Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
Church Building and Church Decoration
I. I only remember reading in the Old Testament of two collections being made, and both of these were for what we might call Church Building and Church Decoration. The one we shall find at the end of the Book of Exodus, and the other at the end of 1 Chronicles. To the glory of God and in grateful memory of all that God had done for them, were both the Tabernacle and the Temple erected, the freewill offering of a glad and thankful people. And God accepted it and them. The issue which the hypocrite Judas Iscariot tried to stir up about the gift of Mary, has been tried since his day and with equal success. It is a needless, false and injurious conflict; as if to give to the glory of God in the beautifying of his Church were to take so much from the poor, as if no portion of the Church's wealth was available for any purely devout and religious purpose, till all the wants of all the poor were met and satisfied; wants, be it remembered, that if they were all supplied today would come out in some new form tomorrow. The world, let us thank God for it, is not so poor that there is only one way for gratifying those generous impulses which visit the heart and prompt to acts of singular liberality. As a rule, you will find that those who spend large sums of money on the house of their God are equally generous and beneficent in relieving the wants of others. Can this with equal truth be said of those who criticise and find fault with such expenditure?
II. If we really believe that our Church is the house of God, if we really believe that it is the place where God vouchsafes His own special presence to His people gathered there in His name, then surely everything we put therein ought to be of the best. Nothing can be too beautiful or too costly which this earth can produce to offer in the courts of the house of God. It was in this spirit that our fathers built and adorned the churches of God in our land. They felt as David did, ashamed to dwell in ceiled houses, while the Ark of God was uncared for; ashamed to have things comfortable and elegant at home, while the place where Christ had promised to meet His people was left as if it were little thought of.
Canon Lloyd, Family Churchman, June 9th, 1886.
References: John 12:5.—S. A. Brooke, Christ in Modern Life, p. 258. John 12:7, John 12:8.—G. Dawson, The Authentic Gospel, p. 147.
John 12:8These sayings remind us—
I. That we have in Christ One who is human, yet Divine.
II. One whose death as our Saviour is all important, and not less his life.
III. One who presides over the world where we are going, and over the world in which we now are.
J. Ker, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 281.
References: John 12:9.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 280. John 12:10.—Homilist, 4th series, vol. i., p. 210. John 12:11.—S. Cox, Expositions, vol. i., p. 428.
John 12:12-13Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem
I. We, too, like the people in the text, should go forth to meet our Saviour, whenever He comes to us. So we would go forth to meet Him, some may perhaps be thinking, if He would indeed come to us, as He came to Jerusalem, in the body, that our eyes might see Him, and that our ears might hear His words so full of grace and truth. But we should remember, that if Jesus Christ were abiding at this day upon earth, He could only be in one place at one time. If He were dwelling here with you, all the rest of the world would be without Him. But now that He is in Heaven, He can be in all places at all times, just as the sun is not only with you in your garden, but quite as much with your neighbour in his corn-field, and with the sheep on the hills, and with the sailors on the broad sea.
II. But how are we to know when Christ is coming to us? If He does not come to us in the body, how and in what does He come? In everything, if you will but believe it, sin alone excepted. If we did but behold the hand that brings all our blessings to us, if we saw how they are brought to us by Him who cometh in the name of the Lord, they would become doubly, nay tenfold more lovely and precious, from the light of His love shining upon them. You know what a difference it makes in the brightness and beauty of everything in the world, when the sun is shining upon it—how cold and cheerless earth, sea, and sky would be without the sun—what freshness and gladness beams from them as soon as they are bathed in its light; such, so great, yea, still greater is the difference which it makes in the whole colour and aspect of our lives, if we look at the events which befall us, as ordained and sent to us by the love of our heavenly Lord and Saviour. In every dispensation and visitation of life, Christ comes to us, sin alone excepted. He came, not to conquer our great enemy once for all, but in order that He might be continually with us, with every one who believes in Him, standing by our side whenever we are attacked, strengthening our arms, nerving our hearts, bidding us to be of good courage, for that the enemy has already been conquered; bidding us lift up our souls to heaven, for that He has gained us a sure inheritance, if we will but strive to make it sure in the kingdom of His Eternal Father.
J. C. Hare, Sermons in Herstmonceux Church, vol. ii., p. 361.
References: John 12:12, John 12:13.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 198. John 12:12-19.—Ibid., vol. i., p. 263.
I. The enthusiasm which is created by a multitude of men, is, in each one of the units who compose it, a result of the nature which God has given us.
II. The sense of association is the soul and strength of all powerful corporate action among human beings. It was this enthusiasm, arising from the sense of association among the members of a great assembly of human beings which our Lord took into His service so conspicuously and so deliberately on Palm Sunday.
III. Any warm feelings which God may in His mercy give us from time to time, should be regarded, not as ends in themselves, not as great spiritual attainments or accomplishments, but as means, only means, to an end beyond.
H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 1084.
References: John 12:13.—J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 269. John 12:15.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., p. 208. John 12:16.—S. Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 264; J. Keble, Sermons on Various Occasions, p. 417.
John 12:10Two questions here suggest themselves: What was it in Jesus Christ which so deeply stirred the enmity of the Pharisees? And what was it in Jesus Christ which made it true in any sense, that the world was gone after Him.
I. The Pharisees ought to have examined the commission of Christ, as (in some sense) they seem to have examined that of His forerunner the Baptist. But the difference between the message of John and the message of Jesus was just that which made all the difference to them between the credible and the incredible. Pharisees and Sadducees, we read, submitted themselves to John's baptism; his cry was for repentance, for sins done under the law; there was no direct announcement, as yet, of an altogether different righteousness. With Christ it was otherwise, "I came," He said, "not to destroy, but to fulfil," yet the thing "fulfilled" admits no further filling; and the Pharisee rightly perceived that henceforth it was system against system, law against gospel, merit against grace, a righteousness from below against a righteousness from above. They saw it, and they took their side.
