Sermon 3469. Martha and Mary
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JULY 29, 1915.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is necessary;and Mary has chosen that goodpart which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42.
I THINK I see the Man of Sorrows as He is traversing the high road, attended by His few friends and disciples. Where willHe refresh Himself when the time is come to cease from toil and take food? Where is His house? Surely the Great Prophet hassome place wherein to rest? Alas, He has none! "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Manhas not where to lay His head." However, what He has not of His own, friends will afford Him. Martha, a disciple-not a full-grownone, but one who had begun to learn something of the Truth of God-meets Him at the door of her house, at the entrance to thevillage of Bethany, and she invites Him to come in. Jesus Christ, who had often accepted an invitation from an enemy, wasglad to accept one from a friend. So He goes into the house, with His friend, Lazarus, and sits down. No sooner is He satdown, with His disciples around Him, than He falls to preaching. A sermon is none the worse for being preached in a privatehouse. Martha and Mary stood listening to Him. Stood, did I say? Mary sits down at His feet and Martha, having listened fora little while, remembers that she has many family cares. The dinner must be made ready, so she betakes herself into her kitchenand is very busy with her necessary cookery. She needs a little extra help, and she comes back into the room and sees Marysitting at Jesus' feet. Seeming rather irritable, Martha appeals to Jesus, "Do You not care that my sister has left me toserve alone?"-hoping that the Master would chide Mary-but He rather defends her, and implies a gentle censure upon Martha,when He says, "Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is necessary; and Mary has chosenthat good part which shall not be taken away from her."
This little quick reply must have surprised Martha! She did not expect it would come to herself being reproved and Mary beingcommended! But so it was-and the incident, we think, may give us some profitable instruction. Let us see if we can find outwhat it is.
I. WE WILL TAKE THE CASE OF MARTHA FIRST.
There is no reason to find any great fault with her. Martha was a good woman. The Lord "Jesus loved Mary, and Martha, andLazarus." Since He appreciated Martha's character, it is not for us to depreciate it. Martha was an excellent housewife. Perhapsa little too fussy-I know not what better word to use-a little too particular about the little things. Troubling and vexingherself about domestic arrangements in spreading the board and serving the provisions. She was, perhaps, a little too proneto disquiet her mind by the scrupulousness of her tastes-still she was an admirable woman, one who kept her house in goodorder. No mean prize is it, especially for the working man, to have a Martha for his wife-one who orders her household well.Indeed, so commendable is this in Christian women, that the Apostle might well say, "Let them first learn to show piety athome." If your children's stockings are not darned, if their clothes are not mended, if the buttons are not put on their dressesat the proper time, I would not give much for your Christian example! A housewife should see to these details and, beforeall others, for neatness and industry should be the woman whose heart is right before the Lord. One or two friends, I see,are smiling. Let them smile if they like. I only hope they will mind my homely advice and attend to their home duties-thenthey will make their husbands smile with satisfaction and their families will look brighter. If they have ungodly husbands,it will tend to paint religion in fairer colors, and to commend it to their esteem.
In what respect, then, was Martha to blame? Well, though she got a little censure, you see Jesus does not upbraid her severely.His words are very kind-"Martha, Martha." We do not address women thus familiarly by name, you know,
unless we are very intimate with them. I would not venture to call you by your Christian name, because I do not know you wellenough. We only do that with our friends and kinsfolk. So in the kindest way, making Himself very familiar with her, Jesussaid, "Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things" 'Twas little to say. He only indicated the fact, withoututtering half as much complaint as she made against her sister, Mary. What was her fault, then? Well, we think it was justthis-the Lord Jesus Christ did not often come round those parts preaching. He had a large diocese-He was the travelling Bishopof the whole land. And it did seem to cast a little slight on His ministry for Martha to think more of the beef that was beingroasted and the vegetables that were being prepared for the table, than of that rich food, that Bread which came from Heaven,which He was giving them! If a preacher came to us but every now and then, dear Brothers and Sisters, I think the Word ofGod would become so precious to us that we might be pardoned neglecting some family cares in order to listen to him. But Martha,you see, put her family cares somewhat before the precious Word of Christ And, besides, she seems rather to have looked ather religion as a doing something which Christ needed of her, than as a taking the one thing necessary which she needed fromChrist! Of such people there is now no lack.
