2761. The Free-Agency Of Christ

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The Free-Agency Of Christ

No. 2761-48:13. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, September 21, 1879, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, January 12, 1902.

And he comes to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man to him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up, and said, “I see men as trees, walking.” After that he put his hands again on his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. {Mr 8:22-25}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 701, “Seeing and Not Seeing, or Men as Trees Walking” 692}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2761, “Free Agency of Christ, The” 2762}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2892, “Free Agency of Christ, The” 2893}
   Exposition on Mr 8:1-30 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2761, “Free Agency of Christ, The” 2762 @@ "Exposition"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mr 8:23"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mr 8:24"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mr 8:25"}

1. There is a very amazing variety in the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the variety is apparent even in the way in which men come to him to partake of his blessing. With regard to the blind men to whom our Lord gave sight, we read of some that they were brought to Christ by their friends, as in the case of this man at Bethsaida, who was almost passive all the way through. His friends appear to have had more faith than he himself had; and, therefore, they brought him to Jesus. There were other cases in which the blind men cried to Christ, and, as far as they could, came to him by themselves. Some of them even came to him in the teeth of stern opposition; for, when the disciples upbraided one of them for crying out so loudly, he cried out a great deal more, “You Son of David, have mercy on me.” So that, you see, some were brought to Christ by their friends, and others came to him in spite of much opposition. Then there is that notable case, which many of you must remember, of that remarkable blind man, who had been blind from his birth, to whom Jesus came uninvited. Jesus saw him, and anointed his eyes with the clay which he had made, and then told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. “He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.” So, from the very beginning of our Saviour’s earthly ministry, there were differences in the way in which one class of characters, the blind, came to Jesus Christ.

2. I. The lesson for us to learn from this undoubted fact is, just this; that THERE ARE GREAT DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY IN WHICH MEN COME TO JESUS CHRIST, and differences even in their first desires.

3. Some will begin to seek the Saviour like merchantmen seeking goodly pearls; and when they have found him, he will be the pearl of great price to them. Others will be like the ploughman whose ploughshare struck against a crock of gold; they will know Christ’s value as soon as they stumble on him, as it were, and will be ready to sell all that they have, and buy the field, so that the treasure may be theirs. Some of you who are here may get a blessing instantaneously, though you have not come specifically seeking it. Others of you may have come here for months and years, seeking the Saviour, and you may find him now. Some may begin to seek even while the sermon is progressing, but may not find Christ for a while; while others will no sooner seek Jesus than they will at once find him. Some will be brought by the example of the godly; some by the preaching of the minister; some by a kind word from a friend; many by parental exhortations; some by a holy book; some by no outward means at all; some simply by their own thoughts in solitude, or at the dead of night, — all led by the one gracious Spirit of God, but each one brought to Christ in a different way, and by different means from all the rest.

4. I think that the same divergence will be found, not only at the beginning of the Christian life, but also all the way through that life in all who are the subjects of divine grace. All Christian men are like each other in some respects, but no one Christian man is exactly like another in all points. There is, often, a great family likeness in the children in one family. Sometimes, you might go where there are ten or twelve, and you might pick them all out, and say, “Yes, we are quite sure that they all belong to this family; there are certain distinctive features which evidently show that they belong to these parents.” After you have noticed that resemblance, take the ten or twelve children, one by one, and look at them individually. Perhaps, at first sight, you might say that you did not know one from the other; but those who see them day by day will tell you that there are distinct differences of countenance and contour about each one, and idiosyncrasies of character which distinguish them from each other, so that there is not one of them who is exactly like the rest. Now, it would be a great pity if they should all begin to wish that they were exactly like some one in the family whom they set up as a model. It would be a good and proper ambition that every son should wish to be like a godly father, and that every daughter should seek to imitate a lovely and gracious mother; but that one girl should wish to be just like her sister, or a boy to be exactly like his brother, would be absurd; yet I have often seen that absurdity in the Church of God. One is depressed because his experience is not quite like his neighbour’s, another because he sees that there are points in his experience that are unlike anyone else’s; and I have even known them to go and try to remove their names from God’s register, and unchristianize themselves, and, what is worse, sometimes unchristiantize each other, because they are not all exactly poured into the same mould, like so many shot, precisely alike in form and shape, as manufactured articles are when they come quickly from under the die. No; we fall into grievous error when we entertain this kind of idea. God’s ways are diverse; from the beginning to the end, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and our Lord Jesus Christ, act sovereignly, and do not choose to follow one particular mode of action in every case.

