A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 12, 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *4/12/2012
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and says to them, “Peace be to you.” [Joh 20:19]
1. We do not wonder that when certain devout Greeks came up to keep the feast at Jerusalem they said to Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Who would not want to see him? Would not anyone who has been redeemed by his precious blood long to see him? Just as a child pines for his mother, so we have been sick with strong desire to see our Lord. Yet to see the King in his beauty with these eyes of ours is denied to us for the present, and the reasons for delay are so gracious that we are well content to wait. It is better for us that the bodily presence of our Lord should be withdrawn, for otherwise the Comforter would not come to us, and the Comforter, even the blessed Spirit, brings us richer gifts than even the personal presence of Christ could have conferred. Still reasons cannot utterly remove longings, and we should still be glad to see our Lord. Is it not natural that a soldier should wish to hear his Captain’s voice? At least there is something excusable about it if every now and then we dare to wish that we could have a glimpse, even if it were ever so short, of our own Well Beloved, our altogether lovely Lord. If we could only catch a glimpse of that face whose brightness outshines the sun, how it would stimulate us! But, brethren, it must not be; until he himself shall come, or until he shall take us up to be with him where he is, we must be content with faith, and postpone our desires for sight.
2. As far as the needs of the gospel kingdom are concerned the need for eyewitnesses is over. Apostles who had seen the Lord are no longer required. Forty days of our Saviour’s tarrying here below sufficed to let a sufficient number of people fully assure themselves that he had actually risen from the dead; and Jesus took great care that there should be left behind a body of evidence concerning the actual resurrection of his body, which would render that fact indisputably certain for all candid minds. Probably there is no statement of human history which is better sustained by evidence than this fact, that Jesus of Nazareth who hung upon the cross, and died, afterwards rose again from the dead. The time of eyewitnesses is over now; more evidence would be redundant, and we are now in the mid-ocean of faith. The Lord knows that sight interferes with faith, and therefore he does not give us a mixture of the two. We do not walk by sight and faith, but “we walk by faith not by sight.” To let us occasionally see would, in fact, remove us from the realm of faith, and bring us down from the high position of believers to the low platform of sightseers. Adieu, therefore, for awhile, oh sight.
3. Yet, dear brethren, there are spiritual visits from Jesus, which are more than sufficient substitutes for his bodily presence, and we may still desire and expect these. Christ may really be present where he is not materially present. There is a discerning of the presence of Christ which we must all have, especially when we come to the communion table, for we are told that he who does not discern the Lord’s body there eats and drinks unworthily. There is a discerning of the Lords presence in the midst of his people which is essential for the power of our assemblies, and I pray that we may have this even now, and if we do we shall not be a whit behind those who saw Jesus with their eyes, and heard him with their ears. I do not think there is any privilege which the actual bodily presence of Christ could bestow which we may not obtain at this moment, by the actual spiritual presence of Christ, if we only exercise faith in him as being in the midst of us. He has said, “Lo, I am with you always,” and this is the pledge of every conceivable good. I shall speak concerning this presence using the story as told by the evangelists as a kind of type of that spiritual communion which I hope we may now experience.
