Sermon 2832. Christ's Yoke and Burden
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 24, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 2, 1886.
"My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:30.
OBSERVE dear Friends, that our Lord Jesus Christ does lay a yoke and a burden upon His followers. He uses those words thatnone may presume to enter His service without due consideration. Religion is not a matter for trifling. The service of themeek and lowly Christ is no child's play. There is a yoke that is to be borne by all His disciples and the neck of self-willmust be bent low to receive it. There is a burden to be carried for Christ-and all the strength that God gives us must beused for His honor and Glory.
But, lest those words, "yoke," and, "burden," should sound harsh to our ears and any of us should start back because we havehad our shoulders galled by another yoke and our backs bent beneath a very different burden, the Master very graciously andsweetly says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." It appears to me that He spoke thus so that none may despair-thatdespair may not even come near us and that we may not despond as to the possibility of our salvation. Christ has a yoke forus to wear, so let us seriously wear it. But it is an easy yoke, so let us wear it hopefully. He has a burden for us to carryfor Him, so let us be in earnest in bearing it-but it is a light burden, so let us be full ofjoy at the very prospect of carryingit. Our Savior's adjectives are always emphatic and they are especially so here. His "yoke is easy"-easy in the fullest sense,and His "burden is light"-light in the most joyous meaning of the term! You may always be sure that in Christ's words thereis never less than He seems to say and, more than that, you can scarcely ever be wrong in believing that every statement madeby Him contains far more than appears on the surface of it.
I want you to feel, at this time, that whatever yoke and burden there may be connected with Christ, that yoke is easy andthat burden is light. I hope you will not pervert this text as some people do. They misquote it by saying that "the yoke ofChristianityis easy and the burden of Christianityis light." I am not greatly concerned about the yoke or burden of Christianity-tome, the charm of our text is that, here, we have Christ Himself saying to us, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Iwant you to have before you not some impalpable, visionary, imaginary thing, but the very Lord that bought us with His preciousblood speaking with those lips which are as lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh and, pointing with His pierced hand to theyoke and to the burden which He calls especially His own and saying, as He said when He was here upon the earth, "My yokeis easy and My burden is light."
Coming, then, to our text, I ask you to notice, first, that the context explains it Secondly, a little word of distinctionin the text clears it And, thirdly, the experience of all who know the Lord proves it to be true.
I. First, then, THE CONNECTION OF OUR TEXT EXPLAINS IT.
Our Savior did not speak these two sentences by themselves and, therefore, we may not take this verse by itself. It is true,but you may make it untrue to yourself unless you take it in its proper connection. How often shall we have to tell peoplethat the Bible is not a mere collection of separate sentences which they may tear from their context just as they please?We are not to treat the verses of the Bible as pigeons might treat a bushel of peas-picking out one here and another there,without any thought of the surroundings of that particular passage! No, this blessed Book was written for men to read rightthrough-and if they are to understand the meaning of it, they must read each sentence in the connection in which it is found.
So, keeping this Truth in view, I begin by saying that some of you would not find Christ's yoke easy or His burden light.That is the very last thing you would find them to be to you in your present condition-you would find His yoke heavy, andHis burden impossible for you to bear! Some of you are mere worldlings-"lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." It maybe that some of you are self-righteous and proud of that which should be your shame. Anyhow, if you are unregenerate, ourtext would not be true to you in your unconverted state. There is something else which must come before this. If any unsavedman thinks that he can, just as he is, shoulder Christ's Cross and yield himself up to be Christ's servant, he has made agreat mistake. Before him, these burning sentences must flash like Sinai's lightning-"You must be born-again." "Because thecarnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be." God will not be servedby men whose sins have not been washed away by the precious blood of His dear Son! He will have none to bear His burdens butthose who have, first of all, received of His Grace through faith in the great "Mediator between God and men, the Man, ChristJesus." So you see where you have to begin. "Come unto Me," said Christ, "all you that labor and are heavy laden." By thatHe means, "Do not suppose that because you are already laborers in another master's service, you can wear My yoke. Do notimagine that because you are already heavily laden, you can bear My burden. You must first get rid of that which now makesyou labor. You must first be rid of that which is a burden to you, for 'no man can serve two masters.' Your old, toilsomelabor must be done with, for no man can carry the double burden of his own guilt and of the service of God. That cannot be."
