Sermon 2467. Christ and His Co-workers
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 31, 1896,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 10, 1886.
"And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word through accompanying signs.Amen." Mark 16:20.
THE previous verse tells us that "after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat down at the righthand of God." It was expedient for His disciples that He should go away and He had gone to the best place for helping themin their work. He could survey the field better from an eminence, so the Captain ascends on high. He could best send to themsuccor from the Throne, so the Lord ascends to His Glory. He could better lead them by the Holy Spirit than by His own personalbodily Presence, so He was in the best place when, "He was received up into Heaven." The disciples were in their best placeon earth. We do not always think so-we are sometimes eager to go Home. We have often thought, concerning a convert, that ifthe first day it is said of him, "Behold he prays," we could also say, "Behold he sings in Heaven," it would save us a worldof care and trouble and disappointment. Yet, all things considered, for the Glory of God and for the working out of the Divinepurpose, the saints would not be best if they were immediately received up into Heaven. No, it is better to read concerningthem, "They went out and preached everywhere." Christ is best up there, but it is expedient for us and for God's Glory thatwe should remain a while here.
I like the thought of Christ being taken up to Heaven because His work was done and His people being left on earth becausethere was still work for them to do. If we could steal away to Heaven, what a pity it would be that we should do so whilethere is a single soul to be saved! I think that if I had not brought to Christ the full number of jewels that He intendedme to bring to adorn His crown, I would ask to come back even from Heaven. He knows best where we can best serve Him, so Heordains that while He sits at the right hand of God, we are to abide here and to go forth to preach everywhere, the Lord workingwith us and confirming the Word with accompanying signs, even as He did with His first disciples.
I am going to say just a few practical words upon the fact, first, that they worked-"They went out and preached everywhere."Secondly, the Lord worked with them-"the Lord working with them." Thirdly, the two workings were in delightful harmony, forwhen the Lord worked, He confirmed the Word with accompanying signs and, as the writer of this verse has put, "Amen," at theend of it, we will say, "Amen," and feel, "Amen." Lord, make Your people work! "Amen." Lord, work yourself! "Amen." Lord,make the two workings to be but one sweet monotone after all! "Amen."
I. First, then, THEY WORKED-"They went out and preached."
The disciples did not say, "Well, the Master has gone to Heaven, so the eternal purposes of God will be quite sure to be carriedout. It is not possible that the designs of Infinite Love should fail, the more especially as He is at the Father's side,therefore let us enjoy ourselves spiritually. Let us sit down in the happy possession of Covenant blessings and let us singto our hearts' content because of all that God has done for us and given to us. He will effect His own purposes and we haveonly to stand still and see the salvation of God." No, Brothers, it was not for them to judge what they ought to do. Whenthey were told to tarry at Jerusalem, they tarried at Jerusalem. There are times of tarrying, but, inasmuch as the Masterhad commanded them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, they also, when the hour had struck,went into all the world and began to preach everywhere the Gospel they had learned at Jesus' feet! It is not for us to judgewhat would seem most reasonable, much less what would be most comfortable-it is for us to do as we are told, when we are toldand because we are told, for are we not servants and not masters? It is not wise to map out the proceedings even of a singleday, but to take our cue from Him who is our Guide and Leader, and to follow Him in all things.
I would like you to notice concerning the working of these disciples that all of them worked. "They went out and preachedeverywhere." They might not all formally preach-some of them might not feel that they could stand before a large assembly-butthey all actually preached in the sense of proclaiming, announcing, delivering the Truth of God before witnesses. The womenwere as good witnesses as the men, for some of them had seen more than the men had! They beheld the risen Lord even beforethe very first of the Apostles beheld Him and, inasmuch as they could all bear witness to the fact that He was risen fromthe dead, their duty was to go and tell the news that He who had been crucified in weakness had been raised in power and wasnow to be proclaimed as the Savior of men, that, "whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life." "Theywent forth," not merely some of them, but all of them.
