3052. Christ's Loneliness And Ours

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No. 3052-53:385. A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, August 8, 1907.

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour comes, yes, is now come, that you shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” {Joh 16:31,32}


For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2271, “Alone, Yet Not Alone” 2272}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3052, “Christ’s Loneliness and Ours” 3053}

   Exposition on Joh 16:16-33 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2271, “Alone, Yet Not Alone” 2272 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Joh 16:16-33 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2525, “Joy in Place of Sorrow” 2526 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Joh 16 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2907, “Holy Spirit Glorifying Christ, The” 2908 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Joh 16 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3461, “Welcome Visitor, The” 3463 @@ "Exposition"}

   {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Joh 16:32"}


1. “Do you now believe?” Then it seems that faith held them firmly to Christ; but, as soon as fear prevailed, they were scattered, and left their Master alone. Faith has an attracting and upholding power. It is the root of constancy, and the source of perseverance, under the power of God’s Spirit. While we believe, we remain faithful to our Lord; when we are unbelieving, we are scattered, “every man to his own.” While we trust, we follow closely; when we give way to fear, we ungratefully forsake our Lord. May the Holy Spirit maintain our faith in full vigour, so that it may nourish all our other graces! If faith is strong, no faculty of the inner man will languish; but if faith declines, the energy of our spiritual nature speedily decays. If you do not believe, you shall not be established; but “the just shall live by faith,” to the fullest force of life.

2. This being noted, our meditation shall now be fixed only on the Saviour’s loneliness, and the measure in which the believer is brought into the same condition.

3. I. THE LONELINESS OF THE SAVIOUR.

4. Note the fact of it. He was left alone, — alone just when most, as man, he needed human sympathy. Solitude to him, during his earthly life, was often the source of strength; he was strong in public ministry because of the hours spent in secret wrestling with God on the lone mountain side; but when he came to the hour of his agony, his perfect humanity pined after human sympathy, yet it was denied him. He was alone in the garden of Gethsemane; though he took the eleven with him, yet he must leave eight of them outside at the garden gate; and the three, the choice, the élite of them all, though they were brought somewhat nearer to the scene of his passion, yet even they must remain at a stone’s cast distance. No one could enter into the inner circle of his sufferings, where the furnace was heated seven times hotter than it was accustomed to be heated. In the bloody sweat and the agony of Gethsemane, the Saviour trod the wine-press alone. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2567, “The Single-Handed Conquest” 2568} His especially-favoured disciples might have watched with him, wept with him, and prayed for him; but they did not. They left his lone prayer to ascend to heaven unattended by sympathetic cries.

5. He was alone, too, when put on trial. False witnesses were found to bear lying testimony against him, but no man stood up to attest to the honesty, quietness, and goodness of his life. Surely one of the many who had been healed by him, or of the crowds that had been fed by his bountiful hand, or even more likely, some of those who had received the pardon for their sins and enlightenment of their minds by his teaching might have come forward to defend him. But no, his cowardly followers are silent when their Lord is slandered. “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” but no pitying voice entreats that he may be delivered. True, his judge’s wife tries to persuade her husband to have nothing to do with him, and her vacillating husband offers to liberate him if the mob will have it so; but no one will raise the shout of “release him, and let him go.” He was not literally alone on the cross, yet he was really so, in a deep spiritual sense. Though a few loving ones gathered at the foot of the cross, yet these could offer him no assistance, and probably dared not utter more than a tearful protest. Perhaps the boldest there was that dying thief {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1881, “The Dying Thief in a New Light” 1882} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2078, “The Believing Thief” 2079} who called him “Lord,” and expostulated with his brother malefactor, saying, “This man has done nothing amiss.” Few indeed were the voices that were lifted up on behalf of the Man of sorrows. From the time when he bowed in agony amid the dark shadows of the Mount of Olives, until the moment when he entered the thicker darkness of the valley of the shadow of death, he was left to suffer alone.