So, dearly-beloved, if you wish to be servants of God. If in your heart there burns a holy desire to serve the Most High,begin at the right place! Christ directs you to the door of entrance into His service and into everything else that is worthhaving when He says, "'Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' I will give it toyou-you are not to buy it, you are not to earn it, or deserve it-I will give it to you freely, for nothing is freer than agift! I will give it to you-nobody else can do so, but I, in My own Personality, will give to you who are the most weary withyour laboring, and the most heavy laden with your sin-I will give to you rest and I will give it to you immediately, on thespot! Come to Me now, by believing on Me, by trusting wholly to Me, by getting away from yourself and forgetting, for a while,any hope you ever had in yourself-just coming to Me to find your all in Me-and so coming, I will give you rest."
You cannot take Christ' s yoke upon you, or bear His burdens-and therefore you cannot prove them to be easy and light-tillfirst of all you have entered into this rest which He so freely gives! If you are first perfectly rested, then you can work.I have told you before how the change which our Lord has made in the Sabbath is indicative of the change which He has madein our life. The Law of God says, "Work six days, and then observe the seventh as the Sabbath," but, under the Gospel, thearrangement is, "Rest on the first day before you have done a stroke of work. Just as the week begins, take your rest and,after that, in the strength derived from it, and from the grateful motives which arise out of that one blessed day of rest,give to the Lord the six days of the week." There is a change from Law to Gospel indicated in that very change-so let it bewith you. "Come unto Me," said Christ, "all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." When you have donethat, the text will be true to you, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
There is something more than that, however. We began with the Master's gracious invitation, "Come unto Me." Then follows thecommand, "Take My yoke upon you." You will prove that His yoke is easy when you take it upon you. But, instead of doing so,I know what a man often does. He draws his chair up, sits down and says, "I will consider what Christ requires of me. I willthink of what it is to lead a Christian life-all the self-denials, the struggles and the conflicts that will be involved inwearing His yoke which seems to me a very hard one." Get up, Sir, from that chair and, instead of being a critic of Christ'syoke, put it on! "'Take My yoke upon you,' says the Lord Jesus. Take it upon your shoulder by a humble yet confident faith.First be rid of your old burden and so get rest-and then take upon you this yoke of Mine."
Let me put it practically to you and then see whether Christ's yoke is not easy, and His burden is not light. Suppose a numberof persons say to me, "That mass of white substance yonder is salt." I say, "No, it is not salt. It is sugar." "But from thisdistance it looks like salt." I tell them that it is sweet, the very essence of sweetness, but they do not believe me. Wemay have a long talk over the matter, but we shall never get to the end of the controversy till they come to the sugar andtaste it. Then the controversy will be ended at once. So is it with men who have not proved the sweetness of Christ. Theysay, "There is nothing in religion except that which is burdensome and sad." It may seem to be to you who do not
know anything about it, but we who trust and love the Lord say to you, "Taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is theman that trusts in Him." That is the test-come and prove it for yourselves, for there has never yet been a case in which aman has really taken Christ's yoke upon him, in which he has not, by that very fact, proved that Christ's yoke is easy andHis burden is light!
There is still more to follow, for the Savior says, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart:and you shall find rest unto your souls. "There are two rests for a Christian to enjoy. The first is the rest that Christgives him when he believes. The next is the rest that he finds when he takes Christ's yoke upon him. These two rests willbe distinctly enjoyed by anyone who truly comes to Christ and learns of Him-and no one will find Christ's yoke easy in anyother way. To put it in humble phraseology, when we are bound to Christ, as apprentices are bound to their master, to learnof Him, we shall find a new and yet deeper and fuller rest to our soul than we have ever known before. And this will proveto us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. There is a use and habit in the service of Christ that brings much sweetnesswith it. To the beginner, the yoke may seem strange and, perhaps, galling, but, after a while, when we have learned of Christ-evenas He, Himself, learned obedience when He made Himself a Servant for our sakes-then we shall discover that His yoke is easyand His burden is light.
