A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, April 25, 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/19/2012
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at you; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall stand speechless in his presence: for what had not been told to them they shall see; and what they had not heard they shall consider. [Isa 52:13-15]
1. Modern Jewish writers refuse to see the Messiah in this passage, but their predecessors were not so blind. The Targum and the ancient Rabbis interpreted it of the Messiah, and indeed all attempts to explain it apart from him are palpable failures. Christian commentators in all ages have seen the Lord Jesus here. How could they do otherwise? To whom else could the prophet have referred? If the Man of Nazareth, the Son of God, is not very visible in these three verses, they are as dark as midnight itself. We do not hesitate for a moment in applying every word to our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Dear brethren, when our Lord ascended on high he gave us this commission “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Our duty is to obey that command, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear; the commission is unconditional, and is not dependent upon our success. If up to now, there had never been a solitary convert through Christian ministry, if the entire church of God had so far laboured in vain, and the succession of saints had only been kept up by miracle, it would not affect our duty one iota. Our business is to preach the gospel, even to those who are aroused to persecution by it. We are to sow, whether a harvest follows or not. Success is with God; service belongs to us. I believe, therefore, that true faith, when it is in a healthy condition, will enable us to go plodding on, carefully scattering the seed, even by the wayside and on stony places; yet there is flesh about us all, and faith is not always unalloyed with sight, and consequently we occasionally flag and almost faint if we do not see some present usefulness. This passage may cheer us if we fear that we have spent our strength for nothing, for this certainly was the condition of the church of God at the time when this passage was addressed to it. There is a break made in our version between the fifty-second and fifty-third chapters, but no such break should have been made, and if we read straight through we shall see that these consoling words are meant for mourning workers. We hear even prophets saying, “Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Even the bravest of the prophets lamented that the offence of the cross hindered men from seeing the comeliness of the Messiah. All glorious as he was to the prophets when they beheld his substitutionary griefs, he was not understood by the multitudes who only saw in him a man stricken by God and afflicted, having no beauty that they should desire him. To support them under circumstances so dispiriting there comes in this comforting word of our text, in which the marred visage and disfigured form of the great servant of the Lord are fully recognised, and yet the voice of the Lord declares that the shame and contempt caused by it will be temporary, and the ultimate result will be certain; the issue of the great scheme of redemption is by no means uncertain, his cause must prosper, his throne must be established, and the will of the Lord must be done. Let us brace ourselves up this morning with the delightful prospect of the predestinated triumph of the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
3. In handling our text we shall note, first, that, directing us to the Lord Jesus Christ, it dwells upon the character of his dealings, — “My servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” Then, secondly, it mentions the stumblingblock which lies in his way, the great hindrance to the progress of his work: “Many were astonished at you; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” Thirdly, we see in the verses before us the certainty of the removal of this hindrance: “He shall sprinkle many nations; the kings shall stand speechless in his presence.” And, fourthly, the manner of its accomplishment, namely, by instruction in the gospel: “For what had not been told to them they shall see; and what they had not heard they shall consider.”
