Sermon 2060. The Messages of Our Lord's Love
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, AUGUST 5, 1888.
"Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goes beforeyou into Galilee: there shall you see Him, as He said unto you."Mark 16:7.
SEE, Brethren! Jesus delights to meet His people. He is no sooner risen from the dead than He sends a message by an angelto say that He will meet His disciples. His delight is in them. He loves them with a very tender love and He is happiest whenHe is in their midst. Do not think that you will have to entreat and persuade your Lord to come to you. He delights in nearand dear fellowship. The heavenly Bridegroom finds solace in your company if you are indeed espoused to Him. Oh, that youwere more anxious to be with Him!
Our Lord knows that to His true people the greatest joy they ever have is for Him to meet them. The disciples were at theirsaddest. Their Lord, as they thought, was dead. They had just passed the dreariest Sabbath of their lives, for He was in thetomb. And now, to comfort them, He sends no message but this-that He will meet them. He knew that there would be magic inthat news to cheer their aching hearts. He would meet them-that would be all-sufficient consolation-"Go into Galilee. Thereshall you see Him."
If all the sorrows of God's people could be poured out in one vast pile, what a mountain they would make! How varied our distresses!How diverse our depressions! But, Beloved, if Jesus will meet us, all the sadness will fly away and all the sorrow will growlight. Only give us His company and we have all things. You know what I mean, many of you. Our Lord has made our hearts toleap for joy in sorrowful times. When we have been filled with physical pain, His company has made us forget the body's weakness.
And when we have newly come from the grave and our heart has been ready to break through bereavement, the sight of the Saviorhas sweetened our bitter cup. In His Presence we have felt resigned to the great Father's will and content to say, "It isthe Lord: let Him do what seems Him good." Until the day break and the shadows flee away forever we want nothing but our Well-Beloved'scompany. "Abide with me! Abide with me!"-this is our one prayer. And if we have that fulfilled, all other desires may waittheir turn.
My subject is chosen with a view to our coming, as we always do on the first day of the week, to this table of communion.I want every child of God here to seek after, no, to gain full fellowship with Christ. I long to enjoy it myself that I maypreach a Savior in whose Presence I live. I long for you to enjoy it-that you may hear not my voice-but His voice, which issweeter than the music of angels' harps. Oh, that those who do not know our Lord may now come, by His Grace, hungering afterHis surpassing sweetness! He is willing to come to you. A prayer will find Him. A tear will draw Him. A look of faith willhold Him fast. Cast yourself on Jesus and His open arms will joyously receive you.
But now to the text. I shall take it just as it stands and make five observations upon it.
I. The first is-JESUS, THAT HE MAY MEET HIS PEOPLE, ISSUES INVITATIONS AND THE INVITATIONS ARE VERY GRACIOUS-"Go, tell Hisdisciples and Peter." "Tell His disciples." The invitation is most gracious as directed to them-for "they all forsook Himand fled." On that night, that doleful night when He most needed company, they slept. And when He was taken off to the hallof Caiaphas, they fled-yes, every one of them. There was not a steadfast spirit among them. They all fled. "Shame on them!"you say? Yes, but Jesus was not ashamed of them. For in one of the first speeches of His glorious life on earth He speciallymentions them.
"Tell My disciples"-not picking and choosing here and there a heart more faithful than the rest but mentioning the whole cowardlycompany, He says, "Tell My disciples." Brethren, disciples of Christ, Jesus would meet us now. Let us hasten to His Presence.Not one among us dares plume himself upon his fidelity. We have all at times played the coward. We may each one of us hideour faces when we think of our Lord's most faithful love to us. We have never acted towards
Him according to His deserts. If He had banished us-if He had said, "I will no more acknowledge this dastardly company," wecould not have wondered.
But He invites us all, all who are His disciples-invites us to Himself. Will you stay away? Will any of you be satisfied withoutbeholding that dear Countenance, more marred than that of any man and yet more lovely than the face of angels? Come, all whofollow Him, for He bids you come. Hear the address of the message-"Tell My disciples."
