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2946. A Procession Of Cross-Bearers

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A Procession Of Cross-Bearers

No. 2946-51:361. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, May 2, 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, July 27, 1905.

Take up the cross, and follow me. {Mr 10:21}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2946, “Procession of Cross Bearers, A” 2947}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3334, “Lovely, but Lacking” 3336}
   Exposition on Mr 10:13-27,32-52 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3491, “Saviour’s Charity, The” 3493 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mr 10:17-45 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2946, “Procession of Cross Bearers, A” 2947 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Your mind’s eye can see that procession over there. Notice it carefully. At the head of it there walks One whom we rightly call Master and Lord; you may know him by the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. I observe that he carries a cross, and that it is a very heavy one. Do you see the long line following him? They are all those of whom the world was not worthy. That line has been continued even to this day, and will be continued until the present age shall close. As you watch these different followers of Christ in the procession, one thing will strike you, — that, however much they differ in some respects, they are all alike in one thing, — every one of them carries a cross. There is no exception to this rule; from the Master down to the last disciple, it is a procession of cross-bearers. The day will come when there will be a transformation scene, and you will see all these cross-bearers transformed into crown-wearers. But, rest assured that the old motto, “No cross, no crown,” is certainly true, and those who refuse to carry the cross after Christ on earth shall never be permitted to wear the crown with Christ in the land that is beyond the stars.

2. The chief business of a Christian is to follow Christ. You may sum up all his life in that expression. He has Christ in him, Christ gives him new life from day to day, and the very way in which that life expends its force is in the following of Christ. I wish, dear friends, that you and I would so strive to follow him, as to gain a distinction for the closeness of our walk; for there are some in heaven of whom it is written, “These are those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” There are some who seem to follow him only partially. There are many wanderings and many inconsistencies in their life; but thrice blessed shall he be who, like Caleb, follows the Lord fully, and with purpose of heart puts his foot down in the very footprints of his crucified Lord. If you are a disciple of Jesus, your chief business is to follow Jesus. But there are difficulties in the way, and these difficulties are what is meant by “the cross.” There are difficulties in the way of making a profession of faith in Jesus, and of walking worthy of it; and these difficulties are a burden too heavy for flesh and blood to carry. Only grace can enable us to take it up; and when we do take it up, we are fulfilling the words of the text, “Take up the cross, and follow me.”

3. I am going to urge you to ask yourselves, each one, firstly, “What is my cross?” secondly, “What shall I do with it?” and, thirdly, “What should encourage me to do so?

4. I. First, then, WHAT IS MY CROSS?

5. I have said that the meaning of the cross is, principally, what is involved by the difficulties in following Christ. To some, the cross they will have to carry, if they become Christians, is that of reproach and rebuke for Christ’s sake. Perhaps they have relatives who hate all true religion, so that, if they should profess to be converted, they would be sneered at, ridiculed, and misrepresented. All their actions would be twisted to mischievous ends, and motives would be imputed to them which they themselves abhor. It is very hard for young people, especially in ungodly families, to dare to affirm themselves as followers of the Crucified; nor is it easy for a working man, in the workshop, to bear that perpetual “chaffing,” as his companions call it, which they delight to inflict on those who are better than themselves. The same kind of thing takes place in other classes of society, though it is not generally done quite so obviously. There is the cold shoulder, there are suggestive hints and innuendoes, and there are avoidances of the company of those who come out decidedly on the Lord’s side. Some of you do not know much about this kind of treatment. You were dandled on the lap of ease in this respect, for your parents rejoiced over you when you were converted, and all your Christian acquaintances kept high holiday, as it were, when they heard that you had decided to be a follower of Jesus. I wonder whether you would have been quite as firm as we might have wished if your first speech on religious matters had been met with an oath, or if some brutal father had proceeded even further, and uttered horrible threats against you; and there is many a child who has had to bear all that. Or if you had had a coarse, drunken husband, who hated the very name of Jesus, I wonder whether you would have been able to bear it, as I have known some good women to do from year to year, enduring a lifelong martyrdom for the sake of Jesus Christ. Now, dear friend, whoever you may be, if anyone will sneer at you, or think any the less of you, or say harsh things about you because you become a Christian, that is your cross, and Christ says to you, in our text, “Take up the cross, and follow me.”

