A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, January 9, 1870, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 5/2/2011*5/2/2011
And Jesus, when he was baptised, went up immediately out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17)
While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.” (Matthew 17:5)
“Father, glorify your name.” Then there came a voice from heaven,
saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it
again.” (Joh 12:28)
For other sermons on this text:
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mt 3:16")
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mt 3:17")
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mt 17:5")
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Joh 12:28")
1. That our Lord was the true Messiah of God was proved by his fulfilling all those prophecies which described the promised messenger of the covenant. His miracles also proved that God was with him, and from their character they identified him as the ordained deliverer. To open the blind eyes and unplug deaf ears, were works foretold to be done by the Messiah. His teachings were equally clear proofs of his mission, there is about them an authority found nowhere else. The words which he spoke are spirit and life. They are self-authenticating in their elevation, purity, and perfection. “Never man spoke like this man.” His testimony is unique, and bears a majesty of deity about it which speaks for itself. His resurrection also was a clear proof that he was sent from God. He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead.” But in addition to all this and a great deal more, the divine Father was pleased also to speak out of heaven with an audible voice, to declare that Jesus of Nazareth was none other than the Son of God, and the promised Christ for whom the faithful were watching. Three times the majesty of heaven broke its sublime silence and bore witness to the incarnate God. The three occasions, as mentioned in our texts, are most instructive, and shall command our attention this morning. May the Holy Spirit instruct us.
2. Without any further preface, let us consider the three testimonies given to our Lord by the voice of the Most High; if time permits we will then notice one or two instructive circumstances connected with each of them, and close by drawing a great practical lesson from it.
3. I. In endeavouring to bring before your attentive minds THE THREE OCCASIONS WHEN THE FATHER BY A VOICE FROM HEAVEN BORE WITNESS TO HIS SON, I would invite you to observe, first, when these voices were heard.
4. Angels had proclaimed his birth, and wise men had seen his star, but the divine voice was not heard during the first thirty years of his sojourn; the three celestial utterances were reserved for the brief period of his public life. The first came at the beginning of his public ministry, at his baptism; the second time after the midpoint of his ministry; and the last, just before he finished his work, by being offered up. It is a fit thing to pray that all our works may be begun, continued, and ended under the divine blessing. Certainly our Lord Jesus Christ, concerning his public work, both began it, continued it, and ended it with the publicly declared witness of the Most High. How cheering a thing it is at the beginning of a great enterprise to have from God clear testimony upon it that he has sent you! Such was the testimony given to the Master in the waters of Jordan, when he was first announced as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” How sweetly encouraging it is for the soul when the labour is heavy, the opposition vehement, and the spirit faint, to receive another affirming word from the excellent glory! Such was what came to Jesus on the holy mount, when retiring from the multitude he sought the refreshment of prayer and fellowship with God; then as he prayed, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him.” And best of all, when our work is almost done, and the shadows of evening are lengthening, and we are about to depart into the land of spirits, what a consolation it is to receive another refreshment from the divine mouth! Such a refreshment our Saviour had a little while before he was lifted up from the earth. In answer to his fervent cry, “Father, glorify your name,” there came a voice from heaven saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” In our departing hours we are most anxious about what was our life’s dearest object: the lifework of Christ was to glorify his Father’s name, concerning that he prayed, and concerning that the voice gave full assurance. The result of the Lord’s lifework was declared to be ensured, and therefore wrapping himself up with that heavenly testimony, the great Redeemer went bravely to his death. It is to be noted, then, that at the beginning, the middle, and the end of our Master’s work, the divine voice was heard.
5. The first celestial witness was uttered after he had lived for thirty years in comparative obscurity. It seemed fitting that when he first appeared that there should be some sign that he was what he professed to be. Also remember that heavenly declaration came just before his memorable temptation. He was to be forty days in the wilderness tempted by the devil, and among the horrible suggestions hissed from the serpent’s mouth would be the doubt, “If you are the Son of God.” What better forearming of our great champion than the witness, “This is my beloved Son?” How in the memory of that paternal testimony would the Son be made strong to overcome all the temptations of the fiend, or to endure the hunger which followed the forty days of lonely fast! So, my brethren, it is not with the Master only but also with the servants; before temptation there comes spiritual sustenance, which makes the heart strong in endurance. Like Elijah of old the believer falls asleep, being awakened, he eats food of heaven’s own providing, in the strength of which food he journeys forty days through the wilderness without weariness. Expect that when the Lord tries you he will also send you strength to sustain you under it.