4. I. THE CHARACTER OF OUR LORD’S DEALINGS.
5. He is called in the text, “My servant,” a title as honourable as it is condescending. The Lord Jesus has undertaken in infinite love to become the servant of the Father for our sakes, and he is a servant like Moses, who was placed over the Lord’s house to manage the affairs of that economy. Jesus, though a Son and therefore Lord, has condescended to become the great servant of God under the present economy; he conducts the affairs of the household of God, and it is said in the text, and it is to that we have to draw your attention, that he deals prudently. He who took upon him the form of a servant acts as a wise servant in everything; and indeed it could not be otherwise, for “in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” This prudence was revealed in the days of his flesh, from his childhood among the doctors in the temple on to his confession before Pontius Pilate. Our Lord was enthusiastic; there was a fire burning within him which nothing could quench, he found his food and drink in doing his Father’s will; but that enthusiasm never carried him into rashness, or forgetfulness of sound reason; he was as wise and prudent as the most cold hearted calculator could have been. Our Saviour was full of love, and that love made him frank and open hearted; no frigid reserve kept him at a distance from the people, or shrouded him in a cloud of mystery, he was a man among men, transparent, childlike, “the holy child Jesus”; but for all that he was always prudent, and “committed himself to no man, for he knew what was in man.” Too many who aspire to be leaders of the people study policy, craft, and diplomacy, and think it is necessary to use language as much for the concealment as for the declaration of their thoughts; such men watch their own words until their very soul seems withered within them. The Friend of sinners did not have a fraction of that thing about him, and yet he was wiser and more prudent than if diplomacy had been his study from his youth up. You see his wisdom when he baffles his adversaries; they think to entangle him in his speech, but he breaks their snares asunder as we sweep cobwebs from our path with a wave of our hand. You see his wisdom when he deals with his friends: he has many things to say to them, but he perceives that they cannot bear them; he, therefore, does not overload their intellects, lest undigested truth should breed mischief in their souls. Little by little, like the increasing brightness of the dawn, he lets light into their souls, lest their eyes should utterly fail before its brilliance. He does not send them upon difficult errands at first, he reserves for their more mature years and stronger days the more stern tasks and more heroic deeds of daring. As we see his career in the light of the four evangelists, it is distinguished for his prudence, and in that respect “never man spoke like this man.”
6. He who on earth became obedient to death has now gone into glory, but he is still over the house of God, conducting its affairs. He still deals prudently. Our fears lead us to judge that the affairs of Christ’s kingdom are going amiss, but we may rest assured that all is well, for the Lord has put all things under the feet of Jesus, and made him to be head over all things to his church. The pleasure of the Lord shall still prosper in the hand of Jesus. We err, but he does not. Indeed, the very points in which we err are overruled by him for the display of his unerring wisdom and consummate skill. The storms and tempests which surround the church serve only to illustrate the wisdom and power of our great Pilot; he has ultimate designs which are not apparent upon the surface, and these he never fails to accomplish.
7. Brethren, all along through the history of the church the dealings of the Lord Jesus with his people have been very remarkable. The wisdom in them is often deep, and only discoverable by those who seek it out, and yet frequently it sparkles upon the surface like gold in certain lands across the sea. Notice how the Lord has made his church learn truth by degrees, and purified her first from one error and then from another. The church has fallen first into one folly and then into another, but her Lord has borne with her and delivered her. Frequently he has allowed her to work her folly out, in order to see its result, and by this process he has effectively stamped out the error, so that it will never gain power again. At the present time the gross folly of uniting with the State is being practically proven before the eyes of all men, and when it has come to its fulness it will end, never to be revived again. We wonder sometimes why he allows this or that error to exist, and we ask how it can be that the church should be so despoiled of her purity and weakened in her strength. We wonder that our Lord does not judge the evil and punish it at once, or that he does not raise up some strong voice to protest against it, and, sending his Holy Spirit with it, destroy the evil at once. I think he might, but there is prudence in the withholding of his power. Just as the wise physician tolerates disease until it shall have reached the point at which he can grapple with it, so as to eradicate it from the system, so has the good Lord allowed some ills to fester in the midst of his church, so that he may ultimately exterminate them. We wish to see great success following all forms of ministry, we wish to see our missionary societies prosperous to such a degree that a nation should be born in a day; but the Lord withholds success in a great measure, and by this he is dealing prudently. He keeps us back from prosperity, until we have learned that it does not arise out of our plans after all, and schemes, and resources, and energies: he would strip us of pride; he would put us in such a condition that it would be safe for us to give us success, and would be glorious to himself also. Often a church has, like Israel of old, to suffer defeat until it finds out and destroys the Achan who troubles the camp. The church has been foiled and humbled until at last in sheer despair she has fallen upon her face in prayer, and lifted up her heart to the strong for strength, and then her strength has returned, and victory has waited on her banners. As rivers are filtered and purified in their flowing, so does the church in her course become pure through the wisdom of her Lord.