II. Why does the world go after Christ? What is the attraction? We will briefly touch three points. (1) The first is, reality. We may trifle with Christ, but Christ never trifles with us. This is what made the common people hear Him gladly. He is so different from the Pharisee; from the man whose face tells you that he has never had a struggle, and who will sleep just as soundly whether you hear or whether you forbear. "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him." (2) His unworldliness. No man thinks the better of a religious teacher for being worldly. This is a great though a common error. The last man whom worldly men, princes or peasants, will seek in their soul's extremity, is the physician who is half of this world; no cottage and no hovel is too mean for them, if they may but find in it a man who lives only for eternity. (3) His wonderful love. It was so new to publicans and sinners—it is so new to them now—to be treated with love. Most of all is this love felt when flesh and heart parteth. Very peculiar is that last hour in its helplessness, in its dependence, in its clearsightedness, and in its trust. Certainly no Pharisee avails anything beside the deathbed.
C. J. Vaughan, Temple Sermons, p. 257.
References: John 12:20-22.—T. Gasquoine, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 24. John 12:20-23.—S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 244.
John 12:20, John 12:23I. "The hour is come." The culminating hour of His life, that hour which is to explain all that has happened, to reveal all that is unknown. "It behoved Him thus to suffer, and to enter into His glory." And His glory has been increasingly manifest ever since His death. From the Resurrection day until this day it has never waned; it has never ceased to grow. The corn of wheat that died has produced much fruit—fruit, in actual numbers rescued from sin and death—fruit in the characters these have borne, in the good works they have done, in the destruction of evil principles and the advancement of good ones in the world, and in the whole progress of Christian civilisation, fruit also which we cannot reckon here, of victories in death and triumphant entrances into heaven, and in the dauntless and unconquerable hope this day living in the heart of the Church, that all the world will be drawn at length to the Cross.
II. No suffering no glory. No dying with and for Christ unto sin and self and the world and time, then no joyful living with Him in the pure land of light. A superficial view of the subject, and of human character might lead one to say, "If this be Christianity, then there are no Christians. Say not so. It is true, alas! that many wear the Christian name who have no right to it and who have yet to get the first idea of what it is to follow Christ. It is also true that many sincere Christians are very defective and very inconsistent. But it is also true that there are many of a purer and nobler stock. There are those who make the service of Christ the business of their life, the one thing they do. There are many who live simple consecrated lives, all out of sight. If Christ were to come and call His true servants to stand out in view, the number would be larger than we think, far greater than in our moments of despondency we fear. It would be the old story over again. The seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to this Baal-world, and who have not sacrificed their noblest selves to time and sense, would arise at the call, and stand up with the light of Heaven on their faces.
A. Raleigh, From Dawn to the Perfect Day, p. 75.
The Cross is Christ's glory
I. As regards the great enemy. The devil departed from Him for a season only. He had conquered him personally, and therefore by implication for those also to whom He was to become wedded and joined by the work of redemption; but the actual and final victory over Satan was achieved on the Cross. There the Son of God, made in the likeness of sinful flesh, suffered sin's penalty. He who hoped to crush Adam, was himself crushed in Christ. Satan had won his victory by hatred; Christ's victory over Satan was won by love. Satan, for his own malicious and selfish purpose, had brought ruin and misery into a happy world. Christ, for His glorious and blessed work, gave Himself to sorrow and suffering, that He might bring out the world into happiness tenfold as bright and holy as that which Satan ruined.
II. As regards man, the Cross is Christ's glory. On it, as has been said, was transacted the central event of man's world. All before, had reference to this; all after, flow forth from it. Not in the schools of Athens, not in the forum of Rome, not in poesy, not in art, has man been most glorified, but on the Cross of Jesus. There manhood bore its only fruit of love untouched by a blight; there it was honoured, not with the frenzy of the poet, nor with the subtlety of the philosopher, nor with the inspiration of the prophet, but with the union of the Godhead, stooping to share its sentence of death, and to bring it through death to glory.
III. The Cross was Christ's glory, as regarded Himself. "To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living." He was born into the world that He might be a King, and here we have His Lordship established and His Kingdom inaugurated. The Cross then was the highest point of the glorification of the person and work of Jesus.
IV. And lastly, it was His glory, as regarded the Father. By the counsel of the Father's will was the mighty plan of redemption directed; the self-denying love of Jesus, His perfect obedience, His truth and righteousness, these all redounded to the glory of the Father Who sent Him; and these all found their highest example on the Cross. In it His Son glorified Him, and He glorified His great name; manifesting His wisdom, indicating His justice, and approving His love.
H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. i., p. 216.
References: John 12:21.—J. B. Heard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiv., p. 247; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 108; J. Fletcher, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 203; S. Baring Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 213; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 307. John 12:23.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. ii., p. 15. John 12:23-28.—F. W. Robertson, The Human Race and Other Sermons, p. 209.
John 12:24Let us try to grasp this principle in its simplicity and strength. In nature "a corn of wheat" is what it is itself alone. The burial in the ground and death make a wondrous change in the wheat; it is no longer itself alone; it gathers more, it multiplies itself, it comes out, associated with and increased into many things like itself.—"It bringeth forth much fruit." Just so with the kingdom of grace. Death is essential to all augmentation; whatever does not undergo death, is solitary; whatever would bring forth fruit, must die.
I. Consider this principle, first, as respects Christ Himself. Christ might, had He so pleased, have abode with the Father, in the glory which He had with Him before the world was. He would have been happy in the adoration of angels and in His own perfections. But as respects that which now makes the very character and being of the Lord Jesus Christ, He would have been alone. Such happiness was not the happiness of the heart of Jesus. He could not, in His very nature, acquiesce in solitary life. Therefore, that He might not be alone, that beautiful plant of the Lord's planting fell into the ground and died. And this was the joy that sustained Him all along, that He would not be alone afterwards. The conversion and the life of the whole world springs out of the fall of that one precious seed into the earth.
II. But the principle which is true of the life of Christ, outwardly, is equally true of the inner life of Christ in a man's soul; all living comes out of dying. We bring with us into the world a certain natural character—it is not the character which it ought to be—it is not the character that is to be; but in that natural character there is a germ—there is a capability. Now, the great process of grace, when it comes into the soul, is, that natural character, which we commonly call self, shall die, in order that the germ and capability of good may unfold itself and expand. When it does unfold, the old man dies under the unfolding of the principle of grace, the old nature decays away. And now the new thing which comes out is the spiritual man. It is like Christ—it is pure and good and useful; to the praise of God, it brings forth much fruit.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 11th series, p. 251.
