Sermon 2761. The Free Agency of Christ
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JANUARY 12, 1902.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 21, 1879.
"And He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by thehand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him ifhe saw anything.And he looked up and said, Isee men as trees, walking. After that Heput His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up:and he was restored, and saw everyone clearly." Mark 8:22-25.
THERE is a very wonderful variety in the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the variety is apparent even in the way inwhich men come to Him to partake of His blessing. With regard to the blind men to whom our Lord gave sight, we read of somethat they were brought to Christ by their friends, as in the case of this man at Bethsaida, who was almost passive all theway through. His friends appear to have had more faith than he had and, therefore, they brought him to Jesus. There were othercases in which the blind men cried to Christ and, as far as they could, came to Him of themselves. Some of them even cameto Him in the teeth of stern opposition, for, when the disciples upbraided one of them for crying out so loudly, he criedout the more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me." So that, you see, some were brought to Christ by their friends andothers came to Him in spite of much opposition.
Then there is that notable case which many of you must remember, of that remarkable blind man who had been blind from hisbirth, to whom Jesus came uninvited. Jesus saw him and anointed his eyes with the clay which He had made, and then bade himgo and wash in the pool of Siloam. "He went his way, therefore, and washed, and came seeing." Thus, from the very commencementof our Savior's earthly ministry, there were differences in the way in which one class of characters, the blind, came to JesusChrist.
I. The lesson for us to learn from this undoubted fact is just this-that THERE ARE GREAT DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY IN WHICH MENCOME TO JESUS CHRIST-and differences even in their first desires. Some will begin to seek the Savior like merchantmen seekinggoodly pearls and when they have found Him, He will be the Pearl of Great Price to them. Others will be like the plowman whoseplow struck against a crock of gold-they will know Christ's value as soon as they stumble upon Him, as it were, and will beready to sell all that they have and buy the field so that the treasure may be theirs. Some of you who are here may get ablessing instantaneously, though you have not come especially seeking it. Others of you may have come here for months andyears, seeking the Savior-and you may nowfind Him.
Some may begin to seek even while the sermon is progressing, but may not find Christ for a while-while others will no soonerseek Jesus than they will at once find Him. Some will be brought by the example of the godly. Some by the preaching of theminister. Some by a kind word from a friend. Many by parental exhortations. Some by a holy book. Some by no outward meansat all. Some simply by their own thoughts in solitude, or at the dead of night-all led by the one gracious Spirit of God-buteach one brought to Christ in a different way and by different means from all the rest.
I think that the same differences will be found, not only at the beginning of the Christian life, but also all the way throughthat life in all who are the subjects of Divine Grace. All Christians are like each other in some respects, but no one Christianis exactly like another in all points. There is, often, a great family likeness in the children in one family. Sometimes,you might go where there are 10 or twelve, and you might pick them all out and say, Yes, we are quite sure
that they all belong to this family-there are certain distinctive features which evidently show that they belong to theseparents." After you have noticed that resemblance, take the 10 or 12 children, one by one, and look at them individually.Perhaps, at first sight, you might say that you did not know one from the other, but those who see them day by day will tellyou that there are distinct differences of countenance and contour about each one-and idiosyncrasies of character which distinguishthem from one another-so that there is not one of them who is exactly like the rest.
Now, it would be a great pity if they should all begin to wish that they were exactly like someone in the family whom theyset up as a model. It would be a right and proper ambition that every son should wish to be like a godly father, and thatevery daughter should seek to imitate a lovely and gracious mother, but that one girl would wish to be just like her sister,or a boy to be exactly like his brother would be absurd. Yet I have often seen that absurdity in the Church of God! One isdepressed because his experience is not quite like his neighbor's. Another because he sees that there are points in his experiencethat are unlike anybody else's-and I have even known them go and try to remove their names from God's register and "unchristianize"themselves! And, what is worse, sometimes unchristianize one another because they are not all exactly run into the same mold-likeso many shot, precisely alike in form and shape-as manufactured articles are when they come quickly from under the die! No,we fall into grievous error when we entertain this kind of idea! God's ways are diverse-from the beginning to the end, Godthe Father, God the Holy Spirit and our Lord Jesus Christ act sovereignly and do not choose to follow one particular modeof action in every case.
