was made ah! the very night was set apart, but the black hand of God's kind angel came I said a black hand, for so it seemed, and the man could not do what he had wished to do, and so his course was checked, and this in the hand of God was the means of bringing him to faith. Troubles, again, often bring men to believe in Jesus because they compel them to stand face to face with stern realities. Did you ever lie upon the edge of death for a week? Did you ever lie with your body racked with pains, listening for the physician's whispers, and knowing that they amounted to this, that there were ninety-nine chances to one that you could not possibly recover? Did you ever feel that death was near? Did you ever peer into eternity with anxious eyes? Did you ever picture hell and think yourself there? Did you ever lie awake, and think of heaven and yourself shut out of it? Ah! it is in such times as these that God's Holy Spirit works great things for the sons of men. Hence Christ is glad when they are brought very low, when their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and they cry unto God in their trouble. He is glad because this is the stepping-stone to real and genuine trust in Him, and so to eternal life. It is much better to lose an eye or a hand than to lose your soul better to go to heaven poor and ragged, than to go to hell rich better to melt into heaven by the process of consumption than it were to go down to hell with bones filled with marrow, and sinews full of strength. Glory be to God for the trials and troubles some of us have had, if they have been the means of bringing us to Christ. Trials tend to make men believe in Christ when they are followed by deliverances. Perhaps some of you have been raised from a sick bed, or you have been helped over a time of temporal distress. Well, have you no gratitude? Do you not love God for His goodness? Does not your heart melt towards the Lord, for the kind deeds He has done to you? Have you no song of praise for His name? I have known many who have said, "Now that God has been pleased to raise me up and help me in this way, I will give Him my heart; what can I do for Him who has done so much for me?" Gratitude, I doubt not, has led many to put their trust in Christ. Besides, if you sought God and asked for help in time of trouble, and He did help you, this will tend to encourage you to pray again. If He helped you then, He will help you now; if He spared your life, why will He not spare your soul? If God has been pleased to lift you up from the grave, why may He not also deliver you from the pit of hell? I bless God there are many in this Church who were led to seek the Lord through answers to prayer. God was gracious to them in their distress; His mercy listened to their prayer; the blessing came, and the result is, that they cry unto Him, and will cry as long as they live. If once we have prevailed with God, and believing in God we have had some deliverance, this I hope will be overruled to make us trust God for everything in the future. Remember that the one thing needful for eternal life is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know you will tell me you cannot be perfect. No, I know you cannot. You will say, "I have many sins; I have done much that is wrong." It is true, most true, but he who believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ has his sins forgiven. You know the story Christ came down from heaven and took His people's sins upon His own shoulders. When God came forth to smite the sinner, Justice said, "Where is he?" and Christ came and stood in the sinner's place, and God's sword went through the Saviour's heart. Why? That it might never cut nor wound the heart of those for whom Jesus died. Did He die for you? He did, if you believe in Him; your faith will be to you the evidence that Christ was substitute for you, and oh! if Christ suffered for you, you cannot suffer. If God punished Christ He will never punish you. If Jesus Christ paid your debts, you are free. Before God's throne today, if thou believest, thou art as clear as the angels in heaven. Thou are a saved soul if thou art resting upon the atonement of Christ, and thou mayst go thy way and sing

"Now, freed from sin, I walk at large, The Saviour's blood's my full discharge; At His dear feet my soul I lay, A sinner saved, and homage pay."

If this be the result of your affliction, Christ may well say, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there to stop the trouble, to the intent that ye may believe." May God bring you to faith for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Verse 22

Even Now




February 8th, 1891

"Even now."-- John 11:22

I hope that there are a great many persons here who are interested in

the souls of those around them. We shall certainly never exercise faith

concerning those for whose salvation we have no care. I trust, also,

that we are diligent in looking after individuals, especially those who

are amongst our own family and friends. This is what Martha did; her

whole care was for her brother. It is often easier to have faith that

Christ can save sinners in general, than to believe that he can come

into our own home, and save some particular member of our

household. But, oh, the joy when this comes to pass; when we are able

to kneel beside some of our loved ones, and rejoice with them in being

made alive by the power of the Holy Ghost! We cannot expect to have

this privilege, however, unless like Martha we send our prayers to

Jesus, and go to meet him, and tell him of our need. In the presence of

Christ it seems very natural to trust him even at the worst extremity. It

is when we are at our wits' end that he delights to help us. When our

hopes seem to be buried, then it is that God can give a resurrection.

When our Isaac is on the altar, then the heavens are opened, and the

voice of the Eternal is heard. Art thou giving way to despair

concerning thy dear friend? Art thou beginning to doubt thy Saviour,

and to complain of his delay? Be sure that Jesus will come at the right

time, though he must be the judge of which is the best time for him to


Martha had a fine faith. If we all had such an honest belief in Christ as

she had, many a man, who now lies dead in his sins, would, ere long,

hear that voice which would call him forth from his tomb, and restore

him unto his friends. Martha's faith had to do with a dreadful case.

Her brother was dead, and had been buried, but her faith still lived;

and in spite of all things which went against her, she believed in

Christ, and looked to him for help in her extremity. Her faith went to

the very edge of the gulf, and she said, "But I know, that even now,

whatever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it to thee."

Still, Martha had not so much faith as she thought she had. But a few

hours after she had confessed her confidence in the power of the Lord

Jesus, or perhaps it was only a few minutes, she stood at the grave of

her brother, and evidently doubted the wisdom of him she professed to

trust. She objected to the stone being removed; and, strong in the

admitted facts of the case, she urged her reason and said, "Lord, by

this time he stinketh." Well, but, Martha, you said, not very long ago,

"I know that even now Christ can interpose." Yes, she said it, and she

believed it in the way in which most of us believe; but when her faith

was sharply tried by a matter of fact, she did not appear to have had all

the faith she professed. I suspect this also is true of most of us. We

often fancy our confidence in Christ is much stronger than it really is.

I think I have told you of my old friend, Will Richardson, who said,

when he was seventy-five years of age, that it was a very curious thing,

that all the winter through, he had thought he should like to be a-

harvesting, or out in the hay-field, because he felt so strong. He

imagined that he could so as much as any of the youngsters. "But," he

said, "do you know, Mr. Spurgeon, when the summer comes, I do not

get through the haymaking; and when the autumn comes, I find I have

not sufficient strength for reaping?" So it often is in spiritual things.

When we are not called upon to bear the trouble, we feel wonderfully

strong; but when the trial comes, very much of our boasted faith is

gone in smoke. Take heed that ye examine well your faith; let it be

true and real, for you will need it all.

However, Christ did not take Martha at her worst, but at her best.

When our Lord says, "According to your faith be it unto you," he does

not mean "According to your faith in its ebb," but "According to your

faith in its flood." He reads the thermometer at its at its highest point,

not at its lowest; not even taking the "mean temperature" of our trust.

He gives us credit for our quickest pace; not counting our slowest, nor

seeking to discover our average speed in this matter of faith. Christ did

for Martha all she could have asked or believed; her brother did rise

again, and he was restored to her, and to his friends. In thy case, too,

O thou trembling, timorous believer, the Lord Jesus will take thee at

thy best, and he will do for thee great things, seeing that thou desirest

to believe greatly, and that thy prayer is, "Lord, I believe; help thou

mine unbelief!"

The point upon which Martha chiefly rested, when she expressed her

faith, was the power of Christ in intercession with his Father. "I

know," said she, "that, even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God,

God will give it thee." Since the omnipotence of God could be claimed,

she felt no anxiety as to the greatness of the request. "Whatsoever" was

asked could easily be gained, if it was only asked by him who never

was denied. Beloved in the Lord, our Christ is still alive, and he is still

pleading. Beloved in the Lord, our Christ is still alive, and he is still

pleading. Can you believe, even now, that whatever he shall ask of

God, God will give it him, and give it you for his dear Son's sake?

What an anchorage is the intercession of Christ! "He is able also to

save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever

liveth to make intercession for them." Here is a grand pillar to rest the

weight of our souls upon: "He ever liveth to make intercession for

them." Surely, we may have great faith in him who never wearies, and

who never fails; who lives, indeed, for no other purpose than to plead

for those who trust in his dying love, and in his living power. "Who is

he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen

again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh

intercession for us." Fall back upon the intercessory power of Christ in

every time of need, and you will find comfort that will never fail you.

It is a grand thing to have faith for the present, not bemoaning the

past, nor dreaming of some future faith which we hope may yet be

ours. The present hour is the only time we really possess. The past is

gone beyond recall. If it has been filled with faith in God, we can no

more live on that faith now than we can live to-day on this bread we

ate last week. If, on the contrary, the past has been marred by our

unbelief, that is no reason why this moment should not witness a

grand triumph of trust in the faithful Saviour. Let us not excuse our

present lack of faith by the thought of some future blessing. No

confidence which we may learn to put in Christ, in the days to come,

can atone for our present unbelief. If we ever mean to trust him, why

should we not do so now, since he is as worthy of our belief now as he

will ever be, and since what we miss now we miss beyond recall.

"The present, the present, is all thou hast

For thy sure possessing,

Like the patriarch's angel, hold it fast,

Till it gives its blessing."

In this verse, "I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God,

God will give it to thee," I want to fix your attention only on the two

words, "Even now." We have just sung--

"Pass me not, O tender Saviour,

Let me love and cling to thee;

I am longing for thy favour;

When thou comest, call for me:

Even me."

Our hymn was "Even me." The sermon is to be "Even now." If you

have been singing "Even me," and so applying the truth to your own

case, say also, with an energy of heart that will take no denial, "Even

now," and listen with earnest expectation to that gospel which is

always in the present tense: "While it is said, To-day if ye will hear his

voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation." Remember, too,

that this is not only the preacher's word, for the Holy Ghost saith, "To-

day": "Even now."

I shall use these words, first, in reference to those who are concerned

about the souls of others, as Martha was about her dead brother.

Believe that Christ can save even now. Then I shall speak to you who

are somewhat concerned about your own souls. You believe, perhaps,

that Christ can save. I want you to be persuaded that he can save you

even now; that is to say, at this exact hour and minute, going by the

clock, while you hear these words, even now, Christ can forgive; even

now, Christ can save; even now, Christ can bless.


same position as Martha, I can bring out several points of likeness which

should encourage you to persevere. You, mother, have prayer for your boy;

you, father, have pleaded for your girl; you, dear wife, have been much in

prayer for your husband; you beloved teacher, have frequently brought your

class before God; and yet there is a bad case pressing upon your mind, and

your heart is heavy about some dear one, whose condition seems hopeless. I

want you to believe that now, even now, Christ can grant your prayer, and

save that soul; that now, even now, he can give you such a blessing

that the past delay shall be more than recompensed to you.

There is one, for instance, in whom we are deeply interested, and we

can say that the case has cost great sorrow. So Martha could have said

of Lazarus. "Blessed master", she might have said, "my brother took

the fever"--(for I should think it was a fever that he had)--"and I

watched him; I brought cold water from the well, and I laved his

burning brow; I was by his bedside all night. I never took off my

clothes. Nobody knows how my heart was wrung with anguish as I

saw the hot beaded drops upon his brow, and tried to moisten his

parched tongue and lips. I sorrowed as though I was about to die

myself; but in spite of all that, I believe even now that thou canst help

me; even now." Alas! There are many griefs in the world like this. A

mother says, "Nobody knows what I have suffered through that son of

mine. I shall die of a broken heart because of his conduct." "No one

can tell," says the father, "what grief that daughter of mine has caused

me. I have sometimes wished that she had never been born." There

have been many, many such stories told into my ear, in which a

beloved one has been the cause of anguish and agony untold to

gracious, loving hearts. To those so sorely troubled I now speak. Can

you believe that even now the living Intercessor is "mighty to save"? It

may be that you are at this moment trembling on the verge of the

blessing you so long have sought. God give you faith to grasp it "even


With other persons we are met with a fresh difficulty. The case has

already disappointed us. That is how some of you have found it, is it

not? "Yes," you say, "I have prayed long for a dear friend, and I

believed, some time ago, that my prayer was heard, and that there was

a change for the better; indeed, there was an apparent change; but it

came to nothing." You are just like Martha. She kept saying to herself,

"Christ will come. Brother is very ill, but Jesus will come before he

dies; I know he will. It cannot be that he will stay away much longer;

and when he comes, Lazarus will soon be well." Day after day, Mary

and she sent their messenger to look toward the Jordan, to see if Jesus

was not coming. But he did not come. It must have been a terrible

disappointment to both these sisters; enough to stagger the strongest

faith that had ever had in the sympathy of Christ. But Martha got the

better of it, and she said, "Even now, though disappointed so bitterly, I

believe that thou canst so whatsoever thou wilt." Learn from Martha,

my discouraged brother. You thought that your friend was converted,

but he wanted to go back again; you thought that there was a real work

of grace upon his heart, but it turned out to be a mere disappointment,

and disappeared, like the mist of the sun. But can you not believe over

the head of your disappointment, and say, "I believe even now, even

now"? Blessed shall your faith be, if it gets so far.