4. I. Our first point this morning shall be, THERE IS A PARTICULAR MANNER IN OUR LORD’S COMING TO HIS DISCIPLES.
5. You will see first that he comes to them gladly. I am sure he came gladly, for he came so soon and so often. First he appeared to Mary Magdalene, then to Simon, then to the two at Emmaus, and then to the eleven at Jerusalem. There are at least four times in one day in which the Risen One seeks his brethren. These visits of his were in different places, somewhat remote from each other. It was a busy day for him, this first day after he had risen from the dead. How true it was after his resurrection, even as it was in ages long ago, that his delights were with the sons of men. He evidently loved to be where his people were. He might have gone away and spent the forty days in the desert, triumphing on the scene of his former conflict, or he might have surveyed the earth in lonely travel, but instead of that he spent his sacred leisure with his people, and on the first day after he had risen from the grave we have on record no less than four interviews which he had with his disciples. Remember that on each occasion he came very willingly, and showed himself freely. Magdalene it is true went to the tomb seeking him, but he might readily have remained unknown had he so desired. I do not know where Simon was when his Lord met him, but he also did not find him as the result of search. As for the two disciples at Emmaus, they were going away from Jerusalem, and evidently were not seeking him, yet he joined himself to their company; and the eleven had met to console each other, but not to meet him: that was a matter beyond their expectation. The doors were shut; no sentinel stood ready to look for the appearing of the Lord Jesus, but he came to them suddenly, just as an uninvited guest. I gather from this, beloved, that our blessed Lord delights to reveal himself to his people even now, for we know that he is the same as ever. After a spiritual manner he is glad to come and sup with us so that we may sup with him. He is not reluctant to visit the places where his people assemble. It is the joy of his heart to look those in the face for whom he shed his blood, and to hear their prayers and praises and accept their offerings. You do not have today, therefore, in the prayer which I trust you are breathing to him, to urge an unwilling guest to come where he does not care to be, you do not have to lay hold of him and constrain him, saying, “Remain with us,” but he will be glad to reveal himself to you as he does not to the world. Jesus comes cheerfully where he is cheerfully received; he even comes to those who do not invite him, and therefore he will surely turn aside and tarry with you who are longing for fellowship with him.
6. He came on that occasion also to those who were quite unworthy of so great a privilege; for who were those eleven? God forbid we should say a harsh word against those honoured men, but in reference to their Master they had not behaved as they should have done. It is written, “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.” Among that eleven there was not one who had stood up in his Lord’s defence, not even the man who had leaned his head upon his bosom. Indeed, one who was not the least among them had with oaths and cursing denied him. They had not forgotten him or renounced his cause, or else they would not have met as they were doing, but they all had not believed the promise of his return, or else they would not have met in fear and trembling as they did that night. I think some leaders would have refused to acknowledge such followers, or at best would have sent them cold commands, and denied them his company until they were in a better spirit. Our Master came to his cowardly, faithless disciples, and stood in the midst of them, uttering the cheering greeting, “Peace be to you!” My soul, why should he not come to you, though you are the most unworthy of all whom he has bought with his blood? Though you assuredly have been unfaithful, cowardly, and unbelieving, yet even upon you his light may arise and into your ears he may speak the peaceful benediction, even as he did to the eleven. This ought to be a point of great comfort for you this morning, and great incitement to hope that you will obtain the Lord’s spiritual presence, unworthy though you are.
7. Notice again, the manner of his coming. He came to the full assembly of the apostles and their companions, after he had been seen by the few. That is to say, first one had seen him, then another one, and then two; and then the full quorum of the eleven and those who were with them were favoured with his company. I am glad, my brethren, to know that this morning early, soon after break of day, a few of the household of faith met under this roof, and found their Master among them displaying his love. I know also that, a second time, before we assembled in this upper room for worship, there was in the basement below another company gathered together, who sought and found our Lord: and, moreover, one at least is here who saw Jesus early this morning in his own room while privately worshipping. These are good signs, my brethren, for, now that we have all come together, many more than eleven, and now that all our hearts are eager for him, we shall surely meet him. Since the brothers and the sisters say, “We have seen him this morning, we saw him in our rooms, we saw him as we walked to the house of prayer; we met him in the early morning prayer meeting,” this is good news for us, and confirms our hope that he will come to us also. Yes, beloved, he will come to the feast; even now I see him, and his presence makes my heart burn within me.
