3174. Concentration And Diffusion

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No. 3174-55:589. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, December 9, 1909.

Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. {Joh 12:3}

1. You will notice, if you read the narrative attentively, that the two sisters and the brother, who made up the favoured household at Bethany, though all most truly loving Jesus, each had a different way of showing that love. Even so, true children of God do not always feel moved to serve the Lord Jesus in the same way, or to express their love for him in precisely the same way.

2. Martha served: she was the housekeeper, and with much diligence made him a supper. It would have been a sad omission had there been no table spread for so blessed a guest, and who could prepare it so well as Martha? Sometimes we have heard people speak disparagingly of Martha, but truly they mistaken the Lord, who never chided her for serving, but for being on one occasion so encumbered by it as to think harshly of her sister. Martha, in this case did not fall into the fault which her Lord once so gently chided; she did her part quietly and well, and by it showed her attachment to Jesus in the most commendable manner. We have sisters in the church whose way of serving Christ is in the household, or by caring for the sick and the poor; like Dorcas, they make clothes for them, or like holy women of old, they minister to the Lord from their substance. Their work is with temporal things, but they are none the less approved by their loving Master. Brethren, too, as deacons, may better honour the Lord by serving tables than they could by attempting to edify saints when the gifts suitable for that work are denied them. Each man and woman must labour according to his or her ability and calling.

3. As for Lazarus, he was “one of those who sat at the table.” We might hastily imagine that by sitting there he did nothing: but, my brethren, the people had come together very much to see Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead; and for him to sit there, and to show himself, and especially to eat and to drink, was to do the best thing to convince onlookers that he was indeed alive. Our blessed Lord himself, when he rose from the dead, found it necessary to convince his disciples that he was really alive and in a real body, and therefore he took a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb, and ate before them all. When they saw him eat, then they were sure that he lived. So, when Lazarus ate at the table, sceptics could not say, “It is merely his corpse set upright to look like life, or a mere phantom to deceive.” Lazarus eating and drinking was a testimony for Jesus, and I wish that we all knew how even to eat and drink to the glory of God. There are some Christians who cannot do much or say much, but their godly lives, their patient suffering, their quiet holiness, are good witnesses to Jesus. I have looked at the lilies and the roses in the garden, and I have thought, “You do not toil, neither do you spin, you do not preach, neither do you sing, and yet you praise my Lord, simply by being beautiful, and by unconsciously shedding abroad the perfume which he gives you.” May not some saints be glorifying God most truly though they can do no more than this? Besides, someone in the family was needed to keep the Master company, and preside as host at the table, and who could do this but Lazarus, the master of the house? Anywhere else Lazarus might have been out of place, but to me it appears most seemly that Lazarus should sit at the table; and if he modestly declined to take the head of it, and sat with others, he was still bound to be there.

4. But what shall Mary do? She need not be at the table, Lazarus was there; she is, perhaps, of little use in the kitchen, her abilities are slender in that direction: what shall Mary do? Her heart was very warm, and she felt she must do something. She did not ask anyone, however, for her own mind was inventive. She knew that it was a usual custom with honoured guests to anoint them with ointment; she perceived that this had not yet been done, or, if done, not in the royal style which her love suggested. Perhaps she was very lovely, and had been somewhat fond of adorning her person, her long hair may have been much cherished, and she may have been profuse in the use of perfume on it; the thought strikes her that she will consecrate that hair to Jesus, and that pound of fragrant unguent which she had stored up for the beautifying of herself shall be spent on him. It was very costly, but it had not cost a penny too much now that it could be used on him. There was a pound of it, but there was not too much for him. It was very sweet, but not too sweet for him. She brings the pound of ointment, and pours it on his feet as he lies reclining at the table, and then begins to wipe his feet with the hairs of her head, consecrating her personal beauty as well as her valued treasure to him whom she both loved and adored. She had found something to do, and that something was not the least of the three works of love.

