From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
I. THE APOSTLE IS THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. The stigmata are the brands, the name of the master burnt on the slave. The most honoured of the apostles regards himself as the branded servant of Christ. To no higher honour can any Christian aspire. Christianity is living, not for self, but for Christ. We must all understand that Christ stands to us in the relation of a Master. Our part is to submit to his will. The supreme and peculiar Christian duty is obedience to Christ (John 14:21).
II. THE TRUE SERVANT OF CHRIST BEARS THE HARK OF HIS MASTER. St. Paul bore on his body the scars of the sufferings he had endured in the service of Christ. These plainly marked him as Christ's. Christians must all bear indications of Christ on their lives. It may be granted that St. Francis was none the better for having the wound-marks as of the nails of the cross in his hands and feet. Yet this strange condition was the last proof of his passionate identification of himself with Christ in thought and will and affection. So the Christian must ever have the Name of Jesus upon him in the Christ-likeness of his life. It is useless to have it merely on the tongue; it must be on the body, i.e. on the life.
III. THE MARKS OF CHRIST COME THROUGH SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. Thus St. Paul received his. They were brands burnt in by fiery trials. Suffering for Christ proves our fidelity to him and brings out our Christ-likeness of character. They who are like the rocky soil and receive the Word with joy, but cannot withstand persecution, may sing of the sweetness of the Name of Jesus in sentimental hymns; but they have no such Name branded on their persons. After all their enthusiasm has evaporated, we see nothing but self left. The Christian must deny himself for Christ. His life may not be so hard as St. Paul's. Rarely has such hardship been known as the great apostle endured; rarely have the brands been burnt so deep with such cruel fires. Yet all must have an experience that is similar in kind, though perhaps far less in degree. The sufferer, however, may console himself with the thought that the more fiery the trial he endures for Christ becomes, the deeper will be the sacred marks of the Name of Jesus upon him. For nothing makes us so Christ-like and nothing binds us so near to Christ as patient suffering and toil for his sake. This suggests the fear that it is no easy thing to be a Christian. Certainly to be a true Christian such as St. Paul was is not easy; it is the depth of self-renunciation and the height of arduous fidelity. Count the cost, then. Look at the irons ready to brand the Name of Jesus before consenting to become his servant. But look also on the other side, at what he suffered for us and at the glory of his service.
IV. THE BRANDS OF SERVICE SHOULD BE THE SECURITY OF THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. With such marks upon him, how dare any man trouble the apostle by questioning his authority? Suffering for Christ should be a confirmation of our faith to others. It should also be a security against the danger of unfaithfulness. How can he who bears the Name of Jesus thus conspicuously burnt in by hard trial and long service forsake his Master? Such brands should be eternal. - W.F.A.
From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)
(A. G. Brown.)then be any disgrace to bear His mark in my body, or to be incapable of severing myself from His all-watchful and all-beneficent ownership? St. Paul thought not.
(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)I. The text is an expression of that rest in love which those alone can have whose "life is hid with Christ in God." The immediate motive of its utterance here is a certain sense of powerlessness in swaying the minds of others. What is argument to him? What is the judgment of man? What is any outward evidence? Has he not within the surest of all proof, the experience of the highest faith? "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ."
II. What are the "marks" here signified? Whatever they are, no doubt they are proofs that he is Christ's, and Christ is his. But what are they? Elsewhere, he speaks of his labours and sufferings in the cause of Christ; and that too on an occasion like the present, when some were disparaging him, and making invidious comparisons between himself and the earlier apostles. He is obliged to say in his own cause, "I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles." Then he speaks of his severe sufferings as signs of his apostleship. Are these uppermost in his mind now? I think not. Again, he speaks to the Corinthians of the vision vouch. safed to him — "How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." And he concludes, "In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds." Is it to the same that he is referring now? Or, once more, does he allude to the many converts whom he had made, signs, if there be any, that Christ is with him? Well might his heart rest in thoughts like this, as when he wrote to the Church at Corinth — "Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel;" "And the seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord." Or when he calls the Philippians "my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown." Is this the mark of the Lord Jesus which he looks at, and takes comfort at the sight? No. I think not. It is something closer to him than this. Sufferings may find a man and leave a man separate from Christ: "Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it is nothing." Of visions he says, "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory;" and lest he should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given unto him a thorn in the flesh. Of miracles and mighty works, One greater than Paul said — "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." And as to making converts, here is his own solemn caution, "Lest when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." What are these marks? They are the stigmata, the marks (as the Greeks would say, whose word it was), burnt into a slave, the brand set on a runaway slave: a sign graven upon the very body, as inseparable as a birth-mark; one that has indeed been imposed in after years, and by another hand, but now become part and parcel of the man himself, as his own flesh and bone. They are the stigmata, the marks (as Christians would say, in memory of Him who bore them on Himself), of Christ their Master: His marks on their body, as signs that they are members of His Body, in all purity and chastity and holiness, as being "temples of the Holy Ghost;" His marks on their temper, as those who have taken up their cross and borne it after Him in self-denial and mortification, in patience, in forgiveness, in humility, in cheerfulness; His marks on their soul, as being set free from condemnation by the atoning mercy of the Saviour, as being made partakers of the precious fruits of His sacrifice upon the cross — the mark of justification, and the mark of sanctification — the imputed righteousness of Christ, the imparted and inherent righteousness wrought in them by the Holy Ghost: His marks on their spirit, being full of all spiritual affections — love, joy, peace, patience, amid the trials of earth, longing for the security of heaven, the present enjoyment of an almost perfect rest in the arms of God; in short, "a life hid with Christ in God."
