Sermon 2652. Seeing Christ's Day
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, DECEMBER 10, 1899.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JULY 23, 1882.
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad." John 8:56.
THESE Jews had claimed to be of the seed of Abraham and the Lord Jesus Christ admitted their claim as far as it was a validone. It is always best, in argument, to concede as much as you can fairly grant to your opponent. Sometimes we take a fewsteps backward in order to get a firmer footing, that we may leap forward with greater sureness. In the case of these Jews,since they said Abraham was their father, the Lord Jesus admitted that they were his seed according to the flesh and thereforeHe said, "Your father Abraham."
Very much might be spoken in honor and commendation of Abraham. He was a princely man, well worthy to be called "the fatherof the faithful," for, though all Believers have a certain beauty about them because of their faith, yet Abraham stands headand shoulders above the rest of them-at least, above those who lived before the Incarnation of Christ. Much, therefore, mightbe said in his favor, but there is no word of commendation which could possibly exceed this utterance of Jesus, our Lord,to the quibbling Jews in Jerusalem, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad." Let this standas the very crown jewel among all the gems that make up Abraham's crown, that he saw the day of Christ through the mist of2,000years or thereabouts, and so saw it that his heart was gladdened at the sight! There may be many good things that might betruly said of you, dear Friends, but the best thing that ever can be said of you is, "They saw Christ's day, and were glad."Whatever else you do not see, if you see this, all is well with you! Blessed, indeed, are your eyes if you can, by faith,behold the Lamb slain for sinners and so behold Him as to be saved by His death. I do not think that anything better thanthis could be said of Abraham and nothing better will be said of any of you than this testimony from the lips of Christ, Himself,"He saw My day, and was glad."
Yet we must learn, from our text, a sad lesson before we go fully into its teaching concerning Abraham. It reminds us thathowever good a man may be, personally, he cannot possibly ensure that his descendants will be like he was. It was to the carping,unbelieving Jews that our Lord said, "Your father Abraham." What a contrast there was between the princely father and thosewho boasted that they were his children! There they stood, howling like so many wolves around the Lamb of God, all eager todevour Him! Their fingers were itching to pick up stones with which they might put to death the Lord of Life and Glory, yetthey were the descendants of Abraham! The children of "the friend of God" were seeking to slay God's only-begotten and well-belovedSon! And, a little later, those who were descended lineally from the loins of the great Patriarch gathered in the street aboutPilate's palace and cried, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"-that, "Him," being the Son of the Highest who was One with the ever-blessedFather and Spirit, and who had come to earth upon an errand of mercy and love. Yet the men who were the first and loudestto clamor for His death were those who said, "Abraham is our father."
It is almost enough to make some good men come out of their graves to see what their children or their grandchildren are doing.It is a sad thing that Divine Grace seems to quit some families. It never does run in the blood-that cannot be, for all God'schildren are born, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." And of God alone. Yetis it a very blessed fact that, often, if Grace does not run in the blood, it runs side by side with it, and godly fathersjoyfully live to see their children treading in their footsteps. In some families, they have this highest of all honors-thatthey are a household of saints. Generation after generation, this is the testimony concerning them, that they are a companyof people whom God has blessed. But, alas, it is not always so and as it was not so with Abraham's seed in Christ's day, asthe Jews had, to a very large extent, apostatized so far that they even sought to slay the Christ of
You and I must not be staggered when we see the same thing occurring in other families, the heads of which were renowned forGrace. With holy diligence we should seek to bring up our children in the fear of the Lord so that if they do wander, it maynot be through our fault, for if we have to blame our guilty neglect, or our evil example for their going astray, it will,indeed, be sad for us. But if we are satisfied, in the sight of God, that we have done all that we could to bring them toJesus, then, if they should dishonor our name, yet at least there will not be this wormwood mingled with the gall that wehelped them to tread the downward road. O Brothers and Sisters, with all your hearts cry mightily unto God that your household,to as many generations as yet shall come, shall never lack a man to stand before the Lord God of Israel, and to be a faithfulwitness for Him and for His Truth in the midst of the wicked and perverse people by whom they may be surrounded!
