Sermon 2857. God's Goodness Leading to Repentance
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 18, 1877.
"The goodness of God leads you to repentance." Romans 2:4.
GOD is often exceedingly good to those who are utterly unworthy of such treatment. "He makes His sun to rise on the evil andon the good." Indeed, sometimes the evil seem to have more of the sunshine than the good have! David said, "I have seen thewicked in great power and spreading himself like a green bay tree." God's forbearance has been misinterpreted and even misrepresentedby some who have implied, or actually asserted that God winks at sin and does not care how men behave, but treats all alikewhether they are good or evil. Some have wickedly asked, as Job reminded his friends, "What is the Almighty, that we shouldserve Him?" Many have said, "Do not the wicked prosper? Do they not even die in peace? Is it not written concerning them,'There are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm'?" This is a misinterpretation of the merciful design of Godtowards the ungodly and is corrected by the Apostle in the verse from which our text is selected-"Do you despise the richesof His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
The goodness of God to a man of evil life is not intended to encourage him to continue in his sin, but it is meant to wooand win him away from it. God manifests His Infinite gentleness and love that He may thereby kill man's sin and, by His tendermercy, He may win man's hard heart unto Himself-and by His abundant loving kindness, He may awaken man's conscience to a senseof his true position in his Maker's sight, that he may turn away from the sin which he now loves and may seek his God, whomhe has despised and neglected. My fellow man, if you are still ungodly, yet you have been prospered by your God, understandclearly the Lord's intention in your prosperity-"The goodness of God leads you to repentance." You must not be so unwise,you must not be so wicked as to say, "I am prospering although I am living in sin and, therefore, I will continue to do so."Remember what the Lord said through Isaiah the Prophet-"The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib." Be you, atleast, as wise as these brute beasts are and recognize from Whom your prosperity comes-and then accept as true, God's explanationof His actions, as given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle, and believe that "the goodness of God leads you to repentance."
I. My objective, at this time, is that those who are enjoying the goodness of God, but yet have never repented of sin, maysee their conduct in its true light and may be brought to a sincere and hearty repentance of their sin. To that end, I shall,first of all, spend a little time in mentioning SOME OF THE TOKENS OF THE GOODNESS OF GOD WHICH HE HAS LAVISHED UPON MANYWITH THE VIEW OF LEADING THEM TO REPENTANCE.
I commence with this remark-it is a great blessing to have been born of Christian parents, or even of parents who were respectableand moral. It gives one a good start in life where this is the case. On the other hand, I do not doubt that some have strongpropensities to evil which have been at work within them from their very birth, so that they were more likely than certainothers were to plunge into gross sin. Therefore, it is no small mercy to have been started in this world under a roof wherethe name of Jesus was often heard, where holy things were constantly brought before one's eyes, where blasphemy was neverheard, where uncleanness would have been put outside the door with the utmost abhorrence! So, if any of you have been therecipients of these marks of God's favor and yet are not godly-perhaps not even moral- it is clear, from our text, that thisgoodness of God to you ought to lead you to repentance.
Let me just remind you of your gracious mother, who is now, perhaps, with God in Glory. Your godly father, possibly, livesto sorrow over you. If they could have known, when you were a fair-haired boy at home, that you would always be what you noware, they might have wished that you had never been born! Try to recall those early, happy days- imagine that you can hearagain your mother's earnest pleadings both with and for her boy. Think once more of how you felt when you were sitting atthe table on which the family Bible lay open and morning and evening prayer was offered unto the Most High. And, as you doso, may the Lord, by some soft and gentle voice within your conscience, call you to repentance!
Next, it is a mark of the great goodness and forbearance of God as He continues to spare the lives of men. We often marvelthat He does not more quickly cut them down as cumberers of the ground! If the first wanton transgression had been followedby a solemn warning and if the next willful sin had involved severe chastisement with the threat that the third offense shouldbe the last, we might not have been surprised-yet God, in His abounding mercy, allows men to sin over and over again, to sinagainst His Light and knowledge, against rebuke and instruction, against conscience and reason and even against the love ofChrist! Singularly enough, God often spares, in an extraordinary manner, the lives of some of the most atrocious rebels againstHis righteous rule! There are some men who are so wicked that if they were dead, the moral atmosphere of the world would bemuch purer-yet they live on and seem as if they could not die. Disease after disease has laid them low, for they sin againsttheir own bodies and bring themselves into a truly horrible condition-yet they rise from their sickbed only to sin again morefoully than ever!