Next, notice that this work of the disciples was aggressive-"they went forth." Some of them were bound to stay for a whileat Jerusalem though that old nest was eventually pulled down-not a stick of it was left and the very tree on which it wasbuilt was cut down. Persecution drove forth the bulk of them further and further. We do not know where they all went. Thereare traditions, which are not very valuable, to show where each of the Apostles went, but it is quite certain that they allwent somewhere or other. Starting from the one common center, they went in various directions preaching Christ. I think astrong Church is a very valuable institution, but I have always deprecated the idea that all of you should sit here, Sundayafter Sunday, and listen to me. And I have spoken to some of you to such purpose that I do not often see you now. Nor do Iwant to see you, because I know you are serving the Master elsewhere. There are some of our Brothers and Sisters who onlycome here to the Communion Table-why? Because they are always at work for Christ in some way or other. They are the best memberswe have and we shall not cross their names off the roll because they are not in attendance! They are at work in some missionstation, or trying to open a new room for preaching, or doing something or other for the Master. The Lord bless them!
I do not want you all to go out at one time, but I do want you all to feel that it is not the end, though it may be the beginning,of Christian life to come and hear sermons! Scatter as widely as you can the blessing which you get for yourself-the momentyou find the Light of God and realize that the world is in the dark, run away with your match and lend somebody else a light!Be glad of the Light, yourself, but, depend upon it, if God gives you a candle and all you do is lock yourself up in a roomand sit down and say, "Sweet light! Sweet light! I have got the light while all the world is in the dark! Sweet, sweet light!"your candle will soon burn out and you, also, will be in the dark! But if you go to others and say, "I shall have none theless light because I give some to you," by this means God the Holy Spirit will pour upon you fresh beams of light and youshall shine brighter and brighter even to the perfect day.
"They went forth." Oh, that some people I know of could have their chapels burnt down! They have been stuck in a hole downa back street for the last hundred years! They are good souls and so they ought to be-they ought to be matured by now afterso much storage-but if they would only go out in the street, they might do much more good than at present. "Oh, but thereis an old deacon who does not like street-preaching!" I know him very well! He will be gone to Heaven soon. Then, as soonas you have had his funeral sermon, turn out into the street and begin, somehow or other, to make Christ known! Oh, to breakdown every barrier and get rid of every restraint that hides the blessed Gospel! Perhaps we must respect these dear old Believers'feelings just a little, but not so much as to let souls die! We must seek to bring sinners to Jesus whether we offend menor whether we please them!
Then notice, dear Friends, that these disciples went forth promptly, for though there is not a word, here, about the time,yet it is implied that as soon as the hour had struck and the Holy Spirit had descended from Christ, and rested upon them,"they went out and preached the Word everywhere." Alas, too often we are "going" to do something! If about a tenth part ofwhat we are going to do were only done, how much more might be accomplished! "They went forth." They did not talk about goingforth, but, "they went forth." They did not wait until they received directions from the Apostles where they were to go, butProvidence guided each man and each man went his own way, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You believe the Gospel. You believe that men are perishing for lack of it. Therefore, I pray you, do not stop to consider,do not wait to deliberate any longer! The best way to spread the Gospel is to spread the Gospel. I believe the best way ofdefending the Gospel is to spread the Gospel! I was addressing a number of students, the other day, upon the apologies forthe Gospel which are so numerous just now. A great many learned men are defending the Gospel-no doubt it is a very properand right thing to do-yet I always notice that when there are most books of that kind, it is because the Gospel, itself, isnot being preached. Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grownking of beasts! There he is in a cage and here come all the soldiers of the army to fight for him. Well, I would suggest tothem, if they would not object and feel that it was humbling to them, that they should kindly stand back, open the door, andlet the lion out! I believe that would be the best way of defending him, for he would take care of himself-and the best "apology"for the Gospel is to let the Gospel out! Never mind about defending Deuteronomy or the whole of the Pentateuch-preach JesusChrist and Him crucified! Let the Lion out and see who will dare to approach Him! The Lion of the tribe of Judah will soondrive away all His adversaries! This was how Christ's first disciples worked-they preached Jesus Christ wherever they went!They did not stop to apologize, but boldly bore their witness concerning Him.
