Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.The Gospel Feast
I. From the beginning, the greatest rite of religion has been a feast; the partaking of God's bounties, in the way of nature, has been consecrated to a more immediate communion with God Himself. For instance, when Isaac was weaned, Abraham 'made a great feast,' and then it was that Sarah prophesied: 'Cast out this bondwoman and her son,' she said, prophesying the introduction of the spirit, grace, and truth which the Gospel contains, instead of the bondage of the outward forms of the Law. Again, it was at a feast of savoury meat that the spirit of prophecy came upon Isaac, and he blessed Jacob. In like manner the first beginning of our Lord's miracles was at a marriage feast, when He changed water into wine; and when St. Matthew was converted he entertained our Lord at a feast At a feast, too, our Lord allowed the penitent woman to wash with tears and anoint His feet, and pronounced her forgiveness; and at a feast, before His Passion, He allowed Mary to anoint them with costly ointment, and to wipe them with her hair. Thus with our Lord, and with the Patriarchs, a feast was a time of grace; so much so, that He was said by the Pharisees to come eating and drinking, to be 'a winebibber and gluttonous, a friend of publicans and sinners'.
II. And next, in order to make this feasting still more solemn, it had been usual at all times to precede it by a direct act of religion—by a prayer, or blessing, or sacrifice, or by the presence of a priest, which implied it. Thus when Melchizedek came out to meet Abraham, and bless him, 'he brought forth bread and wine'; to which it is added, 'and he was the priest of the Most High God'.
III. And next let this be observed, that the descriptions in the Old Testament of the perfect state of religious privilege, viz. that under the Gospel which was then to come, are continually made under the image of a feast, a feast of some special and choice goods of this world, corn, wine, and the like; goods of this world chosen from the mass as a specimen of all, as types and means of seeking, and means of obtaining, the unknown spiritual blessings, which 'eye hath not seen nor ear heard'. And these special goods of nature, so set apart, are more frequently than anything else, com or bread, and wine, as the figures of what was greater, though others are mentioned also. Now the first of these of which we read is the fruit of the tree of life, the leaves of which are also mentioned in the prophets. The tree of life was that tree in the Garden of Eden, the eating of which would have made Adam immortal; a Divine gift lay hid in an outward form. The Prophet Ezekiel speaks of it afterwards in the following words, showing that a similar blessing was in store for the redeemed: 'By the river, upon the bank thereof, on this side, and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed. It shall bring forth new fruits according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.' Like to which is St. John's account of the tree of life, 'which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations'. And hence we read in the Canticles of the apple-tree, and of sitting down under its shadow, and its fruit being sweet to the taste. Here then in type is signified the sacred gift of which I am speaking; and yet it has not seemed good to the gracious Giver literally to select fruit or leaves as the means of His invisible blessings. He might have spiritually fed us with such, had He pleased—for man liveth not by bread only, but by the word of His mouth. His Word might have made the fruit of the tree His sacrament, but He has willed otherwise.
The same wonderful feast is put before us in the book of Proverbs, where Wisdom stands for Christ 'Wisdom hath builded her house,' that is, Christ has built His Church; 'she hath hewn out her seven pillars, she hath killed her beasts, she hath mingled her wine (that is, Christ has prepared His Supper), she hath also furnished her table (that is, the Lord's Table), she hath sent forth her maidens (that is, the priests of the Lord), she crieth upon the highest places of the city 'Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of My Bread and drink of the Wine which I have mingled,' —which is like saying, 'Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will refresh you'. Like which are the Prophet Isaiah's words: 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price'. And such too is the description in the book of Canticles: 'The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell'.... 'Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get Me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.'... 'I have gathered My myrrh with My spice, I have eaten My honeycomb with My honey, I have drunk My wine with My milk; eat, O friends, drink, yea drink abundantly, O beloved!' In connection with such passages as these should be observed St. Paul's words, which seem from the antithesis to be an allusion to the same most sacred Ordinance: 'Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit,' with that new wine which God the Holy Spirit ministers in the Supper of the Great King.
—J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. vii. p. 167.
References.—VI. 5.—J. Keble, Sermons for Lent to Passion-tide, p. 309. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ii. p. 96. VI. 5, 6.—Expositor (7 th Series), vol. vi. p. 359. VI. 5-7.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. i. p. 79. VI. 6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1605. VI. 7.—T. F. Crosse, Sermons, p. 121. VI. 8.—F. W. Farrar, Everyday Christian Life, p. 264. VI. 9.—J. G. Tatley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. p. 251. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 37. VI. 10.—Expositor (7th Series), vol. v. p. 378. VI. 10-12.—A. Ainger, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. p. 55. VI. 11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvii. No. 2216. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 261.
This is one of the passages on which the Revised Version throws considerable light It corrects the general impression that the Apostles were bidden to gather up the fragments which the multitudes had left in the places where they had been sitting. The translation 'Gather up the broken pieces that remain over' helps us to picture the Apostles carefully gathering the superabundant provision their Lord had made, and of which the satisfied multitudes could not make use. They were pieces which the Lord Himself had blessed and broken, and which lay at His feet, an evidence of His bounty. This interpretation of the command suggests, as we shall see, deeper thoughts than the mere duty of thrift and careful avoidance of waste.
I. The Miracle Recalled.—In order the better to grasp the significance of the command, it is necessary to recall a few matters connected with the miracle of the feeding of the multitude which give it point When our Lord and His disciples had first come in sight of the great company of people, He had inquired of Philip, who was a native of the district, 'Whence are we to buy bread that these may eat?' When we place side by side the four accounts we have of this miracle, it seems as though the rough calculation of two hundred pennyworth of bread that Philip had made when Jesus first consulted him had been a subject of discussion amongst the Twelve during the day. No sooner had Jesus given the command, 'Give ye them to eat,' than they say to Him, 'Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread? 'This was an amount altogether beyond their means, and their question was evidently intended to prove to their Master the impossibility of fulfilling His command. The Master gently rebukes such calculations, and bids His disciples turn their eyes from the multitudes to take stock of their own resources. He does not send them to buy what they cannot provide the money to pay for; He only asks them to bring to Him what they know they possess. Possibly they imagined that when their Lord knew the poverty of their provision He would relieve them of the responsibility of obedience to His, as they regarded it, impossible command. At least, they appear to have come and only told Him the amount of their resources, and He had to send them again to bring them to Him. When their meagre gifts are in the hand of the Christ we get the solution of the problem; for 'Five barley loaves and two small fishes' in His hands can do more than two hundred pennyworth of bread, even if that amount could have been purchased. When will the Church fully entrust her Lord with all the resources she possesses, and cease to calculate that she requires at least 'two hundred pennyworth of bread' before she can attempt to satisfy the needs of a hungering world?