That lesson I wish to teach, first, in reference to our prayers. We must not attempt to dictate to God with regard to Hisanswers to our prayers. Let us learn that lesson from the incident before us-"They brought a blind man to Him, and beggedHim"-to open his eyes? No-that would have been a very proper prayer, but they, "begged Him to touch him." But Christ did notdo His work according to their request-"He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town. And when He had spiton his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything." Now, with regard to our prayers, we may bring ourchildren, friends and neighbors to Christ-and we may ask that they may be saved-but we must not dictate to Christ the methodsby which salvation is to come to them, for it is very usual with Him not to follow those means which we would prescribe!
That plan of touching the sick person was a very common one with Christ and, therefore, the people began to expect that Hemust always heal by a touch. Naaman thought that the Prophet Elisha would come out to him, "and stand and call on the nameof the Lord, his God, and strike his hand over the place and recover the leper." But he was mistaken, as were those folk atBethsaida. It was a sort of understanding among them that Christ's touch was the usual method by which His cures were worked,so they begged Him to touch their blind friend. But He would not give any support to that notion. If they thought than Heworked His miracles by putting His hands upon the sick, then He would not put His hands upon them-He would let them see thatHe was not bound to any particular method. If He had allowed them to cherish such an idea, probably their next step in errorwould have been that they would have said that it was an enchantment, a kind of performance by certain passes and touches,as by a wizard or conjurer, through which Christ went in order to heal the sick.
Superstition can be very easily made to grow, and you and I, mark you, may think ourselves perfectly free from superstition,yet, all the while, it may only have taken some other form from that in which it appears in other people. For instance, ifthe Lord is pleased to bless a certain preacher to the conversion of souls, you may settle it in your mind that if you getyour children to hear him, they will assuredly be saved. Yet it may not be the case, for the Lord has a thousand ways of savingsouls and He is not tied to any one man as His agent or instrument. It may get to be a kind of superstitious notion that insome one person, alone, the power of converting others may rest. Or it may be that you say to yourself, "I was converted byreading such-and-such a book. If I get my boy to read that book, it will convert him, too." Yet it may have no influence whateverupon him, for the Grace of God is not tied to any book, nor to any way of working that you choose to prescribe!
I would not wonder, my dear Friends, if some of you have tried to tie the Lord down to your way of working. For instance,in your class in the Sunday school, it was the reading of a certain chapter in the Bible that brought one of your scholarsto Christ. So, in order to bring the rest of them to the Savior, you get them to read that chapter. That may be all right,for the Lord can bless it to them if He pleases, but, at the same time you must remember that He is a Sovereign and, therefore,He will probably use other means in other cases. You preached, dear Friend, in the street, or in a Chapel, and
God blessed that sermon. So you have made up your mind that you will preach it a second time. I recommend you not to do so,for very likely it will hang fire if you do. If you begin to confide in the sermon, God will not bless it. I think it is oftenwell to do with a good sermon as David did with Goliath's sword-he said that there was none like it, yet he did not keep itby him for constant use, but he laid it up before the Lord-then it was ready for the special occasion when it was required.When God has blessed any sermon that I have preached, I do not make it a rule to preach it again, lest I might be led to putmy trust in that sermon, or to have some confidence in the way in which I set forth the Truth of God, rather than in the Truthitself-though I never hesitate to preach the same sermon again and again if I feel that the Spirit leads me to do so. We mustnot, in our prayers, tie the Lord down to any particular means, for He can use what means He pleases and He will do so, whateverwe may say. We may ask Him to open the blind man's eyes, but it is not our place to beseech Him to touch the blind man inorder to effect His cure!
