Sermon 463. Sermon 463. Christ'S Servant-His Duty And Reward
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 3, 1862, BY REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"If any man serve Me, let him follow Me. And where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will MyFather honor." John 12:26.
How many persons are of the religion of the Greeks who are mentioned in this chapter! They would see Jesus, but they wouldnot serve Him. Impelled by curiosity they would know somewhat of this matter. They would investigate the claims of Christto the Messiahship, and they would consider thespecial truths by which He professes to illuminate the world-but beyond this they would not venture. They give their mindsto criticize. They are not indifferent to the Gospel, but they regard it with the same interest as that with which a naturalistwould look upon a newlydiscovered insect, or a geologist would study a section of the earth's crust.
But as to personally feeling the hallowed influence of the Truth of God, they know not what it means. Many of these Greeksproceed much further. They feel an admiration for the character and teaching of Jesus, and they express that admiration inhonest, warm praise. But see how hollow is theirappreciation-they applaud the Person whom they scorn to obey. They admire teachings which they will not practice. They listento the Divine Word, but they are hearers only, and not doers of the Truth of God.
Probably there are numbers in this assembly to whom the Christian religion has always been a subject of respectful interest.They have never blasphemed the name of Christ. They have not doubted the inspiration of Scripture. No, they have studied God'sWord. They have given a degree of attention toits doctrines, and they intend yet more fully to examine its revelations. How pleasant and hopeful are such marks of interest-buthow far are many of these enquirers from true discipleship-for their unhumbled hearts are not obedient to the dictates ofthe Gospel. TheCross is to them too heavy a load to carry. They have not made up their minds to wear "Christ's yoke." They had rather seeHis holiness, and see His disciples imitate Him than themselves take up the cross daily and follow Him.
My Hearers, allow me to remind you very solemnly that a speculative religion which has curiosity as its impulse, a searchafter knowledge as its rule, and self-esteem as its root, can never save the soul. It is not for you to criticize, but torepent. It is not for you to judge but to believe. Itis not for you to admire, but to obey. It is not for you to praise and applaud, but cheerfully to bow your necks to imitateand follow Christ. Nothing short of a religion which subjects us to personal service of Christ, which gives us a new heart,and a right spirit, and compels usto feel that we are not our own but bought with a price-nothing short of this will ever give lasting peace of mind, or bringus to the place where we shall see the face of God with delight.
Many proudly dream that to serve Christ would be dishonorable, and that they would demean themselves by becoming humble followersof the Lamb. Let me remind them that those whose opinions we esteem did not think that. Even a heathen could say, "To serveGod is to reign." We know that most noble ofmen, Moses, before the coming of John the Baptist-the greatest that had ever been born of woman-Moses, the king in Jeshurun,and the leader of God's hosts, has as his highest title-"Moses, the servant of God."
And even our Lord and Master, whose shoe latchet we are not worthy to unloose, took upon Himself the form of a servant, andthough He were a Son, yet learned obedience by the things that He suffered. Since the days of our Redeemer, the greatest inthe Church of Christ have been the servants of all,and those who have attained to the highest dignities and honors which it is in the power of Christ's Church to confer, havebeen those who joyfully stooped to the most menial occupations. They were willing to be less than the least, and became thegreatest of all.
Let us imitate Him who was "King of kings," and yet a "Servant of servants." Let us follow Him who is girt about the papswith a golden girdle, and wraps the light about Him as a garment-and yet He unrobed Himself-and took a towel, like a servant,that He might wash His disciples' feet.The motto of the Prince of Wales is "Ich dieri"-"I serve." It should be the motto of every prince of the royal blood ofHeaven. Let every Christian write this now upon his crest-"I serve," and, from this day forth, wherever he is, let him notseek lordship. Let him leavethat to the Gentiles, and to a carnal world, but let him seek ministry and service, being willing to do anything or to beanything by which he may profit the body of Christ, which is the Church.
