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2982. The Memorable Hymn

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The Memorable Hymn

No. 2982-52:169. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, April 5, 1906.

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. {Mt 26:30}

1. The occasion on which these words were spoken was the last meal of which Jesus partook in company with his disciples before he went from them to his shameful trial, and his ignominious death. It was his farewell supper before a bitter parting, and yet they needed to sing. He was on the brink of that great depth of misery into which he was about to plunge, and yet he would have them sing “a hymn.” It is wonderful that HE sang, and in a second degree it is remarkable that THEY sang. We will consider both these exceptional facts.

2. I. Let us dwell for a while on THE FACT THAT JESUS SANG AT SUCH A TIME AS THIS. What does he teach us by this?

3. Does he not say to each of us, his followers, “My religion is one of happiness and joy; ” I, your Master, by my example, would instruct you to sing even when the last solemn hour is come, and all the glooms of death are gathering around you; here, at the table, I am your Singing Master, and give you lessons in music, in which my dying voice, shall lead you notwithstanding all the griefs which overwhelm my heart, I will be to you the Chief Musician, and the Sweet Singer of Israel? If ever there was a time when it would have been natural and consistent with the solemnities of the occasion for the Saviour to have bowed his head on the table, bursting into a flood of tears; or, if ever there was a time when he might have fittingly retired from all company, and have bewailed his coming conflict in sighs and groans, it was just then. But no; that brave heart will sing “a hymn.” Our glorious Jesus plays the man beyond all other men. Boldest of the sons of men, he does not quail in the hour of battle, but tunes his voice to loftiest psalmody. The genius of that Christianity of which Jesus is the Head and Founder, its object, spirit, and design, are happiness and joy, and those who receive it are able to sing in the very jaws of death.

4. This remark, however, is quite a secondary one to the next. Our Lord’s complete fulfilment of the law is even more worthy of our attention. It was customary, when the Passover was held, to sing, and this is the main reason why the Saviour did so. During the Passover, it was usual to sing the hundred and thirteenth, and five following Psalms, which were called the “Hallel.” The first begins, you will observe, in our version, with “Praise the Lord!” or, “Hallelujah!” The hundred and fifteenth, and the three following, were usually sung as the closing song of the Passover. Now, our Saviour would not diminish the splendour of the great Jewish rite, although it was the last time that he would celebrate it. No; there shall be the holy beauty and delight of psalmody; none of it shall be stinted; the “Hallel” shall be full and complete.

5. We may safely believe that the Saviour sang through, or probably chanted, all of these six Psalms; and my heart tells me that there was no one at the table who sang more devoutly or more cheerfully than did our blessed Lord. There are some parts of the hundred and eighteenth Psalm, especially, which strike us as having sounded exceptionally grand, as they flowed from his blessed lips. Note verses 22-24. Particularly observe those words, near the end of the Psalm, and think that you hear the Lord himself singing them, “God is the Lord, who has shown us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you: you are my God, I will exalt you. Oh give thanks to the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever.”

6. Because, then, it was the established custom of Israel to recite or sing these Psalms, our Lord Jesus Christ did the same; for he would leave nothing unfinished. Just as, when he went down into the waters of baptism, he said, “So it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness,” so he seemed to say, when sitting at the table, “So it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness; therefore let us sing to the Lord, as God’s people in past ages have done.” Beloved, let us view with holy wonder the strictness of the Saviour’s obedience to his Father’s will, and let us endeavour to follow in his steps, in all things, seeking to be obedient to the Lord’s Word in the little matters as well as in the great ones.

7. May we not venture to suggest another and deeper reason? Did not the singing of “a hymn” at the supper show the holy absorption of the Saviour’s soul in his Father’s will? If, beloved, you knew that at — say, ten o’clock tonight, you would be led away to be mocked, and despised, and scourged, and that tomorrow’s sun would see you falsely accused, hanging, a convicted criminal, to die on a cross, do you think that you could sing tonight, after your last meal? I am sure you could not, unless with more than earth-born courage and resignation your soul could say, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar.” You would sing if your spirit were like the Saviour’s spirit; if, like him, you could exclaim, “Not as I will, but as you will”; but if there should remain in you any selfishness, any desire to be spared the bitterness of death, you would not be able to chant the “Hallel” with the Master. Blessed Jesus, how completely were you given up! how perfectly consecrated! so that, whereas other men sing when they are marching to their joys, you sang on the way to death, whereas other men lift up their cheerful voices when honour awaits them, you had a brave and holy sonnet on your lips when shame, and spitting, and death were to be your portion.