This Truth of God is manifest on the very surface of our text-Abraham was a great saint, a mighty saint, a clear-eyed saintwhose gaze pierced through those 20 centuries and beheld his Lord! Yet, after the flesh, he was the father of a bleary-eyedgeneration that could not see the Eternal Light, even when it flashed directly upon their eyes! I think there is nothing thatis more full of warning than this to those of you who are descended from godly parents. I charge you, before the living God,put no confidence in your descent. "You must be born again." Even if you are the best of all who have ever been born of woman,"you must be born again." Wisely did Job speak when he said, "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." Nomother can bring into this world a perfect being, for the whole human race is fallen- we are the degenerate children of afather who, himself, was unfaithful to the allegiance which he owed to his God. The stain from that first sin of Adam is uponus all, so let us not say, "We are Abraham's seed." Let us not talk about being descended from a line of saints, but rather,let us take to ourselves what Christ said to the Jews on another occasion, "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish."However gracious our genealogy may be, unless our family tree begins in Christ and we, ourselves, are personally grafted intoHim, we shall die in our sins and perish forever. God help us, who have been so highly privileged as to be born of godly parents,to lay that Truth of God to heart and to seek the Lord now, that we, also, may be numbered among those who are saved!
With these observations by way of preface, let us now come directly to the text. And we shall notice, first, in what respectsAbraham saw Christ's day. Secondly, the effect it had upon him. That will lead us, in the third place, to think of the respectsin which we, also, may see Christ's day, and to notice, in closing, the effect which such a sight will have upon us. If wesee His day, we shall also rejoice and be glad.
I. First, then, let us enquire, IN WHAT RESPECTS DID ABRAHAM SEE CHRIST'S DAY?
I understand the term, "Christ's day," to mean, first, His day of humiliation here upon earth. Christ had a certain "day"when He lived here in this world. What if I were to call His whole natural life on earth one long Lord's-Day? Had the Jewsknown the things which would have made for their peace, our Lord's sojourn here would have been to that nation one long Sabbath!Had they understood the rest which Christ brings to believing, obedient souls, it would have been the true Jubilee to them!But there is another "day" yet to come, which, in the highest sense, our Lord will call, "My day." Know you not that He isto come a second time, without a sin-offering unto salvation? This was foretold by the angels who said to His disciples, afterHis Ascension, "This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him gointo Heaven." Arrayed in the vesture of His Humanity-for He still wears it at the right hand of the Father-He will come again,but not as He came the first time-
"The Lord shall come! A dreadful form With rainbow wreath and robes of storm! On cherub wings and wings of wind, AppointedJudge of all mankind!"
He shall come to gloriously reign on earth among His ancients! He shall come to gather to Himself His own, those that havemade a covenant with Him by sacrifice. He shall come to set the sheep on His right hand and the goats on the left-and to makea severance between them that fear the Lord and them that fear Him not. This will be His Second Day, the great day of Hisappearing, the day for which all other days were made, after which there shall be no day that can be ended with a night, butthe Ancient of Days shall reign forever and ever, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! This is also His day and, without drawingfine distinctions, I have no doubt that Abraham saw Christ's day in this double sense- and that he knew Him both as the Lambslain, and as the King who is to reign forever and ever!
How did he see Christ's day? I answer, first, by a far-seeing, clear-sighted faith. I do not know what Revelation, which isnot recorded, God may have made to Abraham-whether he had, in night visions, as Daniel did, beheld the King sitting upon HisThrone. But, whatever he did know, he turned to practical use by believingit. He believed that the Lord would come in thefullness of time. He believed that there would be a Seed of the woman that would bruise the serpent's head according to thepromise at the gates of Paradise. He believed, most assuredly, that a Man would come who would give rest unto His flock, thatMan being his own Seed, in connection with whom God had expressly said that He would bless Abraham, and make him a blessing."Your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because youhave obeyed My voice." So Abraham's faith often realized what it saw. We have no record of the subject of his morning meditationswhen he rose early that he might spend some time alone with the Lord before the world became dim with smoke, or the businessor ordinary occupation of the day had commenced. At such seasons I have no doubt that Abraham was in his chosen place of prayer,waiting and watching-looking into the far-distant future and seeing with gladdened heart that day of the Lord which now hascome-and that other day of the Lord which is yet to arrive. He believed it and therefore he saw it!