5. I wish to teach that lesson, first, in reference to our prayers. We must not attempt to dictate to God with regard to his answers to our prayers. Let us learn that lesson from the incident before us: “They bring a blind man to him, and besought him” — “to open his eyes”? No; that would have been a very proper prayer, but they “besought him to touch him.” But Christ did not do his work according to their request: “He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything.” Now, with regard to our prayers, we may bring our children, and friends, and neighbours, to Christ, and we may ask that they may be saved; but we must not dictate to Christ the methods by which salvation is to come to them, for it is very usual with him not to follow those means which we would prescribe to him. That plan of touching the sick person was a very common one with Christ, and therefore the people began to expect that he must always heal by a touch. Naaman thought that the prophet Elisha would come out to him, “and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and heal the leper.” But he was mistaken, as were those folk at Bethsaida. It was a kind of understanding among them that Christ’s touch was the usual method by which his cures were accomplished, so they besought him to touch their blind friend; but he would not give any support to that notion. If they thought that he performed his miracles by putting his hands on the sick, then he would not put his hands on them; he would let them see that he was not bound to any particular method. If he had allowed them to cherish such an idea, probably their next step in error would have been that they would have said that it was an enchantment, a kind of performance, by certain motions and touches, as by a wizard or conjurer, through which Christ went in order to heal the sick.

6. Superstition can be very easily made to grow; and you and I, notice that, may think ourselves perfectly free from superstition, yet, all the while, it may only have taken some other form from what it appears in other people. For example, if the Lord is pleased to bless a certain preacher to the conversion of souls, you may settle it in your mind that, if you get your children to hear him, they will assuredly be saved. Yet it may not be the case, for the Lord has a thousand ways of saving souls, and he is not tied to any one man as his agent or instrument. It may get to be a kind of superstitious notion that, in some one person alone, the power of converting others may rest. Or it may be that you say to yourself, “I was converted by reading such and such a book; if I get my boy to read that book, it will convert him, too.” Yet it may have no influence whatever on him; for the grace of God is not tied to any book, nor to any way of working that you choose to prescribe. I should not wonder, my dear friends, if some of you have tried to tie the Lord down to your way of working. For example, in your class in the Sunday School, it was the reading of a certain chapter in the Bible that brought one of your pupils to Christ; so, in order to bring the rest of them to the Saviour, you get them to read that chapter. That may be all right, for the Lord can bless it to them if he pleases; but, at the same time, you must remember that he is a Sovereign, and that, therefore, he will probably use other means in other cases. You preached, dear friend, in the street, or in the chapel, and God blessed that sermon; so you have made up your mind that you will preach it a second time. I recommend that you not to do so, for very likely it will back-fire if you do. If you begin to confide in the sermon, God will not bless it. I think it is often better to do with a good sermon as David did with Goliath’s sword; he said that there was nothing like it, yet he did not keep it with him for constant use, but he laid it up before the Lord; then it was ready for the special occasion when it was required. When God has blessed any sermon that I have preached, I do not make it a rule to preach it again, lest I might be led to put my trust in that sermon, or to have some confidence in the way in which I presented the truth, rather than in the truth itself; though I never hesitate to preach the same sermon again and again if I feel that the Spirit leads me to do so. We must not, in our prayers, tie the Lord down to any particular means; for he can use what means he pleases, and he will do so whatever we may say. We may ask him to open the blind man’s eyes, but it is not our place to beseech him to touch the blind man in order to accomplish his cure.