8. Study the pages of ecclesiastical history, and you will see how Jesus Christ has dealt wisely in the raising up of appropriate men for all times. I could not suppose a better man for Luther’s age than Luther, yet Luther alone would have been very incomplete for the full service needed had it not been for Calvin, whose calm intellect was the complement of Luther’s fiery soul. You shall not find a better age for Wycliffe to have been born in than the time in which he shone out as the morning star of the Reformation. God outfits the man for the place, and the place for the man; there is an hour for the voice, and a voice for the hour.
9. Our Lord has done all things well even to this day, but now, perhaps, we are getting a little tired; it is nearly two thousand years since he died, and there has been a lot of talk about its being the end of the six thousand years since creation’s day, and we murmur to each other that the great Sabbath must surely be very near. I am not much in love with this chronological theory, for I think we cannot be very certain that we have not long ago passed beyond the seven millennium. It is very questionable to me whether we do not altogether misunderstand the chronology of the Old Testament; certainly nothing is more perplexing than the ancient Hebrew numbering. Still, so the many will have it, and possibly so it is. A portion of the church not only expects the Lord’s second advent, but gets into a state of feverishness about the matter. Surely, they say, his delays have been very great: why are his chariots so long in coming? Ah, brethren, the Master knows best. It may please him to finish up the present age today; if so, he will doubtless deal prudently in so doing: but it may be that myriads of years are yet to elapse before his appearing, and if so there will be wisdom in the delay. Let us leave the matter alone, for while the general fact that he will come is clearly revealed in order to quicken our diligence, the details are veiled in mystery, since they would only gratify our curiosity. If I knew that our Lord would come this evening, I should preach just as I intend to preach; and if I knew he would come during this sermon, I would go on preaching until he did. Christian people ought not be standing with their mouths open, gazing up into heaven and wondering what is going to happen; but they should wait with loins girt and lamps burning, ready for his appearing, whenever it may be. Continue on with the business your Lord has appointed for you, and you need be under no apprehension of being taken by surprise. On one occasion I called to see one of our friends, and I found her whitening the front steps. When she saw me she jumped up and blushingly said, “Oh dear, sir, I am sorry you caught me like this; I wish I had known you were coming.” “My dear sister,” I said, “I hope that is how the Lord will find me at his coming — doing my duty.” I should like to be found whitening the steps when the Lord comes, if that were my duty. Steady perseverance in appointed service is far better than prophetic speculation, especially if such speculation leads us to self-conceit and idleness. We may rest assured that the future is safe, for Jesus will deal wisely and come at the right time; therefore we may leave all matters in his hands. If the times are dark, it is right they should be; if the times are bright, it is right they should be; I at least cannot change the times, and therefore my duty is to do the work God has given me to do, whether the times are dark or bright. For all practical purposes it is enough for us that infinite wisdom is at the helm of affairs; “my servant shall deal prudently.”
10. Another translation of the passage is “my servant shall have prosperous success.” Let us append that meaning to the other. Prosperity will grow out of our Lord’s prudent dealings. The pleasure of the Lord prospers in the hands of Jesus. The gospel will prosper in the thing for which God has sent it. The decrees of God will be accomplished; his eternal purposes will be fulfilled. We may desire this or that, and our wish may or may not be granted, but whatever the Lord has appointed in his infinite wisdom to be done will come to pass to the last jot and tittle. The blood of Jesus Christ will not miss its foreseen result in reference to any individual under heaven, and no detail existing in the eternal plan of redemption shall be left unaccomplished. All along the line the Captain of our salvation will be victorious, and in every point and detail of the entire business the will of the Lord shall be done, and all heaven and earth shall be filled with praise as they see that it is so.