6. Here was the fact, what was the reason for it? We conclude that fear overcame the hearts of his disciples. It is natural that men should care for their lives; but these men pushed this instinct of self-preservation beyond its legitimate sphere; and when they found that the Master was taken, and that probably the disciples might share his fate, each one of them, in the panic of the moment, fled in haste. They were not all traitors, but they were all cowards for the time. They did not mean to desert their Lord, they even scorned the thought when it was asked of them in calmer moments; but they were taken by surprise, and like a flock of sheep they fled from the wolf. They rallied after a little, and mustered courage enough to follow him afar off; they did not quite forget him; they watched him to his bitter end, they kept together after he was dead; they united to bury him, and they came together instinctively on the first day of the week. They had not altogether cast off their loyalty to their Lord and Master, for he was still keeping those whom the Father had given him so that none of them might be lost; yet fear had, for a while, defeated their faith, and they had left him alone.

7. There was a deeper reason, however, for the Saviour’s loneliness; it was a condition of his sufferings that he should be forsaken; desertion was a necessary ingredient in that cup of vicarious suffering which he had covenanted to drink for us. We deserved to be forsaken, and therefore he must be. Since our sins against man, as well as our sins against God, deserved that we should be forsaken by men, he, bearing our sins against God and man, is forsaken. It cannot be that a sinner should enjoy true friendship. Sin is a separating thing; and so, when Christ is made the Sin Bearer, his friends must leave him. Besides, this was one jewel in the crown of his glory. It was said, in triumph, by the great hero of old, who typified our Lord, “I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the people there was no one with me.” To make that true in the severest sense, it was necessary that the Captain of our salvation should, by his single arm, defeat all of hell’s battalions. His are the sole laurels of the war; for “his right hand, and his holy arm, has gotten him the victory.”

8. Can you, for a moment, enter into the sorrow of that loneliness? There are men to whom it is a small matter to be friendless; their coarse minds scorn the gentle joys of fellowship. Sterner virtues may tread beneath their iron heel the sweet flowers of friendship; and men may be so defiantly self-reliant that, like lions, they are most at home amid congenial solitudes. Sympathy they scorn as womanish, and fellowship as a superfluity. But our Saviour was not like them; he was too perfect a man to become isolated and anti-social. His grand gentle nature was full of sympathy towards others, and therefore sought it in return. You hear the voice of grief at the loss of brotherly sympathy in the mournful accents of that gentle rebuke, “What, could you not watch with me for one hour?” How could they sleep while he must sweat; how could they repose while his soul was “extremely sorrowful, even to death?” He showed the greatness of his soul, even in its depression, when he lovingly excused them by saying, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

9. How sad to him it was that they should desert him! The brave Peter and all the rest of them, all taking to their heels! It was even worse to receive the traitor’s kiss with the word, “Hail, Master,” as the son of perdition betrayed his Friend to win the blood-money! David lamented the villainy of Ahithophel, but the Saviour, inasmuch as he was of a more tender spirit than the son of Jesse, even more keenly felt the treachery of Judas. For Peter to say that he did not know him, and with cursing and swearing to deny him three times in succession, was terribly cruel; there was such an element of deliberation about that denial, that it must have cut the Saviour to the very quick. But where was John, — John who leaned on his bosom, — “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” — where was John? Did he not say a word, nor even interject a single syllable for his dear Friend? Has Jonathan forgotten his David? The Master might have said to John, “Your love for me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women”; but, alas! John is gone with the rest; he has nothing to say for his Master! Though he remains at the foot of the cross to the last, yet even he cannot defend him. Jesus is all alone, — all alone; and none of us can fully fathom the sorrow of his lonely heart.

10. This is a painful meditation, and therefore let us notice the result of our Saviour’s loneliness. Did it destroy him? Did it overwhelm him? It pained him, but it did not dismay him. “You shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone,” he says, “because the Father is with me.” The effect of that solace in his soul was wonderful. Our Saviour did not turn aside from the purpose of redeeming his people, though they proved so unworthy of being redeemed. Might he not well have said, “You have forsaken me, so I will forsake you”? It would have seemed very natural for him to have exclaimed, “You are types of all my people, you care little enough for me: I have come into this world to save you, but you do not try to rescue me; you have deserted me, so I leave you to your fate.” But no, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”; and although they forsook him, yet he fulfilled for each one of them his ancient promise, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” The baptism with which he was to be baptized he would still accomplish, and be immersed in the floods of death for their sake.