There are some, even among real Christians, who do not yet know the joy of service for the Savior because they have not beenlong enough bound apprentice to the Master. See, that work is very hard to that young lad. He has been only two or three monthsin that workshop and, though he is trying his best, he does not succeed at it yet. But if he remains long enough by his master'sside and learns of him, you will then see how deftly he will do it. Just as the master now does it and makes little of itbecause he is accustomed to it, so will this lad, by-and-by, find it quite easy-and he will then wonder that he ever thoughtit to be difficult! And he will agree with his master that, after all, the yoke is easy and the burden is light because hehas learned the knack of carrying it.
When I am at Mentone, I frequently see women with bare feet, tripping down from the hills, carrying a basket, perhaps fullof lemons and, very likely, with a child on the top of it. They never put up a hand to steady it, but they swing along, knittingtheir stockings as they come down the hill, using all their fingers for their work and cheerily saying, "Good morning," asthey come by us! It is amazing how they carry such a load! I could not even lift the basket which they carry on their heads.How is it that they can do it? I do not suppose they could tell you, but they have done it since they were girls, and theyhave kept doing it! And feeble as you would suppose them to be, their strength has seemed to grow with the burden and theyare able to carry their load easily and cheerfully. So, when you come to Christ and get rid of your old burden, He puts uponyou His burden-and you stay with Him and learn of Him till, at last, you, also, prove that His yoke is easy and His burdenis light!
I must ask you to go one step further with me. He who would enter to the fullest into the sweetness of this text must knowChrist Himself, for, observe, the Master puts Himself into it-"I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest untoyour souls." I do most firmly believe that there is nothing that makes such men of us as knowing the Son of Man! After all,the most sublime science in the world is to know Christ and, especially, to know the meaning of the wounds of Christ. Theman who has most studied the agony in the Garden and on the Cross, and who has most studied his Master in all conditions,will be the best fitted to be a burden-bearer-either to serve or to suffer, according as God would have it. The very sightof Christ makes cowards brave! One glance at that blessed Countenance of His, all smeared with bloody sweat, makes us ashamedthat we ever murmured-disgusted with ourselves that we counted anything a self-denial for His dear sake!
When we see Him so gentle under all reproaches, bearing even to be spit upon without an angry look or word. When we reallybegin to know His very heart-that heart which was entirely subject to the will of God for our sakes-yes, even for the sakeof those who were His enemies and who crucified Him-knowing Him thus, His yoke becomes indeed easy, and His burden becomeslight! When the Cross of Christ was fresh in the memory of His Church, she bore martyrdom for Him with joy. His yoke thenbecame so desirable that men even pressed into the court of justice to avow themselves Christians with the hope that theywould be martyred! Men, did I say? Yes, and women and children, also, flocked in and seemed as though they courted torturefor Christ's yoke had grown so light and so easy, on account of their having known Him, and His death being so fresh a thing!Oh it was marvelous! They have handed down to us, by their tradi-
tions, enough to make us blush if ever we dream of shrinking from any service or suffering for the sake of the Master wholoved us so much that He even died for us!
II. But now, secondly, and may God the Holy Spirit help me to speak with power upon this important point!- THERE IS A LITTLEWORD OF DISTINCTION IN THE TEXT WHICH VERY MUCH HELPS TO CLEAR IT.
Perhaps somebody says, "I do not find the yoke of life easy, or the burden of life light." Christ does not say that they are.What He does say is, Myyoke is easy and My burden is light." What was Christ's light burden and what was Christ's easy yoke?I believe that I might illustrate the text by saying that He thought thus of that yoke and that burden which He bore-the yokewhich rested upon the shoulders of "the Prince of the kings of the earth"-the burden which lay on that blessed back whichonce wore the robe of universal empire. Never before was there such a yoke, or such a burden, but, for love of us and fordelight in what He would accomplish thereby, His yoke to Him was easy, and His burden was light. For the joy that was setbefore Him, He endured the Cross, despising the shame. So, whenever you have to bear a yoke or a burden, count it easy forthe same reason as Christ did-but it must be Christ's yoke that we carry, for that alone will be easy to us.
