I was glad when they said to me, é─˙Let us go to the house of the Lord.é─¨
Room at the Gospel Feast
Philip Doddridge (1702é─ý1751)
The King of heaven His table spreads,
And dainties crown the board;
Not paradise with all its joys
Could such delight afford.
Pardon and peace to dying men,
And endless life are given,
And the rich blood that Jesus shed
To raise the soul to heaven.
Ye hungry poor, that long have strayed
In sinsé─˘ dark mazes, come.
Come from the hedges and highways,
And grace shall find you room.
Millions of souls, in glory now,
Were fed and feasted here;
And millions more, still on the way,
Around the board appear.
Yet is his house and heart so large,
That millions more may come;
Nor could the wide assembling world
Overfill the spacious room.
All things are ready; come away,
Nor weak excuses frame.
Crowd to your places at the feast,
And bless the Founderé─˘s name.
é─ţWorthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004).
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
St. John, after beginning his gospel with a statement of our Lordé─˘s nature as God, proceeds to speak of His forerunner, John the Baptist. The contrast between the language used about the Saviour, and that used about His forerunner, ought not to be overlooked. Of Christ we are told that He was the eternal God,é─ţthe Creator of all things,é─ţthe source of life and light. Of John the Baptist we are told simply, that é─˙there was a man sent from God, whose name was John.é─¨
We see, firstly, in these verses, the true nature of a Christian ministeré─˘s office. We have it in the description of John the Baptist: é─˙He came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe.é─¨
Christian ministers are not priests, nor mediators between God and man. They are not agents into whose hands men may commit their souls, and carry on their religion by deputy. They are witnesses. They are intended to bear testimony to Godé─˘s truth, and specially to the great truth that Christ is the only Saviour and light of the world. This was St. Peteré─˘s ministry on the day of Pentecost.é─ţé─˙with many other words did he testify.é─¨ (Acts ii. 40.) This was the whole tenor of St. Paulé─˘s ministry.é─ţé─˙He testified both to the Jews and to the Greeks repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.é─¨ (Acts xx. 21.) Unless a Christian minister bears full testimony to Christ, he is not faithful in his office. So long as he does testify of Christ, he has done his part, and will receive his reward, although the hearers may not believe his testimony. Until a ministeré─˘s hearers believe on that Christ of whom they are told, they receive no benefit from the ministry. They may be pleased and interested; but they are not profited until they believe. The great end of the ministeré─˘s testimony is é─˙that through him, men may believe.é─¨
We see, secondly, in these verses, one principal position which our Lord Jesus Christ occupies towards mankind. We have it in the words, é─˙He was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.é─¨
Christ is to the souls of men what the sun is to the world. He is the centre and source of all spiritual light, warmth, life, health, growth, beauty, and fertility. Like the sun, He shines for the common benefit of all mankind,é─ţfor high and for low, for rich and for poor, for Jew and for Greek. Like the sun, He is free to all. All may look at Him, and drink health out of His light. If millions of mankind were mad enough to dwell in caves underground, or to bandage their eyes, their darkness would be their own fault, and not the fault of the sun. So, likewise, if millions of men and women love spiritual é─˙darkness rather than light,é─¨ the blame must be laid on their blind hearts, and not on Christ. é─˙Their foolish hearts are darkened.é─¨ (John iii. 19; Rom. i. 21.) But whether men will see or not, Christ is the true sun, and the light of the world. There is no light for sinners except in the Lord Jesus.
We see, thirdly, in these verses, the desperate wickedness of mané─˘s natural heart. We have it in the words, Christ é─˙was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.é─¨
Christ was in the world invisibly, long before He was born of the Virgin Mary. He was there from the very beginning, ruling, ordering, and governing the whole creation. By Him all things are held together. (Coloss. i. 17.) He gave to all life and breath, rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons. By Him kings reigned, and nations were increased or diminished. Yet men knew Him not, and honoured Him not. They é─˙worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.é─¨ (Rom. i. 25.) Well may the natural heart be called é─˙wicked!é─¨
But Christ came visibly into the world, when He was born at Bethlehem, and fared no better. He came to the very people whom He had brought out from Egypt, and purchased for His own. He came to the Jews, whom He had separated from other nations, and to whom He had revealed Himself by the prophets. He came to those very Jews who had read of Him in the Old Testament Scriptures,é─ţseen Him under types and figures in their temple services,é─ţand professed to be waiting for His coming. And yet, when He came, those very Jews received Him not. They even rejected Him, despised Him, and slew Him. Well may the natural heart be called é─˙desperately wicked!é─¨
We see, lastly, in these verses, the vast privileges of all who receive Christ, and believe on Him. We are told that é─˙as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become you sons of God, even to those who believe on His name.é─¨
Christ will never be without some servants. If the vast majority of the Jews did not receive Him as the Messiah, there were, at any rate, a few who did. To them He gave the privilege of being Godé─˘s children. He adopted them as members of His Fatheré─˘s family. He reckoned them His own brethren and sisters, bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. He conferred on them a dignity which was ample recompense for the cross which they had to carry for His sake. He made them sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.
Privileges like these, be it remembered, are the possession of all, in every age, who receive Christ by faith, and follow Him as their Savour. They are é─˙children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.é─¨ (Gal. iii. 26.) They are born again by a new and heavenly birth, and adopted into the family of the King of kings. Few in number, and despised by the world as they are, they are cared for with infinite love by a Father in heaven, who, for His Soné─˘s sake, is well pleased with them. In time He provides them with everything that is for their good. In eternity He will give them a crown of glory that fades not away. These are great things! But faith in Christ gives men an ample title to them. Good masters care for their servants, and Christ cares for His.
Are we ourselves sons of God? Have we been born again? Have we the marks which always accompany the new birth,é─ţsense of sin, faith in Jesus, love of others, righteous living, separation from the world? Let us never be content until we can give a satisfactory answer to these questions.
Do we desire to be sons of God? Then let us é─˙receive Christé─¨ as our Savour, and believe on Him with the heart. To every one that so receives Him, He will give the privilege of becoming a son of God.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.