2646. The Baptist’s Message

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No. 2646-45:517. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, July 2, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 2/1/2016*2/1/2016

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, October 29, 1899.

The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” {Joh 1:29}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1987, “Behold the Lamb of God” 1988}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2646, “Baptist’s Message, The” 2647}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3222, “Lamb of God, The” 3223}
   Exposition on Isa 40:1-17,25-31 Joh 1:29-42 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3432, “Zeal of the Lord, The” 3434 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 1:1-34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2259, “Simplicity and Sublimity of Salvation” 2260 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 1:1-34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3222, “Lamb of God, The” 3223 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 1:1-37 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2329, “Lamb of God in Scripture, The” 2330 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 1:19-33 19:1-16 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3457, “All Are Guilty” 3459 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 1:19-51 Mt 4:12-24 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2646, “Baptist’s Message, The” 2647 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 1:29-51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2375, “Found by Jesus, and Finding Jesus” 2376 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mt 3:1-12 Joh 1:15-37 3:22-36 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2818, “Jesus and His Forerunner” 2819 @@ "Exposition"}

1. John was the herald of Christ; he came to bear witness to him, and to prepare the way for him. In the olden times, when kings travelled, they were accustomed to send heralds before them, to announce their coming, and to prepare the way for them; and I have read that, on several occasions, the herald wore such gorgeous apparel, adorned with gold and lace, that when he went into some of the towns and villages, the people thought that he must be the king himself, so they made ready to receive him with royal honours. When he said, “No, I am not the king; I have merely come to sound the trumpet, and to say that he is coming,” they wondered whatever the king himself must be like if his herald was so resplendent; and it is said that, in several cases, they refused to receive the king when he came, for they said, “The man who told us that he was only your servant was a far finer looking man than you are, and much more grandly dressed.” So, when the king arrived, and they saw that he was only plainly dressed, as kings usually are when not wearing their state robes, they would not receive him. Something like that happens with some of Christ’s heralds, but it did not occur in the case of John the Baptist. He was not arrayed in soft clothing or rich apparel; he came straight up from the wilderness clothed in a garment of camel’s hair, and with a leather belt around his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Nor was there anything at all about John’s mode of speech which was likely to attract attention to himself, and make men think less of his Master when he should come. I wish that all of us, when we go out as Christ’s heralds, crying, “Behold the Lamb of God,” — and that is our main business here below, — would take care that we were never so grand in our style of thought or language that, when the Master himself came in all his wonderful simplicity, men would begin to despise him because they remembered the fine tones of his pretended herald. No, let us be simple and plain whenever we have to tell about Christ; and when our King himself comes, let us step back, and get out of sight, so that he alone may be seen, and that all the people’s hearts may be won to him.

2. I have plunged into the middle of my subject at the very beginning of my sermon, for that is the theme on which I want to speak to you. First, I am going to describe the true messenger, — John the Baptist, or anyone else who is like him; then, secondly, I hope to talk about the true message:“ Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”; and then, thirdly, I must say a little on the true reception of this message, telling what they do who really hear and believe the true messenger of God.

3. I. First, then, let us think of THE TRUE MESSENGER; and, since I know that there are many here who try to do good by speaking for the Lord to their fellow men, let this first part of my subject be a lesson in self-examination; — not by way of discouragement, but, rather of encouragement, I hope, to those whom I am addressing. Who are those who will be acknowledged by Christ, at the last great day, as the true messengers of God? What are the special characteristics by which they may be known?

4. Well, first, the true messenger is one who sees the Lord Jesus for himself:“ The next day John sees Jesus coming to him.” To be his herald and witness, John must see Jesus, and he must see Jesus coming to him. Those prophets, who lived a long while before the coming of Christ, were only dim seers compared with John the Baptist. He was like the morning star, which is so near the sun that it is the brightest of the stars. We see it shining almost like a little sun, and then, when the sun itself rises in all its brightness, the star disappears. John was “a burning and a shining light”; and all who came before him were, in Christ’s judgment, inferior to him. He said to the multitudes concerning John, “Whom did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.’ Truly I say to you, ‘Among those who are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist.’ ” This was the difference between John and the prophets; his sight of Christ was clearer than theirs because he was nearer to Christ, and his view of Christ was brighter, fuller, and clearer, than that of all who had gone before.