1 trust they are in the faith, though they are but babes in Grace. Their practical piety consists, to a large extent, in whatthey ought to do for Christ, and what He expects from them, rather than in realizing that delightful sense which some Believershave of what Jesus has done for them!
Now what I can do for Christ is, I am sure, very little, and is a poor subject to engross all my thoughts. What He did forme is so amazing-so matchless, so unspeakable, so glorious, that I ought to give that the major part of my attention! I maysometimes run with Martha to do what Christ needs of me, but I think I ought more frequently to sit with Mary to receive fromChrist what I need from Him. Your religion is not of a first-class order if it is altogether looking at your practice, andnot at the finished and perfect work of Christ. There will be at least a tendency in you to legality, and that tendency isso dangerous that it deserves to be rebuked. Though I would rebuke it as tenderly as I can, yet it must be somewhat sharply,that you may be sound in the faith. Martha, Martha, Christ does not stand in need of you half as much as you do of Him! Itis meet and proper for you to think how you may economize time to attend the House of Prayer, and how you shall bring up yourchildren in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and how you shall save a little money to give to the poor or to Christ'sChurch. All these things are right. It is well you should do them, but oh, remember, Christ did morefor you! Let your thoughtsbe fixed on His Cross, on His life, on His death, or else you will get to be a Pharisee. Ah, Martha, you will get to thinkthat you are saved by your own doings-and then it is all over with you if you ever come to think that! This was one of Martha'sfaults. She seemed to be more anxious about what she should do for Christ than she was grateful about what Christ had donefor her!
Then, you see, this led her to fret, and that is always wrong. She began to be peevish and be vexed. Oh, she wanted to havea fine entertainment for Christ. She had out all the best dishes and she would have all the food served in the daintiest manner.She would have nothing put on the table but what was the best of the best for such a One as her Lord! So far this was rightand much to her credit, but as little mishaps are apt to cause great annoyances, so she got her mind troubled and her temperirritated. Thus she fretted and vexed herself till the day that ought to have been all happiness and sunshine, because Christhad come, became all worry and hurry, distracting to her mind and distressing to her nerves. Now that is wrong and lamentable.Remember, Christian, whatever you have to do, you should always cast all your care on Him who cares for you! Be careful fornothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, make known your needs unto God. You are to be thoughtful, diligent,prudent-but anxious, carking, vexatious cares you are to turn out of the house as soon as possible, or else you will hearyour Master say, "Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things." You must not be fretful about trifles,provoked with other people, or disquieted with yourself. Your fretting will not make things better-the ruffling of your temperwill not smooth the current of affairs. Be calm. Be quiet. Be patient. Then the multitude of your labors will not disturbthe serenity of your mind though many things may have to be done! Much care may be greatly lightened, if it is not altogetheravoided.
The next thing to blame in Martha was that while she was earnest, herself, in serving the Lord, she began to upbraid her dearsister, Mary. Some minds are naturally censorious and prone to fault-finding. There are others who under exciting emotions,begin to criticize, censure and accuse. No, Martha, you have no right to judge Mary. You are doing what you think to be right-sheis doing what she thinks to be right-let her alone. There are some earnest young men I know who would have everybody quiteas zealous as they-and so would I-but there may happen to be some Christians who cannot, through infirmity, do quite as much.And some of these young men will lose their temper with them and, perhaps, speak disrespectful words of them. This is notright of you. You must not judge another man's servant-to his
own master he shall stand or fall. Martha, Martha, Martha, you have no business to find fault with Mary! And you busy Christians,you good, busy people who do so much for Jesus, and wish you could do more-do not sometimes grow angry because others arenot as zealous as you are! Never let a bad temper be mixed with earnestness, for it will be like a dead fly in a pot of ointment-itwill spoil the whole. Be not rash, Martha, in your judgment of Mary?