5. The service of the three members of that elect family made up a complete feast; Martha prepared the supper, Lazarus conversed with their honoured guest, and Mary anointed the Master’s feet. Do not judge each other, my brothers and sisters; let each one do what you feel you can do, and what the Lord expects of you, and do not look on another’s work with unkind eyes. Neither Martha, nor Lazarus, nor Mary, complained about each other, but together they made the service complete. All members do not have the same office, but each one must lovingly supplement the office of the rest, and rivalry and jealousy must never enter among us.

6. We will now forget the others, and look only at Mary. We are struck with the service which she performed for Christ. It was somewhat exceptional, it was very demonstrative, and it proved her love to be of an extraordinary kind. Other women besides Martha had made him a supper; other hosts besides Lazarus had sat at the table with him; but no one had anointed his feet exactly in her way, though perhaps some may have come near to it. Mary was inventive, demonstrative, patient, ardent, and enthusiastic. What she did was the deed of a soul all on fire, the deed of a woman filled with deep devotion and reverent love. There is an old proverb that “still waters run deep.” Mary had these still waters within her heart; she sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his words; she was a woman of few words, but of many thoughts; she considered, she pondered, and she adored. Mary among women is the counterpart of John among men, and perhaps, at this time, she had even outrun the beloved disciple in quick discernment of the Lord’s true nature. It seems to me that she had perceived his Godhead, and understood more of what he was and what he was about to do than any other of the disciples did; at least I can on that theory better understand her deed of love. She devised a homage for him which she would not have dreamed of presenting to any other than such a one as she perceived the Lord to be. Pondering many things within her soul, and also remembering what he had done for her personally, and for her dear brother Lazarus, whom she loved so well, she determined that a special sign of reverential homage should be paid him, and she carried out the resolve. Deep thought led to burning love, and burning love led to immediate action.

7. Beloved friends, the Church of Christ needs a band of men and women full of enthusiasm, who will go beyond others in devotion to the Lord Jesus. We need missionaries who will dare to die to carry the gospel to regions beyond; we need ministers who will defy public opinion, and with flaming zeal burn a way into men’s hearts; we need men and women who will consecrate all that they have by daring deeds of heroic self-sacrifice. Oh, that all Christians were like this; but we must at least have some. We need a body-guard of loving champions to rally around the Saviour, the bravest of the brave, Immortals, and Invincibles, who shall lead the vanguard of the armies of the Lord. Where are we to get them? How are they to be produced? The Holy Spirit’s way to train men and women who shall greatly serve Christ is to lead them to deep thought and quiet contemplation; from there they obtain the knowledge and vital principle, which are the fuel of true zeal. You cannot leap into high devotion, neither can you be preached into it, nor dream yourself into it, or be electrified into it by revivalism. It must, through the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, arise out of hard, stern dealing with your soul, and near and dear communion with your Saviour. You must sit at his feet, or you will never anoint them; he must pour his divine teaching into you, or you will never pour out a precious ointment on him.

8. This is a rather long introduction, but we will now leave it all, and request your attention for a little time to a short parable which appears to me to grow out of this incident.

9. Mary took a pound of ointment, and poured it all on Christ’s feet; that is concentration. When she had poured it all out on Christ’s feet, the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment; that is diffusion, and the best way for effective diffusion is perfect concentration.

10. I. Let us speak a little first on this CONCENTRATION.

11. You want, my friend, to do something before you die, which may prove a blessing to your family connections. The desire is good, but do not begin with diffusion; begin with concentration, and let Mary be your model. She brought out all her ointment, the whole pound without reserve. Even so, consecrate to the Saviour all that you have: every faculty, power, possession, and ability. Half the pound of spikenard would not have sufficed. That half-pound in reserve would have spoiled the deed. Perhaps we should never have heard of it at all if it had been less complete. Half a heart given to Christ? Do not tell it in Gath, do not whisper it in the streets of Askelon. Half a life given to Christ? Half your faculties, half your powers given to Christ? It is an unworthy gift; he gave you everything, and he claims all of you. Oh dear soul, if you would fill the house with sweet fragrance, bring in your whole self, and pour out your heart at his feet!

