Sermon 1180. Jesus Near but Unrecognized
A SERMON DELIVERED BY
C. H. SPURGEON
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But their eyes were restrained that they should not know Him." Luke 24:16.
THE Lord may be present with His people and yet they may not be conscious of it. They may be conscious of the effect producedthereby, but not of the fact itself. When the Lord visited Abraham in his tent on the plains of Mamre, at the first, at least,Abraham thought he was receiving a wayfaring man and so he entertained the Angel of the Covenant unawares. When the Lord appearedunto Jacob he rose up from the vision and said, "Surely God was in this place, and I knew it not." Afterwards at the brookJabbok, when the Covenant Angel wrestled with him, Jacob was not aware of the exact Character of the mysterious personage,for he said, "Tell me Your name." He did not understand who it was with whom he wept, made supplication and prevailed.
The same is true of Joshua. He saw a man standing with his sword drawn in his hand, and he challenged him, mistaking him fora warrior-he did not recognize the Person of his Lord until He said, "No, but as Captain of the Lord's host am I come." Itis possible, then, for saints to be favored very remarkably with the Presence of their Master and yet for some cause or otherthey may not know that He is specially near them. So was it in the case before us, which let us consider.
I. We shall note, first, REASONS WHY, IN THE VERY PRESENCE OF THEIR MASTER, SAINTS MAY NOT KNOW THAT HE IS NEAR. The reasonin this case was twofold-first, because their eyes were restrained. And secondly, because, as Mark tells us, He appeared untothem in another form. We must not suppose either of these reasons to be untrue, but that they are both true, and that thetwo evangelists have thus given us the whole of the Truth of God, one taking note of one part of it and the other of the other.The first reason, then, why these good men did not perceive the Presence of their Master was that, "their eyes were restrained."There was a blinding cause in them. What was it? We cannot dare say-where Scripture does not strictly inform us, it is notfor us to dogmatize.
By some mysterious operation, their eyes, which were able to see other things, were not able to detect the Presence of theirMaster. They thought Him to be some common traveler. Still, we are permitted to say that in their case, and in the case ofa great many disciples, their eyes may have been restrained through sorrow. They were very grieved for they had lost theirMaster. He was gone they knew not where. They would have been glad, even, if they could have found His body, but certain womenhad gone to the sepulcher, and though they told a wonderful story about a vision of angels, yet to these men it sounded likea knell in their ears, "for Him they found not."
Ah, there is no sorrow to a Christian like the loss of his Master's Presence! May you and I never be able to bear it withcomposure. "The days shall come when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, then shall they fast." Fast, indeed! There isno fast like that which sets in when those who have once seen the Bridegroom's beauty and tasted of the love that is betterthan wine, have to cry out, "O that I knew where I might find Him!" That careless spouse who had slept and would not opento her Beloved for a while-when her heart was touched and moved for Him-rose up and searched through the streets of the cityfor Him. She could not rest until she found Him and she made every watchman on the walls hear her question-"Have you seenHim whom my soul loves?" Sorrow will unsettle the judgment. Even holy sorrow for sin and grief for the absence of the Mastermay, sometimes, put a mote into the eye and destroy its clear vision. Even tears of repentance have prevented men from seeingTruths of God which might have made their hearts glad.
Again, in their case, in addition to the mysterious operation which held their eyes, which we do not attempt to account for,we have no doubt their eyes were restrained with unbelief Had they been expecting to see Jesus, I think they would have recognizedHim. If they had gone to Emmaus fully persuaded that He was alive somewhere upon the earth, as
soon as they had seen Him approach, they would at least have said, "Perhaps this is the Master! Perhaps even now He is comingto us." They knew that His delights were with the sons of men, so that He would not long conceal Himself from His belovedwhile He was on earth. They knew, also, that He loved His own to the end and would love them still. They might, therefore,have felt sure that He would come to meet them-and had they been believing and expecting-they would, probably, have discoveredHim at once.
