Sermon 2708. The Old Gospel for the New Century
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JANUARY 6, 1901.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DECEMBER 5, 1880.
"Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.
You have doubtless already heard several sermons from this text. I have discoursed upon it, I know not how many times-notso many times, however, as I intend yet to do if God shall spare my life! This verse is one of those great wells of salvationfrom which we may always be drawing, for we can never exhaust it. Our proverb says, "Drawn wells are the sweetest." And themore we draw from such a text as this, the sweeter and the fuller does its meaning appear to us.
I am going, on this occasion, to use this passage in a special way, so as to bring out just one single point of its teaching.I might speak, if I wished to do so, of the rest which Jesus Christ gives to the heart, the mind and the conscience of thosewho believe in Him. This is the rest, this is the refreshment which those who come unto Him find, for we might read it, "Iwill refresh you," or "I will relieve you," and I should have a very sweet topic if I were to discourse upon the wonderfulrelief, the Divine refreshment, the blessed rest which comes to the heart through believing in Jesus Christ. May you all experiencethat blessing, dear Friends! May your rest, your peace, be very deep! May it not be a pretended restfulness, but a rest whichwill endure searching and testing! May your rest be a lasting one! May your peace be like a river that never ceases to flow!May your peace be always a safe one-not a false peace which will end in destruction-but a true, solid, justifiable peace whichwill endure throughout your whole lives and ultimately melt away into the rest of God at His right hand forever! Happy arethe people who thus rest in Christ-may we be among that number-and if we are so, already, may we penetrate still more deeplyinto this glorious rest!
I might also speak, dear Friends, upon the various ways in which the Lord gives rest to Believers. And I might speak especiallyto some of you who are Believers, but who do not seem to enter into rest as you ought to do. There are some of us who getworried with the things of this world, or troubled by our own feelings. We are perplexed and tossed here and there by doubtsand fears. We ought to be resting, for, "we who have believed do enter into rest." Rest is our rightful portion-"Being justifiedby faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." But, somehow or other, some who are thus justified do notseem to realize this peace, or to enjoy this rest as they should and, perhaps, even while I am talking, they may discoverthe reason why they do not have all the rest and peace which they might have. Certainly, our Lord Jesus Christ did not speakonly to one particular class when He uttered the words of our text. To all who labor and are heavy laden-whether they areadvanced Christians, or unconverted people-He says, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." I shall indeed rejoice if, asthe outcome of what I shall have to say, it shall happen that some who came in here distressed in spirit, and bowed down inheart-perhaps even fretful and complaining-shall come to Jesus Christ over again, drawing near to Him once more, and gettinginto touch with Him again, and so shall find rest unto their souls. It will then be doubly sweet to come and sit around theCommunion Table, all the while resting-resting and feasting-not standing with loins girt and with staff in hand, as they didwho partook of the Passover in Egypt-but resting, even as they did who gathered at the Last Supper when the Master reclinedin the midst of His Apostles. So, spiritually, may your heads be resting on His breast and may your hearts find refuge inHis wounds as you hear Him say to you again, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Yet it is not quite that Truth of God about which I am going to speak to you. I want to pick out just this one thought-theGloryof Christ, that He should be able to say such a thing as this-the splendor of Christ, that it should be possible forHim to say, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." These words, from the mouthof any other man, would be ridiculous and even blasphemous. Take the greatest poet, the greatest teacher of philosophy, orthe greatest king and who is he, with most capacious soul, who would dare to say to all the laboring and heavy laden onesin the whole human race. "Come to me, and I will give you rest"? Where are there wings broad enough to brood over every sorrowingsoul, except the wings of Christ? Where is there a harbor capacious enough to hold all the navies of the world, to give refugeto every tempest-tossed boat that ever crossed the sea? Where, but in the haven of the soul of Christ, in whom dwells allthe fullness of the Godhead! And, therefore, in whom there is room enough and to spare for all the troubled children of men!
That, then, is to be the drift of my discourse. May the Spirit of God graciously help me in following it!