II. The Significance of the Text.—We can now better appreciate the significance of our text—'Gather up the broken pieces which remain over that nothing be lost'. At the outset there was no thought on the part of the disciples of the possibility of a superabundant supply. They were busy calculating what might be 'sufficient'. When Christ breaks the loaves and fishes, we may be sure there will be an ample provision for all. He Himself teaches us that in this miracle we may learn of Him as the Bread of God which came down from heaven that He might give life unto the world. His body has been broken and His blood shed, and in Him there is an abundance of inexhaustible supply, not for our needs alone, but also for the needs of the whole world.
III. A Safeguard against Presumption.—This command to 'gather up' is a safeguard against presumption. The disciples might have argued that, having One with them Who can so marvellously supply bread in the wilderness, all necessity for care and forethought on their part was removed. No, each one must take his basket, his wallet, and fill it from this abundant provision. Christ never exercises His miraculous powers where men by prudent thought can secure provision for themselves from His supplies.
Gather Up the Fragments
It is only the continuity of miracles that divests them of exceptional interest You know man is so constituted that it is the unusual which attracts his attention. We require to be startled before we will observe. The bread we have eaten today is as directly and divinely the product of the activity of the evolver of the word Father, Who was incarnate in the Son of Mary, as the loaves with which, as I verily from my soul believe, He did feed these five thousand beside the Lake of Galilee. Only usage has spun cobwebs round our thoughts, and we have forgotten that there is a soul in all things, and that soul is God.
I. This miracle is a powerful appeal to our confidence. As to that providence which exists behind the processes of nature it teaches us that that which men call God is not an aggregation of abstract attributes, or an impersonal creative force, but a living, sympathising, and undefinable Being, full of human compassion and missionary spirit, to whom we owe all, and who changes not.
II. This miracle is a picture lesson given to you to teach that God has His certain reward for you if you have the courage to go a single step out of your way to show that you trust even where you do not understand. 'He Himself knew what He would do;' and He always does. He will still work what men call miracles, to nourish your spirit and soul and body, for He is constrained by the fullness of His love to be your providence.
III. 'Gather up the crumbs that nothing be lost' It is the call to man to bestir himself to break out of his indulgent self-sufficiency; to cany himself forth into what may sometimes be sneeringly called by religionists of a certain school, the economics of salvation; to labour to prevent the hideous waste in God's fair world of the religious and physical resources; to multiply bread for the starving millions; to be inculcating habits of self-control, thrift, and uprightness by constantly in season and out of season fighting against the food waste and the vices of the masses of the people. And I think the injunction might be fairly taken, just as it stands, as the Divine authorisation of the earnest labours of those who are striving in every way to increase, to improve, and to extend the education of the race.
IV. As the Christ is man's ideal of God, do you not see that this injunction, 'Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost,' is the expression of an unchanging attitude of the magnificence, the unity of the Intelligence whence we all come? He cannot tell me to do a thing that He is not willing to do Himself; and the command is a protest against all the narrow, degrading notions of the wastefulness of God.
—Basil Wilberforce, The Preacher's Magazine, vol. vii. p. 5.
References.—VI. 12.—Basil Wilberforce, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 337. C S. Home, The Soul's Awakening, p. 227. T. Arnold, Christian Life: Its Hopes, p. 216. W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 221. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year (2nd Series), vol. ii. p. 209. W. G. Rutherford, The Key of Knowledge, p. 108. J. Tolefree Parr, The White Life, p. 121. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 261.
The Prophecies of Jesus
The study of the prophecies of Jesus Christ would do very much to establish our faith, for the vast majority of these prophecies have been wondrously fulfilled. To-day I want to bring before you some of the fulfilled prophecies of Jesus Christ—His prophecies with regard to the Jew, His prophecies with regard to the world, and His prophecies with regard to the Church.
I. Now with regard to the Jews our Lord Jesus Christ gave forth three very special prophecies. (1) First of all, He foretold the fall of Judaism as a religion. In the twenty-first chapter of St. Matthew, after His parable of the wicked husbandmen, He asks, in the fortieth verse, His hearers: 'What will the lord of the vineyard do unto those husbandmen?' And 'They say unto Him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men and will let out His vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render Him the fruits in their seasons'. And then in the forty-third verse, Jesus said, 'True, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. The same truth is told in the miracle of the blasted fig-tree. (2) Then, secondly, He proclaimed the destruction of Jerusalem as a city, and of the temple as a sanctuary. In the twenty-third chapter of St. Matthew, and the thirty-seventh verse—'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.' The temple was to be no more a sanctuary; God had forsaken it. And so with regard to the city. In the twenty-fourth chapter and the second verse, Jesus said unto them, 'See ye not all these things? Verily, I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.'
II. This brings us to the second of His prophecies that we would mention, His prophecies with regard to the world. He says, I am the Messiah, but I am not coming to bring peace: there is going to be war, there is going to be famine, there is going to be pestilence. You My own disciples will be persecuted, some of you will grow cold, many of you will be offended.
III. And then, lastly, there is His prophecy with regard to the Church. Instead of the Jewish religion, there is to be what Jesus Christ says is the kingdom of God. (1) It is to be universal. (2) This kingdom of God was to be spiritual. (3) He proclaimed that those who were admitted into this kingdom would be admitted as individuals and not as a nation. (4) This kingdom was to be very mixed; it is not to be as the future kingdom, when the Son of man will gather out of it everything which doth offend, but in this kingdom there will be tares and wheat, there will be good fish and bad, there will be wise and foolish virgins, there will be faithful and slothful servants.
—E. A. Stuart, The One Mediator and other Sermons, vol. xi. p. 129.
References.—VI. 14.—Bishop Ellicott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p. 22. F. St. John Corbett, The Preacher's Year, p. 61. G. Trevor, Types and the Antitype, p. 181. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. pp. 84, 85. VI. 14, 15.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 381. VI. 16.—W. Landels, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlviii. p. 211. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year (2nd Series), vol. i. p. 166. R. W. Dale, Fellowship with Christ, p. 192. Expositor (4th Series), vol. v. pp. 25, 186; ibid. (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 34. VI. 15, 16.—Lord William Cecil, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. p. 344. VI. 15-17.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sack-mile College Chapel, vol. ii. p. 222. VI. 15, 28, 30.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 83.