Brothers and Sisters, there is no seeing unless there is believing! I have heard that seeing is believing, but it is not-itis the very opposite! Seeing and believing do not run this way-to see first and then to believe. They run the other way-believeand then see! And that is just what Abraham did. He believed God and then he saw Christ's day afar off and was glad. See asmuch as you like after you have believed, but remember our Lord's words to Thomas, "Blessed are they that have not seen, andyet have believed"-that is, those who did not need to see first, but believed first, and then their eyes were so opened thatthey saw the salvation of God.
When once you get faith, there are many windows through which that faith can look. And no doubt Abraham saw Christ's day throughthe windows of special promises. There were not so many made to him as we have now with our larger Revelation in the entireBible, but, still, there were sufficient promises to be used by his faith and especially that one which I quoted to you justnow, "In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." That promise, alone, was enough to make him know that Godwould, in due time, give him a Seed through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. If you want to see Christ,dear Friends, borrow the telescope of promise. Faith is very fond of that optic glass and it is amazing what she can see whenshe puts it to her eye. Ten thousand blessings, not seen by our natural vision, become visible to the eye of faith when welook at them through the medium of the promises of God.
Next, Abraham saw Christ with the eye of faith in the types that came before him. There were at least two very remarkableones, or I might call them three. The first was Melchizedek. I cannot help believing that when Abraham met Melchizedek, thePriest of the most high God, first King of Righteousness and then King of Peace-and when he gave Him tithes of all and receivedHis blessing-he recognized in Melchizedek One who was greater than himself. Neither can I help believing that after he hadpartaken of the bread and wine which Melchizedek brought to him, and had gone back to his own quiet oratory once more, hemust-or at least he may have had some clear intimation, to his own mind, that this was one of the grandest types of that Seedwhich was to bless all nations of the earth! And, Beloved, have not we seen Jesus as our Melchizedek? When we have been battlingwith the kings. When we have come back weary from the conflict, has not Jesus met us and refreshed us with His bread and wine?Has He not blessed us and have we not then adored Him and felt that we must say to Him, concerning all that we have, "Takenot merely a tithe, but take it all"? Blessed are the men and women who, with eyes of Abraham, have spied out Christ beneaththe robes of Melchizedek! And I cannot help thinking that if we, the children, can do so, he, the father of the faithful,must have also done it! Paul could clearly see Christ in Melchizedek-and surely Abraham, also, must have seen Christ in Him!
But especially did Abraham see Christ's day in the type that was given him in Isaac-I cannot help thinking that when Isaacwas born, not after the flesh, but according to the promise-for the seed according to the flesh was sent about his business,and his mother with him. And when Abraham made a great feast at the weaning of that child whose very name was laughter-andthe promise of whose birth had made the venerable Patriarch, close upon his 100th year, fall down upon his face and laughat the very thought. And whenever, afterwards, he looked upon that son of joy, given to him, not by the strength of nature,but by the visitation of God-I say he saw, there, a picture of Him who is not born to us after the energy of manhood, butby the power of the Holy Spirit, and who has come among us to bless and cheer us till our very heart laughs again as we thinkof Jesus, the Son of the promise. He is our true Isaac! Now is our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue is full of praisesas we think of Him.
But chiefly, Abraham saw Christ in type and figure on that memorable day when he took Isaac up to the top of Mount Moriahand, at the command of God, unsheathed his knife to slay his son! Abraham must then have seen the Everlasting Father aboutto act in the same fashion towards His only-begotten Son. He saw, in Isaac, the victim bound and laid upon the altar and then,in the ram caught in the thicket, he saw the very symbol of the Lamb of God, who, in the fullness of time, would be offeredupon the altar of Calvary for our sakes, that He might die as our Substitute and Representative. There could never have been,I think, a more plain parallel than in this case-and in all these types Abraham saw Jesus Christ's day, and was glad.