6. The second occasion of the heavenly utterance occurred when our Lord was about (according to Luke) to send out seventy additional disciples to preach the Word. The twelve had healed the sick, cast out demons, and done many mighty works; but now the labourers were to be increased and the harvest more rapidly gathered in; the seventy evangelists were to carry the divine crusade through all the Holy Land. Brethren, it is instructive that heaven gave to our Saviour, before extending his agencies of mercy, a fresh sign for good; and we also, when the Lord calls us to wider service, may go up to the mountain apart to pray, and while we are there we too may expect to enjoy the comforting and strengthening witness of the Spirit within; the heavenly voice shall whisper, “You are mine,” and we shall descend with radiant countenance to fight anew the battles of the Lord.
7. The third heavenly testimony came to our Lord just before his sufferings and death. I need not say to you how well timed that witness was. With such a death before him, with such circumstances surrounding him, all tending to make his agony sharper and his death more terrible than any which had fallen to the lot of man before; with Gethsemane, with Gabbatha, with Golgotha, all before him; with such words as these yet to be uttered, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful even to death,” and these, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it was fitting that the oppressed sufferer, who must tread the winepress alone, should receive at the outset a word from the throne of the highest, meeting the very point about which his soul was most concerned, namely, the glory of the Father’s name.
8. While still enlarging upon the time when the divine voices were heard, we may also notice that the first came to our Lord when he was in the attitude of obedience. Why did he need to be baptised? It is a sinner’s ordinance, Jesus is no sinner and needs no washing, no death, no burial! But he takes the sinner’s place, and therefore comes to be buried in Jordan, for “thus,” he says, “it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness.” It was to Christ an act of obedience. He took upon himself the form of a servant, and being found in fashion as a man he became obedient to every ordinance of God, and hence he yielded himself to baptism. Then came the voice, “This is my beloved Son.” Brothers and sisters, learn that when you are in the path of filial obedience you may expect the Spirit to bear witness with your spirit that you are born by God. If you live in neglect of any known duty, if you are wilfully unobservant of any command of Christ, you may expect that there shall be withheld from you the sweet assuring signs of divine love; but if you are scrupulously obedient, on desiring to know what is the Lord’s will, and then promptly to do it, not asking the reason why, nor using your own tastes, or indulging your own whims, then in the path of obedience, especially if it costs you much, you may expect to have the witness in yourself that you are a child of God.
9. The second attestation came to our Master in his devout retirement. He had gone up to the mountain to pray; his desire was to be alone. He had taken with him his accustomed bodyguard of three, Peter, and James, and John, so that they might be with him while his soul communed with God. I do not doubt that, as in the garden, they were asked to remain a stone’s throw away, for surely Jesus poured out his soul before God alone; and then it was that suddenly the glory of God shone upon him; then, in his retirement, Moses and Elijah appeared, coming out from the spirit world to commune with him; then the Father uttered a second time the testimony, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Brothers and sisters, you too, like your Master, may expect to receive divine testimonies when you are on the mount of communion alone, when your fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. The neglect of retirement will probably rob you of such assurances. If your prayer should be, “Show me a sign for good,” the answer will be, “Go to the top of Tabor, go away to your retirement, there I will give you the sign which your heart desires.” But to always live spending our strength in public, wasting ourselves in the turmoil of this world, and to neglect the soul refreshing ordinance of private devotion, is to deprive the inner man of the richest of spiritual delights.
10. The third testimony came to our Lord in his ministry. He was preaching in the temple when the Father responded to his prayer. Now while I have spoken a good word for obedience, and also have sought to magnify retirement, let it never be forgotten that public service is equally acceptable to God. Our Lord had been speaking with certain enquiring Greeks, and declaring the living power of his death to all who chose to hear him. In that very same hour the Father gave an audible answer to his prayer. If you, my brethren, are called to any form of service, I beseech you, under no pretext, neglect it. The neglect of anything for which you have the talent, and to which you have the call, may deprive you of the inward witness. Bear much fruit, so you shall be his conscientious disciples. Keep his commandments, so you shall remain in his love and know it. Do not forget to be obedient, do not forget to be prayerful in retirement, but do not forget also that you are meant to shine as a light in this world, that you must work while it is called today, that you are not sent into this life merely to enjoy spiritual recreation or even celestial refreshment, but to do a work which no one else can do, and for which you must give a personal account.