6. Sometimes the cross comes in another form. A man is converted to God, and he then discovers that his position in life is not one which a Christian ought to hold, — certainly not one in which piety is likely to flourish. This situation often comes under my notice. A man often comes to me, and he says, “Sir, I trust I love the Lord. I am at the Tabernacle as often as possible; but I am sorry to say that I have half-a-dozen girls behind the bar serving people with drinks, and I cannot bear the thought of it; it is a business that I cannot now endure, and I must get out of it.” Often this difficulty has come before me, and I have been gratified when I have seen men, who have loved the Lord so much that they have said, “This business must no longer be carried on by me; I love my Lord to much for that. How can I bow my knee to him, and ask his blessing on such a business as this?” And they have escaped from it as fast as they possibly could. And there are many positions which a man may get involved in business by which he becomes entangled in evil. If he were quite free, he could do the right and straightforward thing; but his partner, perhaps, will do the opposite, and he knows that it will not do for him to be always throwing the blame of doing a wrong thing on another man, and then pocketing his half of the profits; so he says, “Come what may, I must get out of this business; for it would be better for me to enter into life as poor as the poorest beggar than, having a prosperous but sinful business, to be cast into hell.”

7. And many, too, suffer losses in business, because, as soon as they become Christians, they have to make a great many alterations. “Sunday is our best day for business,” says someone. Well, then, there is so much more opportunity for you to make a greater sacrifice to prove your love for Jesus. Up with the shutters; and take care to do it at once. If you have to lose anything, in any way, for Christ’s sake, in order to be his conscientious disciple, that is your cross, and he says to you, “Take up the cross, and follow me.”

8. Sometimes, however, the cross may be of a somewhat different kind. It may be the giving up of some pleasure, or habit, which has been particularly gratifying to you. The Christian man discovers that, although this habit may to allowable for others, it is not so for him; it would injure him, it would ruin him. He cannot pray, he cannot think of divine things, as long as he clings to this habit. It is his duty, if there is anything that hinders the growth of his soul, or his fellowship with Christ, to shake it off at once as Paul shook off the viper into the fire; but some have found it difficult to do this. Dear friend, if that is your case, pluck out your right eye, cut off your right hand, rather than keep them, and perish in your sin. Better lose everything else than lose your soul; better give up everything else than give up the hope of eternal life.

9. With some, however, the cross does not assume that form. If we are to be Christ’s disciples at all, he demands of us that we give ourselves up entirely and unreservedly to him. Jesus Christ will not have half a man; he will have all of him, body, soul and spirit. You cannot be Christ’s disciple unless you are prepared to renounce everything you have at his bidding. For example, if it should come to pass that, to be a Christian required of you imprisonment for Christ’s sake, you must be willing to lie in prison and to die for him. If it required, as it once did, that you should be dragged into the amphitheatre to be slain by wild beasts, you must be willing to do as the Christians did then, — to die such a death, if needs be, for Christ. My Lord and Master will not be content with the shell of a man, he must have his heart and soul, his entire being; and he, who will not give himself up to Christ like this cannot be his disciple. This is a cross for many, who want to make some little reserve, or some provision for the flesh. If this is your cross, please take it up, and follow Christ.

10. We must not forget that the cross, as far as Christ was concerned, was not merely a matter of shame and reproach. It was that towards men; but, before God, when Jesus carried his cross, he was bearing a burden which it pleased the Father to lay on him. So, for some, the cross is poverty; they strive hard, but they can never rise above grinding poverty. For others, it is a body which, from their earliest childhood, has been weak and feeble. For some, the cross is a proneness to disease and pain; for others, a chronic sickness which scarcely permits them to leave their bed; for others, an affliction which, while it allows them a considerable measure of bodily vigour, yet, nevertheless, frequently gnaws at their very heart, and they feel as if they could die from the weariness of a long life of pain. Oh, how many of God’s children have to carry this cross! Or if it is not that, perhaps the cross takes the form of an ungodly husband or an ungrateful child. But I need not try to make a list of your crosses. We have a saying that there is a skeleton in every closet and, certainly, there is a crook in every lot, a fly in every ointment.

    Shall Simon bear the cross alone,
       And all the rest go free?
    No; there’s a cross for everyone,
       And there’s a cross for me.

