Flower

Call to Worship February 17 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 22:63-71
“We should notice, firstly, in these verses — the shameful treatment that our Lord Jesus Christ underwent at the hands of His enemies. We read that the guards ‘mocked’ Him, ‘beat’ Him, ‘blindfolded’ Him, and ‘struck Him in the face.’ It was not enough to have taken a prisoner a person of most blameless and charitable life — they must needs add insult to injury.

Conduct like this shows the desperate corruption of human nature. The excesses of savage malice to which unconverted men will sometimes go, and the fierce delight with which they will sometimes trample on the most holy and the most pure — almost justify the strong saying of an old divine, that ‘man left to himself — is half-beast and half-devil!’ He hates God, and all who bear anything of God’s image. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God.’ (Romans 8:7.)

We have probably a very faint idea of what the world would become, if it were not for the constant restraint that God mercifully puts upon evil. It is not too much to say that if unconverted men had their own way entirely — the earth would soon be little better than a Hell!

Our Lord’s calm submission to insults like those here described, shows the depth of His love towards sinners. Had He so willed, He could have stopped the insolence of His enemies in a moment. He who could cast out devils with a word, could have summoned legions of angels to His side, and scattered those wretched tools of Satan to the winds.

But our Lord’s heart was set on the great work he had come on earth to do. He had undertaken to purchase our redemption by His own humiliation — and He did not flinch from paying the uttermost farthing of the price. He had undertaken to drink the bitter cup of vicarious suffering to save sinners — and ‘for the joy set before Him, He despised the shame,’ and drank the cup to the very dregs! (Hebrews 12:2.)

Patience like that which our blessed Lord exhibited on this occasion should teach His professing people a mighty lesson. We should forbear all murmuring and complaining, and irritation of spirit — when we are ill-treated by the world. What are the occasional insults to which we have to submit — compared to the insults which were heaped on our Master? Yet ‘When they hurled their insults at Him — He did not retaliate. When He suffered — He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.’ He left us an example, that we should walk in His steps. Let us go and do likewise. (1 Peter 2:21-23.)

We should notice, secondly, in these verses — the striking prophecy which our Lord delivers about His own coming glory. He says to His insulting enemies, ‘Hereafter the Son of man shall sit on the right hand of the power of God.’ Did they find fault with His lowly appearance, and want a glorious Messiah? They would see Him in glory one day. Did they think He was weak, powerless, and contemptible, because at present there was no outward majesty about Him? They would behold Him one day in the most honorable position in Heaven, fulfilling the well-known prophecy of Daniel, with all judgment committed to His hands. (Daniel 7:9, 10.)

Let us take heed that the future glory of Christ forms a part of our creed — as much as Christ’s cross and passion. Let it be a first principle in our religion, that the same Jesus who was mocked, despised, and crucified — is He who has now ‘all power in Heaven and earth, and will one day come again in His Father’s glory with all His angels.’

We see but half the truth — if we see nothing but the cross and the first coming. It is essential to our own comfort — to see also the second coming, and the crown. That same Jesus who stood before the bar of the high priest and of Pilate — will one day sit upon a throne of glory and summon all His enemies to appear before Him! Happy is that Christian who keeps steadily before his mind, that word ‘hereafter!’

Now in this present time believers must be content to take part in their Master’s sufferings. ‘Hereafter’ they shall share in His glory! Now like their Lord, they must not be surprised if they are mocked, despised, and disbelieved. ‘Hereafter’ they shall sit with Him on His throne at the right hand of God! (Revelation 3:21.)

We should notice, lastly, in these verses — what a full and bold confession our Lord makes of His own Messiahship and divinity. We read that in answer to this question of His enemies, ‘Then you claim you are the Son of God?’ Jesus replied, ‘You are right in saying that I am.’ The meaning of this short sentence may not be clear at first sight to an English reader. It signifies in other words, ‘You speak the truth. I am, as you say, the Son of God.’

