2874. Precepts And Promises

by Charles H. Spurgeon on November 20, 2019
Precepts And Promises

No. 2874-50:121. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, February 13, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, March 10, 1904.

If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant shall also be: if any man serves me, my Father will honour him. {Joh 12:26}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 463, “Christ’s Servant — His Duty, and Reward” 454}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2449, “Rule and Reward of Serving Christ, The” 2450}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2651, “Christian’s Service and Honour, The” 2652}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2874, “Precepts and Promises” 2875}
   Exposition on Joh 12:12-36 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3024, “Christ’s Death and Ours” 3025 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 12:1-43 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3174, “Concentration and Diffusion” 3175 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 12:19-43 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2338, “Crisis of This World, The” 2339 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 12:20-41 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2874, “Precepts and Promises” 2875 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 12:20-50 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2413, “Despised Light Withdrawn” 2414 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 12:20-50 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3285, “Good Cheer from Christ’s Victory Over the World” 3287 @@ "Exposition"}

1. I have already said, in expounding the chapter from which my text is taken, that the sight of these Greeks, who desired to see Jesus, seems to have very greatly affected our Saviour’s mind. He did not have much to do with Gentiles; for, as far as his personal ministry on the earth was concerned, he was not sent to the Gentiles, but only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But now he sees, in those enquiring Greeks, the advance guard of that mighty host of Gentiles who, for almost two millennia, have continued to seek him out, and to call him their Leader, and Friend, and Saviour. The thought of this great result of his life’s work naturally led him also to think of the cross from which that result would spring. “These are the redeemed,” he seemed to say to himself; “then, it is time for me to think of the redemption which I have yet to present on their behalf. These are the first-fruits of my great harvest; then I must see to the sowing of the seed; and I must set my mind steadfastly to think of that sowing, for unless the grain of wheat is cast into the ground, and dies, it remains alone.” So he began to feel the throes of desire for that baptism with which he was to be baptized; for the joy that was set before him was just then clearer than usual, — the joy of winning souls, and, especially, the joy of winning Gentile nations to God; and, therefore, his mind fixed itself more than ever on the plan by which his people’s redemption was to be achieved. Hence, I think, arose the words to which I called your attention while we were reading the chapter.

2. The sight of these Greeks also led the Saviour to feel that he must again explain the conditions on which he could receive disciples. There have been religious teachers who have been content to gather followers through falsehood or error. They have never properly explained what allegiance to them meant, or they have caught men by craft and guile. Our Lord Jesus Christ never did that. He said to any who proposed to follow him, “Have you counted the cost?” He told them not to begin to build their house if they were not able to finish it, nor to begin a warfare in which they could not reasonably expect victory. It seemed, sometimes, to be rather repelling men than attracting them to say to would-be disciples, “If you will follow me, do this, and do that,” — perhaps, some very trying ordeal; yet that was the Saviour’s usual custom. So, now, lest these Greeks should say that they would become his disciples, without knowing what discipleship involved, he said to them, “I, myself, will have to die in order that I may produce others like myself; and you, if you become my disciples, will have to follow me in this respect as well as in all other things; you will have to deny yourselves, and to undergo self-sacrifice; for, otherwise, if you will not do this, it is no use for you to pretend to be my servants, for you cannot be my servants. If any man would serve me, he must follow me.” It was the coming of these Greeks to Christ which led to the utterance of these words; and that incident, in a measure, explains them. Now may the Spirit of God impress the Saviour’s words on your hearts as I try to speak to you about them!

3. Our text is divided into three sentences. The first is a sentence of precept:“ If any man serves me, let him follow me.” The second is a sentence of precept and promise, for, to this day, no scholar can tell whether it ought to be rendered, “Where I am, there let my servant be,” or, “Where I am, there shall my servant be also.” Either may be a correct interpretation of the original; and, therefore, I take it in both senses as a sentence of precept and promise. Then the third is a sentence of pure promise:“ If any man serves me, my Father will honour him.”