Perhaps further difficulties have met us. We have attempted to help

someone, and the case has proved our helplessness. "Ah, yes," says

one, "that exactly describes me. I never felt so helpless in my life. I

have done all that I can do, and it amounts to nothing. I have been

careful in my example. I have been prayerful in my words. I have been

very patient and longsuffering. I have tried to induce my beloved one

to go and listen to the gospel here and there. I have put holy books in

his way, and all the while, I have seized opportunities to plead with

him, often with tears in my eyes, and I can do nothing! I am dead

beat." Yes, that is just where Martha got to; she had done everything

and nothing seemed to be of the least use. None of the medicines she

applied seemed to soothe the sufferer. She had gone down to the

village, perhaps to the home of Simon the leper, who was a friend of

hers, and he possibly advise some new remedies; but nothing seemed

to make the least difference. Her brother grew worse and worse, until

she saw that, though she had nursed him back to health the last time

he had been ill, she was now utterly powerless. Then he died. Yet,

even though things had gone as far as that, she had faith in Christ. In

like manner, your case is beyond your skill; but you cannot believe

that, even now, the end of nature will be the beginning of grace; can

you not even now feel that you shall find that word true, "He shall not

fail"? Christ never did fail yet, and he never will. When all the doctors

give a patient up, the Great Physician can step in and heal. Can you

believe concerning your friend "even now"?

But perhaps you are in a worse plight still. The case has been given

up. I think I hear one kind, gracious soul, whose hope has been

crushed, say, "Well, sir, that is just what we have come to about my

boy. We held a little family meeting, and said we must get him to go

away to Australia, if we can. If he will only go to America, or

somewhere abroad, it will be a relief to have him out of our sight. He

keeps coming home intoxicated, and gets brought before the

magistrates. He is a disgrace to us. He is a shame to the name he bears.

We have given him up." Martha had come to this. She had given her

brother up, and had actually buried him; yet she believed in the power

of Christ. Ah, there are many people that are buried alive! I do not

know that such a thing ever happens in the cemetery; but I know it

happens in our streets and homes. Many are buried morally, and given

up by us before God gives them up. And, somehow, it is often the

given-up people that God delights to bless. Can you believe that even

now, even now, prayer can be heard, that even now the Holy Ghost can

change the nature, and that even now Christ can save the soul?

Believest thou this? I shall rejoice if thou canst, and thou too shalt

rejoice ere long.

But there is still a lower depth. Here is one who is much concerned

about an individual, and the case is loathsome. "Though we loved him

once," he says, "his character has now become such that it is

pestilential to the family. He leads others astray. We cannot think of

what he has done without the very memory of his life spreading a taint

over our conscience, and over our mind." There are persons alive in

the world, who are just masses of living putridity. There may be such

here. I should be glad if a word I said could reach them. It is a

shocking thing that there are men and women, made in the image of

God, with talents and ability, with capacity and conscience, who,

nevertheless, seem to live for nothing else but to indulge their

licentious passions, and to lead others into vices which else they had

never known. There must come an awful day of reckoning to such

when the Christ of God shall sit upon the throne, and shall weigh

before all men the secret doings of libertines, of debauched men, and

depraved women. If any of you have such a one related to you, can you

believe that even now Christ can raise that one? Yours is just the same

sort of case as Martha had. She could have said, "Brother is buried;

worse than that, he stinketh." She did not like to say that of dear

Lazarus, her own brother, but she could not help saying it. And there

are some men of whom we are compelled to say, no matter how much

our love seeks to shield them, that their character stinks. But can you

still believe that, even now, there is hope that God can intervene, and

that grace can save? Why, my dear friend, you and I know that it is so!

I do believe it; we must all believe it. If it comes to a case very near

and dear to you, and you begin to be a little bit staggered, recollect

what you used to be yourselves--not openly so depraved, perhaps, but

inwardly, quite the same, and take hope for these foul men and women

from the remembrance of what you were: "and such were some of you;

but ye are washed." When John Newton used to preach at St. Mary

Woolnoth, he always believed in the possibility of the salvation of the

worst of his hearers; for he had been himself one of the vilest of the

vile. When he was very old, and they said, "Dear Mr. Newton, you are

too old to preach; you had better not go into the pulpit now," he said,

"What! Shall the old African blasphemer, who has been saved by

grace, leave off preaching the gospel while there is a breath in his

body? Never." I think while there is breath in the body of some of us,

we must go on telling the gospel; for, if it saved us, it can saved the

worst of sinners. We are bound to believe that even now Christ can

save even the most horrible and the most vile.

"His blood can make the foulest clean,

His blood availed for me."

Perhaps there is even a more desperate difficulty still with reference to

someone whom we would fain see living for God. The case is beyond

our reach. "Yes," that brother quickly answers, "now you have come to

my trouble. I do not even know where my boy is; he ran away, and we

have not heard from him for years. How can I help him?" Why, believe

that "even now" Christ can speak to him, and save him! He can send

his grace where we can send our love. The great difficulty which lies

like a stone at the door of the sepulchre will not prevent him speaking

the life-giving word. He has all forces at his command, and when he

says the word, the stone shall be rolled away, and the son, that is lost

shall be found; the dead shall be made alive again. Though you cannot

reach your son, or your daughter, Christ can meet with them. "the

Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither does his ear

heavy, that it cannot hear." Though your prodigal boy or your

wandering girl be at the end of the earth, Christ can reach them, and

save them. "Have faith in God." "Even now" Christ can aid you.

"Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,

And looks to God alone,

Laughs at impossibilities,

And says, 'It shall be done.'"

I know there are some Christian people who have drifted into the

terribly wicked state of giving up their relatives as hopeless. There was

a brother here, who is now in heaven, a good, earnest Christian man,

whose son had treated him very shockingly indeed, and the father,

justly indignant, felt it right to give his son up. He had often tried to

help him, but the young man was so scandalous a scapegrace that I did

not wonder that the old man turned him away. But one night, as I was

preaching here, I spoke in something like the same way in which I

have spoken now; and the next morning the old man's arm was about

his child's neck. He could not help himself; he felt he must go and find

his son out, and seek again to reclaim him. It seemed to have been the

appointed time for that boy's salvation, for it pleased God that within a

few months that son died, and he passed away with a good hope,

through grace, that he had been brought to his Saviour's feet by his

father's love. If any of you have a very bad son, go after him, seeking,

until by the grace of God, you shall find him. And you that have

grown hopeless about your relatives, you must try not to give them up.

If other people cast them off, you must not, for they are allied to you by

the ties of blood. Seek them out. You are the best person in the world

to seek them, and the most likely to find them, if you can believe that

even now, when the worst has come to the worst, "even now,"

almighty grace can step in, and save the lost soul.

Oh, that some here may have faith to claim at this moment the

salvation of their friends! May desire be wrought into expectancy, and

hope become certainty! Like Jacob at Jabbok, my we lay hold of God,

saying, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." To such faith the

Lord will give a quick response. He that will not be denied shall not be

denied. My friend, Hudson Taylor, who has done such a wonderful

work for China, is an instance of this. Brought up in a godly home, he,

as a young man, tried to imitate the lives of his parents, and failing in

his own strength to make himself better, he swung to the other

extreme, and began to entertain skeptical notions. One day, when his

mother was from home, a great yearning after her boy possessed her,

and she went up to her room to plead with God that "even now" he

would save him. If I remember aright, she said that she would not

leave the room until she had the assurance that her boy would be

brought to Christ. At length her faith triumphed, and she rose quite

certain that all was well, and that "even now" her son was saved. What

was he doing at that time? Having half an hour to spare, he wandered

into his father's library, and aimlessly took down one book after

another to find some short and interesting passage to divert his mind.

He could not find what he wanted in any of the books, so, seeing a

narrative tract, he took it up with the intention of reading the story,

and putting it down where the sermon part of it began. As he read, he

came to the words "the finished work of Christ", and almost at the

very moment in which his mother, who was miles away, claimed his

soul of God, light came into his heart. He saw that it was by the

finished work of Christ that he was to be saved; and kneeling in his

father's library, he sought and found the life of God. Some days

afterwards, when his mother returned, he said to her, "I have some

news to tell you." "Oh, I know what it is!" she answered, smiling,

"You have given yourself to God." "Who told you?" he asked in

astonishment. "God told me," she said, and together they praised him,

who, at the same moment, gave faith to the mother, and the life to the

son, and who has since made him such a blessing to the world. It was

the mother's faith, claiming the blessing "even now", that did it. I tell

you this remarkable incident that many others may be stirred up to the

same immediate and importunate desire for the salvation of their

children and relatives. There are some things we must always pray for

with submission as to whether it is the will of God to bestow them

upon us: but for the salvation of men and women we may ask without

fear. God delights to save and to bless; and when the faith is given to

us to expect an immediate answer to such a prayer, thrice happy we

are. Seek such faith even now, I beseech you, "even now."

II. But, in the second place, I want to speak very earnestly to any here

who are concerned about their own souls. Jesus came to save you "even


the Lord, even while you hear these words, to speak to you the word of

power, and bring you forth from your sleep of sin?

For some of you, the time is late, very late; yet it is not too late. You

are getting into years, my friend. I want you to believe that even now

Christ can save you. I often notice the number of old people who come

to the Tabernacle. I am glad to see the aged saints; but amongst so

many elderly people, no doubt, there are some unsaved sinners, whose

grey hairs are not a crown of glory, but a fool's cap. But, however old

you are, though you are sixty, seventy, eighty or even ninety years of

age, yet "even now" Christ can give you life. Blessed be God for that!

But it is not altogether the years that trouble you; it is you sins. As I

have already said, if you have gone to the very extremity of sin, you

may believe that, after all those years of wandering, the arms of free

grace are still open to receive you "even now." There is an old proverb,

"It is never too late to mend." It is ever too late for us to mend

ourselves, but it is never too late for Christ to mend us. Christ can

make us new, and it is never too late for him to do it. If you come to

him, and trust him, he will receive you "even now."

By the longsuffering of God, there is a time left to you, in which you

may turn to him. What a thousand mercies it is that "even now" is a

time of mercy to you: it might have been the moment of you

everlasting doom! You have been in accidents; you have been within

an inch of the grave many times; you have been ill, seriously ill; you

have been well-nigh given up for dead; and here you are yet alive, but

still an enemy to God! Plucked by his hand from the fire and flood,

and, mayhap, from battle; delivered from fever and cholera, and still

ungrateful, still rebelling, still spending the life that grace has lent you

in resisting the love of God! Long years ago you should have believed

in Christ, but the text is "even now." Do not begin to say, "I believe

that God could have saved me years ago;" there is no faith in that. Do

not meet my earnest plea, by saying, "I believe that God can save me

under such-and-such conditions." Believe that he can save you now, up

in the top gallery there, just as you are. You came in here careless and

thoughtless; yet, even now, he can save you. Away yonder, quite a man

of the world, free and easy, destitute of all religious inclinations

though you may be, he can save you even now. O God, strike many a

man down, as thou did Saul of Tarsus, and change their hearts by

thine own supreme love, as thou canst do it, even now, on the very

spot where they sit or stand.