We all know what our own cross is; and if our Heavenly Father has appointed it for us, we must take it up, and follow Christ.

11. II. Now, secondly, WHAT AM I TO DO WITH THE CROSS?

12. Well, first, let me never try to make a cross of my own. I know some people who do that. They have pretty nearly everything that heart could wish for, yet they are dissatisfied. They are of a fretful, discontented disposition, and they can always see something to trouble them even when no one else can see it. I charge you, friends, to watch against that state of heart which leads a man, when he looks up to the sun, to say, “Ah, it has spots on its surface”; and when he observes the beauty of the moonlight, to draw only this reflection, “This light of the moon is very cold.” If he were to look at the greenest landscape in the world, he would say that he believed there was an extinct volcano somewhere underneath it, and, perhaps, it might not be quite extinct, and might erupt again. Whenever he reads the Bible, he always likes to read about the pouring out of the vials, and he is particularly fond of the star called Wormwood, and almost hopes to see the day when there shall be wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes in various places, and I do not know what else besides. Some people seem to have a little trouble factory behind their houses. They appear to be always engaged in making new crosses. I have often said that home-made troubles are like home-made clothes, — they seldom fit, and they are likely to last a very long while. Oh child of God, do not make your life one continual groan! It is far better to make it one happy song of praise, one joyful psalm of thanksgiving to the Most High. Do not make a cross for yourself.

13. And, next, do not try to choose your cross. Of course, you cannot do it; but there are many people who wish they had So-and-so’s lot. Ah, you do not know how heavy his cross is! Have you never heard the fable that, once upon a time, all the cross-bearers were invited to come and bring their crosses, and put them in one heap, and each man might take up the cross that he liked best? So, of course, no one took the one that he had brought, but each one went away with his neighbour’s cross on his back. But, before many hours, they were all back again, asking to have their old crosses, for they found that the cross they had carried before had so worn their shoulders that they had become used to that particular burden; but the new cross was galling them in new places; so they were glad, each one, to put his neighbour’s cross down, and go away with his own. On the whole, my brother, you have the best lot that you could have; for, if you had a better one in some respects, it would be worse for you in other respects. Be satisfied as you are, and do not wish to choose another man’s cross. Christ says, “Take up the cross, and follow me.” He does not say, “Desire to have another man’s cross.”

14. Observe, too, that Christ does not say, “Murmur at your cross.” That is the very opposite of taking it up. As long as a man is alive, and outside of hell, he cannot have any reason to complain. No matter where he may be, — whether he placed in the most abject position conceivable, — the man is better off than he deserves to be. Do not let a single murmur, then, ever escape from our lips. Blessed is the grace of patience, but it is hard to be acquired. May the Lord, by his infinite mercy, teach us to bear all his holy will, and bear it cheerfully, and so take up our cross for Jesus sake!

15. Christ does not tell us to run away from our cross. There are some who try to do that. I have often observed that, when people change their position in order to escape from trial, the old saying has been fulfilled for them, for they have leaped out of the frying pan into the fire. I have known some of them to emigrate because of the difficulties of living in this country; and, in about six months, they have thought that this old country is about the best under heaven, as I think it is, after all; and they would have been glad if they could only have gone back to the place from where they came out. If you expect to go to a land where you will have no trial to bear, there is only one such place that I know of, except heaven, and that is the fool’s paradise, and I would not advise you to attempt to enter that. Oh, no! we were born into this world so that, in the sweat of our brow, we might eat bread; and the sweat must be on our brow in some form or other, and the burden must be on our back. If thorns and thistles grow in your garden, it is no use for you to move to the next street, for they will grow there also; and it is no use moving to another country, for you will have thorns growing in France as well as in England, — in Australia as well as in the British Islands. It is no use to try to run away from your cross, and it is also cowardly. Do as Christ tells you, “Take up the cross, and follow me.”

16. And, dear friends, there is another thing which we are rather apt to do, and that is, to faint under our cross, or to feel that it is too heavy for us to carry. Do I address anyone in such a condition? Dear brother, there are many promises suited to your case. “Underneath are the everlasting arms.” “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, so that you may to able to bear it.” “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” “Your shoes shall be iron and bronze; and as your days, so shall your strength be.” Let these texts be like a cordial to your Spirit, and say, “I will not faint, after all. There is hope for me that I shall yet be revived.” How can a man despair who can lift up his eyes to heaven, and call God his Father?