I fear, too, that Martha censured her Lord a little-and was not that a harsh thing to do? Let us read the words, for fearI should do her an injustice. "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her, therefore, that shehelp me." Was not that an unkind thing to say? "Jesus, do You not care?" Of course-He was always caring for every one of them!They never had a care but what He had it before them. All their burdens He was willing to bear! All their sufferings He waswilling to relieve! And He came into this world on purpose to redeem them with His blood. It was a harsh thing to say, "Master,do You not care?" And so it is with some Christians-they do not set their eyes enough upon Christ's work and are all too busywith work for Christ. Hence they will even upbraid the Master, Himself! These elder Brothers-and Martha, you know, was anelder Sister-these elder Brothers say, "Lo, these many years have I served you, and yet you never gave me a kid that I shouldmake merry with my friends. But as soon as this, your son, was come, which has devoured your living with harlots, you havekilled for him the fatted calf." This is a bad spirit, a very bad spirit. I heard of a man, some time ago, calling himselfa minister of Christ, who said he did not believe in revivals, nor did he look for any good from preaching in theaters, "For,"he said, "If God designs to bless the Church, it stands to reason that He will first save those people who usually go to aplace of worship, and not the riffraff." Now I did not like that speech! I hope he was a good man, but I am sure he spokein a bad spirit-and it was with something like that spirit Martha spoke. She seemed to feel, "I have done all sorts of things.I have been busy and anxious, and I have taken no rest. Nobody knows how hot I have made myself, working with my own hands,and superintending other people's work. I have hurried up and down stairs, with all the toil and all the responsibility uponme-yet here is Mary, doing nothing, and Christ is just as pleased with her as if she were doing a thousand things." Now Ithink Christ said, "Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things," to rebuke the cropping up of a littleof that ill spirit which is always culpable and mischievous whenever it appears.
To close with Martha-I hope we have not been too severe upon her conduct, or reflected too much upon her character-she maybe used as a picture of the self-righteous. Perhaps there are such here. There is a John or a James among you, perhaps, whosays, "I go to my place of worship very punctually. I order my household with propriety. I conduct my business with integrity.I give to the poor. I subscribe to charities. I take my part in works of benevolence," and so on. Ah, Friends, you are cumberedwith much serving, but you will never get to Heaven that way! Only one thing is necessary, and that is the finished righteousnessof Christ! Or is it Martha, there, that good woman I think I heard say, "Well, I have brought up my children creditably. Ihave always behaved in such a manner that the neighbors give me a good character. I have never neglected my religious duties,so I trust I shall go to Heaven." Ah, Martha, Martha! Those good things of yours will sink you! You cannot swim to Heavenwith them! One thing is necessary-and that one thing is the finished righteousness of Jesus! Leave these fine things thatcumber you, and come to Jesus just as you are, and you shall have the good part which cannot be taken from you!