Note, once more, that they served their Master obediently-"They went out and preached." Suppose they had gone out and had"a service of song"? Suppose they had gone out and held a meeting that was partly comic, with just a little bit of a moraltacked on to the end of it? We would have been in the darkness of heathendom to the present day! There is nothing that isreally of any service for the spreading of the Gospel but preaching! I mean, by preaching, as I have already said-not merelythe standing up in a pulpit and delivering a set discourse, but talking about Christ-talking about Him as risen from the dead,as the Judge of the quick and dead, as the great atoning Sacrifice, the one Mediator between God and men. It is by preachingJesus Christ that sinners are saved! "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Whatevermay be said outside the Bible about preaching, you have only to turn to the Word of God, itself, to find what a Divine ordinanceit is and to see how the Lord makes that to be the main means of the salvation of men. Keep on with it, my Brothers. Thisis the gun that will win the battle, though many have tried to silence it. They have had all sorts of new inventions and contrivances,but when all their inventions shall have had their day and proved futile, depend upon it, the proclaiming of Jesus Christ'sname, Gospel and work among mankind will be found to be effectual when all things else have failed!
"They went forth and preached." It is not said that they went forth and argued, or that they went out and wrote apologiesfor the Christian faith. No, they went out and proclaimed-told out the Truth of God as a Revelation from God! In the nameof Christ they demanded that men should believe in Him-and left them, if they would not believe- with this distinct understanding,that they would perish in their unbelief! They wept over them and pleaded with them to believe in Jesus. And they felt surethat whoever did believe in Him would find eternal life through His name. This is what the whole Church of Christ should do,and do at once-and keep on doing with all its might-even until the end of the age!
There is only one more word left, and that is this very wide word, "everywhere." One of our great writers, in a very amusingletter which he has written to a person who had asked for a contribution towards the removal of a chapel debt, wants to knowwhether we cannot preach Christ behind hedges and in ditches. Of course we can, and we must do so, provided it does not raintoo hard. Can we not preach Jesus Christ at a street corner? Of course we can! And many of our friends will be preaching atthe corners of the streets after this service is over. Yet in such a climate as ours, we often need buildings in which wecan worship God, but we must never get into the idea of confining our preaching to the building. "They went out and preachedeverywhere."
Mr. John Wesley, as you know, was complained of for not keeping to his parish, but he insisted that he did, for all the worldwas his parish-and all the world is every man's parish! Do good everywhere, wherever you may be. Some of you are going tothe seaside for a holiday-do not go without a good stock of tracts, and do not go without seeking an opportunity, when youare sitting on the sands, to talk to people about the Lord Jesus Christ! There used to sit, in this left-hand gallery, a manwho brought many persons, in the course of the year, whose conversion, under God, was due to him and to me. He had nothingparticular to do except to go and sit down on a seat in Hyde Park and there talk with ladies and gentlemen who came and satthere. He would tell them that he had a pew at the Tabernacle and he would lend them his ticket, so that they might have acomfortable place. And then he took care, after the sermon, to talk to them about Christ. And this Church has in it, now,some excellent members whom that good Brother brought to the Savior in that way. He said, "I cannot, myself, preach, but Ican bring people to hear my minister, and I can pray God to bless them when they come."
Only this week I saw another Brother, who leaves his home at 8 o'clock on Sunday morning. There are, or there were, membersof this Church who walked 12 miles every Sunday morning to hear the Gospel here, and walked back to their homes at night.This Brother lives a long way from here and he starts at 8 o'clock in the morning and puts one of my sermons into each ofthe letter-boxes in a certain district as he comes along. So he utilizes a long walk and, in the course of the year, circulatesmany thousands of sermons! What a capital way he has found of spending Sunday morning! When he gets here, after having donethat service for his Lord, he enjoys the Gospel all the better because of what he has, himself, done in making it known toothers!
Oh, Beloved, it is sweet to think that Christ is preached in the workhouse, or in the infirmary and to remember that the poorand the sick are not left without the Gospel! Let Christ be preached in the darkest slum, in the worst house that there maybe in this neighborhood, and God knows that there are no worse houses than we have all round about us in this region! Oh,that Christ were talked of everywhere, to ones, and twos, and half-dozens, till the whole district should be saturated withblessed testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ! No place is so bad that we may not preach Christ-and no place is so good thatit does not need to hear of Jesus!
II. I have taken too much time on that first division-they worked. So now we must turn to the second point, which is thatTHE LORD WORKED WITH THEM. That was the very root of the matter-"the Lord working with them."