5. Yet they also were true witnesses to Christ, according to the light they had. Our Saviour said to the Jews, “Your forefather Abraham rejoiced to see my day: he saw it, and was glad”; and if he had not seen Christ by faith, he could not have been one of the witnesses who testified beforehand concerning him. All the prophets looked through the haze of the ages, and by faith perceived their Lord, and then they wrote of him, and spoke of him to the people. The ancient name for a prophet was a very instructive one; he was called a seer; and you and I, beloved, must see Christ, or else we cannot bear witness to him. As the prophets saw Christ by faith, and as John actually looked at him, and then bore witness to him, so must you and I see him, — not with these eyes, that sight is reserved until the resurrection, — but with the eyes of our spirit, with the eyes of our mind and heart, we must see Jesus before we can properly speak of him.

6. Are you anxious, my brother, to go and preach? Have you seen Jesus? If not, what can you say when people ask you, “What is he like? Who is he that we should believe in him?” You must look to him before you can speak of him; and, the more steadfastly you do gaze on his person, his work, his offices, his humiliation, his glorification, the better you will be able to bear your witness concerning him. You will speak then more surely and confidently for your God if you can testify concerning what your heart knows to be true, because you have perceived and enjoyed it yourself.

7. Indeed, and if you have seen him in the past, try to see him again, and to be continually “looking to Jesus.” Do not let any of us go and talk to our Sunday School class, or preach from the pulpit, or write a letter about our Lord, until we have had a fresh glimpse of him. It is wonderful how nimbly the pen or the tongue moves when the eye has just feasted itself on Christ. The psalmist said, “My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” When you have yourself been with Christ, when you have just come out from the ivory palaces of communion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus, all your garments will smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia; and your words will have some of the precious savour clinging to them. So again I say that we must see Christ or else we cannot be witnesses to him; therefore, let us fix our hearts, and our thoughts, and our meditations, so completely on Christ that, when we cry to other men, “Behold the Lamb of God,” it will be because we have just beheld him ourselves. If a man, who is blind, were to stand up in the street, and cry, “Behold,” people would be apt to ask, “What can a poor blind man tell us to look at? He cannot see anything himself.” If you say to the people, “Behold Christ,” yet all the while your eye is turned towards yourself, and you are wondering whether you will get through the sermon all right, whether you will have a fine conclusion at the end, and what the congregation will think of it when you are finished, that will be like saying, “Behold!” while you yourself are looking around the other way, and other people will look in the same direction. They will be sure to do as you do, and not as you say; and if you do not behold Christ, neither will they. Our inward thought, and conviction, and belief must be in strict accordance with our outward speech, or else we shall deceive ourselves, and our message will be poorly delivered, and will fall without power on our hearers.

8. I also remind you that we must preach Christ as coming. “Why!” one says, “he has come.” I know that he has, but he is coming again. It is a blessed thing that, whereas the prophets saw him as coming, they only differed from us in this respect, — that we can look back to his first coming, as they looked forward to it, and we can also look onward to his coming a second time, “without sin to salvation,” and we are to speak of him as coming. It is grand preaching when the preacher can see Christ coming, when he can behold the throne of judgment set, and can gaze on the King in his beauty sitting on it, and see him reigning over all, King of kings and Lord of lords. It is glorious when he hears the hallelujahs of the approaching millennial age even while he is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Lo, he comes,” he says; and he sees him coming, for he is not like the virgins who had fallen asleep, and so did not watch for the bridegroom’s appearing. Oh, for open eyes, and expectant hearts, and earnest tongues, to see, and long for, and tell about our coming Lord! This is the way the faithful witness preaches him to the people.