Our Lord’s confession deprived His enemies of all excuse for unbelief. The Jews can never plead that our Lord left their forefathers in ignorance of His mission, and kept them in doubt and suspense. Here we see our Lord telling them plainly who He was, and telling them in words which would convey even more to a Jewish mind than they do to ours. And yet the confession had not the least good effect upon the Jews! Their hearts were hardened by prejudice. Their minds were darkened by judicial blindness. The veil was over the eyes of their inward man. They heard our Lord’s confession unmoved — and only plunged deeper into the most dreadful sin!

The bold confession of our Master upon this occasion, is intended to be an example to all His believing people. Like Him, we must not shrink from speaking out when occasion requires our testimony. The fear of man, and the presence of a multitude — must not silence us. (Job 31:34.)
We need not blow a trumpet before us, and go out of our way — to proclaim our own religion. Opportunities are sure to occur in the daily path of duty, when, like Paul on board ship, we may show ‘whose we are — and whom we serve.’ (Acts 27:23.) At such opportunities, if we have the mind of Christ — let us not be afraid to show our colors.

A confessing Master — loves bold, uncompromising, and confessing disciples. Those who honor Him by an outspoken, courageous testimony — He will honor, because they are walking in His steps. ‘Whoever,’ He says, ‘shall confess Me before men — I will confess him before My Father in Heaven.’ (Matthew 10:32.)”

The Same Message

Call to Worship February 10 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 22:54-62

“The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, firstly — how small and gradual are the steps by which men may go down into great sins. The various steps in Peter’s fall, are clearly marked out by the Gospel-writers. They ought always to be observed in reading this part of the apostle’s history.

The first step was proud self-confidence. Though all denied Christ — yet he never would! He was ready to go with Him both to prison and to death!

The second step was indolent neglect of prayer. When his Master told him to pray, lest he should enter into temptation — he gave way to drowsiness, and was found asleep.

The third step was vacillating indecision. When the enemies of Christ came upon Him, Peter first fought, then ran away, then turned again, and finally ‘followed afar off.’

The fourth step was mingling with bad company. He went into the high priest’s house and sat among the servants by the fire, trying to conceal his religion, and hearing and seeing all kinds of evil.

The fifth and last step was the natural consequence of the preceding four. He was overwhelmed with fear when suddenly charged with being a disciple. The snare was round his neck. He could not escape. He plunged deeper into error than ever. He denied his blessed Master three times. The mischief, be it remembered, had been done before — the denial was only the disease coming to a head.

Let us beware of the beginnings of backsliding, however small. We never know what we may come to — if we once leave the king’s high-way. The professing Christian who begins to say of any sin or evil habit, ‘it is but a little one’ — is in imminent danger. He is sowing seeds in his heart, which will one day spring up and bear bitter fruit. It is a homely saying, that ‘if men take care of the pence — then the pounds will take care of themselves.’ We may borrow a good spiritual lesson from the saying. The Christian who keeps his heart diligently in little things — shall be kept from great falls!

The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, secondly — how very far a true believer may backslide.

In order to see this lesson clearly, the whole circumstances of Peter’s case ought to be fully weighed. He was a chosen apostle of Christ. He had enjoyed many and great spiritual privileges. He had just received the Lord’s supper. He had just heard that wonderful discourse recorded in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of John. He had been most plainly warned of his own danger. He had boasted most loudly, that he was ready for anything that might come upon him. And yet this very man denies his gracious Master, and that repeatedly — and after intervals giving him space for reflection. He denies Him once, twice, and three times!

The best and highest believer, is a poor weak creature — even at his best times. Whether he knows it or not, he carries within him an almost boundless capacity of wickedness — however fair and decent his outward conduct may seem. There is no enormity of sin into which he may not run — if he does not watch and pray, and if the grace of God does not hold him up.

