Sermon 3532. Christ's Great Mission
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1916.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His Life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28.
THE mission of Christ to our world was distinct and definite. The ministry of the Gospel should be alike clear and transparent.It was but the other day I read a letter from the deacon of a church in which, speaking of his minister, he said, "We oughtto understand geology thoroughly, for we usually hear something of it, at least once every Sunday. There is one thing, however,we shall never be likely to understand under our present friend's ministry- he seems utterly to ignore the Doctrine of theAtonement. I have not heard him allude to it for the past three months, nor do I know, for certain, whether he believes itor not. Though he sometimes alludes to Jesus Christ as an example, I have neither heard of Christ dying, nor Christ buried,of Christ risen, or Christ pleading in Heaven at all! In fact, it seems to me I might as well attend a Socinian chapel." Well,God forbid that such a reflection should ever be cast on me! Is it not my constant endeavor to bring you back, Sabbath afterSabbath, to the same old, old story of the Cross and of the Redemption by blood which was then and there worked? This bellhas but one note! It may be repeated, I sometimes fear, with too much monotony. Still, the tone is clear. I know that JesusChrist came into the world to save sinners. There is salvation in none other name under Heaven. The Propitiation which Godhas set forth for human sin is alone efficacious. There is no remission without blood. Full salvation is to be procured onlythrough the wounds of Jesus slain. There is no salvation in Heaven or earth beside. We are coming to that same story again.It never wearies the Believer's ears, nor does it ever fail to be the Power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes!I want my text to speak this evening! Let me, then, begin by expounding it, word by word-and after that let me explain theDoctrine to which it gives most distinct prominence.
I. THE PLAIN DECLARATION.
"The Son of Man!" So does our Lord Jesus Christ speak of Himself. In relation to our fallen humanity, it sounds humble, butin the light of Prophecy, it is full of dignity. " The Son of Man." This is none other than the true Messiah- the Son of God,Infinite, Eternal, Co-Equal with the Father-and yet He chooses to call Himself, full often, "the Son of Man." Perhaps becauseas it was man who committed sin, it is man who must make an Atonement for sin to the injured Law of God! Man was the offender,man must suffer the penalty. As in one man the whole family died, in another man they must be made alive, if made alive atall. Jesus tells us that He is a Man-thoroughly a Man-one like ourselves. The Son of Man, a Man among men, bone of our boneand flesh of our flesh-not wearing a fictitious manhood, but a real Humanity like our own! This we must always bear in mind,for without it there could be no Atonement at all. Jesus is not merely a Son of Man, but He is preeminently the Son of Manforetold in the prophecy of Daniel and predicted on the threshold of Paradise in the language of the first promise, "The Seedof the women shall bruise the serpent's head." He is the Man, the Second Adam in whom men are made alive. Being thus foundin fashion as a Man and having taken upon Himself the Federal Headship of man, He was qualified to become man's Substituteand to make an Atonement for human guilt. Dwell on this blessed Truth of God, my dear Hearers! Dwell upon it, those of youwho are not saved-look wistfully at it for the encouragement it offers you! The Person in whom you are admonished to trustis not only God-or His unclouded Glory might strike you with awe and His terrors might justly make you afraid-but He is alsoMan-and this ought to attract you to Him, for He is akin to yourselves in nature and sympathy. Sin excepted, He is in no wisedifferent from you! Oh, may you not well draw near to Him without appalling dread, and with inspiring confidence, since Hecalls Himself the Son of Man and bids the sons of men come and put their trust under the shadow of His wings?