How is it that such sinners are spared, while an earnest and zealous foreign missionary sickens and dies? And an eminent saintwho did but pass through a street where fever raged, was stricken with the disease and speedily carried off by it? I understandwhy the miscreants are spared when the godly are taken, and I am sure I do, for my text instructs me the goodness of God ismanifested in order to lead such sinners to repentance! He spares them that they may turn to Him! The sailor who a littlewhile before was blaspheming the name of the Lord and then working at the pumps, with all his might, to try to save the ship,sees the vessel go down, but he clings to a spar that floats upon the raging sea. His shipmates have been sinking all aroundhim, but he finds himself washed up high and dry upon a rock. To what end, Seaman, are you spared? Is it not that the goodnessof God may lead even you, who could scarcely speak without an oath, to repentance? God means, I trust, that you should, henceforth,live a new life and serve Him as you have never yet done.
And the soldier, too. I have heard of him, in the day of battle, when the bullets have whistled close by his ears and comradeafter comrade has fallen at his side. I remember speaking, many years ago, with one who rode in that celebrated charge atBalaclava when the saddles were being emptied right and left-yet on to the end he rode-and back again through the valley ofdeath. And, though a stranger to him, I could not help laying my hand upon his shoulder and claiming him for the Christ whohad spared his life in that terrible time. Am I addressing anyone who has been in imminent peril of any sort-by railway crashor in shipwreck, in battle or in storm-when it seemed as if you would die yet you did not? Then, surely your preservationmeans that God was saying to grim Death, "Spare him, for he is Mine. I intend to save his soul as well as to spare his life."If that is the case with any of you, God's goodness is meant to lead you to repentance.
Nor is this all, though there is great mercy in a godly parentage and in life preserved in times of peril, sometimes ungodlymen enjoy, for many years, the privilege of perfect health. ' 'I never had a day's illness in my life," says one. Yet he hasnot been careful of his constitution-on the contrary, he has done much to injure it. Another says, "I never missed a day'swork and never was kept away from business by suffering of any kind. I scarcely know what aches and pains mean." Well, Friend,God deals with you, in that respect, in a very different way from the treatment He metes out to some of us, who, nevertheless,try to serve Him. Surely, you ought seriously to think of this matter and say to yourself, "He does not even give me as muchof the rod as He gives to His own children. It cannot be that He loves me better than He loves them-it must be because I amnot His child. As a man does not punish another person's boy, but leaves him to go his own way, so I must not reckon thatGod is especially showing His love to me in this long-continued health and strength-and I must solemnly ask myself, 'Am IHis child?' And then, on the other hand, I must say to Him, 'Do You, O Lord, indulge me with health and strength? Do You favorme with this long immunity from pain-I, who never lived to serve You and never even thanked You for all Your goodness to me?Then I am thoroughly ashamed of myself and I im-
plore You, O my gracious Preserver, to forgive my forgetfulness and ingratitude and to receive me, and to put me among Yourchildren!'"
Nor is this all, for I know some ungodly people who are greatly prospering in this world. When they started in life, perhapsthings were a little hard with them and they thought that if God would but give them enough to eat and drink, it would bea great mercy. Possibly they soon found a position which just suited their capacities but, before long they began to aspireto something higher and God gave it to them. So it has gone on until now! They have pretty nearly all that they could wishto have. Well, dear Friends, if this has been your experience, remember that all has come to you from the Giver of every goodand perfect gift. Each one of these blessings has been sent to you marked with some such message as this from the Lord Himself-"Willnot My creature consider what return should be rendered to Me for this mercy, and that mercy, and the other mercy which Ihave given to him-more even than I have given to some of the best of My own people? Will he not turn unto Me and bless theGiver of all this goodness to him?"