12. Note that, just as she brought all, so she poured it all on Jesus. She had no fear of the black looks of Judas, for the act was not meant for Judas; it was all for Jesus. I do not think she gave a thought to Martha, or Lazarus, or to any of them. The whole pound was for Jesus. The highest way of living is to live for Jesus, and altogether for Jesus, not caring what this man says or how the other judges, but feeling that since he has bought us with his blood, and we are his from the crown of our head to the sole of our foot, we therefore acknowledge no master but our Redeemer. Brothers and sisters, do you live for Jesus in that way? Do we not perform many actions under the impulse of secondary motives? I like, for my part, sometimes to do an act of which I feel, “I do not consider whether this will benefit my fellow men. I am doing it only for Jesus. What comes of it,—whether a soul shall be saved or not, is not my main care; but I am speaking this good word in his honour, and if God accepts it, and it glorifies Jesus, my purpose is served.” Oh, it is a blessed thing to feel that you are living, not as a servant of man, nor of the church, nor of a sect, or party, but of him whose precious blood has bought you!

13. Concentrate all your faculties on the Lord himself, and then do not consult with flesh and blood. Mary did not wait for any advice about the matter. There is Jesus, and there are his blessed feet, inviting her to anoint them. She will not stop to enquire what Martha thinks, much less what Judas murmurs, but her heart tells her to do it. All her powers of love say to her, “Do it,” and she brings out the costly perfume, and pours it all on him. When the criticism is given about the wasteful deed, she does not care to make an apology, and she does not need to do so. If for the moment the grumbling grated harshly on her ear, her Master’s look of love and that kind word, “Leave her alone; for the day of my burying has she kept this,” are quite enough for her. She did not aim at pleasing Judas; and so, if Judas is not pleased, she is not disappointed; she did it for Jesus, and Jesus being pleased, she has gained all that she sought for. Ah, brethren, this is what we must try to do; we must not always remain as children, asking other people what they think about our actions; if we know that a certain course is right, let us follow it, and let others think and say what they choose.

14. This concentration of everything on Jesus is the only way of worthily serving him. When we give him everything, we do not give him a thousandth part of what he deserves; but to give him half,—to give him a tithe, to give him what we can easily spare,—is a poor way of expressing our love for him. Who else deserves a part of your service? If you have been redeemed from death and hell, who else can claim a portion of your heart? Look at him in his life of labour, look at him on the cross, and look at him remembering you still before the throne of God. Does he not engross your affections? Say, does he not throw another cord of love around you, and bind you as a sacrifice to the horns of the altar?

15. I will not linger any longer on that point. Enough is as good as a feast. Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, concentrate all on Jesus.

16. II. Now, consider what will come of it; namely, DIFFUSION. “The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.”

17. Note that the house was not filled with the fragrance of the ointment through Mary’s seeking. She did not run into every room, and drop a little on the floor, so that every room might smell of it; she did not care whether the house was perfumed or not, she only wanted to anoint her Lord, and therefore she poured all the ointment on his feet. The result was that the rooms were perfumed, but that was not her main object. She did not tell everyone that she had precious ointment in store, but they knew it by her pouring it out. Whenever you hear a man boast that he is holy, remember that good fragrance needs no proclaiming. The only cart I ever meet with that rings a bell is the dust cart. If jewels and diamonds, or the bullion of the Bank of England, are carried through the streets, no bell is rung. “Great cry and little wool” is a proverb which has had a new exposition in this country recently; a wonderful cry about holiness and wonderful little holiness to cry about, but a great deal to be wept over and lamented before the living God. To stand in every room, and cry, “Spikenard! Spikenard! Wonderful spikenard!” would have been idle. Pour it on Jesus’ feet, and you will not have to say anything about it, for every room will be sweet with the smell of it. We need, nowadays, dear friends, to have a little less talk about what men are and much more actual living for Jesus. May the Lord work it in us by his Spirit!

