Sermon 2614. Strange Things
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MARCH 19, 1899.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 18, 1883.
"We have seen strange things today." Luke 5:26.
THE world is growing very old, dull and commonplace. One takes the newspaper and, often, after glancing through it, has tosay, "There is really nothing in it." The reason probably being that there is nothing fresh or new happening on the earth-itis the same old sad story of sin and sorrow constantly repeated. The world seems to be like a cluster from the vine when allits generous juice has been pressed out. Life, to many persons, has come to be excessively humdrum. The human mind is alwayscraving after novelties and, to find these novelties, it makes "much ado about nothing." It runs raving mad over that whichis not worth thinking of and whips itself up into an intense excitement about a matter that is of no more importance thana drop in a bucket, or the small dust of the balance. The fact is, man wants something really fresh and strange and if hecan get it, he feels delighted! I hardly think that when our good friend, Mr. John Ashworth, brought out his book, he wouldhave achieved so great a success with it if he had not called it Strange Tales. But the strangeness was the attraction. Thestories in it were strange tales to the mass of mankind, though to some of us they are very familiar things-but the strangenesswasthe point that attracted readers.
No man ever spent a day with Jesus Christ without being filled with the sight of strange things! No man ever entered intocommunion with the Lord Jesus without being delighted with wonders of love, of mercy, of Divine Grace, of the Truths of God,of goodness for, while His Gospel is the old, old Gospel, yet it always has a new face upon it and is continually fresh andnew-it never gets stale! We read of our Lord that when John saw Him, "His head and His hairs were white like wool, as whiteas snow," to denote His antiquity. And yet the spouse said of Him, "His locks are bushy and black as a raven," as if to indicateHis perpetual youth, His unfailing strength and His unfading beauty. Believe me, dear Friends, if you want to see that whichis truly strange, you must get into that spiritual realm where Christ is acknowledged as King, the new Heaven and new earthwherein dwell righteousness.
If you want to continue to be astounded, amazed, astonished, filled with holy awe, you must come and be familiar with theSavior, His person, His work, His offices and everything that has to do with Him and, when you have become familiar with allthese things, then you will have to say constantly, "We have seen strange things today. Something has occurred that has surprisedeven us who have grown used to surprises. Our Lord has seemed to outdone Himself, though we thought Him to be higher thanthe heavens-and His mercy has appeared to go deeper than ever before, though we judged that it had already gone deeper thanthe abyss, itself!" "O world of wonders! I can say no less." He that enters this spiritual world where Christ is adored asGod and King has unlocked a cabinet of marvels that shall astonish him during all his lifetime here and even throughout eternity!I am going to speak about strange things and I pray that God will make what is said to be of service to many.
I. First, I ask you to MARK THE STRANGE THINGS OF THAT PARTICULAR DAY which are mentioned in our text. It was so full of wondersthat the people said, "We have seen strange things today." Well, what did they see?
First, they had that day seen Christ disturbed in preaching, greatly disturbed, and yet delighted to be so disturbed and acceptingthe disturbance as part of His usual experience and the means of doing further good to men. The Lord Jesus has gone into thesquare covered court of a house-the people have pressed in behind Him, one after another, till they are packed in a densemass-and there are still others around the door vainly trying to enter. Here come four men-it is rather remarkable that thereshould be four such earnest men-who have brought a sick neighbor on his bed, with ropes tied to the four corners. But theyfind that they cannot get in through the crowd. They push, they squeeze, they struggle, but there is no getting in! And theirpoor paralyzed friend seems to be effectually shut out from Christ. They go up the outside stairs of the house. They get onthe roof which covers the square where Christ and the people are-and they begin ripping off the tiling! And now, look! Theman is being let down by the four ropes right before the Savior's face! There must be some measure of dust, even if somethingstill heavier does not come tumbling down upon the Preacher's head, but here comes the bed with the man on it! The peopleare sure to make room for him, now, or else he will be supported on their heads! They seemed to be squeezed as tightly asthey could be, but they feel that they must, somehow or other, get a little more closely together and so the man is graduallylet down by his four friends who carefully let out the four ropes at the same rate, keeping good time together, lest one endof the bed should be too high and he should fall.