For, first, the yoke of Christ is easy and light as compared with the yoke of others. The yoke of Moses was heavy. The yokeof the Law of God was burdensome to the Jews, so that neither they nor their fathers were able to bear it. But the yoke ofChrist's law is easy and the burden of Christ's command to His Church is light. The yoke of the world is heavy. If any manwill wear it, he will find that he may serve this cruel taskmaster till he is gray and then he will be discarded. CardinalWolsey lamented, all too late, that had he but served his God with half the zeal he served his king, he would not, in hisage, have been left naked to his enemies. The yoke of sin-the yoke of selfishness, the yoke of greediness, the yoke of drunkenness,the yoke of unbelief-is the heaviest yoke of all! The crux of infidelity is heavier than the Cross of Christ. You may dependupon it, that Christ's yoke, compared with any other, or with all others, is truly easy and light!
But then, it is not easy if we are rebellious against it' 'I find it hard," says one, "to do the Master's will." Do you? Iexpect the difficulty is the result of not doing the Master's will. If you really did it willingly, it would be easy. "Oh,but I find such-and-such a thing, which Christ requires of me, to be hard." No, you do not find that to be hard-it is yourown heart that is hard. The hardness is in the sin that rebels against Christ. There would be no hardness in the tendernessthat would yield to Him, or that would come to you as the result of yielding. I struggle, and then the cords that bind mecut my flesh. I quietly yield, and then I do not injure myself. A man will float if he will lie still upon the top of thewater, but he will drown if he begins to struggle. It is the complete yielding to Christ that makes the yoke to be easy-butthe difficulty comes when it is not His yoke that we take, but one made by our self-will. We must have everything accordingto our own will. We must do everything in our own way and so, Lord Will-Be-Will comes prancing down the street on his highhorse and then everything goes amiss! But Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light.
"Still, the burden of life is very heavy," says one. Yes, but how far is it Christ's yoke and His burden? It is not His yokeif we are burdened with forbidden cares, for His yoke is that we should be free from care because we have cast all our careupon Him who cares for us. Has He not pointed us to ravens and to lilies and bid us learn from them the lesson of living withoutcare? Your cares, poor anxious one, are not Christ' s yoke! They are a heavy yoke that is all of your own making. But if youtook another kind of care-the care of not caring-then you would find Christ's yoke to be easy, His burden to be light andyour life would be joyous and happy!
Nor is it Christ's yoke when we add other burdens to the one He lays upon us.' 'Oh, but I want"-yes, I know. You want to geton, to be rich, to be famous and all of that! But is that Christ's yoke? He says, "I am meek and lowly in heart." Ambitionis your own yoke, not His! And the lust of wealth, the desire for power, the craving for human love- all that is a yoke ofyour own making-and if you will wear it, it will gall you. There is more joy in being unknown than in being known and thereis less care in having no wealth than in having much of it. We often go the wrong way to work in seeking true restfulnessand happiness. We set our minds on getting this and that, and then blame our Master because we have a heavy burden on ourbacks. He meant that we shouldhave a heavy burden if we would make one of our own! But if our only care was to seek His Glory,to imitate Him, to put our feet down into His footprints-if, like He, we were submissive even in our greatest agony and closedour most intense petitions with His own words, Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will," then we should find that Hisyoke is easy and His burden is light! God grant us Grace to prove the
difference between His yoke and that which we make for ourselves-between His burden and that which we pile up by our own willfulness!
The yoke of Christ is His word, His precepts, His commands, the following of His example, the bearing of suffering which Heappoints, the persecution which comes to us for His sake. This is His yoke, and His burden, quite as much as we need desireto carry. So, let us be content that we are not our own masters, but that we are our Lord's servants and that we have noteven a pennyworth of our own to carry, but only mean to be carriers for Him. We have hired ourselves out to carry the vesselsof the sanctuary-and we will carry no other burden than that. You remember that Nehemiah gave orders to his servants, thatthere should be no burden brought in on the Sabbath day," and the Lord has graciously brought us to a Divine Sabbatismos"already. If we bear no burdens but His burdens, and do no service but His service, then we shall find that His yoke is easyand His burden is light! May God the Holy Spirit lead us into this kind of life and then, indeed, shall we be truly happy!