11. We must now dismiss the question of the time, and briefly consider to whom the attestations were given. The first at baptism, came to John and to our Lord, and most likely only to them. We do not think the voice from the opened heaven was necessarily heard by any one except John and our Lord. The sign of the descending dove was given to John as the sign by which he should identify the Christ. “And I did not know him; but he who sent me to baptise with water, the same said to me, ‘Upon whom then you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ ” John probably gathered from all that he had heard about Jesus that he was the great Bridegroom to whom he stood as a friend, but he was not to follow his own judgment, he was to receive a sign from God himself, and until that sign came he could not act as one fully and indisputably convinced. When he had immersed our Lord he saw the heavens opened, saw the Spirit descending upon him, and heard the confirming voice, and then he knew beyond all doubt that Jesus was the Christ. To the Baptist, then, alone that voice was audible, but then through him it was proclaimed to all Judea.
12. The second testimony had a somewhat wider range, it did not come to one but to three. Peter and James and John were present. What if I say to five, for there were with them Moses and Elijah, representatives of the law and of the prophets, as the three apostles were the representatives of the Christian church, as if to show that law and gospel meet in Jesus, and the things in heaven and the things on earth are gathered together in one in him. The testimony enlarges, you see. At first one opened ear hears it, next five are assured by it.
13. The third time the voice was heard by many, how many I cannot say, but the crowd in the temple heard it. Many heard it who did not understand it, for they said it thundered, perhaps perversely determining not to believe in the presence of God, but to ascribe that articulate voice rather to a rumbling thunder than to the divine mouth. Others who confessed that they heard words, thought that an angel spoke — men will have anything except God; thunderclaps, or cherubim, or even demons they will welcome, but divine interpositions are irksome to them. Many, we say, heard the third voice, it was a testimony to the hundreds: may we not learn from this that God’s testimony to Christ is always a growing one? If at first he was revealed to one, then to more, then to a numerous band, expect, my brethren, the fulfilment of that promise, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” If the glory of Jesus is seen today by thousands, it shall still be unveiled to tens of thousands, and in the latter days the voice which spoke once and again to our fathers, shall so speak as to shake not only earth but also heaven, and in that day if not before, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The heavenly testimony grows and spreads. Jesus is proclaimed as Lord in many hearts. Do not look on the present littleness of his visible kingdom, do not despise the day of small things; the witness of Jesus is only a spark of fire, but its conflagration shall still gird the world with holy flame.
14. The three testimonies were given in this manner; the first, to the greatest of men: for “among those who are born of women there was not a greater prophet than John the Baptist”; yet the voice revealed a greater one than he, whose shoelace he was not worthy to unloose. The second was heard by the best of men — the great lawgiver, the chief of the prophets and the noblest of the apostles, yet the voice bore witness to one better than they. The third time the voice echoed in the holiest place in the temple, and there it testified to one holier than the holiest shrine. Jesus is magnified everywhere beyond all others as the only beloved Son of the Father. I need not however enlarge. There is far more of teaching than either time or ability allows me to open up to you.
15. We come in the next place to notice to what God bore testimony. God never sets his seal to a blank. What was it, then, which he attested to? First, at the Jordan, witness was borne to Christ’s miraculous origin. “This is my beloved Son.” He does not come here like the Pharisees, and soldiers, and others have done, a mere son of man. He is Son of man, but he is also Son of the infinite, eternal God, and now on his introduction to his work he receives a spiritual anointing and a recognition from the Father. The seal was set that day to his Godhead and his relationship to the Father was acknowledged.
16. By the second audible declaration it seems to me that the Father sealed the Son’s appointment as the great prophet, and the anointed servant of God; for in the second testimony these memorable words were added, “hear him.” Here God commands us to accept him as the great Teacher, to acknowledge him as the Head of the age, to yield to him our loyal attention and obedience. When the Lord appears, it is necessary that men should know who he is; when he is actually engaged in his work it may be needful to confirm his authority; this was done on the holy mount, for so Peter understood it, as he writes in his second epistle. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
17. The third testimony bore witness to the success of his work. “I have both glorified my name,” says the Father, “and will glorify it again.” “What,” you say, “what if Jesus should not succeed? He has come into the world to vindicate the justice of God, and reveal his love, and so to glorify God — what if he should miss the mark; what, if after all his life of labour and his death of agony he should be unsuccessful?” The Father’s word declares that the anticipated results shall certainly be produced. “I have glorified it,” says the Father; “all your past life has glorified my name; your coming down from heaven, your life of about thirty years’ obedience, all the works which you have done in your three years of toil, all these have brought renown to the infinite Majesty; and ‘I will glorify it again,’ in the most supreme sense; amid the glooms of the garden, amid the terrors of Pilate’s hall, and amid the sorrows of the cross, I will still glorify my name again; yes, and in your resurrection, in your ascension, in your majesty at my right hand, in your judgment of the quick and dead I will glorify my name again.” The three voices may be viewed as attesting to the Son’s person, work, and success.