9. But, next, the true messenger calls on men to see Jesus. He calls them away from seeing other things, and tells them to look, and “behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” God-sent servants do not say, “Look to the priest; look to the altar; look to the sacraments; look to yourself; come and confess your sins, and I will give you absolution.” No, no, no, no; for ever and for ever no! They do nothing of that kind. The priests of Antichrist do that, but the servants of Christ cry, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Our great difficulty is to get men’s eyes off themselves, off their works, off their forms and ceremonies, off mere creed-religion, and to get them to look at the living Christ who is still among us bearing the sin of all who truly seek his face. Oh dear hearers, I know that I am, in this respect, a faithful witness, wherever else I fail in my testimony, for my soul’s labour and travail, even to anguish, is to get you away from depending even in the slightest degree on anything else but what Christ has done. I would not wish you to have the shadow of a shade of a ghost of a pretence of a confidence anywhere outside of Christ. Jesus is the one and only hope of sinners; let him be A to you, and Z, and all the letters in between, the beginning and the end, and the middle, and everything else. Take your eyes off all ministers, and all books, and all feelings, and even all believings; do not even fix your gaze on your own faith. You know that the eye cannot see itself. Did you ever see your own eye? In a mirror, perhaps, you may have done so; but that was only the reflection of it; and you may, in the same way, see the evidence of your faith, but you cannot look at the faith itself. Faith looks away from itself to the object of faith, even to Christ; and this is what the true witness desires. He will, if he can, keep men from looking anywhere but on his Master. Some look at their repentance; but if you cannot keep your eye on Christ, then away with your repentance. Some are always looking to their faith; but if there is a faith that hides Christ, away with it! Some want feelings, and right feelings we may wish to have; but as for those feelings which come between us and Christ, away with them, it is not fit that they should live. Our one business is to get men off from anything, and from everything, however good it is, so that they may look only to Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God.

10. The third sign of a true witness is that he leads his own disciples to Jesus. It is generally thought to be a good thing to lead another man’s disciples beyond their master; but it is not always so easy to lead our own disciples beyond ourselves. The preacher is often conscious that there are many weak people who stop short at what he says; to them, it is a great help to faith that their pastor or their minister says such and such. Well, for lame people, we do not object to crutches for a time; but we always anxiously pray that the faith of these poor cripples may not stand, — at least, for any length of time, — in the power of man, but in Christ alone. I would say to you what the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, though I wish I could say something that should be worthy to be placed beneath what he said, and so be more suitable for one so much inferior to him. He says, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” That is, “Let us ourselves be accursed if we ever dare to lead you away from Christ. It is an imprecation on our own souls if we dare to make ourselves your masters, instead of your servants for Jesus’ sake.” It was a beautiful trait in the character of John the Baptist that he was so ready to pass on to Christ his own disciples; he did not want to keep them merely to swell the number of his own followers, but only kept them with him until he could point them to his Master. When we try to win souls, if we find that people have confidence in us and affection for us, let us use that influence, not to attach them to ourselves except with the earnest desire to pass them on to Christ, so that they may become disciples of the Saviour for themselves, and grow up from being babes who have to be nursed to become strong men in Christ Jesus.