We will now endeavor, as the Blessed Spirit shall aid us, to expound His three-fold teaching. You will mark, first of all,plain directions for a very honorable office-"If any man serve Me, let him follow Me." In the second place, most generousstipulations from a noble Master-"Where Iam, there shall also My servant be." And thirdly, most glorious rewards for imperfect services-"If any man serve Me, himwill My Father honor."
I. We have here PLAIN DIRECTIONS FOR A VERY HONORABLE OFFICE. "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me." A golden precept,written on a tablet of ivory.
I speak the sentiments of the majority of those present when I say, we would all of us like to minister to Christ. We feelthat if He were here now, there would be nothing which we would not do for Him. The word used in our text three times mightvery properly be translated thus-"If any manwould act the part of a deacon towards Me, let him follow Me. And where I am there shall also My deacon be. And he thatacts as a deacon towards Me shall be honored of My Father." The word "deacon" in the original Greek means nothing but a servant,and every deacon should be thecheerful, laborious and faithful servant of the Church.
Now, what was the part of a deacon in the early Church? It was service to the people of God of all sorts and kinds. Who amongus would blush to be the deacons of Christ, His body servants, His attendants? Would we not wait upon Him? We would be Hisservants to the very fullest extent. I think weshould consider ourselves ennobled for life if we might cast our garments in the way, that He might be saved from a muddyplace in the road. Would we not feed Him? There should be such a feast in our house as never was before! We would submit tohunger ourselves, if we might butsupply His wants.
And I think if the twelve poor fishermen were with Him, we would not shut one of them out, but ask them all home. We ourselveswould leave our houses and stand in the street all night to let them have rest. For we feel that, if the Blessed One werehere, it were so high an honor to contribute inany degree to His comfort, or to show in any way our respect for Him, that nothing would be too hard-nothing impossiblefor us to perform. Permit me to say, however, that very much of this is mere sentiment. In fact, we do not know ourselves.And, in the case of many herepresent, if Christ were here in the same guise in which He came the first time, they would not receive Him, but the reverse.
Their doors would be shut in His face and, perhaps, they might even join in the bloodthirsty cry of, "Let Him be crucified!"All this talk of generosity and homage to be offered to Jesus, is to a great extent, mere sentiment-mere talk- and we woulddo no such thing when it came to thepractical push. For, mark me, if we really would do these things, we can do them now. If it is true that we would ministerto Christ, and be servants and deacons towards Him, it is in our power to do so now as much as if He were on earth. And, inasmuchas we live in the neglect ofthis duty, we must not delude ourselves into the notion that if such-and-such a thing should happen, we should act differentlyfrom what we do now.
This sentimentalism about entertaining Christ has at the bottom of it the idea that we should be honoring ourselves by it.Now this is not the spirit that gives a worthy friendship towards Christ. He that loves Christ really serves Him, not to behonored by Him, but to give Him honor. We, indeed,would gladly receive the Lord into our guest chamber, because men would say of us-"He entertained the Lord of Glory! Hewas honored with His company!" But, oh, if, instead, men would say-"Yonder fool disgraced himself by harboring the mendicantimpostor. He entertainedthe man whom we call Beelzebub," I think there are many who now talk so well of Christ who would decline the privilege ofentertaining Jesus if all the world were against Him.
But, dear Friends, I say again, if any of you would serve Christ, it is now in your power, for the directions given are meantfor all time, and may be carried out today. It seems from my text that to follow Christ, or to imitate Him, is really to serveHim. I think we can plainly see this. "Oh,"says one, I should like to do something to prove that I really would obey my Lord. I profess to be His servant and I wouldshow that I am not a servant in name, only, but that whatever my
Master says to me, that I will do." Well, the opportunity is before you today-imitate Christ and then prove your obedience.This command may be summed up in this-"Be like I am."
If you would know what He would have you do, see what He did Himself. His own life is your Law, written in living characters.No better proof can you give that you are not a lip server, but a real disciple than by diligently and scrupulously copyingChrist even to the least jot and tittle. "Oh,"says another, "I would joyfully assist Him in His wants. I would supply Him with bread. I would give Him the cup of coldwater to drink. I would not let Him say again, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Manhas not where to lay His head.' Iwould never let Him want."