Once more, Abraham did actually see Christ's day, not by faith only, but in the disembodied state, after he was dead and buried.There he slept, with Sarah, in the cave of Machpelah, but his spirit was neither dead nor buried-it was in the place of soulsseparated from their bodies and it is remarkable that, in the account of the death of Lazarus, our Lord says that he was takento Abraham's bosom, as if the Patriarch had given a name to that very world in which the gracious dwell when they quit thishouse of clay. From that place of bliss, he looked down upon all the wondrous Life that began at Bethlehem and closed at Calvary.He was seeing Christ's day even while Jesus was speaking to these Jews, and from the celestial seats he must have gazed withwonder that God should thus assume the nature of man!
II. That is enough concerning Abraham, except that we have to dwell, in the second place, for just a minute or two, upon THEEFFECT OF THIS VISION UPON ABRAHAM.
It made him glad. He rejoiced at the very thought of seeing Christ's day. It is a very strong word which is used here forrejoicing-"he leaped forward"-that would be the correct expression. At the thought of seeing Christ's day and when he didsee it, he was glad. It is a curious thing that the second word should be a softer one than the other. There is no idea ofleaping or jumping about the second, but in the first, there is. Master Trapp renders it, "His good old heart danced levaltoswithinhim, as children use to dance about a bonfire-with an exuberance of joy"-at the very thought that Jesus Christ would comein the flesh and that he would see Him. But when he did see Him, that kind of rejoicing seemed to subside and he appearedto rise into a calm state of intense gladness.
You know that when Christ first makes us glad in Him, we do not know how to contain ourselves. But afterwards our capacityincreases and we are able to hold more. There may be far less excitement, but there is more real joy after all. You rememberhow it is put in Isaiah 40:31-"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles." That is, when they areyoung and light. "They shall run, and not be weary"-that is, when they are getting a little stronger they do not take to flying.They know better, so they are content to run. But what comes next? "They shall walk, and not faint." The pace gradually getsless-from flying to running and from running to walking. Is that a growth? Certainly! It is always better to walk than torun.
Some young folk, when they are first converted, are very eager to fly. Fly away, Brothers, while you can, and you who canrun, run as fast as you are able! But, mark you, it is the steady pace that does not kill, which enables us to live down deathitself! I do not read that Enoch flew with God, or ran with God, but he, "walked with God." And he kept that pace up for 300years! And he could have kept it up even longer. Let a man fly while he may. Let him run when he can, but walking is the bestpace, after all. So, from our text we learn that Abraham rejoiced and leaped forward to see Christ's day. And when he sawit, he sobered down, and was glad. And that is the best condition in which the spirit can remain. I cannot help thinking thatit was this inward joy-this intense but calm gladness-that made Abraham such a noble man throughout all his life.
Isaac is a very little man compared with his father Abraham. Where there is a high mountain, there generally is a low valley,so it was with Abraham and Isaac, and, as to Jacob, though he was a great man in some respects and especially great at drivingbargains, yet, someway, he had nothing of the nobility of Abraham who walked along in the dignity of a true prince among men.What a grand reply Abraham gave to the king of Sodom who had said to him, "Give me the persons, and take the goods to yourself."Though all the spoil was his by the laws of war, yet he answered, "I have lifted up my hands unto the Lord, the most highGod, the possessor of Heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not takeanything that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich."
No, no, Abraham was too great a man to stoop at the foot of the king of Sodom, even to take what was his by right. He hadfought for him and brought him back the spoil-and he handed it over to him without any exception but that which had been eatenby the young men, or taken by the others who had gone with him-his neighbors and friends who had a right to their share, althoughAbraham refused to take his portion of the plunder.
The Patriarch had many troubles but before his history is closed, it was recorded that "the Lord had blessed Abraham in allthings." He had believed God in all things and God had blessed him in all things! His was a happy, calm, noble, dignifiedlife almost throughout the whole of it. Oh, that you and I might drink in deep draughts of Abraham's faith and that our eyesmight see Christ's day even more clearly than Abraham saw it-that we might have rejoicing and gladness like his! Nothing canso surely bring this joy to our souls as faith like that which he possessed.