That must have been a great disturbance to our Lord! I know some preachers who cannot bear to have even a baby crying duringthe sermon. I do not feel especially delighted with that sweet music, yet I rejoice that the good woman did not stay awayfrom the service! As far as I am concerned, she may bring her baby, even if it should sometimes cry-I am glad to have herhere that God may bless her. Perhaps a friend has just dropped his cane in the aisle and made a loud noise just when the preacherwas trying to be very earnest. Well, that is a pity, but the dear Savior was much more rudely interrupted by all the fallingstuff from the ceiling and the sick man coming down into the midst of the crowd before Him! If there had been any "thread"in His sermon, He certainly would have lost it-but His discourses were made of better material than that. They were made,indeed, of fire, and fell like fire-flakes on men's heads and hearts. He still spoke on, after He had paused a while to attendto this man's case, and He did attend to it very sweetly. He looked at the four men who had brought him and He saw that theyhad great trust in Him. And, seeing their faith, He worked the cure upon the sick man.
It was a strange thing that it should be so, but how much I would like to see more of this strange kind of work! I don't knowwhere I am to find four men who are so in love with one of their friends that they will break up ceilings and roofs to gethim where Christ can bless him! They will probably be four very imprudent and rash men, in the opinion of others-the Lordbless the imprudent and the rash! They are generally the best sort of men for such a task as this. Your more prudent men wouldhave stopped till the service was over and the people had come out and, very likely, they would have waited till Christ hadgone out at another door-and so their friend would have missed Him. But these rash, headstrong, ardent lovers of their sickneighbor must somehow get him to Christ! So they break up the roof and there he is, right in the Presence of Christ! It wasa strange thing to do, but, Brothers and Sisters, do not hesitate to do strange things in order to save souls! Hardly mindwhat you do, so long as you can get them to Christ. Your Lord will not blame you. He is so strangely loving-so strangely fullof goodwill to men-that even should you be guilty of an indiscretion in your zeal, He will not upbraid you for it. Oh, laborfor the souls of your children, your servants, your neighbors-and the Lord will accept that service, and you may yet havethe delight of seeing them made whole by Christ! That was a strange thing to begin with. I am bound to say that the peoplewho witnessed it talked all their lives about the man coming down from the ceiling and Jesus Christ healing Him!
But now they saw a greater wonder than that-the Christ of God forgiving this man his sins! We talk about the forgiveness ofsins, I fear, rather glibly, without always realizing what a great thing it is. You know that when Martin Luther was in deepdistress of soul, a good old monk said to him, "Brother, can you not say the Credo?" "Yes," said Luther. "Well, then," repliedthe old man, "in the Credo you say, 'I believe in the forgiveness of sins.'" "Yes," said Luther, "I know that. I have oftensaid it." "Then," enquired the other, "do you believe in the forgiveness of your own sin? For, if not, how can you say, 'Ibelieve in the forgiveness of sins'?" This great Truth is sometimes spoken of as though forgiveness were an impalpable somethingthat was done and yet not done, but Christ never meant it to be so. His death was not a shadowy, vague Atonement that mightpossibly be available for sinners, but a real and complete putting away of sin and, as many as believe in Him may know forsure that their sin is put away and is as completely gone as if it had actually ceased to be, seeing that Christ bore thepunishment of it. Yes, and the sin, itself, was, by imputation, laid upon Him, as it is written, "The Lord has laid on Himthe iniquity of us all." "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of ourpeace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed."