Imitate Him, then, and you can do it, for what did He do but distribute of his substance to the poor? Did He not care forthe wants of all men? Is it not written of Him, "He went about doing good"? If you would supply His wants, behold Him in Hispoor saints. If you would feed Him, feed the mouthsof His hungry children. If you would clothe Him, clothe the backs of His naked ones. If you would succor Him, relieve thepoor, the widow, and the fatherless-and those that have no helper. Imitate Him in the generousness of His life-care for thewants of men. Follow Himin this, and you will have served Him in supplying His wants-
"Lord, You have Brethren here below, Flesh of Your flesh through Grace. Teach us to see You in your saints, Your sorrows in their face. In them You may be clothed and fed, And visited and cheered- And in their accents of distress My Savior's voice is heard. Your face, with reverence and with love, We in Your poor would see! O let us rather beg our bread Than keep it back from You."
"But," says another, "I would do something to cheer Him. I think if He were here I would endeavor to smooth a few of the furrowsfrom His marred brow. I would labor to make the heart of the Man of Sorrows rejoice in some measure, and be glad in some degree.I would lay down my life to give Himpeace who is my soul's peace and rest." You can do it. You can do it. If you would serve Him thus, and cheer His heart,follow Him. This is the solace of His sorrow, the reward of His labors-the obedience of His children to His commands. Thisis the spoil which He divides withthe mighty. This is the prey which He takes from the strong-that all His saints should be like He is in all righteousnessand true holiness.
This is the travail of His soul which He sees and is satisfied-when you are conformed to His image and show forth His characteramong the sons of men. Oh, if you are Christ-like, you have done more to make Christ happy than all the songs of the angels.If men shall say of you, "That man hasbeen with Jesus and has learned of Him," you have given Jesus better music than cherubim and seraphim can yield.
"Yes," I hear another say, "but I would honor Him. If He were here I would climb the trees and strew the branches in His way.How would I gladly run before Him and cry, "Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!"Would you thus serve Him, by honoring Him, andextolling His name? You can do it. Follow Him. Live as He lived. Act as He acted, and you have honored Him more completelythan by strewing palm branches or throwing your clothes in the road. For when is Christ most honored? When His saints aremost sanctified. When is His name themost esteemed? When the sons of God walk the most carefully, the most prayerfully, and the most closely with their God.You can today serve Christ if you will today humbly take His plain directions, exactly imitate His Example, and closely followin His steps.
Beloved Friends, I think we have made it clear enough that there is a possibility of serving Christ, of deacon zing towardsChrist by the imitation of His Character. Now I quoted the Greek word "deacon zing" because it was the means, when I was lookinginto the verse, of giving me an illustrationof this subject. You remember that on the first Sunday of last month we had in our midst, the venerable Mar Yohanan, a presbyterof the Nestorian Church at Oroomiah. And with him was a deacon whose name was Mar Isaak. These two men had performed an almostincredible journey.
They had walked the entire distance from the borders of Persia-over the mountains of Armenia and Circassia- across the steppesof Russia. And from Russia right through Prussia, Germany and Holland, till at last they arrived in London. Now, I could nothelp but notice how the deacon, theservant, carefully attended in all things to the venerable presbyter whom we saw among us. How he marked his every lookthat he might not for a moment appear to neglect his reverend leader. Probably on that day when Yohanan the presbyter, firstthought of this journey, he addressedIsaak thus-"Isaak, are you a true servant?" "Yes," says he, "ever since the Church made me deacon I have loved you as myown soul, and I would gladly do anything for your comfort."
"Then," says he, "If you would serve me, follow me." "But must I leave my children and my household?" "Verily," says the presbyter;"it must even be so, for I, also, shall leave behind me my wife and children, and go forth on a long and weary journey-manya hundred miles, to Britain, wherethere are many who love our Lord, and who may help the persecuted saints in this region." Now came the pinch, and Isaak,if he would serve the presbyter, must follow him. He does not decline the service. When he accepted the office of the deacon,he resolved to really be the servantof the Church and her minister. And he is now ready to undertake the journey with his presbyter.