References: John 12:24.—Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 257; vol. x., p. 304; D. Fraser, Metaphors of the Gospels, p. 328; G. Moberly, Plain Sermons at Brightstone, p. 76; S. C. Gordon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 72; Ibid., vol. x., p. 347; D. Young, Ibid., vol. xxix., p. 253; F. J. Austin, Ibid., vol. xxx., p. 268; J. R. Macduff, Communion Memories, p. 1. John 12:24, John 12:25.—C. Kingsley, All Saints' Day, p. 101; S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 258. John 12:24-26.—G. Calthrop, Words Spoken to My Friends, p. 13. John 12:25.—E. W. Shalders, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 181.
John 12:26The Ascension, our Glory and Joy
I. All the mysteries of the "Word made flesh," have their special comfort for us, and so has the mystery of the Ascension. It were little for us, compared to this, that God the Son had taken our nature, if then (as misbelievers said of old) it had been dissolved into the majesty and glory of God, and had ceased to be, although in God. And so our whole union with God would have been forfeited. Christ would have ceased to be, and the Incarnation of God the Son would have come to nought. It is our very own Lord, He Who became one of us, Who walked to and fro among us, Who went about healing all who were oppressed by the devil, comforting the broken-hearted, keeping company with sinners, admitting publicans and harlots to come to Him; it is He, the sinners' friend, Who is now at the right hand of God for us.
II. What He was, He is; save as to those infirmities which in heaven cannot be. In heaven He cannot again be hungry, or weary, or athirst, or sorrowful, as neither shall we be if by His grace we attain thither. But He has, even now, that of our nature, which we, His members, shall have in the glory of the resurrection. The very presence of His glorified body in heaven is an earnest of mercy stored up for us. He ever liveth to make intercession for us.
III. He is entered in, not for Himself only, nor only to intercede for us, but to prepare a place for us; that where He is, there, He saith, may My servant be. Nay, there, in a manner we are already. For where the Head is, there in some sort, in token and in earnest, and in virtue are the members. There is our conversation; there our life is hid; there are the first fruits of the Spirit; there has He made us to sit in heavenly places with Himself; there is our home; there, if by God's grace we persevere, above the stars, are the vacant seats prepared for us, that as He overcame and is set down with the Father on His throne, so to us, by His strength overcoming, shall He say, Sit down with Me in My throne.
E. P. Pusey, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii., p. 216.
References: John 12:26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii., No. 463; S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 274.
John 12:27A peculiar interest must ever attach to these words in the record of the events that led up to, and immediately preceded, the passion of our Lord. It is impossible to read this incident in St. John's narrative, without being struck by its intensely graphic features, and its inimitable originality. It has been compared to one of those deep fissures in the crust of the earth's surface, which enable us to fathom the depths below. The Speaker suffers us to look down into the inmost centre of His being. In the courts of the Temple, in the presence of many witnesses, after a moment of ecstatic triumph, after an anticipation of coming triumph, suddenly there is a pause, and He who is generally so calm and self-controlled, Himself testifies to an inward conflict. His soul is troubled to its lowest depths. He gives utterance to a cry, a petition, and though that cry is instantly hushed in uttermost submission, yet it is uttered and it is real.
I. In a certain sense, of course, we all acknowledge that our Lord predicted His sad future; but it may be doubted whether we are accustomed to make the fact sufficiently real to ourselves; for it is one to which history affords no adequate parallel. It confronts us with a phase of human experience, in which our Lord stands absolutely alone, and which it is not too much to say that neither design nor imagination would ever have thought of attributing to Him. For it is to be remembered that the evangelists had nothing in the past that could form a precedent for such personal predictions. It is a fact of universal experience that to none of the children of men is it given to pierce the veil of his personal future. No man can tell what tomorrow or next week, or next year, may have in store for him. In the whole range of the prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi, no one is recorded to have essayed to predict the mode or the manner of his own death.
II. What had never been realised before since the world began is in the Gospel narrative set forth, simply, artlessly, without any strain or effort, and we are assured that a foreknowledge of His end, with all its attendant circumstances, was not only claimed by our Lord and affirmed just before His passion, but unfolded long before in a series of orderly and progressive predictions. We find that from the first this consciousness was present with Him. Sometimes He speaks of it darkly and enigmatically, affirming now that the Temple of His body shall be destroyed, and on the third day restored; now that, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. Sometimes, but not till His disciples were able to bear it, He had spoken of it openly, clearly, without the intervention of type or figure or dark saying. Calmly, deliberately, He affirms not that He may—not that He will—but that He must, go up to Jerusalem and there suffer and die. As the crisis draws nearer and nearer, so His anticipations of the immediate future increase in number and definiteness; now He declares in the presence of multitudes His speedy departure from the world; now He warns His Apostles that one among them will prove the traitor; now He definitely marks out that traitor by a whispered sign; now He sums up all previous hints, dark sayings, mysterious soliloquies, clear predictions, in the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
III. The prescience of suffering receives perhaps its highest expression in the Agony in the Garden. On human principles that agony is wholly misplaced. It comes before the time. It anticipates the occasion which human experience would have suggested. There have indeed been signal triumphs won by the genius of poetical imagination. But in all literature there is no other instance of the ascription to the hero of the story of a series of predictions pointing to and describing the circumstances of his own decease, as by the Saviour of the world, much less an attempt to harmonise them with the details of a narrative, the interest of which shifts from place to place, and involves a multiplicity of incidents, persons, places, occasions. These predictions, I venture to think, have an evidential value of their own, and constitute another link in the chain of evidence that our Lord was indeed all that He claimed to be—Son of Man and Son of God, the Foreknowing Saviour, the Predestined Sacrifice.
D. Maclear, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, Nov. 9th, 1882.
References: John 12:27, John 12:28.—Contemporary Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 193; S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 299; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. vii., p. 332. John 12:27-31.—Homilist, new series, vol. iii., p. 142.