Whenever a sinner has his sin forgiven, it is a strange, a wondrous thing! Never think of it as a mere commonplace matterof no account, for it is a marvel of marvels. The angels-a far nobler race than men-fell from their first estate, but neverhas any of the devils bean pardoned for his rebellion against the Most High. No Savior has espoused their cause, no sacrificehas been offered for their guilt, no Gospel is ever proclaimed in their ears! When they sinned, they fell finally and nowthey are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." Yet man, who was not a pure spirit,like the angels, but a spirit allied with materialism, an inferior being, fell-and for him God left His throne to come andbleed on earth to offer up an expiation! For men, sin became pardonable! No, more, to multitudes of the sons of men sin hasbeen forgiven and an act of amnesty and oblivion has been passed concerning their rebellion! What a wonderful Truth of Godis this! Whenever you feel a sense of pardoned sin, or whenever you know that your fellow man has received absolution fromthe great High Priest, the Son of God, you may at once say, "We have seen strange things today."
When these people around our Lord had seen that wonder, they saw something else which must have greatly surprised them-theysaw an exhibition of thought-reading. I have heard and read many curious things about thought-reading. Some I have believed,and some I have not. That any man can read my thoughts, I shall take leave to question! At any rate, he may read this thought,for I will tell him what is on my mind-that I do not believe him! But our Lord Jesus Christ, as He looked at the Phariseesand the scribes, read their unexpressed thoughts and, at once, saw what was passing within their minds! It was not an easything, I should think, to read thoughts like these, "Who is this which speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God,alone?" But our Lord Jesus read those thoughts and answered them, though the men before Him had not as yet spoken a singleword! I have seen wonderful exhibitions of thought-reading in this Tabernacle-not by me, but by the Lord Himself! Many ofyou are witnesses of how I have uttered from this platform the very words you have spoken when you were coming here-and whatyou said in your bedchamber, where nobody heard, perhaps, but some one companion, has been repeated in this place and youhave been astounded as you discovered that the Word of God, which is quick and powerful, searches the heart and cuts asunder,just as you have seen an animal split from head to foot by a butcher and its innermost parts laid bare to the view of everypasserby!
The Word of God often does that-discovers the secret thoughts and intents of the heart and makes the man see himself as Godsees him-and makes him stand astonished that it should be so! We have frequently seen this sort of thing happen as we sometimestell to one another some of the extraordinary instances in which men's very flesh has seemed to creep as the things they saidand did have been made known to them. It will probably happen in like manner to many others-and those to whom God will thusspeak will say, as these people did-"We have seen strange things today."
There was another strange thing they saw and, with that, I will conclude this first part of my discourse. They saw a sickman who could not lift hand or foot made, in a single moment, to walk and carry his bed, at the word of the Lord, Jesus Christ!That must have been a strange sight to those who knew this poor paralyzed man, when they saw him stand up from the bed andglorify God as he did what Jesus bade him do. And when the Lord speaks with power to a soul, as He constantly does, and theman who knew not God learns to know Him, and the one who feared not the Lord is brought to trust and love and serve Him, whata marvelous thing it is! I sometimes wonder whether any person would doubt the Inspiration of Scripture and the Divine originand power of the Gospel if he could live each day as I live and see what I see of the wonders that are worked by the Gospel.Last Sunday night there came into Exeter Hall a man who did not care for the things of God, but he sat and heard the sermon.His brother had brought him-and was praying earnestly for him. As he was going out, a friend, who had observed him duringthe service, said to this man who had entered the hall utterly careless and Christless, "You were interested in the sermontonight, were you not?" "I was," he answered, "very much." "Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?" The man at once replied,"I do believe in Him with all my heart and all my soul." His brother, who was with him, and who had been praying over him,said, "I was astonished beyond measure to hear him make such a declaration of his faith!"
Beside that one, there were 12 other persons who came forward when the service was over and distinctly declared that theyhad found the Savior that night under the preaching of the Gospel. Though they had not been religious people, and had scarcelyever thought of their souls, yet God had found them! And these strange things do not occur with us, alone-they happen everyday with our beloved friends, Moody and Sankey and, indeed, in a great measure, with all who preach the Gospel! It is itsown evidence of its almighty power and, as it wins its way, men are saved, they are healed of the deadly paralysis of sinand made to leap with active obedience and joyful service in the cause of Christ! Whenever you see this miracle of mercy worked,you can say, "We have seen strange things today." ' II. Now, with great brevity, I ask you TO MARK THE STRANGE THINGS OFCHRIST'S DAY.