7. Notice, also, that Christ did not answer the prayer of these people in the place where they presented it. They brought the blind man to him, and they evidently expected the Lord Jesus Christ to open his eyes there; but Jesus did not do so. “He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town,” right away from the place where the people wanted to have the miracle performed. The Saviour acted as though he could not do anything in the matter until he was out of the town, and he would not speak a word to him until he got him quite away by himself. Well, now, it is very easy, in our prayers, to fix on a certain place as the one where God will give his blessing, and to think, “The friend I am praying for must be converted in the Tabernacle, or must be converted in the little meeting that I hold in my house, or must be brought to Jesus Christ in the church where I attend, or in the chapel where I worship.” But our Lord may, perhaps, never convert that young man in any one of the places you have mentioned; he may meet him behind the counter, or on board ship, or walking by the way, or on a sick-bed. Do not be disappointed, therefore, when your place does not prove to be God’s place. Take your friend to the house of God, for Christ’s miracles on a Sabbath day and in the synagogue, are frequent; but do not try to tie him down to the synagogue, for he must be left at liberty to work his miracles in his own way.

8. Neither, dear friends, must we, for a moment, try to tie the Lord Jesus Christ down to work in our particular manner. I have no doubt that these people meant to prescribe to Christ that he should open that man’s eyes immediately. He had done so before, and he was able to make the sightless one see in a single moment; and they, therefore, naturally expected that he would do it. But the Saviour did not do so; he did not work an immediate, but a progressive cure. He opened the man’s eyes a little, and afterwards opened them more fully. This was a very extraordinary miracle; there is no other case like it in Scripture. All the other cures that Christ accomplished were immediate; but this one was progressive. So, my brother, the Lord may hear and answer your prayer, but it may not be by a conversion in the way you expected. You thought that, suddenly, you would hear that your dear friend had been turned from darkness to light. You have not heard that, but you have heard that he begins to be more thoughtful than he used to be, and that he attends the means of grace more regularly than he formerly did. Perhaps the Lord intends, in his case, to work salvation by degrees. Do not go, and run the risk of spoiling it by trying to run faster than God guides you. The daylight does not always come in a moment. I am told that, in the tropics, there is only little notice of the rising of the sun; it seems to be up, and shining in full glory in a few seconds; but here, in England, you know how long a time of twilight and dawn we have before the sun has fully risen. No doubt, there are conversions that are just like the tropical morning; in a moment, the great deed of grace is done; but there are many more conversions that are slow and gradual, yet they are none the less sure. The congenial sun is up when it is up, — even if it takes an hour in the operation of rising, — quite as effectively as it is up when it seems to leap out of the sea into meridian splendour; so, if the Lord should see fit to bless your friend in a different manner from what you had thought of, do not quarrel with him. Whatever he does, is right; so let us never question any of his actions.

9. One other point, in which we must not dictate to God, is this. He may hear our prayer, and grant our request, yet we may not know that it is so. I do not think that these people, who brought the blind man to Christ, ever saw him again after his eyes had been opened. Mark tells us that Christ “led him out of the town”; that is, away from his friends; and after he had healed him, “he sent him away to his house, saying, ‘Neither go into the town, nor tell it to anyone in the town.’ ” I suppose they found it out afterwards; but then and there, at any rate, they did not see the man’s eyes opened. If he did as Christ commanded him, he went straight home, and kept the matter quiet; so far, at least, as the general public, and perhaps these friends of his also, were concerned. Now, it is quite possible that God may hear your prayer for some dear friend in whom you are interested, and yet you may never know about it until you get to heaven. The Lord has promised to hear prayer, but he has not promised that you shall know that he has heard your prayer. A godly mother may be in glory long before her supplications have been answered in the conversion of her son. A Sunday School teacher may go home to be with Christ before the boys, over whom he has agonized, are brought to the Saviour. Our farmers know that earthly harvests are sometimes late, and it is the same in spiritual husbandry. Grace ensures the crop, but even the grace of God does not guarantee that the crop shall come up tomorrow, nor just whenever we please. So, dear friend, keep on sowing the good seed of the kingdom, water it with your tears and your prayers, and then leave with God the question whether you shall see the harvest, or not. He may, in your case, fulfil that gracious promise, “He who goes out and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him”; or he may choose to make you simply the sower, and another the reaper. It is for you to believe that your petitions shall be granted, even if you do not live to see it.