III. Our third point is to be that OUR EXPERIENCE PROVES THE TEXT TO BE TRUE. Many of us have proved that Christ' s yoke iseasy and that His burden is light. In speaking upon this point, I must go over part of the ground I traversed just now.
Experience-that is to say, use and habit again-proves Christ's burden to be light Those of you who have known the Lord these25 or 30 or 40 years, what do you say about this matter? Do you not find things somewhat different from what they were whenyou first came to Christ? Then, He gave you rest, did He not?-and you have never lost it, but, since then, you have gone onbearing His Cross and learning of Him-and you have found a more complete rest, have you not? I think that I shall describeyour experience, as well as my own, when I say that we now have a calmness and serenity of spirit which we did not know atfirst. We have learned to do, almost spontaneously, some things which used to cost us a great effort. We now, almost instantaneously,think and say what before would have caused us deliberation to think and say-and many a burden that almost broke our backs,then, is no burden at all to us now!
See how it is with those who have been long sick. At first they dread the thought of being a week without coming downstairs-butafter being bed-ridden for 20 years, they get accustomed to it and even smile when we pity them. Well, that is a strong illustrationof what I mean. To those who are not sufferers, I might give other illustrations, but it is true that there is a sacred useand habit that comes to us through the Grace of God. We say that use is second nature" and, being accustomed to bear thisburden, we are like the bullock which at first is restive and will not plow, but when, year after year, he has plowed withhis true yokefellow, he gets almost to love the yoke. And when he is brought out in the morning, he looks round for his yokefellowand adjusts his neck so that he may bear his part of the yoke without distressing his companion that is to be yoked with him.And almost before the farmer bids them move, the two bullocks begin steadily to go their usual round. There is less need ofthe ox-goad, now, because they have become accustomed to the yoke. They seem to know when to turn at the end of the furrowand how to do it all-and blessed is that Christian who, by experience, has acquired the blessed habit of serving or sufferingas his Master wills. He finds that Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light.
But, dear Friends, we also, by experience, prove Christ's yoke to be easy and His burden to be light because of the motivethat leads us to bear them. What is the motive that leads a Christian to bear Christ's yoke and burden? Why, the master motiveis love! And what will we not do for love? Things which no money could induce us to do are freely done out of love. Well doesour poet sing-
"'Tis love that makes our willing feet
In swiff obedience move."
In our ordinary domestic life, nothing is too heavy. Nothing is too demeaning if it is done for love. And so is it with theyoke of Christ. When we really come to love Him, we are willing to do or to suffer anything for His dear sake! His love makesthe burden light and the yoke easy.
Further, experience shows us that these things are light because there is a new nature given us with which we bear the burdenand the yoke. Our old carnal nature cannot endure it-you might as soon try to yoke the sea or to harness the wind as seekto put the yoke of Christ upon a carnal man's shoulder, or make him open his mouth to receive the bit of the Divine Law. ButGod creates in us a new heart and a right spirit-and that new nature as naturally takes to obedience as
the old nature took to rebellion! And so the yoke becomes easy and the burden light. Is not that the true answer to the riddle?Is not that the great reason why that which otherwise would crush us becomes so light?
Then, Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light because the Divine Trinity comes to our help. When the Trinity comes in,all thought of difficulty vanishes. If our Heavenly Father is with us, we can do or bear anything. The feeblest among us couldstand, like Atlas with a world upon his shoulders and never feel the strain if God the Father were with him! Then, how upliftingis the sympathy of Christ! We can bear anythingwhen He says to us-
"'I feel in My heart all your sighs andyour groans,
For you are most near Me, My flesh and My bones!
In all your distresses your Head feels the pain,
Yet all are most necessary, not one is in vain."
Dr. Watts wrote truly-
"Jesus can make a dying bed Feel soft as downy pillows."