If you had ever beheld our Lord's life and work with the eyes of faith, you must have seen many strange things. First, theMaker of men became a Man! He that is Infinite became an Infant-He that made all things was wrapped in swaddling clothes!He who fills all space was laid in a manger and the Son of the Highest was known as the Son of Mary! We have heard strangethings when we have heard the Doctrine of the Incarnation! "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld HisGlory, the Glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of Grace and truth." Truly, this was a strange thing!
Further, He who was Lord of All, became Servant of All! "Being found in fashion as a Man," He lived a life of perfect obedienceto His Father's will and went about healing the sick, raising the dead and ministering to all who came near Him. Most marvelousof all, on Him who knew no sin, the sin of man was laid, and the righteous God meted out to Him, the Innocent One, the chastisementdue to the guilty! This is the ground of our hope and the only foundation of hope for sinners, that He, the innocent Christ,was made sin for us, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." But what a wonder it is! The guilty go freebecause He who is free from guilt suffers in their place! Tell all men that wonder of wonders!
Yet that was not all. Jesus died on the Cross! And loving friends laid Him in the tomb. Death had conquered Him, but, in thatmoment, Death was conquered-
"He Death by dying slew."
That day He led Death, itself, captive to His own supremacy. Wonder of wonders-Death put to death by death! Jesus Christ,by His dying, puts dying out of the way for all His people. Yet, even that wonder is not the last. Look, there He lies, fora while, wrapped in the grave clothes and Death appears to have the mastery over Him. But that Scripture must be fulfilled-"Youwill not leave My soul in Hades; neither will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption." He must wait there till the appointedhour strikes and then, early in the morning, before the break of day, He was up and away! An angel rolled away the stone,for He that had been dead was alive, again, and Jesus left the abode of Death, no more to die! What a wonder it is that Hewho was dead worked out our resurrection! And now, since He rose from the grave, so all His followers must.
You may take what point you please in the history of the Lord Jesus Christ and, if you really understand it, you will sayconcerning every part of it, "We have seen strange things" in this matter. It is a chain of miracles! It is like Alps on Alpsand more than that, for the mountains of mercy tower above the stars and reach even to the Throne of God and God, Himself,was never more lofty and glorious than when He was occupied in the stupendous labors of His Son Jesus Christ. Only spend yourtime in the company of the great Wonder-Worker, and you will continually be able to say, "We have seen strange things today."
III. Now I must close by asking you to MARK THE STRANGE THINGS STILL TO BE SEEN IN THOSE IN
WHOM CHRIST WORKS. If He comes and blesses us, we shall often say, "We have seen strange things today."
First, we have seen a self-condemned sinner justified by Christ. I can tell you what I saw, one day, and I never shall forgetthe sight throughout eternity! I saw a sinner whom I know right well-and I can say no good of him, but much, very much thatis evil, without at all slandering him. He had been proud and haughty in his opinion of himself, but there shone a light intohis soul which unveiled to him his deep corruption and depravity, the sin that mixed with all his best things, and the stillmore dreadful sin that fermented in his worst things. I saw that sinner-for I know him well-self-condemned. He wrote his ownsentence and he handed it to the Judge. He said that he deserved to be cast away forever from the Presence of God and theGlory of His power. And, as he passed up his own death-warrant, he dropped a tear upon it and he said, "I now trust myselfto the Sovereign Mercy of God in Christ Jesus." I remember it well and I saw that self-condemned sinner pardoned in a moment!The Lord said to him, "Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven," and his face changed from darkness and gloom into shininglight and joy! And he has never lost the impression of that blessed day-and, as he stands here to tell you the story, he cantruly say that he saw strange things that day! But, Brothers and
Sisters, there are hosts of you who have undergone the same blessed operation! Self-condemnation brought you where the Saviorabsolved you and, though it seems so easy to talk about it now, oh, how blessed it was when first we felt it! My heart didleap for joy! I was never so happy before and I sometimes think that I have scarcely ever been quite as jubilant as I wason that day of holy excitement and exhilaration!