But though God waits to be gracious to you, though you have yet time

to repent, remember, it is but a time, therefore seize it. Your

opportunity will not last for ever. I believe that even now God can

save; but if you reject Christ, there will come a time when salvation

will be impossible. On earth, as long as a man desires to be saved, he

may be saved: while there is life there is hope. I believe that, if a man's

breath were going from his body, if he could then look to Christ, he

would live. But--

"There are no acts of pardon passed

In the cold grave, to which we haste;

But darkness, death, and long despair,

Reign in eternal silence there."

Do not venture on that last leap without Christ; but even now, ere the

clock strikes another time, fly to Jesus. Trust him "even now."

It is a time of hope. Even now, there is still every opportunity and

every preparation for the sinner's salvation. "Behold, now is the

accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Shall I give you

some reasons for believing that "even now" is a time of hope? There

are many good arguments which may be brought forward, in order to

banish the thought of despair.

First, the gospel is still preached. The old-fashioned gospel is not dead

yet. There are a great many who would like to muzzle the mouths of

God's ministers; but they never will. The old gospel will live when

they are dead; and, because it is still preached to you, you may believe

and live. What is the old gospel? It is that, seeing you are helpless to

save yourself, or bring yourself back to God, Christ came to restore

you; that he took those sins of yours, which were enough to sink you to

hell, and bore them on the cross, that he might bring you to heaven. If

you will but trust him, even now, he will deliver you from the curse of

the law; for it is written, "He that believeth on him is not condemned."

If you will trust him, even now, he will give you a life of blessedness,

which will never end; for again it is written, "He that believeth on the

Son hath everlasting life." Because that gospel is preached, there is

hope for you. When there is no hope, there will be no presentation of

the gospel. God must, by an edict, suspend the preaching of the gospel

ere he can suspend the fulfillment of the gospel promise to every soul

that believeth. Since there is a gospel, take it; take it now, even now.

God help you to do so!

In the second place, I know there is hope now, "even now"; forthe

Christ still lives. He rose from the dead, no more to die, and he is as

strong as ever. "I am he that liveth and was dead." He saith, "an

behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen." These words were spoken to

the Apostle John, and when he saw him, he said that "His head and his

hairs were white like wool, as white as snow;" but when the spouse

saw him, she said, "His locks are busy, and black as a raven." Yet both

saw truly. John's vision of the white hair was to show that Christ is the

ancient of days; but the view of the spouse was to show his everlasting

youth, his unceasing strength and power to save. If there is any

difference in him, Christ is to-day more mighty to save than he was

when Martha saw him. He had not then completed the work of

salvation, but he has perfectly accomplished it now; and therefore

there is hope for everyone who trusts in him. My Lord has gone up

yonder where a prayer will find him, with the keys of death and hell

jingling at his girdle, and with the omnipotence of God in his right

hand. If you believe on him, by his "eternal power and Godhead" he

will save you, and save you even now, on the spot, before you leave

this house.

Moreover, I know that this is a time of hope, in the next place, because

the precious blood still has power. All salvation is through the blood

of the Lamb. Still--

"There is a fountain filled with blood,

Drawn from Immanuel's veins;"

and still, "even now,"--

"Sinners, plunged beneath the flood,

Lose all their guilty stains."

The endless efficacy of the atoning sacrifice is the reason why you may

come and believe in Jesus, "even now." If that blood had diminished in

its force, I should not dare to speak as I do; but I can, "even now," say

with confidence,--

"Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood

Shall never lose its power,

Till all the ransomed church of God

Be saved to sin no more."

How many have already entered into glory by the blood of the Lamb!

When a man comes to die, nothing else will do for him but this: our

own works are a poor staff for us when we pass through the river. All

those who are now in the land of light have but one confidence, and

but one song: they stand upon the merit of Jesus Christ, and they

praise the Lamb who was slain, by whose blood they have been

cleansed and sanctified. There is no other way of salvation but that.

"Even now: that blood has virtue to take away your sin. Christ is a

sufficient Saviour, because his death has unexhausted power. Believe

that he can save you "even now."

Again, I would remind you that "even now" is a time of hope to you

because the Spirit still can renew. He is yet at work, regenerating and

sanctifying. He came down at Pentecost to dwell with his people, and

has never gone back again. He is still in the church. Sometimes we

feel his mighty power more than oat other times, but he is always at

work. Oh, you that do not know anything about the power of the Holy

Ghost, let me tell you that this is the most wonderful phenomenon that

can ever be observed! Those of us, who have seen and known his

mighty energy, can bear testimony to it. In my retirement, at Menton,

during the last few weeks, if you had seen me, you would have found

me sitting every morning, at half-past nine o'clock, at my little table,

with my Bible, just reading a chapter, and offering prayer, my family

prayer with the little group of forty to fifty friends, who gathered for

that morning act of worship. There they met, and the Spirit of God

was manifestly moving among them, converting, cheering,

comforting. It was because of no effort of mine; it was simply the

Word, attended by the Spirit of God, binding us together, and binding

us all to Christ. And here, in this house, for seven-and-thirty years,

have I in all simply preached this old-fashioned gospel. I have just

kept to that one theme; content to know nothing else amongst men;

and where are they that preached new gospels? They have been like

the mist upon the mountain's brow. They came, and they have gone.

And so it will always be with those who preach anything but the Word

of God; for nothing will abide but the mount itself, the everlasting

truth of the gospel to which the Holy Ghost bears witness. That same

Holy Ghost is able to give you a new heart "even now", to make you a

new creature in Christ Jesus at this moment. Believest thou this?

Once more. I know that "even now" Christ can save you, and I pray

you to believe it, for the Father is still waiting to receive returning

prodigals. Still, as of old, the door is open, and the best robe hangs in

the hall, ready to be put upon the shoulders of the son who comes back

from the far country, even though he returns reeking with the odour of

the swine-trough. How longingly the Father looks along the road, to

see whether at length some of you are turning homeward! Ah! did you

but know the joy that awaits those who come, and the feast which

would load the welcoming table, you would "even now" say, "I will

arise and go to my Father." You should have returned long ago; but

blessed be his love, which "even now" waits to clasp you to his heart!

Last of all, faith is but the work of a moment. Believe and live. Thou

hast nothing to do; thou needest no preparations: come as thou art,

without a single plea, but that he bids thee to come. Come now, "even

now." If Christ were far away, the time that is left to some of you

might be too short to reach him; if there were many things which first

of all you had to do, your life might close before they were half done; if

faith had to grow strong before it received salvation, you might be in

the place of eternal despair before your faith had time to be more than

a mere mustard seed. But Christ is not far away; he is in our midst, he

is by your side. You have nothing to do before you trust him, he has

done it all; and, however weak your faith, if it but comes in contact

with Christ, it will convey you to instant blessing. "Even now" you

may be saved for ever; for--

"The moment a sinner believes,

And trusts in his crucified God,

His pardon at one he receives,

Redemption in full, through his blood."

Surely all these are sufficient reasons why "even now" is a time of

hope to you; may it also be a time of blessing! It shall be so if thou wilt

but at this instant cast thyself on Christ. He says to thee that, if thou

wilt but believe, thou shalt see the glory of God. Martha saw that

glory. Thou shalt see it too if thou hast like precious faith.

I long that God would give me some souls to-night, on this first

occasion when I have met an evening congregation since my return

from the sunny South. I desire earnestly that he would set the bells of

heaven ringing because sinners have returned, and heirs of glory have

been born into the family of grace. I stirred you up to pray this

morning. Pray mightily that this word to-night, simple but pointed,

may be blessed to many.

Verses 24-26

Though He Were Dead

September 14th, 1884 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?" John 11:24-26 .

Martha is a very accurate type of a class of anxious believers. They do believe truly, but not with such confidence as to lay aside their care. They do not distrust the Lord, or question the truth of what He says, yet they puzzle their brain about "How shall this thing be?" and so they miss the major part of the present comfort which the word of the Lord would minister to their hearts if they received it more simply. How? and why? belong unto the Lord. It is His business to arrange matters so as to fulfil His own promises. If we would sit at our Lord's feet with Mary, and consider what He has promised, we should choose a better part than if we ran about with Martha, crying, "How can these things be?"

Martha, you see, in this case, when the Lord Jesus Christ told her that her brother would rise again, replied, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." She was a type, I say, of certain anxious believers, for she set a practical bound to the Saviour's words. "Of course there will be a resurrection, and then my brother will rise with the rest." She concluded that the Saviour could not mean anything beyond that. The first meaning and the commonest meaning that suggests itself to her must be what Jesus means. Is not that the way with many of us? We had a statesman once, and a good man too, who loved reform; but whenever he had accomplished a little progress, he considered that all was done. We called him at last "Finality John," for he was always coming to an ultimatum, and taking for his motto "Rest, and be thankful." Into that style Christian people too frequently drop with regard to the promises of God. We limit the Holy one of Israel as to the meaning of His words. Of course they mean so much, but we cannot allow that they intend more. It were well if the spirit of progress would enter into our faith, so that we felt within our souls that we had never beheld the innermost glory of the Lord's words of grace. We often wonder that the disciples put such poor meanings upon our Lord's words, but I fear we are almost as far off as they were from fully comprehending all His gracious teachings. Are we not still as little children, making little out of great words? Have we grasped as yet a tithe of our Lord's full meaning, in many of His sayings of love? When He is talking of bright and sparkling gems of benediction, we are thinking of common pebble-stones in the brook of mercy; when He speaketh of stars and heavenly crowns, we think of sparks and childish coronals of fading flowers. Oh that we could but have our intellect cleared; better still, could have our understanding expanded, or, best of all, our faith increased, so as to reach to the height or our Lord's great arguments of love!

Martha also had another fault in which she was very like ourselves: she laid the words of Jesus on the shelf, as things so trite and sure that they were of small practical importance. "Thy brother shall rise again." Now, if she had possessed faith enough, she might truthfully have said, "Lord, I thank Thee for that word! I expect within a short space to see him sitting at the table with Thee. I put the best meaning possible upon Thy words, for I know that Thou art always better than I can think Thee to be; and therefore I expect to see my beloved Lazarus walk home from the sepulchre before the sun sets again." But no, she lays the truth aside as a matter past all dispute, and says, "I know that my brother shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." A great many precious truths are laid up by us like the old hulks in the Medway, never to see service any more, or like aged pensioners at Chelsea, as relics of the past. We say "Yes, quite true, we fully believe that doctrine." Somehow it is almost as bad to lay up a doctrine in lavender as it is to throw it out of the window. When you so believe a truth as to put it to bed and smother it with the bolster of neglect, it is much the same as if you did not believe it at all. An official belief is very much akin to infidelity. Some persons never question a doctrine: that is not their line of temptation; they accept the gospel as true, but then they never expect to see its promises practically carried out; it is a proper thing to believe, but by no means a prominent, practical factor in actual life. It is true but it is mysterious, misty, mythical, far removed from the realm of practical common sense. We do with the promises often as a poor old couple did with a precious document, which might have cheered their old age had they used it according to its real value. A gentleman stepping into a poor woman's house saw framed and glazed upon the wall a French note for a thousand francs. He said to the old folks, "How came you by this?" They informed him that a poor French soldier had been taken in by them and nursed until he died, and he had given them that little picture when he was dying as a memorial of him. They thought it such a pretty souvenir that they had framed it, and there it was adorning the cottage wall. They were greatly surprised when they were told that it was worth a sum which would be quite a little fortune for them if they would but turn it into money. Are we not equally unpractical with far more precious things? Have you not certain of the words of your great Lord framed and glazed in your hearts, and do you not say to yourselves, "They are so sweet and precious"? and yet you have never turned them into actual blessing never used them in the hour of need. You have done as Martha did when she took the words, "Thy brother shall rise again," and put round about them this handsome frame, "in the resurrection at the last day." Oh that we had grace to turn God's bullion of gospel into current coin, and use them as our present spending money.

