Sermon 1901. Mysterious Meat
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MAY 23, 1886,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, Master, eat. But He said to them, I have meat to eat that you know not of.Therefore the disciples said to one another, Has anyone brought Him anything to eat? Jesus said to them, My meat is to dothe will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work Do you not say, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? Behold,I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look at the fields, for they are already ripe for harvest! And he who reaps receiveswages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows andhe who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the sayingistrue, One sows, and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you haveentered into their labors." John 4:31-38.
THE disciples had gone away into the city to buy meat and for this they cannot be censured. It was necessary that food shouldbe provided and it naturally fell to their lot to perform that duty. Do not say that they were carnal or un-spiritual becauseof this, for the most spiritual people must eat to live. When they came back from making their purchases, they found theirMaster sitting by the well, as they had left Him. They naturally expected that He would be as ready to partake of the provisionas they were to offer it to Him, but He made no movement in that direction. His mind was evidently far away from the ideaof food. He was absorbed in something else and, therefore, His disciples sought to call Him back to a sense of His need. Ido not suppose that they had, themselves, eaten. It was hardly like them to do so while their Lord was not with them. They,therefore, wished to eat and they were all the more struck with the fact that He had no care for refreshment. Knowing howweary He had been when they left Him-so weary that He bade them go alone into the city-they were perplexed at His indifferenceto food and, perhaps, judged that He was over-fatigued and, therefore, they urged Him to eat. Importunately, one after anothersaid, "Good Master, it is long since You have eaten; the way has been weary, the day is hot, You seem very faint. We prayYou, eat a little that You may be revived. The woman to whom You spoke has gone. Your good work, for a while, is over, letus eat together."
Again I confess that I do not agree with those who blame these disciples. If it is true that there is nothing very elevatedin providing food, there is certainly nothing unworthy in the act. I admire their care for their Master. I praise them forso lovingly pressing upon Him the supply of His necessities. It is right for the spiritual man to forget his hunger, but itis equally right for his true friends to remind him that he ought to eat for his health's sake. It is commendable for theworker to forget his weakness and press forward in holy service, but it is proper for the humane and thoughtful to interposewith a word of caution and to remind the ardent spirit that his frame is but dust. I think the disciples did well to say,"Master, eat." What is more, I will hold them up to your imitation! Jesus has gone from you, now, in actual Person, but Hismystical body is still with you and, if you meet with any part of His body in need, make it your earnest care. Still prayto Him, saying, "Master, eat." If you know any of His people in poverty, ask them to partake of your abundance, lest yourLord should say to you at the last, "I was hungry and you gave Me no meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink." Our Lord'sspirituality is not of that visionary sort which despises the feeding of hungry bodies! Look after His poor and needy ones.How can you be truly spiritual if you do not? "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit thefatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." There is much in the commonplaceattentions of charity-Jesus commands our consideration of the weaknesses and needs of others-therefore, I say again, I commendthe disciples that they urged Him saying, "Master, eat."
Having done this justice to the 12, let us do higher honor to the Divine One about whom they gathered. His mind was, at thattime, absorbed in spiritual matters and, being so, He wished to lead them into that higher field wherein He was so much athome and, therefore, He transfigured their common words by giving them a higher meaning. "You pray Me to eat," He said, but,"I have meat to eat that you know not of." They did not comprehend what He meant. As the Samaritan woman did not understandHim, when He spoke of water, neither did His disciples when He spoke of meat. But you see, the Lord endeavored to use thelower expression as a ladder to something higher and more spiritual. This was the Master's way from the beginning to the end-alwaysto be making similitudes of things seen to set forth the things unseen-always to take the thing which men had grasped anduse it as the means of helping them to lay hold on some great Truth of God which, as yet, was out of their reach. Inasmuchas refreshments were spoken of and His disciples saw the need of those refreshments, the Master turns that thought into adeeper channel and tells them of other refreshments which He, Himself, enjoyed and wished them to share with Him. In effectour Lord's reply to the request, "Master, eat," is this-"I have eaten, in the best sense, and I wish you, also, to eat withMe." He would have them enter into that service which had yielded so intense a satisfaction to Himself-He would have themknow His joy in it!