I would like to take you by the hand, young man, you who have been signally helped, perhaps, out of a difficulty in businesswhen it seemed as if you must fail. You have, since then, had many severe storms and trials to face, yet you have always beendelivered out of them all. And now you have come into a channel where it is all smooth sailing. Is it not time for you tobegin to consider your ways and to turn unto the Lord? You were blessed with a happy marriage. Your children are growing uparound you and whereas many others have had to bury their offspring, yours have all been spared! Do you not see how God hasblessed you in all sorts of ways? Will you not, therefore, give Him your heart? Will you not cast away from you the sin thatHe hates? Will you not turn unto Him, trusting and loving Christ with all your heart, mind, soul and strength? The goodnessof God to you, coming in so many different forms and ways, should lead you to repentance!
Notice, dear Friends, that the Lord does not drive you to repentance. Cain was driven away as a fugitive and a vagabond whenhe had killed his righteous brother Abel. Judas went and hanged himself, being driven by an anguish of remorse because ofwhat he had done in betraying his Lord. But the sweetest and best repentance is that which comes, not by driving, but by drawing-"Thegoodness of God leads you to repentance." It is a wretched spirit that needs to be continually flogged with the whip of aslaveholder. I hope I am addressing those who can be affected by other motives than those of dread. The good God, the graciousGod who has abounded in mercy and goodness so wonderfully to many of you-should you not feel that something is drawing youtowards Him? At least do Him the justice to look at Him as He reveals Himself in Christ Jesus and see if He is not worth serving-ifit is not meet and right that you should serve Him! Having provided His Son to be the Savior of sinners, is it not meet thatyou should turn to Him and find eternal life through believing in Him?
I have only given a brief outline of the many forms of God's goodness to many of us. But your experiences are so differentthat you must, each one, fill up his or her own. I know that you all have reason to bless God for some special goodness. Wesang, just now-
"Tell it unto sinners, tell I am, I am out of Hell"-
but I may add that we are also not in the lunatic asylum, not in the workhouse, not in prison, not upon the bed of sickness.And all these things are tokens of God's goodness to us which ought to lead us to repentance.
II. Now, secondly, I will try to show you IN WHAT WAY THE GOODNESS OF GOD IS AN ARGUMENT FOR OUR REPENTANCE.
First, God has been so good to us, He cannot be a hard taskmaster The ungodly man cannot truly say to God what the man inthe parable said to his lord, "I feared you, because you are a stern man." How can God be stern when He has manifested allthis goodness to you? Your house has been without prayer, yet you have had no fire to burn it down, no thieves to ransackit, no fever to invade it. You have lived for forty, fifty, sixty, or even 70 or 80 years without ever serving your Maker-yetyou are surrounded with every earthly comfort! After all that, can you call God a hard taskmaster? No. It is proved beyondall question that God is good and only good-and that He does good even to the unthankful and the evil!
Well, then, what a shame it is that such a generous, magnanimous God as He is should be treated as the careless and indifferenttreat Him! When a man is simply a just man, that is well so far as it goes, but he may be hard and stern. But
when a man is generous, forgiving, tender-hearted-surely, the most coarse-minded among us would be unwilling to inflict painupon such a heart as that! But the heart of God is more loving than that of any man who has ever lived-and more tender thanever any mother was with her child. He cannot bear that you should love evil instead of loving Him. And after He has doneall this for you of which I have been speaking, why do you turn against Him? Did I hear you make use of a blasphemous expression?For which of all the good things that He has done for you did you blaspheme His holy name? For sparing your life when youhad that terrible fever? Or for raising up your dear little child from the very brink of the grave? Do you neglect to worshipthe Lord? Do you rail at His people? Do you scoff at all religion because of the many tokens of God's goodness that He hasmanifested toward you? Come, now, be a man! Sink not below the level of a brute, for even a brute will render good for good!It is the devil who renders evil for good, yet you are sinking to his level if you continue in sin and turn not unto God whohas dealt so kindly and so graciously with you.
