3046. One Of The Master's Choice Sayings

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A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, June 27, 1907.

But Jesus said to them, “They need not depart.” {Mt 14:16}

1. Of course the Master was right, but he appeared to speak unreasonably. It seemed self-evident that the people very much needed to depart. They had been hearing the preacher all day long, most of them had not broken their fast, and they were ready to faint for hunger. The only chance of their being fed was to let them break up into small parties, and forage for themselves among the surrounding villages. But our Lord declared that there was no necessity for them to go away from him, even though they were hungry, and famished, and in a deserted place. Now, if there was no necessity for hungry hearers to go away, much less will it ever be necessary for loving disciples to depart from him. If these, who were hearers only, — and the majority of them were nothing more, a congregation collected by curiosity, and held together by the charm of his eloquence, and by the renown of his miracles, — if these did not need to depart, much less did they need to depart who are his own friends and companions, his chosen and beloved. If the crowds did not need through hunger to depart physically, much less do any of the saints need to depart spiritually from their Lord. There is no necessity that our communion with Christ should ever be suspended.

   To walk with Christ from morn till eve,

   In him to breathe, in him to live, — 

is no mere wish, no visionary’s prayer; it may be experienced; we need not depart from Jesus. There is no need that the spouse of Christ should wander from beneath the banner of his love. Mary may always sit at Jesus’ feet. There is no law which says to holy fellowship, “So far you shall come, but no further; here your communion shall cease!” There is no set hour when the gate of communion with Christ must inevitably be closed. We may continue to come up from the wilderness, leaning on the Beloved. We “need not depart.” Yet it is so commonly thought to be a matter of course that we should wander from our Lord, that I shall ask for strength from heaven to combat the harmful opinion.

2. I. Brothers and sisters in Christ, THERE IS NO PRESENT NECESSITY FOR YOUR DEPARTING FROM CHRIST. At this moment, we may truthfully say of all the saints of God, “They need not depart.”

3. There is nothing in your circumstances which compels you to cease from following close after your Lord. You are very poor, you say; but you need not depart from Christ because of penury, for, in the depths of distress, the saints have enjoyed the richest presence of their once homeless Lord. Your poverty may be pinching you at this very moment; to be relieved from that pinch, you need not break away from Jesus, for fellowship with him may be maintained under the most dire extremity of poverty; indeed, your need increases your necessity to walk closely with your Lord, so that patience may have its perfect work, and your soul may be sustained by the mighty consolations which flow out of nearness to Jesus. Poverty shall not separate the soul from communion with him who hungered in the wilderness, and thirsted on the cross. You tell me that, in order to relieve your necessities, you are compelled to exercise great care and anxiety; but all the cares which are useful and allowable are such as will allow for the continuance of fellowship with Christ. You may care as much as you ought to care, — and I need not say how little that is, — and yet you need not depart from him who cares for you. But you tell me that, in addition to deep thought, you have to expend much labour in order to provide things honest in the sight of all men. Yes, but you need not depart from Christ for that reason. The carpenter’s Son is not ashamed of the sons of toil; he who wore the garment without seam does not despise the peasant’s smock or the servant’s apron. Labour is no enemy to communion; idleness is a far more likely separator of the soul from Christ. Jesus did not reveal himself to the idlers in Herod’s court but to hard-working fishermen by the lake of Galilee. If Satan is never far away from the idle, it is pretty plain that it is no disadvantage to be busy. A toil amounting to slavery may weaken the body, and prostrate the spirit; but even when heart and flesh fail, the heart may call the Lord its portion. There is no service beneath the sun so arduous that you need depart from Christ in it; but rather, while the limbs are weary, the spirit should find its rest in drawing nearer to him who can strengthen the weak, and give rest to the labouring and heavy laden.

4. Do you tell me that you are rich? Ah, indeed, how often has this made men depart from Christ!

Gold and the gospel seldom do agree;
Religion always sides with poverty.