10. There have been many cases, in which men’s prayers have prevailed, although they themselves have never lived to see that happy result. I think I have told you, before now, the story of a godly father, whose unhappy lot it was to see his sons grow up without the fear of God in their hearts, and this was a very heavy burden on the good old man’s spirit. Day and night he wept and prayed about it before God. At last, the time came for him to die, and he had not then one son or daughter who had found the Saviour. It had been the old man’s prayer that his death might be the means of the conversion of his children if they were not brought to Christ in his lifetime; and so it was. Yet the scene at his death was very different from what he had hoped that it might be, for it was a very gloomy departure. His faith was grievously tried, he did not enjoy the light of God’s countenance; he was put to bed, as God often puts some of his best children to bed, in the dark. He died humbly trusting in Jesus, but not triumphing, not even rejoicing; he was in great pain of body, and deep depression of spirit; and his last thought was, “This experience of mine will only confirm my sons in their infidelity. I have borne no witness for Christ, as I had hoped to do; and now they will say that their father’s religion failed him at the last; and so, my heart’s desire will not be granted to me.” Yet it was granted, though he did not live to see it; for, after they had put him in the grave, and had come home from the funeral, the oldest son said to the others, “You noticed, brothers, what a struggle our father seemed to have on his death-bed, and how hard it went with him. Now, we all know that he was a man of God; his conduct and example were such that we have no doubt about his being a true Christian; yet, if he found it so hard to die, what will it be for us when we come to the day of our death, and have no God to help us, and no Christ to look to in the hour of our extremity?” It was remarkable that the same thought had struck all the good man’s sons, and they went to their own homes, deeply impressed by their father’s gloomy death, to seek their father’s God, and to find him. Could the old man have known what was best, he would have chosen just such a death in order that he might, by it, be the means of bringing his children to Christ. In the same way, you may not be sure that you will see, here, the answer to all your prayers, but you will see it when you get up to heaven, when God shall tell you to fling up the celestial windows, and you will look down, and see the harvests which you never reaped, but for which you sowed the seed. You will see, germinating from the soil, the rich result of your labour, though you did not see it while here on earth; and your heaven will be all the sweeter because, then, you will know that the Lord has heard and answered the prayers that you offered in your lifetime here below.

11. II. Secondly, I learn, from this narrative, that WE MUST NOT ATTEMPT TO TELL THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HOW HE IS TO WORK, for he has various ways of working in the blessing of men.

12. For example, when this blind man was brought to him, he did not open his eyes with a word. Often, when the sick were brought to him, he spoke, and they were cured at once. He might have done so in this case; he might have said, to the blind man’s eyes, “Be opened!” The ancient fiat might have been repeated, “Light be!” and there would have been light in his darkness. But there came out of Christ’s mouth — not a word, but spittle! Christ spat on the blind man’s eyes. Ah! but, if anything comes out of his mouth, it does not matter much what it is; whatever comes out of the mouth of the Christ of God means healing and life for those whom it reaches. He has his own ways of working. Usually, he is pleased to save men by the preaching of the Word; and, sometimes, the great change is brought about through very feeble testimony; yet, nevertheless, it is the Word of the Lord that is spoken, and it comes from the mouth of God, so he blesses it to the opening of blind men’s eyes.