But it is treating Martha too badly to make her a picture of the self-righteous. I shall only notice, now, that she is onlylike what some of us sometimes are. When the minister comes into the pulpit he sometimes feels-at least I myself do-a greatdeal of concern about the friends that have to stand about the lights, about the draughts and numerous other trivial matters.Full often I reproach myself for being thus cumbered about many things. Instead of being like Martha, the minister shouldbe like Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet, and giving his undivided attention to the Master's words! This is too often the casewith the deacons and the Elders. They may be thinking about how arrangements may be made for the convenience of the congregation,and filled with anxiety that all may go off well, especially at extraordinary services. They are exposed to the same temptationthat Martha was. I dare say my dear Brothers who carry round the bread and the cup at the Lord's Supper sometimes feel thatthey miss some of Mary's repose, and get some of Martha's cares in attending to that service! They would rather, perhaps,sit with you in the pew, like Mary, to enjoy the feast, rather than be like Martha to serve the tables. Others of you arethinking about your children, your sons and your daughters. As you are anxiously praying the Lord to bless the Word to theirsouls, you, too, may sometimes get into such an anxious state as to be like Martha. Oh, it will be well for you if you cantake the attitude of Mary-sitting at the Savior's feet, profound in reverence, yet familiar in communion with your blessedLord-awed by His Presence, cheered by His smile, im-
pressed with His Word, delighted with His voice, catching the faintest syllable which shall fall from His Divine lips- findingin Him enough to enthrall your soul with sacred love and leaving Him to care for you, while you only care to sit at His feetand learn of Him-stationed where no grievous looks or hasty words of Martha can tempt you to move away! II. LET US NOW TURNTO THE CHARACTER OF MARY and see if we can find anything in that for practical
Do not think that Mary was lazy, or that she preferred hearing sermons to doing her work. On another occasion she proved thatshe did not withhold her service or spare her substance, for she anointed the head of our Lord. She showed that she did notmind a sacrifice, for she did for Jesus what only one other person ever did-she anointed Him! But here was the point aboutMary's character-may it be found in yours and in mine-she gave her attention less to the care of the body than to a care forthe soul! In truth, she loved to drink of the Living Water which Christ gives to those who are thirsty. She attended to theone thing necessary. Alas, the world does not think that the care of the soul is the one thing necessary. As a good old writersays, "The world thinks this is the one thing needless." They can dispense with religion, because, to their notion, it isan encumbrance. We have heard some people call money the one thing necessary. They despise religion and find their treasurein vanities that perish with the using-and their joy in the things of earth that pass away like the rippling current or therevolving seasons!
Religion is the one thing necessary to us all. It is the one thing necessary to the minister. Without true religion in hisheart, he is an impostor! He has taken upon himself an errand upon which the Master never sent him-a responsibility whichshall crush his soul lower than the lowest Hell! Lord, have mercy upon those ministers who dare to preach what they have notfelt. But religion is also the one thing necessary for the hearers-so necessary, indeed, that if they have it not, all thesermons and prayers in the world will be but as fuel for their condemnation! We must have you, my dear Hearers, brought tolay hold on Christ, or else impress signs and professions, formality and morality, vows and votive offerings will but drugyour conscience, threaten your hope and end in black despair! True religion is the one thing necessary for the aged. I seesome here whose bald heads and gray hairs admonish them that they are drawing near to the grave. Ah, my aged Friend, whatwill you do, where will you be a little while hence, unless you have a Savior to rest upon? In the swellings of Jordan, howwill you fare if there is no kind Spirit near you to say, "I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God"? This, too,is the one thing necessary for the middle-aged. Busy with care, toiling from morning till night as some of you are-if youhave not the Grace of God in your hearts, and the comforts of the Holy Spirit in your experience, what will you do? You willbring up your children for Satan! You will be the instruments of unrighteousness! All your works shall but earn for you thewages of heavy sorrow and bitter lamentations-your present life an endless regret! And how necessary is true religion forthe young! It makes the young man wise. It makes the maiden fair-
"A flower, when offered in the bud, Is no vain sacrifice."
We should not wait until we have grown old and decrepit, and then bring to God the blind and the lame for a sacrifice! Letus give Him the young bullock. Let us offer to Him the lambs of a year old. Since some die while they are young, let us repentwhile we are young, and believe in Jesus while the charm of springtime enlivens us, for it is the one thing necessary to havefaith in Him! There are other things, you will tell me, that are necessary. I answer, Yes, but this is the especially, pre-eminently,and universally necessary thing! Imagine a man in the condemned cell at Newgate. There he sits, busy writing letters. He isgoing to die a felon's death, knowing it will cruelly grieve his family. He is doing the best thing he can do-writing lettersof consolation to them and trying to settle his little affairs. In comes the King's messenger and he says to the man-onlythe man is too busy to listen to him-"I have his Majesty's free pardon." The condemned man says, "I cannot attend to you.I cannot attend to you. I have got a letter to write to my wife." He goes on with his writing, but he is interrupted againwith the news of his Majesty's free pardon. "I cannot attend to it," he says, "I have to write to my children, for I haveto die next Monday," and he goes on writing. Now do you not see, if the man will but stop and think, the free pardon willdo far more for him than all his letters can? And if he shall but get that, he can attend to all the rest, by-and-by! So isit with faith. A free pardon is offered by God, but you say, "Oh, but I have other things to look to." I tell you, you canlook to them afterwards, but while the Angel of Mercy stands by and presents you with a free pardon, I pray you take the onething necessary and mind the other things in due time!