I. And, first, I call your attention to THE PERSONALITY OF THIS CALL. "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden,and I will give you rest."
If you look at the text carefully, you will notice that there is a double personality in the call. It is, "Come you-come you-toMe, and I will give rest to you." It is two persons coming near to each other-the one bestowing and the other receiving rest.But it is not, in either case, a fiction, a figment, a phantom, a myth. It is you, you, YOU-YOU who really labor and are heavyladen and who, therefore, are real beings, painfully conscious of your existence-it is you who are to come to another Beingwho is as real as you are-One who is as truly a living Person as you are living persons. It is He who says to you, "Come youto Me, and I will give rest to you."
I want you, dear Friends, to have a very clear conviction of your own personality, for, sometimes, people appear to forgetthat they are individuals, distinct from everybody else. When there is a guinea to be given away and the jingle of it is heardin the distance, most men are conscious of their own personality-and each one looks out for himself and tries to secure theprize. But I find that, often, in the matter of eternal things, men seem to lose themselves in a crowd and they think of theblessings of Grace as a sort of general shower that may fall on the fields of all alike-they do not especially look for therain upon their own plot, or wish to obtain a blessing for themselves. Now, then, you, you, YOU-you who are heavy laden, wakeup! Where are you? The call of the text is not to your sister, mother, husband, brother, friend, but to you-"Come unto Me,all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Well, now, you have shaken yourself up and you feel that you are a distinct personality from everybody else in the world.So next comes the most important thing of all, you are to come to another Personality. "Come unto Me," says Christ, "and Iwill give you rest." Here I ask you to admire the wonderful Grace and mercy of this arrangement. According to Christ's words,you are to obtain rest of heart, not by coming to a ceremony, or to an ordinance, but to Christ, Himself! "Come unto Me."He does not even say, "Come to My teaching, to My example, to My Sacrifice," but, "Come unto Me." It is to a Person you areto come-to that very Person who, being God, and equal with the Father, laid aside His glories and took upon Himself our humanflesh-
"First, in our mortal flesh, to serve. Then, in that flesh, to die."
And you are to come to that Person. There is to be a certain action on your part, the movement of yourself to Him who saysto you, "Come unto Me"-a movement away from every other confidence, to Him-a movement away from every other ground of reliance,or door of hope, to Him, as the Person whom God has appointed and anointed to be the one and only Savior, the great reservoirof everlasting Grace, in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell! O glorious Man, O glorious God, whocan thus speak with authority and say, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." I entreat you to lay aside all thought ofanything except the Christ, living, dying, risen again and gone into Glory-for He points you, not to the House of Prayer,nor to the Throne of Grace, nor to the baptistery, nor to the Communion Table, nor even to the holiest and most sacred thingswhich He has ordained for other purposes-not even to the Father, Himself, nor to the Holy Spirit-but He says, "Come unto Me."Here must your spiritual life begin-at His feet. And here must your spiritual life be perfected-in His bosom-for He is boththe Author and the Finisher of faith! Let us adore the Christ in whose mouth such words as these are fitting and full of meaning!He cannot be less than Divine who can thus speak to us, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I willgive you rest."
II. Now, secondly, I want you to notice THE LARGENESS OF CHRIST'S HEART, as illustrated by this text, "Come unto Me, all youthat labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Notice, first, the largeness of His heart in singling out such needy ones to be the objects of His loving call Did you evernotice the picture that our Lord has drawn in these words? "All you that labor." That is the picture of a beast that has theyoke upon its shoulder. Men think to find pleasure in the service of Satan and they permit him to lay his yoke upon theirneck. Then they have to toil, and slave, and labor, and sweat in what they call pleasure-but they find no rest and no contentmentin it! And the more they do in the service of Satan, the more they may do, for he uses the goad and the whip, and always urgesthem on to fresh exertions. Now Christ says to these people who are like beasts of burden, "Come unto Me, and I will giveyou rest."