18. Some have thought that the three voices attested to our Lord in his threefold offices. John came proclaiming the kingdom: Jesus was in his baptism proclaimed as the head of the new kingdom. On the second occasion, the voice which said, “Hear him,” ordained him as the prophet of his people. And on the third occasion Jesus was acknowledged as a priest. Standing in the midst of priests, in the temple where sacrifice was offered, himself about to offer the true sacrifice, praying that his sacrifice might glorify God, he receives the witness that God has been glorified in him, and will be yet again.
19. My brethren, in this threefold witness receive into your hearts the testimony of God, who cannot lie. Behold your Saviour, well pleasing to his Father; let him be well pleasing to you. Hear him proclaimed as God’s beloved; oh let him be the beloved of your hearts! Hear the testimony about him that he has glorified God, and remember that his further glorifying God in some measure depends on you, for it is by your godly conduct, by your holy patience, by your zealous exertions for your Master’s praise, that God in Christ Jesus is to be glorified until he comes. Let these three testimonies, as they make up a complete and conclusive set of evidence, have force upon your hearts and minds, and win you to a solemn confidence in your Lord and Master.
20. I shall now ask for your attention to the question, “How were the testimonies given?” Observe that when our Lord was baptised, the heavens were opened and the Spirit descended. What if this proclaims to us that by his obedience our Lord procured the opening of heaven for us, so that our prayers might ascend to God, and all blessings might descend to us, and especially that the Holy Spirit might come down and rest for ever upon the church of God? The Master’s baptism was the type of his death. Buried beneath the waters of Jordan, he is pictured there his being buried in the depths of agony and in the darkness of the tomb; rising from the Jordan, he typified his resurrection; ascending its banks he represented his Ascension into heaven. God sees in a type all righteousness fulfilled, and answers the type by the relative type of heaven opened and the dove descending.
21. Heaven was not seen as being opened when the voice was heard a second time. In Luke chapter nine we read that the voice came out of the cloud. The overshadowing cloud is a beautiful representation of Christ as the mediator. He, like a glorious cloud, veils the excessive brightness of the Godhead, and shields us, so that when God speaks he may not speak as from the top of Sinai, with voice of trumpet and sound of thunder, but may speak through an interposing medium, with that still, small voice of love which we can hear with delight. Out of the cloud, my brethren, God speaks to his people; that is to say, he speaks to us in Christ Jesus. That was a strong utterance of Luther, but it was strictly true, “I will have nothing to do with an absolute God,” meaning I will have nothing to do with God outside of Christ. If, indeed, we had to deal with God outside of Christ, what misery it would be for us, my brethren? We would stand in the same terror as Israel did when boundaries were set around the mountain. Even Moses said, “I do exceedingly fear and quake.” It is a great mercy that the heavenly voice, as it reaches us, comes out of the cloud.
22. In reading the narrative of the third divine testimony, our mind rests neither upon the opening of heaven nor the cloud, but upon the voice alone, as if the glory of God in the work of Christ put every other thought aside. The opening of heaven, or the interposition of a mediator, are only means to the great end of glorifying God. Oh that this one great object may absorb all our souls! But, alas! the voice, plain as it was, was misunderstood, and the clearest revelation that God ever gave to mortals has been misunderstood by many. There will be those who think of thunder and the so called grandeur of nature, and others who see only angels or second causes.
