Sermon 3537. A Definite Challenge for Definite Prayer
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1916.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And Jesus answered and said unto him, What do you want Me to do for you?" Mark 10:51.
No doubt our Lord's disciples imagined that He was going up to Jerusalem to take unto Himself the Kingdom. They hoped thatthey would be partakers of that earthly grandeur which they had fondly pictured would glitter around the Person of the Sonof David. When, therefore, the blind man ventured to cry out clamorously to Him, whom they esteemed to be a great King, theythought it a daring intrusion. Who was the son of Timaeus that he should say, "You Son of David, have mercy on me"? They wereall anxious to hush the voice of misery in the Presence of so much Majesty. But our Lord Jesus Christ did not spurn the blindman's prayer as intrusive or impertinent. He was not angry with him. He did not even pass on without taking any notice. WhatHe did was to stand still and command the man to be brought to
May we not draw some comfort from the thought that our prayers never are intrusions? Whenever we go before God in deep distress,He is always ready to listen to our cry. Whatever grand purpose or momentous project engage His mind, He will surely be attentiveto the longings of His needy suppliants. Though our Lord Jesus Christ is at this moment King of Kings and Lord of Lords, andinconceivably glorious, though hosts of angels count it their highest delight to do His bidding, yet He bears in Heaven thesame heart towards sinners which He had on earth! Amidst the thunders of the everlasting hallelujahs, He can detect the sighsof the prisoners, the complaints of the sufferers and the groans of the contrite. He will stop to give heed to the requestsof blind beggars and, in His pity, He will relieve their distress. Should not this encourage those of you who are seekingHim? Whatever Satan may suggest to the contrary, take this passage of God's Word for cheer! He did hear the blind man's crywhen He was upon earth and He will hear you, now that He is in Heaven! And you, backsliding child of God, difficult as youmay find it to pray, if enabled to vent your griefs, your sighs shall be heard, your tears shall be seen and you shall certainlyhave an audience from Him who delights in mercy! There are times even with those who live nearest to God, when they fall intodespondencies and imagine that their voice is shut out from Heaven's gate, but it is not so! When I cannot come to God asa saint, what a mercy it is that I may come to Him as a sinner! And if I have lost all my evidences, what a blessing it isthat I need not stop to find them, that I may go to the Mercy Seat without any!-
"Just as I am without one plea, But that His blood was shed for me."
When reduced to the utmost beggary as to internal Grace. When I find myself naked, and poor, and miserable, I may still hearGod saying to me, "I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, and white raiment that you may be clothed." In our worstestate, prayer is still efficacious! Long as we live, let us pray. Until you hear the bolts of damnation fast closed uponyou, and you are shut up in Hell, doubt not the right of petition, or the prevalence of your earnest plea! There is an earto hear in Heaven as long as there is a heart to plead on earth.
Let this first impression be riveted on your minds and you will, I trust, be prepared for three further reflections whichI now wish to introduce to you. Our Lord, before He healed the blind man, said to Him, "What do you want Me to do for you?"Hence I infer that-
I. IT IS IMPORTANT A SEEKING SINNER SHOULD KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT HE REALLY WANTS. AND SOMETIMES CHRIST DELAYS TO GIVE SALVATIONUNTIL MEN ARE BROUGHT MORE CLEARLY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS COMPREHENDED IN THAT INESTIMABLE BLESSING.
A large proportion of those persons who express a certain desire to be saved have no Scriptural idea whatever of what beingsaved is! I am afraid that many who profess to have found salvation are really the victims of religious excitement, greatlymoved by the exhortations they have heard, yet in little or no degree enlightened as to the fundamental Truths of God on whicha good hope is based.
The most current idea, of course, is that to be saved means to be delivered from going down into the pit of Hell, from enduringthe sentence of everlasting damnation. That it does comprise that, we grant you, though that is far from being its sole intent.This is a result of salvation, though it is not the essence of salvation as it is discovered to the souls of the redeemed.Men are saved, blessed be God, many years before the time of death-and conscious of being saved, too. In some respects theyare as thoroughly and perfectly saved as they will be when they get to Heaven. Salvation is not postponed till the Day ofJudgment, when you shall have deliverance from Hell-it may be enjoyed here on earth when your sins are forgiven and you areredeemed from the present evil world.