I remember, also, a natural heart renewed by Divine Grace. I have gone into my garden and I have seen a great number of treesthat have new branches which have been grafted into them, but I never yet saw a tree get a new heart. I have seen it get newbark and many changes have happened to it, but it cannot change its heart. There are some living creatures that shed theirclaws and grow fresh ones, but I never heard of a living creature that grew a new heart. That must be a strange, a wondrousthing, to change the very center and source of life! Yet the Lord Jesus Christ is constantly doing it-giving men new motives,new desires, new wishes, new habits-changing them entirely and, especially, creating in them new hearts and right spirits!Whenever you see that miracle of Grace worked, you can say. "We have seen strange things today." A woman came to see me andcast herself down at my feet. She said that she had been such a sinner that she was not fit to speak with me. I bade her rise,for I said I, also, was a sinner. And she told me what she had been-I will not tell you the sad story, for I should have touse words of shame if I described her. But she is among us now, washed and sanctified-and she delights to serve her God andhonor and glorify Him! What changed that woman? Was it fear? No, she was a brave spirit who would have dared any kind of devil,but the Grace of God changed and transformed her, and made her into a loving servant of the living Savior. Oh, whenever wesee this deed of Grace done-and we see it continu-ally-we say, "We have seen strange things today."
Another marvel is, a soul preserved in spiritual life amid killing evils. Did you ever see a bush burn and yet not be consumed?Did you ever see a spark float in the sea and yet not be quenched? Many persons here are, to themselves, just such wonders.They are living godly lives in the midst of temptation-holy in the midst of impurity-serving God in spite of all opposition.These are strange things!
Did you ever see evil turned into good?. There are many of God's children who constantly see it. "All things work togetherfor good to them who love God." They are made rich by poverty, made healthy by sickness, made strong by weakness, made aliveby killing, made to go up by going down! You who live the new life know the meaning of these paradoxes and understand howthese strange things make up a Christian's progress to the Eternal City of God. Strange things do the people of God see intheir own lives as they find Heaven on earth! It is a singular thing for anyone to be on earth and yet in Heaven, but we haveproved it to be so! We have seen men sick and we have seen men dying-and yet as full of bliss as they could hold, as thankfulin their room of poverty-and almost as joyful, as if they had been among the angels before the Throne of God above! Thereare surprises all the way along the road to Glory, but what will it be when we come to the end of it?
Did you ever try to picture the first half-hour in Heaven? Have you ever thought of the sensations that will pass throughyou in the first few days there? I think that we can very well judge what they will be, for they have been revealed to usby the Spirit. We shall have the same joys as we have here, only carried to a far higher pitch, for the life of God in Heavenis the life of God in the heart on earth! Heaven is but the outgrowth of a holy consecrated life and he that lives with Christbelow is already in the lower chamber of the Father's House. He has but to climb a pair of stairs and be in the upper chamberwhere all the glorified meet together with their Lord! Still, I doubt not that it will be passing strange to go from earthinto Glory.
Whenever I begin to talk about this matter, I always wonder who will be the first among us to be called away, for it happensevery week that some out of our great congregation go Home. Sometimes, in a single week, six or seven of our Church membersgo to the great Father's House-whose turn will it be to go next? We have not the choice, otherwise some of us might ventureto put in an early claim that we might enjoy our rest. I know some old folk and some sick ones, and some who are greatly besetby Satan, and some who are sorely troubled with doubts and fears who would gladly say, "Would God it were time for us to go!"Well, dear Friends, rest assured that you are not forgotten-the messenger will come to you, perhaps soon, and he will sayto you, "By tomorrow, you shall see the King in His Glory." You will have to go down into the flood-to cross the dark river,as they call it-but I do not believe that it is dark at all. I have seen the light shining on the faces of many of the pilgrimsas they have looked back at me, when I have stood upon the river's brink to comfort them-and it has not seemed at all dark.The happiest company I ever keep is that of dying saints! I come away right merry, sometimes, from their bedside, for theysay to me, "O dear Pastor, the Truth of God you preach is good to live upon and good to die upon!"