Notice, also, that Christ did not answer the prayer of these people in the place where they presented it. They brought theblind man to Him and they evidently expected the Lord Jesus Christ to open his eyes there. But Jesus did not do so. "He tookthe blind man by the hand and led him out of the town"-right away from the place where the people wanted to have the miracleperformed! The Savior acted as though He could not do anything in the matter until He was out of town-and He would not speaka word to him till He got him quite away by himself. Well, now, it is very easy, in our prayers, to fix upon a certain placeas the one where God will give His blessing, and to think, "The friend I am praying for must be converted in the Tabernacle,or must be converted in the little meeting that I hold in my house, or must be brought to Jesus Christ in the Church whereI attend, or in the Chapel where I worship." But our Lord may, perhaps, never convert that young man in any of the placesyou have mentioned-He may meet with him behind the counter, or on board boat, or walking by the way, or on a sickbed. Do notbe disappointed, therefore, when your place does not prove to be God's place! Take your friend to the House of God, for Christ'smiracles on a Sabbath and in the synagogue are frequent-but do not try to tie Him down to the synagogue, for He must be leftat liberty to work His miracles in His own way.
Neither, dear Friends, must we, for a moment, try to tie the Lord Jesus Christ down to work in our particular manner! I haveno doubt that these people meant to prescribe to Christ that He should open that man's eyes directly. He had done so beforeand He was able to make the sightless one see in a single moment. And they, therefore, naturally expected that He would doit. But the Savior did not do so-He did not work an immediate, but a progressive cure. He opened the man's eyes a little andafterwards opened them more fully. This was a very extraordinary miracle-there is no other case like it in Scripture. Allthe other cures that Christ worked were immediate-but this one was progressive. So, my Brother, the Lord may hear and answeryour prayer, but it may not be by a conversion in the way you expected. You thought that, all of a sudden, you would hearthat your dear friend had been turned from darkness to the Light of God. You have not heard that, but you have heard thathe begins to be more thoughtful than he used to be, and that he attends the means of Grace more regularly than he formerlydid. Perhaps the Lord intends, in his case, to work salvation by degrees.
Do not go and run the risk of spoiling it by trying to run faster than God guides you! The daylight does not always come ina moment. I am told that in the tropics there is but slender notice of the rising of the sun-he seems to be up and shiningin full glory in a few seconds! But here, in England, you know how long a time of twilight and dawn we have before the sunhas fully risen. No doubt there are conversions that are just like the tropical morning-in a moment the great deed of Graceis done! But there are many more conversions that are slow and gradual, yet they are none the less sure! The genial sun isup when he is up-even if he takes an hour in the operation of rising-quite as effectually as he is up when he seems to leapout of the sea into meridian splendor! So, if the Lord should see fit to bless your friend in a different manner from thatwhich you had thought of, do not you quarrel with Him. Whatever He does is right-so let us never question any of His actions.
One other point, in which we must not dictate to God, is this. He may hear our prayer and grant our request, yet we may notknow that it is so. I do not think that these people who brought the blind man to Christ ever saw him again after his eyeshad been opened. Mark tells us that Christ "led him out of the town"-that is, away from his friends. And after He had healedhim, "He sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town." I suppose they foundit out afterwards, but then and there, at any rate, they did not see the man's eyes opened. If he did as
Christ commanded him, he went straight away home and kept the matter quiet, so far, at least, as the general public and, perhaps,these friends of his were concerned.
Now, it is quite possible that God may hear your prayer for some dear friend in whom you are interested and yet you may neverknow of it till you get to Heaven. The Lord has promised to hear prayer, but He has not promised that you shall know thatHe has heard your prayer! A godly mother may be in Glory long before her supplications have been answered in the conversionof her son. A Sunday school teacher may go Home to be with Christ before the boys, over whom he has agonized, are broughtto the Savior. Our farmers know that earthly harvests are sometimes late and it is the same in spiritual husbandry! DivineGrace ensures the crop, but even the Grace of God does not guarantee that the crop shall come up tomorrow, nor whenever weplease. So, dear Friend, keep on sowing the good seed of the Kingdom of God, water it with your tears and your prayers, andthen leave with God the question whether you shall see the harvest or not. He may, in your case, fulfill that gracious promise,"He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves withhim." Or He may simply choose to make you the sower and another the reaper. It is for you to believe that your petitions shallbe granted, even if you do not live to see them!