17. What, then, is meant by taking up the cross, but this? First, dear brethren, if following Christ will involve you in any scoffing and shame, bear it, and be glad to bear it. If it will cause you any loss, say with Paul, “Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but dung, so that I may win Christ, and be found in him.” Does anyone cut off your acquaintance because you belong to Christ? Oh my dear friend, will you go to hell for the sake of an earthly acquaintance? I hope not. Let the acquaintance be cut off, rather than cut off your acquaintance with Christ. Will worldlings scowl at you? Let them scowl, so long as Jesus smiles. Will men put you out of their synagogue because you are a Christian? Let them put you out, for Christ will find you; and if he shall welcome you, it will not matter who casts you away. Therefore, for Christ’s sake, boldly bear whatever has to be borne, and be faithful in your following of him even to death.

18. Taking up the cross means, next, be resigned to those afflictions which come to you from God your Father. It is easier to say this, my dear friends, than to do it, as you will find. But, still, there is the cup which our Heavenly Father has filled for us, so shall we not drink it? He has made that cross for us to carry; so dare we say, “We will not carry it?” You will find that a disobedient spirit will be sure to bring on you a dreadful chastisement; but the kindly yielding spirit of an obedient child will make the cross lighter than it would otherwise have been. May God grant us that yielding spirit! I love to see it, and how often one does see it in God’s poor, sick children! We pity them, for their pain is great, and they can scarcely bear it; but when we speak to them about their Heavenly Father, they do not have a word to say against him, but they have a thousand words to say for him. They tell us how he sustains them, — how, in the dreary night, their heart is gladdened by the presence of Jesus, — how, when it seems as if they could not suffer any longer the pain which has become so intense, the presence of Jesus has flooded their souls with delight. It is a blessed thing to see Christians take up their cross resignedly, accepting the will of their Father in heaven; and this is what we are called on to do. I trust that, in both senses, namely, in a bold willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake and the truth’s sake, and in a patient willingness to accept the divine will, whatever it may be, we may take up our cross and follow Christ.

19. But this is the great point, in carrying our cross, we are to follow Christ. We must keep on doing that. Through floods or flames, we must follow him. In life or in death, we must follow him, and never, never turn aside. And what an honour it is for us to be allowed to follow such a Lord! I was thinking, just now, that if the glorified spirits in heaven, for whom Jesus shed his precious blood, had all gone there along a smooth pathway, without a tear or a sigh, — if they had never suffered anything for his sake, — I can almost picture them gathering around their Lord in heaven, and saying, “Dear Master, is it not possible for us to have the opportunity of suffering something for you? We were allowed to do something for you on earth; we preached, and we prayed; but we never suffered.” And the devil might whisper from his infernal den, “Had these men been tried, — if God had put out his hand, and touched their bone and their flesh, — they would have cursed him to his face.” But, dear friends, the devil can never say that, for they have been touched in their bone and in their flesh. Take down Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs” when you are at home, — I hope you all have it, for that book ought to be kept in every Christian’s house, to the everlasting shame of the Church of Rome; — take it down, and look at the long list of martyrs who did not count their lives dear to them. It was one of the noblest sights on which the eye of Jesus ever rested when he could look on them, and see them gladly die for his dear sake. I think the angels must have crowded the battlements of heaven, and looked down, and said, “See how they love their Lord! See how bravery they die for him! See how the timid, trembling women come forward, and are stretched on the rack without a groan, and then are fastened to the stake, and burned there, smiling as they die, and saying, ‘No one but Jesus! No one but Jesus!’ ” I do not think that all the cherubim and seraphim in heaven ever praised God as they have done who have died in prison for Jesus’ sake, or at the stake have poured out their blood rather than deny him. Be glad that you may prove your love by suffering for Christ. The ruby crown of martyrdom is not within your reach today, but be thankful if some jewels of suffering may be yours, and count it all joy when you can endure this cross for the name of Jesus Christ.

20. III. Now, for a few minutes, I want to answer the last question. WHAT SHOULD ENCOURAGE EACH ONE OF US TO TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW CHRIST?