So said John Bunyan, and his saying is true. Too often, the glitter of wealth has dazzled men’s eyes so that they could not see the beauty of Christ Jesus; but, oh you few wealthy saints, you need not depart! The camel can go through the needle’s eye, for, “with God, all things are possible.” Men have worn coronets on earth, and inherited crowns in heaven. He who was the man after God’s own heart swayed a sceptre. To grow rich in substance does not make it inevitable that you should become poor in grace. Do riches bring you many responsibilities and burdens, and are you so much occupied with them that your fellowship with the Lord grows slack? It should not be so; you need not depart from him. You can bring those responsibilities and the wealth itself to Jesus, and communion with him will prevent the gold from cankering, and the responsibility from involving you in sin. Very often, the servant of God, who ministers to the Church of Christ, finds so much to do in watching over the souls of others, and in caring for the various needs of the flock, that he is in danger of losing his own personal enjoyment of his Lord’s presence; but, it need not be so. We can make all our many works subservient to our personal communion with our Lord; and, as the bee flies to many flowers, and gathers honey from each one, so may we, out of many forms of service, extract a sweet conformity to him who was always about his Father’s business. We need not be “encumbered” either with much serving or with much suffering. Our surroundings are not to be our sovereigns, but our subjects. We are, in all these things, to be “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

5. Brethren, you need not depart because of anything in Christ Jesus. Those whom we love most would not desire us to be always with them, and never out of their sight. A guest is very welcome, but the proverb says that after three days he is stale. A mother does not always want her child in her arms; his face is the epitome of beauty, but, in the evening, she is glad that those dear blue eyes no longer shine on her; she is happy to lay her treasure in his cradle basket. We do not always wish for the company of those whom we love; if they will condense their request, and do their errand rapidly, we are best content. But Jesus Christ says to us, his poor dependents, his crying children, “You need not depart.” When we are weeping, he will lay us in his bosom, and give us rest; when we are famishing, he will entertain us at his royal table until we forget our misery. He is “a Friend who sticks closer than a brother” in this respect, for we need not, in this case, heed the wise man’s caution, “Do not go into your brother’s house in the day of your calamity,” for we may, at all times and seasons, resort to our elder Brother. We may ask him, “Where do you dwell?” and when we receive his answer, we may go out and dwell with him, and make his house our home. Do you not remember his words, “Abide in me?” Not merely “Abide with me,” but “Abide in me.” The closest contact with Christ may be maintained with the utmost constancy.

   Ye need not depart, ye may tarry for aye,

   Unchanged is his heart, he invites you to stay;

   He does not despise nor grow weary of you,

   You’re fair in his eyes, and most comely to view;

   Then wish not to roam, but abide with your Lord;

   Since he is your home, go no longer abroad;

   Lie down on his breast in unbroken repose,

   For there you may rest, though surrounded with foes.

6. II. Secondly, NO FUTURE NECESSITY WILL EVER ARISE TO COMPEL YOU TO DEPART FROM JESUS. It will always be true, “You need not depart.”

7. You do not know what your needs will be; yet, though you are no prophet, your words will be true if you affirm that no need shall ever necessarily separate you from Jesus, because your needs will rather bind you to him. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell”; “and from his fulness we have all received, and grace for grace.” We will draw nearer to him, in time of need, to obtain the grace we lack. We shall never be forced to go elsewhere to find supplies for our spiritual needs. There stands another trader over the way, who gladly would have you deal with him, — “his Infallible Holiness,” as he calls himself, — but, ah! if you want infallibility, you need not wander from him who is “the Truth”; and if you desire holiness, you need not withdraw from him who was the “holy child Jesus.” To gain all that the superstitious profess to find in Babylon, you need not depart from the Son of David, who reigns in Zion. They tell us that we must confess our sins to a priest; we will stay at home, and lay bare our hearts to the great High Priest, who “sprang out of Judah,” and who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” They teach that we must receive absolution from one chosen from among men to forgive sins; we go at once to him who was raised from the dead “so that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” They tell us that we should continue in morning and evening prayers; we do so, and offer our “matins” {a} and our “vespers” {b} where no bells call us except the bells on our High Priest’s garments. Our daily office may not be according to “the use of Sarum,” {c} but it is according to the use of those who “worship God in spirit and in truth.” They extol their daily sacrifice of the Mass; but in him, who “offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,” we find our All in all. His “flesh is food indeed,” and his “blood drink indeed.” You “need not depart” to pope or priest, church or altar, for you may rest assured that there dwells in the man Christ Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, all that your spiritual wants shall need for their supply; and, on no occasion, for any needs that can by any possibility arise, do you need to go down into Egypt for help, or rely on Assyria or Babylon.