III. In the next place observe, that this is not an unusual thought with St. Paul, and will not admit of being explained away as a momentary instance of highly-wrought enthusiasm. It was his life! Did it seem to any a mischievous intrusion of imagination into holy things, to speak of love imagining the Saviour's wounds to be traced in the Christian's heart? Then how do you read St. Paul's words to the Colossians — "I, Paul, who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh;" or these to the Philippians — "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;" and again to the Galatians — "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ that liveth in me"? These are the marks branded by the fire of God's love upon his heart. "What marks have I of the Lord Jesus?" and again, "Without these marks will Christ know me for His own?" They are brands burnt into the very body, so no outward thing will satisfy; nothing that your hands have done, nothing that the world can measure, for it is beneath all the dress and apparel of a so-called religious life, of which the world takes cognizance. They are part and parcel of yourself, so they can be nothing which can be taken up and laid down at will. Think how great is the risk of self-deceit; because that mark is not genuine unless it be found in the very inmost circle of your life.
(G. W. Furse, M. A.)
American Homiletic Review.I. THE WORD-PICTURE HERE PRESENTED.
1. The figure, "slave brands."
3. The challenge.
II. THE SUGGESTION THE PICTURE MAKES.
1. He who follows the Lord Jesus must expect that some will try to "trouble" him.
2. He whose "marks" are most conspicuous will be troubled the least.
3. He who has "marks" may take comfort in knowing how much his Master paid for him.
4. He who is owned may remember that his Master owns and recognizes the "marks" also.
5. He that has no "marks" is either a better or a poorer Christian than St. Paul.
6. Satan outwits himself when he gives a believer more "marks."
7. A sure day is coming when the "marks" will be honourable.
(American Homiletic Review.)
(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)
1. In the case of domestic slaves. With these, however, branding was not usual, at least among the Greeks and Romans, except to mark such as had attempted to escape, or had otherwise misconducted themselves, and such brands were held a badge of disgrace.
2. Slaves attached to some temple, or persons devoted to the service of some deity were so branded.
3. Captives were so treated in very rare cases.
4. Soldiers sometimes branded the name of their commander on some part of their body. The metaphor here is most appropriate, if referred to the second of these classes. Such a practice at all events cannot have been unknown in a country which was the home of the worship of Cybele.