11. Nor did he merely exhibit constancy to his purpose; he displayed great courage of spirit. He was all alone, but yet how peaceful he was! The calmness of the Saviour is wonderful. When he was brought before Herod, he would not utter one hasty or complaining word. His perfect silence was the best eloquence, and therefore he was majestically mute. Before Pilate, until it was necessary for him to speak, not a syllable could be extorted from him. All along, in patience he possessed his soul. In the garden, and afterwards, he was quiet as a lamb, surrendering himself to the sacrifice without a struggle. His solemn, deliberate self-surrender, in his loneliness, has an awfulness of love in it, better for thought than words. His brave spirit was not to be cowed, though it stood at bay alone, and all the dogs of hell raged around him.

12. Notice, too, not only the constancy and the courageousness of our Saviour, but his matchless unselfishness; for, while his disciples forsook him, and fled, he forgave them in his innermost heart, and cherished no resentment against them. When he rose again, his conduct to these runaways was that of a loving shepherd or a tender friend, — he fully forgave them all. If he did mention it, it was only in that gentle way in which he enquired of Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?” — reminding him of his failure, for his lasting improvement and benefit, and giving him an honourable commission as the sign that it was all condoned.

13. Enquire for a while the reason for this result. Why was it that our Saviour, in his loneliness, still stood so constant, and courageous, and forgiving? Was it not because he fell back into the arms of his Father when he was forsaken by his friends? It was even so: “The Father is with me.” Look carefully at that word. As the Saviour uttered it, it was true that the Father’s presence was with him, but please remember that it was not true, in every sense, all the way through his passion. The Father was not with him on the cross in the sense of revealed personal favour. His cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2133, “Lama Sabachthani?” 2134} shows that our Saviour did not, at that time, derive comfort from any present revelation of the love of God for him as man. The conscious presence and display of love were taken away.

14. There is, therefore, another meaning in these words, “Because the Father is with me”; and, surely, it is this, the Father was always with him in his plans. The enterprise he had undertaken was the salvation of his people, and the Father was entirely and always with him in that respect. In that sense, he was with him even where he deserted him; it was only a form of the Father’s being with Christ that he should be forsaken by God. I am not quite stating a paradox; and if it should sound like one to any here, let me expound it. It was in pursuance of their united great plan that the Father forsook the Son. Both were committed to the same gracious purpose, and therefore the Father must forsake the Son, that the Son’s purpose and the Father’s purpose in our redemption might be achieved. He was with him when he forsook him; with him in design when he was not with him in the smiles of his face.

15. Furthermore, the Father was always with our Lord in his co-working. When Jesus was in Gethsemane, and the staves and lanterns were being prepared, the God of providence was permitting or arranging it all. When Jesus was taken before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate, and Annas, God was allowing all things to be done; the Father was with Christ fulfilling the prophecies, answering the types, and accomplishing their covenant engagements. Through the whole sad chapter it might be said, “My Father works so far.” Even amid the thick darkness and the dire suffering of Christ, the Father was with Christ, working those very sufferings in him, for “it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Into this fact Christ sinks as into a sea of comfort: “The Father is with me.” “It is enough,” he says; “my own chosen friends forsake me, and my dearest earthly friends leave me, those whom I have purchased with my blood deny me, but my Father is with me.” By a matchless exercise of faith, our Redeemer experienced this, and was sustained even in that dread hour.

16. II. We shall make practical use of our subject by considering THE CHRISTIAN IN HIS LONELINESS.

17. No believer traverses all the road to heaven in company; there must be lonely places here and there, though the greater part of our heavenward pilgrimage is made cheerful by the company of fellow travellers. “They go from company to company; every one of them in Zion appears before God.” Christ’s sheep love to go in flocks. “Those who feared the Lord spoke often to each other.” We take sweet counsel together, and walk to the house of God in company; yet, somewhere or other on the road, every man will find narrow defiles, and tight places where pilgrims must march in single file.