8. You will experience great trials as well as great needs. That young man, fresh from the country, has come to town to live in a godless family; and, last night, he was laughed at when he knelt down to pray. My young friend, you need not forsake the faith, for other saints have endured more severe ordeals than yours, and have still rejoiced in the Lord. Yours are only the trials of cruel mockings; they were stoned, and sawn asunder, yet neither persecution, nor nakedness, nor sword, separated them from the love of God in Christ Jesus their Lord. Many also are those with whom God, in his providence, deals severely; all his waves and billows go over them, through much tribulation they enter the kingdom, and everything in the future forebodes multiplied adversities; but, yet, “they need not depart” from Jesus their Friend. If, like Paul, you should come to a place where two seas meet; if you should experience a double trouble, and if neither sun nor moon should give you cheer, yet you need not suspend, but may rather deepen your fellowship with the Man of sorrows. Christ is with you in the tempest-tossed vessel, and you, and those who sail with you, shall yet come to the desired haven; therefore, be of good courage, and do not let your hearts be troubled. The Son of God will be with you in the seven-times-heated furnace. He has said, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.” This proves beyond a doubt that you “need not depart” from Christ in great trials.

9. You will also encounter many difficulties between here and heaven. Those who paint the road to glory in rose-colour have never trodden it. Many are the hills and dales between this Jericho and the city of the great King. Let whoever will be without trials, Christians will have their full share of them; but there shall come no difficulty, of any kind, between here and paradise, which shall necessitate the soul’s going anywhere but to her gracious Lord for guidance, for consolation, for strength, or for anything besides. Little do we know of the walls to be leaped or the troops to be overcome, but we know very well that never need we depart from the Captain of our salvation, or call in other helpers.

10. Death will probably befall us, but we “need not depart” from Jesus in the hour of our departure out of this world. On the contrary, when the death-dew lies cold on our brow, we will sing, — 

   “If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now;” — 

and we will say, with the apostle Paul, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Straight on into eternity, and on, and on for ever, that word “Depart” never need cross our path. As never in eternity will the great Judge pronounce the sentence, “Depart, you cursed,” on his saints, so never in his providence, nor in the most severe trial, will he render it necessary that the saints should in any sense depart from him.

   Never, oh time, in thy darkest hour

      Shall I need depart from him,

   Though round me thy blackest tempests lower

      And both sun and moon grow dim.

   Faster and faster each grief shall bind

      My soul to her Lord above;

   And all the woes that assail my mind

      Shall drive me to rest in his love.

There is no necessity, then, in the present, and there will be none in the future, for departing from communion with the Lord.

11. III. Thirdly, “they need not depart”; that is to say, NO FORCE CAN COMPEL THE CHRISTIAN TO DEPART FROM JESUS.

12. The world can tempt us to depart, and, alas! too successfully does it seduce with its fascinating blandishments. Its frowns alarm the cowardly, and its smiles delude the unwary, but no one need depart. If we have grace enough to play the man, Madam Bubble cannot lead us astray. “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.” We need not be taken in the world’s traps; there is One who can deliver us from the snare of the fowler. We are not ignorant of the devices of Satan, and the temptations of the world; we are not compelled to fall from our steadfastness; and if we do so, it is our wilful fault. There is no necessity for it. Many live above the world, — many in as difficult circumstances as ours. There are those in heaven who have found as hard hand-to-hand fighting in the spiritual life as we do; yet they were not vanquished, nor need we be; for the same strength which was given to them is also available for us.