11. In consequence of this the text tells us the Lord shall be exalted and extolled. How well he deserves to be exalted and extolled for his matchless prudence! He cannot be esteemed too highly. At the present time you will say the name of Christ is not honoured; but wait for awhile, and he shall be very high. His name is even now more honoured than in former days, when it was the jest of the nations. The prudent plans which the Lord has adopted are surely working out the growth of his kingdom, and will certainly result in bringing to the front his name, and person, and teaching. Perhaps you think that certain doctrines are hindrances to the success of the gospel: you do not know what you saying. In the end it shall be seen that every part of his teachings, and procedure, and every act of his life, and all his government in providence were so wisely ordered, that as a whole they secured in the best and speediest manner the exalting and extolling of his holy name. The star of Jesus rises higher every hour; the twilight of Calvary brightens towards the millennial day. He was despised and rejected by men, but now tens of thousands adore him; and, according to the omnipotent promise of the Father, to him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord. The Spirit of God is at work glorifying Jesus, and providence is focusing all its forces for the same purpose. In heaven Jesus is exalted and extolled; in his church he is very high; and even in the world itself his name is a word of power already, and destined to be supreme in the ages to come. So much, then, upon the character of Messiah’s dealings.
12. II. Now let us view THE STUMBLINGBLOCK IN THE WAY OF OUR LORD.
13. It is his cross, which to Jew and Greek is always a hindrance. As if the prophet saw him in a vision, he cries out, “As many were astonished at you; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” When he was here, his personal position and condition and appearance were very much against the spread of his kingdom. He was the son of a carpenter, he wore the clothes of a peasant, he associated with tax collectors and sinners. Is he the Son of David? We looked for a great prince; we hoped for another Solomon. Is this he? Therefore the Jews rejected the meek and lowly prince of the house of David, and, alas, they persist in their rejection of his claims.
14. Today he has risen from the grave and gone into his glory, but the offence of the cross has not ceased, for upon his gospel there remains the image of his marred visage, and therefore men despise it. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to many. The main doctrine of the gospel concerns Jesus crucified, — Jesus, the Son of God, put to an ignominious death, because for our sakes he was numbered with the transgressors, and bore the sin of many. Men will tell you they could believe Christianity if it were not for the atonement; that is to say, if Jesus will come down from the cross, modern scoffers will believe in him, just as the ancient ones tauntingly promised to do; but of the gospel we may say that atoning blood is its pledge, and if you leave out the substitutionary work of Christ from it, there is no gospel left. It is a body without a soul. This, then, seems to be the impediment to the spread of the Redeemer’s kingdom: — he himself with his marred visage, and his gospel with a visage equally uncomely in the eyes of carnal men.
15. The practical part of the gospel is equally a stumblingblock to ungodly men, for when men enquire what they must do to be saved, they are told that they must receive the gospel as little children, that they must repent of sin, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Very humbling precepts for human self-sufficiency! And after they are saved, if they enquire what they should do, the precepts are not those which commend themselves to proud, domineering human nature — for they are such as these — “Be kindly affectionate to each other,” “forgiving each other and forbearing each other even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” To the world which loves conquerors, and blasts of trumpets, and chaplets of laurel, this kind of teaching has a marred visage, and an uncomely form.
16. Then, what seems even more humbling, the Lord Jesus Christ in his prudent dealing not only brings before us an offensive gospel, because of the doctrine of atonement, and offensive in its practical precepts, but he sends this gospel among us by men who are neither great nor noble, nor even among the wise of this world. The proud say, “We would submit ourselves to men of superior minds, but we cannot endure these foolish ones. Send us philosophers and orators combined, let men overcome us by cogent arguments, let them master us by words whose splendour shall dazzle our intellects.” Instead of which the Lord sends a man who speaks humbly, plainly, and perhaps even coarsely. What he says is very simple: “Believe and live; Christ in your place suffered for you, trust him”: he says this and little more. Is this not the fool’s gospel? Is it not worthy to be called the foolishness of preaching? Men do not like this, it is an offence to their dignity. They would hear Caesar if he would officiate in his purple, but they cannot endure Peter preaching in his fisherman’s coat. They will hear a pope in his sumptuous array, or a cardinal in his red hat, and they would not object to listen to a well trained logician from the schools, or an orator from the forum; but they are indignant at the man who disdains the excellency of speech, and calls the wisdom of this world folly. How can the gospel spread by such means? How, indeed, unless the Lord is with it, using human weakness to display the power of his grace?