John 12:28The craving of sinfulness is for self-glorification. The thirst of godliness is for the glory of God. He who sees God's Name and comprehends it, hears God's Name and understands it, looks at it and reads it, listens to God's Name and rejoices in it, and sees in his own name part of God's Name, will ever cry "Father, glorify Thy Name." And as those whom Jesus Christ leads and governs are saved from sin, and are taught to live according to godliness, this is the aspiration of their life.
I. Jesus Christ not only shows us the Father, and reconciles us to the Father, but teaches us to seek His glory as the end of life and of salvation. When all, by Jesus Christ's teaching and leading, shall know God, this will be the prayer of all, from the least to the greatest. In studio and study, in factory and church, in peasant's cot and palace, in every place of work and recreation and association, you will hear "Father, glorify Thy Name." And while the seraphs cry "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty," and the innumerable choir of angels sing, "Glory be to God most high," the distant voices of earth shall be heard, softly but sweetly, saying, "Father, glorify Thy Name."
II. We may use our text (1) for self-examination. Jesus Christ said, at this crisis of His life and at every crisis, "Father, glorify Thy name." What have we said? What do we say? Have we not sometimes remained in Jerusalem to glorify our own name, instead of going to Nazareth to glorify our Father's name? (2) Let us seek the state of heart which the prayer expresses, and making the prayer our own, let us embody its spirit in our whole life. Be not much concerned about the length of your life, or the circumstances of your death; leaving yourself in God's hands, submit to His arrangement. "Father, glorify Thy name." Then, how Divine the peace which shall keep the heart and mind, and how Godlike the rest which shall possess our soul. All that is within us shall be in sweet accord, the intellect and the heart, the reason and the passions. Our eye will be single, and our whole body full of light. With many things to do, at but one thing shall we aim. With many impulses, one great principle shall govern our will.
S. Martin, Rain upon the Mown Grass, p. 374.
References: John 12:28.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., No. 909, vol. xxiv., No. 1391; S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 312; A. Barry, Cheltenham College Sermons, p. 268; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 279; vol. v., p. 312; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xvii., p. 372; J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 8th series, p. 56.
John 12:29Misinterpretation of the Voice of God
I. When we read the history of our Blessed Lord's first coming into the world, and thoroughly realise who He was that came, it is almost impossible not at times to feel that it must have been a very severe trial for the men of that generation to believe on Him. It was no advantage, but a stern sifting of soul, to have looked on Christ face to face. Why did God so disguise Himself? Why did He not make it easier to recognise Him? Observe: (1) that to have surrounded our Blessed Lord with such a visible glory as should have made unbelief impossible would have been to violate the whole order of the universe; it would have overturned the whole principle of God's dealings with men. What is that principle? It is to try men and to prove them. If God is to show Himself to any generation of men, and yet not stop their probation, He must put a veil over His face. (2) There is no reason to think that any wonder in heaven above or earth beneath, however startling, could have altogether prevented unbelief. Here comes in the text. The men of our Lord's day wanted proof. What proof could there be greater than a voice from heaven? The voice from heaven swelled forth upon the air, the startled multitude caught the sound, but few recognised it to be God's. Any explanation to the many was better than to bow the knee and worship. And so, while yet the Almighty accents lingered upon the hushed air, the people that stood by said that "it thundered."
II. The whole history of the Christian Church, from the beginning to the end, does but exemplify over and over again this same truth. From the first Advent to the last, upon all the mighty verities of God's revelation, the multitude have been divided. While a few have recognised the Divine Voice and the Divine Hand, the mass have seen nothing, heard nothing. This is true, (1) of the coming of Christ to judge the world, (2) of the Church as the kingdom of Christ, (3) of the Sacraments. From the days of Cain and Abel there have ever been the two classes—the humble receivers of God's Word, the self-conceited opposers of it; the men who throw themselves into God's way to be saved, and the men who would save themselves in their own way. The world will cry to the last "It only thundered," while God's elect are whispering with anxious hearts, rejoicingly yet tremblingly, "An Angel spake."
Bishop Woodford, Sermons on Subjects from the New Testament, p. 43.
References: John 12:29, John 12:30.—S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 325. John 12:30.—E. Jenkins, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 308. John 12:31.—S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 337; Homilist, new series, vol. i., p. 311.
John 12:32I. In these words our Lord foretells the gathering out and knitting "together of His mystical body, which is the Church. From the time of His ascension into heaven, and the shedding abroad of the Holy Ghost, He has been working unseen upon the spirits of mankind; He has been drawing together the living stones of His spiritual house. He has been working out this great all-comprehending aim—the perfection of His Church. There has been not a change, but a growth; as the springing or unfolding of a stately tree; a growth, not only of bulk, but of beauty, ever opening itself to the drawings and invitations of a gentle sky; so His mystical body has grown from childhood to youth and manhood, throwing out new powers of illuminated reason and of regenerate will, ever advancing unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
II. Note the way by which He, in His Church, draws men one by one unto Himself. He is in the midst of His Church, and we are ranged round Him in many measures of approach, as if we were in the many courts or precincts which surround His eternal throne. All of you has He been drawing; and if you look back you can see the links in the chain which has drawn you until now. A word, a thought, a chance, a sickness, a sorrow, a desolation of heart in the daytime, or a dream of the past in the night season, alone, or in the throng of men, in your chamber, or at the altar, something pierced deep into your soul and there abode. And then he has led you, little by little, with gentle steps, hiding the full length of the way that you must tread, lest you should start aside in fear and faint from weariness. Your place, your crown, your ministry, in His unseen kingdom, are all marked out for you. He is drawing you towards your everlasting portion. At that day when he shall have brought unto Mount Zion the last of His redeemed flock, then shall we know what He is now doing with us under a veil and in silence. We shall no more follow Him unseen, but behold Him face to face.
H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. i., p. 274.