13. “But,” one says, “you do not know where I live.” Perhaps not. “You do not know what I have to endure,” cries another. Most true; but I know where my Lord lived, and I have read that he endured “such hostility from sinners against himself” that Paul holds him up as a pattern for all his people; yet he did not depart from holiness, nor from love for you. “You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin.” Perseverance to the end is possible for every believer; indeed, it is promised to him, and he may have it for the seeking. You need not depart from Christ, my young friend; the world cannot drag you from Jesus, though it may entice you. Do not yield, and you shall stand; for “there has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted more than what you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it.”

14. Satan is a very cunning tempter of the souls of men; but, though he would gladly constrain you to depart from your Lord, you need not do his bidding. Satan is strong, but Christ is stronger. His temptations are insinuating, but you are no longer in darkness that you should be deceived by him. You “need not depart.” Even though surprising temptation should assault you unawares, it ought not to find you sleeping. Has not Christ said, “What I say to you, I say to all, ‘Watch’”? You will not be surprised if holy anxiety stands sentinel to your soul. Prayer and watchfulness will warn you of the enemy’s approach, and therefore you need not be driven to forsake your Lord.

15. Indeed, but, it may be that, in addition to the world and to Satan, you are very conscious of the terrible depravity of your own heart; and, indeed, that is the chief reason for fear. The heart is deceitful, prone to wander, and ready enough to depart from the living God; but you “need not depart” from the Master because of that. The new-born nature takes up arms against the body of sin and death, the Holy Spirit also dwells within to conquer indwelling sin. Shall not the life which is from above subdue the natural death? Shall not the Spirit of God purge out the old leaven? You “need not depart” from Jesus. It is true that you have a fiery temper, but it must not prevail; there is a cure for that plague. Perhaps we are inclined to levity, but we need not let our frivolous nature reign; grace can overcome it, and will. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” There is no unconquerable sin; there is no Dagon that shall not be broken in the presence of the ark of God, there is no temple of the Philistines which shall not fall beneath the might of our greater Samson. We need not, as the result of temperament, or because of any sin that does so easily besets us, depart from Jesus, for grace is equal to all emergencies.

16. Do you remember that there may be another force employed besides that of the world, or of Satan, or the corruption within, namely, the lamentable coldness of the Christian Church? Truly, it is to be feared that more have departed from close walking with Christ through the chilliness of inconsistent professors than for almost any other reason. Newborn children of God too often feel the atmosphere of the church to be as freezing as that of an ice-well; {d} their holy warmth of zeal is frozen, and their limbs are stiffened into a rigor of inactivity, so that it is a marvel that they do not die; — and they would die if it were not for the spiritual life immortal and eternal. But, brethren, even in the midst of the coldest church, we “need not depart” from a near and elevated fellowship with the Lord. The church of Rome is a church defiled with error and debased with superstition, but was there ever a nobler Christian woman in this world than Madame de la Motte-Guyon? {e} She did not depart from Christ, though in the midst of a pestilent atmosphere. Remember, too, the names of Jansenius, and Arnold, and Pascal, and Fénélon, which are an honour to the universal Church of Christ; who ever walked in closer communion with Christ than those holy men did? In the midst of the darkest ages, there have shone out the brightest stars; and John wrote, by inspiration, “You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments.” I am told often by some brother in a country village, where the minister seems to have gone to sleep twenty years ago, and has never awakened since, that he finds it very hard to rejoice in the Lord, for his Sabbaths are a burden instead of a joy. My dear brother, you need all the more grace, if this is your case. You must have more vitality within if you see so much death without. You “need not depart” from Christ; on the contrary, by becoming an example of living near to Christ yourself, you may be the means of quickening others; for, thank God, grace is contagious as well as sin. At any rate, it is certain that, though many influences may seduce us, no force can compel us to depart from Jesus.

      No power in earth or hell

      Can force me to depart;

   Christ is my strength unconquerable,

      He fortifies my heart.

      Fixed in his love I stand,

      And none shall drive me thence;

   Enclosed I am within the hand

      Of Love’s omnipotence.

17. IV. Regarded from another angle, our text may teach us that THERE IS NO IMPOSSIBILITY IN KEEPING CLOSE TO THE BELOVED.