The next reflection to help you to repentance is this. As God has dealt so kindly with you while you have been living in sin,then it is untrue, as you thought, that He is unwilling to forgive. There are many who do not seek God's mercy because theythink it is not to be obtained by them-but that is one of the devil's lies. Why, Man, as He has spared you so long, He mustbe willing to forgive you! There are some who even dare to invoke their Maker's curse upon their own limbs and eyes! If anyof you have ever done that and yet the Lord has not done what you blasphemously asked Him to do, the reason for His forbearancemust have been that He is full of long-suffering and gentleness! Turn to Him, I pray you and, with broken heart and contritespirit, ask Him to forgive you-and you shall see how quickly He will do it, for it is still true that "He is good: for Hismercy endures forever." "He delights in mercy." "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;but that the wicked turn from his way and live." The great goodness of God to rebellious sinners is proof positive that Heis willing to bestow His forgiving mercy upon them as soon as they repent of their sin! And so it should be a great inducementto them to turn unto Him and live.
The argument, however, will appear to be still stronger if, in reading our text, we lay the emphasis upon the personal pronoun-"Thegoodness of God leads you to repentance." Now, dear Friend, if God has taken the trouble to be especially good to you, inorder to lead you to repentance, you may be certain that He would not have picked you out in this remarkable manner unlessHe had intended to welcome you if you do but come to Him! I will not point my finger at any particular person, nor will Iintentionally direct a glance of my eyes at any special individual. But I feel persuaded that there are some here who havebeen, in the Providence of God, very signally favored. If your life story could be written, it would, perhaps, scarcely bebelieved! And as you look back upon difficulties and trials that you have been enabled to surmount, and upon the many blessingsthat have been showered upon you, it must sometimes seem to you almost like a dream! You cannot understand it! You say toyourself that you have been one of the darlings of destiny! If you have said that, do not talk any more about destiny, butthink of what the Apostle says in our text-"The goodness of God leads you to repentance."
I hope that you are one of His elect, chosen in Christ long before the foundation of the world, and that you have in yourheart heard Him say to you, by His Holy Spirit, though not in words audible to your outward ear, "I have loved you with aneverlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you." Think of John Newton, the godless sailor reduced to thelevel of a slave on the coast of Africa. Yet, after going from sin to sin, being spared to stand in the church of St. MaryWoolnoth, for many a year to preach the Gospel of "free Grace and dying love." So the many fevers from which he suffered couldnot kill him-and his various shipwrecks could not drown him, for God had ordained that he must come home, find the Lord JesusChrist as his Savior, and be His faithful servant all the rest of his days! And you, my Friend, who have long been roamingabout the world, must come to that same Savior if you really wish to be saved! You are like a besieged city, yet somethingmore powerful than great guns are now ranged against you. The batteries of Almighty Love have come into the field! Providenceafter Providence has surrounded you with the gracious artillery of Divine Mercy! You cannot escape! Therefore, surrender toyour Best Friend! Surrender to your God! Surrender to holiness, happiness and everlasting life! God help you to do so, forthe legitimate argument of undeserved goodness given to the worst of men is that it should lead them speedily to repentanceand to eternal life! This personal pronoun is in the singular, so I pray you, my Brother, and you, my Sister, to take hometo your own heart the message of the text-"The goodness of God leads you to repentance."
Now I want, just for a minute or two, before I close, to address myself to those who have repented. Beloved Friends, shallI tell you what your experience has been? I think I can, if I tell you what mine has been! First of all, when I really cameto know the Lord Jesus Christ, I discovered that He loved sinners. Before I made that discovery, I thought He loved only thegood and the righteous. But when I read His Word, I found that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.I thought, for a long while, that He wanted my good works and I had none to bring to Him. But, as I read His Word, I foundthat He gave Himself for our sins, not for our righteousnesses. Then I understood, as I read His Word, that whoever believedin Him would not be condemned. I believed in Him and I knew at once, from His Word, that I was not condemned-that He had diedfor me and that my sins were all pardoned!