8. Our Lord came to his disciples when they were met together quietly, secluded from the world, shut in as much as they could be from its cares and distractions. The eleven and the more trustworthy brethren had appointed this midnight rendezvous for no purpose other than that of quietly considering their condition, cheering each other’s hearts, and waiting upon God. They had nothing to buy or sell, or debate about, they had laid aside business cares and domestic troubles, and then their Master came. It is a good thing for the saints to be shut in, and the world shut out. I hope we are in that position now. You must not expect Jesus to show himself to you if your heart is at home with the children, or away at the workshop, or travelling to and fro through the earth, seeking after vanity, but with the doors all shut around us, even in this great Tabernacle we shall see our Beloved. If we can only shut the world out we may expect to feel his presence, and to have him breathe upon us as he did upon those of old. Not in the noisy street, but in the quiet room, Jesus comes; not at the market, but in the meeting; not in the street, but in the sanctuary, his gathered people will have their clearest sights of him.
9. Having all met together, the next noticeable point concerning the Lord’s coming was that they were all thinking about him and talking about him. The uppermost subject was Jesus whom they had followed as their Master; whom they had seen die, and of whom it was said that he had risen from the dead. I suppose they prayed together, but I am sure their prayers all had reference to him. I do not think they sang, but if they did, I think they must have selected a psalm which had an evident allusion to him. Some of them may have spoken. I have no doubt Simon Peter did, but it must have been to tell how the Lord had revealed himself to him and was risen indeed; and Magdalene in that quiet assembly may have again told of the vision of angels which she saw, and how she met the Master and mistook him for a gardener. And now there come in two brethren, hot with their rapid journey from Emmaus, who are just in time before the assembly breaks up to repeat the same glad tidings. Everything that night was about Jesus, directly and distinctly about him. There were no discussions concerning doctrines, and no questions about ordinances, but they spoke entirely about Jesus who died, Jesus who was said to have risen, and they said to each other, is it indeed so? So while all their hearts and tongues were taken up with him Jesus revealed himself to them. Now I hope our Lord will come this morning, for I know some who think less and less every day of everything except Jesus, who now value a sermon to be precious or to be vile in proportion as it is full of him, and consider a day well or badly spent just in proportion as they have spent it with him. He is the Alpha and Omega, head, front, chief, Lord, all, yes, all in all to us. And if there are many such present today, you may depend upon it Jesus will not stay away, but we shall feel the delights of his fellowship.
10. Still, someone will say, perhaps he will not come here, for there are many barriers, and we ourselves are not, perhaps, in the very best condition to receive him. Stop, brethren, and ask yourselves — were there no difficulties then? The doors were shut, and the disciples were in fear. I do not know how Jesus came into the room. Some think he passed through the closed door by a miracle, albeit that his body was substantial flesh and bone: others suggest that he opened the door by miracle and then it closed again. I do not care how, but there he was, though the doors were shut: and I know this, that whatever doors there may be between my Lord and my soul, though they were doors made of seven times plated steel, he could pass through them or could open them to get at my heart when it longs after him. Brethren, if there are mountains between you and Christ, behold he comes leaping like a roe or a young hart over the separating hills. Nothing can keep him back from you except yourself, and if you wish that he should come, he wishes to come and is on his way even now. No considerations of domestic suffering or of personal pain, nor remembrance of the trials of the week, or even the present temptations of Satan shall avail to keep back your Lord and Master. Before you are even aware of it he can make your soul like the chariots of Amminadib. But perhaps you are afraid he will not visit you because you have a fear upon you which you cannot shake off. So had the disciples, or they would not have closed the doors so carefully. They feared the Jewish mob, who might try to kill them as they had done their Lord; and though you may be fearing the troubles of the week before you, the Lord will not despise you for it. Perhaps some very heavy cloud hangs over your spirit now. Well, your Lord can pierce through clouds. Does the sun not look down from the heavens though the morning is lowering and dreary? Does it not shine even though the fogs and mists gather about our city? And Jesus comes though sins surround us, and doubts and fears and cares hang thickly around our path. He comes as the dew which does not wait for man neither waits for the sons of men. I see no reason why now, at this very instant, we may not hear the voice of our Beloved. Blessed Lord, we beseech you to come, for we well know that you can come. At favoured times I have felt as though his very shadow were over me, as though the touch of his right hand were upon me, and I heard him say to me, “Do not fear, I am he who lives and was dead.” And why not again? Why not now? There are many good signs which make us hope that we shall see him this morning. Let us look up, and with one hearty cry say, “Come, Saviour, and reveal yourself to us now as you do not do to the world.”