There is a wreck, yonder, a wreck far out upon the waste salt sea, and on it are men who are starving, till the bones startthrough their skin. They have hoisted a flag upon a pole. Those poor creatures are almost destitute of clothing-
the salt sea washes them, and at night they are all but frozen to death, and they only preserve their lives by huddling oneupon another. These people need a thousand things, you tell me. They need some generous diet to restore their flesh. Theyneed their friends. They need their native country. They need their families and households. They need fresh clothing. Yes,but I tell you one thing is necessary-they need a friendly sail and if they can but see a ship in the distance, and that shipcan come to them, they have all they need! And so you that are looking after bread, and after your families, and so on-oh,this is all well, but still, while you are on the raft, and are perishing, what you really need is Christ, who, like a friendlysail in the distance, comes to save you and is willing to take you on board His ship at once-and to give you all you need!One thing is necessary! Oh, Jane, may you hold onto that! And John, and Thomas, and William, and Margaret-any of you, allof you-do the same! Leave other things for a little while. You know you can work and pray. You can go about your businessand yet have faith in Christ. This will not interfere with your household cares. But do, I pray you, imitate Mary in gettinghold of the all-important, the absolutely necessary one thing-a living faith in a living Savior! This was the first reasonwhy Mary was commended-she got a hold of the one thing necessary.
The next thing she was commended for was this-it was her own choice-"Mary has chosen the good part." Some of our captiousfriends will be saying, "Ah! Ah! Are you now going to preach free-will and tell us that it is man's choice?" Oh, Brothersand Sisters, you know what I think of man's will-that it is a slave, bound in iron fetters-but yet God forbid that I shouldalter Scripture to suit anybody's Doctrine, or even my own! Mary did choose the better part, and every man that is saved choosesto be saved. I know that at the back of his choice, and as the cause of his choice, there is God's choice, but still, theGrace of God always imparts Grace to the man's heart. No one is dragged to Heaven! Nor does anyone ever go to Christ againsthis will-the soul must be made willing in the day of God's power. This is the triumph of God's Grace-not that He takes mento Heaven as we might carry machines there, but that He expressly acts upon the human mind, leaves it as free as ever it was,and yet makes it perfectly obedient to His own will! Mary chooses. God had chosen her in old eternity and, therefore, shechooses Him-
"Chosen of Him ere time began, I choose Him in return."
Now let us ask, for we cannot merit any commendation-have we chosen Christ? Have we chosen His cause, His truth, His Cross?If you have got a religion that is not a matter of choice to you, I am afraid it is not of much use. If you attend any religionbecause you must-if you follow it of necessity, from a sense of duty, from the goading of fear, or from the dictates of custom-Iam afraid, when your religion is put in the scales, it will be found wanting. It must be a matter of solemn and deliberatechoice with you! Now which would be your present choice? Could the pleasures of this world be all daintily painted beforeyour eyes-every joy that could regale the senses-music to charm the ears, perfumes for the nostrils, sweets for the mouthand landscapes for the eyes, on the one side. And on the other side, let Christ and His Cross be put before you-which wouldyou chose? I know which some of you have chosen-may God alter your choice! But I trust there are some here who can say, "Choose?Why, I have once and for all chosen Christ! I have counted the cost and I reckon the reproach of Christ to be greater treasuresthan all the riches of Egypt." You are commended. Christ gently speaks to you a word of love when He says, "Mary has chosenthe good part, which shall not be taken from her."