There have been many instances in which men's prayers have prevailed, although they themselves have never lived to see thathappy result. I think I have told you, before now, the story of a godly father whose unhappy lot it was to see his sons growup without the fear of God in their hearts. This was a very heavy burden upon the good old man's spirit. Day and night hewept and prayed about it before God. At last, the time came for him to die and he had not, then, one son who had found theSavior! It had been the old man's prayer that his death might be the means of the conversion of his children if they werenot brought to Christ in his lifetime-and so it was. Yet the scene at his death was very different from what he had hopedthat it might be, for it was a very gloomy departure. His faith was grievously tried-he did not enjoy the Light of God's Countenance-hewas put to bed, as God often puts some of His best children to bed, in the dark. He died humbly trusting in Jesus, but nottriumphing, not even rejoicing-he was in great pain of body and deep depression of spirit-and his last thought was, "Thisexperience of mine will only confirm my sons in their infidelity. I have borne no witness for Christ as I had hoped to do.And now they will say that their father's religion failed him at the last and so, my heart's desire will not be granted tome."
Yet it was granted, though he did not live to see it, for, after they had put him in the tomb and had come home from the funeral,the eldest son said to the others, "You noticed, brothers, what a struggle our father seemed to have on his dying bed andhow hard it went with him. Now, we all know that he was a man of God. His conduct and example were such that we have no doubtabout his being a true Christian, yet, if he found it so hard to die, what will it be for us when we come to the day of ourdeath and have no God to help us, and no Christ to look to in the hour of our extremity?" It was remarkable that the samethought had struck all the good man's sons-and they went to their own homes deeply impressed by their father's gloomy death-toseek their father's God and to find Him!
Could the old man have known what was best, he would have chosen just such a death in order that he might, thereby, be themeans of bringing his children to Christ! In like manner, you may not be sure that you will see, here, the answer to all yourprayers, but you will see it when you get up yonder-when God shall bid you fling up the celestial windows and you will lookdown and see the harvests which you never reaped, but for which you sowed the seed! You will see, springing up from the soil,the rich result of your labor, though you saw it not while here on earth-and your Heaven will be all the sweeter because,then, you will know that the Lord has heard and answered the prayers that you offered in your lifetime here below.
II. Secondly, I learn, from this narrative that WE MUST NOT ATTEMPT TO TELL THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HOW HE IS TO WORK, for Hehas various ways of working in the blessing of men.
For instances, when this blind man was brought to Him, He did not open his eyes with a word. Often, when the sick were broughtto Him, He spoke and they were at once cured. He might have done so in this case. He might have said to the blind man's eyes,"Be opened!" The ancient fiat might have been repeated, "Light be!" and there would have been light in his darkness. But therecame out of Christ's mouth-not a word-but spittle! Christ spat on the blind man's eyes. Ah, but if anything comes out of Hismouth, it does not matter much what it is-whatever comes out of the mouth of the Christ of God means healing and life to thosewhom it reaches! He has His own ways of working. Usually, He is pleased to save men by the preaching of the Word and, sometimes,the great change is brought about through very feeble
testimony. Yet, nevertheless, it is the Word of the Lord that is spoken, and it comes from the mouth of God, so He blessesit to the opening of blind men's eyes.
In this case, too, Christ did not work upon this man all at once. As I have already reminded you, He worked a gradual cureupon him. So, dear Friend, you must not dictate to Jesus Christ as to how you will be saved. I know that some of you do. Onesaid to me, in my vestry, that she believed she had found Christ, but she was half-afraid it could not really be so. "Whynot?" I asked. And she answered, "My old grandfather told me that it took him three years before he got peace and he was lockedup in a lunatic asylum most of the time. I thought it was an awful affair altogether." I enquired where she could find anythingin the Word of God to support that idea and then told her to simply believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and not to trouble aboutwhat her grandfather did. I have no doubt that he got to Heaven even through a lunatic asylum, but there are other and betterways of getting there!