11. II. Secondly, OUR SAVIOUR HAD A PARTICULAR MANNER WHEN HE WAS COME, so, if he is here this morning, we may expect him to be here in something like the following fashion.
12. He stood in the midst of them. He stood, suddenly stood; where they had seen no one the moment before he stood plainly revealed. He did not flash across the room like a meteor, but he remained in one position as though he meant to stay for awhile. He stood in the midst, he took the place which a teacher should occupy, the position which naturally belongs to the Master, and Lord. I rejoice to think of my Lord Jesus as taking the midst of the circle when he visits his brethren. I love the name of Calvin, but I always regard him as sitting on one side of the room; and I love the name of Wesley, but I regard him as occupying another side place in the assembly. There are many preachers in the church, but not one of them is in the midst of the family circle of the redeemed. The Lord alone is there, the centre of all hearts. Others are present, and they shine with differing lights, but he is the sun, the centre and ruler of the system of his church. This morning, in addressing you, I stand in body in your midst, but no doubt my preaching does not consort with the experiences and feelings of all present, I must stand on one side; but if my Lord will reveal himself to you I am sure we will all give him the chief place, he will be the centre of all our loves and delights. I would not yield precedence to you, brethren, in my desire to honour my Lord, as the chief beloved of my soul, and I feel sure that whatever your condition you all agree to magnify him, and are all glad to look in the same direction, namely, to him alone. Although your views may sometimes differ, yet your views about Jesus are the same, and your hearts’ best affections all unite in him. Well, then, if he is here this morning we shall all feel that we find a common meeting place in him, that our confidence is in him, our consecration is to him, we belong to him, and he belongs to us, and we are happiest among the happy because he gathers us all around his loving heart.
13. When he stands in the midst the next thing we find is that he speaks, and his word is, “Peace be to you.” The presence of Christ this morning will be witnessed by the bestowal of a deep sense of peace. You will not be able to tell each other why you feel such profound quiet, but it will vividly come before you that Jesus loved you from before the foundations of the world, that your names are engraved upon his hands, that he has bought you with his precious blood, that you are near and dear to him, and that where he is you shall be there also, and your souls will feel as if they were more than content. Your experience will be that of the psalmist when he said, “My soul is even as a weaned child.” It is a glad hour when we want nothing more, but are filled with all the fulness of God; when we can heartily say, “Whom have I in heaven except you, and there is no one upon the earth whom I desire besides you.” Cares are gone, delight is come, longings are satisfied, and desires fall asleep on his bosom, when Jesus is present. No sound of war is in the camp, nor voice of those who mourn, the time of the singing birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
14. After observing that our Lord spoke we next find that he showed — showed himself to his disciples. Jesus did not come into their midst to show them a new thought, a philosophical discovery, or even a deep doctrine, or a profound mystery, or indeed anything except himself. He was a sacred egoist that day, for what he spoke of was himself; and what he revealed was himself. What a sight that was for the disciples! They saw the very Christ. They had seen him for three years before, but not as one who had been dead and passed through the sepulchre; but now he stood before them, as the first begotten from the dead. The most conspicuous thing he showed in himself was his wounds — his hands, his feet, his side. Oh, if my Lord is present here this morning, the chief object of faith’s vision will be himself; and the most conspicuous point in himself will be the ensigns of his passion. The mind cannot contemplate a more blessed object than the wounds of Jesus — founts of redemption, doors of eternal life, sources of hope, seals of heaven. Look, you saints, even now to your crucified Saviour! As far as he enables you, come close to him, and put your finger into the nail prints, and say, “My Lord and my God.” Those sacred scars of his are the sure signs of forgiven sin, punishment borne by the Substitute, and the soul for ever emancipated from her slavery. This is what Jesus does when he comes to us in spirit; he makes himself more dear than ever by fuller and more condescending discoveries of his love, so that we know and believe the love which he has towards us.