The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World
I. It is the death of the Eternal Word, of God made flesh, which is our great lesson how to think and how to speak of this world. His Cross has put its due value upon everything which we see, upon all fortunes, all advantages, all ranks, all dignities, all pleasures, upon the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It has set a price upon the excitements, the rivalries, the hopes, the fears, the desires, the efforts, the triumphs of mortal man. It has given a meaning to the various shifting courses, the trials, the temptations, the sufferings of his earthly state. It has brought together and made consistent all that seemed discordant and aimless. It has taught us how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to desire, what to hope. It is the tone into which all the strains of this world's music are ultimately to be resolved.
II. It may be objected: But the world seems made for the enjoyment of just such a being as man, and man is put into it. He has the capacity of enjoyment, and the world supplies the means. How natural this, what a simple as well as pleasant philosophy, yet how different from that of the Cross. (1) Whatever force this objection may have, surely it is merely a repetition of that which Eve felt and Satan urged in Eden; for did not the woman see that the forbidden tree was "good for food," and a tree to be desired? (2) It is but a superficial view of things to say that this life is made for pleasure and happiness. To those who look under the surface it tells a very different tale. The doctrine of the Cross does but teach the very same lesson which this world teaches to those who live long in it, who have much experience in it, who know it. It may be granted, then, that the doctrine of the Cross is not on the surface of the world. The surface of things is bright only, and the Cross is sorrowful; it is a hidden doctrine, it lies under a veil; it at first sight startles us, and we are tempted to revolt from it. And yet it is a true doctrine, for truth is not on the surface of things, but in the depths. Let us not trust the world, let us not give our hearts to it; let us not begin with it. Let us begin with faith, let us begin with Christ. They alone are able truly to enjoy this world who begin with the world unseen. They alone can truly feast who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world who have learned not to abuse it; they alone inherit it who take it as a shadow of the world to come, and who for that world to come relinquish it.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. vi., p. 83.
How is it that Christ, lifted upon the Cross, draws all men unto Him?
Many answers might be given, and all true, to the question now proposed. Two must suffice.
I. The attraction of the Cross is first an attraction of admiration. Who has not felt his heart burn within him as he read of a life given for another? Now when Christ, lifted up from the earth, draws all men to Him, it is in part by the help of admiration. When a man has to learn for the first time what Christ is; when, either from defective instruction or a sceptical temper, he has to lay for himself the foundations of belief, to answer afresh the great question "What shall I think of Christ?" the first instrument of conviction will be commonly that feeling of admiration which must be roused by the study of the character, and most of all the character as manifested on the Cross.
II. Christ did not rest, nor would have us rest, in that superficial sort of relation to Him, which contents many writers and thinkers of our age; a relation which has in it only the satisfaction to be derived from a lovely scene or a beautiful countenance, which a man may just look upon and go his way and forget. If you examine the context, you will see that all points another way. It is not as the magnet of a moral beauty that Christ chiefly regards the attractiveness of His Cross. Not admiration, but faith is that which He asks of us. The object of that "lifting up," which was to be thus all-powerful to attract, was no mere exhibition of an admirable longsuffering; no representation, acted on some magnificent stage, of a superhuman excellence of doing, feeling, suffering; not this, but the very work itself which the Cross effected, the bearing of the sins of the world, the making reconciliation for iniquity, the bringing in of an everlasting righteousness. The reason why we feel differently in kind as well as in degree, towards Christ lifted up from the earth, is to be sought not in the admiration, but in the faith. Though admiration may draw us towards Him, it is faith alone which draws us to Him.
C. J. Vaughan, Temple Sermons, p. 23.
Universality and Individuality of Christ's Gospel
I. Universality is one attribute of Christ's wholesome words, "I will draw all men unto Me." A universality (1) of intention, (2) of invitation, (3) of potency, (4) of kind. Christ draws to Himself men of all characters and men of all histories.
II. Individuality is another attribute of Christ's wholesome words. The race can only be evangelised through the members. To excuse repentance, to excuse faith, to excuse holiness is, in other words, to excuse happiness, to excuse salvation, to excuse heaven. The Gospel kingdom when it comes, must come not in name but in power; they who are drawn to Christ crucified must be drawn spiritually, and therefore drawn personally and one by one. (1) It is the business of each one of us to apprehend the Gospel of a free, a personal absolution. There must be a solemn giving of the individual soul exactly as it is seen to be and felt to be in history and in circumstance, into the hands of God Himself, on the ground of a revelation made by Him in the Gospel as to a free and total forgiveness of all sin through the alone merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2) Again, it is the business of each one of us to apprehend for himself the Gospel promise of a Holy and Divine Spirit to dwell personally in him as the life of his life and the soul of his soul. God will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him; then if that be true we have only to ask and we shall receive. (3) It is the business of each one of us, having thus stamped upon himself by an individual act the seal of his consecration, the double seal of a Divine absolution and a Divine indwelling, then to go forth as a forgiven man and as a spiritual man, not indeed to presume upon what he has done, but as much as possible to forget himself; to forget himself in the Saviour's service and to forget himself in giving his very life for his brethren. Let the individual life, thus far and in this holy sense, be merged and lost in the relative. Thus through Him shall the Almighty Lord make good His Divine saying, "I, lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."
C. J. Vaughan, University Sermons, p. 89.
Wherein consists the attractive power of the crucifixion of our Lord?
I. That which, first of all, draws men in reverence and love to Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross, is the moral beauty, the moral strength, of self-sacrifice. By sacrifice I mean here the surrender of that which is most precious to self for the benefit of others. A sacrifice exerts a vast power, nothing less than a fascination, over those who witness it. It does this for three distinct reasons. Sacrifice, first of all, requires a moral effort of the highest kind. It is an exhibition of strength. This force of will, like all strength, whether moral, or mental, or physical, is of itself beautiful. Secondly, self-sacrifice attracts because of its rarity. As we admire gems and flowers for their rarity, not less than for their intrinsic beauty, so we are drawn to great examples of self-sacrifice, not merely because of their proper lustre, but because they are in contradiction to the ordinary tenor of human life. But, thirdly, sacrifice attracts by its fertilising power. All good that is done among men is proportioned only and exactly to the amount of sacrifice which is required to produce it. To witness sacrifice is of itself to breathe a bracing atmosphere. To be capable of sacrifice is already to be strong. Is not the voluntary self-sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross the secret of His attraction at this moment for His creatures, who know that sacrifice is as beautiful as it is rare, who know that it is as rare as it is productive.