8. This singing of the Saviour also teaches us the whole-heartedness of the Master in the work which he was about to do. The patriotic warrior sings as he rushes to battle; to the strains of martial music he advances to meet the foe; and even like this the heart of our all-glorious Champion supplies him with song even in the dreadful hour of his solitary agony. He views the battle, but he does not dread it; though in the contest his soul will be “extremely sorrowful even to death,” yet before it, he is like Job’s war-horse, “He says among the trumpets, ‘Ha, ha’; and he smells the battle afar off.” He has a baptism to be baptized with, and he is constrained until it is accomplished. The Master does not go out to the agony in the garden with a cowed and trembling spirit, all bowed and crushed in the dust; but he advances to the conflict like a man who has his full strength about him — taken out to be a victim (if I may use such an analogy), not as a worn-out ox that has long borne the yoke, but as the firstling of the young bull, in the fulness of his strength. He goes out to the slaughter, with his glorious undaunted spirit, fast and firm within him, glad to suffer for his people’s sake, and for his Father’s glory.

    For as at first thine all-pervading look
    Saw from thy Father’s bosom to th’ abyss,
       Measuring in calm presage
       The infinite descent;
    So to the end, though now of mortal pangs
    Made heir, and emptied of thy glory a while,
       With unaverted eye
       Thou meetest all the storm.

Let us, oh fellow heirs of salvation, learn to sing when our suffering time comes, when our season for stern labour approaches; indeed, let us pour out a canticle of deep, mysterious, melody of bliss, when our dying hour is near at hand! Courage, brother! The waters are chilly; but fear will not by any means diminish the terrors of the river. Courage, brother! Death is solemn work; but playing the coward will not make it less so. Bring out the silver trumpet; let your lips remember the long-loved music, and let the notes be clear and shrill as you dip your feet in the Jordan: “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

9. Dear friends, let the memory of the melodies of that upper room go with you tomorrow into business; and if you expect a great trial, and are afraid you will not be able to sing after it, then sing before it comes. Get your holy praise-work done before affliction mars the tune. Fill the air with music while you can. While there is still bread on the table, sing, though famine may threaten; while the child still runs laughing around the house, while the flush of health is still in your own cheek, while your goods are still spared, while your heart is still healthy and sound, lift up your song of praise to the Most High God; and let your Master, the singing Saviour, be your admirable and comforting example.

10. II. We will now consider THE SINGING OF THE DISCIPLES. They united in the “Hallel” — like true Jews, they joined in the national song. Israel had good reason to sing at the Passover, for God had accomplished for his people what he had done for no other nation on the face of the earth. Every Hebrew must have felt his soul elevated and glad on the Paschal night. He was “a citizen of no insignificant city,” and the pedigree which he could look back on was one, compared with which kings and princes were only of yesterday.

11. Remembering the fact commemorated by the Paschal supper, Israel might well rejoice. They sang of their nation in bondage, trodden beneath the tyrannical foot of Pharaoh; they began the Psalm very sorrowfully, as they thought of the bricks made without straw, and of the iron furnace; but the strain soon mounted from the deep bass, and began to climb the scale, as they sang of Moses the servant of God, and of the Lord appearing to him in the burning bush. They remembered the mystical rod, which became a serpent, and which swallowed up the rods of the magicians; their music told of the plagues and wonders which God had done on Zoan; and of that dread night when the firstborn of Egypt fell before the avenging sword of the angel of death, while they themselves, feeding on the lamb which had been slain for them, and when blood was sprinkled on the lintel and on the side-posts of the door, had been graciously preserved. Then the song went up concerning the hour in which all Egypt was humbled at the feet of Jehovah, while as for his people, he led them out like sheep, by the hand of Moses and Aaron, and they went by the way of the sea, even of the Red Sea. The strain rose even higher as they tuned the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb. Jubilantly they sang of the Red Sea, and of the chariots of Pharaoh which went down into the midst of it, and the depths covered them until there was not one of them left. It was a glorious chant indeed when they sang of Rahab cut in pieces, and of the dragon wounded at the sea, by the right hand of the Most High, for the deliverance of the chosen people.