11. One more thing about John the Baptist, which is also a characteristic of the true witness for Christ, is that he lost himself in his Master. Without a single atom of regret, he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Oh, how grandly he witnessed for Christ by sinking himself until he was lost in Christ! And my brother, it must be the same with you; if you would be a true witness for Christ, you must say what glorifies him, even though it dishonours yourself. Perhaps there is a very learned man sitting over there, and the temptation to the preacher is to say something that shall make him feel that the minister to whom he is listening is not so ignorant as some people suppose; but if there is an unlearned, simple sinner anywhere in the place, the preacher’s business is just to chop his words down to that poor man’s condition, and let the learned hearer receive the same message if he wishes. Luther said, “When I am preaching, I see Dr. Jonas sitting there, and Oecolampadius, and Melancthon, and I say to myself, ‘Those learned doctors know enough already; so I need not trouble myself about them. I shall fire at the poor people in the aisles.’ ” That is the way Luther preached, and God richly blessed his ministry because he did it. Though he was a truly learned man, he was willing to be considered as knowing nothing at all if by that means he could serve his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ all the better. Dear brothers and sisters, when you are serving Christ, do not seek also to serve yourself in a sneaking kind of way. It is easily done; under the appearance of glorifying Christ, you may really be extolling yourself. You may even seek to win souls with the view of having the credit of doing it; and if you do, you will spoil the whole work. It must not be so with you; this royal crown must be touched by no one but Christ. You and I cannot really put the crown on his head, though we may wish to do so. Christ is greater than that monarch who, when the Pope was about to crown him, took the crown out of his hands, and said, “I won it myself, so I will put it on my own head.” And Christ must crown himself. The words we sometimes sing, —

    Bring forth the royal diadem,
       And crown him Lord of all, —

are very good and right; but, after all, Christ is his own glory, and the Holy Spirit truly glorifies him. How can we be worthy to put the crown on his head when we are not worthy to release the strap of his sandals? Oh, what poor things we are! We are not fit to be the dust under his feet. Glory, glory, glory, be to him, and to him alone!

12. So I think I have said enough about the true messenger. Aim at being like John the Baptist, in these respects, brothers and sisters, as God shall help you.

13. II. But now, secondly, we are to consider THE TRUE MESSAGE, which is this: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

14. In these few words we have the substance of the message to be delivered by God’s faithful ministers. First, John declared that God had sent his Son into the world, so that men might live through him. He taught that Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal Son of God, appointed by him to redeem mankind, and that he came into the world on purpose so that he might save his people from their sins. Oh, proclaim this wondrous story! Proclaim it until every wave bears onward the message, and every wind wafts it until all of woman born have heard the good news that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” All our hopes spring from Christ and him crucified. They begin with him, and they end with him; and whoever believes in him has everlasting life; but whoever rejects him by not believing him, there remains no hope for him, but he must be lost for ever. There is only one way to heaven, and that one way is marked by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15. Further, in telling the true message, we must go on to explain that Jesus Christ is the Saviour because he is the one sacrifice for sin. This verse reads, in the margin, “Behold the Lamb of God, who bears the sin of the world”; and in that rendering there is a great truth which is not to be kept back. Christ Jesus did actually bear the sin of his people in his own body on the tree. It was lifted bodily off those whom it would have crushed for ever, and it was laid on him. He was, indeed, the great Sin Bearer; he who knew no sin was made sin for us, “so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Now here is a point over which some are always quibbling. Robertson, of Brighton, with his magnificent genius, practically taught the atonement in some such way as Dr. Duncan used to say, that Jesus Christ did something or other which, in some way or other, in some degree or other, made it possible for men to be forgiven. That was Robertson’s notion of the atonement; but we do not say so. We say that he really took the sin of men on himself; and who can read that marvellous fifty-third chapter of Isaiah without seeing that this is no figure, no metaphor, but literal truth, “the Lord has made to meet on him the iniquity of us all!” So the prophet says; but what does the apostle say? “Who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” And I cannot preach the gospel without proclaiming this great truth of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and I do not intend to try to do so. I know of no way by which sin can be taken off us except by laying it on him who was our Surety and our Substitute. But he did take it, and he did bear it; and the true messenger, sent from God, tells you that, whatever else he may say or may not say.