When we read the falls of Noah, Lot, and Peter — we only read what might possibly befall any of ourselves. Let us never presume. Let us never indulge in high thoughts about our own strength, or look down upon others. Whatever else we pray for, let us daily pray that we may ‘Walk humbly with God.’ (Micah 6:8.)

The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, thirdly — the infinite mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a lesson which is brought out most forcibly by a fact which is only recorded in Luke’s Gospel. We are told that when Peter denied Christ the third time, and the rooster crowed, ‘the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.’

Those words are deeply touching! Surrounded by blood-thirsty and insulting enemies, in the full anticipation of horrible outrages, an unjust trial, and a agonizing sin-atoning death — the Lord Jesus yet found time to think kindly of His poor erring disciple. Even then He would have Peter know, that He did not forget him. Sorrowfully no doubt, but not angrily, He ‘turned and looked straight at Peter.’ There was a deep meaning in that look. It was a sermon which Peter never forgot.

The love of Christ toward His people, is a deep well which has no bottom. Let us never measure it by comparison with any kind of human love. It exceeds all other love — as far as the sunlight exceeds the candle-light. There is about it, a mine of compassion, and patience, and readiness to forgive sin — of whose riches we have but a faint conception.

Let us not be afraid to trust that love, when we first feel our sins. Let us never be afraid to go on trusting it after we have once believed. No man need despair, however far he may have fallen — if he will only repent and turn to Christ. If the heart of Jesus was so gracious when He was a prisoner in the judgment hall — then we surely need not think that He is less gracious, when He sits in glory at the right hand of God.

The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, lastly — how bitter sin is to believers, when they have fallen into it and discovered their fall.

This is a lesson which stands out plainly on the face of the verses before us. We are told that when Peter remembered the warning he had received, and saw how far he had fallen, ‘he went out and wept bitterly.’ He found out by experience, the truth of Jeremiah’s words, ‘It is an evil and a bitter thing to have forsaken the Lord.’ (Jeremiah 2:19.) He felt keenly the truth of Solomon’s saying, ‘The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.’ (Proverbs 14:14.) No doubt he could have said with Job, ‘I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!’ (Job 42:6.)

Sorrow like this, let us always remember, is an inseparable companion of true repentance. Here lies the grand distinction between ‘repentance unto salvation’ — and unavailing remorse.

Remorse can make a man miserable, like Judas Iscariot — but it can do no more. It does not lead him to God.

Repentance makes a man’s heart soft and his conscience tender — and manifests itself in sincerely turning back to his heavenly Father.

The falls of a graceless professor are falls from which there is no rising again. But the fall of a true saint always ends in deep contrition, self-abasement, and amendment of life.

Let us take heed, before we leave this passage, that we always make a right use of Peter’s fall. Let us never make it an excuse for sin. Let us learn from his sad experience, to watch and pray — lest we fall into temptation. If we do fall, let us believe that there is hope for us — just as there was for him. But above all, let us remember, that if we fall as Peter fell — then we must repent as Peter repented, or else we shall never be saved.”

Paul’s Jerusalem Visit

Call to Worship February 6 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 22:1-13

“We see, firstly, in these verses — that high offices in the church do not preserve the holders of them from great blindness and sin. We read that ‘the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Jesus.’

The first step in putting Christ to death, was taken by the religious teachers of the Jewish nation. The very men who ought to have welcomed the Messiah — were the men who conspired to kill Him. The very teachers who ought to have rejoiced at the appearing of the Lamb of God — had the chief hand in slaying Him. They sat in Moses’ seat. They claimed to be ‘guides of the blind,’ and ‘lights of those who were in darkness.’ (Romans 2:19.) They belonged to the tribe of Levi. They were, most of them — in direct succession and descent from Aaron. Yet they were the very men who crucified the Lord of glory! With all their boasted knowledge — they were far more ignorant than the few Galilean fishermen who followed Christ.

Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to Christian ministers because of their office. Ordination and religious office confer no exemption from error. The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses have been introduced into the church — by ordained men! Respect is undoubtedly due to high official position. Order and discipline ought not to be forgotten. The teaching and counsel of regularly appointed teachers, ought not to be lightly refused.