But they are in a worse plight even than I have described, for they not only labor like the ox at the plow, but they are alsoheavily laden. Now, it seldom happens that men make a horse or an ox to be both a beast of draught and the carrier of a loadat the same time, but that is how the devil treats the man who becomes his servant. He puts him in the shafts of his chariotand makes him drag it along, and then leaps upon his back and rides as a postillion. So the man labors and is heavy laden,for he has both to draw the vehicle and to carry the driver! Such a man labors after what he calls pleasure and, as he doesso, sin leaps on his back, and then another sin follows, and yet another till sins upon sins crush him to the ground-and yethe has to be pulling and tugging with all his might at the same time! This double toil is enough to kill him. But Jesus looksin pity upon him-laboring under a sense of sin, and yet toiling to get pleasure in sin-and He says to him, "Come unto Me,and I will give you rest."
Does Christ want the devil's hacks, then, when they are used up in Satan's service? Does He want to persuade them to leavetheir old master and come to Him? What? These sinners that are only tired of sin because they cannot find strength enoughto go on sinning-or who are getting uneasy because they do not enjoy the pleasure they once did in wickedness-does Christcall them to come to Him? Yes! And it shows the largeness of His heart that He should be willing to give rest to such laboringand heavily burdened ones.
But the largeness of His heart is seen in the fact that He bids all such sinners to come to Him-all such sinners, I repeat!What a great deal that little word, "all," includes! I believe that, generally, when a man uses big words, he says littlethings, and that, when he uses little words, he says great things. And, certainly, the smallest words in our language areusually those that mean the most. What does this little word, "all," mean? Or, rather, what does it notmean? And Jesus, withoutlimiting its application, says, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden." Oh, the magnificence of the love andGrace of Christ, that He should have invited them all to come to Him! Yes, and He invites them all to come at once. "Comealong with you," He says, "all you that labor and are heavy laden. Come in a crowd, come in great masses! Fly to me as a cloudand like doves to their windows." There are never too many coming to please Him. He seems to say, "The more, the merrier."Christ's heart will rejoice over all the multitudes that will come to Him, for He has made a great feast and He has bid many,and He still sends forth His servants to say, "Yet there is room. Therefore, come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavyladen."
Remember, also, that Christ's promise is personally addressed to every one of these sinners. If each one of them will comeunto Him, He will give rest to each one. To everyone that labors and is heavy laden, Jesus says, "If you will come unto Me,I-I Myself will give you rest-I will not hand you over even to the care of My servant, the minister, that he may look afteryou, but I will undertake the work Myself. I will give you rest." Christ does not even say, "I will take you to My Word andthere you shall find comfort for yourself." No. He says, "I, a Person, will give rest to you, a person, by a distinct actof My own, if you will but come unto Me."
That personal dealing of Christ with individuals is indeed blessed. There is a poem of Tennyson's, which is, to my mind, thesweetest he has ever written. It is concerning a little child in a hospital who heard that she was about to undergo an operation,through which it was not likely that she would live. So she asked her young companion in the next bed what she had betterdo. She bade her tell Jesus all about it and ask Him to take care of her. And then the child enquired, "But how will Jesusknow me?" The little ones were rather puzzled because there were such long rows of beds in the children's hospital and theythought that Jesus had so much to do, that perhaps He would not know which little girl it was that wanted Him to take suchspecial care of her. So it was agreed that she should put her hands out of the bed, and when Jesus saw her hands, He wouldknow that she was the little girl who needed Him. The scene, as the poet describes it,
is most touching. I do but mar it in the telling, for, in the morning, when the doctors and nurses passed through the ward,they knew that Jesus had been there, and that the little one had gone to Him without any operation. He had taken care of herin the best possible way-and there lay the little hands out of the bed.
