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Lords Day 23, 2010


I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord.

imageThe Name of Names.
Horatius Bonar (18081889)

Father, Thy Son hath died

The sinners death of woe;
Stooping in love from heaven to earth,

Our curse to undergo;

Our curse to undergo,

   Upon the hateful tree.
Give glory to Thy Son, O Lord,
Put honour on that name of names,

   By blessing me!

Father, Thy Son hath borne
   The sinners doom of shame;
Bearing his cross without the gate,
   He met the laws full claim;
   He met the laws full claim,
      Sins righteous penalty.
Give glory to Thy Son, O Lord,
Put honour on that name of names,
      By pardoning me!

Father, Thy Son hath poured
   His life-blood on this earth,
To cleanse away our guilt and stains,
   To give us second birth;
   To give us second birth,
      From sin to set us free.
Give glory to Thy Son, O Lord,
Put honour on that name of names,
      By cleansing me!

Father, Thy Son hath risen.
   Overcoming hells dark powers;
His surety-death was all for us,
   His surety- life is ours;
   His surety life is ours,
      Ours, ours eternally.
Give glory to Thy Son, O Lord,
Put honour on that name of names,
      By quickening me!

Father, Thy Son to thee
   Is now gone up on high,
Enthroned in heaven at Thy right hand,
   He reigns eternally;
   He reigns eternally,
      In might and majesty.
Give glory to Thy Son, O Lord,
Put honour on that name of names,
      By raising me!

Father, Thy Son on earth,
   No one to own Him found,
He passed among the sons of men
   Rejected and disowned;
   Rejected and disowned,
      That we received might be!
Give glory to Thy Son, O Lord,
Put honour on that name of names,
      By owning me!

Father, Thy Son is king.
   Heavens crown and earths is his;
For us, for us, he bought the crown,
   For us he earned the bliss;
   For us he earned the bliss,
      Amen, so let it be!
Give glory to Thy Son, O Lord,
Put honour on that name of names,
      By crowning me!

Horatius Bonar, Hymns of Faith and Hope, First Series (James Nisbet & Co., 1878).

image

John 11:1729

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You. 23 Jesus said to her, Your brother will rise again. 24 Martha said to Him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. 25 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? 27 She said to Him, Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.

28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, The Teacher is here and is calling for you. 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.

image   There is a grand simplicity about this passage, which is almost spoiled by any human exposition. To comment on it seems like gilding gold or painting lilies. Yet it throws much light on a subject which we can never understand too well; that is, the true character of Christs people. The portraits of Christians in the Bible are faithful likenesses. They show us saints just as they are.

We learn, firstly, what a strange mixture of grace and weakness is to be found even in the hearts of true believers.

We see this strikingly illustrated in the language used by Martha and Mary. Both these holy women had faith enough to say, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother would had not died. Yet neither of them seems to have remembered that the death of Lazarus did not depend on Christs absence, and that our Lord, had He thought fit, could have prevented his death with a word, without coming to Bethany.Martha had knowledge enough to say, I know, that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God wilt give it to Thee,I know that my brother shall rise again at the last day,I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God.But even she could get no further. Her dim eyes and trembling hands could not grasp the grand truth that He who stood before her had the keys of life and death, and that in her Master dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Colos. ii. 9.) She saw indeed, but through a glass darkly. She knew, but only in part. She believed, but her faith was mingled with much unbelief. Yet both Martha and Mary were genuine children of God, and true Christians.

These things are graciously written for our learning. It is good to remember what true Christians really are. Many and great are the mistakes into which people fall, by forming a false estimate of the Christians character. Many are the bitter things which people write against themselves, by expecting to find in their hearts what cannot be found on this side of heaven. Let us settle it in our minds that saints on earth are not perfect angels, but only converted sinners. They are sinners renewed, changed, sanctified, no doubt; but they are yet sinners, and will be until they die. Like Martha and Mary, their faith is often entangled with much unbelief, and their grace compassed round with much infirmity. Happy is that child of God who understands these things, and has learned to judge rightly both of himself and others. Rarely indeed shall we find the saint who does not often need that prayer, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.

We learn, secondly, what need many believers have of clear views of Christs person, office, and power. This is a point which is forcibly brought out in the well-known sentence which our Lord addressed to Martha. In reply to her vague and faltering expression of belief in the resurrection at the last day, He proclaims the glorious truth, I am the resurrection and the life;I, even I, your Master, am He that has the keys of life and death in His hands. And then He presses on her once more that old lesson, which she had doubtless often heard, but never fully realized: He that believeth in Me will live, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.

There is matter here which deserves the close consideration of all true Christians. Many of them complain of want of sensible comfort in their religion. They do not feel the inward peace which they desire. Let them know that vague and indefinite views of Christ are too often the cause of all their perplexities. They must try to see more clearly the great object on which their faith rests. They must grasp more firmly His love and power toward those who believe, and the riches He has laid up for them even now in this world. We are, many of us, sadly like Martha. A little general knowledge of Christ as the only Saviour is often all that we possess. But of the fullness that dwells in Him, of His resurrection, His priesthood, His intercession, His unfailing compassion, we have tasted little or nothing at all. They are things of which our Lord might well say to many, as he did to Martha, Believest thou this?

Let us take shame to ourselves that we have named the name of Christ so long, and yet know so little about Him. What right have we to wonder that we feel so little sensible comfort in our Christianity? Our slight and imperfect knowledge of Christ is the true reason of our discomfort. Let the time past suffice us to have been lazy students in Christs school; let the time to come find us more diligent in trying to know Him and the power of His resurrection. (Philip. iii. 10.) If true Christians would only strive, as St. Paul says, to comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, they would be amazed at the discoveries they would make. They would soon find, like Hagar, that there are wells of water near them of which they had no knowledge. They would soon discover that there is more heaven to be enjoyed on earth than they had ever thought possible. The root of a happy religion is clear, distinct, well-defined knowledge of Jesus Christ. More knowledge would have saved Martha many sighs and tears. Knowledge alone no doubt, if unsanctified, only puffeth up. (1 Cor. vii. 1.) Yet without clear knowledge of Christ in all His offices we cannot expect to be established in the faith, and steady in the time of need.

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Baker Books, 2007) [Westminster (PB) | Amazon (HC)].

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.



Posted 2010·06·06 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Expository Thoughts on the Gospels · Gospel of John · Horatius Bonar · Hymns of Faith and Hope · J C Ryle · Lord’s Day
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