Mary was commended, too, because she had chosen the good part. It is good to know Christ, good in every sense-it is good forourselves-it is good toward God, and God toward man. It is good in the sense of comfort. It is good in the sense of morality.Nobody can say anything against true religion who judges fairly. Even the judge upon the bench dares not say that to havea new heart and a right spirit is not good. True religion has in it everything that is lovely and of good repute, honest inthe sight of men and devout in the sight of God. Oh, Mary, now you have left your Martha-cares, and are resting wholly andonly on Jesus, you have this, for your heart's content-that you have not merely chosen the good, but that you have chosenthe best of all the good-the good part with which no other portion can bear the least comparison!
There is one other commendation, and with that we close. Mary had chosen that which could never be taken away from her Ofthe many things which some of us take a pride and a pleasure in possessing, we have not many that cannot be easily taken away.Though we may have a fair character, any lying slanderer may take that away for a time. We have a house-the flames may takethat away and leave nothing but a heap of ashes. We have a beloved spouse-grim death
may stretch her in the coffin. We have dear children, the delight of our eyes, but we know that mortalis written on theirbrows. We have friends with whom we take sweet counsel, but they are dropping off one by one-
"Who has not lost a friend?"
We have many comforts of which adversity might deprive us in a moment. Those that were once highly esteemed among men aresoon forgotten, even by their neighbors. Their choice companions do not know them in the day of their poverty. Riches taketo themselves wings and flee away. All the creature things we have may be taken away from us. The poor man, perhaps, thinksthat he is exempt from the peril because he has no riches to be taken from him, but he has other things than silver and goldwhich pertain to the life that now is-and they will all be taken away. And at last there will come the greatest thief, Death,the Spoiler. When he finds us weak, stretched upon the bed and utterly helpless, how he will take all our things away! Hewill clutch the miser's gold. Though he seeks with eager grasp to retain it, Death will tear it away from his expiring grip.He will take away from the dying one all dear friends, his consort and offspring. Closing his eyes and blinding them, he shallsee no more forever. Stopping his ears and sealing them, he shall hear no more the way of loving consolation. Touching hisheart and arresting its beat, his desire will cease. All things shall then be taken away. But there is one thing-oh, thatwe may choose it-there is one thing that neither life nor death can take away! It is the good part, a good hope in Jesus,a true faith in Jesus, a perfect love to Jesus, a vital union with Jesus! Come, Death, you may clutch, but you cannot takeaway that which Jesus holds with living hands! Come, you devils of Hell, you may seek to tear away these jewels from me, but-
"Stronger is He than death or Hell, His Majesty's unsearchable." And He defies the sons of darkness and repels all their rage!These things cannot be taken away from you!
I think I see you going through the dark valley. Doubts, like troops of robbers, seek to slay you, but they cannot take awayyour jewels. The great robber comes, Diabolus, the old accuser of the brethren, and he fumbles for your treasures, and hetakes away some of your comforts, but he cannot take away your faith. The great dogs of Hell howl at you as though they wouldtear you in pieces, but those dogs cannot rob you of your good part! I think I see you in that river, when the water comeseven to the chin, and you are ready to say, "I sink in deep mire where there is no standing"-but even that black stream cannotdrown your comfort! You have a hope that swims above the biggest billow! You have a song that sounds louder than the wailingof the tempest! No fatal shipwreck shall I fear, for Christ, my Treasure, is with me there, and He preserves Himself and preservesme! Having chosen the good part, which cannot be taken from me, I am safe!