I saw a man and his wife, both of them very ill, lying in bed, together, but not a syllable of sympathy did they appear toneed from me. And they seemed delighted to say to me, "We learned Christ from your lips. We have lived on the Gospel you preachedand it holds us up, now that we are lying here. We are glad to go home to Heaven-we are full of life and full of immortalityeven now!" Oh, yes, these are strange things-except to those who form part of this strange company with God, who is, to many,a stranger in His own world, and with Christ, who is a stranger, sometimes, in His own Church! We can say, and we shall sayat the close of our lives, "We have seen strange things today."
There is one strange sight which I wish that you, dear Friends, if you are unconverted, would look upon-I wish that you wouldsee Jesus as your own Savior. He is not far from any one of you. O look, look, look at Him and, as you look at Him, you shalllive! That is God's appointed way of salvation. "Look unto Me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth." And, dear Heart,if you should see that strange being-yourself-a saved sinner, I would like you to see another strange sight, namely, all yourfamily saved! It will be such joy to you to have your wife rejoicing in Christ with you, joining in your daily prayer, andyour children, even in their childhood, loving their father's God. There is a text for you to lay hold of, supposing thatyou are not yet converted. It was the middle of the night when, in Philippi, the jail began to rock to and fro. The jailer'shouse was up above, and he knew that he had two strange prisoners down in the vaults below. They had been singing in the nightand the other prisoners had heard them and, as the jail rocked and reeled, and the doors flew open, the jailer, a stern Romanlegionary, thought that his prisoners must have escaped and that he would be put to death for allowing it.
So he was about to thrust his sword into his own heart, but Paul shouted to him, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."Then, when a light was brought, that man fell down before Paul and Silas and said to them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"And they answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house." Do not leave out those lastthree words, "and your house." Do not seek your own salvation without that of your household, also! Look up the passage inActs 16:31-34-"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house. And they spoke to him the Word of the Lord, andto all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes, and was baptized, heand all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them and rejoiced, believing inGod with all his house."
It was a midnight service and Baptism of the whole household upon a profession of their faith! God send you a like blessing!You will see strange things, then! Many of us have seen already them in our families and we hope to see them repeated a thousandtimes! The Lord give you, every one, a personal blessing, and then bless your households, also, for Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE 5:12-32.
Verse 12. And it came to pass, when He was in a certain city, behold, a man full of leprosy. What a contrast there was betweenthese two persons-the Lord Jesus full of purity-and this man full of impurity-full of leprosy! He could not be more than full.He had as much leprosy as a man could contain.
12. Who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought Him, saying, Lord, if You will, You can make me clean. This was splendidfaith! Here was adoration of the noblest kind! No angel before the Throne of God could render the Son of God more honor thanthis poor leprous man did. He believed in Christ's power at once to rid him of that otherwise incurable disease. "Lord, ifYou will, You can make me clean."
13. And He put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be you clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.This is what Christ can also do in the spiritual realm. If a man is full of sin, let him but fall down on his face beforeJesus and say, "Lord, if You will, You can make me clean," and the Lord will put out His hand, touch him, and he will be cleanin a moment. "Immediately," not needing the lapse of a single hour-"immediately the leprosy departed from him."
14. And He charged him to tell no man but go, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing, according asMoses commanded, for a testimony unto them. As long as the Ceremonial Law was in force, Christ very diligently obeyed it andbade others do the same. That Law is now abolished and the Jewish priesthood has also ceased to be. But mark the modesty ofour Savior. As Man, He sought no fame or honor, but, as far as He could do so, He suppressed the voices that would have broughtHim notoriety. Yet grateful tongues could not all be silenced, even at His bidding.