Well, now, we need not do even as much as that, for the Lord Jesus knows each one of us and He will come personally to eachone of us and give us rest. Though it is quite true that He has a great deal to do, yet He can still say, "My Father works,and I work," for the whole universe is kept in working order by His almighty power and He will not forget anyone who comesto Him. Just as a person who knew that he had abundant provision, might say to a great crowd of hungry people, "Come alongwith you, and I will feed you all," so Christ knows within Himself that He has the power to give rest to every weary soulthat comes to Him. He is quite certain of it, so He does not say, "Come to Me, and I will do the best I can with you." Or,"possibly, if I exert Myself, I may be able to give you rest." Oh, no! He says, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."It is quite a matter of course with Him, for, let me tell you that He has tried His hand upon millions and He has never failedonce! So He speaks with an air of unwavering confidence. I am certain, as my Master was certain, that if there is any soulamong you that will come to Him, He can and He will give rest unto that soul. He speaks with the consciousness of possessingall the power that is needed and with the absolute certainty that He can do the deed which is required.
For, mark you, Jesus gives this promise knowing all about the cases that He describes. He knows that men are laboring andthat they are heavily laden. There is not a grief in the heart of anyone in this house which Jesus Christ does not know, forHe knows all things. Your thoughts may be twisted in all manner of ways, and all your methods of judging may be like a labyrinth,a maze of which you think no one has the clue. You may be sitting here and saying to yourself, "Nobody understands me, andI do not even understand myself. I have become entangled in the meshes of sin and I cannot see any way of escape. I am perplexedbeyond all possibility of deliverance." I tell you, Friend, that Christ does not speak without meaning when He says, "Comeunto Me, and I will give you rest." He can trace the thread through the tangled skein and He can draw it out in one straightline! He can follow all the winding of the labyrinth till He reaches its very center! He can take away the cause of your trouble,though you, yourself, do not know what it is! And what to you is shrouded in mystery-an impalpable grief that you cannot getat or grapple with-my Lord and Master can chase right away! He speaks of what He knows He can do when He gives this promise,for His wisdom is such that He can perceive the needs of each individual soul, and His power is vast enough to meet all thoseneeds! And so He says to every laboring and burdened spirit within this house, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."
Be it also remembered that when Christ gave this promise, He knew the number of those who were comprehended in that word,"all"Though, to us, that, "all," includes a multitude that no man can number, yet "the Lord knows them that are His." Andwhen He said, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," He did not speak without knowingthat there are tens of thousands, and millions, and hundreds of millions that labor and are heavy laden-and He meant to speakto all that vast throng when He said, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."
Am I making you think, dear Friends, of the vastness of my Master's power and Grace? Am I causing you to adore Him? I hopeI am. My own soul desires to lie prostrate at His feet, lost in a sweet sense of the greatness of that Grace which can speakthus, and yet which speaks not beyond the truth when it says to the whole race of ruined men, "Come unto Me, all you thatlabor and are heavy laden, and I will"-to an absolute certainty-"give you rest."
It must not be forgotten, also, that what Christ promised was intended for all time. Here is an individual speaking who was"despised and rejected of men." Let Him stand out clearly before your eyes-the carpenter's Son, the Son of Mary, "a Man ofSorrows and acquainted with grief-yet He said to those who gathered around Him, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."But He looked right over the intervening centuries and He spoke to uswho are assembled here, and then He looked on all themultitudes of this great city, and of this country, and of all the nations of the earth, and He said, "Come unto Me, and Iwill give you rest." In effect, He said, "Till I shall come again to the earth, to sit upon the Throne of Judgment, I promisethat every heavily laden soul that comes to Me shall find rest in Me." The sorrows of men are as many as the stars of Heavenfor multitude-and the men, themselves, are innumerable. Count, if you can, the drops of morning dew, or the grains of sandupon the seashore-and then hope to number the children of Adam from the beginning of time! Yet our Lord Jesus Christ, speakingto the vast mass of the laboring and heavy laden children of men,
says to them, "Come unto Me; come unto Me; for he who comes to Me I will in no wise cast out. And whoever comes to Me shallfind rest unto his soul."