Whether it is so or not, I am sure, dear Brothers and Sisters, that our unbelief has often hid the Lord from our eyes. Whatmight we have known of our Lord by this time-what might we have tasted and handled of Him by this time if it had not beenfor our unbelief? He might say to some of us, "Have I been so long a time with you and yet have you not known Me?" By reasonof our unbelief we have not dived into the mysteries of His heart! We have not understood the fullness of His love! Oh, formore faith! Faith has the eagle's eyes-it can see where other eyes cannot penetrate. Oh, for the eyes of love-the dove's eyesof love, by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set-for faith and love together make up a blessed pair of opticswhich can see the Lord even when clouds and darkness are roundabout Him!
Whatever may have been mysterious about the restraining of the disciples' eyes, they were also somewhat restrained by ignorance.They had failed to see what is plain enough in Scripture, that the Messiah must suffer, bleed and die. They had their sacredbooks and yet were so little acquainted with their real meaning that, albeit Christ is in every page of the Old Testament,yet they did not perceive Him there! And so, not knowing that all this must be as it had happened, and expecting somethingvery different and more in accordance with the traditional views of their race-they did not recognize their Master. If itwere not so with them, it is certainly so with many of God's people today Some professors- I speak it with sorrow-do not knowmore than the most elementary doctrines of the Gospel. With the exception of knowing themselves sinners and Christ a Savior,they know nothing!
Justification, in the full glory of it, is hidden from their eyes. They do not consider the work of the Holy Spirit. The fullnessof the union of the child of God with Christ and the Glory that is to come, which already casts a halo about the saints, theyhave not perceived. They do not study the Word so as to enter into its depths. They are afraid of some doctrines because theyare said to be, "High Calvinism," and of other doctrines because they are denounced as, "Arminianism." They are frightenedinto joining a party, instead of taking the Truth as God has revealed it and beholding Jesus sitting upon the Truth like aking upon a throne of ivory. Beloved, the scales of ignorance have often restrained the eyes of the saints-it is well whenthe Holy Spirit opens our understandings to receive the Scriptures and enables us to see Jesus Christ as He truly is in thefield of the Word of God-like a precious treasure hidden therein! Thus Jesus may be with His people, but they may not seeHim because of something in themselves.
At other times they may not see Him because of something in the Master. Listen, as I have told you, Mark says He appearedunto them "in another form." I suppose he means in a form in which they had not seen Him before. The Lord Jesus Christ hasappeared at times in the Old Testament to His servants, but on each occasion in a different form. To Abraham, who was a strangerand a wayfaring man in the land, He appeared as a pilgrim. To Jacob, who was a wrestler with his brother, He appeared as awrestler. To Joshua, who was a soldier, fighting to conquer Canaan, He appeared as a soldier. To the holy children who werein the furnace He appeared as one walking amidst the burning coals. He puts Himself into fellowship with His people. So herethe two travelers were overtaken by a third traveler-He appeared to them in that form in which they themselves were!
As He is to make them like Himself, He begins by making Himself like they are. "As the children were partakers of flesh andblood, so He, also, Himself took part of the same." Jesus condescends to our condition and our circumstances. There is noposition into which Providence may cast us but what Jesus can sympathize with us. We see Him best under certain characterswhen we, ourselves, are in that form of character. Beloved, it may be you are a beginner in Divine Grace and, up to now, theLord Jesus has appeared to you with a smile upon His face-as a gentle Shepherd leading the lambs. But possibly for a whileHe has gone, or you think so, for you feel His rebuke in your soul as if He were saying to you, "O fool and slow of heart."
You conclude within yourself, "This cannot be Christ. I thought He was always a feeder of lambs." Yes, so He is, but He sometimescomes with a scourge of small cords to chase out buyers and sellers from His Temple. He is the same Christ, only you havenot seen Him in that Character. Perhaps you have only seen Jesus as your joy and consolation-under that aspect may you alwayssee Him, but, remember-"He shall sit as a Refiner. He shall purify the sons of Levi." When you
are in the furnace, suffering affliction, trial and depression of spirit, the Refiner is Christ, the same loving Christ ina new Character. Up to then you have seen Christ as breaking the Bread of Life to you and giving you to drink of the Waterof Life, but you must learn that His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge the floor of your heart. He is not anotherChrist, but He puts on another aspect and exercises another office.