Or it may be that you have a vague impression that salvation consists in the pardon of your sins. This is true, but it doesnot compass all the truth. When you say, "I would have my sins forgiven," do you know what sin is? Have you ever had any clearview of what it really means? We often use certain terms and common words, I fear, without a corresponding thought in ourminds. Know, then, that you have broken God's Law, both by omitting to do what you should have done, and by doing that whichyou should not have done. Those Ten Commands which you will find in the 20th Chapter of Exodus are like so many mirrors inwhich you can see what you have done, and what you have not done-what crimes they are which cry out against you before theJudgment Throne of God, which will certainly drag you down to Hell unless you are delivered from the dread penalty. Consider,too, the heavy weight, as well as the grievous guilt, of sin. Have you felt the load and burden of sin? "A stone is heavyand the sand weighty," says Solomon. But, ah, what specific gravity will compare with sin! Well might David groan beneaththe load, "My iniquities are gone over my head. As a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me."
All the burdens that may devolve upon you through the toils of life, the calamities of the world, or the visitations of Providence,cannot equal the load of sin-for this is a burden that oppresses the conscience, crushes the heart and paralyzes every facultyof the soul. "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit, who can bear?" A conscience stricken witha sense of sin will readily interpret that wounded spirit which is not bearable for a man. Were that terrible incubus to restlong upon him, his spirit would fail utterly before the Lord! If mercy did not come speedily to their rescue, men might soonlose their wits and become frantic, despondency leading to despair-and despair to insanity. Oh, how venomous the poison ofsin, when the arrows stick fast and fester! Have you known what sin is? If not, I am afraid your prayer will be unmeaningas that of James and John, to whom it was said, "You know not what you ask." Have you ever had an idea, when asking for theforgiveness of sin, what sin really deserves? What kind of recompense it justly demands? Let it always be remembered by usthat every sin we have committed exposes us to the wrath of God-a wrath that is represented by terrible pictures in God'sWord-as a flame that is never quenched, a fire that never ceases to burn. In order to deliver us from this penalty, it wasabsolutely necessary that Someone else should bear this punishment on our behalf. I do not think that we intelligently askfor the pardon of sin unless we have some view of the Crucified Savior, the slaughtered Lamb who stood in our place and putaway sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Ah, seeking soul, if you know the weight of sin, and if you know that Christ carriedit, then you can say, "Lord, I would have my sins forgiven," in answer to the question, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
And yet salvation includes more than deliverance from Hell and a free pardon, for it emancipates the soul from its dominantpower. Those among us who are saved from the guilt of sin are abundantly conscious that we are not fully released from thepowerof sin in our own breasts. Loved ones who have passed beyond the stars and see God's face without a veil between, aresaved, completely saved, from indwelling sin-but none of us here enjoy that blessed emancipation, though there are some whoboast a perfection it were hard to prove! But, alas, they slightly prejudice their profession by their pride. Still, salvationfrom the despotic power of sin must be achieved and, in a high degree, it must be compassed by all Believers-or they shallnever see God's face with acceptance. Brothers and Sisters, we must have our reigning sins subdued! Know you not that no drunk,or whoremonger, or covetous person that is an idolater, can have any inheritance in the Kingdom of God? These sins must becut off! They must be slain and overcome! And as far as any other sins are concerned, they must be no longer citizens of theheart. You must look upon them as intruders and aliens that are to be
driven out, like the Canaanites out of the land of promise. Mortify, therefore, your members! Subdue your lusts, overcomeyour corruptions. "But," the man replies, "how can I do this?" A most fitting question! You cannot do it, but Christ says,"What do you want Me to do for you?" His power is equal to every emergency. There is no sin too strong for Christ. DuringHis sojourn on earth, there was no devil that He could not cast out, so there is no sin which He cannot eject and eradicate.A legion of devils fled at the fiat of our Lord. Doubt not that legions of furious lusts and fiery tempers can be overcomeby the faith that pleads His prevailing name! Brothers and Sisters, let us never sit down content with small degrees of sanctification!Reason not with yourselves as though you could never get beyond your present dwarfed stature. Others have outgrown it. Therehave been men far more distinguished for piety, humility and every Grace, than we are. The attainments to which the Masterhas led them are accessible to all saints under the same guidance, through the same Divine Power. Let us aspire to holiness!Let us follow after it with fresh ardor. Be not satisfied merely to live, but seek to grow! Be not content to remain babies,taking your portion of milk, but seek to be strong men who shall enjoy the strong meat of the Word of God!
