2507. He Ran, And He Ran

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No. 2507-43:109. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, July 2, 1885, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, March 7, 1897.

But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him. {Mr 5:6}

But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. {Lu 15:20}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 176, “Prodigal’s Return, The” 169}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 588, “Prodigal’s Reception, The” 579}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1189, “Turning Point, The” 1180}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2236, “Many Kisses for Returning Sinners; or Prodigal Love for the Prodigal Son” 2237}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2507, “He Ran, and He Ran” 2508}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2520, “Programme Never Carried Out, A” 2521}
   Exposition on Lu 15:11-32 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3410, “Christ and His Hearers” 3412 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 15:1-24 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3343, “Star Out of Jacob, The” 3345 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 15:1-24 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3450, “Dangerous Lingering” 3452 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 15:1-27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3407, “Peter’s Prayer” 3409 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 15 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2414, “Prodigal’s Climax, The” 2415 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 15 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2520, “Programme Never Carried Out, A” 2521 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 15 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2791, “High Day in Heaven, A” 2792 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 15 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2863, “Great Forgiveness for Great Sin” 2864 @@ "Exposition"}

1. These two texts have a measure of apparent likeness: the man runs to Jesus from afar, and the father runs to the prodigal from afar. They both run; and when two run to meet each other, they soon meet. When a sinner is running to Christ, and the Father is running to the sinner, there shall be a happy meeting before very long, and there shall be joy in heaven and joy on earth, too.

2. I shall begin my discourse by noticing the case of the demoniac, whose story we read: “When he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.”

3. I. Using that narrative as a kind of parable, I would remark, in the first place, that we have here an emblem of THE SINNER’S PLACE.

4. He is “afar off” from Christ; and when first of all the Spirit of God begins to open his eyes to his own true condition, one of the chief difficulties in his way is the realization of his distance from the Saviour. He begins to cry, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!” The poor man feels as if there were a great and dreadful distance between him and the great Mediator; he can only see “Jesus afar off,” as the demoniac did. He has not yet come to Christ, nor proved his wondrous power to bless.

5. I daresay there are some in this congregation who feel that they are “afar off” from the Lord Jesus Christ, and “afar off” from the great Father. You are “afar off” concerning character. I am not going to bring an accusation against you, for your own heart and conscience accuse you. It is not necessary for me to describe your past life; if you are the person whom Christ has come to bless, then I know that your sin is always before you. You cannot hide it from yourself, it seems to be painted on your very eyes. You have to look at everything through the mist and haze of your past guilt, and consequently everything looks dark and dreary to you. The very mercies which God gives you seem to accuse you of your ingratitude to your Benefactor; and any denials of mercy, any chastisements that you are enduring, seem to you to be only premonitions of a coming doom; for you feel yourself to be by your past life very far off from Christ. He is perfect, and you are full of sin. He is just, and you are unjust. He is meek and lowly, and you confess that you have been proud and wayward. He is beloved by his Father, the beloved Servant of God; but you have derided God’s gospel, and you have refused to obey him. You are, indeed, far off from Christ. It seems to you that, if Christ and the penitent thief made a pair, then you also might make a pair with your dying Saviour, but not otherwise. You feel yourself to be unworthy to be in the same world with him, much less to be in the same heaven with him.

6. Well, now, when our Lord went to Gadara, as far as I can see, he crossed the sea of Galilee, and endured that storm at night, in order that he might heal one man, and he went back again well content when he had performed that one miracle. It may be that you are a man of that kind, as far off from any likeness to Christ as that poor lunatic was; and he may have come here at this good hour with the intent to save you. At any rate, his servant will go home as grateful as a man can be, if he is only made the means of saving one such sinner as you are; but, first of all, you must believe that this is your position, “afar off” from Christ concerning character.