17. Worse still, if worse can be, the people who become converted and follow the Saviour are generally of the poorer kind, and lightly esteemed. “Have any of the rulers believed?” is still the question. With what scorn do your literary men speak of professed Christians! Have you ever seen the sneer upon the face of your “advanced thought” gentleman, and of the far gone school of infidels, when they speak of the old women and the semi-idiots who listen to the pious platitudes of evangelical doctrines? They know how to despise us if they know nothing else! But is such scorn worthy of men? It is only another version of the old sneer of the Pharisees when they said, “Do you hear what these say?” and pointed to the boys and the rabble, who shouted, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Contempt has always followed at the heels of Jesus, and it always will until the day of his glory. If the great ones of the earth despise the Lord Jesus, their blood is on their own heads; to him it is a glory rather than a shame that “the poor have the gospel preached to them.” He is the people’s Christ whom it was written of old, — “I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” He rejoices to be called a leader and commander of the people, and he is glad that “the common people hear him gladly.” But here stands the difficulty front and centre, — the cross, which is the soul of Christianity, is also its stumblingblock.
18. If any here are offended with Christ because of his cross, I ask them to dismiss the prejudice. Should it lead any man to doubt the Saviour or withhold his heart from him because he comes with a visage marred with sorrow? If he came to teach us to be unhappy and to prescribe to us rules for increasing misery, we might be excused if we shunned his teaching; but if he comes bearing the grief himself so that we may not bear it, and if those lines of agony were ingrained in his countenance because he carried our griefs and our sorrows, they ought to be to us the most attractive of all beauties. I consider that the scar across the warrior’s face, which he gained in defending his country, is no disfigurement to him; it is a beauty spot. If my brother had in saving my life lost an arm or received a hideous wound, he would be all the more beautiful in my esteem; certainly I could not shun him on that account. The wounds of Jesus are precious jewels which should charm our eyes, eloquent mouths which should win our hearts. Be attracted by him, all of you! Do not hide your faces from him! Look on him and live and love. That crown of thorns has far more true glory about it than any crown of gold; it should be your delight to kiss those pierced and nailed hands; you should bow with joyful alacrity before that once sorrowing person. Jesus, you marred One, your cross, instead of being a stumblingblock for us is the glory of our faith.
19. That the gospel is spoken very plainly and that God blesses very simple people ought not to offend anyone. Ought it not rather to make us hopeful for the conversion of men because God may so largely bless commonplace instruments? Ought the conversion of the poor and the illiterate to be any offence to us? It shows a lack of humanity; it looks as if pride had dried up the milk of human kindness in us, if we can begrudge to those who have so little of this present world the priceless blessings of another.
20. III. We shall now speak of THE CERTAINTY OF THE REMOVAL OF THIS STUMBLINGBLOCK and the spread of Christ’s kingdom.
21. Just as his face was marred, so surely “he shall sprinkle many nations”; by which we understand, first, that the doctrines of the gospel are to fall in a copious shower over all lands. Jesus shall by his speech which drops as the dew and distils as the rain, not only sprinkles the Jews, but also the Gentile nations everywhere. Your brethren abhorred you, oh Emmanuel! They despised you, oh Man of Nazareth! but all lands shall hear of you, and feel you coming down like showers upon the mown grass. The far off dark skinned tribes, and the dwellers in the land of the setting sun shall hear your doctrine, and shall drink it in as the fleece of wool sucks up dew. You shall sprinkle many nations with your gracious word.
We must interpret this sprinkling according to the Mosaic ceremonies,
and you know there was a sprinkling with blood, to illustrate pardon
for sin, and a sprinkling with water to illustrate purification from
the power of sin. Jesus Christ with
The water and the blood
From his riven side which flowed,
has sprinkled not only many men but many nations, and the day will come when all nations shall feel the blessed drops which are scattered from his hands, and know them to be “of sin the double cure,” cleansing transgressors both from its guilt and power.