4. I. First, then, we — have A SENTENCE OF PRECEPT. “If any man serves me, let him follow me.”

5. The Greek term, used here, might be translated, “If anyone will become a deacon, — do a deacon’s work, be my minister, my servant, and wait on me, — then, let him follow me”; by which is intended, first, that, if you become Christ’s servant, you must obey him. This does not seem to occur to many professing Christians. They say they are Christians, and, therefore, Christ’s servants; yet they dare to sit in judgment on him, and on his precepts. They are a law to themselves; they obey this precept because they like it, and they disobey that other precept because they do not like it. They call him Master and Lord; but he is not really their Master and Lord, for they do not obey him. Paul rightly says, “To whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey”; but if you simply take the name of Christ on you, and call yourself his servant, yet do not obey him, but follow your own whim, or your own hereditary prejudice, or the custom of some erroneous church, you are no servant of Christ. If you really are a servant of Christ, your first duty is to obey him.

6. In the Church of Christ, he is the only Legislator. Not all the bishops, and clergy, nor the whole Church, if it could be summoned in one solemn conclave, could pass an ordinance that would have even the slightest force on a Christian’s conscience, if it were contrary to the teachings of Christ himself. There is only one Head of the Church, — one spiritual Rabbi, and infallible Teacher, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ himself; and we are to understand, when we enter his Church, and enlist under his banner, that we are to serve him, and him alone. We may serve others, as far as they are commissioned by him, and as far as what they say is in harmony with his teaching, but no further; for “one is your Master, even Christ, and all of you are brethren.” Did you understand that, young man, when you became a Christian? Did you understand that, my sister, when you professed to be a follower of Christ? I am afraid some professing Christians did not. I bless God that this was one of the things which I learned when I first trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour. I felt, “Now I am going to be Christ’s disciple, through his grace; and I am going to do, as far as the Holy Spirit will help me, everything that I believe he commands me to do.” I turned to the New Testament, and read it for myself. I did not enquire of this teacher or that, but said to myself, “What does Jesus say? I will find out what he has revealed as his will concerning me.” This way of acting gives a man independence of mind towards his fellow men, and, at the same time, humble yet firm confidence in what he does in the sight of God. When he knows that he has submitted himself to the teaching of Christ, and that he would not knowingly hold anything that Christ would not endorse, and would not willingly either himself learn or impart to others anything that Jesus Christ does not teach, it gives him a firm footing in the things of God. Christian men and women, do you stand firmly like this? You know that many of you do not. You have another book, besides the Bible, which is your guide. The Bible alone is not the religion of many professing Christians. It is to some; but there are many who have another book, to which they bow with almost equal reverence; and courts of law have to decide concerning the shape of this garment or the other, or whether they shall turn their noses to the east or to the west, for they cannot do anything without calling in lawyers and judges. Yet the Bible alone is quite enough, God knows; and if we only followed its guidance, it would lead us properly enough. I call you back, Christian men and women, to your allegiance to God’s Holy Word. You owe nothing to any book except the one that he has given; and you are to regard no teaching but the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, and what comes to you on his sole authority. In this respect, he says to you, “If any man serves me, let him follow me”; that is, by obedience to his commands.

7. The next teaching of the text is this. If any man serves Christ, his service will be most like his Lord’s when he does, as nearly as he can, what Christ did. He is your Master, but he is also your Exemplar. Suppose that you say to him, “Blessed Lord Jesus, I am willing to obey you, but what is your law?” He replies, “I am my own law; imitate me; follow me.” If you want to obey Jesus instead of merely keeping the law written on stones, you can see the law written out in his life.

    My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
    I read my duty in thy Word;
    But in thy life the law appears
    Drawn out in living characters.

If you would obey Christ, and serve him, be like him, for the sum and substance of his teaching is, “Follow me.” Watch, then, his every footstep, and ask for grace to put your foot down where he put his. Whatever you see to be his temperament under any circumstances, cultivate that temperament when you are in similar circumstances. If you want to know what you should do at any special time, think what he would have done if he had been in your place; for what he would have done is what you should do. And if you know that any course that you are pursuing would not have been pursued by Christ, and would not have been according to his mind, do not follow it any longer. If it is not in harmony with Christ’s life, it is not the way for you to walk. If it is not what you would have done if Christ stood by you, and looked at you with his tender but piercing eye of everlasting love, — if it is not what you would have done in his immediate personal presence, do not do it, for it is clearly not what you ought to do. You are his servant, so you are to obey him; and, in order to obey him, you are to imitate him.