Moreover, Martha made another blunder, and that was setting the promise in the remote distance. This is a common folly, this distancing the promises of the Most High. "In the resurrection at the last day" no doubt she thought it a very long way off, and therefore she did not get much comfort out of it. Telescopes are meant to bring objects near to the eye, but I have known people use the mental telescope in the wrong way: they always put the big end of it to their eye, and then the glass sends the object further away. Her brother was to be raised that very day: she might so have understood the Saviour, but instead of it she looked at His words through the wrong end of the glass, and said, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Brethren, do not refuse the present blessing. Death and heaven, or the advent and the glory, are at your doors. A little while and He that will come shall come, and will not tarry. Think not that the Lord is slack concerning His promise. Do not say in your heart, "My Lord delayeth His coming"; or dream that His words of love are only for the dim future. In the ages to come marvels shall be revealed, but even the present hour is bejewelled with loving-kindness. To-day the Lord has rest, and peace, and joy to give to you. Lose not these treasures by unbelief.

Martha also appears to me to have made the promise unreal and impersonal. "Thy brother shall rise again"; to have realized that would have been a great comfort to her, but she mixes Lazarus up with all the rest of the dead. "Yes, he will rise in the resurrection at the last day; when thousands of millions shall be rising from their graves, no doubt Lazarus will rise with the rest." That is the way with us; we take the promise and say, "This is true to all the children of God." If so it is true to us; but we miss that point. What a blessing God has bestowed upon the covenanted people! Yes, and you are one of them; but you shake your head, as if the word was not for you. It is a fine feast, and yet you are hungry; it is a full and flowing stream, but you remain thirsty. Why is this? Somehow the generality of your apprehension misses the sweetness which comes of personal appropriation. There is such a thing as speaking of the promises in a magnificent style, and yet being in deep spiritual poverty; as if a man should boast of the wealth of old England, and the vast amount of treasure in the Bank, while he does not possess a penny wherewith to bless himself. In your case you know it is your own fault that you are poor and miserable, for if you would but exercise an appropriating faith you might possess a boundless heritage. If you are a child of God all things are yours, and you may help yourself. If you are hungry at this banquet it is for want of faith: if you are thirsty by the brink of this river it is because you do not stoop down and drink. Behold, God is your portion: the Father is your shepherd, the Son of God is your food, and the Spirit of God is your comforter. Rejoice and be glad, and grasp with the firm hand of a personal faith that royal boon which Jesus sets before you in His promises.

I beg you to observe how the Lord Jesus Christ in great wisdom dealt with Martha. In the first place, He did not grow angry with her. There is not a trace of petulance in His speech. He did not say to her, "Martha, I am ashamed of you that you should have such low thoughts of me." She thought that she was honouring Jesus when she said, "I know, that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee." Her idea of Jesus was that He was a great prophet Who would ask of God and obtain answers to His prayers; she has not grasped the truth of His own personal power to give and sustain life. But the Saviour did not say, "Martha, these are low and grovelling ideas of your Lord and Saviour." He did not chide her, though she lacked wisdom, wisdom which she ought to have possessed. I do not think God's people learn much by being scolded; it is not the habit of the great Lord to scold His disciples, and therefore they do not take it well when His servants take upon themselves to rate them. If ever you meet with one of the Lord's own who falls far short of the true ideal of the gospel, do not bluster and upbraid. Who taught you what you know? He that has taught you did it of His infinite love and grace and pity, and He was very tender with you, for you were doltish enough; therefore be tender with others, and give them line upon line, even as your Lord was gentle towards you. It ill becomes a servant to lose patience where his Master shows so much.

The Lord Jesus, with gentle spirit, proceeded to teach her more of the things concerning Himself. More of Jesus! More of Jesus! That is the sovereign cure for our faults. He revealed Himself to her, that in Him she might behold reasons for a clearer hope and a more substantial faith. How sweetly fell those words upon her ear: "I am the resurrection and the life"! Not "I can get resurrection by my prayers," but "I am, myself, the resurrection." God's people need to know more of what Jesus is, more of the fullness which it has pleased the Father to place in Him. Some of them know quite enough of what they are themselves, and they will break their hearts if they go on reading much longer in that black-letter book: they need, I say, to rest their eyes upon the person of their Lord, and to spy out all the riches of grace which lie hidden in Him; then they will pluck up courage, and look forward with surer expectancy. When our Lord said, "I am the resurrection and the life," He indicated to Martha that resurrection and life were not gifts which He must seek, nor even boons which He must create; but that He Himself was the resurrection and the life: these things were wherever He was. He was the author, and giver, and maintainer of life, and that life was Himself. He would have her to know that He was Himself precisely what she wanted for her brother. She did know a little of the Lord's power, for she said, "If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died," which being very kindly interpreted might mean, "Lord, Thou art the life." "Ah, but," saith Jesus, "you must also learn that I am the resurrection! You already admit that if I had been here Lazarus would not have died; I would have you further learn that I being here your brother shall live though he has died; and that when I am with my people none of them shall die for ever, for I am to them the resurrection and the life." Poor Martha was looking up into the sky for life, or gazing down into the deeps for resurrection, when the Resurrection and the Life stood before her, smiling upon her, and cheering her heavy heart. She had thought of what Jesus might have done if He had been there before; now let her know what He is at the present moment.

Thus I have introduced the text to you, and I pray God the Holy Spirit to bless these prefatory observations; for if we learn only these first lessons we shall not have been here in vain. Let us construe promises in their largest sense, let us regard them as real, and set them down as facts. Let us look to the Promisor, even to Jesus the Lord, and not so much to the difficulties which surround the accomplishment of the promise. In beginning the divine life let us look to Jesus, and in afterwards running the heavenly race let us still be looking unto Jesus, till we see in Him our all in all. When both eyes look on Jesus we are in the light; but when we have one eye for Him, and one eye for self, all is darkness. Oh, to see Him with all our soul's eyes!

Now, I am going to speak as I am helped of the Spirit; and I shall proceed thus first, by asking you to view the text as a stream of comfort to Martha and other bereaved persons; and, secondly, to view it as a great deep of comfort to all believers.


Observe, in the beginning, that the presence of Jesus Christ means life and resurrection. It meant that to Lazarus. If Jesus comes to Lazarus, Lazarus must live. Had Martha taken the Saviour's words literally, as she should have done, as I have already told you, she would have had immediate comfort from them; and the Saviour intended her to understand them in that sense. He virtually says, "I am to Lazarus the Power that can make him live again; and I am the Power that can keep him in life. Yea, I am the resurrection and the life." A statement so understood would have been very comfortable to her. Nothing could have been more so. It would there and then have abolished death so far as her brother was concerned. Somebody says, "But I do not see that this is any comfort to us , for if Jesus be here, yet it is only a spiritual presence, and we cannot expect to see our dear mother, or child, or husband raised from the dead thereby." I answer that our Lord Jesus is able at this moment to give us back our departed ones, for He is still the resurrection and the life. But let me ask you whether you really wish that Jesus would raise your departed ones from the dead. You say at first, "Of course I do wish it"; but I would ask you to reconsider that decision; for I believe that upon further thought you will say, "No, I could not wish it." Do you really desire to see your glorified husband sent back again to this world of care and pain? Would you have your father or mother deprived of the glories which they are now enjoying in order that they might help you in the struggles of this mortal life? Would you discrown the saints? You are not so cruel. That dear child, would you have it back from among the angels, and from the inner glory, to come here and suffer again? You would not have it so. And to my mind it is a comfort to you, or should be, that it is not within your power to have it so; because you might be tempted in some selfish moment to accept the doubtful boon. Lazarus could return, and fit into his place again, but scarcely one in ten thousand could do so. There would be serious drawbacks in the return of those whom we have loved best. Do you cry, "Give back my father! Give me back my friend"? You know not what you ask. It might be a cause of regret to you as long as they lingered here, for you would each morning think to yourself, "Beloved one, I have brought you out of heaven by my wish. I have robbed you of infinite felicity to gratify myself." For my own part, I had rather that the Lord Jesus should keep the keys of death than that He should lend them to me. It would be too dreadful a privilege to be empowered to rob heaven of the perfected merely to give pleasure to imperfect ones below. Jesus would raise them now if He knew it to be right; I do not wish to take the government from His shoulder. It is more comfortable to me to think that Jesus Christ could give them back to me, and would if it were for His glory and my good. My dear ones that lie asleep could be awakened in an instant if the Master thought it best; but it would not be best, and therefore even I would hold His skirt, and say, "Tread softly, Master! Do not arouse them! I shall go to them, but they shall not return to me. It is not my wish they should return: it is better that they should be with Thee where Thou art, to behold Thy glory." It does not seem to me, then, dear friend, that you are one whit behind Martha: and you ought to be comforted while Jesus says to you, "I am even now the resurrection and the life."

Furthermore, here is comfort which we may each one safely take, namely, that when Jesus comes the dead shall live. The Revised Version has it, "He that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live." We do not know when our Lord will descend from heaven, but we do know the message of the angel, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." The Lord will come; we may not question the certainty of His appearing. When He cometh, all His redeemed shall live with Him. The trump of the archangel shall startle the happy sleepers, and they shall wake to put on their beauteous array; the body transformed and made like unto Christ's glorious body shall be once more wrapt about them as the vesture of their perfected and emancipated spirits. Then our brother shall rise again, and all our dear ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus the Lord will bring with Him. This is the glorious hope of the church, wherein we see the death of death, and the destruction of the grave. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Then we are also told that when Jesus comes, living believers shall not die. After the coming of Christ there shall be no more death for His people. What does Paul say? "Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed." Did I see a little school-girl put up her finger? Did I hear her say, "Please, sir, you made a mistake." So I did; I made it on purpose. Paul did not say, "We shall not all die," for the Lord had already said, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" ; Paul would not say that any of us should die, but he used his Master's own term, and said, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." When the Lord comes there will be no more death; we who are alive and remain (as some of us may be we cannot tell) will undergo a sudden transformation for flesh and blood, as they are, cannot inherit the kingdom of God and by that transformation our bodies shall be made meet to be "partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." There shall be no more death then. Here, then, we have two sacred handkerchiefs with which to wipe the eyes of mourners: when Christ cometh the dead shall live; when Christ cometh those that live shall never die. Like Enoch, or Elias, we shall pass into the glory state without wading through the black stream, while those who have already forded it shall prove to have been no losers thereby. All this is in connection with Jesus. Resurrection with Jesus is resurrection indeed. Life in Jesus is life indeed. It endears to us resurrection, glory, eternal life, and ultimate perfection, when we see them all coming to us in Jesus. He is the golden pot which hath this manna, the rod which beareth these almonds, the life whereby we live.

But further, I have not made you drink deep enough of this stream yet, I think our Saviour meant that even now His dead are alive. "He that believeth on me, though he die, but yet they live. They are not in the grave, they are for ever with the Lord. They are not unconscious, they are with their Lord in Paradise. Death cannot kill a believer, it can only usher him into a freer form of life. Because Jesus lives, His people live. God is not the God of the dead but of the living: those who have departed have not perished. We laid the precious body in the cemetery, and we set up stones at the head and foot; but we might engrave on them the Lord's words, "She is not dead, but sleepeth." True, and unbelieving generation may laugh us to scorn, but we scorn their laughing.

Again, even now His living do not die. There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father's palace: to the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors: death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory. To die in the Lord is a covenant blessing. Death is ours; it is set down in the list of our possessions among the "all things", and it follows life in the list as if it were an equal favour. No longer is it death to die. The name remains, but the thing itself is changed. Wherefore, then, are we in bondage through fear of death? Why do we dread the process which gives us liberty? I am told that persons who in the cruel ages had lain in prison for years suffered much more in the moment of the knocking off of their fetters than they had endured for months in wearing the hard iron; and yet I suppose that no man languishing in a dungeon would have been unwilling to stretch out his arm or leg, that the heavy chains might be beaten off by the smith. We should all be content to endure that little inconvenience to obtain lasting liberty. Now, such is death the knocking off of the fetters; yet the iron may never seem to be so truly iron as when that last liberating blow of grace is about to fall. Let us not mind the harsh grating of the key as it turns in the lock; if we understand it aright it will be as music to our ears. Imagine that your last hour is come! The key turns with pain for a moment; but, lo, the bolt is shot! The iron gate is open! The spirit is free! Glory be unto the Lord for ever and ever!