This morning the run of my subject will be just this-first, there are refreshments for our hearts which are but little known-"Ihave meat to eat that you know not of." Secondly, these refreshments satisfied our Lord-so satisfied Him that He forgot toeat! And thirdly, and a very practical thirdly, I hope it will be, let us seek these refreshments at once, that we, too, mayforget our earthly needs in a heavenly enthusiasm. O blessed Spirit of all Grace, give us secret, sacred food this morningwhile meditating upon this theme!
I. First, THERE ARE REFRESHMENTS WHICH ARE LITTLE KNOWN. Generally men know enough about refreshments of the body. Those questions-Whatshall we eat, and what shall we drink?-have been long and carefully studied. It seems obvious to all men that if we are tobe restored and lifted above fatigue or weakness, it must be by corporeal food. Yet there is, in the Word of God, an intimationof another principle. As we read, "Man shall not live by bread, alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth ofGod shall man live." The Lord has been pleased to make it generally necessary that the body should be sustained with food,but that is only because the body is to be destroyed, for it is written, "Meats for the body, and the body for meats, butGod shall destroy both it and them." That new body, which will never be destroyed, will probably need no meats. If God sowilled it, this frame might be sustained without visible food. There is no absolute necessity that the order of Nature orof Providence should be just as it is. Even now we know that there are many ways by which waste can be suspended and the needof food greatly lessened. And there are conditions under which life has been sustained upon an almost incredibly small portionof food. If God willed it, He could secretly infuse strength into the system, keeping the lamp of life burning by means ofa subtle, invisible oil. We are not so absolutely dependent upon the bread we eat as, at first sight, seems-food is but thevehicle of sustenance-God could sustain us without it.
Now, Brothers and Sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ found for Himself a sustenance other than that of food-a food superior tothe ordinary meat of men. But these refreshments were not known to His disciples. The common throng of mankind have no ideaof spiritual food, but the disciples were not of the common throng-they were chosen out of the world and they had been withtheir Lord for some little time! And yet they had not grasped the idea of a man being fed and strengthened by an influenceupon his spiritual nature which could raise him above the dragging down of his bodily needs. They could not yet enter intotheir Lord's secret-He had a meat to eat which even they knew not of.
The reason for His knowing what they knew not was, in part, the fact that this nourishment was enjoyed upon a higher planethan these servants of Christ had yet reached. They were spiritual men in some degree, but they were not highly spiritual-theywere mere babes in Grace, though men in physical development. They had not yet reached to the height of letting their spiritsrule the rest of their nature, nor had they yet learned the proper occupation of their spirits. They could not yet enjoy spiritualmeat to the fullest because they were so little spiritual. Our Savior was full of the Holy Spirit and, in His inmost Nature,He was deeply and intensely spiritual. He lived in constant communion with invisible things and, therefore, it was that Heperceived that "meat to eat" which they knew not of. Oh, that we may not miss the delicacies of Heaven from lack of a purifiedtaste! It is a sad ignorance which comes of lack of spirituality. The Lord lift us out of it!
Further, these refreshments were unknown to the Apostles, as yet, because they implied a greater sinking of self than theyas yet knew. "My meat," said Jesus, "is to do the will of Him that sent Me." How condescendingly does our Lord sink Himselfin this expression! He does not even say, "My meat is to do My Father's will." He takes a lower position than that of sonshipand dwells chiefly upon His mission, its service and the absorption in the will of God which it involved. He finds His refreshmentin being the commissioned officer of God and in carrying out that commission. In being a Servant obeying the will and doingthe work of Another, He feels Himself so much at home that it revives Him to think of it! Others have been refreshed by gaininghonor for themselves-our Lord is refreshed by laying that honor aside! The carnal mind finds its meat and drink in self-will,but Christ, in doing the will of God! Doing his own work and carrying out his own purpose is the meat and drink of the naturalman-the very opposite was the joy of our Lord Jesus!
Is it so with you, my Hearer, that you will have your own way and be your own lord and master? You feed upon wind! You seekafter emptiness and, in the end, your hunger shall devour you! But oh, Believer, have you ever tried your Lord's plan? Haveyou taken your Lord's yoke upon you and learned of Him? Thus it is that you shall find rest unto your soul! Not in self, butin self-surrender, is there fullness for the heart! You are no longer to live unto yourself, for you are not your own, butyou are the servant of Him who has bought you with a price-you will find peace in taking up your proper place. Your lifeworkis, from this day on, not to be one of your own selecting, but the work which your great Lord and Master has chosen for you.Servants lay their wills aside and do what they are bid. When a man gets fully into this condition, I bear witness that hewill be refreshed by it! If I felt that my calling were of my own choosing and that my message were of my own inventing, Ishould have no rest-the responsibility would crush me! But now that I feel that I am doing the will of Him who sent me andknow that I am committed wholly to the work of the Lord, I pluck up courage and put my shoulder to the wheel without misgiving!