II. A second explanation of the attraction which Jesus Christ upon the Cross exerts over the hearts of men is to be found in the prevalence of suffering in human life. Not when teaching upon the mountain, not when sitting at the festive board, not when rising from the grave, not when mounting from the earth to beyond the stars, but when hanging upon the tree of shame, Jesus is most welcome to a race whose days are few and evil, whose life at the very best is chequered by sorrow and pain.
III. Jesus Christ crucified attracts us on the Cross, because He is the love as well as the wisdom of God; because He is the well-beloved Son, no less than the eternal intelligence of the Father; because He is not merely the first of all teachers of moral truth, but the all sufficient victim for the sins of men. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."
H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 294.
The Attractive Influence of the Cross
I. We read these words in the first instance as they are spoken by One who is nothing more than what He at first sight appears—a peasant prophet of Galilee; and if you view them in this aspect, you will be struck by the very strange ambition which they unfold. He dreams of universal sovereignty. A revolt in Judea in favour of the Christ would have been regarded with no more concern among the magnates at Rome than the Ashantee War amongst ourselves. And yet, suspected by His associates, plotted against by His fellow countrymen, hated by the religious part of the community, He dreams still that He will subdue the world, and draw all men to Himself.
II. But if the dream is strange and vast, when viewed in that light, even more strange does it become when we consider the lofty spiritual tune which it assumes. This is not the language of the worldly conqueror—"I will draw all men to Myself." His words are cast in a sterner mould. His ambition concerns more material interest. He seeks to subdue realms, to bring territories under his sway. Jesus of Nazareth covets only the hearts of men. It was not the language of enthusiasm; it was not the language of imposture; but it was language which is unearthly in the strength and loftiness of its self-sacrificing love. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."
III. In these words our Saviour affirms the attractive influence of His Cross. Has this all come true? Yes, it has come true. The dream of the peasant prophet now looks like an approximately realised fact. I realise its fulfilment in the wide extended influence of Christian principle; I realise it in this fact, that the civilised world is expressed by another word, which implies the reign, the dominion of Christ—when we speak of the civilised world as Christendom. So has the Galilean triumphed. But I realise its fulfilment even more in the total reversal of the reputations of men. Many who exercised sway in the day of Christ owe the immortality of their names to the strange providence that linked their lives with the despised Galilean, so wondrously has that dream come true—"I will draw all men unto Me."
Bishop Boyd Carpenter, Penny Pulpit, new series, No. 668.
I. The important event the text anticipates. Our Lord here refers to the crucifixion. The exaltation of Christ in the ministry of the Gospel comprehends: (1) The recital of the manner of the Redeemer's death. (2) The declaration of the great design of His death. (3) The proclamation of His power to save, with the terms on which He saves.
II. The grand purpose the text reveals: (1) The point to which He attracts—"unto Me." (2) The manner in which He attracts—the view of the Divine character presented by the lifting up of Christ on the Cross is eminently attractive. (3) The scale on which He attracts—"all men."
J. Rawlinson, Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 369.
References: John 12:32.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii., No. 139; vol. xiii., No. 775; S. Baring Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 82; S. Cox, Expositions, 2nd series, p. 285; Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 461; W. Dorling, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 72; F. Ferguson, Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 97; J. Greenhough, Ibid., vol. xxiv., p. 241; Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 130; J. Keble, Sermons for Holy Week, p. 173; H. P. Liddon, Three Hundred Outlines on the New Testament, p. 88; D. Rhys Jenkins, The Eternal Life, p. 27; F. Morse, Penny Pulpit, new series, No. 636.
John 12:32-33The Atonement
I. Christ came to remit sin—the debt incurred by man to his God. Punishment, as St. Paul speaks of it, is not an arbitrary penalty for sin, having no direct reference to the sin; but it flows directly from the offence, even as a plant from the seed that is sown. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." We suffer for every sin of our own; for every sin of those whose influence has been directly or indirectly upon us. The punishment of sin is not remitted, nor can it be. Whatever was the purpose of the atonement, it was not to restore that state of things which existed before sin entered the world. Those of us who have accepted and made their own the sacrifice of Christ, and are living reconciled to God, and redeemed be its strength and comfort, are still bearing the penalty of sin. Now what becomes of the doctrine, so common (except in the Bible), that the object of the atonement was to abolish the consequences of sin? This must be false teaching, for the answer to it is simply in the fact that whatsoever a man sows that does he reap.
II. I do not remember that the Bible even says that the object of Christ's death was to deliver us from hell. It speaks of sin as the thing from which we need to be saved. A state of sin—a state where God is not—is hell, whether in this state of being, or in some other. From this spiritual state the Son of Man was manifested that He might deliver us. "Yes," my opponents may say, "so far we agree with you. But you are putting out of sight the real difficulty—the real stumbling-block. As far as your statement goes, Christ's life alone might save us. We believe that it was His death that had the atoning power. He died for the sins of the world." And we reply to our imaginary opponent, "We cannot deny your words, for they are an echo of the whole Gospel message, and they are confirmed by the history of Christianity since the death of Christ. We only differ from you in this, that we cannot separate the incarnation of Christ, and His life on earth, from His death, in estimating the sacrifice that He made for men." In His life and death are concentered His whole message, His whole nature. Small wonder that the Saviour in that strain of mighty prophecy, should look forward to His death as raising Him above the world to an elevation, from which, like the "moist star upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands," He should sway the mighty tide of human affection to Himself. "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."
A. Ainger, Sermons in the Temple Church, p. 62.
References: John 12:32, John 12:33.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix., No. 1717; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 85.—xii. 33. Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 194.
John 12:34What is the force of this name, as applied to Himself, by our Lord?
I. We have in it, Christ putting out His hand to draw us to Himself, identifying Himself with us.
II. We have, just as distinctly, Christ, by the use of this name, in a very real sense distinguishing Himself from us and claiming to hold a unique and solitary relation to mankind. And then we have Christ, by the use of this name in its connection with the ancient prophecy, pointing us onward to the wonderful future. The name carries with it (1) a blessed message of the present activity and perpetual manhood of the risen Lord. (2) A reminder of the second coming of that perfect manhood to be our Judge.