7. But what, perhaps, may appear to you to be even worse is that you seem to be “afar off” concerning any hope of salvation by Christ. It may be that you have long been a hearer of the gospel. When you were younger, it seemed as if the kingdom of God had come near to you; but now, the older you grow, the less susceptible you are to holy influences. You used to weep under sermons; you can more easily sleep under them now. There was a time when your rest was broken after some kindly admonition from a Christian friend; but now, perhaps, Christian friends scarcely ever admonish you, because you have a sarcastic way of repelling what they say; and even while you are sitting here, you are moaning to yourself, “Some in this congregation may be converted, but I shall not be. The Lord Jesus Christ may come here, and deliver some poor soul; but assuredly he will not deliver me. I am a cast-off and an outcast; not, perhaps, by public sin, but by an inward hardening of my spirit until my soul has become like the northern iron and steel, {Jer 15:12} and nothing can move me. I am far off from any hope that the Saviour will ever bless me.”

8. Well, now, let me say to you, dear friend, that I am very sorry that it should be so with you; yet I am glad you are here when such a subject as this is being handled, for that Gadarene demoniac seemed to be about as hopeless a man as there was in all the surrounding country. Apart from Christ, his case was absolutely hopeless. They had, doubtless, used all the arts for the management of lunatics which they understood in those barbarous days, but no chains of iron, nor bands of bronze, could hold him; he could not be tamed, or kept in check. And yet, oh you blessed Christ, you could cross the stormy sea at midnight to save this one man! It may be that it is so with you also, dear friends, who are so far away from Christ in the misapprehensions of your lack of hope; yet it may be that this very hour is the time when you are to be set free from the power of the devil, and brought to sit at Jesus’ feet, clothed, and in your right mind.

9. Some also are “afar off” from Christ concerning knowledge of him. They know very little about the Christ of God; they have heard his name, they have some dim notions about him; but as yet they only see him “afar off.” In these days, when the gospel is preached at so many street corners, and when there is a sanctuary in almost every street, it is astonishing what gross ignorance there is about him whom to know is life eternal, by knowledge of whom many are justified, and without knowledge of whom men must perish eternally. Oh friends, it is terrible to think that there are people, well instructed in everything else, who know nothing about this salvation which God has provided for the sons of men! You hear them railing against the Bible; and in almost every case the railer has never read the Book. You hear them speak against Christ; and it is almost a proverb that those who speak most against him are ignorant of the common facts of his life. They have not studied his character, nor have they examined his teaching, yet they cast it all aside as if they were infallible, and as if they were qualified to judge and to decide without hearing the case at all. This is a wretched mode of action; yet, if any of you who are here know very little about Christ, for all that I am glad you are here, and I only trust that you may be led to do what this poor ignorant demoniac did; though he must have known very little about Christ, yet he ran to him and worshipped him. A little knowledge, like the star of Bethlehem, may suffice to guide to Christ those who are willing to follow its light. A faint gleaming of what Christ is may burn and glow into a more complete and perfect knowledge of him, and by that knowledge you may be brought into the liberty by which Christ makes his people free.

10. I will not keep you longer in describing the sad state of the sinner in being so far from Christ, except to say that it may be possible that you feel far from Christ because you do not feel as if you could get to him. You are so unspiritual that you say to yourself, “If Christ were on earth, I would walk until I dropped, but I would get to him; and if I could speak with him, so that he could hear my words, and could answer me with actual vocal sounds, if I could see him, and he would look at me, I would spend the last penny I have, and pass over any length of sea and land if I could only get to him; but somehow I cannot. If it were a matter of touching the hem of his garment with my finger, I would push through the crowd to do it. If it were a matter of taking him up in my arms, as Simeon took the young child Jesus, I would do it, and do it with joy; but I do not know how to get to him, it seems to be all mist and all cloud to me.” I know what you mean, dear friend, for I was in that state once, and then indeed I also “saw Jesus afar off,” and for a long while I could not believe that he was mine. Well, notwithstanding that feeling which possesses you, I shall speak to you still further, in the fond hope that you may imitate this poor man, who must have been very much like you, only in a worse plight than yours, and it will be my prayer and desire that you may come running to Christ, as he did, and that you also may worship him.