At first, poor sinners are content to see Jesus as their Priest who cleanses them from sin. They must go on to see Him astheir King who conquers them by the sacred arms of love-and they must also know Him as their Prophet-leading them into themysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. They must not wonder if He appears unto them in another form while they are learning moreof Him. This kind of sacred philosophy comes by experience, for how often do we find precious children of God distressed becausethey have not, today, the same sweets they used to have? At first we give little children such food as will be easily assimilated-theyhave nothing else but milk. By-and-by hard crusts are given them, for there are wisdom teeth to be cut. Suppose when we givethem more solid food, they began crying out for the milk, again? Should we give it to them?
The Lord does not wish you always to be babes! He would have you grow into men in Christ Jesus. And though Christ is alwaysyour food whether He comes to you as milk or as meat, yet still He will not always be milk to you lest you should remain ababe. He means to be meat to you that your senses may be exercised, that you may be able to understand the stronger and deeperTruths of the Kingdom of God. Do not, therefore, be astonished! Or, if you are, let this always comfort you, "Jesus Christis the same yesterday, today, and forever," and though He may change the form under which He manifests Himself, yet He isthe immutable Lord of Love.
You have thus heard two reasons why saints may have Christ with them and yet may not discern Him. First, because of themselves-theireyes are restrained. And, next, because of Himself-He may appear in another form.
II. Secondly, let us speak of the manners of the saints when they are in such a case. When their Master is with them and theydo not know Him, how do they conduct themselves? First, they are sad because the Presence of Christ, if Christ is unknown,is not comfortable, though it may be edifying. It may be for rebuke, as it was to them, but it certainly is not for consolation.For joy, we must have a known Christ. Saints are always downcast when Jesus is not known to be present and, as I have saidbefore, may we never be otherwise than unhappy if our Lord is hid from us. I can understand the child of God saying, "I amout of fellowship with Christ," but I cannot understand his saying that calmly and deliberately, without tears, without deepregret and intense repentance!
I can comprehend that the heir of Heaven may walk in darkness and see no light, but I cannot understand how he can be at homein darkness. Set a bird of the day flying by night and see how it flutters, and how uneasy it is. Go with a candle, if youwill, to any place where a number of birds have made their nests, and see how strangely bewildered they are. The only birdthat will be at home in the dark is the owl, the bird of the night-and if any one of you can be happy without your Masteryou are of the night. If you can be content without the sunlight of Jesus' Presence, depend upon it, you are one of the batsof the cavern-you are not one of the eagles of the day. God grant us to be like these disciples- sad, doubly sad, if we donot know our God to be with us.
Next, these disciples, though they did not know that their Master was there, conversed together-a good example for all Christians.Whether you are in the full joy of your faith or not, speak often to one another. He who is strong will help the weak Brother.If two walk together, if one shall trip, perhaps the other will not, and so he will have a hand to spare to support his friend.Even if both saints are unhappy, yet some good result will come from mutual sympathy. The one is saying, "I have lost my Master,"and the other replies, "I have lost my Master, too," and they will both know that they are not the only persons in such acase-and that is some help to a man in sorrow. Sometimes even a gleam of light, such as will arise from the fact that anotheris in the same plight, may be useful.
Christian people, commune together, but let your communications always be like these which are recorded in this chapter. Speakof Him, talk of Him, what you know of Him, of your sorrows about Him, even of your neglects of Him, of your ill treatmentof Him, your sins against Him. Talk of these things to one another, for so long as they are about Him, it will be good, even,to confess your faults to one another, for it will lead you to pray for one another and to join your prayers together, sothat there will be greater strength in the petitions. For if two of you are agreed, you know what power that sweet agreementhas with Heaven. "They that feared the Lord spoke often to one another."
A blessed practice, an ancient practice, an edifying practice, a God-honoring practice-one which so pleased God that He turnedeavesdropper-came under the window to listen to what they said and took His notebook and recorded it-"a book of remembrancewas written." And He has published it and given His blessing to "those that fear the Lord and that think upon His name." Beloved,even if you are out of fellowship with Jesus, do not forsake the assembly of God's people. Though you may feel unworthy tospeak with them, yet get among them and perhaps, there, you will find your Master.