It shows, also, the vastness of Christ's power and Grace when we remember the many to whom this promise has been proved tobe true. You know that throughout all these ages up till now, not a single laboring and heavy laden soul has come to Christin vain. Even in the utmost ends of the earth there has not been found a criminal so base, or a soul so closely shut up inthe dungeon of old Giant Despair, but, on his coming to Christ, the promised rest has been bestowed upon him and, thereby,Christ has been magnified!
III. Now follow me while I dwell, for a few minutes, upon THE SIMPLICITY OF THIS GOSPEL.
Jesus Christ says to all who labor and are heavy laden, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." This invitation impliesa movement-a movement from something to something. You are bid to come away from whatever else you have been trusting in andto move towards Christ and trust to Him. And when you do so, He will give you rest. How different this simplicity is fromall the complex systems that men set up! Why, according to some people's teaching, in order to be a Christian-and to carryout all the regulations of public worship-you would need to have a little library to consult so as to know at what hour youought to light your candles, and how to mix incense, and the proper way to put on your millinery, and in which direction youshould turn when you say a certain prayer, and in what other direction you should turn when you say something else-and whetheryour intoning, or your chanting, or your mumbling will be most acceptable to God! Oh, dear, dear, dear! All this complex machineryof man's inventing-the so-called "baptism" in your infancy-the confirmation in your youth-"taking the sacrament," as manycall it-all this is a wonderful hocus-pocus, full of mystery, lies and delusion! But, according to Christ's teaching, theway of salvation is just this, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." And if you, dear Friend, have come to Christ, andtrusted Him, you have received that rest and peace which He delights to give-you have found the kernel of the nut, you havereached the essence and the root of the whole matter! If your heart has abandoned all other confidences and is depending uponJesus Christ, you have found eternal life! And that eternal life will never be taken away from you. Therefore, rejoice init!
And, further, this invitation is in the present tense-"Come, now." Do not wait till you get home, but let your soul move towardsChrist now. You will never be in a better state for coming to Him than you are now. Nor will you be in a worse state for comingto Him, unless it is that by postponing your coming, you will be more hardened and less inclined to come. You are now, atthis moment, in need of Christ, so come to Him! You are hungry-surely that is the very best reason for eating! You are thirsty-thatis the best reason for drinking! Or it may be that you are so sick that you do not hunger-then come to Christ and eat of theprovisions of the Gospel till you get an appetite for them. I like, sometimes, when a sinner says to me, "I do not thirstfor Christ," to say to him, "Then come and drink till you do thirst," for, just as it is with a pump that will not work, youmust first pour water down it, so is it with some men. When they get some Truth of God into their souls-though it may seem,at first, to be but a very imperfect reception of the Gospel-it will help them, afterwards, to a deeper longing for Christand a more intense enjoyment of the blessings of salvation.
At any rate, Christ says, "Come now," by which is implied that He means, "Come just as you are. Just as you are, come untoMe, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. You labor, so, before you have washed those grimy handsof yours, come unto Me, and I will give you rest. You are faint, feeble and ready to die, but it needs no strength to cometo Me! Faint into My arms. Die on My bosom, for so you have already come to Me." We do not come to Christ by the exertionof our own power to come, but by the cessation of the will to stay away! When your heart just yields itself up, drops everythingthat it is holding, and falls into the hands of Christ, it is thenthat the act of faith is performed and it is to that actthat Christ invites you when He says, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."
"Well," says one, "I never did understand the Gospel. It has always puzzled and perplexed me." Well, then, I will try to setit before you very plainly. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived and died for sinners-and you are bid to come and trust Him.Rely upon Him! Depend upon Him! Hang your whole weight upon Him! Come unto Him and He will give you rest! Oh, that He may,of His infinite mercy, reveal this simple Truth of God to your heart and that you may be ready to accept it right now! I wantto glorify my blessed Master who brought into the world such a simple plan of salvation as this. There are some men who seemto be Parson Puzzle-Texts, for they like to lose themselves amid difficulties and mysteries, and to display before their hearersthe fruits of their great culture and their wonderful learning. If their Gospel is true, it is a message only to the eliteandthe many would have to go to Hell if they were the only preachers! But our Lord
Jesus Christ gloried in preaching the Gospel to the poor-and it is to His honor it can be said that, even to this day, "Notmany wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the worldto confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base thingsof the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things thatare: that no flesh should glory in His Presence."