Mr. Bunyan tells us that his pilgrim went through the Slough of Despond and did not pick the steps well, so he floundered,and it was with difficulty that he got to the other side. Mr. Bunyan pictures Evangelist as bidding the poor seeker fly towardsa certain wicket gate and keep his eyes on the light within that gate. Now that was a mistake on the part of Evangelist-andit was through that mistake that the poor pilgrim got into the Slough of Despond. The Gospel does not tell you to look forwicket gates, nor to keep your eyes on any light! You remember how, at last, the poor pilgrim did get rid of his burden-itwas at the Cross that the burden rolled from his shoulders and disappeared into the sepulcher so that he saw it no more! And,dear Friends, that is where your eyes have to be turned-to the Cross of Christ and to the full Atonement He has made for allwho trust in Him! As for wicket gates and the Sloughs of Despond-the less you have to do with them, the better. "But is thereno Slough of Despond?" someone asks. Oh, yes! Twenty of them, but it is far easier to go through that Slough with the burdenoff rather than on your shoulders! The best thing you can possibly do is to go to Christ, first, for then you can better gowherever you have to go. As for me, I would rather avoid the Slough of Despond altogether if I could-and keep my eyes alwaysupon the Cross-for Christ Crucified is the one and only hope of sinners!
You must not, any of you, say, "Bunyan went through the Slough of Despond. According to his Grace Abounding, he was therefor years. And there is our Pastor, I have often heard him say that he was a long while in that Slough." Yes, I am sorry tosay that he was, but that is no reason why youshould go there. If, when I was a youth, I had heard the Gospel of Christ preachedas plainly as I have preached it to you, I feel certain that I would never have been in the bog so long as I was. But I hearda mixed sort of Gospel, a mingle-mangle-a mixture of Law and Gospel-a muddling up of Moses and Christ-something of "do" andsomething of "believe." And, therefore, I was for so long a time in that sad state of bondage! In fact, the good sound doctrinepeople that I used to hear, said, "You must not come to Christ, for you do not know whether you are one of the elect-and youmust not come until you do." I know perfectly well that nobody can possibly tell whether he is elect, or not, till he findsit out by coming to God! And that no one ever comes to God the Father, who makes the election, except by Jesus Christ HisSon! So we have first to do with the Son and afterwards with the Father. That I did not know when I was seeking the Savior.I needed an angel to tell me that I was one of the elect, but I was obliged to come to Christ as a poor, guilty sinner andjust trust in Him, and so to find peace in believing. That is the plan that I recommend you adopt if you want to be saved!
Do not say, "I shall not come to Christ till I stick in the mud of the Slough of Despond. I shall not come to Him till I getlaid by the heels in Giant Despair's Castle! I shall not come to Him till I get whipped on the back with the ten-thonged lashof the Law." If you really want to have that lash, perhaps you will get it, and I hope you will like it-but the Gospel says,"Come and welcome! Come and welcome! Come to Jesus just as you are!" Never try to lay down rules and regulations for Christ,but let Him save you in His own way and be you content, just as you are, to take Him just as He is!
There is one more point about this man in which the singular Sovereignty of Christ is seen, and that is, He did not make useof the healed man, though we would have thought that He would have done so. If this miracle had been worked in the presentday, we would soon have seen this man in the Salvation Army, or in some other public position. Nowadays, the rule seems tobe send off a paragraph to the newspapers, "So many in the enquiry-room! So many converted on such-and-such a night! Blowthe trumpets! Beat the drums! Let everybody know!" But that was not Jesus Christ's way of working-He told this man not togo into the town. And when he did get home, not to tell anybody what had been done
to him. Why was he not to tell anybody? Well, first, because the Lord wanted to do good and not to have a noise made aboutit. And, secondly, because there was no need to tell anybody. Suppose I had been for years a blind preacher and that my eyeshad been opened-would there be any need for me to tell you, next Sunday, that my eyes were opened? You would see it for yourselves-everybodycan see when a man's eyes are opened. And, often, the best way in which a man can tell that he is converted is simply by lettingother people see what a change there is in him because, if his eyes are not really open, it is of no use for him to standup and say, "Bless the Lord! My eyes are open," while he is still blind! I have heard people say that they were convertedand I have thought that if the work were done over again, it would not hurt them much and that, indeed, six or seven suchconversions would not amount to much! Oh, give us a conversion that speaks for itself! Give us a new heart that shows itselfin a new life! If a man is not able to control his temper, or to speak the truth-if he is not a good servant, or a good master,or a good husband-do not let him think it necessary to proclaim what Christ has done for him, for, if he has done anythingthat was worth doing, it will speak for itself!