23. Dr. Kitto explains the passage by an Oriental custom. He says that kings when they invited their subjects to great festivals would employ people to sprinkle with perfume all who arrived, as they passed the palace gate. I scarcely think that that is the meaning of the text, but at any rate it supplies an illustration of it. Jesus invites men of all nations to come to the gospel feast, and as they enter he casts upon them the sweet perfumes of his love and grace, so that they are fragrant before the Lord. There were no perfumes for you, oh Jesus, upon Calvary! Vinegar and gall were all they could afford you; but now, since you have gone to heaven you provide perfumes for multitudes of the sons of men, and nations north and south and east and west are refreshed with the delightful showers of fragrance which fall upon them through the gospel.
24. The text, then, claims for Jesus Christ that the influence of his grace and the power of his work shall be extended over many nations, and shall have power not only over the common people, but over their leaders and rulers. “The kings shall stand speechless in his presence”; they shall have no word to say against him; they shall be so subdued by the majesty of his power that they shall silently pay him reverence, and prostrate themselves before his throne. Kings, notice that. I am always glad to hear about noblemen being converted, although I am by no means inclined to flatter the great, or to think more of one man’s soul than of another’s. I am glad, however, to hear about the salvation of peers and princes, for it indicates the wide spread of the gospel when all classes are affected by it, and when those who usually stand aloof yield themselves to its power. “Kings shall stand speechless in his presence.” This promise has not yet been fulfilled. There are those who think that the biblical prophecies are pretty nearly accomplished, and that we are passing into a new age. Well, I dare not dogmatize, but I dare question most of the talk I hear nowadays about the future. Scores of prophecies are not yet fulfilled. Kings have not stood speechless in his presence yet: they have mostly opened their mouths wide against him, and reviled and blasphemed him and persecuted his saints. There must be brighter days to come for this poor world yet, when even princes shall humbly obey our Lord. The more I study the Bible, the more sure I am of two things which I cannot reconcile; first, that Christ will come at such an hour as men do not look for him, and may come now; and secondly, that the gospel is to be preached in all nations, and that “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord.” I do not know which of the two things I am most certain of; neither do I know how to reconcile them; but they are both in the Word, and in due time they will be reconciled by history itself. Assuredly the day will come when the mightiest prince shall consider it his highest honour to have his name enrolled as a member of the church of Christ. “Yes, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him.” The little handful of grain in the earth upon the top of the mountains is still to increase until its fruit shall shake like Lebanon. “They shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’; for all shall know him from the least to the greatest.”
25. We look for this, and it will come. Oh thorn crowned King of Calvary, kings shall be your courtiers yet!
26. IV. Let us consider THE MANNER OF ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT.
27. How will it come to pass? Will there be new machinery? Will the world be converted, and the kings be made to stand speechless by some new mode of operation? I do not think so. Will the saints take up the sword one day? Will it be accomplished by that wonderful implement of civilization, a gunboat? Shall we convert the Hottentots by gunpowder? We have had a little trial of these carnal weapons, and some admire the success, but they may live to lament it. The Prince of Peace orders us to put the sword into its scabbard; his weapons, like his kingdom, are not carnal. No, the way which has been from the beginning of the age will last to its close. I believe that this battle is to be fought out in the same way it began. It pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. To conceive that our Lord will end the present mode of warfare, as though it were admitted that evil could not be conquered by the use of instrumentality, is to my mind to do him great dishonour. To me it is plain that, just as he has chosen to magnify his power by using feeble instruments, he will continue to do so until the victory is won. He has never yet relinquished his work so as to give the enemy an opportunity of claiming a victory. To change weapons is to lay one’s self open to the charge of being unable to conquer with those first used; but it is not so with our Lord. The very same grain of mustard which is now so small is yet to become a tree with far spreading branches, the leaven is yet to leaven the whole lump. The last harvest will be the result of sowing by men and not by some miraculous agency. The dividing of the people at last will be made from the contents of one and the same gospel dragnet, which we are bound to use until the heavens are no more.
According to this passage, these kings and nations are first of all
to hear. “Faith comes by hearing.” They are to hear something new.