Is not this wonderful condescension? You remember the passage in which we are said to be laborers together with God? Is itnot gracious and kind on the Lord's part to let us come and work with Him? Yet it seems to my mind more condescending forGod to come and work with us, because ours is such poor, feeble, imperfect service! Yet so He does- "the Lord working withthem." The Lord is working with that dear Sister who, when she takes her class, feels that she is quite unfit for it, andwith that Brother who, when he preaches, thinks that it is not preaching at all and is half inclined never to try again. Oh,yes, "the Lord working with them," such as they were-fishermen, humble women and the like! This was wonderful condescension!
In those days the Lord worked with them by miracles. These miracles called attention to the Gospel and they also proved thatGod was with the preachers. Men need, sometimes, proofs of the existence of God and of His Presence with His servants. Sothese first disciples were entrusted with miraculous powers.
Besides all this, God was working at that time very wonderfully by Providence. The whole world was evidently just ready forthe advent of Christianity. From Caesar's throne down to the slave who worked at the mill, everybody seemed to be in a conditionof preparation for the Gospel! The general state of society was such that all were expecting great changes and thus, God wasworking with the disciples when they went out and preached everywhere.
And, above all, the Holy Spirit was with them and that is the point I am now going to dwell upon, because that is what weneed most of all. The Holy Spirit made what they said to be Divinely powerful! However feebly they uttered it, according tothe judgment of men, there was an inward secret power that went with their utterances and compelled the hearts of men to acceptthe blessed summons of God and, dear Friends, I believe that when we are seeking to serve Christ, we little know how oftenGod is working with us very wonderfully! I had an instance of that only this week. I will not mention the place, but therewas a certain district of which I heard that there was great need of the Gospel and that there were many people in that districtwho were as ignorant of the way of salvation as Hottentots. And the various places of worship seemed to affect a very smallproportion of the people.
A Brother visited the neighborhood for me and I prayed very earnestly that his visits might be blessed. It is a very curiousthing that while I was thinking about that district, there were certain Christian people close to it who were thinking aboutme-and longing for the Gospel to be carried to their neighbors! And after I had moved ever so little in the matter, I receiveda letter from them saying how much they needed somebody to come and labor for the Lord among them. I said to myself, "Thisis strange. I have known this district for years, yet I have never noticed that anybody wanted me or my message. But the momentI begin to move towards the people, they begin to move towards me." You do not know, my Brother, that you may not have a similarstory to tell! There is that street you feel moved to go and work in- God has been there before you! Do you not remember how,when His children had to go and destroy the Canaanites, the
Lord sent the hornet before them? Now, when you have to go and preach to sinners, God sends some preparatory work before you,He is sure to do so!
When people come into the place of worship to hear the Gospel, if a man is preaching it in earnest, God works upon them tomake them ready before they come. And something they thought of on the road, or some sickness they have had, or a death bedscene they have witnessed, or some movement of conscience awakened, perhaps, before they get into the building, renders themready to receive the Gospel of the Grace of God! The Lord works with us, my Brothers! We always have a picked congregation-whoevercomes! Some come who never thought of coming, but the right people come-and often they come in the right state of mind becausethey have been prepared by God's Spirit for the message they are to hear!
Some do not come in that way, but God works with the minister while he is preaching. If he does not take his sermon and readit, he is guided by God in what to say. He says the right thing, though perhaps it never occurred to him till the moment heutters it. And it tallies so exactly with what is going on in the mind that he is addressing, it fits so wonderfully thatoften, after a sermon, a person has said, "Somebody told the preacher all about me." It has frequently been my lot in thevestry after service to have persons demand of me who had told me about them-persons whom I had never seen or heard of tillthat moment! The preacher's word is blessed to them because God is working while the sermon is being delivered and they aremade to receive the Truth of God!
In other cases God works afterwards. Sometimes, immediately afterwards-at other times, years afterwards. There are differentsorts of seeds in the world. The seeds of some plants and trees, unless they undergo a peculiar process, will not grow foryears. There is something about them which preserves them intact for a long time, but in due season the life-germ shoots forth.And there are certain kinds of men who do not catch the Truth at the time it is uttered-it lies hidden away in their soulstill, one day, under peculiar circumstances, they remember what they heard-and it begins to affect their hearts.