Dark—And Jesus Not Yet Come
Who are they of whom this is said? Of His Apostles this is written. Of them that had continued with Him in His temptations, of those to whom He had appointed a kingdom as His Father had appointed to Him. Thus, if He allowed this trouble to happen to them, though He loved them, so He may to us, though He loves us.
I. It is a dark world this in which we live! There is so much in which we cannot see God's hand. 'And Jesus was not yet come to them.' No, but He will. All those troubles He sends to lead us to Him.
II. What were the Apostles doing when He thus came to them. They were going where He would have them go. 'Rowing,' says one of the Evangelists; 'toiling in rowing,' says another. If they had not been labouring in His service, He would never have come to their assistance. So with us.
Let us only be doing His will, let us only be toiling onward in the path He has marked out for us, and—it may be at the fourth watch, it may be at the very darkest—it may be when we have done our utmost that He will come to us. 'When Israel is in the brick-kiln,' says the Jewish proverb, 'then cometh Moses.' When we are in the deepest distress, then will come our true Moses, Jesus Christ, to be a defence to the oppressed, even a refuge in due time—but not before the due time—of trouble.
—J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 201.
References.—VI. 17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2945. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 192. J. M. Neale, Readings for the Aged (3rd Series), p. 38. Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p. 250; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 219. VI. 18.—Ibid, vol. vii. p. 295. VI. 19, 20.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 269. VI. 20.—W. P. Balfern, Glimpses of Jesus, p. 221. VI. 21.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. ii. p. 475. VI. 22-24—Expositor (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 139.
Seeking for Jesus
These words sound like a snatch of a poem; they almost sing. 'Seeking for Jesus'—on the very smallest invitation they would fall into joyful, ennobling music. As originally applied, they are small enough, and limited enough, but they are so beautiful that they cannot be shut down to small measures and applications. We know right words when we hear them; there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding. We know whether a song has fallen from some poor tree or from some open window in heaven; the song awakens all in us that is Divine, and all in us that is kindred to itself. There is common prayer, there is common song; there is worship that belongs to every kindred and people and tongue under the whole heaven.
I. The other words that are beautiful in this twenty-fourth verse are 'Jesus was not there'. Then who was there? Nobody; it was a kind of gathering-place of emptiness; the little crowd that was there needed centralisation, uplifting into Divine form and Divine meaning. How one soul makes a place, how the absence of that soul destroys the temple without any promise of its being rebuilt.
When the people saw that Jesus was not there they turned their backs, and said, 'It was for Jesus we came, we are seeking Jesus; we will take the first boat, the first train, the first opening, and be off'. (1) I would apply the same test to every social institution. They have made a number of little institutions outside the Church, institutions that have no reference whatever to the inner sanctuary. They are going in various ways to convert the world to their opinions, they are going to reconstruct society, they are going to play with time, re-arranging and distributing its twenty-four hours. They never mention the name of Jesus; then they will never succeed. (2) I would apply the same test to the Church. I am not to be taken in by names; I go further than the label, I want to know the contents, and who has analysed them, who has compounded them, who is responsible for them; and if I do not find Jesus there, I leave the Church, though it be big as a mountain and radiant with merely phosphorescent splendour. If Jesus is not in the sermon, leave the preacher, and at the door cry, Shame! The sermon exists for Jesus, not Jesus for the sermon; the sermon is nothing if it be not filled from end to end, through and through, and even to 'Finally' with the spirit and with the love of Jesus.
II. Then, secondly, never forget that it was the habit of Jesus to appear to His disciples 'in another form'. 'After that He appeared unto His disciples in another form;' after that He appeared to two of them as they were walking in the green lanes or in the shaded paths; after that He appeared to them multitudinously, so that five hundred people saw Him all at once, and saw Him altogether, so that nobody else imagined that he had seen Him but each individual man; and then He appeared unto them in another form, and then without form.
III. Note the encouraging attitude of these people. They were seeking for Jesus. 'What think ye? will He come to the feast?' What does it matter? the feast will go on whether He is here or not. Yes, in a certain mechanical sense the feast may go on so, but if He is not here it will be a poor feast. Seeking for Jesus may be treated as an assurance that seeking is finding. 'Seek, and ye shall find:' this is always true, but pre-eminently and most poignantly true in the case of the personality of Jesus Christ the Lord. If you want to find Christ here today, He is seated next you; if you really go to the house of God to find Jesus, you will discover Him in all the sanctuary—in the corners, in the roof, in the floor, in every daisy, and in every lamp. You get what you seek for. This is largely true in everything, it is absolutely true in the case of Jesus Christ.
IV. Seeking is itself a blessing. They who understand such things say that the great delight is in the hunting, not in the killing; they who understand such things say that they engage in this sport and in that for the sake of the sport itself, not that they want to kill any poor, fish or any poor creature of the field. Without following out that analogy at all, we still come back to the great fundamental truth that in seeking Christ we get Christ's blessing; in going to the house of God we put ourselves in a right relation to spiritual benediction. I repeat, I have found Him in unexpected places. I have found Him often in the garden, I have seen Him often in the little creatures of the air that come roaming over God's garden to find what honey they can collect. I have desired to be as one of them. They do not elicit the poison, they elicit the honey; they have come for a given purpose, and that purpose is realised. So it must always be with my going to the garden of the house of God. I have come there to find Jesus, and have never missed Him when my spirit has been really sincere, determined.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. vi. p. 30.
References.—VI. 24.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 947. VI. 25.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 449. VI. 25, 26.—C. Bradley, Faithful Teaching, p. 197.
The perpetual chagrin of his life was the obstinate refusal of those on whom he had helped to shower wealth and plenty to hear what he had to say on the social ideals to which their wealth should lead.
—Morley's Life of Cobden, ch. xxxviii.