15. But so much the more went there a fame abroad of Him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed byHim of their infirmities. There was s double attraction about the Lord Jesus-His sweet, instructive speech, and His gracious,healing hand. There is a still somewhat similar attraction in every true Gospel ministry, not the attraction of the mere wordsof human eloquence, but in the Truths of God which every faithful minister preaches and in that matchless soul-healing powerwhich goes with the Word wherever it is believingly heard.
16. And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed. That is just what you and I would probably nothave done undersuch circumstances. We would have said, "We must seize this golden opportunity of publishing our message. There is a tidein the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to plenitude of blessing and we must take advantage of it." Butour Savior did not wish for fame, He cared nothing about excitement and popularity, so, "He withdrew Himself into the wildernessand prayed" for more of that real power which touches the hearts of men so as to save them, caring nothing for that powerwhich merely attracts a crowd and excites momentary attention. O servant of God, when you are best succeeding in your service,imitate your Lord-withdraw yourself and pray!
17. And it came to pass on a certain days, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors ofthe law sitting by,which had come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem; and the power ofthe Lord was present to heal them.To heal the people? Yes, and to heal the doctors, too! And that was a far more difficult thing than to heal the ordinary folk.It must have been a time of great mercy and favor when Christ was ready to bless even the Pharisees and doctors of the lawwho were sitting by.
18. And, behold-For it was a great wonder-
18. Men brought in a bed, a man which was taken with palsy. A paralyzed man.
18, 19. And they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him. And when they could not find by what way they mightbring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop. There was, no doubt, a staircase outside, as there usuallyis to Eastern houses. "They went upon the housetop,"
19-21. And let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He saidunto him, Man, your sins are forgiven you. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaksblasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?Most true, O Pharisees and, therefore, He isGod, for He can forgive sinsand He has forgiven this poor sinner!
22, 23. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He, answering, said unto them, What reason you in your hearts? Whether itis easier to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, rise up and walk? "Does not each of these require the same Divinepower? If I am able to bid him rise up and walk, I am also able, by the same Divine authority, to forgive his sins."
24-26. But that you may know that the Son of Man has power upon earth to forgive sins, (He said unto the sick of the palsy,)I say unto you, Arise, and take up your couch, and go into your house. And immediately he rose up before them and took upthat on which he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, andwere filled with fear With a reverent awe!
26, 27. Saying, We have seen strange things today. And after these things He went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sittingat the receipt of custom. This Levi, or Matthew, was a tax collector. Not like those of our own day, but one who collectedthe taxes for the Roman governor and made what he could for himself out of them. At least that is what many of the "publicans"did.
27, 28. And He said unto him, Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. This was just a parallel case to thatof curing the palsied man-it is precisely the same morally as the other was physically. The office of a publican was disreputablein the eyes of the Jews, and this Levi was probably making fast money at the cost of his own countrymen. He was morally paralyzedas the other man was physically,but as soon as Christ said to him, "Follow Me," "he left all, rose up, and followed Him."
29, 30. And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company ofpublicans and of others that satdown with them. But the scribes and Pharisees murmured against His disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with publicansand sinners?'t seems that there can never be a great wonder worked by Christ without somebody or other objecting to it! Isuppose that the sun never rises without annoying thieves who would like a longer time to perpetrate their deeds of darkness.And no miracle of mercy is ever worked without somebody finding fault with it for some reason or other. Be not dismayed, therefore,now that in these modern days there have arisen many cunning objectors to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let them object to it,as the dog barks at the moon-the moon still shines on in her silver brightness! So, when all objectors shall have howled themselvesto silence, the eternal Gospel will shine on with never-failing splendor. These scribes and Pharisees murmured against Christ'sdisciples and said to them, "Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?" Their Master did not leave them to defendthemselves, but He took the case into His own hands.
31. And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole-"Such as you scribes and Pharisees claim to be
31. Need not a physician; but they that are sick ' 'You regard them as sick and I regard them in the same way and, therefore,am I found where these sick ones are. Why should I turn aside from them to insult you, who are so wonderfully healthy andthink yourselves so good?"
32. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.