Dear Friends, if we work and God works with us, what is there that we may not expect? Therefore I put it to you that the greatneed of any working Church is for God to work with them and, therefore, this ought to be our daily confession, that we needGod to work with us. We must always realize that we are nothing apart from His working. We must not pretend to complimentthe Holy Spirit by now and then talking about Him, as though it were the proper thing to say that of course the Holy Spiritmust work! It must be a downright matter of fact with us that the Holy Spirit must work, as much as it would be with a sailorthat his sails could not go round without the wind. And then we must act as the sailor does-he sets his sails and tries tocatch the wind from whatever quarter it blows. And we must try to work in such a way that the Holy Spirit is likely to blessus. I do not think the Holy Spirit will bless some service that is done even by well-meaning people, because if He did, itwould seem as if He had set His seal to a great deal that was not according to the mind of the Lord. Let us so act, dear Brothersand Sisters, in our work, that there is never the smudge of a dirty thumb across the page-nothing of pride, or self-seeking,or hot-headedness-but that all is done humbly, dependently, hopefully and always in a holy and gracious spirit, so that wemay respect the Holy Spirit to acknowledge and bless it That will, of course, involve that everything must be done prayerfully,for our Heavenly Father gives the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. And we must ask for this greatest of blessings-that Godthe Holy Spirit may work with our work.
Then we must believe in the Holy Spirit and believe to the highest degree, so as never to be discouraged or think anythingdifficult. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Can anything be difficult to the Holy Spirit? It is a grand thing to oftenget into deep water so as to be obliged to swim! But we like to keep our feet touching the sand. What a mercy it is to feelthat you cannot do anything, for then you must trust in God and God alone-and feel that He is quite equal to any emergency!Thus trusting and thus doing His bidding, we shall not fail. Come, Holy Spirit, and work, now, with all Your people! Comeand awaken us to work and when we are bestirred to a holy energy, then work with us! Eternal arm that never wearies, to whichnothing can be difficult, be stretched out to work with Your Church at this time to Your own praise!
III. Finally, Brothers, and very briefly, THE TWO WORKINGS ARE IN HARMONY. They are really one, they blend, they unite-"Godworking with them, and confirming the Word through accompanying signs."
I get a little afraid of some people who say very glibly, "The Lord told me this, the Lord told me that." You had better mindwhere that notion may lead you because what God has to say He has already said in the Bible! You will find that anything whichcomes to you with power and is really His Truth, is here in the Book. We do not get new Revelations nowadays-we shall getall kinds of fanaticisms and follies if we expect such Revelations! For instance, a man meets me at the bottom of the stairsand he says that God has revealed to him that he is to preach here one Sunday. I say, "I do not believe the Lord has revealedanything of the kind! At any rate, He has not revealed to me that I am to let you preach, and I shall not let you till Hedoes." I do not believe in lopsided Revelations, but there are numbers of people led into all sorts of extravagances by thenotion that the Lord has spoken this and that to them. What God does is not to give us a new Word, but to confirm the Wordthat He has already given. That which He has revealed is for us to speak out and God, in His working, will confirm the Wordthat He has given.
The harmony of the two workings is manifested thus-the first working springs out of the second. No man really goes and preachesChrist without being moved by the Spirit of God to do it. It is the Spirit of God who taught us about Christ and all thatwe can preach that is worth preaching, comes of the Holy Spirit in that very act!
Then, secondly, the first implies the second. No man who truly preaches Christ can do it except by the Holy Spirit and, inhis ministry he must teach the necessity of the working of the Holy Spirit. "You must be born again, and born again of theHoly Spirit," must be his constant cry.
So the first of the two workings implies the second and then, next, the second confirms the first, that which we have taughtout of God's Word, God, the Holy Spirit, bears witness in the understanding and conscience of men that this is the very Truthof God.