III. So much for Abraham. Now we come to ourselves and enquire, IN WHAT RESPECTS DO WE SEE CHRIST'S
We stand, as it were, on a narrow neck of land between two seas of glory. Look back-there is Christ's day of mercy-salvation,reconciliation, death, conflict, victory. Now look forward and see, by faith, that sight which the Apostle describes, "Forthe Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God"-in splendorsuch as never was seen before and which shall make the sun, itself, to be ashamed because of the greater glory of Christ-theSun of Righteousness!
Now let us ask ourselves, have we really seen Christ in His first day? Search your hearts, dear Friends, and see. Have youlooked to Christ as living and working out a robe of spotless righteousness? And then, as dying, that He might dye that robecrimson and make it fit for His chosen princes to wear? Have you seen Jesus on the Cross bearing your sins? This is a sightthat is indeed worth living for! Heaven itself cannot match that sight and there is nothing that can excel it! When we arein sin's densest darkness, that sight brings more light than the rising sun. And when we are cast out, like the dry bonesof the Valley of Vision, it is this sight that makes us live again and stand upon our feet, a part of the exceeding greatarmy of God! Say, dear Friend, have you looked to Christ by faith? Are you looking to Him? Are you seeing His first day everyday?
And then, have you learned to look forward to His second coming? It is not a subject for curiosity, as some make it. It isnot a subject for speculation, as others make it. But it isa subject for reverent expectation! I know not when He will come,but I know that He will come. He may come at any moment and the sooner the better for me, for let Him come when He may, Hewill be welcome. And if I am dead before He comes, I shall see His day all the same, "for I know that my Redeemer lives andthat He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shallI see God: whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."Fix your eyes upon the coming King, for it will make you strong! You are not fighting for a vanquished leader! He has wonthe victory and He will come back to wear the crown before long. There is no question about who is to win the great fight-Christhas already won it and He shall come back to divide the spoil with the strong. God has given it to Him and He shall have it!
Listen to the trumpets that proclaim His appearing! Your faith may almost hear them sound, "Lo, He comes! Lo, He comes!" Itis getting towards midnight in the history of the world. Both the wise and the foolish virgins are all too apt to go to sleep,but the cry may be heard even now by the ears of faith-and it will awaken us into supreme energy of action for our Lord, "Beholdthe Bridegroom comes; go you out to meet Him!" How little there is of that going out to meet Him! Let us have something ofit tonight as we go out, in imagination and in faith, to meet Him who comes quickly. What countless trumpets shall then soundto wake the sleeping dead! Glory, glory, glory, to Him that once was despised and rejected of men! Welcome, welcome, Son ofGod! All Your saints delight in You! Came quickly, come quickly! Make no tarrying, O our God!
IV. Now, lastly, we are to consider THE EFFECT OF THESE SIGHTS UPON US. If we really see them, they will do for us what theydid for Abraham-they will make us glad-
"Are you weary? Are you languid? Are you sorely distressed?"
Come, then, get a sight of the weary and languid One who died for you upon the Cross! There is no gladness so easy to obtainas this. Is it not strange that when the mourner's heart is heavy, we never hear that he looks to the place where the starof Bethlehem burns, though there is joy there. But he looks where human woe culminated in the death of the Well-Beloved. Tothe Cross the mourner turns his eyes, for there is no light that can come into the darkened heart except from the piercedside and broken heart of Him whom we call Master and Lord. Do you want true joy? Then learn that joy was born where Christdied and that joy lives because Jesus lives-it flourishes because He is risen! Keep your eyes on Him and they shall know notears save those which shall bless both eyes and hearts.
Then, when you have found joy through looking on Christ's first coming, look forward to His second coming and get joy outof it, also. I cannot speak fully of that glorious event tonight, but, certainly, it is a well of joy. If you have seen Christin His shame, it is a fountain of delight to expect to see Him in His honor and glory. You are nobody now- the world knowsyou not, for it knew Him not-but when He shall appear, then will be the time of yourmanifestation also. "Then shall the righteousshine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Now it is often heartache and headache, weariness and toilsome pilgrimage,but when He comes, it will be the marriage feast and all the merriment of which human hearts are capable! Oh, what a thrillof joy will go through this poor groaning world when He comes! Creation is in bondage and continually groans and, "we groanwithin ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." But when He comes, creation itself shallshake off its heavy weights and shall get rid of its night dreams. Swathed in mist today, our poor planet scarcely gives fortha ray of light, but then, with all mists removed, when Jesus comes, surely she shall shine more brightly than the morningstar!