Note, next, that these disciples, in addition to communicating with one another, were ready to be communed with by good men.When this new Pilgrim on the road came up and asked them a question, they were not shy, they were ready to give an answer.They poured out their hearts to Him and He talked to them, and they were soon on the way to being instructed. It is well forChristians to be willing to receive the Truth of God, not merely through their own immediate companions, but from others whofear the Lord, who perhaps may have looked at things from a different point of view and who may have received clearer light.These two disciples were communicative. It is a pity that Christian people so often shut themselves up within themselves.
This is a particular fault of English people. You may travel all over the world in the same railway carriage with an Englishmanand he will not say a word to you! I am sure Christian people would get much good from one another if they would not be sodistant. Many precious children of God have sat side by side by the hour together and out of undue reserve, which they havethought most proper, they have failed to communicate-and have missed the opportunity of a sacred commerce of thought and experiencewhich would have enriched them both. Be ready to communicate (not, of course, being indiscreet, for there is such a thingas casting pearls before swine). Using a heavenly prudence, be free to speak to those who are willing to converse concerningChrist.
John Bunyan in his, "Pilgrim's Progress," has a very witty and pithy piece about Mr. Talkative, who joined with the pilgrims.And, if you remember, he would soon have wearied them with his chat, had not Christian and Hopeful adopted a capital expedientfor getting rid of him. They would talk of nothing else but their inward experience in the things of God. And after a whileMr. Talkative dropped behind-that was not the sort of talk he wanted! And you will not long be troubled with the company ofa gentleman who does not love your Master if you keep to the grand theme. He will soon be sick of you and go where his trashywares are saleable, which they do not appear to be in your market, for you have better goods on hand. These good people werecommunicative to those who could sympathize with them.
Note, again, that though they did not know their Master was there, yet they avowed their hopes concerning Him. I cannot commendall that they said, there was not much faith in it, but they did confess that they were followers of Jesus of Nazareth. "Wetrusted that it had been He which should deliver Israel. And, besides all this, today is the third day." And they went onto let out the secret that they belonged to His disciples. "Certain women of our company made us astonished." They were undera cloud and sad, but they were not so cowardly as to disown their connection with the Crucified. They were not so far gonein depression of spirit as to talk about the whole thing as though it were to be disavowed or concealed, lest anybody shouldsay, "You were the foolish dupes of an impostor."
They still avowed their hope. And oh, Beloved, when your comforts are at the lowest ebb, still cling to your Master! If Inever get a smile from His face as long as I live, I must speak well of Him. If never again I see Him, yet is He the Chiefamong ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. I like to see the strong retentiveness of many an almost despairing saint.I remember a minister who was talking to a poor bedridden woman who was under a grievous cloud, and she said, "Sir, I do notthink I have any faith or any love for Christ whatever." He knew better, for he knew what her life had been, and so, walkingup to the window, he wrote on a piece of paper, "I do not love the Lord Jesus Christ," and he brought it back with a pencil,and said, "Now, Sarah, sign that."
When she had read it, she said, "Oh, Sir, I would be torn to pieces before I would sign that." "Oh, but you said it just now.""Ah, Sir, but I could not put my hand to it." "Then I suspect, Sarah, that you do love Him." "Well, Sir, whether I do or not,I will never give Him up." I remember visiting a woman, years ago, whom I never could comfort till she died, and then shedied triumphantly. I said to her, "What do you come to the Chapel for? What is the good of it if there is nothing there foryou?" "No," she said, "still I like to be there. If I perish, I will perish listening to the precious Word of God." "Well,but why is it you remain a member of the Church, as you say you are not a saved soul?" "Well,"
she said, "I know I am not worthy, but unless you turn me out I will never go out, for I like to be with God's people. I desireto be numbered with them, too, though I know I am not worthy, for I have no hope."
I said, "Well, now, come, I will give you five pounds if you will give up your hope altogether." And I drew out my purse."Five pounds!" she said, and she looked at me with utter horror. "Five pounds!" She would not give Christ up for 5,000 worlds."But you have not got Him, you said." "No, Sir, I am afraid I have not got Him, but I will never give Him up." Ah, there cameout the real truth. So was it with these two disciples-they talked as if they could not give Him up! Though they were afraidthat He had not risen from the dead, yet they remained His disciples, and spoke of, "Certain women of our company." They werehalf-unconsciously clinging to the forlorn cause in its very worst estate. And, Beloved, so will we. We will say with Job-"ThoughHe slay me, yet will I trust in Him."-
"When our eye of hope is dim, We'll trust in Jesus, sink or swim. Still at His footstool bow the knee, And Israel's God ourhelp shall be."