8. I must, however, warn you, dear friends, that if you do this, — and you must, if you intend to be his faithful follower, for this is the only way of being Christ’s servant, indeed and of a truth, — this following of Christ will bring you into very much the same condition as that in which your Lord was, that is, you will become a marked man. In the midst of the company that you frequent, you will be a speckled bird. You will not need to adopt any different mode of dress, for Jesus did not. He wore the common garb of the country, and dressed just like any other man of his class. He put on no airs concerning food, or drink, or language, but he was unique, essentially, because the greatest uniqueness under heaven is holiness. If you will just do the right, and be the right, before God, men will soon single you out, and you will first become the subject of their observation, — eventually, of their reproach, — perhaps, also, of persecution; but, whatever the consequences are, this is what you have to do. Hear what your Lord says: — “If any man serves me, let him follow me.” “But, Lord, you had to go outside the camp.” “Then, follow me there.” “But, Lord, you had to endure the cross.” “And he, who would be my disciple, must take up his cross daily, and come and follow me.” You cannot be Christ’s servant if you are not willing to follow him, cross and all. What do you crave? A crown? Then it must be a crown of thorns if you are to be like him. Do you want to be lifted up? So you shall, but it will be on a cross. In following Christ, you must be prepared to suffer persecution, loss, and, if needs be, even death itself. Will you have Christ as your Lord and Master on these terms? If not, you cannot have him at all. He does not want, as his followers, cowards who will sneak away from him as soon as the first shot in the battle is fired. He does not want another Judas, who will sell him for the price of a slave. He wants true-hearted men, who are determined, out of love for his glorious character, and devotion to his divine mission, that they will follow him because they desire to serve him.

9. Our Lord would also have us understand that, if we intend to be his servants, we must follow him even to the extent of being put into the ground to die, — that is, self-sacrifice, self-abnegation, and even self-annihilation. Our Lord Jesus Christ is at his best when he makes himself of no reputation. I do not know any time when Christ seems so glorious as when he lays aside all his glory, and takes on himself all our shame; so, brethren, if you would follow Christ, you are not to bargain to be honoured. On the contrary, you are to begin to strip off the garments of honour from yourself. You are not to bargain for ease, but are to put on the harness of a warrior who will get very little rest, and who must constantly be on the watch. You are not to stipulate for this indulgence or that. What indulgence did your Lord have? He had nowhere to lay his head. His life was spent amid poverty and hardship. He kept nothing back from the sons of men; he emptied himself so that we might be filled. There was not a grain of self-seeking in him. He saved others; he could not save himself. Oh, that we had even a few Christians who were like their Master in this respect! There are few in these evil days, who seem willing to sacrifice all for Christ’s sake. The brave Covenanters could give up house, and home, and everything, and die for King Jesus on Scotland’s bleak mountains; but we, in these easier times, are content to make money, as other people do; to live in ease and luxury, as other people do; to contribute our cheese-parings and our candle-ends to the cause of Christ, and to think that we have done a great deal if we have done even as much as that. But where is the self-sacrifice? Where is the burying of one’s self in the ground to die, like a grain of wheat? Where is the wish — the willingness — to lose reputation, to sever friendships, to sacrifice respect, to endure hardness, so that we may be true to our conscience, faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ? May the Lord soon raise up among us more men of noble principle, who will count God, and Christ, and truth, and eternity, to be worth living for, and worth dying for, and who will count all other things only loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord!