I think I see them sallying forth. They journey among the Kurds, a savage people always thirsting for the Christians' blood-withmore than Mohammedan hatred of Christ. Perhaps Isaak is faint-hearted and would like to turn back. "If any man would serveme, let him follow me," says the hoarypresbyter, as he strikes his staff upon the ground and advances fearless of the foe. They pass one danger and encounteranother. A mountain is in their way lifting its snowy crest even to the sky. The gray-bearded preacher goes first, and hecries, "Isaak, if you would serve me,follow me." And on they go, climbing from crag to crag, along the unfrequented path where scarce the wild goat has founda footing.
Soon they travel through the valley and across the barren, snowy, pathless wilderness, the presbyter saying continually, "Brother,if you would deaconize towards me, follow me, for now it is that it shall be proved to the world that you are a true servantof the Church and are willing to follow thepresbyter to the world's end." He did follow him right faithfully, and they reached their journey's end together. Now, thisis just what Jesus Christ says to us. We are all His deacons, His servants. We all became engaged, in the day when we gaveourselves to Him, that we would takeup our cross and follow Him. And He points today to some high mountain, saying, "If you would serve Me, follow Me."
He does not ask you to lead. He Himself has gone before. He calls you to no labor which He has not Himself already accomplished.Oh, can you say in your heart today-
"Through floods and flames if Jesus leads, I'll follow where He goes. 'Hinder me not,' shall be my cry, Though earth and Helloppose"? This is true service, the best that can be rendered, to follow where He leads the way, let the way be never so roughor arduous, to persevere to the end, eventhough the end be a martyr's death.
Come, Brethren, and especially those who are beginners, and have but lately enlisted in Christ's cause-let me mark you outChrist's way, and then-if you would serve Him, follow Him. I know the proud flesh wants to serve Christ by striking out newpaths. Proud man has a desire to preachnew doctrines, to set up a new Church-to be an original thinker, to judge and consider-do anything but obey. This is notservice to Christ. He that would serve Christ must follow Him. He must be content to tread only in the old footsteps and goonly where Christ has ledthe way. It is not for you and me to be originals. We must be humble copies of Christ.
There must be nothing about our religion of our own inventing. It is for us to lay thought, and judgment, and opinion at thefeet of Christ-and do what HE bids us-simply because He gives the command. Look, then, disciples, at your Lord. I think Isee the Savior-oh, that you wouldfollow Him today! I think I see Him coming. It is His first public entry in the world. And where does He go? It is the beginningof His manifest ministry among men. He is about to show you what should be the beginning of yours.
He goes to Jordan. There stands the Baptist, and the willing crowds are baptized with the Baptism of repentance. As John standsthere, lo, the Son of Man Himself appears. And John says, "I have need to be baptized of You and come You to me?" But ourMaster, whom if we would serve, we must follow,says, "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness." He descends into the stream. He isburied beneath the water. And as he comes up from that immersion, the Heaven is opened and the Spirit descends upon Him likea dove.
If you would serve Him, follow Him. "But.. .but.. .but!" Alas, my Brothers and Sisters, this is not a fitting word for a disciple-youforget your service when you begin to question. If you would serve Him, follow Him. Your business as a servant is not to object,but to obey. Imagine that youask your servant to fill a bath with water. "But." You say, "I must have it filled." But she questions again, and again,and again, and at last flatly refuses to do more than sprinkle it with a few drops. Do you call her a servant any longer?Methinks no.
So there are some of you who see most clearly that your Master was baptized at the commencement of His public life, and yetyou will be raising questions where there is no room for questions. You will neglect a duty which is as plain in Scriptureas the very Deity of Christ. You will turn asidefrom a Baptism which is as plainly taught in express words as even the doctrine of justification by faith-you do not takeup your service as you should.