18. Many believers think that, if they have fellowship every now and then with Jesus, with long intervals between, they are quite as much advanced as they need be, and have probably reached as far as human nature is ever likely to go. An affectation of superfine godliness is suspicious; but, at the same time, a higher standard of religion than is commonly seen among professors, at this time, can be maintained, and ought to be maintained. We ought to attain to such a walk with God, to so calm and serene a frame, that the light which shines on our pathway shall be constant and clear. “Enoch walked with God” for hundreds of years; so can a man not, nowadays, walk with God for twenty years? Enoch lived in the dark age of the world, comparatively; so can we not, who live under the gospel age, continuously walk with God? Enoch fathered sons and daughters, and so had all the cares of a household; yet he walked with God; so can we not, who have the same cares, yet still by divine grace, be enabled to maintain unbroken communion with Christ? I know the place is high where they stand who consciously remain in Christ, but will you not strive to climb there, and bathe your foreheads in the everlasting sunlight of Jehovah’s face? I know that it would require most jealous walking; but you serve a jealous God, and he demands holy jealousy from you. Oh, the joy of living in the embrace of Jesus, and never departing from it! Oh, the bliss always of sitting at his feet, remaining with the Bridegroom, and listening to his voice! Surely the gain is worth the exertion, and the prize is worthy of the struggle. Let us not, since the attainment is not impossible, murmur at the difficulty; but, rather, in faith, let us ask that we may begin tonight to achieve the blessed result, and continue to achieve it until we are privileged to see the face of Christ in heaven. Others have done so; why should not we?

19. Brethren, the way to maintain fellowship with Christ is very simple. If you desire to retain in your mouth all day the flavour of the “wines on the lees well-refined,” take care that you drink deeply from them by morning devotion. Do not waste those few minutes which you allot to morning prayer. Lay a text on your tongue, and, like a wafer made with honey, it shall sweeten your soul until nightfall. During the day, when you can do so, think about your Redeemer, his person, his work; pray to him, and ask him to speak to you. All the day long, lean on the Beloved. During the day, serve him, and constantly say, “Lord, how can I best serve you in my calling?” Consecrate the kitchen, consecrate the workplace; make every place holy by glorifying the Lord there. Converse much with him, and it will not be impossible for you to remain in him from the year’s beginning to its close. You “need not depart.” There is no mental or spiritual impossibility in the maintenance of unbroken communion with Christ, if the Holy Spirit is your Helper.


21. Suppose that the search after happiness is the great focus of our life, as the old philosophers assert, then we “need not depart” from Jesus to win it, for he is heaven below. If you desire pleasure, do not forget that the pleasures of God which are in Christ, — his joy, the joy that fills his great heart, — are more than enough to fill your heart. I sometimes hear people say, as an excuse for professors going to doubtful places of amusement, “You know, they must have some recreation.” Yes, I know; but the re-creation, which the Christian experienced when he was born again, has so completely made all things new to him, that the vile rubbish called recreation by the world is so insipid to him, that he might as well try to fill himself with fog as to satisfy his soul with such utter vanity. No; the Christian finds happiness in Christ Jesus; and when he needs pleasure, he does not depart from Jesus.

22. Perhaps it is said that, we require a little excitement now and then, for excitement gives a little stimulus to life, and is as useful to it as stirring is to a fire. I know it, and I trust you may have excitement, for the medicinal power of a measure of exhilaration and excitement is great; but you “need not depart” from Christ to get it, for there is such a thing as the soul’s dancing at the sound of his name, while all the sanctified passions are lifted up in the ways of the Lord. Holy mirth will sometimes so bubble up, and overflow in the soul, that the man will say, with Paul, “Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knows.” Joy in Christ can rise to ecstasy, and soar aloft to bliss. If you desire to wear the highest crown of joy, you “need not depart” from Christ.