11. II. Now notice, secondly, THE SINNER’S PRIVILEGE: “He saw Jesus,” though he only saw him “afar off.”

12. Those of you who only see Christ in the distance, who do not know much about him, and cannot get to him, do at least know that there is such a Person. You have heard, and it is the best news you ever heard, that the Son of God came down to live among men, and took our flesh, and became man of the substance of his mother, and that, though he died on the cross, yet he has risen from the dead, and he still lives. You have heard tell of all that; you have not thought of it as you ought to have done, you have not let it weigh on your heart, or sought to understand all its holy lessons; but still, you have such a knowledge of him that you have seen him “afar off.”

13. More than that, you have heard, and you believe, that Jesus has done great things for men. You do not think much about what he has done; still, it has come to your knowledge that he lived, and loved, and died, that he might save men. You have often heard that, on the cross, he made an expiation for human sin; and let me tell you that this is the best news you ever heard, or ever will hear, and the day may come when you will look at this truth as the only star of hope in a night which otherwise must be eternal. I hope you will yet clasp that truth to your heart as the brightest jewel and the rarest treasure you have ever found.

14. And I believe, further, that some of you have caught the idea that the Lord Jesus Christ is saving other people. You have met some whom you observe to be very much changed, greatly altered from what they used to be; and, though you sometimes laugh at them, yet deep down in your heart you do not really mock them, but you wish it was yourself. You have, after all, a respect for any one of these wonderful changes, called conversions, when you see them to be real and genuine; and you, perhaps, know some fellows with whom you work, and although you ridicule them, you know that they are better men than they used to be, and you admire the change; and there is a feeling in your innermost heart that, though you cannot figure out the mystery, still there is something in it. Yes, you can see Jesus, though still I grieve to say that you only see him afar off. You have, in your heart, some kind of belief that it may be possible that he will still save you, and there is some kind of humble desire in your own soul that he will look your way, and cast the demons out of you, and make you to be his happy servant.

15. But, once more, concerning the sinner’s privilege, Christ has come to the district where he is. It is a horrible country, full of tombs and full of pollution, and the man has made it more horrible himself by his wildness and his madness; yet there is the Christ himself treading that same Gadarene shore. He who is “mighty to save” has come into the land of the shadow of death. He who could cast out demons has come into the devil’s own territory, he has come to defy the lion in his den. Herein also is the privilege of men today; the Lord Jesus Christ, who made heaven and earth, is still among us, and will be with us to the end of this age. He who could raise the dead, and heal the lepers, and cast out demons, is still here working by his Spirit. Though corporeally he is gone, yet in efficacious power to save he still lingers among us, and his lingering means salvation to all who trust him. Hear it, oh sons of men, and as you hear it, may God bless the message to your souls!

16. III. What did this demoniac do when he saw Jesus afar off? That is the point to which we are coming to, and that will teach us THE SINNER’S WISEST COURSE: “He ran and worshipped him.”

17. I do not know that he did intelligently, and in the right manner, worship Christ as the disciples worshipped him. Perhaps at first, when he was up a hill, howling and cutting himself with stones, he saw a boat come near the shore, and he saw a single stranger coming up from the boat, much as the natives of Erromanga {a} saw John Williams landing on that cannibal shore, and his horrible instinct moved him to run down at once to the beach, perhaps to attack the man who dared in open daylight to intrude on the wild man’s domain. But as he approached nearer and nearer to this mysterious stranger, quite a new feeling came over him. His step grew slower, his fierce eye beamed with a duller fire, the beastlike instinct became calm, the ravening wolf, the roaring lion within him began to tremble, for it perceived its Master; and when he had come near enough to get a fuller view of Christ, who stood there in simple majesty, calm and serene, the very opposite of the poor creature’s mad fury, the man fell down at Jesus’ feet, and worshipped him. Then the demons within him spoke out, and using the man’s voice, said, “What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God?” But for the moment it was the man, and not the devil, who prevailed; for an instant, what little relics there were of manhood made themselves felt, and the man fell down and worshipped under the influence of the mysterious presence of Christ. What I hope and trust may come from our consideration of this subject is that some big sinner here may have a lucid interval, — that some mad sinner here, before the devil can speak again, may have just a little quiet time, so that, though he may have come in here fresh from all manner of evil, yet for the moment he may feel a solemn calm steal over his spirit, a sacred hush that shall make him quiet as he has not been for many a day. I pray that some strange influence — strange to him up to this time, — may draw him so that he shall run to Christ, and fall at his feet, and worship him.