Now I believe there are hundreds of persons who have no desire to be saved, and would rather not be saved, if this is whatsalvation means. Why, Man, if you are saved, you will be saved from those pleasurable sins in which you now are known to revel!Some of you, when you get a holiday, following the inclinations of a corrupt heart and a vicious taste, off you go to hauntswhere birds of your own feather congregate! Should you be saved, you will seek far different society. The company you nowlove, you will then hate, and the pleasures you enjoy so much, now, will become as detestable as they were delightful to you!When you say, "Lord, save me," do you mean, "Lord, save me from being what I am. Lord, I have been a drunk-make me sober.I have been unchaste-make me pure. I have been dishonest-make me upright. I have been deceitful-make me speak the truth tomy neighbor. I have been violating Your statutes-make me mindful of Your Word. I have been Your enemy, Lord-make me Your friend.I have made my belly my god-now You be my God. I desire to be reconciled to You, so that Your will shall be my will, Yourservice my delight and Your way the path which I shall choose"? Do you mean that? If any man says honestly, "I do desire tobe saved from sin," I do not think you will long have such a desire ungratified, but the Lord Jesus will say, "Your faithhas made you whole." He can and He will save you, if that is what you mean!
As for you good Christian people who are seeking the conversion of sinners, try to go about it in Christ's own way. It isright for you to exhort them to believe in Christ. I like to hear you sing-
"There is life in a look at the Crucified One," but do remember that a man must have some understanding, both of what sinis and of what the Savior is, before he can believe, for "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God," Endeavor,therefore, to instruct persons in the Gospel. Merely to exhort them to believe. Simply to cry, "Believe, believe, believe!"is of little worth, however earnest a man may be in raising that cry, for the sinner naturally enquires, "What is it thatI have to believe? On whom am I to believe? For what reason am I to believe? Why do I need to believe?" So, go about yourwork of soul-winning in the power of the Holy Spirit! Go about it intelligently, understanding that as Jesus Christ wouldnot open the blind man's eyes till He had first made him state, not for Christ's information, but for the man's own understanding,what it was that he wanted, and made him say, "Lord, that I may receive my sight," so must you endeavor, when you proclaimthe Gospel, to let men know what their need of that Gospel is! Give them not merely the expostulations, the admonitions andthe exhortations of the Gospel, but also give them its instructions! Or else you go and bid them come, and there is no feast.You invite them to the waters, but you do not tell them what the waters are! Let it be with you, then, henceforth to instructsinners in the way of the Lord. As David says, "Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be convertedunto You." We will leave that first homily and proceed to a second. Our text clearly indicates to us all-