II. I leave the text now as a stream of comfort for the bereaved, for I wish you to VIEW IT AS A GREAT DEEP OF COMFORT FOR ALL BELIEVERS. I cannot fathom it, any more than I could measure the abyss, but I can invite you to survey it by the help of the Holy Ghost.

Methinks, first, this text plainly teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the life of His people. We are dead by nature, and you can never produce life out of death: the essential elements are wanting. Should a spark be lingering among the ashes, you may yet fan it to a flame; but from human nature the last spark of heavenly life is gone, and it is vain to seek for life among the dead. The life of every Christian is Christ. He is the beginning of life, being the Resurrection: when He comes to us we live. Regeneration is the result of contact with Christ: we are begotten again unto living hope by His resurrection from the dead. The life of the Christian in its commencement is in Christ alone; not a fragment of it is from himself, and the continuance of that life is equally the same; Jesus is not only the resurrection to begin with, but the life to go on with. "I have life in myself," saith one. I answer not otherwise than as you are one with Christ: your spiritual life in every breath it draws is in Christ. If you are regarded for a moment as separated from Christ, you are cast forth as a branch and are withered. A member severed from the head is dead flesh and no more. In union to Christ is your life. Oh that our hearers would understand this! I see a poor sinner look into himself, and look again, and then cry, "I cannot see any life within!" Of course you cannot; you have no life of your own. "Alas," cries a Christian, "I cannot find anything within to feed my soul with!" Do you expect to feed upon yourself? Must not Israel look up for the manna? Did one of all the tribes find it in his own bosom? To look to self is to turn to a broken cistern which can hold no water. I tell you you must learn that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Hearken to that great "I" that infinite EGO! This must cover over and swallow up your little ego. "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." What are you? Less than nothing, and vanity; but over all springs up that divine, all-sufficient personality, "I am the resurrection and the life." Take the two first words together, and they seem to me to have a wondrous majesty about them "I AM!" Here is Self-Existence. Life in Himself! Even as the Mediator, the Lord Jesus tells us that it is given Him to have life in Himself, even as the Father hath life in Himself (John 5:26 ). I am fills the yawning mouth of the sepulchre. He that liveth and was dead and is alive for evermore, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, declares, "I am the resurrection and the life." If, then, I want to live unto God, I must have Christ; and if I desire to continue to live unto God I must continue to have Christ; and if I aspire to have that life developed to the utmost fullness of which it is capable, I must find it all in Christ. He has come not only that we may have life, but that we may have it more abundantly. Anything that is beyond the circle of Christ is death. If I conjure up an experience over which I foolishly dote, which puffs me up as so perfect that I need not come to Christ now as a poor empty-handed sinner, I have entered into the realm of death, I have introduced into my soul a damning leaven. Away with it! Away with it! Everything of life is put into this golden casket of Christ Jesus: all else is death. We have not a breath of life anywhere but in Jesus, Who ever liveth to give life. He saith, "Because I live, ye shall live also," and this is true. We live not for any other reason not because of anything in us or connected with us, but only because of Jesus. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

Now, further, in this great deep to which we would conduct you, faith is the only channel by which we can draw from Jesus our life. "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me": that is it. He does not say, "He that loves me," though love is a bright grace, and very sweet to God: He does not say, "He that serves me," though every one that believes in Christ will endeavour to serve Him: but it is not put so: He does not even say, "He that imitates me," though every one that believes in Christ must and will imitate Him; but it is put, "He that believeth in me." Why is that? Why doth the Lord so continually make faith to be the only link between Himself and the soul? I take it, because faith is a grace which arrogates nothing to itself, and has not operation apart from Jesus, to Whom it unites us. You want to conduct the electric fluid, and, in order to this, you find a metal which will not create any action of its own; if it did so, it would disturb the current which you wish to send along it. If it set up an action of its own, how would you know the difference between what came of the metal and what came of the battery? Now, faith is an empty-handed receiver and communicator; it is nothing apart from that upon which it relies, and therefore it is suitable to be a conductor for grace. When an auditorium has to be erected for a speaker in which he may be plainly heard, the essential thing is to get rid of all echo. When you have no echo, then you have a perfect building: faith makes no noise of its own, it allows the Word to speak. Faith cries, "Non nobis Domine! Not unto us! Not unto us! Christ puts His crown on faith's head, exclaiming, "Thy faith hath saved thee;" but faith hastens to ascribe all the glory of salvation to Jesus only. So you see why the Lord selects faith rather than any other grace, because it is a self-forgetting thing. It is best adapted to be the tubing through which the water of life runs, because it will not communicate a flavour of its own, but will just convey the stream purely and simply from Christ to the soul. "He that believeth in me."

Now notice, to the reception of Christ by faith there is no limit. "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever" I am deeply in love with that word "whosoever." It is a splendid word. A person who kept many animals had some great dogs and some little ones, and in his eagerness to let them enter his house freely he had two holes cut in the door, one for the big dogs and another for the little dogs. You may well laugh, for the little dogs could surely have come in wherever there was room for the larger ones. This "whosoever" is the great opening, suitable for sinners of every size. "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Has any man a right to believe in Christ? The gospel gives every creature the right to believe in Christ, for we are bidden to preach it to every creature, with this command, "Hear, and your soul shall live." Every man has a right to believe in Christ, because he will be damned if he does not, and he must have a right to do that which will bring him into condemnation if he does it not. It is written, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," and that makes it clear that I, whoever I may be, as I have a right to endeavour to escape from damnation, have a right to avail myself of the blessed command, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and live." Oh that "whosoever," that hole in the door for the big dog! Do not forget it! Come along with you, and put your trust in Christ. If you can only get linked with Christ you are a living man; if but a finger touches His garment's hem you are made whole. Only the touch of faith, and the virtue flows from Him to you, and He is to you the resurrection and the life.

I desire you to notice that there is no limit to this power. Before I was ill this time, and even since, I have had to deal with such a swarm of despairing sinners, that if I have not pulled them up they have pulled me down. I have been trying to speak very large words for Christ when I have met with those disconsolate ones. I hear one say, "How far can Christ be life to a sinner? I feel myself to be utterly wrong, I am altogether wrong; there is nothing right about me: though I have eyes I cannot see, though I have ears I do not hear; if I have a hand I cannot use it, if I have a foot I cannot run with it I seem altogether wrong." Yes, but if you believe in Christ, though you were still more wrong that is to say, though you were dead, which is the wrongest state in which a man's body can be, though you were dead yet shall you live. You look at the spiritual thermometer, and you say, "How low will the grace of God go? will it descend to summer heat? will it touch the freezing point? will it go to zero?" Yes, it will go below the lowest conceivable point, lower than any instrument can indicate: it will go below the zero of death. If you believe in Jesus, though you are not only wrong, but dead, yet shall you live.

But, says another, "I feel so weak. I cannot understand, I cannot lay hold of things; I cannot pray. I cannot do anything. All I can do is feebly to trust in Jesus." All right! Though you had gone further than that, and were so weak as to be dead, yet should you live. Though the weakness had turned to a dire paralysis, that left you altogether without strength, yet it is written, "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." "Oh, Sir," says one, "I am so unfeeling." Mark you, these generally are the most feeling people in the world. "I am sorry every day because I cannot be sorry for my sin" that is the way they talk; it is very absurd, but still very real to them. "Oh," cries one, "the earth shook, the sun was darkened, the rocks rent, the very dead came out of their graves at the death of Christ.

"Of feeling all things show some sign But this unfeeling heart of mine." Yet if thou believest, unfeeling as thou art, thou livest; for if thou wert gone further than numb-ness to deadness, yet if thou believest in Him thou shalt live.

But the poor creature fetches a sigh, and cries, "Sir, it is not only that I have no feeling, but I am become objectionable and obnoxious to everybody. I am a weariness to myself and to others. I am sure when I come to tell you my troubles you must wish me at Jericho, or somewhere else far away." Now, I admit that such a thought has occurred to us sometimes when we have been very busy, and some poor soul has grown prosy with rehearsing his seven-times-repeated miseries; but if you were to get more wearisome still, if you were to become so bad that people would as soon see a corpse as see you, yet remember Jesus says, "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."

"Oh, sir, I have no hope; my case is quite hopeless!" Very well; but if you had got beyond that, so that you were dead, and could not even know you had no hope, yet if you believed in Him you should live. "Oh, but I have tried everything, and there is nothing more for me to attempt. I have read books, I have spoken to Christians, and I am nothing bettered." No doubt it is quite so; but if you had even passed beyond that stage, so that you could not try anything more, yet if you did believe in Jesus you should live. Oh, the blessed power of faith! Nay, rather say the matchless power of Him Who is the resurrection and the life; for though the poor believer were dead, yet shall he live! Glory be to the Lord Who works so wonderfully.

To conclude, if you once do believe in Christ, and come to live, there is this sweet reflection for you, " Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Our Arminian friends say that you may be a child of God to-day and a child of the devil to-morrow. Write out that statement, and place at the bottom of it the name "Arminius," and then put the scrap of paper into the fire: it is the best thing you can do with it, for there is no truth in it. Jesus says, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Here is a very literal translation "And every one who lives and believes on me, in no wise shall die forever." This is from "The Englishman's Greek New Test-ament," and nothing can be better. The believer may pass through the natural change called death, as far as his body is concerned; but as for his soul it cannot die, for it is written, "I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." "He that believeth in me hath everlasting life." "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." These are not "ifs" and "buts," and faint hopes; but they are dead certainties, nay, living certainties, out of the mouth of the living Lord Himself. You get the life of God in your soul, and you shall never die. "Do you mean that I may do as I like, and live in sin?" No, man, I mean nothing of the sort; what right have you to impute such teaching as that to me? I mean that you shall not love sin and live in it, for that is death; but you shall live unto God. Your likes shall be so radically changed that you shall abhor evil all your days, and long to be holy as God is holy; and you shall be kept from transgression, and shall not go back to wallow in sin. If in some evil hour you back-slide, yet shall you be restored; and the main current of your life shall be from the hour of your regeneration towards God, and holiness, and heaven. The angels that rejoiced over you when you repented made no mistake; they shall go on to rejoice till they welcome you amidst the everlasting songs and Hallelujahs of the blessed at the right hand of God. Believest thou this? Come, poor soul, believest thou this? Who are you? That does not matter, you can get into the "whosoever." That ark will hold all God's Noahs. What is any man that he should have the filth of another man's drains poured into his ear? No, no: confess to God, but not to man unless you have wronged him, and confession of the wrong is due to him.

"Ah," saith one, "you don't know what I am." No, and I don't want to know what you are; but if you are so far gone that there seems to be not even a ghost of a shade of a shadow of a hope anywhere about you, yet if you believe in Jesus you shall live. Trust the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is worthy to be trusted. Throw yourself upon Him, and He will carry you in His bosom. Cast your whole weight upon His atonement; it will bear the strain. Hang on Him as the vessel hangs on the nail, and seek no other support. Depend upon Christ with all your might just as you now are, and as the Lord liveth you shall live, and as Christ reigneth you shall reign over sin, and as Christ cometh to glory you shall partake of that glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Verses 28-32

The Welcome Visitor




"And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary, her sister,

secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she

heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet

come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews

which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary,

that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto

the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and

saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst

been here, my brother had not died."-- John 11:28-32 .

It seems that Martha had heard of Christ's coming, and Mary had not.