18. I am not just now saying anything about faith in Christ except that I do not believe any man worships Christ without having some faith in him; but I am just going to take this very low standard, and say that this man, with all his madness, was wise in what he did, and the Spirit of God was leading him in the right direction when, breaking loose, as it were, from the devil’s power for a moment or two, he ran to Christ, and worshipped him. And to any poor soul, in the same case, I would say, — “I beseech you, for a minute or two, at any rate, worship the Christ of God whom I preach to you.”

19. For consider that, first, Christ is God as well as man, and therefore worthy to be worshipped. This poor demoniac was wiser than the Socinians {b} or Unitarians {c} of our day; he felt that there was more in Christ than in any mere man. Demon-possessed though he was, yet he fell down and worshipped Christ. And you, my friend, — you also know that Christ is God. Well, then, for a few minutes do yourself the justice to worship him as God over all, blessed for ever. If he shall never save you, yet he is worthy to be worshipped, for he is so great and so gracious. Therefore, let your mind be still for a moment, and pay your homage before his feet, and from your very heart call him “Lord” and “God.”

20. Besides, Christ died to save sinners; and being God, and having died to save sinners, I say to you, “Worship him.” I remember the time when I was afraid that Jesus would never save me, but I used to feel in my heart that, even if he did not, I must love him for what he had done for poor sinners. It seemed to me, as I read the wondrous story of his life and death, that if he spurned me, I would still lie at his feet, and say, “You may spurn me, but you are a blessed Christ for all that, and, if you curse me, yet I can only say to you that I well deserve it from your hands. Do what you will with me; but you saved the dying thief, and you saved her out of whom you cast seven demons, and if you do not condescend to save me, yet you are a blessed Christ, and I cannot rail at you, or find fault with you, but I lie down at your feet, and worship you.” Can you not speak and act like that? Can you not look up at him through your tears, and, as you see the nail-prints in his hands and feet, and that great gash in his side, which reached his heart, can you not feel that you must lie at his feet, and worship him? Just waive all questions about yourself for a minute, and only think of him; forget even your own sin for the time being, and think of what he deserves, and now, at least, for the next few minutes, bow your soul reverently before the Christ of God, and worship him.

21. I think I may add that you may well worship him, because there is in that poor, flurried soul of yours, worried and confused and demon-ridden though it is, this thought, — that only Christ can save you. You know that. Where else can you go but to him? What other door is open to you? What other hand was ever pierced for you? What other side ever bled that it might give cleansing for your sin? Where does there live another person who loves as Christ has loved? Therefore, believe that he is unique, One altogether by himself; and while you cannot and will not worship others, yet, poor demon-possessed soul that you are, fall down and worship him. Say to him, “Lord, if my night never ends, yet I will look eastward, for there the sun will rise, if not for me. Lord, if I die of thirst, yet I will linger by the lone well in the desert, for if I ever drink at all, I must drink there. I can only perish if I linger at the cross; and I am resolved to linger there, for if my blood shall stain that blessed tree, then even so it must be, for I am resolved — and it is my last resource, — if I must perish, I will die here.” Oh soul, I am not telling you to do any great thing now, am I? I am not urging you to exercise any unreasonable confidence, but I do advise you to fall down and worship at my Lord’s dear feet. Mad though you are, and your mad worship so poor and imperfect, yet, nevertheless, he will accept you, and do great things for you.