And if every Believer is to be as the sun, what will this world be, filled with Believers, each one shining like the sun inits strength? Oh, clap your hands, Beloved, clap your hands, for He comes who is your Lord and Savior! "Let the heavens rejoiceand let the earth be glad! Let the sea roar and the fullness thereof. Let the fields be joyful and all that is therein: thenshall all the trees of the forests rejoice before the Lord: for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth: He shall judgethe world with righteousness and the people with His Truth."
Children of the morning, the morning comes! What a day yours shall be, then, when your sun shall go down no more forever,for your Lord's coming shall be as a morning without clouds! Blessed and happy are they who, by faith, can see it! They cansay good-bye to sin and good-bye to sorrow! They can say to all discouragements, to all baffling, to all defeats, "Farewell,for He comes, our Champion who will lead us forward to the everlasting victory, in whose name we set up our banners and inwhose name, even now, our spirit rejoices with exceeding gladness that shall never end!"
God give to each of you a portion in these glorious things, by a simple faith in Jesus, for His name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN8:31-59.
Verse 31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, you are My disciples indeed. Forthere were many, in Christ's day, coming to Him for a while and then going away from Him-professing to believe and then stumblingwhen Christ proclaimed some Doctrine of God which struck them as being strange and hard to receive. Our Lord Jesus tells themthat constancy is necessary to true discipleship. It is of no use to start running in the race unless we continue in the coursetill the prize is won. We are not true pilgrims to Heaven merely because we cross the threshold of our door-we must keep on,and on, and on till we reach the golden streets of the New Jerusalem!
32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. That is the result of being a disciple of the Lord JesusChrist. With Christ, who is the Truth of God, to be our Teacher, and the Holy Spirit to bless His Words, we come to know theTruth-and the operation of the Truth upon the heart is to deliver us from the bondage of sin and of error.
33. They answered Him, We are Abraham's seed and were never in bondage to any man: how can You say, You shall be made free?What a lie this was! They were at that very time in bondage to the Romans! They had been subdued and conquered and, a littlewhile after, they, themselves, confessed that they had no king but Caesar. Men are not very selective about telling lies whenthey wish to resist Christ-they will do anything rather than believe on Him.
34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. The man who habituallylives in sin is not a free man, for he is still a slave to sin. If he finds pleasure and delight in disobeying God, he hasno right to talk about being a free man. His chains are rattling on his wrists-what can he know about freedom?
35. And the servant abides not in the house forever; but the son abides always. A servant may be dismissed from the household,but a son may not. If we were only servants of God, we might fall from Grace and perish. But if we are the sons of God, wenever shall. If we ever did, in truth, call God, "Father," we shall always be able to use that blessed title, for the relationshipof fatherhood is not a temporary one and cannot come to an end.
36. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, you shall be free, indeed. If you have the freedom of sonship, you are free,indeed. There are none so free in our Father's house as His children!
37-39. I know that you are Abraham's seed, but you seek to kill Me because My word has no place in you. I speak that whichI have seen with My Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father They answered and said unto Him, Abrahamis our father Jesus said unto them, If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. The real descendantsof "the father of the faithful" are, themselves, faithful-that is, Believers. The father of Believers has Believers for hischildren. "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham." Our Lord had admitted that these Jews wereAbraham's seed according to the flesh, but He proved that they were not Abraham's Seed in the high and spiritual sense, sincethey were not like he whom they claimed for a father.
40, 41. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man that has told you the truth, which I have heard of God. Abraham did not do this.You do the deeds of your father. He had not told them who that father was, but as it is a standing rule that men do the deedsof their father, the genuineness of the descent which they claimed could be tested by their likeness to their father.
41, 42. Then said they to Him, We are not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If Godwere your Father, you would love Me. Any man who is born of God must love Jesus Christ. The purity of His motives, the lovelinessof His Character, the charms of His Person would all be sure to win the heart of a man who was truly born of God.