13. In this case, too, Christ did not work on this man all at once. As I have already reminded you, he worked a gradual cure on him. So, dear friend, you yourself must not dictate to Jesus Christ concerning how you will be saved. I know that some of you do. One said to me, in my vestry, that she believed she had found Christ, but she was half-afraid it could not really be so. “Why not?” I asked; and she answered, “My old grandfather told me that it took him three years before he got peace, and he was locked up in a lunatic asylum most of the time. I thought it was an awful affair altogether.” I enquired where she could find anything in the Word of God to support that idea, and then told her simply to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and not to trouble herself about what her grandfather did. I have no doubt that he went to heaven even through a lunatic asylum; but there are other and better ways of getting there.

14. Mr. Bunyan tells us that his pilgrim went through the Slough of Despond, and did not watch his steps carefully, so he floundered, and it was with difficulty that he got to the other side. Mr. Bunyan pictures Evangelist as telling the poor seeker to flee towards a certain wicket-gate, and keep his eye on the light within that gate. Now, that was a mistake on the part of Evangelist, and it was through that mistake that the poor pilgrim got into the Slough of Despond. The gospel does not tell you to look for wicket-gates, nor to keep your eye on any light. You remember how, at last, the poor pilgrim got rid of his burden; it was at the cross that the burden rolled from his shoulders, and disappeared into the sepulchre so that he saw it no more; and, dear friends, that is the place where your eye has to be turned, — to the cross of Christ, and to the full atonement he has made for all who trust in him. As for wicket-gates, and the Slough of Despond, the less you have to do with them, the better. “But is there no Slough of Despond?” someone asks. Oh, yes! twenty of them; but it is far easier to go through that Slough with the burden off rather than on your shoulders. The best thing you can possibly do is to go to Christ first; for, then, you can better go wherever you have to go. As for me, I would rather avoid the Slough of Despond altogether if I could, and always keep my eye on the cross, for Christ crucified is the one and only hope for sinners.

15. None of you must say, “Bunyan went through the Slough of Despond; according to his ‘Grace Abounding,’ he was there for years; and there is our Pastor, I have often heard him say that he was a long while in that Slough.” Yes, I am sorry to say that he was; but that is no reason why you should go there. If, when I was a youth, I had heard the gospel of Christ preached as plainly as I have preached it to you, I feel certain that I should never have been in the bog as long as I was. But I heard a mixed kind of gospel, a mingle-mangle, — a mixture of law and gospel, — a muddling up of Moses and Christ, — something of “do” and something of “believe”; and, therefore, I was in that sad state of bondage for so long a time. In fact, the good sound-doctrine people that I used to hear, said, “You must not come to Christ, for you do not know whether you are one of the elect; and you must not come until you do.” I know perfectly well that no one can possibly tell whether he is elect, or not, until he finds it out by coming to God; and that no one ever comes to God the Father, who makes the election, except by Jesus Christ his Son. So we have first to deal with the Son, and afterwards with the Father. I did not know that when I was seeking the Saviour. I wanted an angel to tell me that I was one of the elect; but I was obliged to come to Christ, as a poor, guilty sinner, and just trust in him, and so to find peace in believing. That is the plan that I should recommend you to adopt if you want to be saved. Do not say, “I shall not come to Christ until I am stuck in the mud of the Slough of Despond; I shall not come to him until I get hung up by the heels in Giant Despair’s Castle; I shall not come to him until I get whipped on the back with the ten-thonged lash of the law.” If you really want to have that lash, perhaps you will get it, and I hope you will like it; but the gospel says, “Come and welcome! Come and welcome! Come to Jesus just as you are!” Never try to lay down rules and regulations for Christ, but let him save you in his own way; and be content, just as you are, to take him just as he is.