But there are limits beyond which we must not go. We must never allow the blind to lead us into the ditch! We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes, to make us crucify Christ afresh. We must test all teachers, by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion — but it matters greatly what is said. Is it scriptural? Is it true? This is the only question. ‘To the law and to the testimony — if they do not speak according to this word — it is because there is no light in them.’ (Isaiah 8:20.)

We see, secondly, in these verses — how far men may fall after making a high profession. We read that the second step toward our Lord’s crucifixion, was the treachery of one of the twelve apostles, ‘Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.’ These words are particularly solemn. To be tempted by Satan is bad enough. To be sifted, buffeted, led captive by him — is truly terrible. But when Satan ‘enters into a man,’ and dwells in him — the man becomes indeed a child of Hell!

Judas Iscariot ought to be a standing beacon to the church of Christ. This man, be it remembered, was one of our Lord’s chosen apostles. He followed our Lord during the whole course of His ministry. He forsook all for Christ’s sake. He heard Christ preach, and saw Christ’s miracles. He preached himself. He spoke like the other apostles. There was nothing about him to distinguish him from Peter, James, and John. He was never suspected of being unsound at heart.

And yet this man turns out at length to be a hypocrite, betrays his Master, helps his enemies to deliver Him up to death, and dies as ‘the son of perdition.’ (John 17:12.) These are fearful things. But they are true.

Let the recollection of Judas Iscariot constrain every professing, Christian to pray much for humility. Let us often say, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart — try me, and know my thoughts.’ (Psalm 139:23.)

At best, we have but a faint conception of the deceitfulness of our hearts. The lengths to which men may go in religion, and yet be without saving grace — is far greater than we suppose!

We see, thirdly, in these verses — the enormous power of the love of money. We are told that when Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray his Master, they ‘agreed to give him money.’ That little sentence reveals the secret of this wretched man’s fall. He was fond of money, He had doubtless heard our Lord’s solemn warning, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness!’ (Luke 12:15.) But he had either forgotten it, or given it no heed. Covetousness was the rock on which he made shipwreck. Covetousness was the ruin of his soul.

We need not wonder that Paul called the love of money, ‘the root of all evil.’ (1 Timothy 6:10.) The history of the church is full of mournful proofs, that it is one of the choicest weapons of Satan for corrupting and spoiling professors of religion. Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira are names which naturally occur to our minds. But of all proofs, there is none so melancholy as the one before us. For money, a chosen apostle sold the best and most loving of Masters! For money, Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ!

Let us watch and pray against the love of money. It is a subtle disease, and often far nearer to us than we suppose. A poor man is just as liable to it, as a rich man. It is possible to love money without having it — and it is possible to have it without loving it.

Let us be ‘content with such things as we have.’ (Hebrews 13:5.) We never know what we might do, if we became suddenly rich. It is a striking fact, that there is only one prayer in all the Book of Proverbs, and that one of the three petitions in that prayer, is the wise request, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches — but give me only my daily bread.’ (Proverbs 30:8.)

We see, lastly, in these verses — the close connection between our Lord Jesus Christ’s death, and the Feast of the Passover. Four times we are reminded here that the evening before His crucifixion was the time of the great Jewish feast. It was ‘the day when the Passover lamb must be killed.’

We cannot doubt that the time of our Lord’s crucifixion was overruled by God. His perfect wisdom and controlling power arranged that the Lamb of God should die, at the very time when the Passover-lamb was being slain. The death of Christ was the fulfillment of the Passover. Jesus was the true sacrifice to which every Passover-lamb had been pointing for 1500 years! What the death of the lamb had been to Israel in Egypt — Jesus’ death was to be to sinners all over the world. The safety which the blood of the Passover-lamb had provided for Israel — Jesus’ blood was to provide far more abundantly for all who believed in Him.