Then there is the blessed co-operation of the Holy Spirit. When He comes to us as Comforter, Quickener, Guide, Streng-thenerand Friend-then the yoke is easy and the burden is light-especially when He comes with manifestations of God to the soul andwhen faith, and hope, and joy, are all shedding their benign influence over the heart. Well might the Apostle say that hecould do all things through Christ who strengthened him! And when the Holy Spirit comes and reveals Christ in us, then nothingis difficult, but everything is light and easy. Experience cracks this nut which otherwise might break our teeth. Have youever tried it, Brothers and Sisters? If so, I know that you have proved Christ's word true to you, "My yoke is easy and Myburden is light."
Another thing that helps to make Christ's yoke easy to some of us is the consciousness of the benefits which we have derivedfrom it I can bear my personal testimony that the best piece of furniture that I ever had in the house was a cross. I do notmean a material cross-I mean the cross of affliction and trouble. I am sure that I have run more swiftly with a lame leg thanI ever did with a sound one. I am certain that I have seen more in the dark than ever I saw in the light- more stars, mostcertainly-more things in Heaven if fewer things on earth! The anvil, the fire and the hammer are the making of us-we do notget fashioned much by anything else. That heavy hammer falling on us helps to shape us! Therefore let affliction and troubleand trial come. Rutherford said that he thought Christ might almost be jealous of His Cross, for he loved affliction so much!It had brought him so much benefit that he began even to love the cross-it had drawn him so close to his Lord that they raneach other pretty evenly.
Well, I do not think that there is much fear of that, but, really, Christ and His Cross do so sweetly go together that I havesometimes felt like the man who had such blessed times in his sickness and who became so dull when he recovered, that he said,Take me back to bed, again, and let me have all my pains, again, for then I proved the preciousness of Christ." Many an oldCovenanter, when he met in the kirk in Edinburgh and sat there in peace and quietness, had not half the fellowship with Christwhich he had experienced when the cruel Claverhouse was after him! And he said, Let me go back to the moors and worship Godas I did when the text was read by the light of the lightning flash, for God was very near His people beside the moss andamong the hills." It is certainly so, still, Brothers and Sisters. Not only is Christ's yoke easy and His burden light, butI have often felt as if His yoke were wings and His burden feathers-as if, by their help, I could mount and soar above allordinary experiences! You know what weights are and how they hold you down-but any engineer will tell you that there is away of managing weights so as to make them lift you up-and our great Engineer lifts us by that which seems as if it woulddrag us down! Blessed be His name for this!
And, lastly, His yoke becomes easy and His burden light as we think of what will come of them at last The deeper our sorrows,the louder we shall sing. Heaven will be all the brighter because of the darkness through which we have passed on the wayto it. Oh, what a Heaven it will be to the sick, the poor, the despised and the afflicted, to burst their bonds and soar awayto everlasting bliss! It will not be long before you and I will be where Jesus is-therefore, till then, let us patiently bearall that He lays upon us.
But this is not true of you all. Some of you have heavy burdens to carry, but you have nobody to help you. How do you manageto live without a God? O poor creatures! Perhaps you, Sir, came here in a carriage and pair, but you are, indeed, a poor creatureif you have not a God. You draw large dividends from the bank, but you are poor, indeed, if you have not Christ as your Savior.As for me, I will take Christ and His Cross, and count them greater riches than all the
treasures of Egypt! The Lord bring you all to think and say the same-and if you ever do, then you can begin with, Come untoMe, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and you can go on to the text and claim Christ's wordsas applying to you-"My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The way of holiness is an easy way! May God the Holy Spirit graciouslyguide you to walk in it, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-775, 493, 495.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH49:24-26; 50.
Isaiah 49:24. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? Yes, this shall happen when God makes bare Hisarm and stretches it forth to rescue His captive people.
25, 26. But thus said the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall bedelivered: for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children. And I will feed them that oppressyou with their own flesh; and they shall be drunk with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know thatI, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. This is the promise of Christ to His Church, boththe Jewish and the gentile Church. He will deliver her from all her afflictions and distresses. And her enemies shall feedupon their own flesh, or they shall be overthrown by mutual enemies. As it was of old when those that were confederate againstIsrael suddenly fell to quarreling and slew each other, so is it, sooner or later, in the battle between the Truth of Godand error. By-and-by there is a split in the adversaries' camp and they devour one another! Let any wrong thing alone andit will break in pieces of itself. All real and abiding cohesion is gone when men seek to be united against the Lord and againstHis Anointed. They shall confute one another, or they shall eat their own words and so they shall, as it were, feed upon theirown flesh.