Hence Martha rose up hastily and went to meet the Master, while Mary sat

still in the house. From this we gather that genuine believers may, through

some unexplained cause, be at the same time in very different states of

mind. Martha may have heard of the Lord and seen the Lord; and Mary, an

equally loving heart, not having known of his presence, may, therefore,

have missed the privilege of fellowship with him. Who shall say that

Martha was better than Mary? Who shall censure the one, or approve the

other? Now, beloved, you may be tonight yourselves, though true believers

in Jesus, in different conditions. I may have a Martha here whose

happiness it is to be in rapt fellowship with Christ. You have gone to him

already and told him of your grief: you may have heard his answer to your

story, and you may have been able by faith to say, "I believe that thou art

the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world"; and you

may be full of peace and full of joy. On the other hand, sitting near you

may be a person equally gracious as yourself who can get no farther than

the cry, "Oh! that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even

to his seat!" Dear Martha, condemn not Mary. Dear Mary, condemn not

yourself. Martha, be ready to speak the word of comfort to Mary. Mary, be

ready to receive that word of comfort, and, in obedience to it, to rise up

quickly and, in imitation of your sister, go and cast yourself, as she has

done already, at the Saviour's feet. I must not say, because I have not all

the joy my brother has, that I am no true child of God. Children are equally

children in your household, though one be little and the other be full

grown, and they are equally dear to you, though one be sick and the other

in good health--though one be quick at his letters and another be but a dull

scholar. The love of Christ is not measured out to us according to our

conditions or attainments. He loves us irrespective of all these. Jesus loved

Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus. He loves all his own, and they must not

judge of him by what they feel, nor measure his love by a sense of their

own want of love.

Hoping that the Lord will now bless the word to all of us who are his own

people, I shall speak of two things--a visit from the Master--a visit to the


I. Here Is a Visit from the Master.

Martha came and said to Mary, "The Master is come"--or as we might read

it truly, "The Master is here and calleth for thee." "The Master is come."

"The Master is here."

Beloved friends who are just now without the present fellowship with

Christ, which you could fondly desire, permit me to whisper this in your

ear. "The Master is here! The Master is here!" We cannot come round and

whisper it secretly as Martha did, but take the message each one of you to

himself--"The Master is here."

He is here, for he is accustomed to be where his word is preached with

sincerity of heart. He is accustomed to be wherever his saints are gathered

together in his name. We have his own dear word for this--the best pledge

we can have--"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

We have met in his name, we have met for his worship, we have met to

preach his gospel; and the Master is here. We are sure he is here, for he

always keeps his word; he never fails of his promise.

He is here, for some of us feel his presence. Had Mary said to Martha, How

do you know that the Master is come? she would have answered, "Why I have

spoken with him, and he has spoken to me." Well, there be some among us who

can say, "He has spoken to us." Did we not hear him speaking when we were

singing that hymn just now?

"My God, the spring of all my joys,

The life of my delights,

The glory of my brightest days,

The comfort of my nights."

Did not we perceive him to be near some of us, when we were singing:- -

"Oh! see how Jesus trusts himself

Unto our childish love,

As though, by his free ways with us,

Our earnestness to prove"?

I, for one, did, if none besides; I can bear good witness to you that are

languishing for his company, "The Master is here."

And mark, he is here none the less surely because you have not, as yet,

found it out, for a fact does not depend upon our cognisance of it, though

our comfort may be materially affected thereby. The Master was at

Bethany, though Mary had not heard an inkling of the good tidings; there

she sat, her eyes red with weeping, and her whole soul in the grave with

her brother Lazarus. Yet Jesus was there for all that. Make the case your

own; though you may have come here troubled with all the weeks' cares--

though while you have been sitting here the thought of something that will

happen tomorrow has been depressing you--though some bodily weakness

has been holding you down when you would lift up your spirit towards

God, yet that does not alter the fact. "The Master is come"; the Master is

here. Oh! there was Mary sighing, "If only Christ had been here! Oh! if

only Christ would come!" And there he was! And perhaps you are saying,

"Oh! that he were near me!" He is near you now. You sigh for what you

have, and pine for that which is near you. You think not, like Mary

Magdalene, that he standeth in this garden. You are asking, "Where have

ye laid him?" While your joy and comfort seem to you dead, he, whose

absence you mourn, stands present before you. Oh! that he would but open

those eyes of yours, or rather than he would open your heart, by saying to

you, "Mary!" Let him but speak one word right home to you personally,

and you will answer with gladness, "Rabboni!" The Master is come here,

though you as yet have not perceived him.

That word "The Master" has a sweet ring about it. He is the Master. He

that is come is earth's Master. What are your cares? He can relieve them.

What are your troubles? He can overcome them, and sweep them out of the

way. The Master has come. "Cast thy burden on the Lord: he will sustain

thee." He is hell's Master. Art thou beset with fierce temptations and foul

insinuations of the arch-fiend? The Master has come. Oh! lift thy head,

thou captive daughter of Zion, for thy bands are broken. The Breaker is

come up before them; their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on

the head of them. He who hath come is no menial servant, but the right

royal Master himself. The Master is come. What though your heart now

seem cold as a stone, and your spirit is cast down within you? What though

death hath set up its adamantine throne in thy breast? The Master has

come, and his presence can thaw the ice, dissolve the rock, bring thee all

the graces of the Spirit and all the blessings of heaven that thy soul can

possibly require. "The Master is come"--does not that touch your soul and

fire your passions? Whose Master is he but your own? And what a Master!

No taskmaster, no slave's master, but such a Master that his absolute

sovereignty inspires you with sweetest confidence; for he binds you with

the bonds of love, and draws you with the cords of a man. Master indeed is

he! Aye, Lord and sole Master of your soul's inmost core if you be what you

profess to be; the Master whose sceptre is the sceptre of reed which he

carried in his hand when he was made a scorn and scoffing for you; the

Master whose crown is the crown of thorns which he wore for your sins

when he accomplished your redemption. Your Master. Thou shalt call him

no more Baali, but Ishi shall his name be called. He is only Master in that

same sense in which the tender loving husband is the master of the house.

Love makes him supreme, for he is Master in the art of love, and,

therefore, Master of our loving hearts. How sweetly doth "my Master"

sound! "My Master." Why, if nothing else might bestir us to get up and run

to meet him, it should be the sound of that blessed word, "The Master is

here: the Master has come."

But Martha added--and it is a very weighty addition (may the Holy Ghost

make application of it to your heart)--"and calleth for thee." "But is that

true?" says one; "doth he call for me?" Dear brother, dear sister, I know

that if I say he does I shall not speak without his warrant, for when he

comes into a congregation he calls for all his own. He speaketh, and he

saith to all whom he loves, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come

away." I know he does, because love always delights in fellowship with the

object that is loved. Jesus loved you or ever the earth was. His delights

were with the sons of men from old eternity. He loved you so well that he

could not keep in heaven without you, and he came here to seek you and to

save you. And now it gives his heart joy to be near you. He said, "Let me

hear thy voice; let me see thy face: for sweet is thy voice, and thy

countenance is comely." I tell you it is Christ's nether heaven to hear the

voices of his people. It is that for which he left heaven--that he might give

them voices with which to praise him. Do you think he loved you so, and

will live without you? Nay, he calls for you.

What is his Word, indeed, all through, but a call to his own beloved to

come to him? What are Sabbath-days but calls in which he says, "Come

away! come away, my beloved, from the noise and turmoil of the city, and

come into the quiet places where my sheep lie down and feed"? What are

your troubles but calls to you in which, with somewhat of harshness as it

seems to you, but with an inner depth of love, he says, "Away, my beloved,

from all earthly delights, to find thy all in me"? What is the Communion of

the Lord's Supper but another call to you, "Come unto me"? The bread

which you shall eat, and the wine which you shall drink, these are for

yourself, and the call which is encompassed by them as by symbols is for

each one of you. The Master is here, and calleth for thee--for each one.

"Oh! but" saith Mary, "my eyes are bleared with weeping." He calleth for

thee, thou red-eyed sorrower. "Ay, but my heart is heavy with a sad

affliction." He calleth for thee, thou burdened sufferer. "Ay, but I have been

full of levity all the week, and have forgotten him." He calleth thee that he

may cleanse thee yet again. "Ah! but I have denied him." What saith he

but, "Go, and tell my disciples, and Peter"? He calleth for thee that he may

forgive thee yet again, and may say unto thee, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest

thou me?" I care not who you are, if you are one of his, the Master is come

and calleth for thee. "Why," says one, "no Christian has spoken to me for a

long while." But the Master calleth for thee. "But I seem so solitary in this

great metropolis, and though I know my Master, I do not know any of his

people." Never mind his people: "The Master is come, and calleth for

thee." Ay, but I think if I am one of his I must be at the very tail-end of

the catalogue, and the last of all." He calleth for thee--for thee. Oh! may

that word now come home, and may each one feel, "If he calls for me, there

is such condescension in that call, such tender memories of my weakness,

such consideration for my distance and my forgetfulness, that I will loiter

no longer. Is the Master come? Lo, I am ready for him. Doth the Master

call? Lo, my spirit answers, 'Come, Master, my heart's doors are flung wide

open. Come and sit on the throne of my heart. Enter in and sup with me

and I with thee, and make this a gladsome season of intimate fellowship

between my soul and her Lord.'" Turning now to our second part, let us

talk awhile of:--

II. A Visit to the Master.

It follows on the first as a fit sequence. We never come to Christ till Christ

comes to us. "Draw me: I will run after thee." That is the order. It is not,

"We will run after thee: Lord, draw us." Neither is it thus. When a soul is

saying, as we sung in the hymn just now:--

"If thou hast drawn a thousand times,

Oh! draw me yet again,"

--then, beloved, he is drawing us. When we are praying to be drawn, we are

being drawn all the while.

In answer to the Lord's visit, you will notice the conduct of Mary. She rose

up quickly. She bestirred herself. Oh! let each one of our souls now say,

"Has the Lord called for me? Why, then, should I loiter or linger for a

single moment? I will get me up this very moment; I will say, 'My Lord, I

am come to thee. Thou hast called me, and here I am.'" Oh! for grace to

shake off the sorrow that makes some hearts sit still! Mary's dear brother

was newly laid in the tomb, but she rose up quickly to go and meet her

Master. Dear mother, forget for a few minutes that dear unburied child still

in the house. Forget awhile, dear husband, that sick wife of yours towards

whom your heart so naturally flies. Forget, beloved, just now, all that you

have suffered, all that you expect to suffer, all that you have lost or may be

losing. The Master is come, and calleth for thee. Rise up quickly. Let not

these things constrain thee to inactivity of spirit, but rise up now, and by

his grace come away from them. She bestirred herself; she put on her best

efforts, that she might not tarry when he called. And then she went, we

find, just as she was. She rose up quickly, it is said, and she went: she

came unto him. No sooner said than done. She arose and she came. Well,

but should not she have washed her face? Tears add but little beauty to the

maiden's visage. And that hair of hers, I doubt not all dishevelled--might

she not have arranged that a little, and prepared her dress, and made

herself trim for the Lord? Ah! that is a temptation for the mass of us: "I

cannot expect to have fellowship at the table, because I have not come

prepared." Brother, you ought to have come prepared, but, at the same

time, if you have not, rise up quickly and come to the Master as you are.

The Master had seen Mary with tears before, for he had felt her tears upon

his feet. He had seen her with dishevelled hair before, for she had wiped

his feet with the hairs of her head. If you are out of order, it is not the

first time Christ has seen you so. I do not think a mother's love depends

upon seeing her child in its Sunday clothes. She has seen it, I warrant

you, in many a trim in which she would not wish anybody else to see it, but

she has loved it none the less. Come, then, thou unprepared one. Come to

him who knows just what thou art, and in what state thou art, and he will

not cast thee out; only make brave to believe that, when Christ calls, his

call is a warrant to come, however unfit we may be. And oh! how promptly

she left all other comforters to come to Christ. There were the Jews that

came to comfort her. I dare say they did their best, but she did not stop

for the rabbi to finish his fine discourse, nor for the first scholar of

the Sanhedrin to complete that dainty parable by which he hoped to charm

her ear and assuage her sorrow. She went straight away to the Master there

and then. So would I have you forget that there are other comforters:

forget your joys as well as your griefs: leave all for him, and let your

soul be only taken up with that Great Master of yours who calls for you,

for all your faculties, for all your emotions, for all your passions, for

your entire self. Come right away, by his help, from everything else that

would absorb any part of your being. Rise up, and draw near to him.

But it seems, beloved, that when Mary had reached the Master's feet she

had done all she could, for it is said that she fell at his feet. Ah! you

remember she had knelt once at his feet when she washed his feet: she had

sat once at his feet, when she heard his words; this time she fell at his

feet. She could neither kneel to do him service, nor sit to pay him the

reverence of a disciple. She fell all but in a swoon, life gone from her.