23. But it is said, “We require food for our intellect; a man needs to develop his intellectual faculties; he needs to learn what will enlarge and expand his mind.” Certainly, by all kinds of means. But, oh beloved brother, you “need not depart” from Christ to get this, for the science of Christ crucified is the most excellent, comprehensive, and sublime of all the sciences! It is the only infallible science in the circle of knowledge. Moreover, by all true science, you will find Christ honoured, and not dishonoured; and your learning, if it is true learning, will not make you depart from Christ, but lead you to see more of his creating and ruling wisdom. The most profound astronomer admires the Sun of righteousness; the best-taught geologist has no quarrel with the Rock of Ages; the one most adept in mathematics marvels at him who is the sum-total of the universe; he who knows the most about the physical, if he knows properly, loves the spiritual, and reverences God in Christ Jesus. To imagine that, to be wise, one needs to forsake the Incarnate Wisdom, is insanity. Indeed, to reach the highest degree of attainment in true learning, there is no reason for departing from Christ.

24.We must have friends and acquaintances,” one says. You “need not depart” from Christ to get them. We admit that a young woman does well to enter the marriage state; a young man is safer and better for having a wife; but, my dear young friends, you need not break Christ’s law, and depart from him in order to find a good husband or a good wife. His rule is that you should not be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers”; it is a wise and kind rule, and is an assistance rather than a hindrance to a fit marriage. “But,” one says, “I do not intend to depart from Christ, though I am about to marry an unconverted person.” Rest assured that you are departing from Jesus by that act. I have never yet found a single case in which marriages of this kind have been blessed by God. I know that young women say, “Do not be too severe, sir, I shall bring him around.” You will certainly fail. You are sinning in marrying under that idea. If you break Christ’s law, you cannot expect Christ’s blessing. To be happy in future life with a suitable partner, you “need not depart” from Jesus. There is nothing in life you can want that is truly desirable, nothing that can promote your welfare, nothing that is really good for you, that can ever make it necessary for you to depart from the Lord Jesus Christ.

25. Now, if this is true, do not some of us feel very guilty? I could weep to think that I have so often departed from close fellowship with my Lord and Master, when I need not have done it. I am cast down, and weary, and encumbered with much serving, occasionally. I know my faith is in Christ; but I do not have the calm, unstaggering faith I desire to have; but I know that, with a thousand cares, (and I have ten thousand,) I need not for a moment lose serenity and peace of mind, if I can reach the place which, by God’s grace, I will reach yet. Do you not feel ashamed that your family troubles, and perhaps your family joys, have taken you away from your Saviour? Some of you have a great deal of leisure, and yet you slide away from Christ. Let us be ashamed together; but let us remember that, while this verse stands true, if we have departed from Christ, and the enjoyment of his fellowship, we can offer no excuse by saying that we could not help it. We do it wilfully, we do it sinfully. It is not to be thrust on the back of circumstances; it cannot be laid on the devil; nor blamed on this, nor blamed on that; it is our own fault. We “need not depart”; there never was any need for it, and there never will be. May God’s grace descend mightily on us, so that we may henceforth remain in our Lord! May those who do not know him be led to seek him by faith even now, and find him, and then even they shall not need to depart from him at the last.

{a} Matins: The order for public morning prayer in the Church of England since the Reformation. OED.
{b} Vespers: Applied to the Evening Prayer or Evensong of the Church of England. OED.
{c} Sarum Use: the order of divine service used in the diocese of Salisbury from the 11th century to the Reformation. OED.
{d} Ice well: A cold storage pit containing a solid cake of ice built up during freezing weather. Editor.
{e} Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (commonly known as Madame Guyon) (April 18, 1648-June 9, 1717) was a French mystic and one of the key advocates of Quietism, although she never called herself a Quietist. Quietism was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and she was imprisoned from 1695 to 1703 after publishing a book on the topic, A Short and Easy Method of Prayer. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Guyon"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 14:13-36}

13. When Jesus heard of it, he departed from there by a boat to a deserted place by himself:

It is good for us to get alone with God when he takes home the best and most faithful of his servants. Neither the Church nor the world could afford to lose such a man as John the Baptist; so it was good for Christ’s disciples to retire with him to a desert place so that he might teach them the lesson of that proto-martyr’s death.

13, 14. And when the people had heard about it, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went out, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion towards them, and he healed their sick.