"But, it is not essential," you say. Is that a servant's business? "But what good will it do?" Is this a question for a servant?"If any man will serve Me"-Christ does not say-"Let him question Me. Let him be asking Me why I command him to do such a thing."No, no! He says, "Let himfollow Me." "But I dread the publicity, I fear the ordinance." It is your proud flesh that fears it-subdue it under yourfeet and take up your cross, for there are far heavier crosses than this to carry. Thus your Master puts it-"If any man willserve Me, let him followMe."
He now comes from Jordan and the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. You, too, must be tempted.Do not think when you are tempted that, therefore, you are out of Christ. No-if you would be His servant, you must followHim, and must be tempted, too. You must beassailed in many points. The arrows must fly from above and from beneath. You must be tried on all hands and in all ways.Run not from the conflict, for if any man would serve Christ, he must follow Him through the hottest temptations as well asthrough the brightest joys.
Now the Master comes forth boldly and begins to preach and teach and labor. If you would serve Him, follow Him! Labor forHim. In some way or other teach His Gospel. If you cannot teach it to the thousands, teach it to the tens. It you cannot conversewith multitudes, converse with one at the well,as Christ did at Sychar. If you would be His servant, let His life, written in large letters, be your life. And let yourlife be the miniature, the condensation of the life of Christ. - "If any man would serve Me, let him follow Me."
You see the Master bears bold witness before His adversaries. He beards the Pharisee to His face. He upbraids the hypocriteswho oppose Him. Follow Him, if you would serve Him. Let there not be a single foe before whose face you would fear His causeto plead. Speak up for His name. Let no blushsuffuse your cheeks. Speak His name before kings, nor yield to sinful shame. But see, the Master comes into the black cloudof reproach-they say He has a devil, and is mad. Follow Him there. Now, you servants of God, now is the trying hour. Now followHim. Be rejected anddespised, and hooted at with Him and sing as you go through it all-
"If on my face, for Your dear name, Shame and reproach shall be, I'll hail reproach and welcome shame, If You'll rememberme."
Look, He comes to die. If you would serve Him, follow Him. Be ready to be brought before the judgment seat for His name. Beready to yield your life up at His command, and if the martyr days should ever return, give your blood as freely as you wouldgive water from the well. Or if they come not,spend that blood, and the life it gives them, devoting every hour of every day, and every moment of every hour, to His cause,whose you are, and whom you do profess to serve. No new fashions, no new views and opinions-the imitation of Christ is theonly mode of service, andthe Master lays it down before each of you. Ask your consciences whether you have ever really served Him-"If any man wouldserve Me, let him follow Me."
Walk in the way of Christ, it is the King's highway. I pass the question round these galleries, and this vast area-Are youserving Christ? "Well, I subscribe to a charity." Are you serving Christ? "I intend to build a row of almshouses." My dearBrothers and Sisters, you may do all this andyet not be serving Christ, for your Master tells you that to serve Him is to follow Him. Have you followed Him? Have youbelieved in Him? Is He All in All to you, and do you now make His life the guiding star of your life? And do you desire tobe, and are you, as far as is possibleto man-made like He in all things-that you may be obedient unto His will? God help us that desiring to serve Immanuel, wemay do it by following Him!
II. We must come to our second point-GENEROUS STIPULATIONS FROM A NOBLE MASTER. "Where I am, there shall also My servant be."Whoever heard of such conditions as these from an ordinary master? The master is in the drawing room, the servant is in thekitchen. The master is in the parlor, theservant is in the workshop. The master sits at the table with his friends, the servant girds himself to wait on them. What,I say, what generous stipulations does the master make-"Where I am, there shall also My servant be"!
Well now, to return to the illustration we used before-"Where I am, there shall also my deacon be"-still using old Yohananand Isaak as your pattern, you will remember that wherever the old presbyter went, there was Isaak at his side. I dare saymany a night they slept under the broadshadow of a tree, and where Yohanan was, there the deacon was, too. Were they entertained by generous friends? They sharedthe same couch. At times they sat around the genial fire, but they sat together. Other times they shivered in the winter'scold-but they shivered side byside. Their lot during the long journey was the same. And when they arrived here they sat with us at the same table. Wespoke to them as to those who were intimate friends, and I know that throughout the whole of their voyage, where the presbyterwas, there the deacon was, also.