II. THE GREAT NECESSITY OF PRAYING WITH A DIRECT OBJECTIVE.
This poor man was not allowed to pray in general. "You Son of David, have mercy upon me!" A very proper prayer, and a veryblessed prayer, but certainly it was a very wide prayer. So he was encouraged to be more specific in his request. "What doyou want Me to do for you? You ask for mercy-what form of mercy do you need? In what particular shape shall the bountifulhand dispense the mercy to you?" The blind man at once replies, "Lord, that I may receive my sight!" He hits the mark withprecision. It is sight he needs, and for sight he asks! This is the right way for Believers to pray. I wish we had more ofit in our Prayer Meetings-I do not find fault, for we have had blessed seasons of prayer here-but
rest assured that those are the best prayers in all respects, if they are earnest and sincere, which go most directly to thepoint. You know there is a way of praying in the closet and praying in the family in which you do not ask for anything. Yousay a great many good things, introduce much of your own experience, review the Doctrines of Grace very thoughtfully, butyou do not ask for anything in particular. Such prayer is always uninteresting to listen to-and I think it must be rathertedious to those who offer it. A Negro, who was noted for his great earnestness in prayer, was once asked how it was thatwhenever he prayed, he seemed to be so earnest. And he said, "Because I always have an errand when I go to the King! I alwayshave an errand. I go to Him knowing that I need something, and I ask Him for it, and I don't stop till He gives it to me.And if He does not give it to me, I ask Him again and again, for I know what I am doing." Of what use were it to keep on goingin and out of a banker's door all day if you have no business to transact and nothing to get? But it is quite different whenyou go up to the counter with your check and receive in return the golden sovereigns. It would be very uninteresting to waitupon Her Majesty every morning and evening with an address which merely said, "Your Majesty's attached and most loyal subject,"if you never asked for anything!
Yet how much prayer of that kind is addressed to Heaven-sheet lightning prayer-not the forked flash that does the work, likeshooting arrows up at the moon, instead of imitating David, when he said, "In the morning wiil I direct my prayer unto You."He looked at the target, marked the bull's-eye, then drew the bow! And after he had shot the arrow, he adds, "And will lookup"-as if to see whether the arrow really went to the mark, whether the prayer had sped with God so that a gracious answerwould be given! Should we not sometimes, when alone, and about to pray, sit down a little while to consider what we are aboutto ask? Should we not often pray better if we remembered that the preparation of the heart in man, as well as the answer ofthe tongue, is from the Lord-and that the preparation of the heart precedes the answer of the tongue? In offering our sacrificesto God, this helter-skelter ill becomes us! Not with heedless step should we rush into His Presence. The decorum which isdue to a king's court might admonish us of the reverence due to the King of Kings! Although we enjoy the privileged familiaritywhich permits us to say, "Our Father," as dear children of the Lord of Heaven and Earth, let us never forget the humilitythat becomes us, the profound obeisance we owe as subjects of the great King. Tenderly He asks-"What do you want Me to dofor You?"-devoutly should we answer
Now, dear Friends, let me challenge a plain answer to a plain question. As you are sitting here in this House, what is yourdesire before the Lord? Let your conscience make such a reply that when you get home, you may intelligently, in the closingprayer of the day, approach the Lord for what you need. What is the upper-most desire of your soul? Perhaps with some it isthat some besetting sin may be overcome. "Oh," you say, "what would I give could I but get rid of that bad temper of mine!It is my daily cross and I do not want to harbor it." "Ah," says another, "I am so unbelieving, a little trouble soon castsme down. Oh, that I could get rid of my unbelief!" Well now, very likely, dear Friends, the sin you ought to prayagainst isone you are not striving against. Were I to come to you in the aisle, and take you by the buttonhole and tell you what yourprincipal sin is, you would feel very vexed with me, for we are apt to resent the faithfulness of those who tell us of ourfaults! To touch the tender place makes the nerves tingle and it seems like willful torture. When somebody complains of somethingwhich our conscience does not endorse, we take it kindly, and accept their good intentions, thinking that had they known usbetter, they would have esteemed us more highly. But if they really touch the sores where most they smart, we do not admiretheir treatment! The flush we feel-the blush we gladly would hide. Yet cloak not now the vice which an Omniscient God discerns!Let this be a time of heart-searching. Say, now, "Lord, is my sin, covetousness?" That is a sin which never yet did I heara man confess!