16. There is one more point about this man in which the exceptional sovereignty of Christ is seen, and that is, he did not make use of the healed man, though we should have thought that he would have done so. If this miracle had been performed in the present day, we should soon have seen this man in the Salvation Army, or in some other public position. Nowadays, the rule seems to be, send off a paragraph to the newspapers, “So many in the enquiry room; so many converted on such and such a night. Blow the trumpets! Beat the drums! Let everyone know!” But that was not Jesus Christ’s way of working; he told this man not to go into the town; and when he did get home, not to tell anyone what had been done to him. Why was he not to tell anyone? Well, first, because the Lord wanted to do good, and not to have a fuss made about it; and, secondly, because there was no need to tell anyone. Suppose I had been a blind preacher for years, and that my eyes had been opened, would there be any need for me to tell you, next Sunday, that my eyes were opened? You would see it for yourselves; everyone can see when a man’s eyes are opened. And, often, the best way in which a man can tell that he is converted is simply by letting other people see what a change there is in him; because, if his eyes are not really open, it is of no use for him to stand up and say, “Bless the Lord! my eyes are open,” while he is still blind. I have heard people say that they were converted, and I have thought that, if the work were done over again, it would not harm them much; and that, indeed, six or seven such conversions would not amount to much. Oh, give us a conversion that speaks for itself! Give us a new heart that shows itself in a new life. If a man is not able to control his temper, or to speak the truth — if he is not a good servant, or a good master, or a good husband, — do not let him think it necessary to proclaim what Christ has done for him; for, if he has done anything that was worth doing, it will speak for itself.

17. Now I must close by just noticing one fact about this man concerning the early steps that Jesus Christ used with him. There is one point I want to dwell on for a minute. Our Lord, before he did anything else with the blind man, took him by the hand, and led him out of the town. There are some of you here, perhaps, with whom the Lord has been working like this; you have begun to come to listen to the gospel, — through your wife, perhaps, or through some Christian friend. I am very hopeful concerning you; for, although you cannot see yet, the Lord has taken you by the hand. All the faith that this poor man had was a yielding faith; he gave himself up to be led, and that is a saving faith. My dear friend, give yourself up to be led by Christ now. If you have come under gracious, heavenly influences, yield yourself up to them.

18. The Master led this blind man right away from other people; and it will be a good sign when you begin to feel that you are getting to be lonely. Sometimes, when the Lord intends to save a man, he lays him aside by illness, or, if not, he takes him away from the company he used to keep by some other means; or, if the man is allowed to go into the same company, he gets to dislike it. He does not feel at home with those who were once his best companions; he goes in and out of the shop as if he were all by himself. He has the Lord’s arrow sticking in him, and like the wounded stag he tries to get away to bleed alone. You feel, sometimes, as though no one understood you. You read in the Book of Job, or the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and you say, “This is the kind of experience that I am passing through. I have a broken heart, and a troubled conscience, and I feel that I am all alone.” Well, dear friend, that is the Lord Jesus Christ leading you out of the town, getting you away from everyone. And, notice that, the place of mercy is the place where a man stands alone, — away from everyone except his Lord. Do not draw your hand back from the hand that is leading you away. Perhaps ungodly company has been your ruin; and it is through solitude that God intends to save you. Be much alone; think over your own case. Make a personal confession of sin. Seek for personal faith in a personal Saviour. You were born alone; you will have to pass through the gates of death alone. Although you will stand in a crowd to be judged, yet you will be judged as a separate individual; and even though myriads perish with you, your loss will be your own if you are lost. Therefore, look into your own affairs; tally up your own account; and, before the living God, stand separate from all your fellow men. I believe that, if any of you have reached that point, you are where the deed of grace shall be done. May the Lord enable you to yield yourself up completely to him, for your safety lies there! We correctly put faith before you as a look; but now I will put it before you, if you do not have even an eye to look with, as the yielding up of yourself to the guidance of the Saviour. Be nothing, and let Christ be everything. Give yourself entirely up into his hands, and he must and will save you; for that, though it is faith in its passive form, is, nevertheless, a real and saving faith, and blessed are all those who have it. May God grant it to every one of us now, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mr 8:1-30}

1-4. In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him, and says to them, “I have compassion oh the multitude, because they have now been with me for three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for some of them came from afar.” And his disciples answered him, “From where can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness.”