18. Sometimes, the child of God endures loneliness arising from the absence of godly company. It may be that, in his early days as a Christian, he mixed much with gracious people, was able to attend many of their meetings, and to speak in private with the excellent of the earth; but now his lot is cast where he is as a sparrow alone on the house-top. No others in the family think as he does, he enjoys no familiar conversation concerning his Lord, and has no one to counsel or console him. He often wishes he could find friends to whom he could open his mind. He would rejoice to see a Christian minister, or an advanced believer; but, like Joseph in Egypt, he is a stranger in a strange land. This is a very great trial for the Christian, an ordeal of the most severe character; even the strong may dread it, and the weak are severely shaken by it. To such lonely ones, our Lord’s words, now before us, are commended, with the prayer that they may make them their own: “I am alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” When Jacob was alone, at Bethel, he laid down to sleep, and soon was in a region populated by innumerable spirits, above whom was God himself. That vision made the night at Bethel the least lonely time that Jacob ever spent. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 401, “Jacob’s Waking Exclamation” 392} Your meditations, oh solitary ones, as you read the Bible in secret, and your prayers, as you draw near to God in your lonely room, and your Saviour himself in his blessed person, will be to you what the ladder was to Jacob. The words of God’s Book, made living to you, shall be to your mind the angels, and God himself shall have fellowship with you. If you lament your loneliness, cure it by seeking heavenly company. If you have no companions below who are holy, seek all the more to commune with those who are in heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.

19. God’s people are frequently made lonely through obedience to honest convictions. It may happen that you live in the midst of professing Christians, but you have received light on a part of God’s Word which you had formerly neglected, either a doctrine merely, or an ordinance, or some other matter, and having received that light, if you are as you should be, you are at once obedient to it. It will frequently result, from this action on your part, that you will greatly vex many good people whom you love and respect, but to whose wishes you cannot yield. When your Master’s will is once known, father or mother may not stand in your way; you do not wish to be eccentric, or obstinate, or offensive, but you must do the Lord’s will even if it should sever every fond relationship. Perhaps, for a time, prejudiced people may almost deny you Christian fellowship; many a baptized believer has been made to know what it means to be almost tabooed and shut out because he cannot see as others see, but is resolved to follow his conscience at all costs. Under such circumstances, even in a godly household, a Christian who fully carries out his convictions may find himself treading a separated path. Be bold, my dear brethren, and do not flinch. Your Saviour walked alone, and you must do so too.

20. Perhaps this lone obedience is to be a test of your faith. Persevere; do not yield a particle of truth. These very friends, who now turn their backs on you, if they are good for anything, will respect you all the more for having the courage to be honest, and perhaps the day will come when, through your example, they will be led in the same obedient way. At any rate, do not mar your testimony by hesitancy or wavering, but “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” Fall back on this truth: you may displease and alienate friends, and be charged with bigotry, self-will, and obstinacy, but you are not alone when you follow the path of obedience, for the Father is with you. If what you hold is God’s truth, God is with you in maintaining it. If the ordinance to which you submit was ordained by Christ, Jesus is with you in it. Do not care how either the church or the world reviles you; serve your Master, and he will not desert you. With all due deference to others, pay even greater deference to the Lord who bought you with his blood; and where he leads, follow without delay; the Father will be with you in doing so.

21. The solitary way is appointed to believers who rise to eminence of faith. In these days, the common run of Christians have only struggling faith. Should you sift the great mountain of visible Christianity very carefully, will you find so much as ten grains of faith in it? When the Son of man comes, keen as his eyes are to discover faith, shall he find it on the earth? Here and there, we meet a man to whom it is given to believe in God with mighty faith. As soon as such a man strikes out a project, and sets about a work which no one but men of his mould would venture on, immediately there arises a clamour, “The man is over zealous,” or he will be charged with an innovating spirit, rashness, fanaticism, or absurdity. Should the work go on, the opposers whisper together, “Wait a little while, and you will see the end of all this wildfire.” Have we not heard them criticize an earnest evangelist by saying, “His preaching is mere excitement, the result of it is spasmodic”; at another time, “The enterprise which he carries out is exotic; his intentions are Utopian”? What did the sober semi-faith of men say to Luther? Luther had read this passage, “By the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight.” He went to a venerable divine about it, and complained of the enormities of Rome. What was the good but weak brother’s reply? “Go to your cell, and pray and study for yourself, and leave these weighty matters alone.” Here it would have ended had the brave Reformer continued to consult with flesh and blood, but his faith enabled him to go alone, if no one would accompany him. He nailed up his theses on the church-door, and showed that one man at least had faith in the gospel and in its God. Then trouble came, but Luther did not mind it because the Father was with him. We also must be prepared, if God gives us strong faith, to ride far ahead like spiritual Uhlans, {a} who bravely pioneer the way for the rank and file of the army. It would be good if the Church of God had more sons swifter than eagles, and bolder than lions, in God’s service; men who can do and dare alone, until laggards gain courage from them, and follow in their tracks. These Valiant-for-Truths very often pursue a solitary path, but let them console themselves with this word of the solitary Saviour, “Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” If we can only believe in God, he will never be lag behind us; if we can dare, God will do; if we can trust, God will newer allow us to be confounded, world without end. It is sweet beyond expression to climb where only God can lead, and plant the standard on the highest towers of the foe.