22. For remember, next, that Christ can save you; Christ can save you. You have gone to the end of your tether, but you have not gone beyond the reach of his power. You have cut yourself, and howled through many a dreary night, and snapped your chains, and cursed the men who bound you. You have driven away friend and helper, and you are altogether undone; but, all the same, Christ can save you. What if a demon is in you? There is no demon in hell, or outside of hell, who does not tremble at Christ’s presence. Oh, that he would come, and lay his cool hand on your fevered brow, and put his own life into your poor withered heart, and make you to live! He can save you; of that I am sure. I cannot speak as my Master can, but yet my Master can make these poor words of mine to bless and comfort you; and I pray that he may. This is the one thing that I ask you to do, run to him, and worship him.

23. IV. Now, turning to my second text, I must briefly remind you of THE SECRET HOPE FOR SINNERS, — that while you are still a great way off, the Father himself will see you, and will run to you. While you are running to his Son, the Father will run to you, and you and he shall meet in Christ, — the only safe meeting-place for God and man.

24. Turn your thoughts for a minute or two from that Gadarene demoniac to the prodigal son. He was coming back, you remember, and when he was a great way off, I should not wonder that his heart began to have misgivings. “Oh!” he seemed to say, “there is the old house!” He has reached the top of the hill, and he can see it. He remembers those old trees under which he used to play with his brother, and he thinks that he can see the very place where he left his father, and went that reckless journey into the far country. “I wonder what father will say to me,” he says; “I do not know how I can ever face him. I have treated him so badly that I must have broken his heart. I fear he is angry with me, yet I do not think I can bear his wrath. I am ready to humble myself, and say, ‘Father, I have sinned’; but, oh! what a wretch I am! He will hardly know me; I do not look like the person I was when I left. What awful times I have been through since I last saw his dear face! I think I must run back again. Bad as it is to perish out in the far country, I do not think I can really face him.” He is just turning back when, to his surprise, his father clasps him in his arms, for, “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

25. Oh dear hearts, if I knew there was a poor soul here beginning to seek the Lord, how glad I should be to speak with him; and there are some of my dear brethren here who are always on the look-out for any in whom there is the faintest spark of the work of grace! But, you see, we cannot see the seeds of grace as God can, we cannot find returning sinners as he can, for God has far-reaching eyes; and if there is only in any of your hearts half a wish to repent, the Father sees it. If you only know that there is a Christ, and that you would gladly worship him, but you have not gone the length of really trusting him, and casting your souls on him, yet remember that when the prodigal was still a great way off, his father saw him. When God sees anything, his is a very different sight from yours or mine. We see a thing with our eyes, and then we get a microscope, and look through that, and see it very differently; but God, as it were, always sees everything microscopically and telescopically. He sees all of it, sees the very heart and soul of it. God at this moment sees all the sin of your entire life, he sees all your brokenness of spirit, all your doubts, all your fears, all the strugglings against sin, and all the strivings of his Spirit. He takes it all in with a single glance, and comprehends and understands it all; and though you are a great way off, the Father sees you, and he sees you with a father’s eye, too. How keen is a father’s eye when he looks at his boy who is ill! He sees that hectic flush before the boy believes there is any trace of consumption in his countenance, for a loving father has a physician’s eye, and a mother’s eye is still more sharp to perceive anything wrong.

26. Moreover, God sees with a compassionate eye:“ His father saw him, and had compassion” on him; the two things went together. I know a sister in Christ, who did me great good one day. I had helped a man many times, poor wretch that he was. I never clothed him but he sold the clothes in a day or two; I never helped him but he sank into deeper degradation than before; and, at last, after he had been outfitted afresh from head to toe, and a job found for him, and he was put into a job for getting on in life, he came here again, and, when I saw him, I shrank back from him. I felt indignant with him, but our sister — a better Christian than I, — lifted up both hands, and began to cry. The man was covered with vermin, and he had evidently been drinking hard; and she lifted up her hands, and she cried, “Oh poor creature, we have done all we can to save you, and you will go to hell”; and she stood and cried as if he had been her own child. And I believe that is how God feels for poor sinners, for he cannot bear to see them act as they do. If you are coming back to him, that is the compassionate way in which he is looking at you. He sees you, and, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, so does the great Father weep over sinners, grieving that they will be so desperately wicked and foolish as to destroy their own souls.