18. Why was it that Mary’s spikenard perfumed all the house, and how is it that, if there is true grace in a man’s life, it is sure to be felt and recognised without his saying much about it? We reply, because it is real. Real religion is always influential: sham religion has only sham power. You cannot get influence by saying, “I intend to influence So-and-so”; you may as well hope to stop the sun and moon without Joshua’s miraculous power. The power of religion within yourself will be very much the measure of the power which you exercise over others. Artificial flowers may be made so exactly like the real plants that you can scarcely detect them, but they lack the perfume of our garden favourites; and so also the mere professor does not have the fragrance of real grace, and consequently no attractive and sweetening influence on others; but where religion is real, true, heart-felt, deep,—where there is strong, all-absorbing love for Christ,—the sweet perfume of grace will give the man influence over his fellow men. I cannot tell you how it is that a man who lives near to God has this influence, but I know he has it. The camphor tree is full of camphor in all parts of it, branch, bark, root, and flower are all full of camphor; and the man who really lives for Jesus is full of gracious influence in all places and times. May you and I be so!

19. How was it that the rooms became filled with the fragrance? There is a law of nature which chemists call the law of transfusion. If two gases of an entirely different nature are brought into contact, they begin at once to mix with each other, and continue to unite until they are thoroughly intermingled. So flavours and odours diffuse themselves in the air. It is so with good and evil in the world. Imperceptibly, every man is contaminated for coming in contact with a vicious example; and consciously or unconsciously, every man is swayed to some degree for good by the presence of a virtuous life. The law of transfusion enters into moral and spiritual matters, as well as into the realm of chemistry; and if you walk with God, and endeavour to preserve a blameless life, and glorify Christ, influence will be yours without your seeking it. How far it will extend, God only knows. It may reach far beyond what you suppose to be its sphere, and may even teach some who are yet unborn, who shall hear from others how you lived, and how you glorified Christ.

20. Besides, dear friends, true piety is a very powerful essence, and possesses great energy. There are perfumes in nature, like the fragrant essence of roses, of which the smallest drop will make a room fragrant for many a day; true holiness is such a mighty, pervading, essence, that if you possess it, it cannot be hidden, it will make itself known as a sweet savour even as far as heaven. The life of God is in it, and it must operate. In everything that is good, God lies hidden. The Spirit of God dwells in every gracious word, and godly thought, and holy deed, and he is sweetness itself. The name of Jesus is like ointment poured out, what must his Spirit be? Yet that Spirit is to be found in every true believer.

21. I want to close by asking you, dear friends, how far, as yet, you have concentrated your love on Christ, and so have influenced those who dwell in your house: I will only ask about your own house. Has your house been filled with the fragrance of the ointment? You pray, but have your prayers been so mighty with God that they have brought down a blessing on your family? You seek to avoid sin, you try to make your conduct pure, gracious, kind, cheerful, loving, and Christ-like; do you think that some in your house have been blessed by it? I do not ask, “Have all been converted?” for, though all the house was the better for Mary’s ointment, yet Judas remained a traitor. I should not wonder if some in your house may have even disliked you all the more for your piety; but, still, the Lord frequently blesses godliness, and makes it the means of conversion. Oh woman, you may gain your husband by your piety; if he will not hear sermons, he will hear that quiet, loving life of yours! Oh sister, you may win your brother by your love; he will not read pious books, but those letters of yours, those sweet words of tender rebuke and invitation, he does read them, and he feels them too, though you fear he does not! Father, those boys of yours are not yet what you could wish, but they must feel your godly example. Perhaps, when you lie beneath the sod, they will remember what you used to be. Fill the house with the fragrance of true religion. Fill the parlour and the drawing-room, the bedroom and the kitchen, with hallowed conduct. I say again, not with mere talk and Pharisaic pretence, but with real holy living and true godly communion; and, depend on it, you are doing for your children and your servants the best thing in your power to do. Give them teaching, give them warning and entreaty; but, still, the actual perfuming with godliness must arise from your own holy living, it must be created by the ointment poured on Jesus’ feet.