And, let me tell you, I never repented before as I repented then! It seemed to me if it was really true that He had forgivenme all my sin and suffered and died that He might be able to justly forgive me-that I must have been almost as bad as thedevil, himself, to have sinned against Him as I had done. Even while I rejoiced in being pardoned, I felt almost ashamed tolook Him in the face and claim His mercy! To think that I should have sinned against such a Friend who was so ready to forgiveme my guilt, made me ready to hide my head in the very dust! If He had bidden the thunders of His wrath to roll around me,I would not have been surprised. But when, instead of thunders, He gently said, "I love you and I forgive you," then was myheart broken-
"Dissolved by His mercy I fell to the ground, And wept to the praise of the mercy I'd found!"
After that, I found that He was not only willing to pardon me, but that He had come to robe me in His own righteousness, thatI might stand accepted in His place! At this, I wondered much, but when I saw that He really did impute to me His own righteousnessand that I, a sinner, stood before God, "accepted in the Beloved," that pulled the sluices up, again, and I repented morethan I did before as I realized that I, whom He had ordained to bless with such a wondrous righteousness as that, would everhave been a lover of sin instead of a lover of the Lord!
Then a voice whispered to me that, being pardoned and justified, I was also adopted into the family of God, whereat I wondered,more than ever, how it could be that an heir of wrath should be able to say, "Abba, Father." As I understood this, I said,"Father, I did not know that You were my Father, or I would not have trespassed against You and gone away from You as I havedone." My voice was almost choked, my heart was full, and my tears freely flowed as I grieved that I had so long offendedmy Father and my God! To make a long story short, I find myself-I thank His name- repenting more and more every day I live!I am more and more angry with myself to think I should not have kept my Father's commands in my mind and served Him with mywhole heart. I expect that as I learn more of His goodness, it will always continue to lead me to repentance-and I trust,beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, you can bear me witness that I do but speak what is also in your mind! The dearerChrist is to us, the blacker is sin in our sight. The sweeter the love of God is to us, the more bitter is the thought ofhaving so long sinned against it. The more you see, in these shoreless, bottomless deeps, what Divine Grace has done foryouand toyou, the more you smite upon your breast and cry, "How could I ever have sinned against the Lord as I have done? Andhow can I sin against Him as I still continue to do?"
"Ah," says one, "but mine is a very bad case, for I have had a relapse. I thought I was saved, once, but I have been justas bad or even worse since then." Ah, but my Master delights to forgive His backsliding children! He has put this invitationin the Scriptures on purpose for you-"Turn, O backsliding children, says the Lord; for I am married unto you." Again and againHe says, "Return! Return! Return! You, whom the Church, in God's name, has excommunicated, I yet invite you to return! Itis an awful thing to lie under the ban of God's Church, for what is so done on earth is confirmed in Heaven, but, though youlie under this ban, I yet invite you to return unto Me, for I will receive you graciously and love you freely."
"Ah," says one, "but I do not feel my need of Christ as I could wish to feel it. I believe it in theory, but I do not feelit as I should." Well, be humbled about this-weep because you do not weep. Be grieved to think that you should be so hard-hearted.But, oh, remember that Christ can cure hard hearts quite as well as sinful ones! Come just as you are. You have a real needof Christ, whether you feel it or not. It is not your sense of need, but your realneed of Christ that must draw you to Him.O you who are sick-and who is there among us who is not?-Come to the Great Physician and be made whole! I would gladly moveyour souls if I could, but this is not in man's power. There have been times when I have
been able to stir you through and through, as the waves of the sea are moved by the wind, but I know that when man, only,has done this, all the tempest has soon subsided-and you have gone your way and have been as before!
But, oh, if God shall acknowledge this poor and imperfect statement of most precious Truth, then unto Him shall be the glory!Payson says, "Looking back on my sermons, I often wonder that God should ever have blessed a soul through them." And oftendo I think the same. I pray God to bless the message. Young Man, what say you to hauling down the black flag and running upthe blood-red Cross tonight? You may yet be a minister of Christ-perhaps a missionary of the Cross. In the name of Jesus ofNazareth, I bid you believe on Him and you shall live! And all of you who are gathered here, I command you, as well as beseech,implore and entreat you-do not put away from you the Gospel which is preached in your hearing! Trust Christ and you shalllive! If you will not do so, it may be that you will never again be exhorted to come to Christ. You may never again be toldthat He is willing and able to receive you. Oh, will you again go your ways and despise the Lord? Will you go to your merchandiseand to your trade and neglect the salvation of your souls-and let them become still worse in this foul disease which endsin death and damnation? "Turn you, turn you from your evil ways, for why will you die?"