References.—VI. 26.—A. L. N., Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 109. W. H. Evans, Short Sermons for the Seasons, p. 30. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iv. p. 164; ibid. (6th Series), vol. xii. p. 431; ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 51. VI. 26, 27.—J. H. Jowett, British Congregationalist, 12th September, 1907, p. 218. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 354. VI. 26-58.—Ibid. (5th Series), vol. viii. p. 87. VI. 27.—D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 290. VI. 27-29.—C. Brown, God and Man, p. 127. VI. 28.—Bishop Boyd-Carpenter, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 372. VI. 28, 29.—W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 102. A. Maclaren, The Wearied Christ, p. 69. O. Bronson, Sermons, p. 60. T. Arnold, Christian Life: Its Hopes, p. 263. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 280. VI. 29.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi. No. 1521. A. P. Stanley, Canterbury Sermons, p. 90. VI. 30.—Expositor (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 66. VI. 32.—Bishop Welldon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 277. F. B. Cowl, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 239. J. Keble, Sermons for Septuagesima to Ash Wednesday, p. 259. J. Learmount, The Examiner, 7th June, 1906, p. 565.
The Indispensable Christ
Christ had but recently fed the multitude by the miraculous multiplication of the barley loaves and fishes, and in consequence a large number flocked to Him, doubtless desiring to witness a repetition of His wonderful power. But He seeks not to win men to Himself by these methods, and hence proceeds to rebuke their impure and unstable enthusiasms. He knows full well how undependable is mere admiration, and is too well acquainted with men not to know how readily they respond to the appeal of mere novelty. And in rebuking them He makes it clear that in His feeding of the hungry there was not merely direct alleviation of need, but deeper illustration of a truth which He had already proclaimed, and to which He sought to win them. For His philanthropies are but mirrors of His larger and more lasting ministries to the souls of men, and He would have them learn that there are more important things in life than the physical, more eternal provision than the bread that perisheth. But His words are misinterpreted, and they begin to dispute with Him, comparing Him with Moses, and His provision with the manna which their fathers had eaten in the wilderness. Christ, however, brings the dialogue to an end with this explicit statement, declaring Himself to be the Bread of Life, the antitype of which the manna in the wilderness was but the foreshadowing. He alone can feed and nourish true life, for He alone is its Author. And no lesson is more important, either for them or for us, than this one.
I. His declaration surprises us at first sight with its assumption of universal hunger. He, as it were, takes it for granted that all men are hungry, and on this postulate announces Himself as the One who can meet their needs. Now this fact of hunger does not need to be proven, for every one is conscious of its truth and force in himself. It often needs, however, to be interpreted, and this Christ is ever doing. He is constantly seeking to interpret to men the longings of their souls, which are explicable only in the light of His loving interest Hunger for the highest, for the best and truest life, is itself a sign of saving relationship with God. The man who has no hunger and is conscious of no needs has neither knowledge of himself nor of God. And Christ announces Himself to all who are conscious of it as the Bread of Life, the complement of all need, in Whom alone are all these things found for which we variously hunger. Love, peace, security, progress are all secured and assured to us only in Christ, and to follow them apart from Him is to chase a mere will-o'-the-wisp.
II. It is significant that throughout Christ's ministry He uses ordinary things—things whose meaning is easily understood—in order to convey the deepest truths concerning Himself. Everybody knows what bread is. Its nature and its taste, as well as our common need of it, are known to all; and it is surely characteristic of Christ that He should seek to reveal Himself in terms easily and commonly apprehensible. He says in effect, 'Just as you cannot live without bread, so you cannot truly live without Me'.
III. In this homely figure Christ makes exceedingly plain also the method by which He is to be appreended. As a man eats bread so that its powers of nourishment and constituents of strength become part of his physical frame, so does Christ communicate Himself to the one who receives Him into heart and life by constant appropriation of faith. It just means that He imparts His life unto us, and incorporates His strength with the soul who will receive Him. The man who eats of the Bread of Life is the one who testifies that 'Christ liveth in me'. But let it not be forgotten that, simple though these words sound in which He declares Himself to be the Bread of Life, the cost by which His gratuitous offer is made to man can never be calculated. For the grain must be cut down, ground between millstones, and subjected to the burning of fire before it can be made bread for the hungry. And His sufferings we can but dimly understand by such illustration. He is not nor could be the Bread of Life, apart from the Garden, the Cross, and the Tomb.
—J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p. 93.
The Bread of Life
The figure under which Christ here speaks of Himself and His relation to men has a profound significance of its own. What it suggests about that relation is its inwardness. For He is bread, and bread means support, sustenance, new tissue, fresh life. And what we are to learn here is, that Christ is ready to incorporate Himself with us, to enter into and become part and parcel of us, and so to communicate to us that eternal life which is the life of our life always.
I. It is not the body only that needs to have its strength continually replenished from without (1) Take the mind of man, for instance; it cannot feed upon itself. The strongest thinkers are the profoundest students of the books of nature and life always. (2) Similarly with the life that is higher than this. The soul too has its cravings which must be met, unless its energies are to grow feeble and to decay. And here, let us note in passing, is the great difference between the religion of the Bible and all other religions. How full of contentment the men of the Bible are! It is because they have had bread given them from heaven to eat This is the meaning of Revelation. 'He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.'
II. In the offer itself now, there is implied, for one thing, this: (1) That in Christ there is made available for us that Divine supply which is the strength and life of the soul. (2) It surely is not without significance that in the discourse in which His theme is Himself as the bread of man's life our Lord should hint so frequently, and not obscurely, at His death. His 'flesh' is to be given for the life of the world. In truth, there is always a process through which life of any kind must pass before it can become life in anyone else. Our daily bread—so far as that which we spiritually live by is truly and directly found in Christ—was bought at the price of wrestling, tears, and blood.
III. We have thus far been assuming that there was no difficulty at all about the partaking of this Bread. Nevertheless it is not just evident what it means, and we should be thankful that in His great discourse Christ gives us some light upon this matter also. He does so by pointing to the analogy of Himself in His laying constant hold upon the life of the Father. 'As the living Father,' He says, 'hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same shall live by Me.' His followers' relation to Him is to be what His was to the Father. It is important that we should carry away with us the sense of the strength and the satisfaction which this Bread which has come down from heaven is able to give to the soul. (1) First the strength, for if Christ be a man's strength, what is there that ought to be impossible to him? (2) And next, the satisfaction it gives, the deep and unfailing satisfaction.
—A. Martin, Winning the Soul, p. 99.
Then I saw from that saying, He that cometh unto Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst, that believing and coming was all one; and that he that came, that is, ran out in his heart and affections after salvation by Christ, he indeed believed in Christ.
—Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress.