Do you not see that this was the rule which Christ carried out all His life? He went to a wedding-is it not written, the disciplesof Jesus were there? Jesus once rejoiced in spirit over the elect ones, the babes and sucklings to whom God had revealed Himself-yes,but His disciplesshared the joy, because Satan fell like lightning from Heaven-and even the devils were subject to them. The Master oftenwent to the house of Lazarus. And Martha and Mary made a great feast- but the disciples were always there. Sometimes theywent to a Pharisee'shouse-a very respectable gentleman-and if Christ had been an ordinary man he might have said, "I cannot take those poorfishermen with Me. It will lower My character if they see what rag tags follow at My heels." But no, where He was, there Hisservants were.
And you know, Beloved, one time He rode in triumph through the streets of Jerusalem. But He did not say to His disciples,"Now you had better keep out of the way. This is a day in which I am to be honored, and I think you will rather spoil thepageantry if they see you in your fishermen's dresswalking with Me." No-where He was, there were His servants, also. And when the multitudes cried, "Hosanna," and welcomedthe Master, the welcome was shared by the disciples. Then there came His last great feast. "With desire," said He, have Idesired to eat this Passover withyou"-it was "with you"-He could not enjoy that last supper except with them. "Where I am, there shall also My servant be."Share and share alike. Their lot, My lot. My portion, their portion forever.
Mark, Beloved, if the Lord thus shared His comforts among His disciples, He expected them to share His discomforts. He wasin a ship in a great storm, and the disciples must be with Him, though they are sorely afraid. He goes to Gethsemane. He sweats,as it were, great drops of blood. His disciplesmust be with Him there, even though they cannot bear it, and are asleep. And though in His last passion they could not bewith Him, for He must tread the winepress alone, yet, mark you, His disciples were with Him afterwards, for if He were broughtbefore kings, so were they. If Hestood falsely accused, so, in after years, did they. If He died upon the Cross a martyr, so did they!
And so, for three hundred years, where Christ was in death, there His Church was, too, for the gibbet and the cross and thestake and the block, and the bloody axe had stern work to do with Christ's Church, that it might be fulfilled- "Where I am,there shall also My servant be."
Beloved, this stands true to you and me this morning. Where Christ was we must be. "The disciple is not above his Master,nor the servant above his Lord." Blessed be His name, He is gone to Heaven, now, and where He is, there shall His servantsbe, in the same Heaven in His Father's house. Yes, Hehas mounted to His Throne, and where He is, there shall His servants be. "To Him that overcomes will I give to sit on MyThrone, even as I have overcome and have sat down upon My Father's Throne." He is in the joy of His Father. And where He is,there must His servants be.
We also must be partakers of His joy that His joy may be full. Lo, He comes! The trumpet sounds! Jesus comes! The second adventdraws near. But when He comes, all His saints shall come with Him. My God shall come, and all His saints with Him. He reigns-kingsand princes, your scepters are notyour own. He comes to take them from your hands and your crowns from your heads-Jesus comes to "reign from pole to polewith illimitable sway." And we shall reign with Him, for, "Where I am, there also shall My servant be."
I think you understand, then, that the conditions of the service are these-fare ill or fare well-we are to have joint stockwith Christ. We are to take Him for better or for worse, in shame and in honor, in reproach and in esteem, in riches and inpoverty, in life and in death, in timeand in eternity. "Where I am, there shall also My servant be." I love my Master's conditions! He is a noble Master! ShallI ever blush to go where He goes? God forbid, for if I do, I may be afraid lest at the last He should ignore me and shouldnot permit me to be where He is.
