«Sermon #1391 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1 A GOLDEN PRAYER NO. 1391 A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, DECEMBER 30, 1877, BY C. H. ...»
Sermon #1391 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
A GOLDEN PRAYER
DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, DECEMBER 30, 1877,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“Father, glorify Your name.”
IN the first part of my discourse this morning I shall strictly keep to my text, as the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and endeavor to show what it teaches us with regard to Him. These are His own words and it would be robbery to borrow them until first we have seen what they meant as they fell from His lips. Their most golden meaning must be seen in the light of His sacred countenance. Then, in the second part of my sermon, I shall try to point out how the petition before us may be used by ourselves. I pray that divine grace may be given us that it may be engraved upon our hearts and that each one of us may be taught by the Holy Spirit daily to say for himself, “Father, glorify Your name.” I would suggest that these words should be to the Lord’s entire people in this church, their slogan for another year and indeed, their prayer throughout life. It will as well behoove the beginner in grace as the ripe believer. It will be proper both at the wicket gate of faith as at the portals of glory. Like a lovely rainbow, let the prayer, “Father, glorify Your name,” arch over the whole period of our life on earth. I cannot suggest a better petition for the present moment, or indeed, for any moment of our pilgrimage. Let us close the old year with it and open the door of the new to the same note. As for the past, “Father, glorify Your name.” In the present, fulfill this desire unto Your servants and in the future do it yet more abundantly.
I. Let us look, then, at the words, first of all, IN RESPECT TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. They occur in the following connection. He had worked a notable miracle in the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The fame of the miracle had attracted many to hear Him. Enthusiastic crowds had gathered and He had become so extremely popular that the Pharisees said, “The world has gone after Him.” The people were willing to have made Him a king, and a great concourse met Him with branches of palm trees and cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord.” Our Lord passed in royal but humble pomp through the streets of Jerusalem, riding upon a colt, the foal of an ass. This public manifestation, the renown of the miracle and the general talk of the populace led to strangers hearing of Him and inquiring about Him. And certain intelligent Greeks of a very respectable order, for their mode of address to Philip shows their superior behavior, asked to be introduced to Him. They wished to “see Jesus,” not, of course merely see Him in the streets, for that they could do if they pleased without applying to Philip. But they wanted an interview with Him, and to learn more about His teaching and His claims. I suppose that the sight of these Greeks greatly gladdened the heart of the Savior, for He delighted to see men coming to the light. He seemed to say within Himself, “Behold the nations come to Me. The Gentiles arise and seek their Savior.” He saw in those Greeks the advance guard of the Gentile world. He looked upon the strangers with delight, regarding them as representative men, the first of myriads who, from the ends of the earth and the islands of the sea, would come flocking to Him to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Our Lord rejoiced in spirit. His heart was glad within Him and He began to address Himself to the people roundabout and to the Greeks who mingled with the throng. At that very moment the thought flashed across the Savior’s mind, “But these nations who are to be born unto Me and to be saved by Me, cannot be so born without birth-pangs, nor saved unless I endure unspeakable suffering as their Redeemer.” This fact came vividly before our Lord’s mind and it rushed over His spirit like a raging torrent. He saw that He could not become the seed corn of a great harvest unless first of all He should fall into the ground and die. He was the one grain of wheat upon who all depended and He must lose comfort and life and be buried in the earth or else He would abide alone and bring forth no fruit. He saw the vicarious suffering which lay in His way and His soul was troubled.
Do not imagine that our Savior dreaded death, in itself considered. He was far superior in sacred courage and strength of mind to any of His servants and yet many of them have welcomed death. And Volume 24 www.spurgeongems.org 1 A Golden Prayer Sermon #1391 others of them, such as the martyrs, have endured it in its most terrible forms, without fear, even expressing a holy delight in glorifying the name of God by their mortal agony. Our Lord was not less brave than these in prospect of His departure. But never let it be forgotten that the death of Christ was a very peculiar one and, in fact, stands alone by itself. His death was the vindication of justice. It was the death of the sin-bearer. It was a sacrificial, substitutionary, expiatory death and this is very different from the death of a pardoned and justified believer who passes out of the world resting on the atonement and supported by a sense of having been reconciled to God by the great sacrifice. Our Lord was called to bear the enormous load of man’s transgressions. Over His holy soul the dark shadow of human guilt must pass and on His sensitive spirit must be made to meet the iniquity of us all. His saints’ deaths are blessed in the sight of the Lord, but He must be made a curse for us that we might be blessed in Him. And as the mind of Christ clearly perceived this lying in the way of that triumph among the Gentiles, which gave Him joy, there was a struggle in His soul and that struggle was manifested before the assembled people.
The Greeks desired to see Jesus and they did see Him in a very remarkable manner, so that they must have been astounded at the sight. If they expected to see a king, they did indeed, behold a royal soul, but they saw Him in such grief as falls not to the lot of common men. If they wished to see somewhat of His greatness of spirit and power of mind, they did see it, but it was a power which did not transfigure His face with glory, but filled it with an agony marring all its beauty. I shall not be too bold if I say that Gethsemane was rehearsed in public upon the occasion before us. Our Lord says His soul was troubled.