12. But, beloved, if I have said that Israel could so properly sing, what shall I say of those of us who are the Lord’s spiritually redeemed? We have been emancipated from a slavery worse than that of Egypt: God has delivered us “with a high hand and with an outstretched arm.” The blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God’s Passover, has been sprinkled on our hearts and consciences. By faith we keep the Passover, for we have been spared; we have been brought out of Egypt; and though our sins once opposed us, they have all been drowned in the Red Sea of the atoning blood of Jesus: “the depths have covered them, there is not one of them left.” If the Jew could sing a “great Hallel,” our “Hallel” ought to be even more glowing; and if every house in “Judea’s happy land” was full of music when the people see the Paschal feast, how much more reason have we for filling every heart with sacred harmony tonight, while we feast on Jesus Christ, who was slain, and has redeemed us to God by his blood.

13. III. The time has now come for me to say HOW EARNESTLY I DESIRE YOU TO “SING A HYMN.”

14. I do not intend to ask you to use your voices, but let your hearts be brimming with the essence of praise. Whenever we go to the Lord’s table, which represents for us the Passover, we ought not to come to it as to a funeral. Let us select solemn hymns, but not dirges. Let us sing softly, but none the less joyfully. This is no burial feast; these are not funeral cakes which lie on this table, and that fair white linen cloth does not represent grave-clothes. “This is my body,” said Jesus, but the body so represented was no corpse; we feed on a living Christ. The blood represented by that wine is the fresh life-blood of our immortal King. We do not view our Lord’s body as clay-cold flesh, pierced with wounds, but as glorified at the right hand of the Father. We hold a happy festival when we break bread on the first day of the week. We do not come here trembling like slaves, cringing before the Lord as wretched serfs condemned to eat on their knees; we approach as freemen to our Lord’s banquet, like his disciples, to recline at length or sit as ease; not merely to eat bread which may belong to the most sorrowful, but to drink wine which belongs to men whose souls are glad. Let us recognise the rightness, yes, the duty of cheerfulness at this commemorative supper; and, therefore, let us “sing a hymn.”

15. Being satisfied on this point, perhaps you ask, “What hymn shall we sing?” Many kinds of hymns were sung in the olden time: look down the list, and you will scarcely find one which may not suit us now.

16. One of the earliest of earthy songs was the war-song. They sang of old a song to the conqueror, when he returned from the battle. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Women took their tambourines, and rejoiced in the dance when the hero returned from the war. Even so, of old, the people of God extolled him for his mighty acts, singing aloud with the high-sounding cymbals: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously … . The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.” My brethren, let us lift up a war-song tonight! Why not? “Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? he who is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Come, let us praise our Emmanuel, as we see the head of our foe in his right hand; as we behold him leading captives captive, ascending up on high, with trumpets’ joyful sound, let us chant the psalm; let us shout the war-song, “ Io Triumphe !” Behold, he comes, all-glorious from the war: as we gather at this festive table, which reminds us both of his conflict and of his victory, let us greet him with a psalm of glad triumph, which shall be only the prelude of the song we expect to sing when we get up —

    “Where all the singers meet.”

17. Another early form of song was the pastoral. When the shepherds sat down among the sheep, they tuned their pipes, and played soft and sweet airs in harmony with rustic tranquillity. All around was calm and still; the sun was brightly shining, and the birds were making melody among the leafy branches. Shall I seem fanciful if I say, “Let us unite in a pastoral tonight?” Sitting around the table, why should we not sing, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not lack. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me besides the still waters?” If there is a place beneath the stars where we might feel perfectly at rest and ease, surely it is at the table of the Lord. Here, then, let us sing to our great Shepherd a pastoral of delight. Let the bleating of sheep be in our ears as we remember the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his flock.

18. You do not need to be reminded that the ancients were very fond of festive songs. When they assembled at their great festivals, led by their chosen minstrels, they sang very joyfully, with boisterous mirth. Let those who will speak to the praise of wine, my soul shall extol the precious blood of Jesus; let whoever wishes laud grain and oil, the rich produce of the harvest, my heart shall sing of the Bread which came down from heaven, of which, if a man eats, he shall never hunger. Speak of royal banquets, and minstrelry fit for a monarch’s ear? Ours is a nobler festival, and our song is far sweeter. Here is room at this table tonight for all earth’s poetry and music, for the place deserved songs more lustrous with delight, more sparkling with gems of holy mirth, than any of which the ancients could conceive of.