22. Another form of loneliness is the portion of Christians when they come into deep soul-conflict. My brethren, some of you understand what I mean by that. Our faith, at times, has to fight for very existence. The old Adam within us rages mightily, and the new spirit within us, like a young lion, disdains to be vanquished, and so these two mighty ones contend until our spirit is full of agony. Some of us know what it is to be tempted with blasphemies we should not dare to repeat, to be vexed with horrible temptations which we have grappled with and overcome, but which have almost cost us resistance to blood. In such inward conflicts, saints must be alone. They cannot tell their feelings to others, they would not dare to do so; and if they did, their own brethren would despise or upbraid them, for most professors would not even know what they meant, and even those who have trodden other fiery ways would not be able to sympathize in it all, but would answer them like this, “Those are points in which I cannot go with you.” Christ alone was tempted in all points like we are, though without sin. No one man is tempted in all points exactly like another man, and each man has certain trials in which he must stand alone amid the rage of war, with not even a book to help him, or a biography to assist him, no man ever having gone that way before except that one Man whose trail reveals his nail-pierced feet. Only he knows all the winding paths of sorrow. Yet, even in such byways, the Father is with us, helping, sustaining, and giving us grace to conquer at the close.

23. We will not, however, dwell on this aspect of solitary walking, for we have three others to mention. Many dear brethren have to endure the solitude of unnoticed labour. They are serving God in a way which is extremely useful, but not at all noticeable. How very sweet to many workers are those little corners of the newspapers and magazines which describe their labours and successes; yet some, who are doing what God will think a great deal more of at the last, never saw their names in print. Over there a beloved brother is plodding away in a little country village; no one knows anything about him, but he is bringing souls to God. Unknown to fame, the angels are acquainted with him, and a few precious ones whom he has led to Jesus know him well. Perhaps that sister has a little class in the Sunday School; there is nothing striking in her or in her class; now and then, a little child ascends to heaven to report her success, and occasionally another comes into the church; but no one thinks of her as a very remarkable worker; she is a flower that blooms almost unseen, but she is none the less fragrant. Or shall we think of the humble City Missionary? The Superintendent of the District knows that he goes on his regular rounds, but he has no idea of the earnest prayers and deep devotedness of that obscure lover of Jesus. The City Mission Magazine writes him down as trying to do his duty, but no one knows what it costs him to cry and sigh over souls. There is a Bible woman; she is mentioned in the Report as making so many visits a week, but no one knows all that she is doing for the poor and needy, and how many are saved in the Lord through her instrumentality. Hundreds of God’s dear servants are serving him without the encouragement of man’s approving eye; yet God is with them.

24. Never mind where you work; care more about how you work! Never mind who sees or does not see you, as long as God approves of your efforts. If he smiles, be content. We cannot be always sure when we are most useful. A certain minister with very great difficulty reached a place where he had promised to preach. There was deep snow on the ground, therefore only one hearer came. However, he preached as zealously as if there had been a thousand. Years later, when he was travelling in that same part of the country, he met a man who had been the founder of a church in the village, and from it scores of others had been established. The man came to see him, and said, “I have good reason to remember you, sir, for I was once your only hearer; and what has been done here has been brought about instrumentally through my conversion under that sermon.” We cannot estimate our success. One child in the Sunday School, converted, may turn out to be worth five hundred others, because he may be the means of bringing ten thousand to Christ. It is not the acreage you sow, it is the multiplication which God gives to the seed, which will make up the harvest. You have less to do with being successful than with being faithful. Your main comfort is that, in your labour, you are not alone, for God, the eternal One, who guides the marches of the stars, is with you.