It is so blessed to think that there is a Gospel that will suit the man who cannot read-and that will suit the man who cannotput two consecutive thoughts together-and that will suit the man whose brain has almost failed him in the hour of death-aGospel that suited the thief dying upon the cross-a Gospel so simple that if there is but Grace to receive it, there needsno great mental power to understand it! Blessed be my Master for giving us a Gospel so simple and so plain as this!
IV. I want you to notice one more thing and then I will close my discourse. It is this-THE UNSELFISHNESS OF CHRIST'S AIM.
Come, you dear ones who love your Lord, listen while I repeat to you these sweet words of His, "Come unto Me, all you thatlabor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "I will give you." He does not say, "Come to me, and bring me something,"but, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." It is not, "Come and do something for Me," but, "I will do everything for you."This has, perhaps, been your trouble, dear Brothers and Sisters, that you wanted, today, to bring Christ an acceptable offering,and in the Sunday school, or in some other form of service, you have been trying to honor Him. I am glad of it and hope youwill keep on trying to do so. But take care lest you fall into Martha's mistake and get "cumbered about much serving." Fora while, forget the idea of coming to Christ to bring Him anything-and come now, you laboring and burdened one-and receivea blessing from Him, for He has said, "I will give you rest." Christ may be honored by what you give Him, but He mustbe honoredby what He gives you! There cannot be a question about the goodness of what you shall receive from Him if you come to Him,so, just now do not think about bringing anything to Him, but come to Him that you may receive from Him!
"I want to love Christ," says one. Well, never mind about that just now-try to feel how much He loves you. "Oh, but I wantto consecrate myself to Him!" Quite right, my dear Friend, but, just now, think of how He consecrated Himself for you! "Oh,but I desire never to sin any more!" Quite right, dear Friend, but, just now, think of how He bore your sins in His own bodyon the tree. "Oh," says one, "I wish that I had an alabaster box of very precious ointment, that I might anoint His head orHis feet, and that the whole house might be filled with the sweet perfume." Yes, that is all very well, but listen. His nameis as ointment poured forth-if you have not any ointment, He has! If you have none to bring to Him, there is plenty that Hewill give to you!
When my dear Master calls any to come to Him, it is not for His own gain that He bids them come. When He presses His favorsupon them. When He comes with great promises of rest, it is not a bribe with which to buy their services. He is too rich toneed the best and strongest among us! He only asks of us that, of our great charity, we will be kind enough to take everythingfromHim! This is the greatest thing we can do for God-to be emptied, so that His fullness may flow into us. That is what I wantto do when I go down to the Communion Table-I want to just sit there and not try to think of anything that I can offer tomy Master-but to open my soul and to take in all that He is willing to give me! There are times with you shopkeepers whenyou are dealing out your goods, but there must also be times for bringing in, you know. So, now, open the great warehousedoor and let the goods come in wholesale! Let the whole Christ come into your soul.
"I do not feel," says one, "as if I could enjoy my Lord's Presence." But why not? "Because I have been so hard at work forHim all day, and now I have so much care, and I am so heavy laden." You are the very one whom He especially calls to cometo Him! Do not try to do anything except just open your mouth wide, and He will fill it. Come now, and just receive from Him,and glorify Him by receiving! O sun, you give light, but not till God makes you shine! O moon, you are gladdening the evening,yet not with your own brilliance, but only with borrowed light! O fields, you yield your harvests, but the great Husbandmancreates your grain! O earth, you are full, but only full of the goodness of the Lord! Everythingreceives from God and praisesHim because it does receive. So let my weary heart lie still beneath the showers of love. Let my heavy ladened soul rest inChrist and gladden Him by being glad in Him.
God bless you all, and may Christ be glorified in your salvation and your sanctification, for His dear name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW 11.