Christ the Life
The self-revelations of Jesus Christ come to us with comfort and hope; they come to us perfectly naturally and easily from His own lips. Having once heard of His eternal self-existence, we naturally want to know what He has to say to us who are just here today and gone tomorrow. So it is that with great comfort we listen to these assertions: 'I am the Bread of Life,' 'I am the Light of the world,' 'I am the Resurrection and the Life,' 'I am the true Vine,' 'I am the Door,' 'I am the good Shepherd'—assertions which it would have been absolutely impossible for any mere human being to have made.
I. Christ the Life.—Let us look at the simplest assertion of all, 'I am the Bread of Life'. What comfort it brings us! Life—why, that is just what we all want; life even in its poorest form of physical existence. We all long to go on living. We dread the day when death shall loose the ties of life and when we shall be plunged into what seems to some men to be the unknown. Christ stands as a witness, as a guarantee, to supply the purest form of life to all those who ask Him for it. He did not fling His assertion 'I am the Bread of Life' into the air. The men who were listening to Him at that time were themselves the recipients of His bounty. The larger number of them had stood starving on the hill-side but a day or two ago, and He then, by His own power, had stopped their famine. They recognised that at any rate He could do that, and because He could do that He was worthy to be their King. And so they found afterwards that when men wanted life they found it at His hands. He was not like a great teacher, like Moses or Jeremiah, who points out two paths—the path of life on the one hand, and the path of death on the other—and bids men choose between them. He pointed to Himself as the Life. There was an absolutely new declaration that had never been heard before. It was not to some fount or source of life somewhere or other to be found to which He could give men a direction, but He Himself was the source, the spring, the fount of life. In Him was life, and men had found it to be so. The hand of Jesus Christ, the word of Jesus Christ, brought life.
II. Intellectual Life.—But, after all, physical existence is only the poorest form of living. We do not know how to live until we have got beyond that. Erasmus was quite right when he said that, after all, books were necessaries; clothes, and he might have added food, were only luxuries. We cannot live without thought How pathetic it is to see those tired and jaded with the routine of work rushing back to their homes in the cars and 'buses, nearly all of them engrossed in a world of their own which comes and springs from some little book they hold in their hands. Intellectual life is, after all, not the perfect life. Yet how wonderfully He Who proclaimed Himself as the Bread of Life supplies this. There were plain men like St. John the fisherman—simple, plain men with ordinary common; lace minds—but what wonders He did for them! How their minds expanded! Even Seneca, with all his wisdom and education, could not write a book showing such political insight as the book which St. John wrote, the book of Revelation; or St. Paul, the narrow Pharisee as he was to start with, one whose whole mind was filled and occupied with the numberless little duties that fitted his sect. How was it possible for a mind so narrow, so small as that was, to expand into that giant intellectual mind, which still commands the admiration of the ages. He was able to see what no man of his time saw, the unity of the human race in Jesus Christ
III. The Life of Life.—But intellectual life is not the highest life. We might well bum all our books, give up all our libraries for that fullest life which is the life of life. Man is not, after all, so much born to think as he is born to love. It was Disraeli who enounced the truth, as he enounced many others, that love was the primal fount of man's existence. That life, too, He supplies. No one supplies the life of love as He did. He, too, is the fount of love, and it is to Him we come when we are seeking the highest fellowship that earth affords, the fellowship of husband and wife. At His hands we seek His crowning blessing that may make the love we bring Him worthy of the love of which He tells in His Word.
IV. But will these Things Abide?—After all there is death. Death shatters the mind; death breaks and separates these closest and most intimate links and ties. Has He anything to say to that? It was one of His most significant actions, proclaiming that He was indeed not only the Life, but the Resurrection and the Life. He is able to assure us that, though there is so much against it, yet He proclaims Himself in the midst of our sorrows, in the very deepest of our miseries, to be the Resurrection and the Life, One Who can bring back all those ties which He has formed here on earth, and give them a new perfection in His heavenly kingdom.
References.—VI. 35.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1112. H. Allen, Penny Pulpit, No. 1639, p. 157. C. Bickersteth, The Gospel of Incarnate Love, p. 149.
This Scripture also did now most sweetly visit my soul, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. Oh, the comfort that I had from this word, in no wise! as who should say, by no means, for nothing, whatever he hath done.... I saw that to come aright was to come as I was, a vile and ungodly sinner, and to cast myself at the feet of mercy, condemning myself for sin.
—Bunyan, Grace Abounding, p. 214.
References.—VI. 37.—E. M. Geldart, Echoes of Truth, p. 272. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x. No. 599; vol. xxx. No. 1762; vol. xl. No. 2349; vol. li. No. 2954; and vol. lii. No. 3000. G. H. Morrison, The Return of the Angels, p. 294. VI. 37-40.—J. E. Page, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 328. VI. 38-62.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 369.
'Raise up at the last day' is a phrase repeated four times in this chapter, vv. 39, 40, 44, 54. The neuter gender of the pronoun is used. Why? Everything that His Father had given our Lord is here viewed as a whole, a kingdom, although it includes individuals mainly. There will be a glorious resurrection of things as well as persons.
I. The Significance of His Providence will be shown in the Resurrection.—This discourse was suggested by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. He says, 'Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost'. Every fragment of His providential dispensations will be gathered up in 'that day,' and each item His providential dealings with men will appear as something not to be lost. We are in danger of losing these fragments now. The varied experiences of life combine the apparently trivial with its great issues. Men are accustomed to attach vast importance to great events, and its lesser incidents are thought little of. But the King of glory, although proprietor of all things, is a great economist, and the Resurrection will include a vindication of His dealings with men in all the petty details of life. Life is now surrounded with mystery. We are like miners working in the dark beneath the surface of visible things, yet co-workers with God, and ever contributing to His glory if faithful, glorifying the Son of God by submitting to His Providence even when we do not understand its meaning. And when we are brought above ground, so to speak, into the light of Resurrection, there will be raised with us a clear indication and vindication of the Providence of God in our lives.
II. The Bearing: of the Material Miracles upon the Spiritual Life will also be shown in the Resurrection.—This most spiritual address of our Lord's was based upon a material miracle. Men do not see the spiritual meaning of the miracles which occur in every life just now, but although much of what may be termed sidelight may be thrown upon them in this life, yet the full effulgence of heavenly light will not shine upon them until that last day. Eternal light is needed for the full exposition of eternal truth. St. Paul says that the Rock which followed Israel was Christ. In a manner which we now know not of, it will be seen in that day how the Christ has followed the life of every believer in all its details. And the miracles in that life (and who has not experienced such?) will be manifested in all their spiritual meaning and bearing upon eternity.