10. I will leave that first sentence of my text when I have made one more observation on it. Perhaps someone says, “I want to serve Christ, and I am willing to make some self-denial for his sake. I have been thinking about saving my money, and building a church or a chapel.” Possibly, another friend says, “I want to serve Christ, so I should like to give a stained-glass window in his honour.” Yes, but Christ himself says to you, “If any man serves me, let him follow me.” The very best way of serving Christ is to do just what Christ was accustomed to do, as far as that is possible for you. This is a very blessed text for a poor man, for a sick man, for an illiterate man, — in fact, for every man who really wants to serve Christ. If I want to serve Christ, what do I have to do? To follow him. If I am very ill, how am I to follow him? Why, by bearing the affliction as patiently as he would have borne it. If I am very poor, how am I to follow him? Why, by trusting in God, as he did. Suppose that I am very much maligned and slandered, what am I to do? I am to try to bear it as meekly as he would have borne it. You can accomplish a great deal, in that way, if you really try to do it. You nannies, and you other servants who have to work hard to earn your daily bread, — and you boys and girls, who are still at school, — there is something that you can be, or do, or suffer, by which you may prove your love for Christ, and that something is the best way in which you can follow him. It is sometimes the case that a person says, “I want to serve Christ, so I shall go into a nunnery, or into a monastery.” Now, let me just ask this question, — Did our Lord Jesus Christ ever act like that? He said, “If any man serves me, let him follow me.” Can you imagine Christ shutting himself up in a monastery? What! The great battle of the ages to be fought, and the Captain of our salvation concealing himself, and so setting us an example of how to be cowardly? You know he did not do that; so fight it out, man, even as he did, and do not go sneaking away, and hiding yourself, under the pretence of serving the Lord Jesus Christ like that. That is sheer selfishness, and there is a far better course than that for you to take. Give yourself up entirely to Jesus, and do as Jesus would have done if he had been in your place, for so you will serve him in the best possible way.

11. II. Now I turn to the second clause of my text, which seems to me to be both A PRECEPT AND A PROMISE.

12. First, read it as a precept:“ Where I am, there let my servant be.” Wherever Jesus was, and is, there you are to be, if you are really his servant.

13. In his relationship to God, how did Jesus stand? Well, he was whole-hearted in his consecration; be likewise. He began his public life by being baptized in Jordan, saying to John, “Thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness.” Act in the same way if you are really his servant. He came out into the midst of mankind to bear witness for God’s truth, and he kept on bearing that witness, and was content to be found in his place, as the faithful Witness, when the time came for him to seal his testimony with his blood. Be a witness-bearer for him, whatever that witness-bearing may cost you.

    Cold mountains and the midnight air
    Witnessed the fervour of his prayer; —

so let midnight witness the fervour of your prayer, too. The attitude of Jesus towards God is shown by his saying in the garden of Gethsemane, “Not as I will, but as you will.” Servant of Christ, be also found in the same attitude; bow before the Lord in the spirit of resignation to his holy will even though it should bring the death sweat to your brow. Whatever it involves, be careful to say, “Your will be done.” Wherever you see the Lord Jesus Christ in his relationship towards God, — with the one exception of his substitutionary sacrifice for sinners, in which you cannot follow him, — in everything else, if you would really serve him, follow him; where the Master is, there let his servant be.

14. Then, next, what was Christ’s position with regard to men? He was in the midst of them, and in all his relationships he was always the example of what his servants should be. As a child, he was subject to his parents. Godly children, that is what Christ would have you also to be. As a child, he grew in the knowledge and understanding of the Word, and in favour with God and with men. So seek, dear young people, to be always making progress in the divine life, and to be growing up, as Christ did, well-pleasing to God. When he had reached maturity, what was his attitude towards men? Why, he was the Lover of men; seldom angry with them, but often bearing their reproach; never selfish, but always ignoring himself, and living entirely for others. Someone has called him “the great Philanthropist.” I hardly like such a title for him, for he rises far above all ordinary philanthropy; yet it is true that no one else ever loved men as he loved them, and no one else ever made such sacrifices for them. Be like Jesus in this respect also; and wherever you see the print of his feet, seek to place your feet there. Wherever there was a battle to be fought for truth and right, Christ was always in the forefront; and wherever there was reproach to be borne for God’s sake, Christ was ready to bear it. The Pharisees could not silence him, the Herodians could not make him seek his escape. He was ready for every emergency that arose. Did God want a Witness? There was Christ. Did man need a Teacher? There was Christ. Were men sick? He was their Physician. Were they hungry? He was their Provider. Were his disciples liable to sink in a storm? He walked on the waters, and rescued the frightened men. He was always giving himself to the service of men; and, beloved, wherever your Master was, in relation to men, there you should be. If you can conceive of a place where Christ would not go, do not go there. If you know of any company where Christ would not be found, do not be found there. But if you know of a place where Christ could go, there you also can go with safety; for it is your business to be where your Master would have been if he had been in your place, and never to be where your Master would not have gone.