22. Ah, dear friends, I wish that, not only the house in which we may happen to dwell, but the workshop where we labour, the shop where we trade, the place of business where we associate with others, might all be perfumed with grace. Christian men are not to glide out of the way of their fellow creatures, and shut themselves up in order to be pious, any more than a soldier may hope to win the battle by running away. No, mix with your fellow men. If there are offices of trust to discharge, do not leave them to the lowest of the low to discharge them, but be willing to do public service for your country; but do this so that you shall spread abroad in every office the savour of honesty and integrity, and make the rogue and the cheat ashamed of themselves. I wish that every Christian church were a living protest against all the wrong-doing of the times, a gracious disinfectant to contain the abounding corruption. There is a foul stench of sin perpetually reeking towards heaven, and it requires that you Christian men should live Christ-like lives in public as well as in private until you fill this country with a healthier savour, and until England shall become a Christian country in fact as well as in name. Oh that the example of Christians might yet become so potent that all nations might feel its power, that wars might cease, that cruelties of every kind might come to an end, and that the sweet savour of Jesus’ name, revealed through his people, might perfume the whole world as though God had showered on it ambrosia essences and fragrances from the flowers of heaven to sweeten it, anticipating the time when Christ himself shall come, and make it a marriage chamber for his chosen bride! May God grant that the perfume of your holiness may reach the stars; that your lives may be so sweet that, beyond these fogs and clouds, the sweet aroma of your grace may rise acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, for we are always a sweet savour to him if we live for the Lord.

23. I fear, however, that I may be addressing some whose lives are not a sweet perfume at all. Ah, take heed to yourselves! If you are living without God and without Christ,—if you are living in any secret sin,—take heed to yourselves. You may think that you will be able to conceal the foul savour of your sin, but you will not. How amazingly does evil tell its own secret! The intolerable stench of many a secret sin has forced its way to notice. Beware you who would cover your sin! Beware, please. For the task is hopeless. Dig, dig, dig, dig deep, and in the dead of night cover up the sin; but like the blood of Abel, it cries from the ground. “Be sure your sin will find you out.” If you are living now in sin, and yet pretend to be virtuous, remember that, if your hypocrisy is never found out in this life, it will confront you at the last great day. How terrible will be the resurrection of buried sins to men who do not know Christ! They will wake up in the next world, and find their sins howling around them like grim wolves, insatiable, fierce, and terrible. Any one sin is able to destroy the soul, but what must it be to be surrounded by thousands, howling with terrible voices, and eager to drag you down, and tear you in pieces? It will be so with you, sirs, it must be so with many of you, unless you lay hold now on the great salvation. Jesus Christ can drive away those wolves, can remove the foul savour of your sins. If you will trust him, if you will yield your hearts to him, he will deliver you; but if you will not, on your own heads be your blood.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 12:1-43}

1. Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

The days Christ was to spend on the earth were getting to be very few, so he paid another visit to that Bethany home where he was always so welcome, and more so than ever since he had raised Lazarus from the dead.

2, 3. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him. Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.

All the members of the reunited family were present, Martha busy as usual with the domestic duties which fell to her share, Lazarus in close attendance on the Master who had performed so great a miracle on him, and Mary in her own sweet and gracious way pouring out the wealth of her affection in honour of the Master.

4-6. Then one of his disciples says, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who should betray him, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” He said this, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and carried what was put in it.

The question of Judas was a most unworthy one, but the motive that prompted the question was even worse. Little did he care for the poor; but if he could have had the selling of that very costly ointment of spikenard, he would have made that an opportunity for enriching himself.

7, 8. Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone: for the day of my burying has she kept this. For you always have the poor with you: but you do not always have me.”

Christ himself was always caring for the poor, so he would not discourage any effort on their behalf; but just then, one of his most devoted disciples desired to render to him special honour, and he would not let her be rebuked; but, on the contrary, he pointed out the deep symbolic meaning of her loving action.

9. Many people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they did not come for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.