Let us never forget the sacrificial character of Christ’s death. Let us reject with abhorrence, the modern notion that it was nothing more than a noble instance of self-sacrifice and self-denial. It was this no doubt — but it was something far higher, deeper, and more important than this. It was an atoning sacrifice for man’s transgression. It was the killing of the true Passover Lamb, through whose death destruction is warded off from sinners believing on Him. ‘Christ our Passover Lamb,’ says Paul, ‘is sacrificed for us.’ (1 Corinthians 5:7.) Let us grasp that truth firmly, and never let it go.”

Comfort

Life Events

Call to Worship January 27 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 22:1-13

“We see, firstly, in these verses — that high offices in the church do not preserve the holders of them from great blindness and sin. We read that ‘the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Jesus.’

The first step in putting Christ to death, was taken by the religious teachers of the Jewish nation. The very men who ought to have welcomed the Messiah — were the men who conspired to kill Him. The very teachers who ought to have rejoiced at the appearing of the Lamb of God — had the chief hand in slaying Him. They sat in Moses’ seat. They claimed to be ‘guides of the blind,’ and ‘lights of those who were in darkness.’ (Romans 2:19.) They belonged to the tribe of Levi. They were, most of them — in direct succession and descent from Aaron. Yet they were the very men who crucified the Lord of glory! With all their boasted knowledge — they were far more ignorant than the few Galilean fishermen who followed Christ.

Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to Christian ministers because of their office. Ordination and religious office confer no exemption from error. The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses have been introduced into the church — by ordained men! Respect is undoubtedly due to high official position. Order and discipline ought not to be forgotten. The teaching and counsel of regularly appointed teachers, ought not to be lightly refused.

But there are limits beyond which we must not go. We must never allow the blind to lead us into the ditch! We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes, to make us crucify Christ afresh. We must test all teachers, by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion — but it matters greatly what is said. Is it scriptural? Is it true? This is the only question. ‘To the law and to the testimony — if they do not speak according to this word — it is because there is no light in them.’ (Isaiah 8:20.)

We see, secondly, in these verses — how far men may fall after making a high profession. We read that the second step toward our Lord’s crucifixion, was the treachery of one of the twelve apostles, ‘Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.’ These words are particularly solemn. To be tempted by Satan is bad enough. To be sifted, buffeted, led captive by him — is truly terrible. But when Satan ‘enters into a man,’ and dwells in him — the man becomes indeed a child of Hell!

Judas Iscariot ought to be a standing beacon to the church of Christ. This man, be it remembered, was one of our Lord’s chosen apostles. He followed our Lord during the whole course of His ministry. He forsook all for Christ’s sake. He heard Christ preach, and saw Christ’s miracles. He preached himself. He spoke like the other apostles. There was nothing about him to distinguish him from Peter, James, and John. He was never suspected of being unsound at heart.

And yet this man turns out at length to be a hypocrite, betrays his Master, helps his enemies to deliver Him up to death, and dies as ‘the son of perdition.’ (John 17:12.) These are fearful things. But they are true.

Let the recollection of Judas Iscariot constrain every professing, Christian to pray much for humility. Let us often say, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart — try me, and know my thoughts.’ (Psalm 139:23.)

At best, we have but a faint conception of the deceitfulness of our hearts. The lengths to which men may go in religion, and yet be without saving grace — is far greater than we suppose!

We see, thirdly, in these verses — the enormous power of the love of money. We are told that when Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray his Master, they ‘agreed to give him money.’ That little sentence reveals the secret of this wretched man’s fall. He was fond of money, He had doubtless heard our Lord’s solemn warning, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness!’ (Luke 12:15.) But he had either forgotten it, or given it no heed. Covetousness was the rock on which he made shipwreck. Covetousness was the ruin of his soul.