23. Once more, consider what it was that was spoken on those three occasions. There was a difference in each case, though in the first two only slight. The first time the heavenly voice preached the gospel, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The old fathers were accustomed to say, “Go to Jordan if you wish see the Trinity,” and we may add, go to Jordan if you wish hear the gospel. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Observe the gospel in this sentence. The gospel is good news concerning a blessed person sent from God; here the Lord utters such good news. This man rising dripping from the water, this man is pointed out as the hope of the world. The gospel is never preached except where the person of Jesus Christ is revealed to men. “I, if I am lifted up” — not truths about me — but “I myself, if I am lifted up, will draw all men to me.” The attraction lies in the person of Christ, because the real power to save lies there. We have here the gospel revealing the acceptableness of the chosen person with God — “My beloved Son.” What men needed was a Saviour who could stand for them before God, one dear to the heart of God. It is good news for us that the anointed one is well beloved by the Father. Why, my hearers, although I have not yet opened up the fulness of that utterance, does not gospel light break in upon you already? Here is a person sent by God to save, a man of your own race, but yet very well beloved of God, and so near to God as to be called his beloved Son. But notice, even more earnestly, the gospel of the next words, “In whom I am well pleased”; not “With whom,” as hasty readers suppose, but “In whom I am well pleased.” This is the very gospel, that God as he looks upon men is well pleased with all who are in Christ. God in Christ is not anger, but good pleasure. If I, a poor sinner, enter by faith into Christ, then I may be assured that God is well pleased with me; that, if I as his child come to him, and by a living faith link my destiny with the life and person of Christ, I need not fear the wrath of heaven. Sinner, God is not well pleased with you as you are; child of God, God is not well pleased with you as you are: there is enough about either saint or sinner to provoke the Lord to jealousy; but, sinner, if you are in Christ by faith God is well pleased with you; and, oh heir of heaven, with all your infirmities and imperfections, since you are one with Christ by an eternal and now vital union, God is well pleased with you. Did I not truly say that the gospel sounded from Jordan’s waves?
24. The second sound of the voice uttered not only the gospel itself, but the gospel command, “Hear him.” Matthew Henry has some very delightful remarks upon this expression, “Hear him.” He remarks in effect that salvation does not come by seeing, as the Roman Catholic church would have it, for the disciples were not directed to look at Christ in his glory, although the sight deserved all their attention, but they were asked to hear rather than see. To hear the gospel is a most important duty, for faith comes by hearing. But salvation does not come by hearing the doctrines of men but by hearing Jesus Christ. There stood Moses; and those three Jewish worthies, Peter and James and John, might have longed for Moses to open his mouth, and if he had spoken to them they would have been very attentive to him, but the word was not, “Hear Moses,” but “Hear him.” There was Elijah, too. Oh for a burning word from that master among the prophets, whose life was a flame; but it was not said, “Hear Elijah,” but “Hear him.” “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them,” is the word sent to careless sinners, but to sincere seekers the direction is, “Hear him.” Dear brothers and sisters, the great salvation of God comes to us through the testimony of Jesus Christ; not through the moral essays or philosophical treatises or doctrinal discussions of men. “Hear him.” So the gospel commands you. Do not let your ear be deaf when God communicates news of eternal life.
25. On the third occasion the testimony given was not the gospel nor the gospel precept, but the gospel’s result: “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” I call your attention to this so that you may be earnest in preaching the gospel. It is through the gospel that God is glorified. By the poorest gospel sermon that was ever preached, God through his Holy Spirit, obtains for himself a glory which the most pompous ritual cannot yield him. You never speak well of Jesus without glorifying God. No gospel word falls to the ground and is lost; it must accomplish what God has sent it for. He has glorified his name by the gospel, and he will again. Let this encourage those of you who are afraid that the times are very bad, and that we are all going over to the pope. Do not be at all afraid. God will glorify his name by the gospel again as he did before. Martin Luther was not in himself a character so lovely that one might be overwhelmed with admiration for him: what was the source of his power? The source of his power came from this, that he grasped the true gospel, and he was a man who, when he grasped a thing, gave it a grip so firm that the devil himself could not wrench it away from him. With the gospel in his hands he could say, “Heaps upon heaps with the weapon of the gospel I have slain my thousands; heaps upon heaps the foes of God are overturned.” He was mighty because he declared the gospel of Jesus Christ, and with this he shook the world and brought about the Reformation. You need not therefore despair. If the ministers of Christ will only come back to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, plainly, simply, and with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, we shall drive the Ritualists, those cubs of the old Roman monster, back to their dens, as our fathers did their mother of old. Never lose your faith in the gospel. Always believe that our power is gone when we get away from the cross, but know also of a truth that when we come back to the truth as it is in Jesus, God glorifies his name.
26. II. LET US NOW OBSERVE ONE OR TWO INSTRUCTIVE CIRCUMSTANCES connected with these three divine voices. On each occasion Jesus was in prayer.