21. First, I cannot be Christ’s disciple unless I do this; and, oh, I must be his disciple! He is such a Master that I must follow him; such a Lord that I can only serve him; and if his service should involve the carrying of the cross, I say, “Welcome cross! Lord, put it on my back.” I would gladly bear the burden which goes with his service.

22. Let each one of us encourage himself with the next reflection, “Better people than I am have carried a heavier cross than I have to carry.” I know, dear sister, that your cup is one of particular bitterness; but there are some who have drunk a far more bitter cup than yours, and they were better people than you are. Think of them, I have alluded to them already, — the noble army of martyrs and sufferers for Christ’s sake. Will you refuse the cup which is not, after all, so filled with gall as theirs was? Think, too, how much more severe were the trials of your Lord and Master. What are all our griefs compared with his? If we were to heap up the whole mass of human woe, it would be a molehill compared with the great Alpine peaks of his griefs and woes.

    His way was much rougher and darker than mine;
    Did Christ my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?

23. They say that, when the Greeks marched into Persia, and the soldiers grew thirsty and weary with the long march, Alexander did not ride on horseback, and he did not drink. Although there was always water for the great king, he refused to drink until his soldiers did; and when they saw him, hot and weary, marching side by side with them, every man said, “I must not complain, for the king is suffering as much as I am; I must bear it if he does.” So, sufferers, behold your King! In all your afflictions he was afflicted; he was tempted in all points as you are; so do not be ashamed of that cross which once your Saviour’s shoulders bore.

24. Furthermore, we may well take up the cross because grace will be given to us to bear it. You say that you cannot bear the cross which is coming on you, but you shall have more grace when you get it on your back. God never gives his children any grace to throw away. He gives them strength according to their day; and if their burden becomes heavier, their shoulders become stronger. In order to get more grace, one might be quite willing to carry a heavier cross.

25. Remember, too, that the cross will be blest to you. A thousand good things come to us by the way of suffering and reproach. I think the sweetest letters which God ever sends to his children are done up in black-edged envelopes. You will find, in many of those bright envelopes of his, some choice silver mercies; but if you want a great bank-note of grace, it must came to you in the mourning envelope. When the Lord covers the heavens with clouds then he sends the showers of blessing on the earth. Be glad for the clouds for the sake of the rain.

26. This thought, too, should help you to carry your cross, — that Jesus will be honoured by it. Yes, poor woman, I know that I am talking to you. Very seldom do you get a bright hour by yourself. Your lot is a very hard one; but if you bear it as a Christian should, Christ is honoured through you. He looks down from heaven, and he says, “See how she loves me, that, for my sake, she is willing to bear all this.” Yes, young man, I know you are hard pressed but you have stood up well, and your Master has noted your brave conduct. He lets you go on being tried as our English king did with his son when he was fighting the French; he did not send relief to him because he did not wish to diminish the glory of his victory. So Christ often leaves his people, supported only by his grace, to let the world see what a Christian really can do. That was a notable duel between Job and the devil. Satan said, “Only give me the opportunity to take away his riches, and to kill his children, and he will curse God to his face.” But after Satan had done all that, Job still said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Then the devil was permitted by God to cover poor Job with severe boils from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. He who has ever had one boil of that kind knows how painful it is; but to be covered from head to foot with such boils, to have to scrape yourself with a potsherd, and to have a foolish wife urging you to curse God and die, and so-called “friends” standing around you, and aggravating your woe, is a very terrible trial. Yet Job survived it, and I do not think that the devil ever meddled with him any more. He found that he could not manage him at all, so, at last, he went away; he was probably never so beaten by anyone until he met Job’s Lord and Master in the wilderness, and he beat him still more decisively. I believe that the Lord takes delight in the prowess of his suffering saints. “There,” he seems to say to the prince of darkness, “I let you have your will with Job; but what have you made of him? Is he not still a perfect and an upright man, and more than a match for you?” Well, if God might be so glorified by us, you and I might be willing to be tried as Job was. The time will come, dear friends, when you will be pleased with the cross. If God will give you sufficient grace, you will come to be satisfied, and even pleased, to suffer for Christ’s sake. Rutherford used to say that the cross he carried for Christ had become so sweet to him that he was sometimes afraid that he might love the cross better than he loved Christ himself; that shows the heights to which a gracious soul may attain.