16. But he tells you more than that, namely, what the text says in our Authorized Version: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away” — as well as takes on himself — “the sin of the world.” Oh, blessed word, — takes it away! Where did he take it? I will tell you: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” He took the sin of all believers away so completely that it sank into the bottom of the sea; God has cast it behind his back, and it shall not be mentioned against them any more for ever. There is no such thing now as the sin of the saints, for Christ has utterly annihilated it. He came to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins; and if he made an end of them, that is the end of them, and they are gone for ever; and those who believe in Jesus are washed white as the driven snow, and clothed in his matchless righteousness. This is what the true messenger has to tell, that Jesus bore the sin of his people, and that he took it right away. Oh, what joyful work is ours!

17. This is to be our message; we are to present Christ as the object of faith. We are to say to men, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Is that all the sinner has to do? Yes, behold him. Never was there another Saviour like Christ Jesus our Lord. The mere looking at him saves the soul; whoever looks to Christ lives by that look, and shall live for ever. There is not a sinner in hell who ever looked at Christ with the eye of faith; and there never shall be such a soul. And all who are in heaven entered there simply through beholding the slain Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Would you like to get there, young man? Then, behold the Lamb of God, and you shall get there. There is life in a look at the Lamb of God. Would you like to get there, poor sinner, driven and hunted by the devil? Then, behold the Lamb of God. Only look out of the corner of your eye, if that is all that you can do, look through your blinding tears; look through the mists and clouds that surround you; only look to Jesus; and, just as every bitten one who looked at the bronze serpent lived, so every sick soul that looks to Christ, shall live, and live for ever. That is the gospel, and it is a blessed gospel to have to preach; and blessed is the messenger who proclaims it boldly, and plainly, in the name of Jesus, saying on Christ’s behalf, “Look to him, and be saved, all you ends of the earth. Look and live.” May many do so at this very moment!

18. III. Now I close by turning to the third point of my discourse, which is, THE TRUE RECEPTION OF THE MESSAGE. How can I truly receive this true message of the true messenger? Well, brothers and sisters, if we, by faith, “behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” observe what we shall do.

19. First, we shall follow Jesus Read from the 35th verse to the 37th: “Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking at Jesus as he walked, he says, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” That is to say, they beheld the Lamb of God; and, believing in him, they followed him; and if you have really believed in Christ, you will try to walk in his steps. You will call him Master and Lord; he will be your Leader and Commander; and you will willingly follow where he leads, and cheerfully do what he commands. Christ has not come to give you licence to sin; but he has brought you to liberty from sin. Blessed liberty! If you do indeed look to Christ, follow him at once, become his disciple, do what he tells you to, feeling that it is —

    Yours not to reason why,
    Yours not to make reply; —

but just to do as he commands, and believe what he teaches by the implicit faith which yields itself up entirely to him. This is the test of real faith in Jesus, that the man is no more his own master, but takes Jesus to be his Master, and follows him wherever he leads.

20. The next thing that happens with those who give a true reception to the message is, that they want to remain with Christ. The two disciples followed Jesus, and “they said to him, ‘Master, where do you live?’ He says to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he lived, and stayed with him that day.” I do not know where he lived; I am sure that it was not a very luxurious mansion, and, in later days, he had nowhere to lay his head. But as soon as ever these men had looked to him, and followed him, they wanted to live with him. Oh, that is the highest joy of a Christian, to live with Christ! A look of faith saves the soul because it is the beginning of a life of living with Christ for ever and ever. I am afraid that some of God’s people fail to experience this blessed living with Christ. They get a little joy, and they seem very pleased with it, but in a little while they lose it. Why is that? Because they rejoiced merely in their own joy; and when a man does that, he will soon lose it. It is as old Master Brooks says, “If a loving husband were to give his wife earrings, and bracelets, and jewels, and then, instead of loving him for his gifts, she began to be in love with his presents, and cared little for him, he would be inclined to take them away from her so as to have all her love for himself.” And surely it is so with Christ. He puts the earring of holy joy in his bride’s ear, and she begins to say, “Oh, how joyful I am!” No, no, do not talk like that. I heard one, the other day, prating about his own holiness; and I thought to myself, “That holiness which talks about itself is an unholy holiness.” Do you think that holiness is a thing to be dragged around the streets, or set up for a show? Oh, no! As I think of the thrice-holy God, I lay my face in the very dust before him. Oh brethren, true holiness is something very different from this tinsel stuff that men, in these days, boast about as they beat their drums. True holiness beats on its breast, and gets away into its place of secret communion; and if it has any beauties, it shows them to the Lord alone there, with many a blush and many a lament that it is not much more nearly what it ought to be. Oh beloved, may God grant us grace to follow Jesus, and to remain with Jesus!