She fell at his feet. Never mind, if you are at his feet, if you do but

fall there. Oh! to die there--it were life itself! Once get to Jesus, and

you may say, like Joab at the altar when Benaiah said, "Come away, for

Solomon has sent me to slay thee." "Nay," said Joab, "but I will die here";

and at the horns of the altar there he died. And if we must die, we will

die there at his feet. Fall down at his feet. Beloved, if you do not feel

you have got strength for communion tonight, never mind: it does not want


"Oh! for this no strength have I:

My strength is at his feet to lie."

Some of us do know what it is to be scarcely able to get together two

consecutive thoughts--not to be able to master a text or lay hold of a

promise; still we could say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him";

we could lie down at the feet that were pierced, and feel how sweet it is to

swoon at the Saviour's feet. Only get there. Let your will and heart be good

to get at him now, for the Master is here, and calls for you. Come, though

in the coming you should utterly fail to get enjoyment, come and fall at his

feet. Do I hear any of you saying, "An! but I have a heavy thought pressing

at my heart, and if I come to him it is not much that I can say in his

honour. I feel but little love, and gratitude, and joy. I could not pour out

sweet spikenard from the broken box of my heart." Be it so, only pour out

what you have; for what did Mary do? She said--and the Master did not

chide her, though he might have done--"Lord, if thou hadst been here, my

brother had not died." Oh! it was half cruel, for she seemed to say, "Why

wast thou not here?" It was unbelieving in part, and yet there is a deal of

faith in it--a sweet clinging to him. Martha had the same; and it shows

how often those two sisters had said to one another, "Would God the

Master was here." When the brother was very sick and near to death, they

were saying to one another, "Oh! if we could get the Master here!" That

had been the great thought with them, so they pour it out. Beloved, when

you are at Jesus' feet, if you have an unbelieving thought, if you have

something that half chides him, pour out your heart like water before the


"Let us be simple with him then--

Not backward, stiff, and cold;

As though our Bethlehem could be

What Sinai was of old."

Tell him the weakness; tell him the suspicion; tell him all the sin that has

been, and all the sin that is haunting you. Tell it all to him; and at his

feet is the place to tell it. You will be eased of your burden then.

Beloved, you know how Mary received consolation. It was a great day for her

when she got to Christ's feet, and then the Master began to do wondrously,

and very soon Lazarus was restored. So now, your first business, my beloved

brothers and sisters in Christ, is to get to Jesus. "Oh! but Lazarus is dead."

Never mind Lazarus. You get to Jesus and he will see to Lazarus. "Oh! but

my business fails me." Never mind the business just now. Get to Jesus.

"Oh! but there is sickness in my house." Leave the sickness for awhile now.

The one thing is to get to Jesus and to his feet. "Oh! but my own heart is

now as it should be." Forget thine own heart, too, and remember Jesus; he

is to thee all that thou canst need. He is made, of God, unto thee, "wisdom,

and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption"; and do thou come

to him quickly, and thou shalt have all thou wantest. "Ah!" says one, "I

cannot bear to think of God, for I do not love him." "Ah!" says another,

"but I can bear to think of him, for though I did not love him, he loved

me." And now you may say, "I cannot bear to think of coming to Jesus, for

I do not love him as I should." Ah! but think of him, for he loves thee. His

grace to thee is boundless. Now let thine own self be put aside awhile, and

remember this "faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ

Jesus has come into the world to save sinners." Come, then, in the strength

of that!

I must close by saying a few words to those whom hitherto I have not

addressed. Perhaps there are some here to whom this message has never

come--"The Master is come and calleth for thee." If it were to reach them

tonight, it would be the first time they ever heard it. O dear heart, I

pray it may come to you, that this may be the beginning of days with you.

The Master has come. This is certain. From the highest throne in glory to

the manger, to the cross, and to the grave, the Master has come. That he

calls for thee, this is also certain, I think. Let me give you a text in

which, I think, he calls for you. "Whosoever will, let him come and take of

the water of life freely." "Whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ

shall be saved." Calls he not for you, too, in this text, "Let the wicked

forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto

the Lord, for he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will

abundantly pardon"? Calls he not for you in this verse, where he bids all

that labour and are heavy-laden come unto him, that they may rest; or in

that other, "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though thy

sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson,

they shall be as snow." He calleth for thee. Do not disbelieve him. It is

certainly matchless grace, but he is a God and none is like unto him. "As

high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are his thoughts above

your thoughts."

But does your heart say, "Why, if I thought Jesus called for me, I would

come"? Then he does call thee; that speech of thine, "I would come,"

proves it; 'tis he that makes thee feel willing. Dost thou long for him? Oh!

he is putting his hand in at the door of thy heart, and making thy bowels

yearn for him. Does a tear drop on the floor, and do you say, "It cannot be

that such a one as I should ever live and be saved, and be Christ's"? Why,

thy very admiration at his grace shows that some of his grace is at work

upon thee. Trust thou that that arm can save: trust thou that that pierced

hand can grasp thee; trust thou that that heart that was gashed with a spear

can feel for thee. Trust thyself wholly to him. "Go thy way; thy sins which

are many are forgiven thee." If thou hast trusted him, thou art saved. Come

and cast thyself at Jesu's feet tonight. Is there no young man here to whom

this shall be Christ's voice? You say you cannot believe, and cannot repent,

and cannot do anything. Then fall like dead at Jesu's feet, and look up to

him--to him alone, and you shall have life. Is there no young woman here

burdened in heart, to whom the Saviour's feet may become a place of

refuge from all her fear? I trust there is. And if I speak to someone far

advanced in years, who imagines that he, at least, must be given up by

mercy, it is not so. Thou hast but a few days more to live, but the Master

calleth for thee. Rise up quickly! May tonight witness thy forsaking of thy

sins, and thy clinging to his cross; and one day thou shalt see his face in

heaven without a veil between.

The Lord bless you, beloved, for Christ's sake. Amen.

Verse 36

Oh, How He Loves!

July 7th, 1872 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!" John 11:36 .