In the name of Him who has sent me to do this work, I find a fountain of fresh strength! But, Brothers, we must get low down.We must come right away from the idea of being original and inventing something and carrying out a novel purpose of our own-wemust act only upon commission-we must say only our Lord's Words and do only His work! And then we shall eat of that same loafon which Jesus fed when He had food to eat which even the 12 knew not of. When we get to know that we are sent of the MostHigh, there is nourishment in that very fact! We need to feel that as the Father has sent Christ into the work, even so hasChrist sent us into the world-and if we do not so feel, we shall miss a choice form of spiritual meat.
Further, our Lord not only lived on a higher plane and felt a greater sinking of Self, but He was in fuller harmony with Godthan His disciples. He says. "My meat is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work." God's will was His will,not only passively, but actively, so that He wished to do it. God's work was His work completely, so that He wished to finishit. He longed to go all the length of God's eternal purpose and carry it out as far as that purpose concerned Himself. Now,when a man feels, "My one desire is that I may do God's will. I have no other will but His will. My own will has fallen intoGod's will as a brook falls into a river"-then he is at peace! It is a blessed thing to rejoice in being crossed in our ownpurpose in order that the purpose of the Lord may be more completely fulfilled. When a man wants to do God's work and to getthrough with it, whatever it may cost, he is sure to feel strength in his heart. He who will glorify God, whatever it maycost him, is a happy man! He that serves God in body, soul and spirit to the utmost of his power, finds new power given tohim hour by hour, for God opens to him fresh springs!
Perhaps you do not see this truth, but if you have ever experienced what it is to lay your whole soul on the altar and feelthat for Christ you live and for Christ you would die, why then you will know, by experience, that I speak the truth! If yourheart's desires were as ravenous as that of the young lions when they howl for their prey, they would be abundantly satisfiedby your soul's being tamed into complete submission to the will of God! When your will is God's will, you will have your will!When your will rings out in harmony with the will of God, there must be sweet music all around your steps! Our chief sorrowsspring from the roots of our selfishness. Hang up self before the face of the sun, as Joshua hung up the Canaanite kings,and your soul will no longer be consumed with the hunger and thirst of discontent. When you are tuned to perfect harmony withGod, you begin your Heaven upon earth, even though your lot is cast in the hut of poverty, or on the bed of sickness. I knowby experience that the way to renew your strength for suffering or for service is to become more and more at one with thewill and the purpose of the Most High. As God's Glory becomes the one objective of life, we find in Him our All in All!
Once more-our dear Savior was sustained by these secret refreshments because He understood the art of seeing much in little.Our Master had been feasting. He had partaken of a more than royal banquet. How? He had been made a blessing to a woman-anill-famed, very sinful woman. He had led her up to the point at which she could perceive that He was the Messiah-this was,to Him, a festival! Some would have thought it a trifle, but, as a wise man sees a forest in an acorn, so did Jesus see grandresults in this little incident. Many a man would say, "I could easily forget hunger and a thousand other inconveniences ifcalled to preach to a vast congregation like that which assembles in the Tabernacle. It ought to inspirit a man to see somany faces." But note well that it inspirited your Master to see only one face and that the common face of a villager of mournfulcharacter who had come forth from Sychar with her water pot upon her head. It was not an oration that He delivered-He hadnot even preached a sermon which would command admiration as a masterpiece of eloquence-His whole soul was absorbed in whatHe had done! It was only a talk such as a city missionary would have at any door, or such as would naturally fall from a Bible-womanin her calls from room to room. Yet our Divine Exemplar saw so much in one soul and so much valued one opportunity of enlighteningit, that He felt a sacred satisfaction in His simple conversation! He saw in the woman the seed-corn of a harvest and, therefore,drew a large refreshment from her conversion.