15. So we have looked at this sentence as a precept, now let us regard it as a promise:“ Where I am, there my servant shall also be.” This is a very blessed promise; I do not remember one that has more sweetness in it for my heart. We expect, brethren, — unless Christ shall speedily come, — we expect to die. When we fall asleep in Jesus, we shall be carried to the grave, even as Jesus was. We shall be in good company. It is, to my mind, a beautiful thought that, when our Lord rose from the dead, he took off the grave-clothes, and left them in his sepulchre, and he unwound the napkin that was around his head, and laid it by itself. So the grave is not an empty tenement without furniture. Christ has left the linen in which he slept to wrap his followers in; and he has put the napkin by itself, for those who are left behind to wipe their eyes with it. We rightly sing, with good Dr. Watts, —

    The graves of all his saints he bless’d,
       And soften’d every bed:
    Where should the dying members rest,
       But with the dying Head?

Where will our spirits be when we have left the body behind? We do not know much about the unseen world, but we are content with what Richard Baxter sings, —

    My knowledge of that life is small,
       The eye of faith is dim;
    But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
       And I shall be with him.

Our Saviour’s words are certainly true, “Where I am, there my servant shall also be.” Some people are anxious to know more concerning the condition of the redeemed between death and the resurrection; but, my dear brethren, I am satisfied to know that I shall be with Jesus, where he is. I feel like the little child, who had been away from his mother for a long while, and who was told that he would soon go home to her. That was all the child wanted, to be in mother’s bosom; and all I want is to be with Jesus. This he has promised us, and this is our comfort, “Where I am, there my servant shall also be.” As soon as we ever fall asleep in him, absent from the body, we are present with the Lord.

16. What about the resurrection? Well, Jesus rose, and so, in due time, our bodies also shall rise. These very bodies of ours, — for Christ has redeemed, not a part of our manhood, but all of it, and these bodies of ours are the temple of the Holy Spirit, — they shall rise again, and in our flesh we shall see God, and so we shall be “for ever with the Lord.”

17. But what is heaven, brethren, and what will eternal glory be? Although eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, he has revealed it to us by his Spirit; at least, in part; but it is enough for us to know that we shall be with Jesus, where he is, so that we may behold his glory. It is amazing what new discoveries are constantly being made; many books have come out, recently, filled with what I believe to be nothing but rubbish; but, for my part, I do not care about where I am going to be in the millennium or afterwards, for I know that I shall be with my Lord, and I want nothing else. I do not stipulate for a golden harp, or a place by the sea of glass; I do not ask even to be among the angels; I am quite content with my Lord’s promise, “Where I am, there my servant shall also be.” My Lord and I shall fare alike; and it will do for me if it will do for him. Are you not of the same mind, beloved, and is this not all you wish to know about the future, that you shall be with him, where he is, and behold his glory?

18. III. Now, thirdly, we have A SENTENCE WHICH IS ALTOGETHER A PROMISE: “If any man serves me, my Father will honour him.”

19. Brethren, if you serve Christ in the way I have feebly tried to describe, that is, by an out-and-out consecration of yourself to him, and to his service, you will not receive much honour among men. You know what many want, at the present day, in a minister. He must have no principles at all; or, if he has any, he must keep them to himself, and never say anything about them. Above all, he must be perfectly nonsectarian, and never say a word against any error. Do you not know that it is uncharitable to attack what others believe? Always preach what everyone would like you to preach. If you see anything wrong, put the telescope up to your blind eye, as Nelson did; then you will find all the brethren will praise you because you praise them. Pat them on the back, and they will pat you on the back, and you will get through the world very smoothly. I know that path, and I know how many friends we might have if we would only follow it, — wriggle in and out, and be anything, and everything, or nothing, just to suit the tastes of others. But, brethren, if you believe anything to be true, and stick to it, some will call you sectarian, and others will be offended by you; but, notice this, if you do not get any praise from men for clinging to the right, you will have an easy conscience. I would sooner have all the demons in hell enraged against me, and all the dogs on earth howling at me, than feel that I had kept back anything I believed to be true.