He "came"-that is the next word in our text. "The Son of Man came." Strange the errand and unique as the blessed Person whoundertook it. Thus to come He stooped from the highest Throne in Glory down to the manger of Bethle-
hem-and on His part it was voluntary. We are, as it were, thrust upon the stage of action-it is not of our will that we havecome to live on this earth. Jesus had no need to have been born of the virgin! It was His own consent, His choice, His strongdesire that made Him take upon Himself our nature, of the seed of Abraham. He came voluntarily on an errand of mercy to thesons of men! Dwell upon this thought for a moment. Let it sink into your mind. He who was King of Kings and Lord of Lords,the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, voluntarily, cheerfully descended that He might dwell among thesons of men, share their sorrows, bear their sins and yield Himself up a Sacrifice for them, the innocent Victim of theirintolerable guilt! If the angels burst out in song on that first Christmas night. If they made Heaven and earth ring withtheir sweet harmonies, much more may we who have a share in the redemptive work of the Incarnate God burst out into song asthe news greets us that Heaven descends to earth, that God comes down to man, that the Infinite becomes an Infant, that theEternal, who has life in Himself, deigns to dwell among the dying sons of men! Surely a way from earth to Heaven will nowbe opened up, since there is a way from Heaven to earth, so sacred, yet so simple! The same golden ladder that brings theblessed Visitant down to our humanity will also take us up to the Divinity of God, to see Him as our reconciled Father. "TheSon of Man came."
The next words are startling, for they reveal a singular intention, far different from the usual aim and end of messages anderrands. "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to minister." Let me give you the exact translation, "Not to be served,but to serve." That is the nearest approach to a literal rendering I can supply. He came not to be served, but to serve! Hehad not a selfish thought in His Soul! Though He had set His heart upon being the Incarnate God, He had nothing whatever togain by it. Gain? What could the Infinite God gain? Splendor? Behold the stars-far away they glitter beyond all mortal count!Servants? Does He need servants? Behold angels in their squadrons-twenty thousand, even thousands of angels are the chariotsof the Almighty! Honor? No, the trumpet of fame forever proclaims Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Who can add to thesplendor of that diadem that makes sun and moon grow pale by comparison? Who can add to the riches or the wealth of Him whohas all things at His disposal? He comes, then, not to be served, but to serve! And you see Him in the workshop serving Hisreputed parent. You see Him in His home honoring His blessed mother with all filial obedience. You see Him at the noontideof His wonderful career in the midst of His disciples, much more their servant than their Master, though He always maintainedprecedence by His own Sovereign counsel, and by their weak apprehensions. As He takes the basin, and the pitcher, and thetowel-and washes His disciples' feet-you can see the meekness of His disposition. And soon after this, you see Him givingHimself up-His body, His Soul, and His Spirit-in order that He might serve us! And what if I say that even at this very moment,as the Son of Man in Heaven, He continues a kind of service for His people? For Zion's sake He does not hold His peace andfor Jerusalem's sake He does not rest, but still continues to intercede for those whose names He bears upon His heart! Hearit, then, all you people, and let everyone that hears hail the gracious fact-be you saints or sinners, be you saved already,or thirsty for the knowledge of salvation-the thought that Christ's errand was not to aggrandize Himself, but to benefit us,must be welcome! He does not come to be served, but to serve. Does not this suit you, poor Sinner-you who never did serveHim, you who could not, as you are, minister to Him? Well, He did not come to get your service! He came to give you His services,not that you might first do Him honor, but that He might show you mercy! Oh, you need Him so very much! And since He has comenot to look for treasures, but to bestow unsearchable riches-not to find specimens of health, but instances of sickness uponwhich the healing art of His Grace may operate-surely there is hope for you! I think were I just now seeking Christ, and sorelycast down in spirit, it would make my heart beat for joy to think that Jesus came to serve, and not to be served. PerhapsI would say, He knows my case and He has come to serve me, poor me! Do I not need washing? Why should He not wash me? Thedying thief rejoiced to see in his day the fountain which Jesus had opened! Why should not I see it, too, and have a washingfrom that precious One who came to serve the vilest and the meanest of the sons of men? Behold! Behold and wonder! Beholdand love! Behold and trust! Jesus came from the right hand of God to the manger, to the Cross, to the sepulcher, not to beserved, but that He might serve the sons of men!