19. The love-song we must not forget, for that is particularly the song of this evening. “Now I will sing to my Well-Beloved a song.” His love for us is an immortal theme; and as our love, fanned by the breath of heaven, bursts into a vehement flame, we may sing, yes, and we will sing among the lilies, a song of loves.

20. In the Old Testament, we find many Psalms called by the title, “A Song of Degrees.” This “Song of Degrees” is supposed by some to have been sung as the people ascended the temple steps, or made pilgrimages to the holy place. The strain often changes, sometimes it is dolorous, and immediately it is joyful; at one time, the notes are long drawn out and heavy, at another, they are cheerful and jubilant. We will sing a “Song of Degrees” tonight. We will mourn that we pierced the Lord, and we will rejoice in pardon bought with blood. Our strain must vary as we talk about sin, feeling its bitterness, and lamenting it, and then of pardon, rejoicing in its glorious fulness.

21. David wrote a considerable number of Psalms which he entitled “Maschil, ” which may be called in English, “Instructive Psalms.” Where, beloved, can we find richer instruction than at the table of our Lord? He who understands the mystery of incarnation, and of substitution, is a master in scriptural theology. There is more teaching in the Saviour’s body and in the Saviour’s blood than in all the world besides. Oh you who wish to learn the way to comfort, and how to tread the royal road to heavenly wisdom, come to the cross, and see the Saviour suffer, and pour out his heart’s blood for human sin!

22. Some of David’s Psalms are called, “Michtam, ” which means “Golden Psalm.” Surely we must sing one of these. Our psalms must be golden when we sing of the Head of the Church, who is as much fine gold. More precious than silver or gold is the inestimable price which he has paid for our ransom. Yes, you sons of harmony, bring your most melodious anthems here, and let your Saviour have your golden psalms!

23. Certain Psalms in the Old Testament, are entitled, “Upon Shoshannim, ” that is, “Upon the Lilies.” Oh you virgin souls, whose hearts have been washed in blood, and have been made white and pure, bring out your instruments of song; —

    Hither, then, your music bring,
    Strike aloud each cheerful string!

Let your hearts, when they are in their best state, when they are purest, and most cleansed from earthly dross, give to Jesus their glory and their excellence.

24. Then there are other Psalms which are dedicated “To the sons of Korah.” If the guess is right, the reason why we get the title, “To the sons of Korah” — “a song of loves” — must be this: that when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up, the sons of Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up, too; but the sons of Korah did not perish. Why they were not destroyed, we cannot tell. Perhaps it was that sovereign grace spared those whom justice might have doomed; and “the sons of Korah” were ever after made the sweet singers of the sanctuary; and whenever there was a special “song of loves,” it was always dedicated to them. Ah! we will have one of those songs of love tonight, around the table, for we, too, are saved by distinguishing grace. We will sing of the heavenly Lover, and the many waters which could not quench his love.

25. We have not half exhausted the list, but it is clear that, sitting at the Lord’s table, we shall have no lack of suitable psalmody. Perhaps no one hymn will quite meet the sentiments of all; and while we would not write a hymn for you, we would pray the Holy Spirit to write now the spirit of praise, on your hearts, so that, sitting here, you may “after supper” sing “a hymn.”

26. IV. For one or two minutes let us ask, WHAT SHALL THE TUNE BE?

27. It must be a strange one, for if we are to sing “a hymn” tonight, around the table, the tune must have all the parts of music. That believer is heavy-hearted through various sorrows, bereavements, and watchings by the sick. He loves his Lord, and would gladly praise him, but his soul refuses to use her wings. Brother, we will have a tune in which you can join, and you shall lead the bass. You shall sing of your fellowship with your Beloved in his sufferings; how he, too, lost a friend; how he spent whole nights in sleeplessness; how his soul was extremely sorrowful. But the tune must not be all bass, or it would not suit all of us tonight, for we can reach the highest note. We have seen the Lord, and our spirit has rejoiced in God our Saviour. We want to lift the chorus high; yes, there are some here who are at times so full of joy that they will need special music written for them. “Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell”; said Paul, and so have others said since, when Christ has been with them. Ah! then they have been obliged to mount to the highest notes, to the very loftiest range of song.

28. Remember, beloved, that the same Saviour, who will accept the joyful shoutings of the strong, will also receive the plaintive notes of the weak and weeping. You little ones, you babes in grace, may cry, “Hosanna,” and the King will not silence you; and you strong men, with all your power of faith, may shout, “Hallelujah!” and your notes shall be accepted, too.