By that Cross where hung the Son of God in mortal flesh. By those five wounds and by the agonies He endured, I do imploreyou to look to Him and live! As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so lift I up the Son of Man to you, now,you sin-bitten sinners! Though you feel not the venom, yet look! Look! Look! Sinner, look, and you are saved! By the livingGod whose splendors of Grace I now proclaim, and whose splendors of wrath you shall one day feel if you reject His Son, look!Look yonder! See the blood! It flows for you, Sinner! See the hands of Jesus-they are nailed fast to the Cross! See His feet-fastenedby the nails as if they would stay there till you come to Him! See that heart of His, how it streams with blood to wash awayyour many sins! O Sinner, look and live!
I cannot say more. God knows I cannot do more. I can only testify to you the Gospel. If you turn not at my message, I mustbe a swift witness against you at the Day of Judgment! I must say it-I must be a swift witness against you. Your blood ison your own heads! Christ is preached to you. Look and live! Believe and be saved! But reject Him and he that believes notshall be damned! And I can only say, "Amen," to that if you reject so great a salvation.
Yet, I pray you, think not so much of the Law as of the Gospel, nor think so much of Hell as of the Christ who has deliveredHis people from Hell! Nor so much of Divine wrath as of God's goodness. It is a good God whom I have to set before you. Inever so much wish to be eloquent as when I have to speak of Him and all His love to guilty sinners. What has He done to anyof us but that which is good? Even if He has sorely smitten us, it has been in mercy that He has done it. Though you may havelain for weeks upon a sickbed, it was meant to cure your souls of the fatal disease of sin! That limb was broken that yourspirit might be healed! That loss of sight was sent that you might learn, by inward sight, to see the Lord Jesus as your Savior!God is all goodness, mercy, love and tenderness-and He has set His own dear Son before you, saying to you, "Believe in Him,and you shall be saved! 'Come, now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are as scarlet, they shallbe as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'" Will you not turn unto Him and live? EternalSpirit, turn them and they shall be turned, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE 13:11-35'
Verses 11, 12. And, behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and couldin no wise lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, woman, you are loosed from yourinfirmity. Observe the word, "Behold," here. Sometimes, in old books, they used to put a hand in the margin to call attentionto something special in the text. So, this word seems as though nobody in the synagogue was worthy of such special noticeas the most forlorn and desolate individual there-"a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together,and could in no wise lift herself up." It was to be a happy Sabbath for her, though she did not know it. She used to go tothe synagogue, though it must have been painful for her to be present. Possibly she could not even see the minister, she wasso "bowed together." It must have been a great surprise to her when the Savior called her to Him and said to her, "Woman,you are loosed from your infirmity."
13. And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. I should think she did! We haveno record of what she said. She may have merely cried out, "Hallelujah," but the very look of her-her streaming eyes filledwith gratitude, her face beaming with delight all tended to glorify God! Even if she had said nothing, her being made straightwould, of itself, have glorified God! And just as that once crooked woman could glorify God, so can a guilty sinner, crushedand helpless, glorify God. It was when Christ's hands were laid upon her that she was made straight. Oh, that He would layHis hands on some of you! May this be to you the saving Sabbath of the year, that God may be glorified in you!
14. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation. Poor soul! Surely he was more crooked than the infirm womanwas, but, alas, he did not get healed.
14. Because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work:in them, therefore, come and be healed, but not on the Sabbath. The Lord then answered him-and what an answer it was!
15-17. The Lord then answeredhim, andsaid, You hypocrite! Does not each one ofyou on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass fromthe stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo,these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? And when He had said these things, all His adversaries wereashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. His reply was unanswerable.
18. Then said He. They were in a right frame for hearing, having been rendered attentive by their admiration for His miraculouswork and His wondrous words.