A. Maclaren, A Year's Ministry, 1st series, p. 289.
References: John 12:34.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 219. John 12:35.—Literary Churchman Sermons, p. 108.
John 12:35-36The True Light and the False
The desire for light is one of the deepest natural instincts of man. The heathen man prayed that if he were to be smitten, he might be smitten in the light, and not in darkness. And the idea of Christ's Gospel is, that it is a light shining in a dark place, to which, however, men can close their eyes, so that they cannot see it, but go on still in darkness. All the apparatus of the Church is for this simple end—to enable men to have that light which is life, and to have it more abundantly.
I. I do not myself regard this light as given to us to enable us to fathom mysteries. Christianity is a very simple thing. Its object is just this one—to bring men's wandering hearts back to God. It shines rather upon the will and conscience than upon the intellect; and the path of duty is very seldom other than simple and plain. "Love God," says the great Latin doctor, St. Augustine, "Love God, and then do what thou likest." He means that if we love God, we shall never even wish to do anything that would displease Him. Our perplexities, such as they are, arise when the love of the world, or the love of self, cuts across and comes into conflict with the love of God.
II. What is the Kingdom of Man that we are bidden to welcome with hosannas and hallelujahs? Is it a kingdom where every man shall do that which seemeth right in his own eye? Is it the rule of selfishness, of material force, of barbaric splendour, of inordinate wealth? Is it the rule of scientific discovery, reckless of all considerations save its own results? Is it that state which is so well figured in the phrase, "light without love"? The signs of the kingdom of man are manifest enough among us; I would fain see more tokens of the Kingdom of God. If Christianity has failed, what else is there that has triumphed? Where is the tree of life in your philosophy or in your science, that you have ready to plant on either side of the river, bearing its twelve manner of fruits and yielding its fruits every month, and whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations? If all you mean is to bid us rid from Christianity all that we have imported into it—that is, alien from its name, foreign to its purpose, destructive of its true moralising influence—I could join in your cry with heart and soul. I am only too painfully conscious how much there is that is hollow, unreal, nay, almost revolting, in many of the most popular forms of the religionism of the day. I have no love for what Jeremy Taylor called "a too curiously articulated creed." I mourn over the folly of those who seek to persuade rational beings that Christianity is a thing of spells and rites and incantations. I have not much confidence in the stimulants which are given to emotions that lie in perilously close neighbourhood to unsanctified and even sensuous passion. I have not so learned Christ from Paul. To me the Gospel is a simpler and help-fuller thing. It teaches me not so much how to feel according to the standard of religious propriety, how to express myself according to the standards of Catholic orthodoxy, but how to live after the pattern of the Sermon on the Mount, how to die in the faith and with the hopes of the great Apostle Paul. And what I have to preach is, that if any man be in Christ, really and truly, by that very fact he is, or becomes, a new creature. "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Bishop Fraser, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 369.
References: John 12:37-41.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1844. John 12:42, John 12:43.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 244; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 148.
John 12:43I. It is an obvious question, Why is it wrong to love the praise of men? For it may be objected, that we are accustomed to educate the young by means of praise and blame; that we encourage them by kind words from us, that is, from man; and punish them for disobedience. If, then, it may be argued, it is right to regard the opinions of others concerning us in our youth, it cannot be in itself wrong to pay attention to it at any other period of life. This is true; but I do not say that the mere love of praise and fear of shame are evil; regard to the corrupt world's praise or blame, this is what is sinful and dangerous. St. John, in the text, implies that the praise of men was, at the time spoken of, in opposition to the praise of God. It must be wrong to prefer anything to the will of God. If the world at large took a correct and religious view of things, then its praise and blame would in its place be valuable too. The reason why we say it is wrong to pursue the world's praise is, because we cannot have it and God's praise too. And yet as the pursuit of it is wrong, so is it common for this reason: because God is unseen, and the world is seen; because God's praise and blame are future, the world's are present; because God's praise and blame are inward, and come quietly and without keenness, whereas the world's are very plain and intelligible, and make themselves felt.
II. I could say to those who fear the world's censure, this: (1) Recollect you cannot please all parties; you must disagree with some or other; you have only to choose (if you are determined to look to man) with which you will disagree. And further, you may be sure that those who attempt to please all parties, please fewest, and that the best way to gain the world's good opinion is to show that you prefer the praise of God. (2) Think of the multitude of beings, who, unseen themselves, may yet be surveying our conduct. Accustom yourself, then, to feel that you are on a public stage, whatever your station of life may be; that there are other witnesses to your conduct besides the world around you, and if you feel shame of men, you should feel much more shame in the presence of God, and those servants of His that do His pleasure. (3) Still further: You fear the judgment of men upon you. What will you think of it on your deathbed? You fear shame; well, and will you not shrink from shame at the judgment-seat of Christ? "Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but My righteousness shall be for ever, and My salvation from generation to generation."
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. vii., p. 41.
I. The praise of men. What our Lord calls "honour one from another." The praise of men will bid us to be moral, to be diligent, to be exemplary, to be religious. Thus far, it runs side by side with the praise of God. But there are points in every life, or there is one point, where the two roads diverge. Now and then the alternative is proposed, suddenly, seriously, decisively, "Who is on the Lord's side?" A word must be spoken, or not spoken. Any social table, any home fireside, may furnish the occasion, an act must be done or not done, a gain made or refused, a hopeful prospect hailed or thought scorn of. What manner of persons ought we to be, on whose innermost motive those momentous issues hang.