29. Come, then, let us have a tune in which we can all unite; but ah! we cannot make one which will suit the dead, — the dead, I mean, “in trespasses and sins,” — and there are some such here. Oh, may God open their mouths, and free their tongues; but as for those of us who are alive to God, let us, as we come to the table, all contribute our own share of the music, and so make up a song of blended harmony, with many parts, one great united song of praise to Jesus our Lord!

30. We should choose a tune for the communion table which is very soft. These are no boisterous themes with which we have to deal when we are here. A bleeding Saviour, robed in a vesture dyed with blood, — this is a theme which you must treat with loving gentleness, for everything that is coarse is out of place. While the tune is soft, it must also be sweet. Silence, you doubts; be dumb, you fears; be hushed, you cares! Why do you come here? My music must be sweet and soft when I sing of him. But oh! it must also be strong; there must be a full swell in my praise. Pull out all the stops, and let the organ swell the diapason! {a} In fulness let its roll of thundering harmony go up to heaven; let every note be sounded at its loudest. “Praise him on the cymbals, on the high-sounding cymbals; on the harp with a solemn sound.” Soft, sweet, and strong, let the music be.

31. Alas! you complain that your soul is out of tune. Then ask the Master to tune the heart-strings. Those “Selahs” which we find so often in the Psalms, are supposed by many scholars to mean, “Put the harp-strings in tune”: truly we require many “Selahs,” for our hearts are constantly unstrung. Oh, that tonight the Master would enable each one of us to offer that tuneful prayer which we so often sing, —

    Teach me some melodious sonnet,
       Sung by flaming tongues above:
    Praise the mount — oh, fix me on it,
       Mount of God’s unchanging love!

32. V. We close by enquiring, WHO SHALL SING THIS HYMN?

33. Sitting around the Father’s table, we will raise a joyful song, but who shall do it? “I will,” one says; “and we will,” say others. What is the reason why so many are willing to join? The reason is to be found in the verse we were singing just now, —

    When he’s the subject of the song,
       Who can refuse to sing?

34. What! a Christian silent when others are praising his Master? No; he must join in the song. Satan tries to make God’s people dumb, but he cannot, for the Lord does not have a tongue-tied child in all his family. They can all speak, and they can all cry, even if they cannot all sing, and I think there are times when they can all sing; yes, they must, for you know the promise, “Then the tongue of the dumb shall sing.” Surely, when Jesus leads the tune, if there should be any silent ones in the Lord’s family, they must begin to praise the name of the Lord. After Giant Despair’s head had been cut off, Christiana and Mr. Great-Heart, and all the rest of them, brought out the best of the provisions, and made a feast, and Mr. Bunyan says that, after they had feasted, they danced. In the dance there was one remarkable dancer, namely, Mr. Ready-to-Halt. Now, Mr. Ready-to-Halt usually went on crutches, but for once he laid them aside. “And,” says Bunyan, “I warrant you he footed it well!” This is quaintly showing us that, sometimes, the very sorrowful ones, the Ready-to-Halts, when they see Giant Despair’s head cut off, when they see death, hell, and sin led in triumphant captivity at the wheels of Christ’s victorious chariot, feel that even they must for once indulge in a song of gladness. So, when I ask the question tonight, “Who will sing?” I trust that Ready-to-Halt will promise, “I will”

35. You do not have much comfort at home, perhaps; by very hard work you can earn that little. The Lord’s day is a day of true rest for you, for you are worked very cruelly all the week. Those cheeks of yours, poor girl, are getting very pale, and who knows if Hood’s pathetic line may be true of you?

    Stitch, stitch, stitch,
       In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
    Sewing at once, with a double thread,
       A shroud as well as a shirt.

But, my sister, you may surely rejoice tonight in spite of all this. There may be little on earth, but there is much in heaven. There may be very little comfort for you here apart from Christ; but oh when, by faith, you mount into his glory, your soul is glad. You shall be as rich as the richest tonight if the Holy Spirit shall only bring you to the table, and enable you to feed on your Lord and Master. Perhaps you have come here tonight when you ought not to have done so. The physician would have told you to stay in your bed, but you persisted in coming up to the house where the Lord has so often met you. I trust that we shall hear your voice in the song. There appear to have been, in David’s day, many things to silence the praise of God, but David was one who would sing. I like that expression of his, where the devil seems to come up, and put his hand on his mouth, and say, “Be quiet.” “No,” says David, “I will sing.” Again the devil tries to quiet him, but David is not to be silenced, for three times he says it, “I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” May the Lord make you resolve, tonight, that you will praise the Lord Jesus with all your heart!