Well, brethren, if they are to hear, we must preach and teach, so
that our clear line of duty is to go on spreading the gospel. Jesus
Christ would have his servants preach and teach the gospel. Are you
doing it? Go on doing it, brother, in the power of the Holy Spirit,
whatever comes. Have you not done it? Begin to do so now, as one of
Christ’s servants, and pray for divine help. Do you say you cannot do
it? You can. You are hiding your talent in a napkin; take it out, you
unfaithful servant, lest your Lord comes and judges you! But you
cannot teach many? Who said you could? Teach one. Oh, but you cannot
preach? Who said preach? Teach; teach somehow. Cause the people to
know the account of the cross. But you cannot teach kings, you say.
Why do you need to? Teach servants and children; only do spread the
gospel. The world is to be won to Christ, if it is ever to be won at
all, by hearing the glad tidings of a dying Saviour’s love, and how
can they hear without a preacher, and how can they preach unless they
are sent? Christ sends you, for he says, “Let him who hears say
‘Come.’ ” In the power of that commission say at once,
Now will I tell to sinners round
What a dear Saviour I have found,
Point them to his redeeming blood
And say, “Behold the way to God.”
29. These people appear not only to have heard, but to have seen. “What had not been told to them they shall see.” This seeing is not with their physical eyes but by the perception of their minds. Faith comes by the soul perceiving what the gospel means. We cannot believe in what we do not perceive. Therefore we must go on telling people the gospel until they see what the gospel is. Many men will never know the gospel until they have been told it a thousand times, and you must keep on telling it to them until you get to that thousandth time. “What do you mean by that?” you say. I mean this, that it must be line upon line and precept upon precept almost to the exhaustion of patience, a mother’s prayers, a teacher’s anxieties, providences, sicknesses, twitches of conscience, ministries of all kinds, and many pleadings, and it is only at the last stroke that the word will be achieved, though all the other efforts will have contributed towards it. Go on, dear brother, go on, and teach Jesus Christ until the people see him. That sight will suddenly come. How many times have I heard the young convert say, “I knew all about this before, sir; I have heard it many times, but I could not see it; now I do see it.” Oh, how it makes a man to stand speechless before Christ in humble silence, when he perceives at last that his marred visage and suffering form were signs of divine love, and that by such sorrows sin is purged away. Oh that you all saw him now!
30. After they had seen, it appears from the text that they considered. “What they had not heard they shall consider.” This is how men are saved: they hear the gospel, they catch the meaning of it, and then they consider it. Let us pray, dear friends, that God would make unconverted people start thinking. If we can only get them to think, we have great hopes for them. If any of you here have never yielded to Jesus Christ, I would ask you to hear or read about him; spend this afternoon in carefully reading one of the gospels; turn to Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John, and read the account of his passion, and ask God to let you see what it all means; and when you do see it, turn it all over in your minds. Think about it. Think how wonderful it is that God should become man to suffer in your place. See if it is reasonable to disbelieve it or right to refuse to love the Saviour. There are a thousand reasons why you should rush into his arms and say, “Incarnate Deity, how can I resist you? Bleeding Omnipotence, how dare I doubt you? Immortal love, crucified for my sins, I yield myself to you! I would be your servant for ever.”
It is clear that those people, when they had seen and considered
silently, accepted the Lord as their Lord, for they were speechless
before him; they ceased from all opposition; they quietly resigned
their wills, and paid allegiance to the great King of kings. Brothers
and sisters, we want to see this done for Christ now by hundreds
here. There is a great religious stir just now, and we desire that
this church, and all the churches abroad, should use the favourable
breeze. You know how in harvest time the farmer gets all the men he
can to work, and they toil on through long hours. I have seen them
working briskly beneath the bright moonlight to harvest the wheat.