And, finally, the second is promised to the first. Where we work, God will work with us. It is not as some put it, "Paul mayplant and Apollos may water, but only God can give the increase." There is no such text as that in the Bible, nor anythinglike it! Paul's testimony is, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." And when we plant and we water,the increase will come! It is not God who is tardy, it is we who are tardy! If we had but faith as a grain of mustard seed,we would not find that God would fail that faith. And when we get the faith which can move mountains, we shall not find thatGod's Omnipotence has evaporated and that our faith has outrun His power! Believe that, my Brother, and labor on the strengthof that belief. Believe that, my Sister, and speak of Christ, for, in doing so you cannot, you shall not fail!
Perhaps for the moment you may seem to do so, but in the long run-and God can afford to wait, remember, though you think youcannot-in the long run there was never a lost testimony, never a Word of God that returned to Him void. The snowflakes fallinto the sea-are they not gone? Not one of them, for they help to feed the mighty deep! The showers fall on the wilderness-arethey not lost? If they drop on the sand of the Sahara? Not a drop of them, for they shall be evaporated and used somewhereelse! See, they come up in clouds and, at length, they fall where God has ordained. If the Lord is working with you, you cannotfail, you shall not fail! Only keep on working, relying on God to help you and looking up to the Lord to work with you.
O poor Sinners, all this sermon is about you! Our wish is to see you saved! Our prayer is that you may be brought to Christ!Oh, that you were as willing to come as we would be to lead you to the Savior-as willing to come as God is to receive you!Come and try Him, now, and you shall praise Him forever! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MARK16.
Verse 1. And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices,that they might come and anoint Him. We know that, "Him," whose name is not given here. There is scarcely need to mentionthat it was Jesus whom the women came to anoint. Oh, how gladly would we also anoint "Him" whose name is The Anointed One!But not as a dead Christ, for, "He is risen!" Our sweet spices must henceforth be for that Living One whom we anoint withour living joy and consecration! Or, rather, we must receive our anointing from Him, for He is the Christ and we the Christianswho get our very name and life from Him! As He was supposed to be dead and still lying in the tomb, these holy women cameto anoint Him.
2. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, at the rising of the sun they came to the sepulcher. We oftenlose a great blessing by not rising early for devotion. While yet the flowers are wet with dew, it were well if our soulshad the dew of Heaven resting upon them.
3, 4. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulcher for us? And when they looked,they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. Which was, I suppose, the reason for their thinking aboutthe stone. But still, I cannot help reading it as a reason why it was rolled away. At all events, this was the argument thatDavid used when he prayed, "For Your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great." As if the greatness of thesin had in it some reason for pardon. So the greatness of the care may be some reason why we might expect a great God to cometo our relief. It was a very great stone, therefore God, who knew that poor feeble women could not move it, had it rolledaway Himself.
5, 6. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; andthey were frightened. And he said to them, Be not frightened. They were afraid of an angel. "Conscience does make cowardsof us all" and even good men and good women are apt to be afraid of anything celestial and bright. The angel said to the women,"Be not frightened"-
6, 7. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. Butgo your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goes before you into Galilee: there shallyou see Him, as He said to you.Does not that last clause drop out very sweetly? Yet there is somewhat of a rebuke in it-"as He said to you." "Did He nottell you that He would rise from the dead? Did He not say that He would meet you in Galilee?" And the day shall come, Beloved,when you, also, shall rejoice in your Deliverer and your deliverance! And you shall not wonder so much, then, as you do, now,for you shall see that the deliverance was what you ought to have expected-"as He said to you." Poor seeking Sinner, if youhave found the Savior, you are full of amazement, but the day will come when you will see it in another light-you will beequally grateful, but you will say-"I ought to have had faith to expect this, as He said to me." It will always be so. Justas God says, so it is-in creation, in Providence, in Grace-and as He has said to you, so shall it be in your spiritual experience.
8. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulcher; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thingto any man; for they were afraid. There was no reason in Christ's Resurrection for anything but delight, yet these dear womenwere overwhelmed, silenced, struck dumb by that which made the angels sing!
9. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had castseven devils. It has been a general tradition in the Church of Christ that Mary Magdalene was a great sinner. I do not feelsure that she was, but still, she is the type of a great sinner. The seven devils that were in her do not represent actualguilt on her part, but they depict or symbolize the subjection of her nature to the power of Satan. It is very beautiful tonotice that those people for whom Christ does most, He seems to love best. Yet this is also according to human nature, forif there is a child in the family that the mother loves most, it is the one that was the hardest to bring up and who has costher most of care and most of labor! The casting out of seven devils endears the Magdalene to Christ and, first of all, Heappears to her. Besides, she loved much, doubtless, and she was quick of sight, so she saw Him first. O my Soul, if you havebeen a great sinner, do not take any place but that of first in love and first in fellowship with Christ! Be content to benothing, but be anxious to make Him your All in All.
10. And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. It is a curious "interior" that Mark heresketches, or rather stipples, with just a few touches. There are most of Christ's disciples who had been with Him- sitting,mourning and weeping over His death! And in comes Mary and says that she has seen Him alive.
11. And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. This was both cruel to the Magdaleneand forgetful of their Master's Words, but unbelief is a very cruel thing. It is not only grievous to ourselves, but it actsin a shameful manner to Christian Brothers and Sisters and, worst of all, is its treatment of our Divine Master, Himself.It says that He is dead when truly He is alive. Unbelief has no good in it-it is altogether evil, only evil, and that continually.The Lord deliver us from it!
12-13. After that He appeared in another form to two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went andtold it to the residue: neither believed they them. It is very hard to kill unbelief. It has more lives than a cat is supposedto possess. There is no end to it and if men sit down and indulge in it, and look upon it as an infirmity, or as a painfultrial-instead of regarding it as an abominable sin against the Lord-they are likely to sink deeper and deeper into this horriblemire!
14. Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart-Christis full of love to them, yet He must upbraid them. He loves them, but He loves not their unbelief! No, He is more vexed withunbelief in them than in other people.
14, 15. Because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen. And He said to them, Go you into all the world,and preach the Gospel to every creature. That commission of our Lord makes me smile, for it seems such a curious cure forunbelief, yet I have proved the usefulness of it many a time! There have I been, sitting down, fretting and worrying, andmy Master, instead of giving me some gracious promise, that I might sit there by myself and enjoy its sweetness, has said,"Up with you! Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Those who preach most, if they preach with all theirhearts, will believe most, and they will grow strong enough to tread their doubts beneath their feet. So ought it to be. Inthe lives of those who have brought many to Christ, I do not, as a rule, read long chapters about their doubts and fears.No, but God encourages them by the signs and seals which He gives them. They see His hand with them, they mark how the Lordworks with them and by them, and they forget their unbelief. Does not this passage seem to run so? "He upbraided them withtheir unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen. And He said tothem, Go you into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
16. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned. This is a weighty message forus to carry-and we have need to carry it with due solemnity, with our hearts on fire with love.
17, 18. And these signs shall follow them that believe, In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues,they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick,and they shall recover. The Apostles and the early Christians had these miraculous signs. There is no need that they shouldbe given again. The seal was set upon the Gospel at the first. A man buys a house and on the first day when he takes possession,he gets the signature of the seller and the legal seal upon the conveyance. That matter is done. If he ever doubts his rightto the property, he can always look back to that seal. He does not need a fresh lot of sealing wax every five minutes! Neitherdo we need continual miracles. The Church of Christ, at first, was like a ship going to sea-the tug takes her out of the harbor,but when she is fairly out at sea, she does not need the tug any longer-she is dependent, then, upon the wind from Heavenand so she speeds on her way! Or, the Church is like a young tree newly planted in the orchard-it has a stake stuck in theground by the side of it, to which it is tied. But when it grows into a strong tree, where is the stake? The tree does notrequire it, for it stands fast by other means! It is just so with us and the miracles which were needed at the first.
19. So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of God. The discipleswere not at once received up into Heaven, though they might have been if God had so willed it. There was work for them todo here below, so Christ, alone, "was received up into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of God." And as for His followers-
20. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word through accompanying signs.Amen. These last verses of Mark's Gospel have, as some of you know, been questioned as to their Inspiration and authenticity,but they are so like Mark that you cannot read them without feeling that they are part and parcel of what the Evangelist wrote.Set any critic you please to work and if he knows the idiom and style of Mark's writing, he will be bound to say that thisis part of the Gospel according to Mark. And God the Holy Spirit, blessing these words to our hearts, as I trust He will,will set His seal to what we believe and know to be His Inspired Word.