15. In so doing our Lord opens up the Scriptures. He did so for the eleven. Jesus Christ’s presence is always known by his people by the value and the beauty which they are led to attach to the Scripture at such times. The Bible is one book in the dark and another book in the light. Do you not sometimes take up the Scripture, and as you read it feel that it is like reading any other book, only that it involves a responsibility which another book does not bring upon you? At such times you receive no sweetness out of it, but rather bitterness. But when Jesus takes the book, he opens its seven seals and with his finger illuminates every line, and invites you to look, if you wish, through the hole in his hand and read the promises in that way. Ah, how they glow and glisten! Then the Book talks with you, and you detect the voice to be that of the Beloved himself. There is life in the Word because Christ is there who is the way, the truth, and the life, and is himself the eternal Logos, the true word of God. Yes, Jesus Christ’s presence never teaches a man to despise Scripture and look to inner light, or personal revelation, for much of supposed special revelation is the child of superstition and conceit, whereas in the Scriptures we have a more sure word of testimony. The more light a man has directly from the Spirit the more he prizes the light of the Spirit in the Word, and the more truly he gets into communion with the unseen Christ the more he delights in the truth as revealed to him in the pages of inspiration. May we know Christ’s presence by that sign and token this morning!
16. Dear friends, the Lord’s presence among his followers that day had this peculiarity about it again, that then they forgot all their fears. Just as he had given them peace with God, so now he allays the fear of the Jews and every other fear which had distressed them. They had been frightened at first, they thought he was a spirit; but now as they gathered around him and saw him eat with them they gathered around him as sheep around a shepherd, and they felt at home. I am sure as they went to their houses they had no fears of Jews as they passed through the midnight streets, and when they reached their doors they felt joyful and light hearted. Whatever their financial circumstances may have been, they had no longer any care, for they had seen the Lord. Jesus Christ’s presence will be known to you today by the forgetting of your cares. There is a text in Solomon where he says, “Give strong drink to him who is ready to perish, and wine to those who have heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” The love of Jesus is that blessed strong drink; presence is the wine from which if a man will drink he shall forget his misery and shall remember his sorrow no more. If Jesus Christ only gives to the man of a downcast spirit the spiced wine of his pomegranate by making him to feel that he is near him, and that he loves him, if he only makes him conscious that the Redeemer’s self is no fiction, but a very present friend and helper, then whatever the trial may be, he shall bear it readily, the cross shall cease to be a load, and the road beneath his pilgrim foot shall become smooth.
17. Brethren, we cannot enjoy as yet the presence of Christ corporeally, but I have already shown you that all the blessings which his bodily presence could bestow we can experience if our Lord in the same way shall be present with us spiritually today.
18. III. Now thirdly, THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST WITH HIS DISCIPLES AROUSED VARIOUS EMOTIONS. These emotions may be aroused by his spiritual presence quite as readily.
19. At first they were terrified, for they thought him to be a spirit. It is a sad sign of man’s depraved nature and of his gross carnality that the presence of a spirit is the source of alarm to him. If we were more spiritual than we are we should not fear to meet beings of our own order, but should delight to think of the presence of disembodied spirits, and should be glad enough to commune with them. Because the disciples were unspiritual they were alarmed, and when the fears subsided Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” I suppose they began to think of their bad conduct towards their Master, and conscience made them tremble. We are told by Mark that he also upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart; in gentle tones he chided them for having been so unbelieving, and they must have felt this also to be a source of troubled thoughts. Meanwhile they doubted whether it could be the risen Saviour, and when they were convinced by indisputable signs, they greatly rejoiced, and almost at the same time the very vividness of their joy blinded them into another doubt. Like a pendulum, they swung from joy to unbelief. After doubt went they rejoiced, and then wonder came, and then doubt again, so that they scarcely knew where they were, they were in such a state of excitement. John, if you notice, gives a very calm account of it all, for he looked at it rather from Christ’s point of view than from the disciples’, and having had his head so recently on Christ’s bosom, he was, perhaps, more believing than the rest. Luke’s picture of it shows us the contending emotions at work in the hearts of the assembled brethren, for Luke was a physician, and accustomed to watch symptoms and phases of feeling; he looked at it from the human side, and hence he gives us a fuller description of the tossing to and fro, the hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, questions, and comforts of the hour.