But, passing on-these poor people, though very sad, and without their Master as they thought, were very willing to bear rebukes.Although the word used by our Lord should not be rendered, "fools," yet it sounds somewhat hard, even, to call them inconsiderateand thoughtless-but we do not discover any resentment on their part because they were so severely chided. Souls that reallylove Jesus do not grow angry when faithfully rebuked. Beloved, do you approve the sermon which cuts you up root and branches?Are you thankful for the ministry which smites your faults? Do you say to the Lord, as you bare your bosom to the sword ofHis Word, "Search me and try me"? Ah, then, there is something more in you than in the man of the world, for his proud heartrebels when his conscience is too roughly assailed.
I had, the other day, some such conversation as this reported to me-A man and his wife had come to the Tabernacle. The wifesaid she liked to go to Church-her husband said he preferred to come here. What do you think were the reasons for each choice?The woman said, "Spurgeon is too plain." "That is why I like him," said the husband. "He is too personal," said the wife,"I do not think people ought to be talked to in that way." "That is what we need," said the husband, "we need to have it broughthome to us. What is the good of our going where there is nothing said that really belongs to us?" That is just so. We do notneed a Gospel that belongs to the people on the moon, but to ourselves! Some admire a preacher who can send a stone so highthat it never hits anything-but we need a preacher who can sling a stone to a hair's breadth and not miss the target of theconscience. Whatever deficiency there may be about them, those are right at bottom who can bear to be somewhat roughly rebukedby their Master.
And then, they were willing to learn. Never better pupils, never a better Teacher, never a better school book, never a betterexplanation! They were disciples, with Christ to teach them, with the Bible for a school book and Himself to be the exposition-sothey listened while He went on to open up from Genesis right through the Old Testament-the things concerning Himself! Poorchild of God, are you in doubt and trouble? Still be anxious to learn of Jesus! Pray the Lord to enlighten you! Ask Him toteach you His statutes and to open your eyes to behold wondrous things out of His Law, for whatever God's children may notbe, they are a teachable people. They shall all sit down at His feet and all receive of His Words.
Again, dear Friends, notice that while the two were willing to learn, they also wished to retain the teacher and His instruction,and to treat Him kindly, too. They said, "Abide with us; the day is far spent." They had been benefited by Him and thereforethey wished to show their gratitude to Him. Have you learned so much that you are willing to learn more? Are you of a teachableheart, ready to receive, with meekness, the engrafted Word of God? Now, I speak not of myself, for I have no cause to complain,but I have known true servants of Christ whom the people have driven forth from them because they were fickle and needed achange, for change's sake. They have not said, "Abide with us." Neither have they given them to eat, but though they havebeen worthy servants of God they have been thrust out not knowing where they should go-and their people not caring where.
I believe that God resents these things and that the unkind treatment of His servants will bring judgment upon the Church.If He sends ministers with His message, He expects them to be treated with respect and kindness. Just as Moses said to Hobab,so wise Believers say to God-sent ministers, "Come with us and we will do you good, and you shall be to us instead of eyes,for you know where we should encamp in the wilderness; and as the Lord deals with us so we will deal with you." These twodisciples entertained their instructor and would not let Him go.
And, once more, though they did not know that their Master was with them, they were well prepared to join in worship. Somehave thought that the breaking of bread that night was only Christ's ordinary way of offering a blessing before meat. It doesnot seem so to me, because they had already eaten and were in the middle of the meal when He took the bread and blessed it.I think He did, then and there, set before them those dear tokens of His passion, which He bids us feast upon on the firstday of the week, that we may show His death until He shall come. Whichever it was, whether the devotion proper to their owntable, or the devotion proper to the Lord's Table, they joined in it.