27. V. Now I must close, for our time has gone. The last point to be noticed is, THE ACTION OF THE SINNER’S FATHER.

28. No sooner did the Father see his son coming back than “he ran.” When God runs, it is quick running. “He ran, and fell on his neck”; and when God stoops to fall on a sinner’s neck, it is wonderful condescension. This is compassion like a God. “And kissed him.” God’s kiss is the essence of a million kisses all in one. One kiss from God is the soul of heaven laid to the heart of a burdened sinner. “He ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him,” and so the prodigal was received back into his father’s family.

29. What I am longing for is that God’s blessed Spirit may move some of you to run to Christ, if only in the poor way that I have described. Just for a few minutes, quietly worship him; and while you are doing that, may the great Father come in with all his omnipotent love, and put away your sin, and change your nature, and receive you into eternal union with himself to the praise of the glory of his grace! If I were to say ten thousand things, but God did not bless what I had said, all would be in vain; I hope that you do not need more words, but that you will come at once to Christ. Do not perish, please, do not damn your own souls. There is enough misery in this world without incurring the miseries of the world to come. The Lord himself says, “Turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die?” In the name of the bleeding Christ, seek his mercy even now; by his bloody sweat and crown of thorns, seek him now. I know no better argument except it is by his death-cry, “It is finished.” Come to Christ; look to him and live, even now, and to him shall be the praise for ever and ever. Amen.

{a} Erromanga, an island in the southern region of Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides) is only 40 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide, at its widest point. The famous explorer, Captain James Cook, who visited the island in 1774 and ended up having a military skirmish with the islanders, commented afterwards that “no one would ever venture to introduce Christianity into Erromanga because neither fame nor profit would offer the necessary inducement.” In November 1839, John Williams, a British missionary who had worked in the eastern Pacific for over twenty years, did attempt to make contact with the people of Erromanga. Williams, who was scouting out potential new mission sites for the London Missionary Society, visited Erromanga on board the Camden. He received what he thought was a cordial reception. On his second excursion on the island further than the beach at Dillon’s Bay, the sheltered anchorage on the north-west part of the island, he and his companion James Harris, a sailor who was seriously considering entering the ministry, were attacked and killed. The news of their deaths shook the missionary community in the southern Pacific and back in Great Britain and in Canada as well. See Explorer "http://renewalfellowship.presbyterian.ca/channels/r01171-7.html" {b} Socinian: One of a sect founded by Laelius and Faustus Socinus, two Italian theologians of the 16th century, who denied the divinity of Christ. OED. {c} Unitarian: One who affirms the unipersonality of the Godhead, especially as opposed to an orthodox Trinitarian. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mr 5:1-24,35-43}

1. And they came over to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

They had had a very eventful passage across that small but stormy sea, and Christ had proved himself to be the Lord High Admiral of the seas; but now that he steps ashore they are to see his power quite as distinctly displayed as on the stormy wave.

2, 3. And when he was come out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

Those ancient graveyards were in remote places, for the people were too wise to bury their dead inside their cities. Very often, the tombs were hewn in caverns in the sides of hills and rocks, and here the dead were laid. Of course, any man who touched a tomb was ceremonially defiled by it, so that the tombs were fit places for an unclean person possessed by an unclean spirit. What a ghastly dwelling-place! What a grim abode for the man, and yet most fitting, for he was dangerous to all who passed by, — a raving lunatic, who could not be restrained by any bonds or chains that could be put on him!

