I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
The milch kine drawing the ark:
Faith’s surrender of all. I. Samuel vi. 12.
John Newton (1725–1807)
The kine unguided went
By the directest road;
The ark of Israel’s God.
Lowing they pass’d along,
And left their calves shut up;
They felt an instinct for their young,
But would not turn or stop.
Shall brutes, devoid of thought,
Their Maker’s will obey;
And we, who by his grace are taught,
More stubborn prove than they?
He shed his precious blood
To make us his alone;
If wash’d in that atoning flood
We are no more our own.
If he his will reveal,
Let us obey his call;
And think whate’er the flesh may feel,
His love deserves our all.
We should maintain in view
His glory, as our end;
Too much we cannot bear, or do,
For such a matchless friend.
His saints should stand prepar’d
In duty’s path to run;
Nor count their greatest trials hard,
So that his will be done.
With Jesus for our guide,
The path is safe though rough
The promise says, “I will provide,”
And faith replies, “Enough!”
—from Olney Hymns. Book I: On select Passages of Scripture.
The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” 39 Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there. 41 Many came to Him and were saying, “While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.” 42 Many believed in Him there.
We should observe, in these verses, the extreme wickedness of human nature. The unbelieving Jews at Jerusalem was neither moved by our Lord’s miracles, nor by His preaching. They were determined not to receive Him as their Messiah. Once more it is written that “they took up stones to stone Him.”
Our Lord had done the Jews no injury. He was no robber, murderer, or rebel against the law of the land. He was one whose whole life was love, and who “went about doing good.” (Acts x. 38.) There was no fault or inconsistency in His character. There was no crime that could be laid to His charge. So perfect and spotless a man had never walked on the face of this earth. But yet the Jews hated Him, and thirsted for His blood. How true are the words of Scripture: “They hated Him without a cause.” (John xv. 25.) How just the remark of an old divine: “Unconverted men would kill God Himself if they could only get at Him.”
The true Christian has surely no right to wonder if he meets with the same kind of treatment as our blessed Lord. In fact, the more like he is to his Master, and the more holy and spiritual his life, the more probable is it that he will have to endure hatred and persecution. Let him not suppose that any degree of consistency will deliver him from this cross. It is not his faults, but his graces, which call forth the enmity of men. The world hates to see anything of God’s image. The children of the world are vexed and pierced in conscience when they see others better than themselves. Why did Cain hate his brother Abel, and slay him? “Because,” says John, “his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John iii. 12.) Why did the Jews hate Christ? Because He exposed their sins and false doctrines; and they knew in their own hearts that he was right and they were wrong. “The world,” said our Lord, “hateth Me, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” (John vii. 7.) Let Christians make up their minds to drink the same cup, and let them drink it patiently and without surprise. There is One in heaven who said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John xv. 18.) Let them remember this and take courage. The time is short. We are traveling on towards a day when all shall be set right, and every man shall receive according to his works. “There is an end: and our expectation shall not be cut off.” (Prov. xxiii. 18.)
We should observe, secondly, in these verses, the high honour that Jesus Christ puts on the Holy Scriptures. We find Him using a text out of the Psalms as an argument against His enemies, in which the whole point lies in the single word “gods.” And then having quoted the text, He lays down the great principle, “the Scripture cannot be broken.” It is as though He said, “Wherever the Scripture speaks plainly on any subject, there can be no more question about it. The cause is settled and decided. Every jot and tittle of Scripture is true, and must be received as conclusive.”
The principle here laid down by our Lord is one of vast importance. Let us grasp it firmly, and never let it go. Let us maintain boldly the complete inspiration of every word of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. Let us believe that not only every book of the Bible, but every chapter,—and not only every chapter, but every verse,—and not only every verse, but every word, was originally given by inspiration of God. Inspiration, we must never shrink from asserting, extends not only to the thoughts and ideas of Scripture, but to the least words.
The principle before us, no doubt, is rudely assaulted in the present day. Let no Christian’s heart fail because of these assaults. Let us stand our ground manfully, and defend the principle of plenary inspiration as we would the pupil of our eye. There are difficulties in Scripture, we need not shrink from conceding, things hard to explain, hard to reconcile, and hard to understand. But in almost all these difficulties, the fault, we may justly suspect, is not so much in Scripture as in our own weak minds. In all cases we may well be content to wait for more light, and to believe that all shall be made clear at last. One thing we may rest assured is very certain,—if the difficulties of plenary inspiration are to be numbered by thousands, the difficulties of any other view of inspiration are to be numbered by tens of thousands. The wisest course is to walk in the old path,—the path of faith and humility; and say, “I cannot give up a single word of my Bible. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. The Scripture cannot be broken.”
We should observe, lastly, in these verses, the importance which our Lord Jesus Christ attaches to His miracles. He appeals to them as the best evidence of His own Divine mission. He bids the Jews look at them, and deny them if they can. “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works.”
The mighty miracles which our Lord performed during the three years of His earthly ministry are probably not considered as much as they ought to be in the present day. These miracles were not few in number. Forty times and more we read in the Gospels of His doing things entirely out of the ordinary course of nature,—healing sick people in a moment, raising the dead with a word, casting out devils, calming winds and waves in an instant, walking on the water as on solid ground. These miracles were not all done in private among friends. Many of them were wrought in the most public manner, under the eyes of unfriendly witnesses. We are so familiar with these things that we are apt to forget the mighty lesson they teach. They teach that He who worked these miracles must be nothing less than very God. They stamp His doctrines and precepts with the mark of Divine authority. He only who created all things at the beginning could suspend the laws of creation at His will. He who could suspend the laws of creation must be One who ought to be thoroughly believed and implicitly obeyed. To reject One who confirmed His mission by such mighty works is the height of madness and folly.
Hundreds of unbelieving men, no doubt, in every age, have tried to pour contempt on Christ’s miracles, and to deny that they were ever worked at all. But they labour in vain. Proofs upon proofs exist that our Lord’s ministry was accompanied by miracles; and that this was acknowledged by those who lived in our Lord’s time. Objectors of this sort would do well to take up the one single miracle of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, and disprove it if they can. If they cannot disprove that, they ought, as honest men, to confess that miracles are possible. And then, if their hearts are truly humble, they ought to admit that He whose mission was confirmed by such evidence must have been the Son of God.
Let us thank God, as we turn from this passage, that Christianity has such abundant evidence that it is a religion from God. Whether we appeal to the internal evidence of the Bible, or to the lives of the first Christians, or to prophecy, or to miracles; or to history, we get one and the same answer. All say with one voice, “Jesus is the Son of God, and believers have life through His name.”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.