27. Lastly, in a very short time, the cross will be exchanged for the crown. It is said that, when Princess Elizabeth I carried the royal crown in some procession during the reign of her sister, she complained that it was very heavy; and someone said that she would find it much lighter when she had it on her own head. So, some of us are carrying a great cross here, and we find it very heavy; but we shall be well repaid when we receive our crown.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mr 10:17-45}

17, 18. And when he was gone out into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but one, that is, God.

This was a hint that Christ was more than man. If he was really worthy of the title that the enquirer gave him, he was God as well as man, for “there is no one good but one, that is, God.”

19, 20. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honour your father and mother.’ ” And he answered and said to him, “Master, I have observed all these from my youth.”

Possibly, in the ordinary sense of the words, he had observed these commandments, but Christ tested the reality of his declaration.

21, 22. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

So he proved that he had not kept either table of the law perfectly, for he did not love the Lord with all his heart, nor did he love his neighbour as himself.

23-27. And Jesus looked all around, and says to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answers again, and says to them, “Children, how hard is it for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” And they were astonished beyond measure, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” And Jesus looking on them says, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

It is impossible for man, unaided by the Spirit of God, to enter the kingdom of heaven, but what is impossible for man by himself is made possible by the grace and power of God.

28. Then Peter began to say to him, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed you.”

He spoke as if they had done what the rich man had failed to do, and evidently he thought they should be rewarded, for, according to Matthew, he added, “Therefore what shall we have?”

29-31. And Jesus answered and said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house, or brothers, or sisters or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life. But many who are first shall be last; and the last first.”

In the final account, it shall be found that no man has been a loser through giving up anything for the Lord Jesus Christ, though he has his own method of deciding who are to be first and who are to be last.

32. And they were on the road going up to Jerusalem;

It was well known to them all that the crisis of our Saviour’s history was close at hand, and a kind of undefinable dread was over them all. The bravest spirit in the whole company was their blessed Lord and Master. He knew that he was going up to Jerusalem to die, so you may view him as the Sacrifice going to the altar, or as the Hero going to the conflict in which he would die and yet conquer. They were on the road going up to Jerusalem; —

32. And Jesus went before them:

The disciples might well have been filled with holy courage as their Leader was in the vanguard. This is true concerning the whole life of all the saints: “Jesus went before them.” What if trials lie beyond, and the dark river itself is in front of them, yet Jesus goes before them, so they need not fear to follow.

32. And they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid.

They did not know much about what was to happen, but a great depression was on their spirits. They must have wondered about the cheerful bravery of their Master when all of them were ready to turn back from this mournful march.

32-34. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen to him, saying, “Behold we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered to the chief priests, and to the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit on him, and shall kill him, and the third day he shall rise again.”

He thought it right that the twelve, who led the way, should be better acquainted than the rest with the sad history that was so soon to be enacted. So he tells them about it in private, and I want you to notice how he dwells in detail on his sufferings. He does not describe them in general terms, but he brings out into strong relief each separate act of infamy: “They shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit on him and shall kill him”; — from which we learn that our Saviour knew all that he had to endure, yet he went bravely forward to bear it for our sakes. For this reason, we should admire his divine courage and complete self-sacrifice. Mere men may promise to do a certain thing without knowing what it will involve, but —

    This was compassion like a God,
       That when the Saviour knew
    The price of pardon was his blood,
       His pity ne’er withdrew.

I think, too, that since our Lord dwells on each point like this, he intends for us also to dwell on the details of his redeeming griefs. We should not be strangers at the foot of the cross, nor in Gethsemane; but should hear each one of these notes ring out its sorrowful yet joyful music: “They shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit on him, and shall kill him.”

But what a glad note that concluding one is: “and the third day he shall rise again.” Death cannot hold him in her bands, the sepulchre cannot continue to enclose him in her gloomy prison. This is the glory and boast of our Christianity, our hope and our joy, for —

    As the Lord our Saviour rose,
       So all his followers must.

35, 36. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come to him saying Master, “We wish that you would do for us whatever we shall desire.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Our Saviour’s question suggests to us the prudent lesson, never to promise in the dark. If anyone shall say to you, “Promise that you will do whatever I ask,” follow the example of Christ and first ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” Otherwise, you may entangle yourself with your own words. These young men evidently needed to have this question asked of them, for they themselves had not thoroughly considered what they were asking their Lord to do for them.