III. The Full Testimony of Christ's Work will be shown in the Resurrection.—We have referred to two classes of these works: His general Providence and His miracles. 'The works that the Father hath given Me to accomplish bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me.' 'If ye believe not Me, believe the works.' In these days the testimony of these works seems to be obscured, but He 'will raise it up at the last day'. 'When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?' Whether or not, there will be a glorious revelation of the meaning of those works as a testimony to the well-beloved Son. 'I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day, for the night cometh.' But the duration of that night is limited, and it will be followed by a yet more glorious day. The Day of Resurrection will be a Day of Revelation. Then shall His works in the whole world bear convincing testimony to the power and authority of the Christ—a testimony which shall convict every gainsayer. And as the Resurrection body will be infinitely more glorious than the natural body, so will the Resurrection testimony to the works of the Christ be infinitely more glorious than anything offered to Him during His earthly ministry.
References.—VI. 39.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 61; ibid. vol. vi. p. 304. VI. 39, 40.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1117. VI. 41-65.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvi. No. 2706.
Familiarity, if it does not breed contempt, at least does away with surprise, and we look for God in the startling. If we can account for a thing, we at once conclude that God had nothing to do with it. We keep Him as a last resort for events otherwise inexplicable. The result is that the wiser we grow and the more things we have an explanation for, the less we think of God and the further we banish Him from His own world.
—Dr. H. S. Coffin, The Creed of Jesus, p. 168.
References.—VI. 44.—J. Keble, Village Sermons on the Baptismal Service, p. 46. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 182. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 66.
Drawing and Coming
Two thoughts are suggested by the text—The Father's part in human salvation. Man's part in his own salvation.
I. The Father Drawing.—The doctrine of Christ is that God draws men by teaching. What then is teaching? To bring truth in contact with the mind, the heart, the conscience. But what truth? The two great fundamental truths which we are commissioned to teach are—Man's ruin by sin. Man's redemption by Christ Jesus. (1) The Father teaches these fundamental truths by His book, the Bible. (2) The Father teaches by the preaching of His Word. (3) The Father draws by teaching in opposition to compulsion. (4) The Father draws by teaching in opposition to legal enactments. (5) The Father draws by teaching in opposition to acting simply on the emotional nature. The life, the death, the resurrection, the intercession of Christ Jesus, brought home to the heart by the teaching of the Holy Spirit is that which draws.
II. Man Coming.—'Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.' What does this coming mean? (1) If you would come aright, you must come as servants, to obey Him, to serve Him, to take His yoke upon you, to receive His mark, His seal, and so become His covenant servants for ever. (2) You must come as subjects, to accept His Lordship, to submit to His Kingship, and to swear allegiance to Him for ever. (3) You must come as learners. (4) Above all, you must come to Him as sinners, lost, ruined through sin, crying in the bitterness of your soul, To Thee, lost and undone, for aid I flee, Lord, save me or I perish.
Before we come to Christ, we must learn of the Father about ourselves—who we are, what we are, what we need, our lost and undone condition. We must then learn of the Father about Christ, that He has been made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, (a) Salvation begins with God. The Father, who sends Jesus for souls, draws each soul to Jesus. (b) Man may resist God's drawing, (c) Persistent resistance will issue in God withdrawing Himself, (d) Seeing that this will be the result of continued resistance, yield—yield now.
—Richard Roberts, My Closing Ministry, p. 181.
References.—VI. 44, 45.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No. 2386. VI. 46.—C. Bradley, The Christian Life, pp. 163, 176. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlv. No. 2606. VI. 47.—Ibid. vol. xxviii. No. 1642. VI. 47, 48.—Ibid. vol. xlvi. No. 2706. VI. 47-54.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 203. VI. 47-57.—T. T. Munger, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 49.
The Bread of Life
Bread of Life! Is there then bread of death? Certainly in this chapter, and in other passages of the New Testament, we have got great and striking contrasts that stir up in our minds such a suggestion. Here the true bread is spoken of in contrast to the meat that perisheth, to the manna which their fathers did eat and are dead.
I. Now the essential thought of our Lord's great discourse here, is that He Himself is the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. He brings to man's life, yea! to man's death, a life which death cannot touch. Did you never think that it is very strange that men are always trying to give an account of Jesus? They will not, and cannot leave Jesus alone, not even those who deny His claims. Every new idea, every new theory that lays hold of man's mind, has to be applied to Jesus, to account for Him if possible, as if He could be accounted for on ordinary principles of man's thought. Our ordinary principles are not applicable; human nature, environment, education, life's opportunities, all put together cannot account for Jesus. The New Testament gives the right account He came down from heaven, He is the bread of God to the souls of men.
II. A moment's reflection will show us that nearly everything that really lives must live on bread from heaven. Without a measure of it all life pines and dies. The very flowers of the field have to be so fed. And so it is with man born of flesh, and rooted in the earth. He has a certain nourishment to draw from thence. And what the sun in the heavens is to the flower, so Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, is to the spirits of men. He is the bread of which if they eat they shall reach their true destiny and never die.
III. Now, it is clear, from the analogy of common food and its use, that all must personally partake if they are to live. We are to become partakers of the Divine nature. We must become participants; we must assimilate His spirit, His life; we must eat Now, what is the great difficulty with us, and perhaps with most men, here? The great difficulty is lack of appetite—appetite for Christ and spiritual things.
—D. L. Ritchie, Peace the Umpire and other Sermons, p. 67.
References.—VI. 48.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiii. No. 1940. VI. 48-50.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. viii. p. 93. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 289. VI. 48-61.—D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 290. VI. 60.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 61.
Bread for the Hungry (For Christmas)
The Bible is a book of promise. There are many good things for man because God is good. He is ready to give, He loves to bless. He cannot indeed always do it. He has to deny, He has to chastise; but denial and chastisement may prove to be the truest and most needful gift. God's will towards His people is to give and to bless, and He has always greater and better gifts in store.
I. Man's Need.—The Bible shows man as he is—a creature of need. As an infant he walks into life with needs; and as he grows his needs grow with him. Day by day he needs the bread by which flesh and bones and blood are kept going. He is hungry and thirsty; he needs food and raiment and other bodily things. There are other needs, the nobler and deeper needs of his mind and the needs of his heart, longing for enjoyment of love. Contained far within the depths of his being, in his conscience, in his spirit, are the needs for something more, which food and drink and worldly affections do not satisfy; needs which hardly understand themselves until the man hears about God and he begins to feel that he needs God. Thus is the Bible a book of promise from God, Who answers the need of every man.