I have heard an old story, somewhat amusing, which will illustrate this point, and then I shall leave it. I have heard thata noted Methodist preacher, who commenced his ministry very early in life, suffered not a little at first because of his humbleorigin and unpromising exterior. Being sent onthe circuit to a certain house on a Saturday night, to be in readiness for preaching on the Sunday, the good woman, whodid not like the look of him, sent him round to the kitchen. There was a manservant who served them at odd times, and alsoworked in the coal mine, or at theforge, who was surprised to see the minister in the kitchen with him when he came from labor.
John, rough as he was, welcomed the despised preacher, and tried to cheer his heart. The minister shared John's meal of porridge,John's bed in the cockloft and John's humble breakfast. He walked to the House of God with John in the morning. Now, the preacherwas a notable man, though then unknown,and he had not long opened his mouth before the congregation perceived that there was something in him, and the good hostess,who had so badly entertained him, began to feel a little uneasy. When the sermon was over there were many invitations forthe minister to come visit, and thehostess, fearful of losing her now honored guest, begged him to walk home with her.
To her surprise, he said, "I supped with John, I slept with John, I breakfasted with John. I walked here with John, and I'llwalk home with John." So when dinner came he was, of course, entreated to come into the chief room, for many friends wishedto dine with this young minister, who was so muchadmired and esteemed. But no, he would dine in the kitchen. He had supped with John, he had breakfasted with John, and hewould dine with John. They begged him to come into the parlor and at last he consented on the condition that John should sitat the same table. "For," he said,very properly, "John was with me in my humiliation, and I will not sit down to dine unless he is with me in my exaltation."
So on he went till the Monday morning, sleeping at night with John, and persevering in the same rule-"I supped with John,I slept with John, I breakfasted with John, I walked with John, I'll walk home with John, and I'll dine with John, for Johnwas with me at the beginning and he shall bewith me to the end."
Brethren, this story may be turned to account thus: Our Master came into this world once, and they sent Him into the servants'place. They sent Him where the poor and despised ones were, and said, "Live with them. The manger and the cottage are goodenough for You." He lived with poverty and suppedwith toil. Now the name of Christ is honored, and kings and cardinals, popes and bishops, say, "Master, come and dine withus." Yes, the proud emperor and philosopher would have Him sup with them. But still He says-"No, I was with the poor and afflictedwhen I was on earth,and I will be with them to the end. And when the great feast is made in Heaven, the humble shall sit with Me and the poorand despised who were not ashamed of Me, of them will I not be ashamed when I come in the glory of My Father and all My holyangels with Me."
III. We have, thirdly, A GLORIOUS REWARD FOR IMPERFECT SERVICES. "If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor."
If any man will serve Christ in the way Christ bids him, that is, by following Him. If any man is content not to do as fatheror grandmother did, but will follow Christ and not man. If any man will break through all customs, all regulations, all rottenproprieties, and just do as Christ did, andimitate Him in all things-that man will have honor, first of all, in his own soul. He shall have such blessed peace of conscience,he shall have such sweet fellowship with Christ, he shall have such profound peace from the Father's right hand, that it shallbe very apparent tohim that the Father honors him.
Look at John Knox, who never feared the face of man. He followed Christ as far as his light went, and how greatly the Fatherhonored him with unruffled serenity of heart. What calm that gigantic spirit had! When the world was all in uproar againsthim, how peacefully he smiled in the face of theroaring of the multitude, for God honored him with an indwelling consciousness of being right before the Lord.
Then, again, I am persuaded that God will honor such a man by success, by prospering him in his ministry and in whatever hemay attempt for Christ. Why is it that so little success rests on some who labor for God? Because they do not serve Christin the way He would have them serve Him-byimitating Him. Ecclesiastical courts, rubrics, rules, forms, liturgies, and such like, confine too many, who if they wouldsnap the fetter, would be honored of the Lord. If there were in connection with this Church anything which I thought to beunscriptural, I could not expect tohave God's blessing in it.