21. I said that some of God’s people do not seem to understand this abiding with Jesus, but why should we not? Why do we need to have doubts and fears? Why do we need to get away from Christ? If we only had the faith he deserves, and we believed in him as he ought to be believed in, we might go from joy to joy, and so ascend to heaven as on a ladder of light. May God give us this grace of abiding with Christ! It is to be had by those who seek it properly.

22. Then, lastly, the proof which these people, who had seen Christ, and followed him, gave that they had really found him, was that they went and tried to bring others to him. They said to their relatives and acquaintances, “We have found the Messiah”; “We have found Jesus.” Ah! you have never truly found Jesus if you do not tell others about him. You know how children act, and we ought to be children in all things before God. If a little child, in his rambles, were to find honey, and his brothers and sisters were all around, I feel certain that he would give such a cry after he had first licked his own fingers, that all of them would soon be plunging their hands into the honey, too. You have never tasted its sweetness if it has not made you cry, “Come here; was there ever such joy as this? Was there ever such delight, such rapture as this?” It is the instinct of true children of God to desire to bring in others to taste and see that the Lord is good, to share in the unspeakable bliss which is already their own.

23. Many of you are coming to the Lord’s table. As you come to it, I would whisper in your ear, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Never mind that bread and wine, unless you can use them as poor old folks often use their spectacles. What do they use them for? To look at? No, to look through them. So, use the bread and wine as a pair of spectacles; look through them, and do not be satisfied until you can say, “Yes, yes, I can see the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Then the communion shall be really what it ought to be to you. May God make it so, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 1:19-51 Mt 4:12-24}

1:19, 20. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” And he confessed, and did not deny; but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

“I am not the One anointed by God to save mankind.”

21. And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”

“Are you Elijah come back to earth?”

21. And he says, “I am not.”

For, though indeed he was the true spiritual Elijah who was to come as the forerunner of the Messiah, yet, in the sense in which they asked the question, the only truthful answer was, “I am not.”

21. “Are you that prophet?”

The long-expected prophet foretold by Moses?

21-23. And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say concerning yourself?” He said, “I am the voice

That is all; a voice and nothing more. John did not profess to be the Word; he was only the voice which vocalized that Word, and made it audible to human ears. He came to bear witness to the Christ, but he himself was not the Christ: “I am the voice”

23-27. Of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” And those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him, “Why do you baptize then, if you are not that Christ, nor Elijah, neither that prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom you do not know; it is he who coming after me is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to release.”

How wisely does God always choose and mould his servants! John is evidently just the man for his place; he bears testimony to Christ very clearly; he earnestly turns away all attention from himself to his Master; and he has such a reverent esteem for him of whom he is the herald that he puts all honour and glory on him.

28-30. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me: for he was before me.’

You know, dear friends, that Christ existed from all eternity, so, in very truth, he was before John; you know, too, the glory and the excellency of our divine Master’s person, so that, in another sense, he was and is before John and all other creatures whom he has made.

31-34. And I did not know him: but that he should be revealed to Israel, therefore I am come baptizing with water.” And John bore record, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. And I did not know him: but he who sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, ‘On whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I saw, and bore record that this is the Son of God.”