And now, dear Friends, the question comes-question which I hope all who mean to be communicants at the Lord's Table, especiallywill ask themselves-"Have I chosen the good part?" Forget religious cares! Forget ecclesiastical troubles! Forget all thatyou have to do for Christ, and only think of what Christ has done for you! Have you chosen Him? Can you say in the languageof that hymn, which makes us so happy when we sing it-
"On Christ, the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand"? If so, come you saints, come and sit down! Be as lowlyas Mary was. If there is a low place in the valley, the water is sure to run into it. And if there is a lowly heart, Graceis sure to pour in there, though it should flow nowhere else! Go and take your seat at Jesus' feet. Come to the Table andsit at Jesus' feet and have fellowship with Him. And oh, you that have not chosen this good part, remember that in havingdespised it, you have despised your own mercy! The day will come when you will wish to alter your choice. May God change itnow! If there is one here who says, "Oh, I wish I could have the good part!" I tell you, you may have it! If there is onesoul here that desires to be saved, you may be saved! Christ desires you more than you can possibly desire Him. Christ diedfor sinners-you are a sinner-trust Him and you are saved! Then your sins are gone, His righteousness covers you with imperialpurple and you stand an heir of Heaven, an adopted child of God-
"Oh, believe the record true, God has given His Son to you."
Trust in His blood! Trust in His merits and you shall be saved! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN11.45-57.
Lazarus had been publicly raised from the dead. A great number of persons saw the miracle and there was never any questionabout its having been worked.
Verses 45, 46. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But someof them went their way to the Pharisees and told them what things Jesus had done. We could hardly have conceived it possiblethat men would have been guilty of such conduct as this to go to Christ's enemies and lay it as an accusation against Him,that He had raised a man from the dead!
47, 48. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What shall we do? For this Man does many miracles.If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. Theypretended that if Jesus Christ gathered to Himself a great party, the Romans would take umbrage at it-pounce upon the wholenation and destroy it, for fear of its revolting from under their sway. A gross lie throughout!
49, 50. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, You know nothing at all. Nordo you consider that it is expedients for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish notThat was his advice. You are, none of you, up to the mark. You do not handle this thing rightly. Let us kill this Man. LetHim be put to death-not that He deserves it, but that it is expedient that it should be, lest our nation should be destroyed-andthis is the way that governors and kings have been accustomed to think! Not, "Is it right?" But, "Is it expedient?" And wemay always pray to God that we may have a Government that will do that which is right, and not be guided by the evil directionof that which is expedient! One has well said that if the death of a righteous man would save ten thousand, yet it would bean atrocious thing that he should be put to death unwillingly for the saving of any. The right is, after all, expedient. YetCaiaphas did not know what he said. He was speaking a great Truth of God.
51. And this spoke he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.He did not understand his own words. He was saying a great deal more than he meant to say-for it was expedient-blessedly expedient-thatJesus should die willingly and of His own accord, giving Himself up to death for the sake of His people.
52, 53. Andnot for that nation only, but that also He shouldgather together in one the children ofGod that were scatteredabroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together to put Him to death. One bold wicked man can often sway the counselsof men who are equally bad, but more cowardly. It had not yet come to this-that they would hurt Him to the death, but nowthey take counsel to do it!
54. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but went unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city calledEphraim,and there continued with His disciples. We do not find that He worked miracles there or preached, but in a holy and devoutretirement, it may be, He prepared His mind for the last great week-the week of His Passion and His death. It is generallybest for us to imitate Him in this-when we have some great work to do-something that will need all the Grace that we can get,it is well to make a retreat. Get into retirement and school the heart-seek to drink in fresh strength that we may be preparedfor that which lies before us.
55, 56. And the Jews 'Passover was near at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, topurify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spoke among themselves, as they stood in the Temple, What do you think,will He not come to the feast? They had heard much of Him in the country. Country people coming to town want to hear the greatminister-to see the Great Prophet. So that is their question, "Will He come to the feast?"
57. Now both the chiefpriests and the Pharisees hadgiven a commandment, that ifany man knew where He was, he should reportit, that they might take Him. They could not deny the miracles-they could arrest and punish the Miracle Worker.