Lord‚Äôs Day 12, 2010
I was glad when they said to me, ‚ÄúLet us go to the house of the Lord.‚Äù
Hymn 33. (C. M.)
Absurdity of infidelity. 1 Cor. i. 26‚Äî31.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Shall atheists dare insult the cross
Of our Redeemer, God?
Shall infidels reproach his laws,
Or trample on his blood?
What if he choose mysterious ways
To cleanse us from our faults?
May not the works of sov‚Äôreign grace
Transcend our feeble thoughts?
What if his gospel bids us fight
With flesh, and self, and sin,
The prize is most divinely bright
That we are call‚Äôd to win.
What if the foolish and the poor
His glorious grace partake,
This but confirms his truth the more,
For so the prophets spake.
Do some that own his sacred name
Indulge their souls in sin?
Jesus should never bear the blame,
His laws are pure and clean.
Then let our faith grow firm and strong,
Our lips profess his word;
Nor blush nor fear to walk among
The men that love the Lord.
‚Äîfrom The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book I: Collected from the Holy Scriptures (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997).
The Jews answered and said to Him, ‚ÄúDo we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?‚Äù 49 Jesus answered, ‚ÄúI do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.‚Äù 52 The Jews said to Him, ‚ÄúNow we know that You have a demon Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‚ÄòIf anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.‚Äô 53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?‚Äù 54 Jesus answered, ‚ÄúIf I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‚ÄòHe is our God‚Äô; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.‚Äù 57 So the Jews said to Him, ‚ÄúYou are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?‚Äù 58 Jesus said to them, ‚ÄúTruly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.‚Äù 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
We should observe, first, in this passage, what blasphemous and slanderous language was addressed to our Lord by His enemies. We read that the Jews ‚ÄúSay we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?‚Äù Silenced in argument, these wicked men resorted to personal abuse. To lose temper, and call names, is a common sign of a defeated cause.
Nicknames, insulting epithets, and violent language, are favourite weapons with the devil. When other means of carrying on his warfare fail, he stirs up his servants to smite with the tongue. Grievous indeed are the sufferings which the saints of God have had to endure from the tongue in every age. Their characters have been slandered. Evil reports have been circulated about them. Lying stories have been diligently invented, and greedily swallowed, about their conduct. No wonder that David said, ‚ÄúDeliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.‚Äù (Psalm cxx. 2.)
he true Christian in the present day must never be surprised to find that he has constant trials to endure from this quarter. Sinful human nature never changes. So long as he serves the world, and walks in the broad way, little perhaps will be said against him. Once let him take up the cross and follow Christ, and there is no lie too monstrous, and no story too absurd, for some to tell against him, and for others to believe. But let him take comfort in the thought that he is only drinking the cup which his blessed Master drank before him. The lies of his enemies do him no injury in heaven, whatever they may on earth. Let him bear them patiently, and not fret, or lose his temper. When Christ was reviled, ‚ÄúHe reviled not again.‚Äù (1 Peter ii. 23.) Let the Christian do likewise.
We should observe, secondly, what glorious encouragement our Lord holds out to His believing people. We read that He said, ‚ÄúVerily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.‚Äù
Of course these words do not mean that true Christians shall never die. On the contrary, we all know that they must go down to the grave, and cross the river just like others. But the words do mean, that they shall not be hurt by the second death,‚Äîthat final ruin of the whole man in hell, of which the first death is only a faint type or figure. (Rev. xxi. 8.) And they do mean that the sting of the first death shall be removed from the true Christian. His flesh may fail, and his bones may be racked with strong pain; but the bitter sense of unpardoned sins shall not crush him down. This is the worst part of death,‚Äîand in this he shall have the ‚Äúvictory through our Lord Jesus Christ.‚Äù (1 Cor. xv. 57.)
This blessed promise, we must not forget to notice, is the peculiar property of the man who ‚Äúkeeps Christ‚Äôs sayings.‚Äù That expression, it is clear, can never be applicable to the mere outward professing Christian, who neither knows nor cares anything about the Gospel. It belongs to him who receives into his heart, and obeys in his life, the message which the Lord Jesus brought from heaven. It belongs, in short, to those who are Christians, not in name and form only, but in deed and in truth. It is written,‚Äî‚ÄùHe that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.‚Äù (Rev. ii. 11.)
We should observe, thirdly, in this passage, what clear knowledge of Christ Abraham possessed. We read that our Lord said to the Jews, ‚ÄúYour father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it and was glad.‚Äù
When our Lord used these remarkable words, Abraham had been dead and buried at least 1850 years! And yet he is said to have seen our Lord‚Äôs day! How wonderful that sounds! Yet it was quite true. Not only did Abraham ‚Äúsee‚Äù our Lord and talk to Him when He ‚Äúappeared unto him in the plains of Mamre,‚Äù the night before Sodom was destroyed, (Gen. xviii. 1,) but by faith he looked forward to the day of our Lord‚Äôs incarnation yet to come, and as he looked he ‚Äúwas glad.‚Äù That he saw many things, through a glass darkly, we need not doubt. That he could have explained fully the whole manner and circumstances of our Lord‚Äôs sacrifice on Calvary, we are not obliged to suppose. But we need not shrink from believing that he saw in the far distance a Redeemer, whose advent would finally make all the earth rejoice. And as he saw it, he ‚Äúwas glad.‚Äù
The plain truth is, that we are too apt to forget that there never was but one way of salvation, one Saviour, and one hope for sinners, and that Abraham and all the Old Testaments saints looked to the same Christ that we look to ourselves. We shall do well to call to mind the Seventh Article of the Church of England: ‚ÄúThe Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered through Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises.‚Äù This is truth that we must never forget in reading the Old Testament. This is sound speech that cannot be condemned.
We should observe, lastly, in this prophecy, how distinctly our Lord declares His own pre-existence. We read that He said to the Jews, ‚ÄúBefore Abraham was, I am.‚Äù
Without a controversy, these remarkable words are a great deep. They contain things which we have no eyes to see through, or mind to fathom. But if language means anything, they teach us that our Lord Jesus Christ existed long before He came into the world. Before the days of Abraham He was. Before man was created He was. In short, they teach us that the Lord Jesus was no mere man like Moses or David. He was One whose goings forth were from everlasting,‚Äîthe same yesterday, today, and forever,‚Äîvery and eternal God.
Deep as these words are, they are full of practical comfort. They show us the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of that great foundation, on which sinners are invited to rest their souls. He to whom the Gospel bids us come with our sins, and believe for pardon and peace, is no mere man. He is nothing less than very God, and therefore ‚Äúable to save to the uttermost‚Äù all who come to Him. Then let us begin coming to Him with confidence. Let us continue leaning on Him without fear. The Lord Jesus Christ is the true God, and our eternal life is secure.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.