He needed quiet, but he could not get it; yet he was not “moved” with indignation against the crowd that had sought him out, but he “was moved with compassion towards them, and he healed their sick.” Out of the fulness of his heart of love, he condescended to do for the people what they most needed.

15. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, so that they may go into the villages, and buy food for themselves.”

Human compassion might have moved the disciples to say something more kind than that heartless request, “Send the multitude away.” Perhaps they wished to spare themselves the sight of so much distress; but they evidently did not expect the answer that Christ gave them: — 

16. But Jesus said to them, “They need not depart; give them food to eat.”

Christ seemed to say to his disciples, “If you only exercise the power that is within your reach, with me in your midst, you are equal to this emergency: ‘Give them food to eat.’”

17, 18. And they say to him, “We only have here five loaves, and two fishes.” He said, “Bring them here to me.”

“They are little enough in your hands, but they will be ample when they get into mine.” When everything that we have is in the hands of Christ, it is wonderful how much he can make of it. Bring your talent to the Lord Jesus, be it ever so little; sanctify to him every possibility that lies within your reach; you cannot tell how much he can and will do with it.

19. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, — 

It must have been a beautiful sight to see those thousands of men, women, and children at once obeying his command. There were five loaves and two fishes, — probably five small barley cakes and a couple of sardines; so the people might have said, “What is the use of such a multitude sitting down on the grass to partake of such scanty fare as that?” But they did not say so; there was a divine power about the very simplest command of Christ which compelled instant obedience: “He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass,” — 

19. And took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, — 

This was that “blessing of the Lord” of which Solomon says that “it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” If you get this blessing on your five loaves and two fishes, you may feed five thousand men with them, besides the women and the children.

19, 20. And broke, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they all ate, and were filled: and they took up from the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

Much more than they began with; for it is a law of the Heavenly Kingdom that he who gives to God shall be no loser; his five loaves and two fishes shall turn to twelve baskets full after thousands have eaten, and been satisfied. The more there is of complete consecration to Christ, and his blessed service, the more reward will there be in the world to come; and, possibly, even here.

21, 22. And those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. And immediately Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a boat, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

He always takes the heavier task upon himself. They may go off by themselves, but he will remain to send the multitudes away. Besides, no one but Christ could have done it, only he who had made them sit down to the feast could make them go to their homes.

23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray:

He had had a long day of preaching, and healing, and distributing the bread and fish, and now he closed the day with prayer to his Father.

23. And when the evening was come, he was there alone.

Dr. Watts was right in saying to his Lord, — 

   Cold mountains, and the midnight air

   Witnessed the fervour of thy prayer.

He is not now on the bare mountain side, but he is engaged in the same holy exercise in heaven before his Father’s throne.

24. But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

This is the case with the good ship of the Church of Christ today; it is “tossed with waves,” and “the wind” is “contrary.” It is very contrary just now; but, then, Christ is still pleading for the ship and all on board; and while he pleads, it can never sink.

25-29. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a spirit”: and they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, and said, “Lord, if it is you, ask me to come to you on the water.” And he said, “Come.” And when Peter was come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

You, who are wanting to get to Jesus, should make a desperate effort to get to him; even walk on the water to get to Jesus. Walking on the water might be an idle and evil exhibition; but to walk on the water to go to Jesus is another matter. Try it, and may the Lord enable you to get to him!

30-32. But when he saw the boisterous wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me.” And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, and caught him, and said to him, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they were come into the boat, the wind ceased.

The Greek word implies that the wind was tired, weary, “done in,” as we say. It had had its boisterous time, and spent its force; and now it knew its Lord’s voice, and, like a tired child, fell asleep.

33. Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

This seems to have been the first time that the disciples arrived at this conclusion so as to state it so positively; yet, do you not think that, after the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes, they might have very appropriately said, “Truly you are the Son of God?” Sometimes, however, one wonder will strike us more than another; and, possibly, it was because they were in danger when this second miracle was performed, and therefore they appreciated all the more the coming of Christ to them at midnight. They were in no danger when the multitude were fed; perhaps they themselves were not hungry. That strikes us most which comes most home to us, as this miracle did.

34-36. And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into that country all around, and brought to him all who were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly well.

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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