Why did they not ask their Master what he could do in such an emergency as that? After so much experience of his power as they had already had, it is amazing that they did not refer the matter to him, and say, “Lord, you can feed the multitude; we beseech you to do it.” But they did not act so wisely; instead, they began questioning about ways and means. “From where can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?”

5-9. And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and broke, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they ate, and were filled: and they took up seven baskets of the broken food that was left. And those who had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

Christ is the great Master of the art of multiplication. However small is the supply with which we begin, we have only to dedicate it all to him, and he will multiply and increase it until it will go far beyond our utmost expectations, and there will be more left after the feast is over than there was before it began. Bring your small talents, bring the little grace you have, to Christ, for he can so increase your supply that you will never know any lack, but shall have all the greater abundance the greater the demand that is made on that supply. Had these four thousand people not been miraculously fed by Christ, the seven loaves and the few small fishes would have remained just as they were; but now that the four thousand have to be fed, the loaves and fishes are multiplied by Christ in a very extraordinary manner, so that, in the end, there is far more provision than they had at the beginning. Expect, beloved, to be enriched by your losses, to grow by what looks as if it would crush you, and to become greater by what threatens to annihilate you. Only put yourself into Christ’s hands, and he will make good use of you, and leave you better than you were before he used you as the means of helping and blessing others.

10-12. And immediately he entered into a boat with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came, and began to question him, seeking a sign from heaven from him, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and says, “Why does this generation seek after a sign? Truly I say to you, ‘There shall no sign be given to this generation.’ ”

Unbelief always pricked him to the heart, and greatly grieved him. When men trusted him, he delighted to exhibit his matchless grace; but when they criticized and questioned, his heart was heavy, and he turned away from them.

13. And he left them, and entering into the boat again departed to the other side.

But, alas! even on board that little boat there was unbelief; and from the small and select circle of his own disciples he had a new reason for sorrow from the same cause.

14-21. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the boat with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.” And when Jesus knew it, he says to them, “Why do you reason, because you have no bread? Do you not perceive yet, neither understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? and do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They say to him, “Twelve.” “And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” And he said to them, “How is it that you do not understand?”

Can we not learn from past experience? If the Lord has helped us before, is he not equally ready to help us again? What! when there are only a few of you disciples in the boat, do you begin to doubt your Lord because you have only one loaf, when he found enough food for five thousand and for four thousand out of a few scanty loaves? Oh you unbelieving children of God, what infinite patience your gracious God has with you, though you so often and so shamefully doubt him! “Do you not remember?” “How is it that you do not understand?” Can it be that all your Lord’s lessons of love and deeds of kindness have taught you nothing? Do you still doubt him, — still suspect him? Has he delivered you in six troubles, and can you not trust him in the seventh? Has he kept you, by his grace, until you are seventy years of age, and can you not trust him for the few remaining years of your earthly pilgrimage? Oh, shame on us that we are such dull students in the school of Christ!

22-26. And he comes to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man to him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up, and said, “I see men as trees, walking.” After that he put his hands again on his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”

“Your house is outside Bethsaida, so go around, and get home without going into the town; and if any of your neighbours call to see you, say nothing about me to them, for I wish to remain concealed for the present.”

27. And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying to them, “Whom do men say that I am?”

It was Christ’s usual way, when he took a walk with his disciples, to pass the time with holy conversation. It would be good if we always did the same. We might do much good, and we might get much good, if we made our Lord Jesus the theme our talks “by the way.” It was an important question that he asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I am?”

28, 29. And they answered, “ ‘John the Baptist’: but some say, ‘Elijah’; and others, ‘One of the prophets.’ ” And he says to them, “But whom do you say that I am?”