20. Now, we will leave the eleven and come to ourselves. Suppose for a moment that our Lord were actually to appear among us this morning. I will not say I wish he would, because we know him no more after the flesh, and there is no blessing which his corporeal presence could bestow that we do not already have in his spiritual presence; but if he were to come, my brethren, what would be our state of mind towards him? I hope we would not be terrified. I think most of us who believe in him would be more likely to be overjoyed than at all frightened, but I am sure we should all be filled with the most profound awe. The sight of HIM, our Master and Lord! Should we not, like John in Patmos, fall at his feet as dead? Would not the bliss of that vision be too great for these frail bodies? At any rate, we would devoutly bow the knee before him, and reverently adore. And oh what adoration would we give to the Lamb who once was slain! to that dear and ever blessed Son of God who has washed us from our sins in his own blood. Brethren, we would turn this Tabernacle into a temple, and this hallowed hour into a fragment of heaven’s eternity. If our Lord would only come here and show himself among us what overflowing love should he have from us! How would our hearts melt while he spoke! Brethren, he is here! Let us give that loving adoration to him even now. Let us bow before him, and with prostrate reverence of heart worship the Divine Son. Why should it not be so? Brethren, may the Holy Spirit lead you into the depths of devotion now.
21. I have no doubt we should feel a marvellous degree of serene joy to think that at length we were with our Lord. When we went home and told our friends who were not here we would say to them, “We have had some sweet Sundays, but we have never before had such a Lord’s Day as this, for he who is Alpha and Omega walked among us and spoke with us. We forgot the preacher, — he went back to his seat and held his head in delight: we thought no more about him, for his Lord absorbed our attention. The joy we had in seeing Jesus was worth dying for.” Well, dear friends, we shall not have our Lord’s crucified body here so as to feel peace from the sight of our eyes and the hearing of our ears, but he is really here, and all the facts which cluster around his presence which would be legitimate reasons for peaceful joy we already have, for he has died and redeemed us, and he has gone into his glory, and he is pleading for us, and he is coming again to take us home to himself, and these are the fundamental reasons for peace. We all have the real cause of joy that we should have if the man of Nazareth stood in our midst; therefore let us be calmly glad, and completely at rest this morning. May God help us to be so!
22. Surely, also, many would be melted down with deep contrition in our Redeemer’s presence. Some of us would have to say, “Lord and Master, are you come to ask for an account of our stewardship? We are ashamed to look you in the face, we have done so little for you.” There is one who might say, “I have been a member of a church for years, but I have neither helped in the Sunday School, preached in the villages, visited the sick, nor rendered any service whatever. I have eaten the fat and drank the sweet in the house of the Lord, and that is all that I have done.” Brethren, here, before the spiritually present Lord you may make the same confessions and be humbled on account of them. I wish you would. Though Jesus is not here with that dear face to chide you tenderly, yet he is here by his blessed Spirit gently to remind you of your forgotten obligations. By his wounds, and by his bloody sweat, I entreat you to loiter no longer, but go work in his vineyard, and do not cease until life’s sun goes down.
23. “Ah,” one says, “but if our Lord were here, I would tell him my great trouble, and ask for his sympathy and help. I would come to his feet and beseech him to save my husband and to convert my ungodly son.” Do it, sister, do it now, for he will hear you as assuredly as if we heard his footfall in these aisles. His Spirit, who has put the desire into your soul, is the pledge of his presence. Breathe the prayer and expect the blessing, and your expectation shall not fail.