4, 5. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Poor creature! His howlings must have made night hideous indeed. Those who passed that way were startled by his unearthly cries, he was a terror to the whole district, people could not bear to live anywhere near the places where he resorted. “Night and day” he was a misery to himself and a terror to all around him, — sad type of some whom we know, to our sorrow, who have gone madly into sin. It certainly is madness, whatever else it may be; and when madness and badness go together, what a terror such a man becomes!

6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, —

There is a wonderful attraction in the person of our Divine Lord and Master. Though he was a long way off, yet a gracious magnetic influence proceeded from him by which he drew this poor object of pity to him: “When he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.”

7. And cried with a loud voice, and said, “What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God, that you do not torment me.”

Who was speaking then? The man himself, or the demon within him? It is very hard to tell; the man and the demon were two personalities, but they were so effectively blended into one that it is scarcely possible to tell when it was the man speaking, and when it was the demon. So, when sin enters into a man, it gets so completely into his very nature that, sometimes, we feel it must be the evil spirit speaking in the man, and yet it is not easy to be quite sure that it is so, and we cannot entirely excuse the man himself from the guilt of his words and actions.

8. For he said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit.”

Whenever Christ speaks to the devil, his message is a very short and very sharp one. The Lord treats him like the dog that he is: “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit.” Christ has no compliment for demons; and it is a pity that some of his servants have such soft words when they are dealing with unbelief, which is only a demon, or one of the devil’s imps.

9. And he asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion: for we are many.”

The devil is obliged to tell his name when Christ treats him like a catechized child, and he is compelled to crouch before Christ like a whipped cur at his master’s feet.

10. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

Satan clings to this world, and to any place where he has had an exceptional triumph, as he had among those tombs and those rocky ravines.

11, 12. Now there was near the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the demons besought him, saying, “Send us into the swine, so that we may enter into them.”

Such is the malice of these evil spirits, that they would rather do mischief among swine than nowhere. But notice their unanimity; with all the faults that can be laid at the door of demons, you cannot find them divided and quarrelling. They are unanimous in evil, and it is a shame that those who are the followers of Christ should often be divided, whereas the kingdom of Satan is not divided against itself. Let us learn from our great enemy at least this one lesson.

13. And immediately Jesus gave them permission. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine, and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;)

It was strange that there should be so many swine in the country where God’s people Israel lived, and since they had no right to be there, and were there contrary to Jewish law, it was good that they should be destroyed.

13-15. And were drowned in the sea. And those who fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him who was possessed with the demon, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

Ah, me! How differently people look at the same thing! If you and I, who are Christ’s disciples, had gone there, and seen this poor lunatic fully restored, we should have been filled with holy joy, and we would have composed new hymns of praise in honour of the great Physician who had cured him. But these people, in their alienation of heart from the Lord Jesus Christ, “were afraid.” They feared and trembled in the presence of almighty mercy; omnipotent love awoke no joy in their hearts, but the spirit of bondage was in them.

16. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who was possessed with the demon, and also concerning the swine.

You may be sure that they dwelt on the latter part of the story, for the loss of the swine touched them more than the healing of the demoniac.

17. And they began to implore him to depart out of their territory.

Oh dear friends, let none of us ever get into such a state of mind and heart as to implore Christ to go away from us! Yet we have known people act in such a dreadful way as that; a person troubled in conscience has said, “I will never go and hear that preacher again; I cannot sleep at nights after listening to him. I will never read such and such a book again, it disturbs me so that I cannot enjoy myself.” This is, in effect, to pray Christ to depart out of your territory. What! is salvation worth so little that you have no care to possess it? Is Christ himself so small a blessing that you even tremble lest he should change your nature, and save you? I think there were more lunatics than one on that Gadarene shore, the people were all as mad at heart as that one poor man was mad in brain.