27. My dear, dear young people, look up the proofs of that in your Bibles. You will find in one or other of the evangelists that it is distinctly stated on each occasion that our Lord was in prayer. Learn, then, that if any child of God would have God speak comfortingly to him, he must speak to God in prayer. If you wish to have the witness of the Holy Spirit in your soul, you must be much in supplication. Do not neglect the mercy seat.
28. Notice next, that each time the sufferings of Christ were prominently before him. John, at the waters of Jordan had said, “Behold the Lamb of God”; plainly speaking of sacrifice. Baptism itself, the fulfilling of all righteousness, we have seen to be the type of his death, and of his immersion in suffering. On Tabor, on the second occasion, Matthew tells us that, “Behold, there talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah: who appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” The subject that the best of men talked about when they met was the death of Jesus. There is no better topic, then, for us when we meet. If we were the most talented and the wisest men who ever lived, if we met together and wanted the most select topic for an eclectic discourse, we ought to choose the cross; for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, three great representative men, talked about the atoning death of the great Substitute. The third time our Lord had just spoken about the hour being come in which he was to be glorified, as you well remember. Learn then, my brethren, that if you desire to see the glory of Christ, as attested to by the Father, you must dwell much on his death. Do not talk to me about the life of Christ in all its purity, I know it and rejoice in it; but I tell you that the death of Christ, in all his misery, is the grandest point of view. The example of Jesus should be exalted by all means, but his atonement is grander by far; and you, sirs, who take the man Christ, and offer your pretty, complimentary phrases about him, but then turn around and deny his expiating sacrifice, I tell you your tawdry offerings are unacceptable to him; to be complimented by your lips is almost to be censured, for if you do not believe on him as an atoning sacrifice, you do not understand his life. Thus each attestation came in connection with the Lord’s sufferings, as if the glory of Christ dwelt mainly there.
29. Once more, each time that Jesus received this word from the Father he was honouring the Father. In baptism he was honouring him by obedience; on the mountain he was honouring him in devotion; in the temple the very words he was using were, “Father, glorify your name.” Oh, if you wish to see God’s glory, and hear God’s voice in your own heart, honour him, spend and be spent for him, do not keep back your sacrifices, do not withhold your offerings, lay yourselves upon his altar, and when you say with Isaiah, “Here I am, send me,” for any service whatever it may be, then you shall also feel that the Lord is with you, acknowledging both you and your work, and glorifying himself in it.
30. III. Lastly, THE PRACTICAL LESSON may be found in the words, “Hear him.”
31. Let me earnestly speak to everyone here. God has three times with audible voice spoken out of heaven to bear witness to Jesus. These are historical facts. I beseech you then receive with assured conviction the truth to which God bears witness. The Man of Nazareth is the Son of the Highest; the Son of Mary is the Saviour appointed to bear human sin; he is the way of salvation, and the only way. Do not doubt this truth; accept the Saviour, for God declares that he is well pleased in him.
32. Hear him then, with profound reverence, accept the teaching and invitations of Jesus as not the mere utterances of fallible men, but as the instructions and the loving expostulations of God. I urge you to have respect for every word and command of Christ. Listen to him as spirits listen to the voice of the Most High when they bow before the throne; and if he says to you, as he does this morning, “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”; hear him and lovingly obey the command.
33. Hear him, I urge you, with unconditional obedience. God attests him as being sent from heaven; whatever he says to you, do it; and since he asks you to believe him, do not be unbelieving. He has told us to say in his name, “He who believes, and is baptised, shall be saved.” Do not despise that double command. Attend, oh sinner, attend, for it is the Son of God who speaks to you. Trust and be baptised, and you shall be saved. There stands the gospel stamped with the authority of deity; obey it now. May the Holy Spirit lead you to do so.
34. Hear him, lastly, with joyful confidence. If God has sent Jesus, trust him; if he bears the glory of God’s seal upon him, joyfully receive him. You who have trusted him, trust him better from this day forward. Leave your souls very confidently in the hand of him of whom Jehovah, three times speaking from heaven, declares that he is the only Saviour. Receive him, sinner, you who wish to be saved. May the Lord confirm the testimony which he spoke out of heaven, by speaking in your hearts by his Holy Spirit, so that you may rejoice in his beloved Son, and glorify God in him.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mark 1:1-13 Luke 9:28-36 John 12:20-33]