24. I hear another believer cry out, “Ah, if my Lord were here before me, I would pour out my glad soul in praise, and tell him how I love him. I would kiss his feet, and wash them with my tears.” Do it now, my friend, for though you do not have the flesh and blood Christ present, yet Jesus is here in spirit, and though his body is up in glory, yet your tears and thankfulness will reach him, and be as acceptable to him as if he were here in body. Even now his heart will accept the emotions of your soul, let them flow out before him as perfume from the flowers.
25. “Ah,” one says, “if I only saw the Lord I would leave this morning’s assembly, feeling that I could now lead a higher life than I had ever led before. I could not look at him without saying, ‘You altogether lovely one, I pledge myself to you, to live for you, to die for you, and all I have and all I am shall be yours for ever.’ ” Beloved, do it unrestrainedly and sincerely even now; do it now, I say, for he will just as well accept you looking out from the glory land above as though he looked down upon you from this platform.
26. I wonder what the scene would be with some hypocrites who are present here if Christ were to come. Ah, how they would wish they had never made a profession of religion. Oh Judas, Judas, how would you bear to see the risen glory of him whom you betrayed? Are you here this morning, Judas? And you, vacillating Pilate, who knew the right but did the wrong, how will you meet the man in whom you found no fault but yet condemned to die? There may be many here who have despised him, who have reviled his people and ridiculed his gospel, albeit that Jesus shed his blood for the sons of men. Well, although Jesus is not here in body, yet he will soon come in person to judge the quick and dead; and if you dare not meet him now, how will you meet him then? Thus says the Lord, prepare for his advent, for behold he comes to judge mankind, and woe to those who shall be found wanting in the day of his appearing.
27. IV. The last thing of all is this, Jesus Christ, when he came among his disciples, LEFT CERTAIN PERMANENT GIFTS, which also can be experienced by his spiritual presence.
28. One of the most precious gifts he left them was the experience of his person. Those who saw him that day never thought of him after that as a mere historical person, or a dream, or a phantom. You have read a great many histories, but you have never experienced the people of history as you have experienced your own father and mother and son, but the disciples must have experienced Christ, for they saw him, and some of them touched him and put their finger into the print of the nails. Now, it is very desirable that all of us should experience the reality of Jesus Christ as God and man, and we can do it this morning if he will come and overshadow us with his presence. There are some of us to whom Christ has been a world more real than ourselves, for we have sometimes scarcely known whether we were in the body or out of the body, when he has been near, but we have always known whether he was in the body or out of the body. We have felt as if wife and father and mother were shadows that would pass away, but we have experienced the eternal existence of Christ, and known that he could not pass away; and so spiritually we have grasped him more firmly than we have our own kith and kin. The most real thing under heaven to my soul is the Lord Jesus Christ. Brethren, can you all say that? If you can, then Christ has been present with you this morning. I do not say that I can always use this language. Alas, alas, when my Lord has gone it is not so with me! But when I know he is near, there is no force that so completely constrains me, no impulse that so utterly holds me spellbound as the impulse that arises from his presence, and the constraint that flows out of his love shed abroad in my soul. Every child of God knows it is so, and thus it is clear that without seeing Christ with the eyes you can obtain the blessing of experiencing him.
29. Next he gave to them all a commission; he said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” He has never laid his hand on your shoulder, my brother, and said, “Go and tell the gospel to poor sinners”; he has never touched you, my sister, and said, “Woman, I have sent you to bring your companions to me, go and tell them about my love!” No, but he has virtually done it by the commission which he gave to all his disciples, and he does it powerfully and specially by his Spirit to many of us whenever we experience his presence. We cannot sit down at the feet of Christ without feeling that we must work for him. I defy any man to live near Christ and to be lazy. Our Lord walks a smart pace, and if you will keep company with him you must go at his rate; but if you loiter and linger and waste time Christ will be on ahead, and leave you to yourself. I pray him to commission some of you this morning. I tried last Sunday morning to call out young heroes for Christ; [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1253, “The Lion Slayer — The Giant Killer” 1244] I do not know whether the Lord did call them out by me or not, but I wish that Jesus would do it. If today he should appear, the Crucified One, with a face more marred than that of any man, with pierced hands, with side opened by the deep gash, — if he should speak personally to each of you, and say, “My son, my daughter, go and serve me from this day until I come,” with what energy would you go out into his service, even if it were to the ends of the earth.