20. If we do what our conscience tells us is right, if we serve Christ outright, and follow him fully, God will honour us by setting his seal on our work. If you preach Christ, and not the fancies of men, God will give you souls, make you useful, and help you to build up his people. That is the honour which you will receive. Faithfulness will not be without its reward. “In due season, you shall reap, if you do not faint.”

21. Then, eventually, it will come to pass that even those, who censured you as too strict, too punctilious, and, perhaps, litigious, will come around to see that you are truthful and right; and, so, God will give you honour in their sight. It is amazing how even bad men are compelled to honour consistency and uprightness. They may hate it, but they respect it. Whereas, if you do not follow Christ fully, and do not act as his servants should, God will not honour you, neither will men do so for long, for they will find you out; and then they will drive you from them in derision.

22. The best honour that comes from God will come to his people eventually. I have been thinking over those words, “If any man serves me, my Father will honour him”; and I feel that I cannot preach from them at all. What would some people think if the Queen were to honour them? But what is that compared with our Father, who is in heaven, honouring us? I do not know whether you can conceive what it means; I cannot. God makes his creature love him, but for him to honour that creature, — to put honour on him, — is something so wonderful that I am lost in contemplation of it. Yet he will do it. If you faithfully serve Jesus Christ on earth, God will order the angels to make way for you in heaven. While you live here, they will be your servants; and when you ascend to heaven, you shall have a place nearer to the eternal throne than even they have; and then, in the presence of all the holy angels, God will honour you, and your spirit shall be known among them as one whom God loves. “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honour?” was the question asked of old; but I ask another question, “What shall be done for the man whom the eternal God, the Creator, the Possessor of heaven and earth, delights to honour?” Do you aspire to that honour? Are you ambitious to share it? Then, you only have to do this, serve Christ faithfully, follow Christ fully.

23. Some of you cannot do this, — you who are not renewed in heart and life. I might as well urge the dead to dance as to tell you to attempt this, for you cannot do it. You must believe in Jesus; you must be born again, and receive the new life. But, oh, you who have believed in him, remember that this is your road to honour, — willingness to be dishonoured, willingness to be counted as the mire in the street for Christ’s sake and for truth’s sake! Then, let this be your strong resolution that, come what may, Christ’s life shall be your rule, Christ’s word shall be your marching orders; and whether you have to die a martyr’s death, or not, to him, who loved you, and bought you with his blood, you consecrate yourself entirely, henceforth and for ever.

24. May God raise up many who will feel the power of these words! If we only get a few of such men, who will follow the Lord fully, happy will be the churches to which they belong, blessed will be the age in which they live, highly privileged will be the land in which they live, for such men are God’s heroes. These are the soldiers who will stand firm in the day of battle, and who will help to save our country from ever becoming Popish again. May we have many such men, and many such women, in every age until Jesus comes, and glory dawns! May this be your happy lot, my dear brothers and sisters, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 12:20-41}

Our Lord had raised Lazarus from the dead, and this miracle had created great excitement in Jerusalem. As a result of this, the people had led him in triumph through the streets, and everywhere there was great excitement. Everyone was speaking of the amazing miracle which he had performed.

20, 21. And there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast: therefore the same came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee and desired him, saying, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”

There is no doubt that these men were Gentiles, — probably proselytes. They had come up to worship at the feast, and their curiosity had been aroused, and their interest had been awakened, by what they had seen and heard about Jesus. There appears to have been at least some measure of reverence for him in their minds. Hence they addressed one of his disciples, whose purely Greek name may lead us to suppose that he had some Greek relatives; they said to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”

22, 23. Philip comes and tells Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

They did not expect him to say that. Surely, the coming of a few Greeks to see him was not very much in the way of glorification. But, to him, the coming of these Greeks was a kind of prophecy of the myriads of other Gentiles who would, eventually, come to his feet; and, therefore, he looked forward to that death which should be the means of their salvation. Christ came into the world to preach the gospel, but he came on a greater errand than that, namely, to provide a gospel that could be preached; and he knew that the time was approaching when he must provide that gospel by dying on the cross. See how he proceeds: —

24. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

The preservation of the grain is the prevention of its increase; but the putting of it into the ground, the losing of it, the burial of it, is the very means of its multiplication. So, our Lord Jesus Christ must not care for himself, and he did not. He surrendered himself to all the ignominy of the death of the cross, he died, and was buried in the heart of the earth but he sprang up again from the grave, and ever since then myriads have come to him through his death, even as these Greeks came to him in his life. Now, just as it was with Christ, so is it to be with us; at least, in our measure.