But the bounty and beauty of His Grace lay in this-that one had been worse than the rest and, therefore, for him there isa special finger to beckon him, a special word to call him-"Tell my disciples AND PETER." He that denied his Lord-he thatcursed as he denied, he who, after boisterous self-confidence, trembled at the jest of a maid-is he to be called? Yes, "TellMy disciples and Peter." If any of you have behaved worse to your Master than others, you are peculiarly called to come toHim now. You have grieved Him and you have been grieving because you have grieved Him. You have been brought to repentanceafter having slid away from Him and now He seals your pardon by inviting you to Himself.
He bids you not to stand in the background but to come in with the rest and commune with Him. Peter, where are you? The crowingof the cock is still in your ears and the tear is still in your eyes-yet come and welcome-for you love Him. He knows you do.You are grieved that a doubt should be put upon your love. Come, He has forgiven you. He has given you tokens of it in yourbroken heart and tearful eye. Come, Peter! Come, if nobody else should come. Jesus Christ invites you by name before any other.In this place may be Believers who have acted strangely and have even forsaken the Lord and they are now bemoaning themselves.Go on with your holy sorrow but come to your Lord. Be not content till you have seen Him, till you have laid hold upon Himby a fresh grip of faith and till you can say, "My Beloved is mine and I am His."
Most tender, then, are the invitations which Jesus issues. Part of the tenderness now lies in the lips which deliver the messageon the Lord's behalf. The women said-Jesus has said to us, by an angel, He will go before us into Galilee and there shallyou see Him. I am always thankful that God has committed the ministry of the Word not to angels but to us poor men. As I toldyou a little while ago, you may grow tired of me and my stammering. But yet they are more suitable for you than nobler strainsmight be. I have no doubt that if you had an angel to preach to you there would be a very great crowd and for a time you wouldsay, "It is wonderful."
But it would be so cold from lack of human sympathy that you would soon weary of the lofty style. An angel would try to bekind-as became his heavenly nature-but he would not be kin and you must necessarily miss the kindness which comes of kinship.I speak to you as bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh-I speak to you as Teacher, for I am a teacher. I speak to youas a disciple, for I am a disciple and I dare not think myself greater than the least of you. Let us come hand in hand toour dear Savior and all together let us pray Him to manifest Himself to us as He does not unto the world. This, then, is myfirst point-His invitations are gracious.
II. Secondly, we see in our text that JESUS KEEPS HIS PROMISE. "I will go before you into Galilee." If you turn to Mark 14:27, 28, you will see that He told them before He died, "All you shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, Iwill smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee." Hewill be where He says He will be. Jesus never breaks a promise. It is a great vexation, especially to us who are very busy,when somebody says, "will you meet me at such-and-such a place?" "Yes, at what hour?" The hour is appointed. We are there.Thank God we never were a half minute behind time when it was possible to be punctual.
But punctuality is a lesson which very few persons as yet have learned. We wait and wait wearily and perhaps we leave theplace to let our dilatory friends know that if they are in eternity we are in time and cannot afford to lose any of it. Manypeople make an engagement and break it-as if it were just nothing at all to be guilty of a practical lie. It is not so withJesus-He says, "I will go before you into Galilee." And into Galilee He will go. When He promises to meet His people He willmeet with them without fail and without delay.
Let us dwell on this appointment for a minute. Why did our Lord say that He would go to Galilee? Was it because it was Hisold haunt and being risen from the dead, He desired to go back to the spot where He had been accustomed to be-to the lakeand to the hillside? Surely there is something in that. It was their old haunt, too-they were fishermen on that lake and Hewould take them back to the place where a thousand memories would be awakened by their voices, like echoes which lie asleepamong the hills. Besides it would provide witnesses to His identity, for the Galileans knew
Him well-since there He had been brought up. He would go where He was known and show Himself in His former places of resort.