We need not wonder that Paul called the love of money, ‘the root of all evil.’ (1 Timothy 6:10.) The history of the church is full of mournful proofs, that it is one of the choicest weapons of Satan for corrupting and spoiling professors of religion. Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira are names which naturally occur to our minds. But of all proofs, there is none so melancholy as the one before us. For money, a chosen apostle sold the best and most loving of Masters! For money, Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ!

Let us watch and pray against the love of money. It is a subtle disease, and often far nearer to us than we suppose. A poor man is just as liable to it, as a rich man. It is possible to love money without having it — and it is possible to have it without loving it.

Let us be ‘content with such things as we have.’ (Hebrews 13:5.) We never know what we might do, if we became suddenly rich. It is a striking fact, that there is only one prayer in all the Book of Proverbs, and that one of the three petitions in that prayer, is the wise request, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches — but give me only my daily bread.’ (Proverbs 30:8.)

We see, lastly, in these verses — the close connection between our Lord Jesus Christ’s death, and the Feast of the Passover. Four times we are reminded here that the evening before His crucifixion was the time of the great Jewish feast. It was ‘the day when the Passover lamb must be killed.’

We cannot doubt that the time of our Lord’s crucifixion was overruled by God. His perfect wisdom and controlling power arranged that the Lamb of God should die, at the very time when the Passover-lamb was being slain. The death of Christ was the fulfillment of the Passover. Jesus was the true sacrifice to which every Passover-lamb had been pointing for 1500 years! What the death of the lamb had been to Israel in Egypt — Jesus’ death was to be to sinners all over the world. The safety which the blood of the Passover-lamb had provided for Israel — Jesus’ blood was to provide far more abundantly for all who believed in Him.

Let us never forget the sacrificial character of Christ’s death. Let us reject with abhorrence, the modern notion that it was nothing more than a noble instance of self-sacrifice and self-denial. It was this no doubt — but it was something far higher, deeper, and more important than this. It was an atoning sacrifice for man’s transgression. It was the killing of the true Passover Lamb, through whose death destruction is warded off from sinners believing on Him. ‘Christ our Passover Lamb,’ says Paul, ‘is sacrificed for us.’ (1 Corinthians 5:7.) Let us grasp that truth firmly, and never let it go.”

Only One Gospel

Call to Worship January 20 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 22:24-30

“Let us observe, in this passage — how firmly pride and love of preeminence can stick to the hearts of Christian men. We are told that ‘There was a dispute among the disciples, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.’ The strife was one which had been rebuked by our Lord on a former occasion. The ordinance which the disciples had just been receiving, and the circumstances under which they were assembled — made the strife particularly inappropriate.

And yet at this very season, the last quiet time they could spend with their Master before His death — this little flock begins a dispute, as to who should be the greatest! Such is the heart of man — ever weak, ever deceitful, ever ready, even at its best times, to turn aside to what is evil!
The sin before us is a very old one. Ambition, self-esteem, and self-conceit — lie deep at the bottom of all men’s hearts, and often in the hearts where they are least suspected! Thousands imagine that they are humble — who cannot bear to see an equal more honored and favored than themselves. Few indeed can be found who rejoice heartily in a neighbor’s promotion over their own heads. The quantity of envy and jealousy in the world, is a glaring proof of the prevalence of pride. Men would not envy a brother’s advancement — if they had not a secret thought that their own merit was greater than his.

Let us live on our guard against this great evil — if we make any profession of serving Christ. The harm that it has done to the Church of Christ, is far beyond calculation. Let us learn to take pleasure in the prosperity of others — and to be content with the lowest place for ourselves. The rule given to the Philippians should be often before our eyes, ‘In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.’ The example of John the Baptist is a bright instance of the spirit at which we should aim. He said of our Lord, ‘He must increase — but I must decrease.’ (Philippians 2:3; John 3:30.)