18. And when he was come into the boat, —

Christ will go from you if you want him to go. He forces himself on no man; the grace of God does not violate the will of man, it acts in accordance with man’s nature, and achieves the divine purpose without disturbing the individuality of the man. So Christ went from Gadara: “And when he was come into the boat,” —

18. He who had been possessed with the demon prayed him that he might be with him.

Was that not a proper prayer? I think, dear friends, that not only nature, but the man’s new nature must have suggested this petition; he prayed Christ that he might be with him. In our day, it is very natural that, as soon as we are converted, we should wish to go home to heaven; but what is the reason why we should not do so? It is in order that we may bear witness for Christ here on earth, and gather others in to him.

19. However Jesus did not permit him, but says to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion on you.”

That is one of the chief points on which we ought always to speak, not only to tell of the greatness of the change which the grace of God has created in us, but especially to testify to the tenderness of God to us. Oh, how gently did he handle our broken bones! That good Physician of ours has a lion’s heart, but he has a lady’s hand; he does not spare us necessary pain, but he never inflicts even a twinge that is unnecessary. And, oh! the pity of his heart towards us when he sees the sorrow which our sin has brought on us.

20. And he departed, and began to proclaim in Decapolis —

In the ten little cities that were in that region: “he departed, and began to proclaim in Decapolis” —

20. What great things Jesus had done for him: and all men marvelled.

This is the kind of ready-made preacher whose service for his Lord is usually most effective. The man who, though he has studied little on many points, yet knows by experience what the grace of God has done for him, and keeps to that one theme, and tells the story with simple untrained eloquence, is the man who will do much for his Master, as we read here: “all men marvelled.” If he had plunged into deep doctrinal subjects, it may be that men would have ridiculed him; but inasmuch as he spoke of what he knew, and told about the greatness and graciousness of God, “all men marvelled.”

21, 22. And when Jesus was passed over again by boat to the other side, many people gathered to him: and he was near the sea. And, behold, —

Wherever we see that word, “behold,” it is like our nota bene , saying to us, “Note well what is coming.” “Behold,” —

22-24. There one of the rulers of the synagogue comes, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, and besought him greatly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death: please, come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be healed; and she shall live.” And Jesus went with him; and many people followed him, and thronged him ……

35, 36. While he yet spoke, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain ones which said, “Your daughter is dead: why do you trouble the Master any further?” As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he says to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

I can imagine that, if Jairus had not been a man of much faith, he would have looked at the Saviour with a credulous glance, as much as to say, “ ‘Only believe’? Could you ask more of me when my child is dead? Yet you tell me, ‘Only believe.’ ” But, brethren, here is the very sphere of faith. Where there is no wading, there must be swimming; and where there is no hope in the creature, then we must throw ourselves on the Creator. So, the child’s death made room for the father’s faith.

37-39. And he permitted no man to follow him, except Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he comes to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and sees the tumult, and those who wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he says to them, “Why do you make this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleeps.”

She was dead, but not dead as far as Christ’s intention was concerned; she was not so dead as to remain dead. He intended to soon bring her back again to life, and therefore to him it was as if she were only sleeping.

40. And they laughed him to scorn.

What an amazing picture this must have been, — The Lord of glory in the centre of a ribald crew who laughed him to scorn! But it is not the man who is laughed at who is necessarily contemptible, it is often the laughers who are the most deserving of scorn. It was so here in Christ’s day, and it has often been so since.

40. But when he had put them all out,

They were not worthy to be answered in any other way.

40-42. He takes the father and the mother of the damsel, and those who were with him, and enters in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha cumi”; which is, being interpreted, “Damsel, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

How very often people were “astonished” in Christ’s day! Sometimes it is stated, “they marvelled”; at other times, “they were amazed,” or, “they wondered.” It would have been good if wonder had always turned to faith; but sometimes it corrupted into hate. May God grant that our wonder at Christ may always be of that kind which crystallizes into love!

43. And he strictly charged them that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

Life must be nourished; young life especially needs frequent food. If Christ has spiritually quickened your child, see that you feed the child with suitable food. If you have won a convert to Christ in the Sunday School, take care that the unadulterated milk of the Word is brought out, so that the new-born child may be fed and nourished until he comes to the perfect stature of a man in Christ Jesus.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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