Their curiosity was only natural, for few of them could have seen anyone who had been raised from the dead. It is good when a saved soul, who has been spiritually raised from the dead, becomes a centre of attraction together with the Lord who has performed such a miracle of mercy on him.

10, 11. But the chief priests consulted that they might also put Lazarus to death; because by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed in Jesus.

They would have committed a double murder if it had been possible, and would have put to death both Jesus and Lazarus, who was a living witness to the wonder-working power of the Christ whom they would not receive as the promised Messiah. When men hate Christ, they also hate those whom he has blessed, and will go to any lengths in seeking to silence their testimony.

12, 13. On the next day many people who were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: “Blessed is the King of Israel who comes in the name of the Lord.”

It is significant that John is the only one of the four Evangelists who mentions the palm fronds that were carried by the people in this triumphal procession in honour of Christ, and it was to John whom the vision was given of the “great multitude, whom no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” who “stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palm branches in their hands, and cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

14-16. And Jesus, when he had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, “Do not fear, daughter of Zion: behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His disciples did not understand these things at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things to him.

It is strange that Christ’s own disciples did not at once remember this plain prophecy when it was so literally fulfilled; yet, before we condemn them, let us remember how “slow of heart” we also have been “to believe all that the prophets have spoken.”

17. The people therefore who were with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bore record.

They could not help testifying in his favour after they had seen him work such a notable miracle as the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

18, 19. For this reason the people also met him, for they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “Do you not see that you are accomplishing nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him.”

When they saw our Lord riding in state through the streets, and the people waving palm branches and shouting in his honour, they said, “The world is gone after him.” That was only very partially true, and for a very short time; but the day will come when the whole world shall go after him. Christ’s divine attractions shall be felt throughout the earth, and all the Pharisees then in the world will not be able to prevent the people from going after him; and—

      Come what may

      To stand in the way,

   That day the world shall see.

20, 21. And there were certain Greeks among them who came up to worship at the feast: then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish see Jesus.”.

They were proselytes, who had learned to worship Jehovah. Something more than mere curiosity must have moved them to want to see Jesus. Having heard of his raising the dead, they had a desire, and a very proper desire, to know more about him, so they asked to be introduced to him by one who, though not a Greek, had a Greek name, and who may therefore have served as a kind of bridge for these Greeks to reach the Saviour.

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

Christ’s passion and death were getting very near when these Gentiles came to him, and he saw, in that company of Greeks, the vanguard of that great army that shall yet come to him out of every nation under heaven. In the prospect of that great ingathering, he looked beyond the impending shame and suffering, and spoke even of the hour of his death as the time when he should be glorified.

24. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much fruit. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3024, “Christ’s Death and Ours” 3025}

This was Christ’s way to glory, and it must be our way to glory too. The grain of wheat must fall into the ground, and die, or else it cannot produce fruit. Just so must it be with you and with me, and in proportion as we learn to die to self we shall live for the glory of God.

20. He who loves his life shall lose it.

If you keep yourself to yourself, you will lose yourself.

20. And he who hates his life in this world shall keep it for eternal life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we are really to glorify Christ on the earth, we must be willing to lose our reputation, our good name, our comfort, and indeed everything that we have, for Christ’s sake. This is the only way to truly live. If, for your own sake, you begin to keep back anything from Christ, that is the way to die. You would then be like the grain of wheat that is stored away, and preserved, and which, therefore, can never grow or multiply. Surrender yourself; be willing to be nothing; be willing to die if only the truth may live. Care nothing about honour and glory for yourself; care only about the honour and glory of your Master. Learn the meaning of the Master’s paradox. As you bury yourself, you will multiply yourself. As you are put out of sight, like a grain of wheat that is sown in the ground, you have your only opportunity of growth and increase; heavily laden ears of grain shall spring up from the seeds which have been buried in the earth.