Pass on to the next words, "And to give His Life," or, more correctly, "and to give His Soul." We have no lives to give. Ourlives are forfeited-they are due to Divine Justice. Christ had a Life of His own which was, by no means, due to God on accountof any obligations. He had not sinned, but He gave His Life. The death of Christ was perfectly voluntary. As He was free tocome, or not, so He was not under any constraint to give His Life, but He did so, and that of His own free will! The grandobjective of His coming to this earth was to give His Life. Read the text again. "The Son of Man came not to be served, butto serve, and to give His Life." Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come into this world merely to be an Example, or merely toreveal the Godhead to the sons of men. He came to make a Substitutionary Sacrifice. He came to give His Soul as a ransom!If you do not believe this Doctrine, you do not believe Christianity. The very pith and
marrow, the very sum and substance of the mission of Jesus Christ is His coming to give His Life that He might stand in theplace of those for whom He died. He came on purpose to give His Life. Now to give the soul is something more than to givethe life. He died, 'tis true, yet He did more than die-He died by an outpouring of all His Life-floods, by the endurance ofan anguish such as no ordinary mortal could ever have borne. Of old 'twas the blood that made Atonement. The animal was presentedin sacrifice, but the animal was no sacrifice till it was slain-and then when the purple stream smoked down the altar's side,and the bowels of it were cast upon the altar, then it was that the sacrifice was truly presented. Jesus Christ gave up thevery essence of His Humanity to be a Substitutionary Sacrifice for us! His spirit was tortured with pangs that are past conception,much more past description! He said, "My Soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." He was like a splendid cluster putinto the winepress, and the feet of eternal vengeance trod upon Him till the sacred wine of His atoning blood streamed forthto save the sons of men! He gave His very Self, His entire Self, His soul, His Life, His essential Being, to be a ransom forthe sons of Adam! Oh, that I could turn your eyes to that great sight! Behold how He gave His Life! Would to God that fora moment your thoughts were fixed on those five streaming wounds, those sacred fountains of life, and health, of pardon andpeace to dying souls! Oh, that your eyes could but gaze within the wounds, into that heart boiling like a cauldron with thewrath of God, tossed to and fro, heaving within itself, oppressed, burdened, tormented and filled with terrible anguish! Oh,that you could see it! Oh, that you could understand that He came from Heaven to suffer all this, to give Himself up thus,that He might be, instead of us, the Victim of a vengeance we deserved-that His griefs might avert our ruin, that His pangsmight rescue us from destruction! He drank the cup of condemnation dry! Not a drop was left and, in so doing, He poured outHis Soul unto death!
Moreover, His death is our ransom. So it is written, He came to give His Life "a ransom." No one here, I suppose, needs tohave explained to him what a ransom means. It may be fairly illustrated by the old Jewish ceremony of the redemption money.Every male person among the Jews belonged to God and he must be redeemed. There was a settled price. The rich were not togive more-the poor should not give less. The same amount was fixed for all. The tithe drachma was paid by every Jew. Thenhe was enrolled as one of the Lord's redeemed, of whom you so often read. Failing that, he would have been cut off from thecongregation of Israel. That piece of money stood instead of the man-it was his ransom. He was not to die-he was to live asa redeemed person! That is just what Jesus has done for His people! He has put Himself, His Soul, His devoted Life, His accomplisheddeath before God in the place of our soul, of our death, of us! And every man who has Christ to be his Substitute is a redeemedman! He is one of the Lord's ransomed people and shall go to Zion with songs of everlasting joy upon his head. But every manwho has not accepted Christ remains an unredeemed man, under the curse and subject to the Divine Wrath-under the slavery ofSatan and awaiting the sentence of an utter destruction! Jesus Christ came to give His Life as a ransom. As a slave is redeemedby the payment of a price, so Jesus redeems us from the curse of the Law under which we were by nature, having Himself comeunder the Law. He redeems us from the death which was due to us by Himself enduring a death which was a full equivalent inthe estimation of God. He gave His Life as a ransom.