Let us observe, secondly, in this passage — the striking account which our Lord gives of true Christian greatness. He tells His disciples that the worldly standard of greatness was the exercise of ‘lordship and authority’. ‘But you,’ He says, ‘are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you — should be like the youngest; and the one who rules — like the one who serves.’ And then He enforces this principle by the mighty fact of His own example, ‘I am among you as He who serves.’
Usefulness in the world and Church — a humble readiness to do anything, and put our hands to any good work — a cheerful willingness to fill any post, however lowly, and discharge any office, however unpleasant, if we can only promote happiness and holiness on earth — these are the true tests of Christian greatness.

The hero in Christ’s army, is not the man who has rank, and title, and dignity, and chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. It is the man who does not seek his own things — but the things of others. It is the man who is kind to all, tender to all, thoughtful for all — with a hand to help all, and a heart to feel for all. It is the man who spends and is spent — to make the vice and misery of the world less, to bind up the broken-hearted, to befriend the friendless, to cheer the sorrowful, to enlighten the ignorant, and to raise the poor. This is the truly great man in the eyes of God!

The world may ridicule his labors, and deny the sincerity of his motives. But while the world is sneering — God is pleased. This is the man who is walking most closely in the steps of Christ.
Let us follow after greatness of this sort, if we desire to prove ourselves to be Christ’s servants. Let us not be content with clear head-knowledge, and loud lip-profession, and keen insight into controversy, and fervent zeal for the interests of our own party. Let us see that we minister to the needs of a sin-burdened world — and do good to bodies and souls.

Blessed be God — the greatness which Christ commended is within the reach of all! All have not learning, or abilities, or money. But all can minister to the happiness of those around them, by passive or by active graces. All can be useful — and all can be kind. There is a grand reality in constant kindness. It makes the men of the world think.

Let us observe, thirdly, in this passage — our Lord’s gracious commendation of His disciples. He said to them, ‘You have remained true to me in my time of trial.’ There is something very striking in these words of praise. We know the weakness and infirmity of our Lord’s disciples during the whole period of His earthly ministry. We find Him frequently reproving their ignorance and lack of faith. He knew full well, that within a few hours they were all going to forsake Him. But here we find Him graciously dwelling on one good point in their conduct, and holding it up to the perpetual notice of His Church.

They had been faithful to their Master, notwithstanding all their faults. Their hearts had been right — whatever had been their mistakes. They had clung to Him in the day of His humiliation, when the great and noble were against Him. They had ‘remained true to Him, in His time of trial.’

Let us rest our souls on the comfortable thought that the mind of Christ is always the same. If we are true believers — then let us know that He looks at our graces more than at our faults; that He pities our infirmities, and that He will not deal with us according to our sins. Never had a master such poor, weak servants as believers are to Christ — but never had servants such a compassionate and tender Master as Christ is to believers!

Surely we cannot love Him too well. We may come short in many things. We may fail in knowledge and courage, and faith, and patience. We may stumble many times. But one thing let us always do. Let us love the Lord Jesus with heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. Whatever others do — let us ‘remain true to Him,’ and cleave to Him with purpose of heart. Happy is he who can say with Peter, however humbled and ashamed, ‘Lord, you know that I love you!’ (John 21:15.)

Let us observe, lastly — what a glorious promise our Lord holds out to His faithful disciples. He says, ‘I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me — so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’
These words were our Lord’s parting legacy to His little flock. He knew that in a few hours, His ministry among them would be ended. He winds it up by a wonderful declaration of good things laid up in store for them.

We may not perhaps see the full meaning of every part of the promise. It is enough for us to know that our Lord promised His eleven faithful ones — glory, honor, and rewards, far exceeding anything they had done for Him. They had gone a little way with Him — like Barzillai with David — and done a little for Him. He assures them that they shall have a recompense worthy of a king in the eternal world.

Let us leave the whole passage with the cheering thought that the wages which Christ will give to his believing people, will be far out of proportion to anything they have done for Him. Their tears will be found in His bottle. Their least desires to do good will be found recorded. Their weakest efforts to glorify Him will be found written in His book of remembrance. Not a cup of cold water, shall miss its reward.”