And I think if any man here is a member of a Church of which he can say, "Well, there are many wrong things in it, but I donot think I ought to come out," you cannot expect God's blessing. He that would serve Christ, must follow Christ in littlethings as well as in great things. Whenever we say,"Well, there are some things wrong in my position but I can do more good where I am," we set ourselves up as masters insteadof servants. Our business is conscientiously to follow, as far as our light goes, the example of Christ in every respect,and in all things. And if thisshould entail the giving up of our present position and usefulness, we must not consider results, but instantly obey imperativecommands.
I claim for my Master immediate, unquestioning, unqualified obedience to all His Words. And I demand of you, in His name,that you renounce everything which prevents your rendering perfect, unhesitating service to His Person and doctrine. Whetheras members of a Church, or a community, or in atrade, if you have anything that prevents your following Christ, leave everything and come right out-for you cannot expectgreat success from God till you have honored Christ by following Him in all things. If you think you know better than Christ,why then I have done withyou. If you think that you can lead a better life, or set a better example, you are proud, indeed! Or, if you imagine thatin your position you may tolerate yourselves in disobeying His commands, you talk as one of the foolish women talks but notas a disciple of Christ. I sayagain, if you would be honored of God, you must serve Christ by following Him.
And lastly, such who thus serve Christ, by following Him, shall have great honor at the last. We will suppose that the Princeof Wales is wrecked on a certain voyage and is cast on shore with only one companion. The prince falls into the hands of barbariansand there is an opportunity for hiscompanion to escape. But he says, "No, my Prince, I will stay with you to the last, and if we die, we will die together."The prince is thrown into a dungeon. His companion is in the prison with him, and serves him, and waits upon him. The princeis sick-it is a contagiousfever-his companion nurses him-puts the cooling liquid to his mouth-and waits on him with a mother's care.
He recovers a little. The fond attendant carries the young prince, as he is getting better, into the open air, and tends himas a mother would her child. They are subject to deep poverty-they share their last crust together. They are hooted at asthey go through the streets, and they arehooted at together. At last, by some turn in Providence, it is discovered where the prince is, and he is brought home. Whois the man that the queen will delight to honor? "Make way for this man. He was with my son in prison-he was with my son whenhe was near death-henursed him-he suffered with him-he was reproached for him." I fancy she would look with greater affection upon the poorservant than upon the greatest statesman. And I think that as long as she lived she would remember him above all the rest,for she would say, "He waswith my son in all his sorrow and affliction, and I will honor him above all the mighty ones in the land."
And now dear Brothers and Sisters, if you and I shall be with Christ, the King's Son. If we shall suffer with Him, and bereproached with Him. If we shall follow Him anywhere and everywhere, making no choice about the way, whether it shall be roughor smooth, whether it shall be green sward or mirybog-if we can go with Him to prison and to death, if such times come-then we shall be the men whom Heaven's King delightsto honor. "Make room for him, you angels! Make room you cherubim and seraphim! Stand back you peers of Heaven's realm! Herecomes the man. He waspoor, mean and afflicted. But he was with My Son and was like My Son. Come here, Man! Here, take your crown and sit withMy Son in His glory, for you were with My Son in His shame!" Oh that the Holy Spirit would teach us how to follow Jesus andenable us to tread in His steps!
I conclude by again asking this important question-Are you with Christ today? Have you put your hand into Christ's hand tobe Christ's forever? My Hearers, the speaker wants to make this question ring in your ears-Are you with Christ today? Forhe that is not with Him is against Him.And he that follows not Christ scatters abroad. Do you trust Christ? Oh, Sinner, if you do not, I beseech you trust Himnow, and you are saved. If you have trusted Christ, is it the true trust? If it is, it will make you follow Him and you willbe obedient to His every wish andword. Faith, such as the Holy Spirit gives, always leads to obedience.
Is it so? Is it so? If not, humble yourself before God. Believe in Him who is the only foundation upon which a sinner's hopecan be built. Take up your cross daily, and through evil report and through good report, follow the Master even to the end,and the Lord God, the God of Heaven and earth, thefountain of honor, shall glorify you when Christ comes in His kingdom.