36. Alas! there are many of you here whom I could not invite to this feast of song, and who could not truly come if you were invited. Your sins are not forgiven; your souls are not saved; you have not trusted Christ; you are still in nature’s darkness, still in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity. Must it always be so? Will you destroy yourselves? Have you made a league with death, and a covenant with hell? Mercy lingers! Longsuffering continues! Jesus waits! Remember that he hung on the cross for sinners such as you are, and that if you believe in him now, you shall be saved. One act of faith, and all the sin you have committed is blotted out. A single glance of faith’s eye to the wounds of the Messiah, and your load of iniquity is rolled into the depths of the sea, and you are forgiven in a moment!

37. “Oh!” one says, “if only I could believe!” Poor soul, may God help you to believe now! God took on himself our flesh; Christ was born among men, and suffered on account of human guilt, being made to suffer “the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God.” Christ was punished in the room, place, and stead of every man and woman who will believe in him. If you believe in him, he was punished for you; and you will never be punished. Your debts are paid, your sins are forgiven. God cannot punish you, for he has punished Christ instead of you, and he will never punish twice for one offence. To believe is to trust. If you will now trust your soul entirely with him, you are saved, for he loved you, and gave himself for you. When you know this, and feel it to be true, then come to the Lord’s table, and join with us, when, AFTER SUPPER WE SING OUR HYMN, —

       “It is finished!” — Oh what pleasure,
       Do these charming words afford!
    Heavenly blessings without measure
       Flow to us from Christ the Lord:
          “It is finished!”
       Saints, the dying words record.
    Tune your harps anew, ye seraphs,
       Join to sing the pleasing theme;
    All on earth, and all in heaven,
       Join to praise Emmanuel’s name;
    Glory to the bleeding Lamb!

{a} Diapason: Complete concord, harmony, or agreement. Obs. OED.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — ‘Altogether Lovely’ ” 421}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Jesus’ Love” 439}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — ‘It Is Finish’d’ ” 300}

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 26:20-30 1Co 11:20-26}

Reading from Matthew: —

26:20. Now when the evening was come, he sat down with the twelve.

Why so many people celebrate the Lord’s supper in the morning, I cannot imagine, unless it is that they desire to do everything contrary to their Lord’s command and example: “When the evening was come, he sat down with the twelve.” I do not think there is any binding ordinance making the evening the only time for the observance of this ordinance; but to make the morning the only time is certainly not according to the Word of God.

21, 22. And as they ate, he said, “Truly I say to you, that one of you shall betray me.” And they were very sorrowful, —

There was enough to make them sorrowful in the fact that their Lord had just told them that one of the twelve who were his body-guard, his closest companions, his nearest and dearest friends, would betray him. “They were very sorrowful,” —

22. And everyone of them began to say to him, “Lord, is it I?”

It shows a beautiful trait in their character that they did not suspect each other, and least of all, I suppose, did they suspect Judas; but each one asked, “Lord, is it I?” It is an admirable way of hearing a sermon to take it home to yourself, especially if there is a rebuke or a caution in it.

23, 24. And he answered and said, “He who dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

The doom of the wicked is something far worse than non-existence, or Christ would not have said, concerning Judas Iscariot, “It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.” This is especially true of all those who, having for a while consorted with Christ, afterwards deny him and betray him. Oh brothers and sisters, may all of us be kept from this terrible sin! May none of us ever betray our Master after all the fellowship we have had with him! It would be better to die for him than to deny him; and it would be better never to have been born than to have been in intimate association with him, and then to have betrayed him.

23. Then Judas, who betrayed him, answered and said, “Master, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said.”

“It is even so,” With a sorrowful gesture, he made it plain to his sad little circle of friends and followers that he knew all that was going to happen, and that Judas was the man who was going to turn traitor.

26. And as they were eating, —

As they were eating the Passover. The one ordinance gradually melted into the other: “As they were eating,” —

26, 27. Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink all of it;

“Each one of you, my disciples, take a draught of this cup.”

28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

They had had gross sin brought prominently to their minds; they had had a personal reminder of their own liability to sin; and now they were to have a personal pledge concerning the pardon of sin: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sin.”

29. But I say to you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Taking, as it were, the great Nazarite vow never to taste from the fruit of the vine “until that day.” He will keep his tryst with us, my brethren; and we shall drink the new vine of his Father’s kingdom with him eventually; but, until then, he waits.

30. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.

Reading from First Corinthians: —

11:20. When you come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.

Merely meeting together, each person bringing his or her own portion of bread and wine, and each one eating the provided portion, was not celebrating the Lord’s supper.

21. For in eating everyone takes before others his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunk.

Bad as some professing Christians are even now, they are not so bad as these Corinthians were. One was hungry, and another was drunk, because they had turned the holy feast into a kind of banquet of a most disorderly kind. There was nothing in their conduct to indicate true Christian fellowship. The very meaning of the ordinance was lost in the fact that each one was feasting himself without fear.

22. What do you not have houses to eat and to drink in? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

The Lord’s supper is not to be made an opportunity for eating and drinking in disorderly self-enjoyment. It is a hallowed and holy institution, illustrating the fellowship of true believers with each other, and with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul was an apostle, yet he had not been present at the institution of the Lord’s supper, so he had a special revelation given to him concerning the way in which this ordinance is to be observed.

23. For I have received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, —

That is the right kind of teaching which a man first receives from God, and then delivers to the people. Nothing is of authority in the Christian ministry unless we can say concerning it, “I have received from the Lord what I also delivered to you,” —

23. That the Lord Jesus the same night when he was betrayed took bread; —

What a sad aspect is given to the Lord’s supper by the fact that it was instituted “the same night when he was betrayed.” Never forget that. May God grant that none of us may betray our Lord tonight, or any other night! It would be the darkest night in our life should it ever be so: “The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread”; —

24, 25. And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: do this in memory of me.” In the same way he also took the cup, when he had supped, saying, “This cup is the new testament —

“The New Covenant” —

25, 26. In my blood: do this as often as you drink it, in memory of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you commemorate the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Jesus Christ, His Praise
421 — “Altogether Lovely”
1 To Christ the Lord let every tongue
      Its noblest tribute bring:
   When he’s the subject of the song,
      Who can refuse to sing?
2 Survey the beauties of his face,
      And on his glories dwell;
   Think of the wonders of his grace,
      And all his triumphs tell.
3 Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
      Upon his awful brow;
   His head with radiant glories crown’d,
      His lips with grace o’erflow.
4 No mortal can with him compare,
      Among the sons of men;
   Fairer he is than all the fair
      That fill the heavenly train.
5 He saw me plunged in deep distress,
      He flew to my relief:
   For me he bore the shameful cross,
      And carried all my grief.
6 To heaven, the place of his abode,
      He brings my weary feet:
   Shows me the glories of my God,
      And makes my joys complete.
                     Samuel Stennett, 1787.

Jesus Christ, His Praise
439 — Jesus’ Love <7s.>
1 Sweet the theme of Jesus’ love!
   Sweet the theme all themes above;
   Love unmerited and free,
   Our triumphant song shall be.
2 Love, so vast that nought can bound;
   Love, too deep for thought to sound;
   Love, which made the Lord of all
   Drink the wormwood and the gall.
3 Love, which led him to the cross,
   Bearing there unutter’d loss;
   Love, which brought him to the gloom
   Of the cold and darksome tomb.
4 Love which made him hence arise
   Far above the starry skies,
   There with tender, loving care,
   All his people’s griefs to share.
5 Love, which will not let him rest
   Till his chosen all are blest;
   Till they all for whom he died
   Live rejoicing by his side.
                     Albert Midlane, 1864, a.

Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
300 — “It Is Finish’d” <8.7.4.>
1 Hark! the voice of love and mercy
      Sounds aloud from Calvary!
   See! it rends the rocks asunder,
      Shakes the earth and veils the sky!
         “It is finish’d!”
      Hear the dying Saviour cry.
2 “It is finish’d!” — Oh what pleasure
      Do these charming words afford!
   Heavenly blessings without measure
      Flow to us from Christ the Lord:
         “It is finish’d!”
      Saints, the dying words record.
3 Finish’d all the types and shadows
      Of the ceremonial law!
   Finish’d all that God had promised;
      Death and hell no more shall awe:
         “It is finish’d!”
      Saints, from hence your comfort draw.
4 Tune your harps anew, ye seraphs,
      Join to sing the pleasing theme;
   All on earth, and all in heaven,
      Join to praise Immanuel’s name!
      Glory to the bleeding Lamb!
                     Jonathan Evans, 1787.

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.

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