Our text says "for many." We might with greater force and stricter accuracy translate it, "He gave His Life as a ransom inthe place of many." The word, "for," there, has a substitutionary meaning, "He gave His Life instead of many." Indeed, thisis the point of the sentence-One stood for many! Jesus suffered for many! He put Himself into the place of many! Mark theword, "many." With this we finish the exposition. It does not say "all." There are passages which speak of all. They havetheir meaning. None of them, however, refer to the substitutionary work of Christ. Jesus Christ did not give His Life as aransom in the place of all mankind, but a ransom in the place of many men. Who are those many men? Bless God, they are many,for they are not a few! But who are they? God knows. "The Lord knows them who are His." You may ascertain as much as you needto know by answering a plain question. Do you trust Jesus Christ with your eternal destinies? Do you come, all guilty as youare, and rely upon His blood to take that guilt away? Do you confide in Jesus, and in Him, alone? If so, He died for you,and in your place-and you shall never die! This is your comfort, that you cannot die! How can you perish if Jesus was putinto your place? If your debt was paid of old by Christ, can it ever be demanded of you again? Once paid, it is fully discharged-thereceipt we have gladly accepted-and now we can cry, with the Apostle, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died; yes, rather that has risen again, who is even atthe right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us."
See here the mainstay of every Believer's confidence! He knows that Christ died for him because he has put his trust in Hisblessed mediation. If Jesus died for me, then I cannot be condemned for the sins which He expiated. God cannot pu-
nish twice for the one offense. He cannot demand two payments for one debt. The Believer, therefore, finds sweet solace inthe song which Toplady composed-
"Turn, then, my Soul unto your rest,
The merits of your great High Priest
Speak peace and liberty-
Trust in His efficacious blood,
Nor fear your banishment from God since
Jesus died for thee."
Thus did the Son of Man give His Life a ransom in the place of many. And such do I believe to be a fair and honest expositionof the words.
II. SOME POSITIVE IMPLICATIONS.
The main drift of the text is the Doctrine of a vicarious or substitutionary Atonement whereby Christ's ransom suffices inthe place of many. On this let me give to each thought but a sentence or two. It would seem that man is not delivered fromthe bondage of his sins without a price. No one goes free by the naked mercy of God. Every captive exposed to God's vengeancemust be redeemed before he is delivered, otherwise he must continue a captive. Broad as the statement may appear, I ventureto assert by Divine Warrant that there never was beneath the cape of Heaven a sin forgiven without satisfaction being rendered.No sin against God is pardoned without a propitiation! It is only forgiven through the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ!It never can be remitted without the penalty having been exacted. The Divine Law knows of no exception or exemption. The statuteis absolute, "The soul that sins, it shall die." Every soul that ever sinned, or ever shall sin, must die, die eternally,too, either in itself or in its Substitute. The justice of the Law of God must be vindicated. God waives none of the rightsof justice in order to give liberty to mercy. Oh, my Hearers, if you are trusting in the unconditional mercy of God, you aretrusting in a myth! Has someone buoyed you up with the thought of the infinite goodness of God? I would remind you of Hisinfinite holiness! Has He not declared that He will by no means spare the guilty? No debt due to God is remitted unless itis paid. It must either be paid by the transgressor in the infinite miseries of Hell, or else it must be paid for him by aSubstitute! There must be a price for the ransom and evidently, according to the text, thatpricemust be a soul, a life! Christdid not merely give His body, nor His stainless Character, nor merely His labors and sufferings, but He gave His Soul, HisLife, as a ransom! Oh, Sinner, Almighty God will never be satisfied with anything less than your soul! Can you bear the piercingthought that your soul shall be cast from His Presence forever? Would you escape the dire penalty, you must find another soulto stand in your soul's place! Your life is forfeited. The sentence is passed. You shall die. Death is your doom! Die youmust, forever die, unless you can find another life for a sacrifice in lieu of your life! And know that this is just whatChrist has found. He has put a Soul, a Life, into the place of our souls, our lives. How memorable that text, "Without sheddingof blood there is no remission." Why? Because "the blood is the life thereof." Until the blood flows, the soul is not dividedfrom the body. The shedding of the blood indicated that the soul-the essence of the being-had been offered! Oh, blessed, foreverblessed be the crowned head of Him who once did bear the Cross! He has offered for His people a Soul, a Life, a matchlessSoul, a Life unparalleled! No more can Justice require! Vengeance is satisfied! The price is paid, the redeemed of the Lordare completely free!