II. God's Supply.—The message of Christmas is the answer, and we find it written: 'I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven, that a man should eat thereof and not die'. The speaker is Jesus Christ, Whose birthday we keep this day. It is a wonderful answer to the great needs of the world. The cry goes up to God, and God answers by sending a little Child—'Unto us a Child is born'. Man is hungry, man has need, and the Child is God's supply—the Bread of God for his need. This is the message of Christmas—Christ, the supply of man's needs.
III. Christ truly Gives Bread to His People; but by His example we see that He only feeds man's bodily needs through what He does in supplying the needs which are higher and deeper. To those of us who are in bodily need He says, 'Come unto Me; come, buy for yourselves wine and milk without money and without price'. But we have other needs besides bread, and He has other and better gifts for us. Come to Christ, the Bread of life, and feed upon Him.
References.—VI. 61.—R. W. Church, Village Sermons (2nd Series), p. 246. VI. 61-71.—Expositor (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 118.
In describing her continental tour or mission during 1856-1857, Eliza Gurney tells of one meeting at Annonay with the local dissenters in their chapel. 'One of the Darbyists rose and said he felt bound to testify against the ministry of women, referring the people to chapter and verse in the Bible to prove they were forbidden to speak. Having borne his testimony, which he did in no very Christian spirit, he walked out of the meeting, which remained as quiet as possible, being wholly unmoved by what he said. It was strange that at that very moment my mind was dwelling on the enmity of the carnally-minded Jews to the spiritual nature of the Gospel dispensation: How can this man give us His flesh to eat? etc., and in connection with it the conversation of our Lord with the woman at Jacob's Well, her leaving her water-pot and going into the city to preach Christ, and that many of the Samaritans believed because of her word' (see The Gurneys of Earlham, vol. ii. p. 315 f.).
References.—VI. 63.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. i. p. 208. H. M. Butler, Harrow School Sermons (2nd Series), p. 21. H. Alford, Sermons on Christian Doctrine, p. 294. R. Winterbotham, Sermons on the Holy Communion, p. 12. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 41. VI. 63-66.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1288. P. L. Watchurst, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xix. p. 206. VI. 64.—J. M. Whiton, Beyond the Shadow, p. 233. VI. 65.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv. No. 1460. VI. 66.—H. H. Scullard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 64. R. Winterbotham, Sermons on the Holy Communion, p. 20. H. Bell, Sermons on Holy Communion, p. 22. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament, p. 44. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 368.
Living the Life of Jesus
From the words of our text we may infer that what the Father was to Jesus, Jesus is willing to be to you and to me. Everything that Jesus said of His relationship to the Father, we may say of our relationship to Jesus.
I. The first truth to which I wish to call your attention is this: Our Saviour might have lived an independent life. He was the Holy One before He stooped to us and laid aside the use of the attributes of His Godhead. During His human life He might at any moment have availed Himself of His Divine attributes, and might have lived His human life in the power of them.
II. Our Lord Jesus might have lived an independent life, and Satan was always urging Him to do it Straight from the river Jordan Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The first thing the devil said to Jesus was:
'Thou art the Son of God. Thou hast all power. Now use that power for Thyself, and make those stones bread.' That was the crucial point in our Lord's life, and He said: 'No; I am going to be a dependent human being. If My Father does not feed me, I will die of hunger.' When our Lord said that, He at once definitely refused to live the independent life which would have been possible, and elected to live a life of constant dependence upon the Father.
III. Again, look at our Lord's life. (1) In His birth God the Father gave Him life. And Jesus in dying said: 'Father, receive My life'. (2) So in the plan of our Lord's life (3) Jesus also depended on the Father for His words. (4) Then as to His miracles. (5) So also about His will. (6) We know, too, that He sought the Father's glory.
IV. If our Lord chose this life of dependence out of all possible lives that He might have lived, does it not seem wisest, most blessed, most Christlike, for you and me to give up living the independent life in the flesh and to begin from this moment to depend upon Christ as Christ depended upon God?
V. The Saviour's method may be ours. There are two possible methods. Our Lord might always have been crucifying His human nature; but He chose the second method and the better one—that of living a life of perfect communion with God by the Holy Ghost. How can Jesus become to me what the Father was to Jesus? (1) We must be quiet; we must wait. (2) Be sure to make Jesus the first of everything. (3) Make the glory of Jesus your aim. (4) Meet God's will in every circumstance. (5) Reckon on God.
—F. B. Meyer, The Soul's Ascent, p. 229.
References.—VI. 67.—A. T. Lyttelton, College and University Sermons, p. 131. Bishop Moule, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 196. T. Arnold, Christian Life: Its Hopes, p. 271. Expositor (5th Series), vol. i. p. 406. VI. 68.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 16. VI. 69.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 25. VI. 62, 63.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii. p. 46.
Words of Life
Whatever may be said about the originality of our Lord's teaching, it is certainly unique in the spiritual force that inheres in it and accompanies its proclamation.
I. Note the matchless influence of the Gospel upon Christendom at large. The ruling civilisations of today have their rootage in the faith of Christ. We are told that the Greeks furnished 'the whole framework of modern civilisation'. From them we inherit our legal code, our theories of government, our artistic and literary ideals, our philosophical conceptions, and our genius in arms, commerce, and colonisation. But if Greece furnished the 'framework,' Christianity brought the spirit, the life, the compelling energy, without which the framework of civilisation would have been little more than a mockery. The revival of national life is usually associated with the republication of the Gospel of God. God's Word in Christ is the life of the soul, and the life of nations.
II. The quickening influence of Gospel truth on the individual. (1) Think of His revealing words. The words of our Lord are searchlights, revealing the man to himself with startling clearness and power. (2) Think of His converting words. John Stuart Mill relates that at one time he fell into a state of deep melancholy, lost all interest in life, and was fast sinking into despair, when the reading of Wordsworth restored the freshness of His soul, revived his interest in things, and made life worth living. But who can restore the soul and make all things new like our sovereign Master? (3) Think of His strengthening words. (4) Think of His comforting words.