A Roman Catholic priest who had heard the confessions of some two thousand persons, said he had heard men confess heinousiniquities of every kind, even murder and adultery, but that he never had heard any man confess covetous-ness. This is a crimethey christen and call it by another name! A covetous man thinks he is prudent-he is just laying by a little money for a rainyday. Their greed, they tell you, is not to gratify themselves, but a generous impulse to provide for their families-for theirwives and their children-they would have us believe, they waste their strength and wither their souls. Nevertheless, theirfortune is their fallacy. To grip and to grasp, to have and to hold is their desire as long as they live, and late enoughthey commonly leave it before they devise to their dear ones the possessions they can no longer retain! Alas, we are oftenwicked enough to try to make our affection an excuse for our avarice! Let us come to the point honestly. When we are dealingwith our sin, let us confess it with all its iniquity and its heinousness. Do not dissemble by accepting a small share ina public company. David, when he wanted full discharge, said, "Deliver me from blood-
guiltiness." He acknowledged the atrocity when he sought the Atonement-"Forgive my blood-guiltiness"-as one who saw his crimein the light of its consequence, not as one who attempted to palliate it with vain excuses! "What do you want Me to do foryou in that matter?"
If you have no particular sin to confess-if that is not your uppermost anxiety at this time-what, then, is your petition?What need have you to be supplied? Is it some great need? Have you numerous little needs? They may all be told to God! Geta clear idea of what it is that you really need that He should do for you, knowing that whatever your necessities may be,there is the promise, "My God shall supply all your need"-not some of it, but, "all your need"-not He maydo it, but He shalldoit! Not, you will have to supply it yourselves, but Hewill supply it-"My God shall supply all your need." Think, therefore,what your need is, and then go to God! Is there any choice blessing that you desire? Get a clear idea of the blessing beforeyou pray for it. What form of blessing would you wish to have? Oh, if I might have my choice, it would be heavenly-mindedness!Oh, if a man could but get that, he need not make much account of where he lived, nor what he had to eat, nor how much heslept, nor how much he suffered-for a heavenly mind is Heaven! The mind makes its own Heaven here below, and up above. Though,doubtless, Heaven has a locality-yet it is much more a state than a place. Oh, for more heavenly-mindedness! What is it youwould have? Communion with Christ? Love to souls? A broken heart? True humility? I may say of all these things, "The landis before you, that you may go forward and possess it. Ask what you will and it shall be done unto you."
What promise is there that you would wish to have fulfilled to you tonight? It is a good exercise to sit down before eveningprayer and look up the promise that seems most suitable, or to ask the Lord to look it up for you, and apply it to your soul?Take this promise, if so be there is disease next door, "Lord, You have said, 'Thousands shall fall at your side, and tensof thousands at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.' Lord, fulfill that promise now." Are you startled by a noisein the dead of night? Then quote this promise, "You shall not be afraid of the terror by night." Perhaps it is shortness ofprovision that troubles you. Then here is another promise, "Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure."When you lost a key the other day, and could not open the drawer, what did you do? You sent out for a locksmith and in hecame with a whole bundle of old rusty keys. What for? Why, he looked for one that fit the lock of your drawer, and openedit for you at once! Now many people's Bibles are just like that bundle of rusty keys. There is always a key in the Bible thatwill fit the wards in the lock of your necessities, if you would but seek till you find it. But sometimes we are in distress,as Christian and Hopeful were in Doubting Castle, and we have to say, as Christian did, "What a fool I am to lie rotting inthis stinking dungeon when I have a key in my bosom that I am persuaded would open every lock in Doubting Castle!" Searchout the promises, then, and go before God with a distinct answer to the question, "What do you want Me to do for you?" "Lord,I would have that promise fulfilled, or that Grace bestowed, or that need supplied, or that sin forgiven."