The secret sign of the descent of the Spirit, in dove-like form, on our Lord, was given to John; and as soon as he saw it, he knew for certain that Jesus was the Sent One, the Messiah, and that he must point him out to the people.

35, 36. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking at Jesus as he walked, he says, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

This was the same text from which he had preached the day before, and it was the same sermon, somewhat shortened. So it should be with us.

    His only righteousness I show,
       His saving truth proclaim;
    ’Tis all my business here below
       To cry, “Behold the Lamb!”

37. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

So John was losing his own disciples. By his testimony to the truth, he was sending them to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and he did it well and gracefully. There are many who would find it a hard task to reduce the number of their disciples; but it was not so with John.

38-46. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and says to them, “What do you seek?” They said to him, “Rabbi,” (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) “where do you live?” He says to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he lived, and stayed with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first finds his own brother Simon, and says to him, “We have found the Messiah,” (which is translated, “The Christ”). And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah: you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, “A stone”). The day following Jesus would go out into Galilee, and finds Philip, and says to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip finds Nathanael, and says to him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip says to him, “Come and see.”

It was all a seeing gospel. John said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Then Jesus said, “Come and see”; and now Philip says the same thing. Faith is that blessed sight by which we discern the Saviour. Whoever looks to Christ by faith shall live.

47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and says concerning him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

“There is no craft or deception in this man, like there was in Jacob; he is a true Israelite, like Israel at his best.”

48. Nathanael says to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

What Nathanael had been doing there, we do not know; probably he had been meditating, or he may have been engaged in prayer. But this announcement was a proof to Nathanael that Jesus could see all things, and read men’s hearts, and know what they were doing in their chosen retreats: “When you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Christ knows all of you who came in here, tonight, in a prayerful spirit, seeking him. And whenever men are seeking him, be sure that he is also seeking them.

49. Nathanael answered and says to him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

“You saw what I was doing in secret; and by that sign I perceive that you are God’s own Son.”

50. Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.”

Those who are ready to believe Christ, on what may be thought to be slender evidence, shall “see greater things than these.” “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.” They shall gaze on a wonderful sight eventually.

51. And he says to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, ‘Hereafter you shall, see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.’ ”

“You are a true Israelite, and you shall have Israel’s vision. You shall see the same sight as your forefather Jacob saw when he fell asleep with a stone for his pillow, only your vision shall be far grander than his. Christ always knows how to meet the needs of our hearts, and to give us something in accordance with our own expressions, and to make his answers fit our requests, only that he always far exceeds all that we ask or even think, blessed be his holy name!”

Now reading from Matthew’s account:

4:12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

Notice that there were at that time only two great ministers of God, — John the Baptist, he must go to prison and to death; — Jesus, the Son of God, he must go into the desert to be tempted by the devil. If any Christians escape temptation, they will not be the leaders of the hosts of God. Those who stand in the vanguard must bear the brunt of the battle. Oh, that all who are called to such responsible positions might be as prepared to occupy them as John was, and as Jesus was!

13-16. And leaving Nazareth, he came and lived in Capernaum, which is on the sea-coast, by the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali: so that it might he fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people who sit in darkness saw a great light; and light is sprung up on those who sat in the region and shadow of death.”

Oh, the tender mercy of our God! Where the darkness is the deepest, there the light shines the brightest. Christ selects such dark regions as Naphtali and Zebulun so that he may live there, and shine in all his glory.

17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He was not afraid to give an earnest exhortation to sinners, and to tell men to repent. He knew better than we do the inability of men concerning all that is good, yet he told them to repent.

18-23. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishermen. And he says to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishermen of men.” And they immediately left their nets, and followed him. And going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him. And Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

I like those words “all kinds” — that is, every kind and every type of sickness and disease Christ healed. Perhaps you, dear friend, are afflicted in your soul in a very particular way. Indeed, but this great Physician heals all kinds of diseases. No one is excluded from the list of patients whom he can cure; twice the words “all kinds” are used: “Healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”

24. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought to him all sick people who were taken with various diseases and torments, and those who were possessed with demons, and those who were epileptics, and those who had the palsy; and he healed them.