Now, it is a strong temptation of Satan with children of God, when they are full of sorrow, to tempt them to stay away fromthe means of Grace. Because they are in the dark, the temptation is to keep them away from the light-but oh, children of God,do not "forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is." Do not be tempted to stay away from theplace where God has met you and made the place of His feet glorious! Join, still, with the Lord's people-and if your faithtrembles, yet, nevertheless, come humbly to the Table. Christ has not a Table for those without doubts, else you might notcome-He has not made it a table for those without sin, else you might not come-but He bids all His disciples come, you amongthem!
III. Lastly, let us try to set forth THE ACTIONS OF BELIEVERS WHEN THEY DISCOVER THEIR LORD.
"Their eyes were opened, and they knew Him." What then? Well, first, they discovered that there had been, all along in theirhearts, evidences of His Presence. "Did not our hearts burn within us while He spoke with us by the way?" This heavenly heartburnnever comes to any but through the Presence of the Lord Jesus. They began to look at one another, and say, "Ought we not tohave known that it was none other than our great Teacher by the very fact that when we did not see Him our hearts were burningfor Him?"
Now let me turn this text around a little. There is a poor sinner here who says, "Oh, how I wish that I could find the Savior,but I cannot find Him." Why? Your heart is burning after Him! Who is it that makes you long after Him? Those strong desiresare kindled by His Sovereign Grace. He is near you. "But I feel so much of the evil of sin! Oh, that it were rolled away.My heart cries, 'Give me Christ, or else I die.'" Do you think that humanity unrenewed by Grace cries in that way? Surelythe Master is near you! There is already, if not a summer in your soul, at least a springtide. The ice is breaking up, thebuds are beginning to swell, the sun is coming and you are beginning to feel His glow! The Lord is not far from you and oneof these days when you come to look back upon it you will say, "I did not know it, but He was close to me. I said, 'Whereshall I find Him?' and all the while He was close upon me!"
I now turn to the child of God. You, perhaps, have said, "I have lost communion with my Lord in that happy form I once enjoyed.But I can never be satisfied without Him. I could sit down and cry my eyes out to think-
"What peaceful hours I once enjoyed-
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill."
Where does this kind of heartburn come from? From the devil? Then he has undertaken a new business! Does it come from yourself?Is that a sheep calling the shepherd? To me it looks like the Shepherd seeking the sheep! But you say, "Oh, how I wish I couldreturn to walking with God, in Christ, and sitting under His shadow with great delight." Do you desire it vehemently, passionately,as they that wait for the morning? Who made you desire it, do you think? Is He so far away where those strong desires arepresent? I know it is not so!
"Ah," you say, "I feel in my soul that I love Him. Yet I am afraid I have no fellowship with Him. But when I hear His nameextolled, I say in my heart, 'That is the sweetest music under Heaven.' When I hear my Master spoken well of, I wish I hadthe tongue of men and angels that I might speak of Him, too. He cannot be too greatly extolled for me. I find tears in myeyes when I hear of His true love for sinners. Sometimes I am afraid I deceive myself, and am not a partaker in it, but stillHe is a precious Christ, and glory be to His name." Do you think you would have your heart burning like that if He had quitegone? I think not!
You feel your heart burning for the conversion of others! You say, "Oh that we had a revival of religion everywhere, thatthe kingdom would come unto Christ and the crown were set upon His head over ten thousand times ten thousand human hearts!"Your heart breaks for the longing that Christ may be glorified among men, and yet you say, "I am afraid He is not with me"?One of these days you will say, "Did not my heart burn within me? He must have been near." You
are blindfolded and cannot see the fire, yet, if on a cold day you get very hot, I should think there must be a fire nearyou! If you cannot see Jesus to your soul's comfort, yet still, if there is such glowing and burning as these, He is verynear you!
Sometimes on the Sabbath do you not know what it is to say, "Oh, my Lord and Master, the days are weary in which I do notsee You-when shall I behold You face to face?" You have heard of the glories of Christ in Heaven and you have longed to peepthrough the keyhole, if that were all, that you might see the King in His beauty! And you have cried, "Why is His chariotso long in coming?" You have often wished you could-
"Sit and sing yourself away To everlasting bliss."
Well, you may be sure the lodestone is not far off when the needle is so much moved. When your eyes are opened you will say,"Why, He was with me! He was with me! Did not my heart burn within me while He spoke with me by the way? My doubts and fearsand trembling heart forbade my understanding how near the precious Christ was to me."