37. They said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit, one on your right hand, and the other on your left hand, in your glory.”

There was, undoubtedly, much that was wrong about this request, and you have often heard that view of the matter dwelt on, so I will call your attention to what was right about it. These disciples showed their faith that this same Jesus, who was to be mocked, and scourged, and spit on, and killed, would still reign; and I think it was amazing faith that, after they had heard from his own lips, in sorrowful detail, the description of how he should die, yet nevertheless they so fully believed in his kingdom that they asked to have a share in its honours. It is true that they were ambitious, but their ambition was to be near the Saviour. It would be good if all those, who ask for right-hand and left-hand places, wanted them at the right hand and the left hand of the Saviour.

38. But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking for:

Has the Lord ever said to us, when we have been praying, “You do not know what you are asking for”? I suppose that is usually true in a certain sense; we do not fully understand the extent of most of our prayers, and sometimes we ask so unadvisedly that we prove that we do not know what we are asking for.

38. Can you drink from the cup that I drink from? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

“Can ye share my drinking in Gethsemane and my sinking on Golgotha?”

39. And they said to him, “We can.”

They did not know what they said, but they felt that such was the strength of their love, that they could share anything that had to do with Christ. His throne! Yes, they would like to sit at the right hand of it. His cup! Yes, they can drink from it. Immersion into his suffering! Yes, they can endure that baptism.

39. And Jesus said to them, “You shall indeed drink from the cup that I drink from; and with the baptism that I am baptized you shall be baptized:

And so they were, for James was soon put to death, and John lived, the last and longest of the apostles, a lifelong martyrdom for the Master’s sake.

40, 41. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.

Why were they displeased? Because they were of the same spirit as James and John. Since they were displeased with James and John, it is evident that they wanted those places themselves, and many a man is also displeased with his own faults. Did you ever see a dog bark at himself in a mirror? You and I have often done that; we have even grown very angry with what was, after all, only our own image.

42-45. But Jesus called them to him, and says to them, “You know that those who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority on them. But it shall not be so among you: but whoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Christ instituted bishops, that is, overseers; but never prelates. He never had any idea of setting some men in his Church over the heads of others, but he put all his servants on an equality. They are to exercise no lordship the one over the other, nor to seek it, for the best honour in the Church of God is found in service. He who serves most is the greatest. He who will occupy the lowest office, he who will bear patiently to be the most put on, he who is most ready to be despised, and to be the servant of all, shall be the chiefest of all. The way to rise in the kingdom of heaven is to descend, for it was even so with our Lord himself. May God give to all of us the humble and lowly spirit that will make us willing to be the least of all!

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction — The Suffering People” 751}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Dedication To God — The Heart Given To God” 658}

The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction
751 — The Suffering People
1 “Poor and afflicted,” Lord, are thine,
   Among the great unfit to shine;
   But though the world may think it strange,
   They would not with the world exchange.
2 “Poor and afflicted,” ‘is their lot,
   They know it, and they murmur not;
   ‘Twould ill become them to refuse
   The state their Master deign’d to choose.
3 “Poor and afflicted,” yet they sing,
   For Jesus is their glorious King;
   Through sufferings perfect now he reigns
   And shares in all their griefs and pains.
4 “Poor and afflicted,” but ere long
   They join the bright, celestial throng;
   Their sufferings then will reach a close,
   And heaven afford them sweet repose.
5 And while they walk the thorny way,
   They oft are heard to sigh and say,
   Dear Saviour, come, oh quickly come,
   And take thy mourning pilgrims home.
                     Thomas Kelly, 1804.

The Christian, Dedication To God
658 — The Heart Given To God
1 Oh happy day, that fix’d my choice
   On thee, my Saviour, and my God;
   Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
   And tell its raptures all abroad.
2 ‘Tis done! the great transaction’s done:
   I am my Lord’s, and he is mine:
   He drew me, and I follow’d on,
   Charm’d to confess the voice divine.
3 Now rest, my long divided heart;
   Fix’d on this blissful centre, rest:
   With ashes who would grudge to part,
   When call’d on angels’ bread to feast?
4 High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
   That vow renew’d shall daily hear:
   Till in life’s latest hour I bow,
   And bless in death a bond so dear.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.

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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