I was glad when they said to me, é─˙Let us go to the house of the Lord.é─¨
The Christian Warfare
Samuel Stennett (1727é─ý1795)
My Captain sounds the alarm of war;
Awake, the powers of hell are near!
é─˙To arms! To arms!é─¨ I hear him cry,
é─˘Tis yours to conquer, or to die!
Roused by the animating sound,
I cast my eager eyes around;
Make haste to gird my armor on,
And bid each trembling fear be gone.
Hope is my helmet; faith my shield;
Thy Word, my God! The sword I wield;
With sacred truth my loins are girt,
And holy zeal inspires my heart.
Thus armed I venture on the fight;
Resolved to put my foes to flight;
While Jesus kindly deigns to spread
His conquering banner oé─˘er my head.
In him I hope; in him I trust;
His bleeding cross is all my boast.
Through troops of foes Heé─˘ll lead me on
To victory and the victoré─˘s crown.
é─ţWorthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004).
é─˙I Am the Bread of Lifeé─¨
The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone. 23 There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. 25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, é─˙Rabbi, when did You get here?é─¨
26 Jesus answered them and said, é─˙Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.é─¨
We should mark first, in this passage, what knowledge of mané─˘s heart our Lord Jesus Christ possesses. We see Him exposing the false motives of those who followed Him for the sake of the loaves and fishes. They had followed Him across the Lake of Galilee. They seemed at first sight ready to believe in Him, and do Him honour. But He knew the inward springs of their conduct, and was not deceived. é─˙Ye seek me,é─¨ He said, é─˙not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye ate the loaves, and were filled.é─¨
The Lord Jesus, we should never forget, is still the same. He never changes. He reads the secret motives of all who profess and call themselves Christians. He knows exactly why they do all they do in their religion. The reasons why they go to Church, and why they receive the sacrament,é─ţwhy they attend family prayers, and why they keep Sunday holy,é─ţall are naked and opened to the eyes of the great Head of the Church. By Him actions are weighed as well as seen. é─˙Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh at the heart.é─¨ (1 Samuel 16:7">1 Sam. xvi. 7.)
Let us be real, true, and sincere in our religion, whatever else we are. The sinfulness of hypocrisy is very great, but its folly is greater still. It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives, and friends. A little decent outward profession will often go a long way. But it is impossible to deceive Christ. é─˙His eyes are as a flame of fire.é─¨ (Rev. i. 14.) He sees us through and through. Happy are those who can say,é─ţé─˙Thou, Lord, who knowest all things, knowest that we love thee.é─¨ (John xxi. 17.)
We should mark, secondly, in this passage, what Christ forbids. He told the crowds who followed Him so diligently for the loaves and fishes, é─˙not to labour for the food that perisheth.é─¨ It was a remarkable saying, and demands explanation.
Our Lord, we may be sure, did not mean to encourage idleness. It would be a great mistake to suppose this hard labour was the appointed lot of Adam in Paradise. Labour was ordained to be mané─˘s occupation after the fall. Labour is honourable in all men. No one need be ashamed of belonging to é─˙the working classes.é─¨ Our Lord himself worked in the carpenteré─˘s shop at Nazareth. Paul wrought as a tent-maker with his own hands.
What our Lord did mean to rebuke was, that excessive attention to labour for the body, while the soul is neglected, which prevails everywhere in the world. What He reproved was, the common habit of labouring only for the things of time, and letting alone the things of eternityé─ţof minding only the life that now is, and disregarding the life to come. Against this habit He delivers a solemn warning.
Surely, we must all feel our Lord did not say the words before us without good cause. They are a startling caution which should ring in the ears of many in these latter days. How many in every rank of life are doing the very thing against which Jesus warns us! They are labouring night and day for é─˙the food that perisheth,é─¨ and doing nothing for their immortal souls. Happy are those who early learn betimes the respective value of soul and body, and give the first and best place in their thoughts to salvation. One thing is needful. He that seeks first the kingdom of God, will never fail to find é─˙all other things added to him.é─¨ (Matt. vi. 33.)
We should mark, thirdly, in this passage, what Christ advises. He tells us to é─˙labour for the food that endureth to everlasting life.é─¨ He would have us take pains to find food and satisfaction for our souls. That food is provided in rich abundance in Him. But he that would have it must diligently seek it.
How are we to labour? There is but one answer. We must labour in the use of all appointed means. We must read our Bibles, like men digging for hidden treasure. We must wrestle earnestly in prayer, like men contending with a deadly enemy for life. We must take our whole heart to the house of God, and worship and hear like those who listen to the reading of a benefactoré─˘s will. We must fight daily against sin, the world, and the devil, like those who fight for liberty, and must conquer, or be slaves. These are the ways we must walk in if we would find Christ, and be found of Him. This is é─˙labouring.é─¨ This is the secret of getting on about our souls.
Labour like this no doubt is very uncommon. In carrying it on we shall have little encouragement from man, and shall often be told that we are é─˙extreme,é─¨ and go too far. Strange and absurd as it is, the natural man is always fancying that we may take too much thought about religion, and refusing to see that we are far more likely to take too much thought about the world. But whatever man may say, the soul will never get spiritual food without labour. We must é─˙strive,é─¨ we must é─˙run,é─¨ we must é─˙fight,é─¨ we must throw our whole heart into our soulé─˘s affairs. It is é─˙the violenté─¨ who take the kingdom. (Matt. xi. 12.)
We should mark, lastly, in this passage, what a promise Christ holds out. He tells us that He himself will give eternal food to all who seek it: é─˙The Son of man shall give you the food that endureth unto everlasting life.é─¨
How gracious and encouraging these words are! Whatever we need for the relief of our hungering souls, Christ is ready and willing to bestow. Whatever mercy, grace, peace, strength we require, the Son of man will give freely, immediately, abundantly, and eternally. He is é─˙sealed,é─¨ and appointed, and commissioned by God the Father for this very purpose. Like Joseph in the Egyptian famine, it is His office to be the Friend, and Almoner [distributor of alms, benefactor], and Reliever of a sinful world. He is far more willing to give than man is to receive. The more sinners apply to Him, the better He is pleased.
And now, as we leave this rich passage, let us ask ourselves, what use we make of it? For what are we labouring ourselves? What do we know of lasting food and satisfaction for our inward man? Never let us rest until we have eaten of the food which Christ alone can give. Those who are content with any other spiritual food will sooner or later é─˙lie down in sorrow.é─¨ (Isa. l. 11.)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.