“That is the main point. It matters little to you what other men say about me; — whether they are right, or wrong, may not concern you; but what is your own opinion? What do you know about me? ‘Whom do you say that I am?’ ”

29. And Peter answers and says to him, “You are the Christ.”

“You are the Messiah.” We know, from Matthew’s Gospel, that it was this confession of which our Lord said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona,” son of Jonas: — “for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

30. And he charged them that they should tell no man about him.

He wished, at that time, to remain in comparative retirement; he was not anxious that his miracles should be blazoned abroad. Eventually, he was to die; and he preferred to derive his fame from his death rather than from his life, and to gather his honours from his cross rather than from his miracles. He never told any man to be silent about his death on the cross; but when honour was likely to come to him among men from his miracles, he frequently “charged them that they should tell no man about him.” That restriction is no longer in force; it was entirely abrogated after our Lord’s resurrection, when he said to his disciples, “All power is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — All Due To Grace” 235}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — ‘I Am Alpha And Omega’ ” 491}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Life Look” 538}

The Work of Grace as a Whole
235 — All Due To Grace
1 All that I was, my sin, my guilt,
   My death, was all mine own;
   All that I am, I owe to thee,
   My gracious God alone.
2 The evil of my former state
   Was mine, and only mine;
   The good in which I now rejoice
   Is thine, and only thine.
3 The darkness of my former state,
   The bondage — all was mine;
   The light of life in which I walk,
   The liberty — is thine.
4 Thy grace that made me feel my sin
   It taught me to believe;
   Then, in believing, peace I found,
   And now I live, I live.
5 All that I am, e’en here on earth,
   All that I hope to be,
   When Jesus comes and glory dawns,
   I owe it, Lord, to thee.
                     Horatius Bonar, 1856.

Gospel, Invitations
491 — “I Am Alpha And Omega”
1 Oh what amazing words of grace
      Are in the gospel found!
   Suited to every sinner’s case
      Who knows the joyful sound.
2 Here Jesus calls, and he’s a true,
      A kind, a faithful friend;
   He’s “Alpha and Omega, too,
      Beginning and the end.”
3 Come, then, with all your wants and wounds.
      Your every burden bring;
   Here love, eternal love abounds,
      A deep celestial spring.
4 “Whoever wills” — oh gracious word!
      “Shall of this stream partake”;
   Come, thirsty souls, and bless the Lord,
      And drink for Jesus’ sake.
5 This spring with living water flows,
      And living joy imparts;
   Come, thirsty souls, your wants disclose,
      And drink with thankful hearts.
6 To sinners poor, like me and you,
      He saith he’ll “freely give”;
   Come, thirsty souls, and prove it true;
      Drink, and for ever live.
                        Samuel Medley, 1789.

Gospel, Stated
538 — The Life Look
1 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
      There is life at this moment for thee;
   Then look, sinner — look unto him, and be saved —
      Unto him who was nail’d to the tree.
2 It is not thy tears of repentance or prayers,
      But the blood that atones for the soul:
   On him, then, who shed it, believing at once
      Thy weight of iniquities roll.
3 His anguish of soul on the cross hast thou seen?
      His cry of distress hast thou heard?
   Then why, if the terrors of wrath he endured,
      Should pardon to thee be deferr’d?
4 We are heal’d by his stripes; — wouldest thou add to the word?
      And he is our righteousness made:
   The best robe of heaven he bids thee put on:
      Oh! couldest thou be better array’d?
5 Then doubt not thy welcome, since God has declared,
      There remaineth no more to be done;
   That once in the end of the world he appear’d,
      And completed the work he began.
6 But take, with rejoicing, from Jesus at once
      The life everlasting he gives:
   And know, with assurance, thou never canst die,
      Since Jesus, thy righteousness, lives.
7 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
      There is life at this moment for thee:
   Then look, sinner — look into him and be saved,
      And know thyself spotless as he.
                  Amelia Matilda Hull, 1860.

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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