Now I must close by just noticing one fact about this man as to the early steps that Jesus Christ used with him. There isone point I want to dwell upon for a minute. Our Lord, before He did anything else with the blind man, took him by the handand led him out of town. There are some of you here, perhaps, with whom the Lord has been thus working. You have begun tocome to listen to the Gospel-through your wife, perhaps, or through some Christian friend. I am very hopeful concerning you,for, although you cannot yet see, the Lord has taken you by the hand. All the faith that this poor man had was a yiedingfaith-hegave himself up to be led-and that is a saving faith. My dear Friend, give yourself up to be led by Christ! If you have comeunder gracious, heavenly influences, yield yourself up to them!
The Master led this blind man right away from other people and it will be a good sign when you begin to feel that you aregetting to be lonely. Sometimes, when the Lord means to save a man, He lays him aside by illness, or, if not, He takes himaway from the company he used to keep by some other means. Or, if the man is allowed to go into the same company, he getsto dislike it. He does not feel at home with those who were once his companions-he goes in and out of the shop as if he wereone by himself. He has the Lord's arrow sticking in him and, like the wounded stag, he tries to get away to bleed alone. Youfeel, sometimes, as though nobody understood you. You read in the Book of Job, or the Lamentations of Jeremiah and you say,"This is the kind of experience that I am passing through. I have a broken heart and a troubled conscience, and I feel thatI am all alone."
Well, dear Friend, that is the Lord Jesus Christ leading you out of town, getting you away from everybody. And, mark you,the place of mercy is the place where a man stands alone-away from everybody except his Lord. Do not draw your hand back fromthe hand that is leading you away! Perhaps ungodly company has been your ruin and it is through solitude that God intendsto save you. Be much alone. Think over your own case. Make a personal confession of sin. Seek for personal faith in a personalSavior. You were born alone-you will have to pass through the gates of death alone. Although you will stand in a crowd tobe judged, yet you will be judged as a separate individual-and even though myriads perish with you, your loss will be yourown if you are lost!
Therefore, look into your own affairs. Cast up your own account and, before the living God, stand separate from all your fellowmen! I believe that if any of you have reached that point, you are where the deed of Grace shall be done. May the Lord enableyou to yield yourself up completely to Him, for your safety lies there! We rightly put faith before you as a look, but nowI will put it before you, if you have not even an eye to look with, as the yielding up of yourself to the guidance of theSavior. Be nothing and let Christ be everything! Give yourself entirely up into His hands and He must and will save you! For,though it is faith in its passive form, it is, nevertheless, a real and saving faith! And blessed are all they that have it!May God grant it to everyone of us now, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MARK8:1-30.
Verses 1-4. In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to
Him and said to them, I have compassion on the multitude because they have now been with Me three days and have nothing toeat And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for many of them came from far. And Hisdisciples answered Him, From where can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?
Why did they not ask their Master what He could do in such an emergency as that? After so much experience of His power asthey had already had, it is amazing that they did not refer the matter to Him and say, "Lord, You can feed the multitude;we beseech You do it." But they did not act so wisely. Instead, they began questioning about ways and means. "From where cana man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?"
5-9. And He asked them, How many loaves have you? And they said, Seven. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground:and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and broke them and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did setthem before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed them and commanded to set them also before them. Sothey did eat, and were filled: and they took up seven baskets of leftover fragments. And they that had eaten were about fourthousand: andHe sent them away. Christ is the great Master of the art of multiplication! However small is the stock with whichwe begin, we have only to dedicate it all to Him and He will multiply and increase it until it will go far beyond our utmostexpectations-and there will be more left after the feast is over than there was before it began!