Isaiah 50:1. Thus says the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away? Sometimes, the headings to the chaptersin our Bible give us the meaning of the passage. They are, of course, not Inspired, and are merely put there by the translators,but, sometimes, they are little comments upon the text. It is so in the heading of this chapter-"Christ shows that the derelictionof the Jews is not to be imputed to Him, by His ability to save, by His obedience in that work, and by His confidence in thatassistance," so that the Lord Jesus, here, speaks to the Jewish Church. The great Redeemer, "the Mighty One of Jacob," thusspeaks to His chosen people Israel, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away?"
1. Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have you sold yourselves, and for yourtransgressions is your mother put away. I t was sin that caused the alienation between Israel and her God, and it is sin thatis the cause of all the estrangement from God in the world. A sinful man, so long as he continues to live in sin, cannot lovea holy God!
2, 3. Why, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there no one to answer? Is My hand shortened at all, that itcan't redeem? Or have Inopower to deliver? Behold, at My rebuke Idry up the sea, Imake the rivers a wilderness: their fishstink because there is no water, and die for thirst I clothe the heavens with blackness and Imake sackcloth their covering.What a glorious God this is who says that He has not divorced His people! How mighty He is-yes, Almighty! All power is inHis hands. Notice who He is, for He goes on to describe Himself-
4. The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that Ishould know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary:He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ears to hear as the learned. Just as scholars learn from their teacher. It wasa wondrous stoop for the Omnipotent to become a Learner, but He descended lower than that.
5. The Lord GOD has opened My ears and I was not rebellious, neither turned back This was another step in the ladder of Christ'shumiliation, but He went lower still! Read the 3rd verse, again, and then read the 6th . "I clothe the heavens with blacknessand I make sackcloth their covering."
6. 7. I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting.For the Lord GOD will help Me, therefore shall I not be confounded, therefore have I set My face like a flint, and I knowthat I shall not be ashamed. Even though He had to stoop so low as to endure shame and spitting, He
knew that the ultimate result would be Glory to God and to Himself. He had no thought of despairing. It had been already writtenof Him, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged." He shall surely accomplish the work which His Father gave Him to do. The nextverse is probably the one from which Paul took that grand challenge of his, "Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died,"and so on. He takes out of the mouth of Christ his words of confidence and puts them into the mouth of all Christ's people.
8. He is near that justifies Me; who will contend with Me?Our Lord Jesus Christ was justified in His Resurrection. He tookHis people's sin upon Him and, therefore, He had to die in their place-but His work was so complete that He was Himselfjustifiedas well as all His people-and He challenges anyone to lay anything to His charge!
8-10. Let us stand together: who is My adversary? Let him come near to Me. Behold, the Lord God will help Me, who is he thatshall condemn Me? Lo, they all shall wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat them up. Who is among you that fears the LORD,that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? It is the Savior still speaking, for He knewwhat it was to walk in darkness and to have no light. And what terrible darkness it was, my Brothers and Sisters! What anawful thing it was to Him to have so suffer the withdrawal of the light of His Father's Countenance from Him! He knows, therefore,what this trial means, and being full of compassion, He offers to us the kindest counsel if we are in a similar condition.What does He tell us to do? Listen, you who love the Lord, yet who are in the dark.
10. Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and rely upon his God. In darkness or in the light, take heed that you do this!When everything about you seems contrary to the Divine promises and your spirits are ready to sink, take heed to this goodcounsel of your Savior-"Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and rely upon his God."
11. Behold, all you that kindle a fire. You who would gladly save yourselves. 11. That compass yourselves about with sparks.Or firebrands.
11. Walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks. Or flambeaux.
11. That you have kindled. That will be the end of it. This grand illumination of yours-all your good works, all your gloriousintellect and I know not what-what will come of it?
11. This shall you have of My hand; you shall lie down in sorrow. God save us all from such a lying down as that at the last,for Christ' s sake! Amen.