The question has been asked, "If we are redeemed by the blood of Christ, who receives the ransom?" Some have talked as ifChrist paid a price to the devil! A more absurd imagination could never have crossed human mind! We never belonged to thedevil. Satan has no rights in us. Christ never acknowledged that he had any and would never pay him anything! What then? Surelythe ransom price was paid to the Great Judge of All. This is, of course, but a mystical way of speaking. A metaphor is employedto bring out the meaning. The fact is that God had sworn and would not repent, that sin must be punished! In the very essenceof things, it was right that transgression should meet with its just recompense. There could be no moral government kept up,there could be no unimpeachable governor unless conviction followed crime and retribution was exacted from the guilty. Itwas not right, nor could it have been righteous, on any ground, for sin to have been passed over without its having been punished,or for iniquity to have escaped without any infliction! But when Jesus Christ comes and puts His own sufferings into the placeof our sufferings, the Law is fully vindicated, while mercy is fitly displayed! A man dies-a Soul is given, a Life is offered-theJust for the unjust! What if I say that instead of Justice being less satisfied with the death of Christ than with the deathsof the ten thousand thousands of sinners for whom He died, it is more satisfied and it is most highly honored? Had all thesinners that ever lived in the world been consigned to Hell, they could not have discharged the claims of Justice! They muststill continue to endure the scourge of crime they could never expiate. But the Son of God, blending the Infinite Majestyof His Deity with the perfect
capacity to suffer as a Man, offered an Atonement of such inestimable value that He has absolutely paid the entire debt forHis people! Well may Justice be content since it has received more from the Surety than it could have ever exacted from thesinner. Thus the debt was paid to the Eternal Father.
Once more. What is the result of this. The result is that the man is redeemed. He is no longer a slave. Some preachers andprofessors affect to believe in a redemption which I must candidly confess I do not understand-it is so indistinct and indefinite-aredemption which does not redeem anybody in particular, though it is alleged to redeem everybody in general! A redemptioninsufficient to exempt thousands of unhappy souls from Hell after they have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus! A redemption,indeed, which does not actually save anybody, because it is dependent for its efficacy upon the will of the creature! A redemptionthat lacks intrinsic virtue and inherent power to redeem anybody, but is entirely dependent upon an extraneous contingencyto render it effectual! With such fickle theories I have no fellowship! That every soul for whom Christ shed His blood asa Substitute, He will claim as His own and have as His right, I firmly hold! I love to hold and I delight to proclaim thisprecious Truth of God! Not all the powers of earth or Hell, not the obstinacy of the human will, nor the deep depravity ofthe human mind can ever prevent Christ seeing of the travail of His Soul and being satisfied! The last jot and tittle of Hisreward shall He receive at the Father's hand. A Redemption that does redeem! A Redemption that redeems many, seems to me infinitelybetter than a redemption that does not actually redeem anybody, but is supposed to have some imaginary influence upon allthe sons of men!
Our last question I must leave with you to answer. Did Jesus Christ redeem you? Ah, dear Hearer, this is a serious matter.Are you a redeemed soul or not? It is not possible for you to turn over the books of destiny and read between the folded leaves.Neither need you wish to do so. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is to be preached to every creature under Heaven-"Hewho believes and is baptized shall be saved." Therefore, everyone that believes and is baptized, being saved, must have beenredeemed, for He could not have been saved otherwise! If you believe and are baptized, you are redeemed, you are saved! Nowfor your answer to the question-Do you believe? "I believe," says one, and he begins to repeat what they call the "Apostle'sCreed." Hold your tongue, Sir! That matters not-the devil believes that, perhaps more intelligently than you do-he believesand trembles! That kind of believing saves no man! You may believe the most orthodox creed in Christendom and perish! Do youtrust-for that is the cream of the word, "believe"-do you trust in Jesus? Do you lean your whole weight on Him? Have you thatfaith which the Puritans used to call "recumbency," or, "leaning"? That is the faith that saves-faith that falls back intothe arms of Jesus, a faith that drops from its own hanging place into those mighty arms and rests upon the tender breast ofthe Lord Jesus the Crucified! Oh, my Soul, make sure that you trust Him, for you have made sure of everything else when youhave made sure of that! Has God the Holy Spirit taught you, my dear Hearer, that you cannot safely rely on your own good works?Has He weaned you from resting upon mere ceremonies? Has He brought you to look to the Cross-to the Cross of our Lord JesusChrist, alone? If so, Christ redeemed you-you can never be a slave again! Has He redeemed you? The liberty of the Believeris yours, now, and after death the Glory of Christ shall be your portion, too! Remember the words of the dying monk when puttingaside the "extreme unction" and all the paraphernalia of his apostate church-he lifted up his eyes and said, "Tua vulnara,Jesu! Tua vulnara Jesu!" "Your wounds, oh, Jesus! Your wounds, oh, Jesus!" This must be your refuge, poor broken-winged dove!Fly there into the clefts of the rock, into the spear-thrust in the Savior's heart! Fly there. Rest on Him! Rest on Him! Restwith all your weight of sin, with all your blackness and your foulness, with all your doubts and your despairs-rest on Him!Jesus wants to receive you! Fly to Him-fly away to Him now-
"Come, guilty souls, and fly away,
And look to Jesus' wounds-
This is the accepted Gospel day,
Wherein free Grace abounds.