26-28. If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant shall also be: if any man serves me, my Father will honour him. Now my soul is troubled; and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1391, “A Golden Prayer” 1382}

In the twenty-seventh verse, our Saviour asked himself the question, “What shall I say?” Here he gives his own answer, “Father, glorify your name.” When you do not know what to pray for, you can always safely pray, “Father, glorify your name.” As you stand where the cross-roads meet, and you ask, “Which way shall I choose?” pray, “Father, glorify your name.”

This incident seems like a rehearsal of Christ’s passion. Here we see that natural fear of death which came across the Saviour’s mind because he was so really and truly man. If his pains had not been real pains, but had been pleasant and congenial to him, there would have been no self-sacrifice in his suffering; but the fact that they cast on his spirit the dark shadow of death only proves to us what sharp pains they were; but instead of asking for a way of escape from them, he surrendered himself to them, gave himself up as a willing victim with this prayer on his lips, “Father, glorify your name.”

And now see what happened.

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

This was one of the three occasions on which testimony was openly borne to Christ by his Father; first at his baptism, then at his transfiguration, and now here at the rehearsal of his great sacrifice. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 909, “Voices From the Excellent Glory” 900} Truly, he is the Son of God, and he is always well pleasing to God; and God has glorified his name, and will continue to glorify it through Jesus Christ his Son.

We learn, from this narrative, that the voice of God is not understood by everyone. Some of those who stood by said that it thundered, and others said that an angel spoke to him. It is necessary that you should be a child of God if you are to know your Father’s voice. Though God is speaking, at this moment, in the clearest tones, no one will recognise his voice, or understand his words, except those who are taught by his Holy Spirit.

30, 31. Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world; now the prince of this world shall be cast out. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2338, “The Crisis of This World” 2339}

See how the eye of faith reads things differently from the eye of sense. You and I would have said, “Now Christ is coming to his lowest point; now his name is to be cast out from among men, and his cause to be crushed as the result of his death.” But Christ reads the signs of the times very differently. “Now,” he says, “in the hour of my shame, and suffering, and death, is the judgment of this world: now the prince of this world shall be cast out.” It was only by Christ being apparently conquered that Satan could be really vanquished, and there is often no way of victory for a saint except through defeat. When self is slain, then we truly do live.

32, 33. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.” He said this indicating what kind of death he should die. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 139, “Christ Lifted Up” 134} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 775, “The Great Attraction” 766} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1717, “The Marvellous Magnet” 1718}

The Pharisees said, “The world is gone after him”; but Jesus says, “No, not while I am riding in state through the streets of Jerusalem; but when I am lifted up, and hung on the cross, then it shall indeed be true, ‘I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.’” The crucified Christ of Calvary is the mighty magnet that is to attract multitudes of trembling, doubting, ruined sinners, who by grace shall be drawn to him, and find eternal life in him.

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

What a sad condition to be in, not to know where you are going! Are there not some of you, whom I am now addressing, who do not know where you are going? Yet, if you would only take the trouble to look, you might easily know that, as long as you continue in the paths of sin, you are going down to the chambers of death. Oh, that God’s Holy Spirit would give you sufficient light to enable you to see where you are going! You surely do not want to take “a leap in the dark.” Oh, that you may have the grace to turn from the downward way, and to seek the heavenward road!

36-41. While you have light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.” Jesus spoke these things, and departed, and hid himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they did not believe in him: so that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; so that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Isaiah said these things when he saw his glory, and spoke of him. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2413, “Despised Light Withdrawn” 2414} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1844, “Israel and Britain. A Note of Warning” 1845}

You know that wonderful sixth chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, and you know how wonderfully he has spoken there of the glory of Christ; but what a terrible thing it is that even Christ should be forced to blind men’s eyes, to take the light away from them because they proved themselves unworthy of it! May that never be the case with any of us; but while we may see, let us see; and may God give us more light!

42, 43. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed in him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

What a shameful thing that was! Yet you will still find that there are many people who, even though they believe the truth, dare not acknowledge it, but must hide in obscurity until the times grow easier. However, Christ’s death brought out many who had been his disciples in secret. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus could not stay in the background any longer and, doubtless, the thoughts of many other hearts were then revealed.

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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