Perhaps, too, it was because the place was despised. He has risen and He will go to Galilee. He is not ashamed to be calledthe Galilean and the Nazarene. The Risen One does not go to the halls of princes but to the villages of peasants and fishermen.There was no pride in Jesus-not even the smell of that fire had passed upon Him. He was ever meek and lowly in heart. Didhe not also go to Galilee because it was some little distance from Jerusalem so that those who would meet Him might have alittle trouble getting there? Our Beloved would be sought after. A journey after Him will endear His society.
He will not meet you at Jerusalem, perhaps-at least, not the whole company of you. But He will show Himself by the sea indistant Galilee. Do you think He went to Galilee because it was "Galilee of the Gentiles"-that He might get as near to usGentiles as His mission allowed? He was sent as a Preacher only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But He traveledto the very edge of His diocese to get as near to the Gentiles (I mean to ourselves) as He could. Oh, happy word for us aliens!-"Iwill go before you into Galilee." So He said. And when He left the tomb, He kept His Word.
Now, Beloved, we have His Word for it that He will come and meet us where we are met together. "Where two or three are gatheredtogether in My name, there am I in the midst of them." And does He not keep His Word? How many times in our assemblies, greatand small, have we said, "The Lord was there!" How frequently have we forgotten preacher and fellow worshippers, feeling ourselvesin the Presence of a Greater than mortal man! Our eyes of faith have seen the King in His beauty, revealing His love to us.Oh, yes! He keeps His promise. He comes to His people and He never disappoints them. I think this is particularly true ofthe table of communion.
How often He has met us here! I am compelled to repeat my personal testimony. I have never omitted being at the Lord's Tableon any Sabbath of my life for many years past, except when I have been ill, or unable to attend. And I am therefore able toanswer the question-does not frequency diminish the solemnity of the ordinance? I have not found it so. But instead it growsupon me. That broken bread, that poured out wine, the emblems of His flesh and blood-these bring Him very near. It seems asif sense lent aid to faith. And through these two windows of agates and gate of carbuncle, we come very near to our Lord.
What have we here but Himself under instructive emblems? What do we do here but remember Him? What is our business here butto show His death until He comes? And so, though we may not have seen Him in converse by the way- for our eyes have been dimmed-yetwe have seen Him in the breaking of bread. May it be always so! May we prove that Jesus keeps His pledge. He will be withus even now. Suppose Jesus had said that He would come into this place tonight in literal flesh and blood-you would be allsitting in expectation and saying to each other-"When will He come?"
The preacher would be waiting to drop back, or fall upon his knees in adoration, while His Master stood in the front. Youwill not see Him so. But may your faith, which is much better than eyesight, realize Him as the present Christ near to eachone of you. If He were here in the flesh, He might stand here and then He might be near to me but far off from my friendsyonder. But coming in spirit He can be equally near to us all and speak to each one of us personally-as though each one werethe only person present
III. My third observation is, JESUS IS ALWAYS FIRST AT EVERY APPOINTED MEETING. So runs the text- "He goes before you intoGalilee." Remember that promise, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I"-not "there will I be."Jesus is there before His disciples reach the place. The first to reach the house is He who is first in the house. We cometo Him-it is not that we meet and then He comes to us. But He goes before us and we gather to Him.
Does it not teach us that He is the Shepherd? He said, "Smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered. But after I amrisen, I will go before you into Galilee." He would take up the shepherd's place again and go before the flock. And the sheepwould take up the position of the flock again-no longer scattered but following at the Shepherd's heel. Great Master, cometonight-call Your sheep to Yourself! Speak to us, look upon us-and we will arise and follow You.
Is He not first, next, because He is the center? We gather to Him. You must choose a center before you can mark the circumference.When Israel traveled through the wilderness, the first place to pitch upon for an encampment was the place where the tabernacleand the ark should rest and then the tents were set around it. Jesus is our Center. He must therefore be first and we rejoiceto hear Him say, "I will go before you into Galilee." He will take the first place and we
will cluster about Him as bees around their queen. Do you always gather to the name of Christ, Beloved? If you gather to thename of any minister, or any sect, you gather amiss. Our gatherings must be unto the Lord Jesus-He must be the center andHe alone. Let us take note of that.