25. He who loves his life shall lose it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to eternal life.

His love is ruinous to his true life; but to destroy selfishness, to make a sacrifice of ourselves, is the best way really to preserve ourselves.

26, 27. If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant shall also be: if any man serves me, my Father will honour him. Now my soul is troubled; and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour: but for this reason I came to this hour.

This seems to be a kind of rehearsal of the dread scene soon to be enacted in Gethsemane. At the sight of these Greeks, our Saviour seems to have been led especially to think, as we have already said, of that death by which they, and multitudes like them were to be redeemed. Thinking of it, he enters so fully into it, by a kind of foretaste, that he feels something of the same shiver and throe of anguish which came over him in Gethsemane. He seems to say here, “Father, save me from this hour,” just as he said there, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” Yet he says here, “But for this reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name”; — just as he later said in the garden, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

28, 29. Father, glorify your name.” Then there came a voice from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The people therefore, who stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, “An angel spoke to him.”

This was the third time that mysterious voice had been heard; — first, at his baptism; the second time, on the Mount of Transfiguration; and, now a few days before he died on the cross. The voice of God had been heard on a much earlier occasion, — at Sinai; and then it was attended with thunder, as it was here. Those who did not have ears to understand the voice of God only perceived the loudness of its thunder peals; but there were others, like John himself, who understood what the Lord said: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

30, 31. Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of me but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

The old Roman empire seemed to stand as firm as the eternal hills, but God had come to judge the whole state of affairs as it was then in the world; and, inasmuch as Christ the pure and perfect Son of God was condemned to die, that action condemned the society of that period. Yes, all of the ungodly world, in taking its part in crucifying Christ, bore evidence against itself, and pronounced sentence on itself as being guilty of the death of the Christ of God. “Now the prince of this world shall be cast out.” The overthrow of the usurper began from that time, and that overthrow of the devil is still going on; and, blessed be God, it will reach its completion one of these days, and we shall yet rejoice in a new heaven, and a new earth, on which the trail of the serpent shall never be traced.

32. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.”

Christ on the cross draws all men up to himself. I have heard this text quoted as if it referred to Christ being extolled in preaching. Well, it is true that, when Christ is lifted up in the ministry, there is an attractive power; but that is not the first meaning of the text. Let us read on: —

33. This he said, indicating what death he should die.

He alluded to his crucifixion, which is the great attractive centre of mankind.

34, 35. The people answered him, “We have heard out of the law that Christ remains for ever: and how can you say, ‘The Son of man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtakes you: for he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have light, believe in the light, so that you may be the children of light.”

It is always good to use the light that we already have. If any man will use the light he already has, God will be sure to give him more. That is a good saying of an old Puritan, “If you have starlight, thank God for it, and he will give you moonlight; and when you have moonlight, give thanks to God for it, and he will give you sunlight.” And so it shall be. Nothing is worse than sinning against light. If it is only the light of conscience, even if you know it is not perfect, yet, nevertheless, never sin against it; for, if you do — you will quench it, and to quench the light you have, is the way to effectively prevent your having any more: “While you have light, believe in the light, so that you may be the children of light.

36-41. Jesus spoke these things, and departed, and hid himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they did not believe in him: so that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; so that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Isaiah said these things when he saw his glory, and spoke of him.

There is such a thing as judicial blindness. If men can see, and yet will not see, God is at last so provoked by their wickedness that he takes away the light altogether, and removes from them the very faculty of sight. It is not surprising that it should be so, for it was so with the generation in which Christ lived. They had rejected the true prophet for so long, — refused to listen to the voice of God for so long, that, at last, he abandoned them to their own ways; and nothing worse can happen to a man than to be abandoned by God. If God casts you off, you are indeed lost.

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).

Terms of Use

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.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Privacy Policy

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA, and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390