Bring your small talents! Bring the little Grace you have to Christ, for He can so increase your store that you will neverknow any lack, but shall have all the greater abundance the greater the demand that is made upon that store. Had these fourthousand people not been miraculously fed by Christ, the seven loaves and the few small fishes would have remained just asthey were-but now that the four thousand have to be fed, the loaves and fishes are multiplied by Christ in a very extraordinarymanner, so that, in the end, there is far more provision than they had at the beginning. Expect, Beloved, to be enriched byyour losses, to grow by that which looks as if it would crush you and to become greater by that which threatens to annihilateyou! Only put yourself into Christ's hands and He will make good use of you and leave you better than you were before He usedyou as the means of helping and blessing others!
10-12. And straightway He entered into a boat with His disciples and came into the region ofDalmanutha. And the Phariseescame forth and began to question Him, seeking of Him a sign from Heaven, tempting Him. And He sighed deeply in His spirit,and said, Why does this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.Unbelief always pricked Him to the heart and greatly grieved Him. When men trusted Him, He delighted to exhibit His matchlessGrace. But when they quibbled and questioned, His heart was heavy and He turned away from them.
13. And He left them and, entering into the boat again, departed to the other side. But, alas, even on board that little boatthere was unbelief-and from the small and select circle of His own disciples! He had fresh reason for sorrow from the samecause.
14-21. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the boat with them more than one loaf And He chargedthem, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves,saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, He said unto them, Why reason you because you have no bread?Perceive you not yet, neither understand? Have you your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see you not? And having ears, hearyou not? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments tookyou up? They said unto Him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took you up?And they said, Seven. AndHe said unto them, How is it that you do not understand? Can we not learn from past experience? Ifthe Lord has helped us before, is He not equally ready to help us again? What? When there are only a few of you discipleson board boat, do you begin to distrust your Lord because you have only one loaf when He found enough food for five thousandand for four thousand out of a few scanty loaves? O you unbelieving children of God! What infinite patience your graciousGod has with you, though you so often and so shamefully doubt Him! "Do you not remember?" "How is it that you do not understand?"Can it be that all your Lord's lessons of love and deeds of kindness have taught you nothing? Do you still doubt Him-stilldistrust Him? Has He delivered you in six troubles and can you not trust Him in the seventh? Has He kept you, by His Grace,till you are 70 years of age, and can you not trust Him for the few remaining years of your earthly pilgrimage? Oh, shameupon us that we are such dull scholars in the school of Christ!
22-26. AndHe came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind manby the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he sawanything. And he looked up and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put His hands again
upon his eyes, andmade him look up: and he was restored, andsaw everyone clearly. And He sent him away to his house, saying,Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town. "Your house is outside Bethsaida, so go round-about, and get homewithout going into the town. And if any of your neighbors call to see you, say nothing about Me to them, for I wish to remainconcealed for the present."
27. And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way He asked His disciples, sayingunto them, Whom do men say that I am? was Christ's usual way, when He took a walk with His disciples, to beguile the timewith holy conversation. It would be well if we always did the same. We might do much good and we might get much good if wemade our Lord Jesus the theme of our talks "by the way." It was an important question that He put to His disciples, "Whomdo men say that I am?"
28. 29. And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the Prophets. And He said unto them,But whom do you say that I am? "That is the main point. It matters little to you what other men say about Me-whether theyare right, or wrong, may not concern you. But what is your own opinion? What do you know about Me? 'Whom do you say that Iam?'"
29. And Peter answered and said unto Him, You are the Christ. "You are the Messiah." We know, from Matthew's Gospel, thatit was this confession of which our Lord said to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona," son of Jonas- "for flesh and bloodhave not revealed it unto you, but My Father which is in Heaven."
30. And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him. He wished, at that time, to remain in comparative retirement.He was not anxious that His miracles should be blazoned abroad. By-and-by He was to die and He preferred to derive His famefrom His death rather than from His life-to gather His honors from His Cross rather than from His miracles. He never badeany man to be silent about His death on the Cross, but when honor was likely to come to Him among men from His miracles, Hefrequently "charged them that they should tell no man of Him." That restriction is no longer in force-it was entirely abrogatedafter our Lord's Resurrection when He said to His disciples, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go you therefore,and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them toobserve all things whatever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."