Next, He goes before us naturally-because He is the Host. If there is to be a feast, the first person to be there is the onewho provides it-the master or mistress who sits at the head of the table. It would never do for the guests to be there firstand then for the master to come hurrying home, crying, "Excuse me-I quite forgot that you were to be here at six o'clock!"Oh no, the host must be first! When Jesus bids us come to Him and says He will sup with us and we with Him, He will be sureto be first, so as to prepare the feast. He goes before us into Galilee.
But surely, the reason why He is first is this-that He is more ready for us than we are for Him. It takes us time to get readyfor communion, to dress our souls and collect our thoughts. Are you all ready for the Lord's Supper tonight? Some of you,perhaps, have come carelessly here and yet you are members of the Church and mean to stay for the Supper. Beloved, try tocome with a prepared heart-for the communion will be to you very much what you make it. And if your thoughts and desires arenot right, what can the outward emblems be to you? On our Lord's part all things are ready and He waits to receive you andto bless you. Therefore He is first at the appointed meeting place.
I may also add that He is much more eager to have fellowship with you than you are to have fellowship with Him. It is a strangething that it should be so but so it is. He, the great Lover of our souls, burns with a passionate desire to press His peopleto His heart. And we-the objects of such a matchless love-stand back and reward the ardor of His affection with lukewarmness.It must not be so on this occasion. I have said to my Lord, "Let me either feast upon You or hunger after You." I pray thatyou may have such a burning thirst for Jesus at this hour that you must drink of His cup or pine with thirst for Him.
IV. The fourth observation is this-THE LORD JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF TO HIS PEOPLE. How does the
text run? "He goes before you into Galilee. There shall you see Him." The main object is to see Him. He will go to Galileeon purpose that He may reveal Himself to them. My dear Brethren, this is what they needed beyond all else. Their sorrow wasbecause they thought Him dead. Their joy would be because they saw Him alive.
Their griefs were multiform but this one consolation would end them all. If they could but see Jesus they would look theirfears away. What have you come here for tonight, children of God? I trust that you can answer, "Sir, we would see Jesus."If our Master will come and we shall feel His Presence, it will not matter how feebly I speak, or how poor the service maybe in itself. You will say, "It was good to be there, for the Lord drew near to us in all the glory of His love." His Presenceis what you want. And this is what He readily gives. Jesus is very familiar with His people.
Some worship a Savior who sits enthroned above in the stately dignity of indifference. But our Lord is not so. Though reigningin Heaven, He is still conversant with His people below. He is a Brother born for adversity. Spiritually He communes withus. Do you know what the company of Christ is? Are you altogether taken up with doctrines about Him, or with ceremonies thatconcern Him? If so, yours is a poor life. The joy of the inner life is to know and to speak with and to dwell with the LordJesus. Do you understand this? I charge you-be not satisfied till you come to personal and intimate fellowship with your Lord.Short of this, you are short of the privilege which He sees you need-for this is His great promise, "There shall you see Me."
What is more, this sight of Him is what our Lord effectually bestows. Jesus not only exhibits Himself but He opens our eyesthat we may enjoy the sight. "There shall you see Me." He may be manifest and yet blind eyes will not see Him. Blessed Master,come and take the scales away and make our hearts capable of spiritual perception! It is not everybody that can see God andyet God is everywhere. The eye must first be cleansed. Jesus says, "There shall you see Me." And He knows how to open oureyes so that we do see Him. Our Lord can make this to be the absorbing occupation of His people. "He goes before you intoGalilee"-and what then? "There shall you see Him."
Why, they went fishing, did they not? Yes but they were called off from that. "There shall you see Him." They took a greathaul of fish, did they not? Yes, yes, yes. But that was a mere incident-the grand fact was that they saw Him. I pray the Lordto make the one occupation of our lives the SEEING of HIM. May all the lower lights grow dim. Where are the stars at midday?They are all in their places but you only see the sun. Where are a thousand things when Christ appears? They are all wherethey should be but you only see Him. May the Lord cause all other loves to vanish and Himself, alone, to fill our hearts-sothat it may be true of us, "There shall you see Him"!