It was at the grave of Lazarus that Jesus wept, and his grief was so manifest to the onlookers that they said, "Behold how he loved him!" Most of us here, I trust, are not mere onlookers, but we have a share in the special love of Jesus. We see evidences of that love, not in his tears, but in the precious blood that he so freely shed for us; so we ought to marvel even more than those Jews did at the love of Jesus, and to see further into his heart than they did, and to know more of him than they could in the brief interval in which they had become acquainted with him. When we think of his love to us, we may well cry, "Behold how he has loved us!" These Jews expressed their wonder at the love that Jesus had for his friend Lazarus: they did not keep that wonder to themselves, but they said, "Behold how he loved him!" In these days, we are too apt to repress our emotions. I cannot say that I greatly admire the way in which some enthusiastic folk shout "Glory!" "Hallelujah!" "Amen," and so on, in the midst of sermons and prayers; yet I would sooner have a measure of that enthusiastic noise than have you constantly stifling your natural emotions, and checking yourself from giving utterances to your heart's true feelings. If we were in a right state of mind and heart, we should often say to one another, "How wondrous has the love of Jesus been to us!" Our conversation with one another, as brethren and sisters in Christ, would often be upon this blessed subject. We waste far too much of our time upon trifles, it would be well if the love of Jesus so engrossed our thoughts that it engrossed our conversation too. I fear that many, who profess to be Christians, go for a whole year, or even longer, without telling out to others what they are supposed to have experienced of the love of Jesus; yet this ought not to be the case. If we were as we should be, one would frequently say to another, "How great is Christ's love to me, my brother! Dost thou also that it is great to thee?" Such talk as that between the saints on earth would help us to anticipate the time when we shall want no other theme for conversation in the land beyond the river. I am going just to remind you of some very simple truths in order to excite the hearts of those of you who are coming to the communion to increased love to the dear Lord and Saviour who has loved you so intensely as to die for you. And first, beloved, let us think of what the love of Christ has done for us; secondly, of what his love has done to us; and then thirdly, I want to say that I am afraid our love to Christ will never cause any wonder except on account of the littleness of it. I. So, first, let us quietly think over WHAT THE LOVE OF CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US. When did Christ's love begin to work for us? It was long before we were born, long before the world was created; far, far back, in eternity, our Saviour gave the first proof of his love to us by espousing our cause. By his divine foresight, he looked upon human nature as a palace that had been plundered, and broken down, and in its ruins he perceived the owl, the bittern, the dragon, and all manner of unclean things. Who was there to undertake the great work of restoring that ruined palace? No one but the Word, who was with God, and who was God. "He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him." Ere the angels began to sing, or the sun, and moon, and stars threw their first beams athwart primeval darkness, Christ espoused the cause of his people, and resolved not only to restore to them all the blessings that he foresaw that they would lose, but also add to them richer favours that could ever have been theirs except through him. Even for eternity his delights were with the sons of men; and when I think of him, in that far-distant past of which we can form so slight a conception, becoming "the head over all things to the church" which then existed only in the mind of God, my very soul cries out in a rapture of delight, "Behold how he loved us!" Remember, too, that in that eternal secret council, the Lord Jesus Christ became the Representative and Surety of his chosen people. There was to be, in what was then the far remote future, a covenant between God and man; but who was there who was both able and willing to sign that covenant on man's behalf, and to give a guarantee that man's part of that covenant should be fulfilled? Then it was that the Son of God, well knowing all that such suretyship would involve, undertook to be the Surety for his people, to fulfil the covenant on their behalf, and to meet all its demands which he foresaw that they would be unable to meet. Then the eternal Father gave into Christ's charge the souls that he had chosen unto eternal life through ages, of which we can have so faint an idea, were to elapse before those souls were to be created; and the eternal Son covenanted to redeem all those souls after they had fallen through sin, to keep them by his grace, and to present them "faultless" before the presence of his Father with exceeding joy. Thus, as Jacob became accountable to Laban for the whole flock committed to his charge, Jesus Christ, "that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant," undertook to redeem and guard the whole flock entrusted to his care, so that when, at the last great muster, they should pass under the hand of him that telleth them, not one of them should be missing, and the blessed Shepherd-Son should be able to say to his Father, "Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and not one of them is lost." It was in the everlasting covenant that our Lord Jesus Christ became our Representative and Surety, and engaged on our behalf to fulfill all his Father's will; and as we think of this great mystery of mercy, surely all of us who are truly his must exclaim with grateful adoration, "Behold how he loved us!" I have been speaking of very ancient things, but let us now come to matters that we can more clearly comprehend. In the fulness of time, our Lord Jesus Christ left the glories of heaven, and took upon him our nature. We know so little of what the word "heaven" means that we cannot adequately appreciate the tremendous sacrifice that the Son of God must have made in order to become the Som of Mary. The holy angels could understand far better than we can what their Lord and ours gave up when he renounced the royalties of heaven, and all the honour and glory which rightly belonged to him as the Son of the Highest, and left his throne and crown above to be born as the Babe of an earthly mother, yet even to them there were mysteries about his incarnation which they could not fathom; and as they followed the footprints of the Son of man on his wondrous way from the manger to the cross and to the tomb, they must often have been in that most suggestive attitude of which Peter wrote, "which things the angels desire to look into." To us, the incarnation of Christ is one of the greatest marvels in the history of the universe, and we say, with Paul, "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." The omnipotent Creator took the nature of a creature into indissoluble union with his divine nature; and, marvel of marvels, that creature was man. "He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." For an angel to become an emmet, if that were possible, would be nothing at all in comparison with the condescension of Christ in becoming the Babe of Bethlehem; for, after all, angels and emmets are only creatures formed by Christ, working as one of the persons of the ever-blessed Trinity, for John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expressly says, "All things were made by him; and with him was not anything made that was made." O glorious Bridegroom of our hearts, there never was any other love like thine! That the eternal Son of God should leave his Father's side and stoop so low as to become one with his chosen people, so that Paul could truly write, "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, is such a wonder of condescending grace and mercy that we can only exclaim again and again, "Behold how he loved us!" Then, "being found in fashion as a man," he took upon himself human sickness and suffering. All our infirmities that were not sinful Jesus Christ endured, the weary feet, the aching head, and the palpitating heart, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sickness." This was a wondrous proof of love, that the ever-blessed Son of God, who needed not to suffer, should have been willing to be compassed with infirmity just like any other man is. "We have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." But if you want to see the love of Jesus at the highest point it ever reached, you must, by faith, gaze upon him when he took upon himself the sins of all his people, as Peter writes, "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." Oh, how could one who was so pure, so absolutely perfect, ever bear so foul a load? Yet he did bear it, and the transfer of his people's sin from them to him was so complete that the inspired prophet wrote, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all," and the inspired apostle wrote, "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." When a man marries a woman who is deeply in debt, well knowing the burdens that he is taking upon himself even though it is enough to crush him all his life, we may well say, "Behold how he loves her!" That was what Christ did for his Church when he took her into an eternal marriage union with himself, although she had incurred such liabilities as could not have been discharged if she had spent eternity in hell; he took all her debts upon himself, and then paid them unto the uttermost farthing; for we must never forget that, when Christ bore his people's sins, he also bore the full punishment of them. In fulfillment of the great eternal covenant, and in prospect of all the glory and blessing that would follow from Christ's atoning sacrifice, "it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief." We cannot have the slightest conception of what that bruising and that grief must have been. We do not know what our Lord's physical and mental agonies must have been, yet they were only the shell of his sufferings; his soul-agony was the kernel, and it was that which made him cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Then it was that the precious "corn of wheat" fell into the ground and died; and dying, brought forth "much fruit" of which heaven and eternity alone can tell the full tale. I cannot speak of this wondrous mystery as I fain would do, but you know even in part what it means must join me in saying, "Behold how he loved us!" Further, than that, Christ has so completely given himself to us that all that he has is ours. He is the glorious Husband, and his Church is his bride, the Lamb's wife; and there is nothing that he has which he is not also hers even now, and which he will not share with her for ever. By a marriage bond which cannot be broken, for he hateth putting away, he hath espoused her unto himself in righteousness and truth, and she shall be one with him throughout eternity. He has gone up to his Father's house to take possession of the many mansions there, not for himself, but for his people; and his contrary prayer is, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, bee with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world." Jesus has an ever-flowing fountain of joy in his heart, but he desires that his joy may be in you if you belong to him, and that your joy may be full; and everything else that he has is yours as much as it is his, so surely you will again join with me in saying, "Behold how he loved us!" II. Now, secondly, let us consider WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE TO US, for each of his acts of love should cause us to exclaim, "Behold how he loved us!" Think, dear brethren and sister ins Christ, how the Lord dealt with us in the days of our unregeneracy. He called us again and again, but we would not go to him; and the more lovingly he called us, the more resolutely we hardened our hearts, and refused to accept his gracious invitation. With some of us, this refusal lasted for years; and we wonder now that the Lord waited for us so long. If a rich man invites a pauper to a feast, and the poor man is indifferent to the invitation, or positively refuses to accept it, he gets no second invitation, for man does not press his charity upon the needy; but when we even scoffed at our Lord's call, and made all manner of excuses for not coming to the gospel banquet, he would not take our "No" for an answer, but called, and called, again and again, until last we could hold out no longer, and had to yield to the sweet compulsion of his grace. Do you not remember, beloved, how you received pardon, and justification, and adoption, and the indwelling of the Spirit, and how many "exceeding great and precious promises" were brought to you, like that various courses at a royal festival served upon golden dishes adorned with priceless gems? Oh, that blessed, blessed day in which you first came and sat among the guests at the great King's table! As you look back upon it, your heart glows in grateful remembrance of Christ's mercy to you, and you cannot help saying, "Behold how he loved us!" Many days have passed since then, and I asked you now to recollect what Christ has done to us since we first trusted in him. Has his love for you cooled in the slightest degree? We have all of us tried that love by our wondering and waywardness, but we have not quenched it, and its fire still burns just as vehemently as at the first. We have, sometimes, fallen so low that our hearts have been like adamant, incapable of emotion; yet Jesus has loved us all the while, and softened our hard hearts as the glorious sun melts the icebergs of the sea. We were like the insensible grass which calls not for the dew, yet the dew of his love gently fell upon us; and though we had not sought it, our hearts was refreshed by it. Our Lord has indeed proved how he loved us by the gracious way in which he has borne with our many provocations; and think too, beloved, with what gifts he has enriched us, with what comforts he has sustained us, with what divine energy he has renewed our failing strength, with what blessed guidance he has led and is still leading us! Take thy pencil and paper, and try to set down in figures or in words they total indebtedness to his love; where wilt thou begin, and when thou hast begun, where wilt thou finish? If thou wert to record only one out of a million of his love-gifts to thee, would the whole world be able to contain the books that might be written concerning them! No; all thou canst say is, "Behold how he has loved us!" There have been times of which I will not say much just now, for some here would not understand what I mean, when we have seemed to stand in the very suburbs of heaven, where we could hear the bells pealing forth celestial music from the invisible belfries, and our hearts were ravished with the sound of the heavenly harpers harping with their harps, and the ten thousand times ten thousand white-robed choristers singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. Nay, more than that, the King himself hath brought us into his banqueting house, and his banner over us has been love. He has not only permitted us to sit at his feet, as Mary did, but he has allowed us to pillow our head on his bosom, as John did, and even condescended to let us put our finger into the print of the nails in our rapturous familiar fellowship with him who is not ashamed to call us his brethren. I must not continue in this strain, not for the lack of matter, but lack of time in which to speak concerning him, so must again say, "Behold how he loved us!" I must, however, mention one more proof of Christ's love, and that is this, he has made us long for heaven, and gives us at least a measure of preparation for it. We are expecting that, one of these days, if the chariot and horses of fire do not stop at our door, our dear Lord and Saviour will fulfil to us his promise, "if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also," To a true believer in Jesus, the thought of departing from this world, and going to be "for ever with the Lord," has nothing of gloom associated with it. This earth is the place our banishment and exile; heaven is our home. We are like the loving wife who is sundered by thousands of miles of sea and land from her dear husband, and we are longing for the great re-union with our beloved Lord, from whom we shall then never again be separated. I cannot hope to depict the scene when he shall introduce us to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, and bid us sit with him in his throne, even as he sits with his Father in his throne. Surely then the holy angels, who have never sinned, will unite in exclaiming, "Behold, how he loved them!" It is a most blessed thought, to my mind, that we may be up there before the hands of that clock complete another round; and if not so soon as that, it will not be long before all of us who love the Lord will be with him where he is, and then the last among us shall know more of his love than the greatest of us can ever know while here below. Meanwhile, we have much of the joy of heaven even while we are upon this earth; for, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." III. The closing portion of my sermon is to very practical. Did anybody ever say of any one of us here, "Behold how he loves Christ"? If someone did say that of you, my brother or sister, was it true? I think I hear your answer, " Oh, I do love him! He knows all things, and he knows that I love him." But do you love him so fervently that strangers or even your more intimate acquaintances would say of your love to Jesus what the Jews said of his love to Lazarus, "Behold how he loved him"? "I wish," says one, "I could do so." Then listen for a minute or two while I tell you of WHAT SOME SAINTS HAVE DONE TO SHOW HOW THEY LOVED THEIR LORD. There have been those who have suffered for Christ's sake. They have lain in damp dungeons, and have refused to accept liberty at the price of treachery to their Lord and his truth. They have been stretched upon the rack, yet no torture could make them yield up their fidelity to God. If you have read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, you know how hundreds of brave men and women, and children too, stood at the stake, gloriously calm, and often triumphantly happy, and were burnt to death for Christ's sake, while many of those who looked on learnt to imitate their noble example, and others who heard their dying testimonies, and their expiring songs, (not groans,) could not help exclaiming, "Behold how these martyrs love their Master!" There have been others, who have shown their love to their Lord by untiring and self-sacrificing service. They have laboured for him, at times, under great privations and amid many perils, some as missionaries in foreign lands, and others with equal zeal in this country. Their hearts were all aglow with love for their dear Lord and Saviour, and they spent their whole time and strength in seeking to win souls for him, so that those who knew them could not help saying, "Behold how they love their Lord!" Some of us can never hope to wear the ruby crown of martyrdom, yet we may be honoured by receiving the richly-jeweled crown from the hand of Christ as he says to each of his true labourers, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Then we have known some saints who showed their love to their Lord by weeping over sinners and praying for their conversion. There have been gracious men and women, who could not sleep at night because of their anxiety about the eternal welfare of their relatives and friends, or even of lost ones who were personally unknown to them; and they have risen from their beds to agonize in prayer for sinners who were either calmly sleeping, and not even dreaming of their doom, or else at that very hour were adding to their previous transgressions. There have been others, who could not hear a blasphemous word, as they passed along the street, without feeling a holy indignation at the injury that was being done to their best Friend, and at the same time their eyes filled with tears of pity for the poor blasphemers, and their hearts poured out a stream of supplication for those who were thus ignorantly or wantonly sinning against the Most High. They have been like Jeremiah weeping over the lost, and like Moses and Paul ready to sacrifice their own souls for the sake of others, until men have been compelled to say, "Behold how these weeping and pleading saints love their Lord, and love lost sinners for his sake!" Others have proved their love to their Lord by the way in which they have been given of their substance to his cause. They have not only given a tithe of all they had to the great Melchizdeck, but they have counted it a high privilege to lay all that they had upon his altar, counting that their gold was never so golden as when it was all Christ's and that their lands were never so valuable to them as when they were gladly surrendered to him. Alas, that there should be so few, even in the Church of Christ, who thus imitate their Lord who freely gave himself and all he had that he might save his people! Blessed will the Church be when she gets back to the Pentecostal consecration which was the fitting culmination of the Pentecostal blessing: "all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." Another most admirable way of proving our love to Christ is by being scrupulously carefully to please him in little things as well as in the important matters. One of the worst signs of this present evil age is that so little is thought of even the great things of Christ, his atoning sacrifice, his high priestly character and work, his kingly rule, and so on; while the little things of Christ, those that are less by comparison with these, are often utterly despised. There was a time, in Scotland, when men of God signed the Solemn League and Covenant with their blood; how many would do that to-day? One jewel in Christ's crown, that priceless Koh-I-noor of the crown rights of the King of kings, was sufficient to call into battlefield the noblest of Scotland's sons; but, to-day, the very crown of Christ itself is kicked about, like a football, by some of his professed servants, for they set up their own fallible judgments against his infallible revelation, and so practically say, "We will not have this Man to reign over us!" In this land, in the most glorious days that England has ever seen, our Puritan forefathers were so scrupulous that men called them strait-laced, sour-faced, bigoted, and I know not what; but, nowadays many of them resisted even unto the blood, are said to be unimportant or of no account whatever. The special truth which distinguishes us as a denomination is regarded by many with supreme contempt. Not long ago, a professedly Christian minister said that he did not care a penny about baptism! If he belongs to Christ, he will have to answer to his Master for that saying; but I could not utter such a sentence as that without putting my very soul in peril. He who really loves his Lord will not trifle with the least jot or tittle of his Lord's will. Love is one of the most jealous things in the universe. "God is a jealous God" because "God is love." The wife who truly loves her husband will not harbour even a wanton imagination; her fidelity to him must not be stained even by an unchaste thought; so must it be with every true lover of the Lord Jesus Christ. God grant that we, beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, may do our Lord's will so scrupulously, in great things and little things, and in all things alike, that those who see us in our daily life may be compelled to say, "Behold how these Christians love Jesus Christ their Saviour!" Yet, beloved, remember that, when our love has reached its climax, it can only be like a solitary dewdrop trembling on a leaf compared with the copious showers of love that pour continually from the heart of our dear Lord and Master. Put all our loves together, and they will not fill a tiny cup, and there before us flows the fathomless, limitless, shoreless ocean of the love of Jesus; yet let us have all the love for him that we can. May the Holy Spirit fill our souls to the brim with love to Jesus, for his dear name's sake! Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 11". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.