Our Lord Jesus lived as in a hospital while he was on earth; wherever he went, the sins and sorrows of men were all open before his sympathetic gaze. But oh, what joy it must have been to him to be able to deal so well with them all! Am I addressing any who are sick in soul? Our Master is used to cases just like yours; your malady is not new to him. He has healed many like you; of all who were brought to him, it is written, “he healed them.” Lie before him now, in all your sin and misery, and breathe the prayer, “You Son of David, have mercy on me,” and he will surely hear you, and heal you, for he delights to bless and save all who trust in him.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — Come And Welcome” 492}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, In Heaven — The Power Of The Risen Lord” 331}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — Jesus Wounded” 276}

Gospel, Invitations
492 — Come And Welcome <8.7.4.>
1 Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
      Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
   Jesus ready stands to save you,
      Full of pity join’d with power;
         He is able,
      He is willing; doubt no more.
2 Come, ye needy, come and welcome,
      God’s free bounty glorify;
   True belief, and true repentance,
      Every grace that brings us nigh,
         Without money,
      Come to Jesus Christ and buy.
3 Let not conscience make you linger
      Nor of fitness fondly dream:
   All the fitness he requireth,
      Is to feel your need of him:
         This he gives you;
      ‘Tis the Spirits’s rising beam.
4 Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
      Bruised and mangled by the fall;
   If you tarry till you’re better,
      You will never come at all:
         Not the righteous,
      Sinners Jesus came to call.
5 View him prostrate in the garden;
      On the ground your Maker lies!
   On the bloody tree behold him,
      Hear him cry before he dies,
         “It is finish’d!”
      Sinner, will not this suffice?
6 Lo! th’ Incarnate God, ascended,
      Pleads the merit of his blood:
   Venture on him, venture wholly,
      Let no other trust intrude;
         None but Jesus
      Can do helpless sinners good.
7 Saints and angels join’d in concert,
      Sing the praises of the Lamb;
   While the blissful seats of heaven
      Sweetly echo with his name!
      Sinners here may sing the same.
                        Joseph Hart, 1759, a.

Jesus Christ, In Heaven
331 — The Power Of The Risen Lord
1 Jesus, the name high over all,
   In hell, or earth, or sky,
   Angels and men before it fall,
   And devils fear and fly.
2 Jesus, the name to sinners dear,
   The name to sinners given,
   It scatters all their guilty fear,
   And turns their hell to heaven.
3 Jesus the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
   And bruises Satan’s head;
   Power into strengthless souls it speaks,
   And life into the dead.
4 His only righteousness I show,
   His saving truth proclaim;
   ‘Tis all my business here below
   To cry, “Behold the Lamb!”
5 Happy, if with my latest breath
   I may but gasp his name;
   Preach him to all, and cry in death,
   “Behold, behold the Lamb!”
                     Charles Wesley, 1749.

Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
276 — Jesus Wounded
1 How clearly all his torturing wounds
   The love of Jesus show,
   Those wounds from whence encrimson’d rill
   Of blood atoning flow.
2 How doth th’ ensanguined thorny crown
   That beauteous brow transpierce!
   How do the nails those hands and feet
   Contract with tortures fierce!
3 He bows his head, and forth at last
   His loving spirit soars;
   Yet even after death his heart
   For us its tribute pours.
4 Oh, come, all ye in whom are fix’d
   The deadly stains of sin;
   Come, wash in his all saving blood,
   And ye shall be made clean.
5 Praise him, who with the Father sits
   Enthroned upon the skies;
   Whose blood redeems our souls from guilt,
   Whose Spirit sanctifies.
                  Edward Caswall 1849, a.

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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