III. Let us be sure that we receive this Word into our heart, and give it full sway in the regulation of our life.
IV. To students of religious truth, I wish to say, Give revelation itself the chief place in your studies. When face to face with nature, Constable tried to forget that he had ever seen a picture; in some such fashion should we approach revelation, contemplating directly the thoughts of God, unprejudiced and undisturbed by the thoughts of men. (1) Take care that the study of the literary aspects of revelation does not obscure for you its spiritual signification. When Sir Humphry Davy returned from Paris, he was asked what he thought of the picture galleries. He replied, 'The finest collection of frames that I ever saw'. Delighted with the gilded margin, he missed the masterpiece. It is possible to become so absorbed with the literary setting of revelation that we virtually forget the redeeming God and His treat salvation. (2) As teachers and preachers, let us keep in close daily touch with Christ and His Word.
—W. L. Watkinson, The Supreme Conquest, p. 174.
References.—VI. 63.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No. 653, and vol. xlvi. No. 2677. W. F. Shaw, Sermon Sketches for the Christian Year, p. 74. E. Bayley, Sermons on the Work and Person of the Holy Spirit, p. 71. J. W. Houchin, The Vision of God, p. 49. R. J. Wardell, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xix. p. 489. Archbishop Alexander, Church Family Newspaper, vol. xiv. p. 500. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 254. VI. 64.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. 1. No. 2898. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xii. p. 249.
Evidences of Christianity! I am weary of the word. Make a man feel the want of it; rouse him, if you can, to the self-knowledge of his need of it; and you may safely trust it to its own evidence—remembering only the express declaration of Christ Himself: No man cometh unto Me, unless the Father leadeth him. Whatever more is desirable—I speak now with reference to Christians generally, and not to professed students of theology—may in my judgment be far more safely and profitably taught, without cankering or the superstition of infidel antagonists, in the form of Ecclesiastical history.
—Coleridge, Aids to Reflection.
References.—VI. 66.—H. S. Seekings, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 174. VI. 66, 67.—W. H. Harwood, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 276. VI. 66-68.—T. Binney, King's Weigh-House Chapel Sermons, p. 27. VI. 66-69.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1646. G. W. Brameld, Practical Sermons, p. 209. VI. 67.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. 1. No. 2914. VI. 67, 68.—L. Davidson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p. 197. W. C. Wheeler, Sermons and Addresses (2nd Series), p. 210. C. D. Bell, The Name Above Every Name, p. 15. VI. 67-70.—T. Arnold, Christian Life: Its Hopes, p. 155.
'To whom shall we go?' The discourse is upon Alternatives. Who is the other man? What is the other book? If we turn our backs upon Thee, Thou Son of God, where is the life? Always ask for alternatives; always ask for a constructive side of things. There are many men who can find fault; few who can build. Better build a wall than destroy a faith. Stick to this one question, and you will come out all right. 'Lord, to whom shall we go?'
I. We might live the animal life: we might be so many animals. Do you want me to labour that point, or do you instantaneously say you could not for a moment consider the alternative of mere animalism? Do not be in a great hurry about this. 'Animal' is really a word which signifies a living thing; there is no baseness or foulness about the word animal. We ourselves are partly animal. But by 'the animal life' is in this connection meant some low, base, vicious form of life, the trough life, the flesh life. 'He that soweth unto the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.' Will you consent to unman and dehumanise yourselves so far as to be mere animals?
II. What is your second alternative? 'Will you live,' says the tempter, 'as I do?' 'How do you live?' 'I live the secular life.' Have you ever studied secularism? It has its dogmas, its opinions, its canons, and its narrow philosophy. Live the secular life, take an interest in the newspapers, in the news of the day; just rise in the morning to read what was done yesterday, and get through your time as well as you can.
III. Well, what say you to the next alternative? 'I think that you might live the careless life; that is to say, let other people think about the spiritual and superstitious things, but you keep on solid ground, and you take a little enjoyment where you can get it: go out to suppers and dances and come home drunk.' No, my mother forbids it, all my training goes against it, all my early impulses vote on the other side. What is the careless life? It is the life that cares 'for none of these things'. 'There is a group of men praying—pass them, we do not care for their praying; we do not want to join them, we are bound for the race and the revel and the feast and the devil; we are happy-go-lucky boys—join us!' I think not. That might suit some sides of human nature. All that I have yet heard provides for little sections of manhood, and I want something that fills the whole vacuum, the entire abyss, the infinity of my nature. 'We go out,' say the careless people, 'we go out at night, we sleep all day, we make as much money as we can by gambling and betting and lying, and that is a fine market; we have a large balance at the bank, and having got that large balance there, we say to our duties, Hands off! you live for us, we do not live for you.' Well, I will not join you, I cannot.
IV. I want a religion that takes the best out of all alternatives and adds something of its own to them, and leads me into higher heights and diviner raptures of thought and imagination.
Christ makes us a great offer today. He throws upon us the responsibility of declining it. Peter's reason for coming to Christ is sufficient and rational, 'Thou hast the words of eternal life'. The man who has the words is the wise man. Things perish; the Word, the Logos, remains. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. vi. p. 280.
References.—VI. 68.—G. F. Pentecost, Marylebone Presbyterian Church Pulpit, p. 3. Archbishop Plunket, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 357. W. G. Horder, ibid. vol. lix. p. 50. J. Ossian Davies, The Dayspring from on High, p. 77. E: M. Geldart, Faith and Freedom, p. 60. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xi. p. 62. VI. 68, 69.—From Andachten, by Friedrick Naumann, translated by Charlotte Ada Rainy, The Scottish Review Sunday Supplement, vol. v. p. 198. J. Laidlaw, Studies in the Parables, p. 329. VI. 69.—C. S. Robinson, Simon Peter, p. 240. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 199. VI. 71.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. i. p. 18. VII. 1-9.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 113; ibid. vol. viii. p. 268. VII. 2-8.—Ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. pp. 35, 471. VII. 3, 4, 10.—Ibid. p. 467. VII. 4.—Ibid. (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 236. VII. 5.—C. Bradley, Faithful Teaching, p. 95. VII. 6.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 106. VII. 11-15.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. v. p. 294. VII. 11-29.—Ibid. vol. i. p. 49. VII. 13.—Ibid. vol. ii. p. 61. VII. 14-16.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 375. VII. 15, 16.—F. Lynch, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 330. VII. 15-24.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 139. VII. 16__J. Clifford, The Christian Certainties, p. 9. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 84.
And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone;
(Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)
When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.