We do not usually measure things rightly. I am persuaded that our weights and scales are out of order. We think we are doinga great deal when we get into a big controversy, or write an article that is read all over the nation, or create a sensationwhich startles thousands. But, indeed, it is not so! The Lord is not in the wind, nor in the tempest-we must go on with thestill small voice of loving instruction and persuasion. You must go on talking with your little children in your classes;you must go on speaking to the few sick persons you are able to visit; you must try and preach Jesus Christ in little rooms,or to dozens and scores in the street corner or on the village green. It is the old-fashioned, quiet personal work which iseffective! If we get to think that everything must be big to be good, we shall get into a sorry state of mind. In the littlebit of work thoroughly done, God is glorified much more than in the great scheme that is superficial. That word, superficial,gives a true description of very much Christian work nowadays. A huge piece of moral architecture is carried out by jerry-buildersto whom appearance is everything and reality is nothing! It tumbles down before long and then its authors begin, again, inthe same wretched manner, with the same flourish of trumpets and bragging of what is going to be done!
It is worthwhile to spend a year upon the conversion of a single woman, yes, worthwhile to spend a lifetime on the conversionof a single child, if it is soundly done. And there might more come of the true conversion of that woman or child than ofall your noise and shouting over a hundred supposed conversions, forced by excitement like mushrooms in a hotbed! We needreal work, not noisy work-work done in the center of the soul of man, such as Jesus did upon the well! This sort of work willbring refreshment to our spirit, but any other will end in bitter disappointment. I am sure if we are content to do littlethings in the power of the great God, we shall find our meat in it. Someone here gets up and says, "I see, I see! I alwaysthought that ministers and other workers who are always before the public would have most joy, but now I see that there isa reward for the obscure and hidden worker." The Lord Jesus Christ was satisfied to sit by a well and talk to one-be you satisfied,from this day on, to keep on with your mother's meeting, or your tract district, or your Bible class, or your family of littleones. Plod away, for infinite possibilities lie concealed within the least work done for Jesus in the power of the Holy Spiritby a sincere heart! Perfume which may fill the halls of princes lies asleep within a tiny rosebud-despise no little service-butbe grateful for permission to render it.
Thus the Master found satisfying meat-meat little known, even by His disciples and, therefore, He said, "I have meat to eatthat you know not of."
II. Advance with me, dear Friends, to our second theme-THESE SECRET REFRESHMENTS SATISFIED OUR LORD. I bring this forwardto remind you that where He found refreshment, we, also, should find it. Why did it satisfy our Lord to be doing the willof Him that sent Him and to be finishing His work?
Well, first, because He had so long hungered to be at it. For thousands of years the Christ had longed to be here among men.He said, "My delights were with the sons of men." Before He actually appeared in human flesh and blood, our Lord made manyappearances in different forms because He was eager to be at His work. And when He was born, while He was yet a Boy, He said,"Know you not that I must be about My Father's business?" This was the spirit of Him all His life. "I have a baptism to bebaptized with and how am I straitened until it is accomplished!" He longed to be at
work saving men. He hungered to perform His chosen deeds of mercy. Read in the second chapter of John at the 17th verse. Hewent into the Temple and He purged it and, then we read, "His disciples remembered that it was written of Him, the zeal ofYour house has eaten Me up." That was before He had told them that it was His meat to do the will of Him that sent Him. OurLord was so full of such zeal to be serving God and blessing men that when He did get at it, He was so joyful that everythingelse fell into the background as if it were not worth a thought! If you and I felt our Lord's anxiety to be serving God andwinning souls, we should find refreshment in the service, itself, even as He did.
When our Lord did get at His work, He gave Himself wholly up to it-He went in for soul-winning, heart and soul. There wasa wonderful concentration of purpose about our Savior. His face was always steadfastly set to His work. He was instant andconstant in it-He was all there and always there. Time was-and I hope the time has gone forever- when there were professedministers of Jesus Christ whose hearts were in the hunting field. Do you wonder that their ministry was a scandal? Othershave been naturalists, first, and divines afterwards! Do you wonder that their ministry proved to be a failure? Time was andtime is, I am sorry to say, when many professed ministers of Christ have their hearts more set upon criticizing the Gospelthan preaching it! They are more at home in scattering doubts than in promoting faith! They preach what they are not sureof and what they have no interest in. It is not their meat to do the Lord's will, for He never sent them! They get their meatby preaching, but it is not their meat to preach. Surely it must be misery to them to have to tell out an old tale which,in their souls, they despise. Wretches that they are! I cannot call them better than that. It seems an awful thing, to me,that a man should profess to be a servant of Christ and not put his heart into the Redeemer's service. You may go and sellyour calicoes and your teas and your sugars, if you like, half-heartedly-it will not spoil your calicoes or your teas! Butif you preach the Gospel half-heartedly, that is another matter! You will spoil every bit of what you preach. What good cancome of half-hearted preaching?