The last gift he gave them was, he breathed on them. His breath
was the Spirit of God. This was the first drop of the shower of the
Spirit which afterwards fell so plentifully at Pentecost. He breathed
on them, and though they did not get the fulness of the Spirit by it
yet they obtained a measure of it, and they became qualified to
fulfil their commission. Oh that he would breathe the Spirit upon us
now! Indeed, we need not ask for it, beloved, for our Lord has given
the Spirit once and for all to all his people. He has baptised his
church into the Holy Spirit, and into fire, and the Spirit remains
with us for evermore, only you must believe the might which that
Spirit bestows upon you. Oh brother, oh sister, I beseech you do not
estimate yourself according to your ability, according to your
experience, your learning, and the like, but according to that divine
energy which rests upon you, if you are called by God for his
service. What are the powers within? They are feebleness itself, but
the power from above is the power of God. Gird on this mystical belt,
this divine omnipotence, and if you know how to wear it by faith you
shall break through a troop and leap over a wall. “All things are
possible for him who believes.” May Jesus Christ, then, by his
Spirit be so present among us that each one of us may be conscious of
obtaining a fresh anointing this very morning, in the strength of
which we shall go out to new service for the glory of God. May God
bless you for Jesus’ sake.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mr 16:9-16 Lu 24:36-44 Joh 20:19-24]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — Welcome, Sweet Day Of Rest” 907]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — ‘When Wilt Thou Come?’ ” 766]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — ‘Whom Having Not Seen We Love’ ” 785]
Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
907 — Welcome, Sweet Day Of Rest
1 Welcome, sweet day of rest,
That saw the Lord arise:
Welcome to this reviving breast,
And these rejoicing eyes!
2 The King himself comes near,
And feasts his saints today;
Here we may sit and see him here,
And love, and praise, and pray.
3 One day amidst the place
Where my dear God hath been,
Is sweeter than ten thousand days
Of pleasurable sin.
4 My willing soul would stay
In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away
To everlasting bliss.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
766 — “When Wilt Thou Come?”
1 When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
Oh come, my Lord most dear!
Come near, come nearer, nearer still,
I’m blest when thou art near.
2 When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
I languish for the sight;
Ten thousand suns when thou art hid,
Are shades instead of light.
3 When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
Until thou dost appear,
I count each moment for a day,
Each minute for a year.
4 There’s no such thing as pleasure here,
My Jesus is my all;
As thou dost shine or disappear,
My pleasures rise or fall.
5 Come, spread thy savour on my frame,
No sweetness is so sweet;
Till I get up to sing thy name,
Where all thy singers meet.
Thomas Shepherd, 1692.
The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
785 — “Whom Having Not Seen We Love”
1 Jesus, these eyes have never seen
That radiant form of thine!
The veil of sense hangs dark between
Thy blessed face and mine!
2 I see thee not, I hear thee not,
Yet art thou oft with me;
And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot.
As where I meet with thee.
3 Like some bright dream that comes unsought,
When slumbers o’er me roll,
Thine image ever fills my thought,
And charms my ravish’d soul.
4 Yet though I have not seen, and still
Must rest in faith alone;
I love thee, dearest Lord! and will,
Unseen, but not unknown.
5 When death these mortal eyes shall seal,
And still this throbbing heart,
The rending veil shall thee reveal,
All glorious as thou art!
Ray Palmer, 1858.