25. There is such a thing — I wish that we might reach it, — as the solitude of elevated piety. In the plain, everything is in company; but, the higher you ascend, the more lonely is the mountain path. At this moment, there must be an awful solitude on the top of Mont Blanc. Where the stars look silently on the monarch of mountains, how deep the silence above the untrodden snows! How lonely is the summit of the Matterhorn, or the peak of Monte Rosa! When a man grows in grace, he rises out of the fellowship of the many, and draws nearer to God. Unless placed in very happy circumstances, he will find very few who understand the higher life, and can thoroughly commune with him. But then the man will be as humble as he is high, and he will fall back, necessarily, and naturally, on the eternal fellowship of God. As the mountain pierces the skies, and offers its massive peak to be the footstool of the throne of God, so the good man passes within the veil, unseen by mortal eyes, into the secret place, of the tabernacle of the Most High, where he resides under the shadow of the Almighty.

26. The last solitude will come to us all in the hour of death. Down to the river’s brink they may go with us, a weeping company, — wife, and children, and friends. Their kind looks will mean the help they cannot give; to that river’s brink they may go in fond companionship, but then, just as with our Lord the cloud received him out of his disciples’ sight, so must we be received out of sight of our beloved ones. The chariot of fire must take Elijah away from Elisha. We must ascend alone. Bunyan may picture Christian and Hopeful together in the stream, but it is not so; each one passes alone through the river. Yet we shall not be alone, my brethren; we correct our speech; the Father will be with us; Jesus will be with us; the eternal Comforter will be with us; the everlasting Godhead in the Trinity of persons shall be with us, and the angels of God shall be our convoy. Let us go our way, rejoicing that, when we shall be alone, we shall not be alone, because the Father will be with us, as he is with us even now.


{a} Uhlan: A special type of cavalryman or lancer in various European armies. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 16:1-22}

1. “I have spoken these things to you, that you should not be offended.

“That you should not be scandalized when you see me put to death, and when you miss my physical presence from your midst. I want to prepare you for the shame and death that lie before me, and also to prepare you for all that lies before you, for many of you will have to drink from my cup, and to be baptized with my baptism.” “I have spoken these things to you, that you should not be offended,” or ashamed, or scandalized, or caused to stumble, when they come to pass.

2. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time comes, that whoever kills you will think that he does God service.

That terrible “time” did come very soon, and the Jewish and other persecutors hunted down the Christians in almost every place where they could be found. Nothing would satisfy their cruel foes but the blood of multitudes of martyrs, and many of the persecutors actually thought that they were doing God service while they were putting his children to torture and death.

3, 4. And they will do these things to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have told you these things, so that when the time shall come, you may remember that I told you about them.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, especially when the Lord Jesus Christ gives the forewarning; and so his disciples were to be forearmed and braced up for the coming conflict.

4. And I did not say these things to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

“I did not need, at the beginning of my ministry, to trouble you about these things. Even then, you and I were hated by evil men, but I was with you, so I was able to protect you from them.” The persecutors could not slay Christ’s sheep, as they desired to do, as long as their Shepherd was still with them, so his warning words were not needed while he was in their midst. Christ does not teach us everything at once; if he did, we might be so confused that we would not learn anything. Perhaps we have sometimes wished that our ears could hear more than they do now; but it is most probable that, if we could hear more, we should really understand less than we do now. Have you, at any time, had your hearing more than usually acute? If so, you must then have heard a thousand sounds which it would have been better for you not to have heard; for they so confused and confounded each other that you did not hear anything distinctly. It is just so with the mind; it is capable of receiving a certain quantity of truth; but if too much truth is placed before it at once, it produces confusion in the mind’s ear and in the mind’s eye, and we really hear less, see less, and understand less than we should do if less truth were set before us. The Master knew that his disciples were like narrow-necked bottles, which must be gradually filled, so he only revealed the truth to them as they were able to receive it.