18-22. Unto what is the Kingdom of God like, and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, whicha man took and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branchesof it And again He said, Whereunto shall I liken the Kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in threemeasures of meal, till the whole was leavened. And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying towardJerusalem. That is practically what He was always doing-"journeying toward Jerusalem," toward that great climax of His life-Hissubstitutionary death upon the Cross of Calvary.
23. Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that are saved?That is a question that many have asked-and some have vainlytried to answer. What did Jesus reply?
23. 24. And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate. Instead of gratifying idle curiosity, He excites todiligence in seeking entrance into the narrow way.
24. For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. They will only seek, not strive, to enter in.There will also come, in the future, a time when they may seek as they will and strive as they will to enter in, but it willbe too late. Once having passed into another world, there will be no hope for any seeker or striver.
25. When once the master of the house is risen up, and has shut the door and you begin to stand outside, and to knock at thedoor. They do not like to go away. They are reluctant to meet their final doom. Oh, that they had been wise enough to cryfor mercy when it was to be had! Now they stand and begin to knock-and more than that, they begin to plead.
25. Saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us!All this earnestness, all this deference, all this reverence have come too late.
25, 26. AndHe shallanswer andsay unto you, Iknow not who you are: then shallyou begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in YourPresence, and You have taught in our streets. "We were regular hearers of the Word. We observed all the usual forms of religion-weeven went to the Communion Table."
27, 28. But He shall say, I tell you, I know not who you are; depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity. There shall beweeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets in the Kingdom of God,and you yourselves thrust out. Driven away, yet they could see the saintly ones there and see their own kith and kin there,for they were Jews, and they could see "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets" there, but they themselves were castout! And what was even worse for them-
29. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in theKingdom of God. Rank outsiders! Far-off heathen! Outrageous sinners, harlots-"they shall come" and
repent and "sit down in the Kingdom of God," and this shall cut to the quick those who were hearers of the Word, but who perishedbecause they were workers of iniquity!
30. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. Many who, today, seem to beunlikely to be converted-those who are "last" in character-will yet be "first" in repentance. And there are "first" in privilegesand even in hopefulness, who will be "last" in the Great Day of account. May we take home to our hearts this solemn warning!
31. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto Him, get You out and depart from here, for Herod will killYou. Think of the Pharisees being concerned about Christ's life! What an affectation of regard! Yet it was only affectation.We must always be on our guard against the foes of God even when they speak most fairly. Indeed, it is their agreeable, affectionatewords that we have most cause to dread!
32. AndHe said unto them, Go you and tell that fox. Jesus called Herod a fox because he wanted to get Christ out of his territorywithout having the trouble of driving Him away. So he sent this roundabout message to try to make a coward of the Lord andto get Him to go off on His own account.
32. Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. That is, "I shallstay My full time here. While I have work to do, I shall do it, and I am not going away until it is finished. I am not afraidof Herod threatening to kill Me, for I am Immortal till My work is done." He is not even flurried, or put about by such amessage as that. Besides, when men mean to bite, they do not usually bark-and if Herod had meant to kill Christ just then,he would not have told Him what he was going to do.
33. Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following for it cannot be that a Prophet perish out of Jerusalem.What a sad thing for Christ to have to say! So many holy men had been murdered in Jerusalem that He roughly put it as beingtrue, in the main, that all the Prophets were martyred there-the exceptions only proving the rule.
34. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kill the Prophets and stone them that are sent unto you; how often would I have gatheredyour children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not! There was their weakness-they werelike a brood of chickens! There was His power to protect them, like a hen gathers her brood under her wings! Yet there wastheir infatuation-that they would rather perish than come and be sheltered beneath His almighty wings-"and you would not."
35. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, You shall not see Me until the time comes whenyou shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. There will be no true glory for Jerusalem until the Jewsare converted. There will be no return of Christ to that royal city until they shall welcome Him with louder hosan-nas thanthey gave when He rode in triumph through the streets and entered into the Temple. The Lord grant that we may never rejectChrist! Let us run, even now, like little chicks, and hide beneath the wings of the Eternal.