And you, good Friends, who teach in the school or do any work for Jesus, remember you spoil with that touch of yours all thework you do if your hand is numbed with a cold indifference. If your soul is not in what you do, you had better leave it undone-youwill do mischief rather than service unless your heart is in it! When Jesus talks with that woman, He is, every bit of Him,there. He avails Himself of every opportunity and catches up every chance. He converses like a master of the art of teachingbecause teaching is the master passion of His soul! Now, Brothers, when we get to work like that, we, too, shall be refreshedby it. If you do what you do not like to do, it will be weariness to you. But if your work is the joy of your heart, you willfind in the doing of it that you have meat to eat that idlers know nothing of!
Our Lord found great joy in the work itself. I believe it was an intense delight to Him to be telling about that Living Waterto a thirsty soul. It was a high pleasure to Him to be liberating a spirit which had so long been shut up in prison-to becreating new thoughts in a mind which had long groveled in the mire of sin. How pleased He was to hear the woman say to Him,"Why, then, have You that Living Water?" What a host of thoughts it stirred up in His own soul! The woman had given Him todrink, though she had not let her water pot down into the well. It was such glad, such happy work to Him to be doing goodthat it was its own reward!
I think the Lord forgot to eat bread that day partly because of the enthusiasm which filled Him in the pursuit of that soul.The chamois hunter quits his couch long before the sun is up and climbs the mountains. He watches from the first gray lightfor the creature which is the object of his pursuit. Ask him how it is when he returns late in the evening that he has hadnothing to eat all day long. He answers, "I never thought of it. I saw a chamois on a distant crag and I hastened after it.I leaped the ravines, I climbed the steep faces of the rocks, I sprang down again. I was almost on my prey, but it was gone.I crept up within range again, holding my breath lest my scent should alarm the watchful chamois. I thought of nothing butmy sport and I never knew what hunger meant until my bullet found its mark in the heart of my prey and I had drawn out myhunting knife. It was not until I began to lift the game to my shoulder that I thought that I had neither eaten nor drunkthat day."
You understand what this enthusiasm means and how it refreshes the hunter. Some of you have been salmon fishing in the Scotrivers. You have fished on and on until you have hooked a huge fish and, by the time you have landed him, on taking out yourwatch, you discover that it is long past your dinner hour and you are surprised that you had not noticed that you were almostfaint! Your excitement kept you going-only when it was over did you begin to hunger. Thus the Master was so taken up withsoul-saving that He had meat to eat that others knew not of. I hope we sometimes get into this state of entire absorptionunder the influence of a burning desire to bring sinners away from sin to their Savior and
lead them to put their trust in Him who is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him. I see the riddleall solved. They said, "Master, eat," but I see that He had meat to eat that they knew not of, for the enthusiasm of soul-winningwas strong upon Him!
Moreover, the Master had not only felt the enthusiasm of pursuit but He was moved greatly by the sympathy of pity. The manthat hunts the chamois has no sympathy with his prey. The man who would take his salmon has no pity for the creature. Buthe that labors to bless souls is full of tenderness. Many noble women love nursing the sick. Their hearts are at home at thebedside of the suffering. They do not sleep at night while pain needs relief and cold sweat needs to be wiped away. Theirtender pity gives them a more than ordinary power of endurance. They watch and wait hour after hour. Exhaustion comes, atlast, to them and then they begin to enquire of themselves, "How was it I held out so long?" Generous sympathy conquered fatigue!How mothers can and do endure with sick children! They feel that they cannot sleep while the dear one tosses to and fro infever, or moans in pain. They have lost all care for eating while they guard the brittle thread which threatens so soon tosnap. Real sympathy seems as if it swallowed up everything else, as Aaron's rod swallowed up all the other rods! Sometimesyou have seen suffering which you could not help and you have come away forgetful of all else but the dreadful scene. Youloathed the sight of food. You were sick at heart. The sorrow had become your own! You started in your sleep weeks afterwardsfor the person wounded in the accident had come before you. Thus was our Savior carried away with pity for lost souls-He knewthe danger of that Samaritan city-and that thought caused Him to forget to eat.