5, 6. But now I go my way to him who sent me; and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.

Sorrow sometimes prevents us from learning the lessons that Christ wishes to teach us. You remember that, in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s disciples were “sleeping for sorrow,” and so they lost some of the lessons that they might otherwise have learned. Those who are in great trouble are often in that dazed condition in which half-awakened people are; and there is a measure of sleepiness about us all in times of sorrow. It was so with the disciples on this occasion, and therefore they did not ask their Lord what they might have asked him if sorrow had not filled their hearts: “None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’”

7-9. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1708, “The Holy Spirit’s Threefold Conviction of Men” 1709}

Which is the head of all sin, the root of all sin, the sin which lies in front of the door of mercy, and blocks the sinner’s way. Oh, that the Spirit of God would convince all here, who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are living in the greatest of all sins “because they do not believe in Christ!”

10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more;

Of course, Christ would not have been received back by his Father if he had not completed the work of righteousness which his Father gave him the commission to perform. The risen and glorified Saviour is the great testimony to the righteousness both of Christ and of his gospel.

11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Christ has already judged the prince of the powers of evil, so you may depend on it that he will also judge all those who are under the dominion of the traitor prince who has usurped his Master’s position and authority. Christ has summoned the dread lord of evil to his judgment bar, and judged him. Do not think, oh you who are his servants, that any of you will be able to elude the vigilance of the great Judge of all! Judgment will assuredly come to the common soldiers of the prince of darkness since their captain himself has been judged and condemned.

12. I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

Here again observe the reticence of the Saviour for his disciples’s good, still graciously keeping from them what they could not bear to hear; and are you not, beloved, thankful that you do not, at this moment, know what is to happen to you in the future? It is wise for each one of us to say, — 


   My God, I would not wish to read

      My fate with curious eyes; — 

   What gloomy lines are writ for me,

      Or what bright scenes arise.


It is best for you, at present, to know very little. Prize what you do know, and be content to leave all that is not yet revealed, for “the secret things belong to the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever.”

13. However when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 50, “The Holy Spirit — The Great Teacher” 48}

All that you need to know, and may know, he will teach you. If you cannot find your way into the heart of any truth, the Spirit of God has the clue to it, so ask him to guide you into it. There is such a thing as seeing the outside of a truth; that is good as far as it goes, but the blessedness lies in getting to the inside of the truth, the very kernel and core of it.

13, 14. For he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that he shall speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 465, “The Holy Spirit Glorifying Christ” 456} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2213, “Honey in the Mouth” 2214} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2382, “The Holy Spirit’s Chief Office” 2383}

That is the distinctive characteristic of the Spirit of God. If any man says that he speaks by the Spirit, you can test him in this way, — does what he says glorify Christ? If not, away with him, for he is not speaking as the Holy Spirit speaks.

14-18. For he shall receive of what is mine, and shall show it to you. All things that the Father has are mine: therefore I said that he shall take of what is mine, and shall show it to you. A little while, and you shall not see me: and again, a little while, and you shall see me, because I go to the Father.” Then some of his disciples said among themselves, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you shall not see me: and again, a little while, and you shall see me:’ and, ‘Because I go to the Father?’” They said therefore, “What is this that he says, ‘A little while’? We cannot tell what he says.”

These disciples of Christ were almost as ignorant as the rank outsiders were. Though they had been with Jesus for three years, they had not learned what is clear enough to every Sunday School child today, and what is certainly perfectly understood by all who are taught by God. They said, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you shall not see me: and again, a little while, and you shall see me’: and, ‘Because I go to the Father?’” They said therefore, “What is this that he says, ‘A little while?’ We cannot tell what he says.”

19-22. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said to them, “Do you enquire among yourselves of what I said, ‘A little while, and you shall not see me: and again, a little while, and you shall see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, that you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in labour has sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she has delivered the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a man is born into the world. And you now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and no man takes your joy from you.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1442, “Sorrow at the Cross Turned Into Joy” 1433} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2525, “Joy in Place of Sorrow” 2526} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2983, “A Wonderful Transformation” 2984}

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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