God loved His Church and gave His Son
To drink the cup of wrath-
And Jesus says He'll cast out none
Who come to Him in faith."
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW20:1-28.
Verses 1, 2. For the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an landowner, who went out early in the morning to hirelaborers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vi-neyard.Itwas a fair wage. It was for fair and healthful work which they were to do in the vineyard. They were happy men to be hiredso early in the morning. Never do those who serve Christ reject Him and though in this parable some are represented as findingfault with their wages, yet Christ's true servants do not so. Their only request is, "Dismiss me not from Your service, Lord."They feel it to be reward enough to be permitted to go on working. Indeed, this is one way in which we get our wages duringthe day. If we keep one precept, God gives us Grace to keep another! If we perform one duty, God gives us the privilege toperform another! So we are paid well. We work in the work. We say not "for the work," for we are unprofitable servants. Yetis there the penny a day.
3. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace. It was bad for them to be standingthere. No good is learned by idlers in idle company. Idle men together kindle a fire that burns like the flames of
4, 5. And said unto them; Go you also into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you. And they went their way Againhe went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. Much more out of charity than out of any good that he couldget from them. Especially was this manifest when it got towards the latter end of the day. So late, so very late, it was butlittle they could do. Yet for their good he bade them come in.
6. And about the eleventh hour Why, then, surely the day was over! They were ready to put away their tools and go home. But-
6. He went out and found others standing idle, and said unto them, Why have you been standing here all day idle? "Why? Canyou give a reason for it? Why stand here in the marketplace, where men come together on purpose to be hired? Why do you standhere, you able-bodied ones that still might work? Why do you stand here all day? That you should be idle a little while isbad enough. Why do you stand here all day, and why do you stand here all the day idle, when there is so much work to be done,and such a wage to receive for it?"
7. They said unto him, Because no man has hired us. He said unto them, Go you also into the Vineyard and whatever is right,that shall you receive.And so the great landowner was glad when he had emptied the marketplace of the idlers, and broughtin from early morning, even till sunset, so many that should be at work-happily at work there. I wonder whether there areany here early in the morning of life who have not yet come into the vineyard? If so, the Master calls you! Are you in middlelife? Have you reached the sixth hour, and are you not enlisted in His service? Again the Master calls you! And if you havereached the eleventh hour, where are you? Decrepit-leaning on your staff-leaning downward to your grave? Yet if you are notcalled now, now He calls you and bids you, even at this late hour, come into the vineyard!
8. 9. So when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard said unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire,beginning from the last unto the first And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every mana penny.And when souls come to Christ, however late it is, they have the same joy, the same matchless, perfect peace, thesame salvation, even, as those who have come while yet they are young! True, they have lost many days, many hours of happyservice. They have permitted the sun to decline and have wasted much time, but yet the Master gives them the same life withinthem, the same adoption into the family of God, the same blessing!
10. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.Why,there are some of us who have now been in Christ's vineyard ever since we were boys, but we must not think that we shall receive,or can have, more than those who have just come in! I have heard people say, "Why, here are these people just lately converted,and they are singing and rejoicing! And there are some of the old people that have been following the Lord for years-and theydo not seem to have half the joy! No, no. That is true. It is the old story of the elder brother and the prodigal over again.But do not-do not let us repeat that forever and ever! Do not let us get off of the lines of free, rich, Sovereign Grace,and begin to think that there is some desert in us, some merit in us. Oh, my Brothers and Sisters, I will be glad enough tosit at the feet of the meanest child of God, if I am but to be numbered in the family-glad enough to have the same salvationwhich the dying thief obtained, though only at the last moment he looked to Christ! Yet there is this spirit that will growup-that some who have been longer in the work ought certainly to have more joy, more of everything, than those that have justcome in. See the answer to it.
11-16. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, saying, These last have worked butone hour and you have made them equal to us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of themand said, Friend, I do you no wrong. Did not you agree with me for a penny? Take that which is yours
andgo your way: I will give unto this last, even as unto you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is youreye evil because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few chosen. The greatprinciple of Election in Divine Sovereignty will crop up, not in one place, but in many! God will have us know that He isMaster, and that in the Kingdom of Grace He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and in the distribution of that GraceHe will give according to His own good pleasure! And the moment we begin to murmur or set up claims, He answers us at oncewith, "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with My own?" Yet that unevangelical spirit, that un-gospel spirit of fancyingthat we have some sort of claim or right will come in-and it must be sternly repressed. It is of Grace -of Grace alone-ofGrace to begin with, of Grace to go on with, of Grace to close with! And human merit must not be allowed to put a single fingeranywhere! "Where is boasting, then?" says the Apostle. "It is excluded." It is shut out-the door shut in its face. It mustnot come in. If you and I serve God throughout a long life, we shall certainly have much greater happiness in life than thosecan have who come to Christ only at the last. But, as far as the Gospel blessing is concerned, which Christ gives, it is thesame salvation which the newly-born Christian enjoys as that which the most advanced Believer is now enjoying! It is to everyman the penny bearing the King's own impression!
17-20. And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go upto Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Himto death. And shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shallriseagain. Then came to Him the mother ofZebedee's children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him.Then,in the most inopportune time in all the world, when Jesus was talking of being mocked and crucified, and put to death, herecomes Mistress Zebedee with an ambitious request about her sons!
21. AndHe said unto her, What do you wish?She said unto Him, Grant that these, my two sons, may sit, the one on Your righthand, and the other on the left, in Your Kingdom. He is thinking of a Cross, and they are dreaming of a crown! He is speakingof being mocked and put to death, and they have ideas of royalty, that they want to have the chief place in the coming Kingdom!Oh, how like ourselves! Our Master thinks of how He can condescend, and we are thinking of how people ought to respect us,and treat us better than they do! Oh, the selfishness that there is in us! May our Master's example help to stay it.
22-24. But Jesus answered and said, You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, andto be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto Him, We are able. And He said unto them, You shall,indeed, drink of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit at My right hand, and at Myleft is not Mine to give. But it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared by My Father And when the ten heard it, theywere moved with indignation against the two brothers.Thus showing that they were exactly like they, "For," they said, "lookat these two-this James and John-they want to have the preference over us! We will not have it." It was exactly the same spiritin each one-ambition in them all for priority of honor. Ah, dear Friends, it often happens that when we are so intent in ourcondemnation of others, it is only because we fall into the same sin! Some, I have no doubt, whatever, hate the Pope becausethey have the essence of popery in themselves. Two of a trade will never agree-and one man is very angry with another becausehe is so angry-and one is quite indignant that another should be so proud. Heis not proud. He is proud to say he is humble-heis, therein, proving how proud he is! Oh, that those beams in our eyes could be taken out. Then the specks in our brothers'eyes would probably no more be seen.
25-28. But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, andthey who are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whoever will be great amongyou, lethim be your servant And whoever will be first amongyou, let him be your slave. Even as the Son ofMan came not to be served,but to serve, and to give His Life a ransom for many.