More than that-it was not only sympathy-He felt great joy in present success. He delighted to see that He had led a soul intolife and light. He had the bliss of seeing a sinful woman believe in the Messiah and of knowing that her heart and life wouldthus be purified. I do not know anything that can make a man forget his pain and weariness like grasping the hand of a sinnersaved. "Oh," says the saved one, "God Almighty bless you! You have brought me to Jesus." This nerves us to new effort! I speak,here, from experience, for yesterday evening, when I was thinking of this subject, I was myself somewhat dull through painand weakness and, as God would have it, I took up the Report of the Baptist Missionary Society which will be issued to youon the 1st of June. And as I glanced over it, I saw my own name. It seems that our missionary in San Domingo has had a discouragingyear, but it was lighted up with one most pleasing incident. A man had come down from the interior of Haiti to ask for Baptism.Finding him to be a most intelligent Christian, well instructed in the Gospel, the missionary asked how he came to know anythingabout it. In reply he told him that he had fallen in with a sermon translated into the French language which was preachedby Mr. Spurgeon.
Oh Friends, I was dull no longer! I had meat to eat! Had an angel stood in the study, I could not have felt more delightedwith his visit than I did when I read of a sinner saved! Here was a sermon translated into French, which was carried far awayto Haiti, I do not know how, and there was read by a Romanist who found salvation by it! God bless him! You cannot faint aftersuch a success, can you? As for myself, despite my sickness I resolve to go on again, preach with all my might and print moresermons! And send them out to the ends of the earth! Brethren, never say die! Never dream of giving up! Let God's blessingon your work refresh you!
To complete the list, the blessed Master had something else which made Him forget hunger-it was that He saw the prospect ofbetter things. Enquirers were coming out of the city-that one female missionary had gone back and told her story and the menwere coming to hear what Jesus had to say! Our Lord, also, with prescient eyes, beheld the day when Philip the Evangelistwould go down to Samaria and when many Samaritans would be brought to the knowledge of the Truth of God. O Friends, let usopen our eyes and find refreshment in what God is about to do! Let us have bright views of the future! The Gospel which hassaved 20 can save twenty thousand! The same kind of preaching which has blessed this one congregation can bless all congregations!We have only to exercise more faith in it and proclaim it with greater confidence-and make it more our lifework to proclaimit-and the world shall yet come to Jesus' feet and the old, old Gospel now despised shall yet again be had in honor! Let usbe of good cheer. If we do but serve God as Jesus served Him, we shall have meat to eat that will fully satisfy us as it didour Lord!
III. Thirdly, LET US AT ONCE SEEK THIS REFRESHMENT. That is our practical business. If there is meat to eat that we know notof, let us try to know of it at once. I am speaking, of course, only to you who are converted and are thus saved by faithin Jesus Christ. You who are not yet Believers cannot eat of this secret meat, for you are not alive unto God-you need tobe quickened by the Spirit of our God-you must be born again before you can eat the Bread of
Heaven. May the Lord lead you to saving faith in Jesus Christ at once! But I speak to you that know the Lord, you who laborfor Him and need to be refreshed this day. Look you to the right place for nourishment. Are we weary? Then let us seek refreshmentby following out the directions of our Lord in the text before us.
First, let us remember that we are sent of God. Do not forget that. Say with your Lord, "My meat is to do the will of Himthat sent Me." Each redeemed one is sent forth by his Redeemer. I do not know what the Lord has sent you to do. I hope youknow that, each man for himself, but when you know what work you are called to do, do not be held back by anyone! Wait forno man's consent, patronage, or help. Strengthen your soul upon the persuasion that God has sent you and then go forward.If God has sent you, who can stand against you? A Queen's messenger insists that we clear the road for him. An officer whobears the Queen's authority is authorized to lay all persons under orders to help him. He who rides on royal business hasprecedence over all others. Get to feel, Christian Friend, that Jesus has sent you and herein will lie food for your courage!Know that you have a mission and go for it-and let it be unsafe for anyone to stand in your way! Let opposers know that somebodywill have to clear out, for if God sent you, in that sending there is a force and an energy which nothing can safely resist!Do not make a noise. Forbear all blustering, but quietly set yourself to work. If God has sent you, you will be like the greaterSent One, of whom we read, "He shall not strive, nor cry, nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets," but at the sametime, "He shall not fail, nor be discouraged."