He felt a sort of foreshadowing of that midnight among the olives, in which His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” It was out of that conflict that our text came, in fact, our text is to His suffering in the midst of the crowd what, “nevertheless not as I will, but as You will,” was to the agony of Gethsemane, or what, “It is finished,” was to the passion upon Calvary. It was the culminating point, the climax and the conquest of a great mental battle. And when He had thus spoken, He seemed to shake Himself clear of the agony and to emerge from it with the memory of it still upon Him. But with His face set like a flint to go forward to the bitter and the glorious end, this being now His watchword, “Father, glorify Your name.” I shall need to call your attention, dear friends, briefly here, first, to the trouble of the Redeemer’s soul. I always tremble within myself when I try to speak of the inner conflicts of our blessed Lord, for it is so easy to make a mistake and darken counsel by words without knowledge. His person is complex and therefore, we readily confuse, yet He Himself is but one and it is equally dangerous to make over nice distinctions. Loving jealousy of our Lord’s honor makes us feel that we scarcely know how to speak of Him. I remember an earnest admirer of the arts who, in pointing with his walking-stick to the beauties of a famous picture, pushed his cane through the canvas and ruined it. And it is possible that in our enthusiasm to point out the beauties and points of interest in the life and death of our Lord, we may spoil it all. I fear lest in my ignorance I should make sorrow for myself by dishonoring Him for whose honor I would gladly lay down and die. Help me, O divine Spirit! This much is clear, that our Savior’s heart was full of trouble. He who could still the sea and bid the storms retreat was tempest-tossed in His own soul and cast about Him for anchorage. He who could drive the fever from its lair, or send a legion of demons into the deep was nevertheless, troubled in spirit and cried, “What shall I say?” Master of all worlds, supreme among the angels and adored at His Father’s right hand, yet He confesses, “Now is My soul troubled.” Lord of all, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. How near akin it makes Him to us! How human! How compassed with infirmity! We worship Him and rightly so, but still He is a man and a mourner. You call Him Master and Lord, and you do well, yet He not only washed His disciples’ feet, but His own feet trembled in the rough places of the way. He felt those same commotions of spirit which make our hearts sad within us and cause us to pour out our souls within us. Do not think of the Lord Jesus otherwise than as of a dear brother born for adversity, or a faithful husband sharing all our lot, being bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Did you cry out in anguish, “Now is my soul troubled”? Then remember that your Lord has used the same words. Are you half distracted? Are you tossed to and fro in your thoughts? Do you ever ask, “What shall I say?” Jesus also understands by sympathy what it is you mean. Do you look around you and feel that you know not what to do and does your trembling heart suggest that you should pray, “Father, save me from this hour”?—In all this you may see the Well-beloved’s footprints—you are not upon a new and strange track. He leads you through no darker rooms than He went through before. With the same afflictions He has been afflicted. There is nothing in them novel or surprising to His sympathetic heart.
www.spurgeongems.org Volume 24 Sermon #1391 A Golden Prayer 3 Beloved friends, let me invite you to consider that not only did our Lord thus suffer, but it is joyful to reflect that He suffered all this without sin. Therefore it follows that mental conflict is not, in itself, sinful. Even the shrinking back of the flesh from suffering is not necessarily evil. And the question, “What shall I say?” and the apparent distraction of the spirit for the moment, as to what shall be its course, are not, in themselves, criminal. There could be no sin in the Lord Jesus and consequently, there is not, of necessity, sin in our inward struggles, though I am very far from venturing to hope that in any one of them we are quite clear of fault. Our Lord’s nature was so pure that however much it was stirred, it remained clear. But in our case, though the stirring is not sinful, it sets in motion the sin which dwells in us and we are defiled. Yet I do not believe that all those depressions of spirit which come of sickness, or all those wanderings of mind in the heat of fever, or all the shrinking and drawing back from pain which are essential to our humanity are set down as sin by our heavenly Father, though sin is doubtless mixed with them. If they are sinful in themselves, yet surely they are blotted out as soon as written down, for “like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him.” He pities rather than censures or condemns. You do not judge your children harshly for what they say when they are racked with pain or prostrated by weakness. You bear with their little fancies and temper and the like, and you never taunt them with their follies afterwards. Neither can I think that our heavenly Father would have us doubt our interest in Christ because, in our semi-delirium, we could not realize His love.
Nor would He have us question the grace which is in us because our feverish thoughts were near akin to despair. When the true heart struggles to love and trust and obey, but the poor brain is tortured with dark thoughts, the conflict is not all sinful, nor any of it necessarily so. There may be an awful struggle in the soul and yet the Father may be glorified. The sin lies not in the conflict but in the defeat, if there is defeat. The guilt is not in the shrinking from pain, but in permitting that natural feeling to hinder us from duty or to lead us to rebel against chastisement. “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me,” is not a sinful utterance if it is followed by, “nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” I feel so glad to think our Lord, when He was passing through this inward conflict, spoke out His feelings. It is instructive that He should have done so, for with His strength of mind He was quite capable of preserving a self-contained attitude and keeping His agony to Himself. Yet you notice that neither here, in which case He spoke so that others heard Him, nor at Gethsemane, in which case He took three of His disciples to be with Him and went to them again and again for sympathy, nor even on the cross, in which case He cried aloud, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” did He endeavor to conceal His emotion from others. It may be that by this He intended to teach us wisdom. He would show us by His own example that it is well for us not to be too much shut up within ourselves. Smother not your sorrow, tell it out or it may gather an ungovernable heat. That is the worst of grief which cannot weep or moan. Draw up the floodgates; give a vent to pent up feelings. Even though it is but a child who hears your tale, it will relieve your mind to tell it. Anything is better than banking up the fires and concentrating all the heat within the soul. Act not the stoic’s part; be not ashamed to let it be known that you are a man, a man who can grieve and be troubled even as others. It may sometimes be well to follow the poet’s advice who says— “Bear and still bear and silent be, Tell no man your misery,” but I question if the occasions are very frequent. At any rate, such is not the command of our Lord, nor does His example point in that direction.