Verses 1-3. And it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach andto preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and saidunto Him, Are you He that should come, or do we look for another?Had John's faith begun to waver? It is possible that it had.Elijah had his times of trembling and depression. Then, why might not the second Elijah have the same sort of experience?Possibly John wished to strengthen the faith of his followers and, therefore, he sent two of his leading disciples to Jesus,that they might make the enquiry for themselves as to whether He was the Christ or not.
4. Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see. For the works of Christare the proofs of His Messiahship. His teaching and His action must always be the seals of His mission.
5. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, andthe poor have the Gospel preached to them. This is the last, but not the least, of the signs of His Messiahship, that JesusChrist preached so that the poor understood Him and delighted to follow Him wherever He went. Many despised His preachingfor this reason, but the Savior mentioned this among the signs of His being sent of God-"The poor have the Gospel preachedto them."
6-11. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerningJohn, What went you out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? A man clothedin soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went you out to see? A Prophet? Yes,I say unto you, and more than a Prophet For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,who shall prepare Your way before You. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greaterthan John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. His position was a veryhigh one. He was the evening star of the old dispensation, and the morning star of the new-but the light which shines afterthe sun has risen is brighter than any that the morning star can bring. He who has the Gospel to preach has a greater thingto do than John the Baptist, who did but herald the coming of the Savior.
12-15. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it byforce. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you will receive it, this is Elijah, which was to come.He that has ears to hear, let him hear Let him listen to what the Heaven-sent messenger has to say! Let him especially payattention to his words when he says, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world."
16, 17. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets and calling unto theirfellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, andyou have not danced; we have mourned unto you, andyou have not lamented. ''You would not join in our games. Whichever we chose to do, to imitate a festival or a funeral, you would not take part withus."
18, 19. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, He has a devil The Son of Man came eating and drinking,and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified by herchildren. There was no pleasing them-they were prepared to find fault with any sort of man, whether he lived an ascetic life,or mixed with others as a man among men. "But wisdom is justified by her children." She sends the right sort of men to doher work, and God will take care that those who reject them shall not be without guilt- "wisdom is justified by her children."
20. Then He began to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not. That was thepoint that Christ aimed-their repentance. He did not seek to dazzle them with wonders and marvels, but to break their heartsaway from their sins. This is what His mighty works ought to have done, for they proved Him to be the Messiah-and those mightyworks also warned those who witnessed them that God had come near to them-and that, therefore, it was time for them to turnfrom their evil ways.
21-24. Woe unto you, Chorazin! Woe unto you, Bethssaidda! For if thee mighty works, which were done in you, had been donein Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerablefor Tyre and Sidon at the Day of Judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum, which are exalted unto Heaven, shall be broughtdown to Hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until thisday. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for you. Thereis a great depth of mystery, here, which we cannot hope to fathom. The Gospel was not preached to those who would have repentedif they had heard it, and it was preached to those who did not repent when they listened to it even from the lips of ChristHimself! Upon this latter class, the sole effect of the Gospel preached to them was to plunge them into yet deeper depthsof guilt because of their refusal of it. It is not for us to solve the mystery-it will be our wisdom to see that being ourselvesfavored with the plain declaration of the Gospel, we do not put it from us, lest we perish even more miserably than thosewho never heard it!
25. At that time Jesus answered and said. So he had been talking with His Father-"Jesus answered." Very often, no doubt, theSavior spoke with God when it is not recorded in the Gospels that He did. But here a plain hint is given that Christ was inintimate communion and fellowship with God. At such times great doctrines which, to the shallow minds of those who live ata distance from God, seem dreadful, become delightful, and are lit up with unusual splendor! At that time the Doctrine ofElection was specially upon the heart of Christ because He was dwelling near to God, Himself. "Jesus answered and said."-
25-30. I thank You, O Father, Lord ofHeaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise andpru-dent, andhaverevealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things are delivered unto Me by My Father:and no man knows the Son but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and He to whom the Son will revealHim. Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me;for I am meek and lo wly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.