I have thus far proceeded, crying to the Holy Spirit for help and now comes the fifth observation, with which we close.
V. OUR LORD REMEMBERS HIS OWN PROMISES. It was before He died that He said He would go before them into Galilee and now thatHe has risen from the dead, He says, by the mouth of His angel, "There shall you see Him, as He said unto you." The rule ofChrist's action is His own Word. What He has said He will perform. You and I forget His promises but He never does. "As Hesaid unto you" is the remembrance of all that He has spoken. Why does our Lord remember and repeat what He has so graciouslyspoken? He does so because He spoke with foresight and forethought and care.
We make promises and forget them because we did not consider well the matter before we spoke. But if we have thought, calculated,weighed, estimated, and come to a deliberate resolve before we speak-then we earnestly remember what we resolved upon. Nopromise of our Lord Jesus has been spoken in haste to be repented of afterwards. Infinite wisdom directs infinite love. Andwhen infinite love takes the pen to write a promise, infallible wisdom dictates every syllable.
Jesus does not forget, because He spoke the promise with His whole heart. It is not every tongue that represents a heart atall. But even though true people, we say many things which we mean but there is no depth of feeling, no potent emotion, nostirring of the heart's center. Our Lord, when He said, "You shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go beforeyou into Galilee," spoke with a heavy heart, with many a melting sigh. And His whole soul went with the promise which closedthe mournful scene. He has purchased what He promised-purchased it with His blood-and therefore He speaks most solemnly andwith His whole heart. There is no trifling on Christ's part with one to whom He makes a promise-and therefore He never forgets.
And once more-His honor is bound up with every promise. If He had said that He would go to Galilee and He had not gone, Hisdisciples would have felt that He had made a mistake, or that He had failed. Brethren, if Christ's promises were to fail,what should we think of them? But He will never jeopardize His faithfulness and veracity-
"As well might He His being quit, As break His promise or forget." Let the words of man be blown away like the chaff. Butthe words of Jesus must stand-for He will not tarnish His Truth-which is one of the choicest of His crown jewels.
I want you to turn over this thought in your quietude. Jesus remembers all that He has spoken. Let not our hearts forget.Go to Him with His Covenant bonds and gracious promises-He will recognize His own signature. He will honor His own promisesto the utmost and none that trust in Him shall complain of His having exaggerated.
I have done when I have said just this-I am very anxious that at this time we should come into real fellowship with Christat the table. Jesus, You have made us hunger after You-will You not feed us? You have made us thirst after You-will You notsupply that thirst? Do You think that our Beloved means to tantalize us? Our hunger is such that it would break through stonewalls-shall we find His heart hard as a stone wall? No. He will clear the way and we on our part will burst through all obstaclesto come to Him.
"But," says one, "how can I come to Him? Poor unknown, unworthy one that I am?" Such were the disciples at the lake. Theywere fishermen-and when He came to them they had been toiling all night. Are you working for Him? Then He will come to you.Expect Him now. "Ah," says one, "I have been working without success"-you are a poor minister whose congregation is fallingoff, whose Church is not increased by conversions-you have toiled all the night and taken nothing. Or you are a Sunday schoolteacher who cannot see her girls converted. Or a Brother who mourns that his boys are not coming to Christ.
Well I see who you are. You are just the sort of people that Jesus came to-for they had toiled all night in vain. Are youhungry? Jesus cries, "Children, have you any meat?" He comes to you and enquires about your hunger-while on the shore He hasa fire of coals and fish and bread laid thereon. "Come and dine," says He. The table is spread. Come to Himself! He is yourfood, your hope, your joy, your Heaven. Come to Him-give Him no rest till He reveals Himself to you and you know for surethat it is your Lord who embraces you. So may He do, to each of us just now, for His sweet love's sake! Amen.