So, dear Friends, in intercessory prayer, it is very necessary, I think, in order to keep up our own interest in it, thatwe should have distinct objectives. I do not find that I can pray for all mankind anything like so fervently as I can prayfor my own children. I do not find that I can pray for the nation as well as I can for London. When I pray for London, I seekto do it earnestly. It behooves us to pray for all men, according to Scripture. All sorts of men are to be included in oursupplications. I must, however, confess that I am most fervent in prayer when I pray for this congregation, and that becauseI have the most vivid thought of this people, and the clearest idea of their present requirements. If you want to pray forany particular person, or any special objective, the better you understand the case you have in hand, the warmer and livelieryour pleading will be. There are people in this Chapel who have asked me to pray for them. Well, I have tried to do so, andI hope the Lord heard my prayer. But since I have known more of them, and found out where they live, and who they were, Ican pray for them with more freedom than I could before. They were a sort of abstraction to me once-I have a definite acquaintancewith them now. How easily you remember anything that is tied to something else, or linked by association with a place. Thusyou recollect a transaction that occurred to you in the City of London. Every time that you go by the Bank, just at one spot,you say, "I met so-and-so just here the day before he died." You will never forget it, but you think of it every time yougo by. Or perhaps at the corner of a road in the country, just by a hand-post, such-and-such a thing happened to you, andthe site of land revokes the circumstance. Thus we recollect our friends in prayer when we get a knowledge of them, call themup before our mind's eye, and knit, as it were, the secret interests with what we have seen of them when we have talked tothem and been interested in their trials.
Some good people have prayed for others by name. Well, you cannot do that if you have a long list and happen to be a busyman. Still, it is good to pray for others by name if you can. I like those prayers, even in public, in which men do pray forothers with some distinctness. Oh, what time we waste when we go beating around the bush! We know individuals who pray fortheir minister with a circumlocution that distracts the listener. They travel round and round a circle, instead of going atonce to the point. A man hardly likes to say, "Lord, save my wife." He prefers talking about "those who are dear to us inthe ties of consanguinity, and she who is the partner of our being." Yes, that sounds pretty, very pretty, indeed, but wouldit not be as well if you said at once, "Lord, convert my wife"? There is one Brother here who does pray in that way at thePrayer Meetings, and who uses those very words. When pleading with God, do let us come straight to the mark, knowing whatwe are doing, ourselves and, therefore, stating our case plainly in answer to the question, "What do you want Me to do foryou?" May the Lord teach us to pray in this distinct manner! Time fails us, therefore we will only mention a third point.Our Lord Jesus Christ, in asking this question of the blind man, makes-
III. NO RESERVATION, BUT THROWS OPEN THE PLENITUDE OF HIS HEART AND THE BOUNDLESSNESS OF HIS POWER.
"What do you want Me to do for you?" is tantamount to saying, "Whatever it is, I will do it. I can do it. Only tell Me whatyou want." There is no bound to the Savior's ability! Nor does He put a limit on the suppliant's leave to command the favorhe desires. It was not, then, for the blind man to say, "Lord, if You will." He has the opportunity of procuring any blessinghe solicits. Mark, Brothers and Sisters, it is no question of "can" with regard to Christ! The question is, what do you desire?Now, Sinner, observe the Lord Jesus Christ did not stop to enquire about this man's blindness, whether he had been blind frombirth, or whether he had been affected with a cataract or any other form of ocular disease. He just said, "What do you wantMe to do for you?" No species of ophthalmia could baffle Him! In any form, or at any stage, it was possible for Him to cureit! The Lord Jesus Christ speaks to you. He says to you today, "Whoever will, let Him come and take of the Water of Life freely."He does not say anything as to whether you have been moral or immoral, whether you have been profane or religious, but simply,"What do you want Me to do for you?" Your blackest sins will disappear the moment the scarlet of the blood touches them! Yourfoulest crimes shall melt like snow as soon as the thaw begins. You cannot have sinned yourself beyond the reach of the longarm of Christ, nor can the weight of your sin be too heavy for the back of Christ, the great Sin-Bearer, to bear! Whateveryour iniquities, though they are red like scarlet, they shall be as wool! Though they are as crimson, they shall be whiterthan snow! Some of us would have no hope if we did not know that Christ will save the chief of sinners. We would long sincehave sunk into remorse and despair if we had not seen it written in letters of gold-"He that comes unto Me, I will in no wisecast out." You know what John Bunyan said about that text? He said, "Who is this man? Who is this, 'he that comes'? Why, any'he that comes' in all the world, be he who he may, He will in no wise, under no pretext, for no reason and in no way, evercast him out!" If you come to Christ, He will keep His word! He cannot be a liar! He must be as good as His own declaration!If you come to Him, He will not cast you out! What do you want Him to do for you?