II. There are those, St. John tells us, who have in them, really and effectually, the other ambition; who sincerely and practically love the praise of God more than the praise of men. The praise of God would have uttered itself to them in no audible sound; in no voice from the sky, convincing and comforting, "Well done, good and true;" simply and solely in this—a conscience calmed at once and strengthened by a sense of peril met and duty done; a soul finding its rest in the truth and in the life, in a Person the desire of all nations, and a spiritual communion, satisfying and everlasting. This is the praise of God in the present. To have this is to be at peace; to love this is to be happy; to live for this is to live above earth, Paradise regained and heaven opened. The man who lives for the praise of God is an independent man; his chains are broken off, and he lives and moves and thinks in freedom—not unmoved by earth's interests, for the hand of God and the mind of God are in all things; not untouched by earth's affections, for he who loves God loves his brother also; not idly dreaming of glories to come, but using the world and the fulness thereof as not abusing. Thus he passes through life, watchful not to lose the grace given, fleeing from evil because God hates it, freely imparting, in an influence unwearied and never upbraiding, the love freely received. At length, the departure, to be where it is better; the staff of God comforting the journey, and at its close the at last spoken "Well done!" Then shall he who has here sought the praise of God find it and rejoice in it for ever.
C. J. Vaughan, Temple Sermons, p. 56.
The belief in a Divine Father, to whom our conduct has relation, differentiates at once and for ever religious from secular morality.
I. The thought of a present God, One who knows us, loves us, desires us, co-operates with our efforts, is essential to our practice of the Christian virtues. But we are living at the present time in an intellectual atmosphere, from which that thought has been, to a large extent, eliminated. The consequence is that a great number, if not a majority of professing Christians, have adopted a morality which is no longer distinctively Christian. Their speculative belief, it is true, may have remained unchanged, but the disintegrating influence of this subtle, impalpable, pervasive, corrosive atmosphere has loosened, without their knowledge, the bond of their conduct to their creed; and they live and move and act, in practical affairs, without feeling from day to day the need of the Divine cooperation, the force of the Divine attraction, the constraint of the Divine love. But dangers which elude us by their subtlety do not cease to be real dangers. If what is called agnosticism were the exclusive characteristic of obvious antagonists in well-defined array, it would be no very new enemy to the Church of Christ. But modern agnosticism is nothing of this kind; it is a shifting shapeless mist, that now covers our enemies and now our friends, and now hides the true nature of the battle-ground between us. It means a hundred things in the mouths of a hundred different men. It is now a synonym for atheism, and now the chosen weapon of the Christian apologist, and we must, therefore, if we would clear our conduct from the spell of this mesmeric influence, force the word to give an account of itself, and tell us what it means.
II. Strictly speaking, the word agnosticism should be confined to the position of those who maintain that there is no evidence in the empirical and experimental sciences, when taken by themselves, to prove or to disprove the existence of a God. But such a doctrine, to say the least of it, is in no way incompatible with the Christian belief in a God whom no man hath seen at any time, who is not in the fire, or the whirlwind, or the earthquake, whose ways are not as our ways, and who cannot be found out by searching among the things of the natural world. If agnosticism were confined to the opinion that physical science in the abstract can have no theological bearings, it would be as true as a similar statement in regard of his own department when made by a political economist or pure mathematician. But in actual fact it means more than this, it is the courteous disclaimer of a practised controversialist, who, while he declines the attempt to prove a negative, insinuates his conviction that, after all, with sufficient diligence a negative might be proved. And beyond this scientific agnosticism, we live among forms of what may be called a religious agnosticism, that is, forms of thought which, while retaining a minimum of what is supposed to be requisite to constitute a religion, surrender in false deference to the spirit of the age as large a portion as they think possible of the metaphysics of their creed—all in unconsciousness that by so doing they empty it of moral significance as well. Such attempts are retrogressive, counter to the spirit of development; and a Christian may reasonably maintain that such systems are self-condemned by their mutual exclusiveness, while Christianity includes them, as a late complex result of evolution includes the succession of simpler elements which it has incorporated in itself. Generations, like individuals, have each their besetting temptation, and ours is to think from the high level of our average morality, that we can live in less close and conscious dependence upon the Divine assistance than the men of old, who through that assistance raised our morality to what it is. We have special need, therefore, to remind ourselves from time to time, that the specifically Christian virtues owe their essential character to our consciousness of the love of our Father in heaven, of the revelation of that love on Calvary, and of our capacity for living on the power of it, in virtue of its own free self-communication to our souls.
J. R. Illingworth, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, Feb. 14th, 1881.
References: John 12:43.—Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. v., p. 27. John 12:44-50.—F. D. Maurice, The Gospel of St. John, p. 341.
John 12:47(with John 12:22)
Christ the Saviour
Both these passages convey a truth of very great importance, and which requires to be fully received; and both taken together, give us the exact view of Christ's dealings with mankind. "He came not to judge the world, but to save the world"—here is our example of conduct. "The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son"—here is our warning, and at the same time our hope. And as both are true of the Lord Himself, so are they true also, in an inferior measure, of us also. We are set not to judge the world, but to save the world; not to strive to put down evil by force, but to labour with all meekness and longsuffering to overcome evil with good. Yet "know ye not that we shall judge angels?" that when the throne of the Son of Man is set for judgment, He will be surrounded with ten thousands of His saints; and that all the good will join with full assent in that great sentence by which the Power of Evil shall be put down for ever.
I. Our private severity against sinners should be ever checked by the remembrance of our own sin. We are so much more likely to be too violent than too merciful, to disguise our own angry passions under the name of a regard to public justice and public example, that whether in our own conduct, or in advising others, I know not that we can too strongly enforce the words of our Lord, that He came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
II. But are we then to suffer evil to go on unresisted, and leaving it to the judgment of Christ, take no pains to oppose it ourselves? Nay, we are to resist it all our lives long—to resist it even unto blood, if need be; but then it is our own blood that is spoken of, not that of those with whom we are contending; we may and must strive against sin in ourselves and in others, with all arms but those of violence. We are to imitate, not God as He is in Himself, when He takes to Him His great power, and reigns as the King of all the earth—for in this character no one hath seen God at any time, nor can we know Him till we see Him face to face in heaven; but we are to imitate God revealed to us in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son. We must strive in all things to follow His steps, who came not to judge the world but to save the world.
T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. i., p. 121.
References: John 12:47.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xix., p. 303.—W. Sanday, The Fourth Gospel, pp. 191, 201; T. T. Shore, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xxii. p. 226.
There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
This he said, signifying what death he should die.
The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.