This is our harvest time, and we must get our sheaves in. The Lord
has much grain, and it needs to be garnered; I urge you make long
hours and work hard for Jesus, and let the subject expounded this
morning motivate you in it. The success of the gospel is in no
jeopardy whatever. Jesus must reign until he has put all enemies
under his feet. If the devil can persuade you that Christ is going to
give up the war, or is going to fight it out in another way, and
dispense with your efforts, you will soon grow idle. You will find an
excuse for laziness in some supposed conversion of the world by
miracle, or some other wonderful affair. You will say the Lord is
coming, and the war will all be over at once, and there is no need of
your fighting it out now. Do not believe it. Our Commander is able to
fight it through in this way; in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, by
the power of the Eternal Spirit, we are bound to keep right on until
this world yields before God. You remember the American general who,
when the nation was eager for speedy victory, said he did not know
when that would come, but that he would keep on plugging away. That is
what we are bound to do; to keep on “plugging away.” No gunner may
leave his gun, no sergeant may disperse his band, no officer may
suggest a retreat. Brethren, Popery must fall, Mohammedanism must
come down, and all the idol gods must be broken, and cast to the
moles and to the bats. It looks like too gigantic a task, but the
bare arm of God — only think of that — his sleeve rolled up, omnipotence
itself made bare, — what can it not accomplish? Stand back, demons!
when God’s bare arm comes into the battle, you will all run like
dogs, for you know your Master. Stand back, heresies and schisms,
evils and delusions; you will all disappear, for the Christ of God is
mightier than you. Oh, believe it. Do not be downhearted and
dispirited, do not run to new schemes and ideas and interpretations
of prophecy. Go and preach Jesus Christ to all the nations. Go and
spread abroad the Saviour’s blessed name, for he is the world’s only
hope. The cross is the banner of our victory. May God help us to look
to it ourselves, and then to hold it up before the eyes of others,
until our Lord shall come upon his throne. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isa 52]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 72” 72]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Crown Him” 418]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Second Advent — The Latter Day Glory” 352]
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 72 (Song 1)
1 Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch form shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
2 For him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown his head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.
3 People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on his love with sweetest song,
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on his name.
4 Blessings abound where’er he reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest;
And all the sons of want are bless’d
5 Where he displays his healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more;
In him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.
6 Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honours to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud AMEN.
Psalm 72 (Song 2) <7s.>
1 Hasten, Lord, the glorious time,
When, beneath Messiah’s sway,
Every nation, every clime,
Shall the gospel’s call obey.
2 Then shall wars and tumults cease,
Then be banish’d grief and pain;
Righteousness, and joy, and peace,
Undisturb’d shall ever reign.
3 As when soft and gentle showers
Fall upon the thirsty plain,
Springing grass and blooming flowers
Clothe the wilderness again;
4 So thy Spirit shall descend,
Soft’ning every stony heart,
And his sweetest influence lend,
All that’s lovely to impart.
5 Time shall sun and moon obscure,
Seas be dried, and rocks be riven,
But his reign shall still endure,
Endless as the days of heaven.
6 Bless we, then, our gracious Lord,
Ever praise his glorious name;
All his mighty acts record,
All his wondrous love proclaim.
Harriett Auber, 1829.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
418 — Crown Him
1 Crown him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon his throne:
Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own.
2 Awake, my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee;
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.
3 Crown him, the Lord of Love;
Behold his hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above
In beauty glorified.
4 Crown him, the Lord of Peace,
Whose power a sceptre sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
Absorb’d in prayer and praise:
5 His reign shall know no end,
And round his pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.
6 All hail! Redeemer, hail!
For thou hast died for me:
Thy praise shall never, never fail
Matthew Bridges, 1848.
Jesus Christ, Second Advent
352 — The Latter Day Glory
1 Behold! the mountain of the Lord
In latter days shall rise
On mountain tops, above the hills,
And draw the wondering eyes.
2 To this the joyful nations round,
All tribes and tongues, shall flow;
Up to the hill of God, they’ll say,
And to his house we’ll go.
3 The beam that shines from Zion hill
Shall lighten every land;
The King that reigns in Salem’s towers
Shall all the world command.
4 Among the nations he shall judge;
His judgments truth shall guide;
His sceptre shall protect the just,
And quell the sinner’s pride.
5 No strife shall vex Messiah’s reign,
Or mar those peaceful years;
To ploughshares men shall beat their swords,
To pruning hooks their spears.
6 No longer hosts encountering hosts,
Their millions slain deplore:
They hang the trumpet in the hall,
And study war no more.
7 Come, then! oh come from every land,
To worship at his shrine,
And walking in the light of God,
With holy beauties shine.
Michael Bruce, 1768.