Next, if we desire to be refreshed, let us find joy at once in God's work and will. You have been trying to find joy and refreshmentin your own work and your own will-and you have failed. Come, then, and sail in another direction. But upon this I have alreadyspoken. If all the work you and I have to do can be made to be God's work. If we will do all things for His Glory, whetherit be mending of shoes, or making garments, or preaching sermons, or plowing of fields, then shall we be happy in God andour souls shall be fed upon the finest of the wheat! No drudgery remains when the lowliest labor is seen to be part of a priestlyservice. When the meanest work glows with the Glory of a Divine call, there is refreshment in it! I am sure I am directingyou in the right way to find sweet morsels for your heart when I urge you to have joy in God's work rather than in your own.
Next, let us get to work. The Master says to His Apostles, "Do you not say, There are yet four months and then comes harvest"?This was a common saying among the lazy. The time for work was never come-they always found reason for delay-the harvest wasalways four months off. Many are going to do a lot of work one of these days. Just now they take things easy, but in fourmonths they will let you see how they can labor! We have too many Christian people around us who find no joyful satisfactionin Divine things because they do not, at once, spend themselves for Christ. One enquires, What is the best way to do good?Our answer is, do it! I cannot give you any better recommendation. The best way to serve Christ is to serve Him! A man whowas hungry, when he was asked what was the best way to dine, said, "Give me a knife and fork. Give me a chance and I willsoon show you." When asked how you can serve God, reply by seizing the first opportunity and doing it! For our joy and comfort,be it remembered that opportunities are many and present. "Do you not say, There are yet four months and then comes harvest?Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already ripe for harvest!"
Further, if we want to have joy and refreshment in our own Christian life, let us leap into our place at once. These discipleswere not to be sowers, but reapers. Many others are not to be reapers, but sowers. You must get to work in the place intowhich the Lord puts you-there must be no picking of positions-you must jump into the saddle and be off! It may be that yousay, "I should like to begin an altogether new work," but if the Lord appoints you to go on with the work that someone elsehas carried on for years, do not hesitate. Perhaps you say, "I would like to labor where the first rough work is done," butif your Lord directs you to commence on the uncleared forest, do not raise an objection. It may be you wish to carry up thelast load of bricks to put on the chimney, but if the house has not reached that condition yet, be quite as willing to digout the cellar. We must be willing to hook on anywhere. Be leader or shaft-horse! Be first or last. Be sower or reaper, asthe Lord ordains! Dear Friends, you will never get refreshment in Christ's service if you bring a dainty self-will into thefield and set it to make a selection, for this is contrary to the true spirit of service. Have no choice and then you willfind satisfaction.
If we are to get refreshment for our souls we may also anticipate the wages. There is to be a time when workers together withChrist are to receive wages. The text says, "He that reaps, receives wages." In our own country agricultural laborers havebeen paid so little that we could hardly call it receiving wages. But when harvest time comes, then the
reaper is paid and truly receives wages. The hardest-fisted churl must pay for reaping, must he not? Even the most grudgingmiser must pay his reapers. There must be special money for mower and reaper. Let us work on, for our Master speaks to usof wages and He always pays liberally. Your reward is not what you get at present-it lies in the glorious future! When theLord Jesus comes, He will reward all His stewards and servants. No Truth of God is more plain in the four Gospels than thisfact, that when Jesus returns to this earth, He will distribute recompense in proportion to work done. Herein is meat forus to eat which may well sustain us under the burden and heat of the day.
Then comes the end. If any of you wish to be refreshed, remember the end. What is the end of sowing and the end of reaping?Is it not the completed harvest? See you not the last wagon loaded with grain? See the children on the top there! Listen howthe servants shout their joy as they bring in the precious fruits of the earth! And there is a supper at night. The masterhas been killing his fatlings and he invites all his laborers to supper. How they feast with him! Sow on! Work on! Reap on,for there will come a day when Heaven and earth shall be moved with joyous acclamations because the Lord's purpose is accomplishedand His work is finished! Then shall we sit down at the supper of the Lamb and rejoice together, as many of us as have hada hand in the blessed work and service in which our Master laid down His life! Therefore gird up the loins of your mind. Besober and hope to the end. Be encouraged and refreshed this morning. Feed upon the eternal dainties which are provided foryou by your Lord and be glad in His name!