Oh, Believer, have you a desire upon your soul-have you a longing in your heart? Then Christ does not say that He will giveyou this mercy, if it is possible, but He is able to do for you exceedingly abundantly above what you ask or even think! Ihear that text still quoted by some of my Brothers and Sisters, "Above all that we can ask or even think." I beg their pardon-thatis not a faithful quotation of Scripture! It says, "Above all that we ask or think"-above all that we do ask! God can opena man's mouth as wide as His mercies and He can make us ask for anything, but He generally does for us above all that we askor think! Never keep your mouth closed because you think the mercy to be too great. "He that spared not His own Son, but freelydelivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also, with Him, freely give us all things?" Do not stint yourself! Enlarge yourdesire! Open your mouth wide and He will fill it! He gives you carte blanche-ask for what you will! He puts it before you,"Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desire of your heart." So may it be to us, according to our faith,and His shall be the Glory! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE 13:10-23.
Verses 10-12. And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, and, behold, there was a woman which hada spiritofinfrmity eighteen years, and was bent over, and couldin no wise lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her- With that quickeye of His which was always in sympathy with His audience.
12-14. He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman you are loosed from your infirmity. And He laid His hands on her: andimmediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation because Jesushad healed on the Sabbath, and said unto the people-In what a cold-blooded, heartless manner he must have said it, you maywell imagine. For a man not to rejoice when he saw his poor fellow creature thus healed, shows that he must have been destituteof much milk of human kindness and that bigotry had dried up his soul.
14. There are six days in which men ought to work: in them, therefore, come and be healed, but not on the Sabbath. He didnot dare to speak to Christ. I suppose the majesty of Christ's manner overawed him, so he struck directly at the people-andat Christ through them. Now our Lord did not go sideways to work when He replied to him.
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. The Jews had reduced the Sabbath toa day of idleness and luxury. The only thing they forbade themselves was the doing of anything. Now the Sabbath was neverintended to be spent in idleness and luxury. It should be spent in the worship of God and works of mercy and works of pietymake the Sabbath holy, instead of being contrary to its demands. And our Savior, by giving rest to that poor burdened womanwas, in truth, making Sabbath in her body and in her soul.
18, 19. Then He said, Unto what is the Kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustardseed, which a man took and cast into his garden; and it grew and became a large tree: and the fowls of the air lodged in thebranches of it A little Grace grows and becomes great Grace. If you have at present but little faith, be thankful for thatlittle! Bring it to Christ! Let it feed upon Him and your mustard seed will grow till it becomes a tree! The same is trueof the Gospel throughout the world. We need never be afraid because we happen to be few in number. If we have got the Truthof God, the Truth will live. And if the Truth is as small as the mustard seed, there is life in it- vitality in it, and itis sure to grow before long! We must not be afraid to be in the minority. Majorities are not always right. Are they ever?Perhaps sometimes.
20, 21. And again He said, Unto what 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. Some read this as a parable to set forth the power of evil, and I do not doubtthat it does set it forth. At the same time it sets forth the power of good, too, for it is put side by side with the otheras the likeness of the Kingdom of God. And the Truth of God in the soul does work, ferment and permeate the entire natureif it is placed there!
22, 23. And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one to Him, Lord,are there few who are saved?That is a question that I have heard a great many times. What is the fascination that makes menso fond of asking it? I think that some ask it as if they almost hoped that there would be few. If they do not go to our Ebenezeror Rehoboth, what can become of them? Surely you cannot expect that there should be any good come to those that do not frequentSalem and Enod. What must they hope? In that spirit the question is often asked, but, Brothers and Sisters, may God lift usup above that spirit and make us desire that there should be great multitudes saved! I suppose that one of the surprises ofHeaven will be to see vastly many more there than we ever dreamt would reach that place. Jesus Christ gave a very practicalanswer. It was no answer, and yet was the best of answers.
23. And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shallnot be able.Make a push for it! Agonize for it, for many will seek-not strive, but merely seek. Or, to put another meaninginto it, strive now to enter in at the strait gate, for many will be unable, when it is too late-and that, doubtless, is thesense of the passage.