(Bishop Lightfoot.)me back. You are not talking to any young recruit. I have fought in the battle. I have been wounded in the conflict. I have tried and tested my Captain in actual war. Look at the scars I have on me." And methinks his eyes would flash as he would say, "Yes, I have scars already, and I am willing to have a great many more. Why, look at what I have suffered for Him. Do you think I am going to give Him up now? Look at what I have endured for Him. Do you think that, after bearing all the scourgings and buffetings and loneliness that I have, I am likely to be turned on one side now?" He was proud of his scars. Do you see what a beautiful expression it is — "the marks of the Lord Jesus? We may say, Paul, it is a most disgraceful thing to be whipped. Why, you have on your back the brand of infamy." He only smiles and says, "No, I have on my back the marks of the Lord Jesus." "Why, Paul, look at your wrist; there is a deep, blue line round it where the manacle has been. You have the mark of the fetter on you." Says the apostle: "You mistake it; I have the mark of the Lord Jesus." He looked upon these scars as so many badges of honour. Go, walk through Greenwich Hospital tomorrow, or go down to Chelsea and talk to some of the old pensioners. Are they ashamed of their scars? Why, I remember how a few months back we had, at one of our meetings, a brother who had served in the Crimean war, and he showed me how a bayonet had gone in here and come out there; how there was a mark in his arm where a ball had gone right through, and a scar in his face where the sword had cut. I think he told me that he had about twenty scars on him, and his eyes flashed fire as he told the story. And have not you, brethren, some marks of the Lord Jesus of this sort? Have not you been wounded in conflicts willingly endured for the Master's sake? Have not you known what it is to be jeered at for Christ's sake? Have you not had to stand a rattling artillery of scoffs in your workshop? Have not some of you deep scars now through being cruelly misrepresented, and you knew it was for Christ's sake? I will say to you as Paul said to the Church at Galatia, "Have you suffered so many things in vain, if it be yet in vain?" Oh, by the scars of the past, I pray you be heroes in the present. I demand of you a complete consecration. Will you yield to the demand which He here makes by me? If some of us have had to say, "Lord, I am afraid that the mark is not as clear as it used to be," then I will tell you what we had better do. We had better go and kneel down at His feet, and say, "Lord Jesus, brand us anew. Put Thy mark on us again. Thine we are, and on Thy side. Brand us. Put the iron upon us, though it burn us. Oh, do not listen to our cries, but put a deep indelible mark, so that in business life, in home life, in church life, men and women shall say, 'Lo, there are men who carry the stigmata of their Lord upon them.'" May God fill us with this holy impassioned earnestness — this sense of having taken an irretrievable step, which shall lead us to say to all about us, "From henceforth let no man trouble me. From henceforth clear the road, for I bear in my body the brand of the Lord Jesus." The Lord put His brand on us afresh for His name's sake. Amen.
(A. G. Brown.)he belonged. The weals made by the Roman lictor's rods, with which he was thrice beaten; the red lines of those two hundred stripes which had been laid on him in the Jewish synagogues; the scars left by the stones which had bruised and beaten him down, so that he was left for dead, — these "marks of the Lord Jesus he carried with him, the proofs as to whose he was and whom he served."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE MARKS — slave brands.
1. The body of the Christian is itself a badge of servitude to Christ.
2. Baptism is another.
3. So is bodily persecution and mental.
II. THE INFERENCE TO BE DRAWN.
1. No man can legitimately doubt our Christianity and therefore need not be told about it.
2. We need not trouble ourselves, we ever bear the incontestible evidences of being Christ's.In conclusion:
1. Let no man infer that singularity makes a Christian.
2. The reward of bearing the marks.
(1) (2) (Dean Vaughan.) 2. His lips are drenched with vinegar and gall, when sharp and severe restraints are given to his tongue. 3. His hands and feet are nailed when he is, by the power of God's Spirit, disabled to the wonted courses of sin. 4. His body is stripped when all colour and pretences are taken away from him. 5. His heart is pierced when the life-blood of his formerly. reigning corruptions is let out. (Bishop Hall.) (H. W. Beecher.) (R. Cudworth.) (H. Drummond, M. A.) (Trapp.)
(2) (Dean Vaughan.) 2. His lips are drenched with vinegar and gall, when sharp and severe restraints are given to his tongue. 3. His hands and feet are nailed when he is, by the power of God's Spirit, disabled to the wonted courses of sin. 4. His body is stripped when all colour and pretences are taken away from him. 5. His heart is pierced when the life-blood of his formerly. reigning corruptions is let out. (Bishop Hall.) (H. W. Beecher.) (R. Cudworth.) (H. Drummond, M. A.) (Trapp.)
(Dean Vaughan.)1. The crown of thorns pierces his head when his sinful conceits are mortified.
2. His lips are drenched with vinegar and gall, when sharp and severe restraints are given to his tongue.
3. His hands and feet are nailed when he is, by the power of God's Spirit, disabled to the wonted courses of sin.
4. His body is stripped when all colour and pretences are taken away from him.
5. His heart is pierced when the life-blood of his formerly. reigning corruptions is let out.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. Drummond, M. A.)Vivet Christus ajusque insignia," "Blessed be Christ, and welcome be these prints and marks of Christ." I conclude this discourse with that saying of Pericles, "It is not gold, precious stones, statues, that adorn a soldier, but a torn buckler, a cracked helmet, a blunt sword, a scarred face." Sceva is renowned for this, that at the siege of Dyrrachium he so long alone resisted Pompey's army that he had two hundred and twenty darts sticking in his shield, and lost one of his eyes, and yet gave not over till Caesar came to his rescue.