42, 43. For I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I ofMyself but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech?Even because you cannot hear My word. "You are dull of comprehension. You are hardened in heart. You are proud in spirit.You are just the opposite of everything that is good and, therefore, you cannot hear My word," said Christ. "And this is proofpositive that you do not love God and that you are not the children of God."
44. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. Remember from whose lips these words fell,even from the lips of the gentle Jesus! Honest speech is the surest token of a loving heart, but, nowadays, if a man preachesthe Truth of God plainly and faithfully, men say that he is hard and unkind. But if a man glosses over the Truth of God andalters it according to his own idea of what will please men, then they say, "He is a kindly-disposed and large-hearted man."I would be disposed to doubt whether he has any heart at all, if he will sooner see sinners damned than offend them by proclaimingthe Truth! I thank God that some of us care little about offending those who offend God! If men will not yield themselvesto the Lord, we want not their friendship, but we will strive to make them uneasy in their rebellion-and if they resolve tobe lost, we will at least be clear of their blood.
44. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie,he speaks of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it. Falsehood is his natural element. When Satan deceives, he onlyacts according to his nature which is blackened through and through with lies.
45, 46. And because I tell you the truth, you believe Me not. Which of you convicts Me of sin? What a grand challenge! Noneof us can speak like that except in a very modified sense-but Christ, standing before His enemies, who gnashed their teethat Him and would have given their eyes to be able to fix some fault upon Him-boldly says to them, "Which of you convicts Meof sin?"
46-51. And if I say the truth, why do you not believe Me? He that is of God hears God's words: you, therefore, hear them not,because you are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto Him, Say we not well that you are a Samaritan, and havea devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I seek not My own glory: thereis One who seeks and judges. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If anyone keeps My sayings, he shall never see death. This statementquite staggered them! Yet it is true. To Believers-
"It is not death to die,"
they simply pass out of this world into a larger and yet more glorious life! They descend not to death, but they rise to immortality!
52, 53. Then said the Jews to Him, Now we know that You have a devil. Abraham is dead and the Prophets; and You say, If anyonekeeps My sayings, he shall never taste of death. Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?And the Prophets aredead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?' 'Who do You make Yourself out to be? Someone greater than Abraham and the Prophets?"
54-56. Jesus answered, If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing: it is My Father that honors Me; of whom you say, that He isour God: yet you have not known Him; but Iknow Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like you: but Iknow Him and keep His saying. Your father Abraham-"As you call him."
56, 57. Rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it and was glad. Then said the Jews unto Him, you are not yet fifty years old,and have you seen Abraham?They allowed a wide margin in speaking of our Savior's age, for He was only 33 years old. It maybe true that the sorrows of His life had so marred His Countenance that He looked more like a man of 50 than one of thirty-three.I cannot tell, nor do I know whether that is what they meant. But it is amazing that they should have said to Him, "You arenot yet 50 years old."
58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. They had asked Him, "Who do You make Yourselfout to be?" And now they have His answer! "Before Abraham was, I AM," said Christ. It is the very name by which God revealedHimself to Moses at the burning bush, "I AM." Yet Jesus takes this title to Himself! "Before Abraham was"-not, "I was." Noticethat. But, "I AM," as if His life was one continued present existence, as indeed it is, for with God there is no past or future,but all things are ever-present to His infinite mind! When Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I AM," He claimed the Godhead-Hedeclared that He was certainly God, self-existent from all eternity!
59. Then took they up stones to cast at Him. They counted Him a blasphemer and so He was if He was not all He claimed to be.I have heard of some who reverence Christ, but do not believe Him to be God-but how can that be? He evidently made Himselfout to be God and this was the great charge the Jews brought against Him. For this, indeed, they put Him to death, becauseHe made Himself equal with God. If He were not equal with God-if He were not really God-He led men to thinkthat He was. Andif this were false, it was a great sin not consistent with the holy Character of Christ. If He was not God, He was the grossestimpostor who ever visited this world! But He isGod and nothing less! Yet because He claimed this, the Jews took up stonesto cast at Him.
59. But Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the Temple, going through the midst of them, andso passed by. Glory be to His holyname forever and ever!