The next thing they did was to compare joys. The one said to the other, "Did not our hearts burn within us?" It is alwaysa good thing for Believers to communicate their returning enjoyment. Somehow we are rather shy as to speaking of our joys.Ought we to be so? One does not mind speaking of his faults to his Brother, for there does not seem to be any assumption inthat. But if the Lord is very gracious I have known Believers feel as if they could not speak of it lest they should seemto exalt themselves. We must studiously avoid everything like self-exaltation, but we must not rob our Master of a particleof His Glory. If we have seen the Lord, let us tell our Brothers and Sisters so, and say to one another, "Did not our heartsburn within us?"
If you had a very dull and dry discourse you would get together and say, "Oh dear, dear! Our Sundays are dreadfully wasted.We do not profit. The good man is so dull and dead," and so on. You would be sure to say that, would you not? Well, when theLord refreshes you, say to one another, "It was good to be there this morning. We had a feast of fat things. The Lord waswith us." Do not leave the table of spiritual bread till, like a good child, you have thanked your Father. Once again. Thesedisciples, when they saw the Master, hastened to tell others about it. It was the dead of the night, I suppose, by the timethey knew their Lord.
Our Lord Jesus had none of the prejudices of the High Church fraternity against breaking bread in the evening. That has alwaysseemed to me to be the oddest of their freaks-that they will persist in contending that the Lord's Supper ought to take placeearly in the morning! They ought not to call it a, "supper"-they should call it a breakfast. I never could understand a certainclass of Christians, great sticklers, too, for Scripture, who always will have the Lord's Supper in the morning of the day,without any precedent, that I know of, for turning an evening meal into a morning one. I grant there is no importance whateverin the time-the only importance that I speak of is putting an importance on a wrong time-which those do who say it ought tobe in the early part of the day. We say that whenever Believers meet together they may break bread in remembrance of theirLord! If, however, there is one time more like the first occasion, it certainly is the evening of the day.
Though it was late, the two disciples set off on a seven-and-a-half mile journey, in the dead of night, to tell others thatthey had seen the Lord! If ever you find Christ to the joy of your heart, go and tell His people about it. Yes, and tell sinners,too, and put yourself to inconvenience to do it. Nowadays we are willing to testify if we can do it very comfortably-but Ilove to hear of those good Brethren who will walk many miles on Sunday to preach the Gospel- who are willing to sacrificeease and comfort so that they may do good to others, just as these did. Oh, for more enthusiasm in telling of the Savior'slove and hearing of it! We need nice cushions and very comfortable pews, don't we, nowadays? When we were first convertedwe would stand anywhere in the crowd if we could but hear the Savior's name!
I remember when I would have gone over hedge and ditch to hear about my Master, or to preach about Him, too. May our earnestlove to Him never grow cold and our enthusiasm never depart. May a midnight's walk be nothing to us if we may but declareeven to unbelieving brethren what we have seen of our blessed Lord! It is a good message, and it is a good errand to go upon,when we go to tell of Jesus-and it will bring good to our own souls.
I notice that while they told of their Lord's appearing, they made mention of the ordinance which had been blest to them,for they especially said that He had been known to them in the breaking of bread. I like to see them mention that, for, thoughordinances are nothing in themselves, and are not to be depended upon, they are blest to us. There is a tendency among us,because others make too much of ordinances, to make too little of them. Do not treat Baptism, or the
Lord's Supper, or the reading of the Word of God, or the hearing of it, in a slighting manner. If these are blest to you,bless God for them! And if God speaks to you through them, do not forget to say that they have been valuable channels of communication.
And now, dear child of God, I pray for you and for myself that we may always have our Master with us-and may know it! But,if we lose His recognized Presence, may we act as these two disciples did, or better. May the Lord lead us on from strengthto strength and glorify Himself in us. If there is any poor sinner here who needs Jesus Christ, let him remember that hisdesire after Christ is an indication of the nearness of the Savior to Him. Christ is always within eyeshot. He cries, "Lookunto Me and be you saved, all you ends of the earth." He is close at hand to every seeking soul. "If you seek Him He willbe found of you." "Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near." Trust Him and He is yours. May Jesusabide with you. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Luke24:1-35. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-766, 776, 785.