« AnteriorContinua »
JESUS GLORIFIED. A COMMUNION SERMON.
JOHN X11. 28.
Jesus answered them, saying, the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
OUR blessed Lord came into the world on the benevolent design of instructing, reforming and redeeming mankind. In the prosecution of this design he met with great opposition from the nation among whom his kind offices were first employed. He was reproached for the obscurity of his birth and education, and the poverty of his family and relations. He was maligned as a promoter of sedition, a profaner of divine institutions, a confederate with evil spirits, a friend of sinners and a blasphemer of God. This opposition was begun by the priests, rulers and leading men of the nation, who were irritated by his just reproofs, and jealous of a diminution of their power. To serve their covetous and ambitious designs, they, by every artifice, interested the lower class against him, and raised a popular cry to have him destroyed.
Well he knew the trials, which were coming upon him. Clearly he foresaw what would be the consequence of his fidelity in his work. He foretold, that he should be arrested, condemned and crucified at Jerusalem, and that his trial and death, though in
tended by his enemies to complete his disgrace, would be the means of displaying his glory. In the foresight of the near approach of his sufferings, he says, in our text, "The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified."
We are here taught, that there are certain times when, and events by which, Jesus Christ is eminently glorified. Some of these we will consider and improve.
1. Christ was glorified in his trial and condemnation by an iniquitous court. Here his innocence and virtue were clearly displayed.
This court consisted of his enemies. Having no hope that, in a fair and honest process, they could convict him of any real crime, they suborned witnesses to testify such matters as might be made a ground of his condemnation. But the testimony of the witnesses was so variant and contradictory, that no credit was due, and little seems to have been paid to it. None of them could convince him of sin. Though he was condemned as worthy of death, yet the judgment was not predicated on proof of any crime, but merely on that claim to a divine mission, which he had constantly asserted in his preaching, had fully confirmed by his works, and had boldly supported to that hour.
When they applied to the Roman governor for a sentence against him, they could obtain it only by clamors and threats. Pilate, after a full examination, declared publickly and repeatedly, that he could find in him no fault at all. Thus his enemies became witnesses of the innocence of his life and the divinity of his mission.
In the same manner the enemies of the gospel now bear testimony to its truth and importance. With all their malice, they can find no fault in it-nothing unfriendly to the virtue, or the happiness of mankind. On the contrary, they are constrained to confess, that its precepts are rational, and its tendency beneficent. Why then do they oppose it ?-For the same cause for which the Jewish rulers opposed Christ. It condemns their corrupt hearts and wicked lives, and opens to them no prospect of happiness without repentance and amendment.
2. Christ was glorified on the cross.
The virtues of his life here shone with new and distinguished brightness. Here he displayed his meekness in sustaining, without resentment, the insults of his enemies-his patience in bear-` ing, without complaint, the pains of crucifixion-his forgiveness of injuries in soliciting the pardon of his infatuated foes-his benevolence to mankind in submitting to death for their redemption-his constancy and fortitude in finishing the work which he had undertaken-his faith in God in commending himself to his care-his perfect resignation in praying, "Not my will, but thine be done."
Though he was crucified through weakness, yet, in this apparent weakness, he manifested a divine power dwelling in him. There was a majesty in his presence which confounded the soldiers who came to seize him. There was a penetration in his eye, which discerned and detected the perfidy of the dissembling wretch, who betrayed him with a kiss. There was a virtue in his touch, which instantly healed the wounded ear of Malchus. There was a tenderness and an energy in his look, which wrought conviction and repentance in Peter, who had denied him with an oath. There was grace at his disposal, which ensured salvation to a suffering malefactor. Though he was nailed to a cross, he was mighty to save.
Heaven gave open testimony in his favor. While he hung in anguish on the tree, the sun withdrew its light, and the sky was overspread with darkness. When he gave up the ghost, the earth trembled, the rocks burst asunder, the graves opened their doors, the vail of the temple was rent from top to bottom.
So convincing and amazing was the scene, that the captain of the guard exclaimed, "This was a righteous man-this was the Son of God." And all the people who came to see the crucifix" ion, "beholding what was done, smote their breasts and returned."
The virtues which he exhibited; the works which he performed; the testimonies which he received from heaven in the time of his last sufferings, were such demonstrations of his divinity, as nothing but malignity of heart could withstand. They wrought
conviction in many, who came to the scene with quite different apprehensions.
3. Christ was glorified in his resurrection. He foretold, that he must suffer death at Jerusalem; but on the third day he should rise again. To this event he referred his hearers for the proof of his mission from God, and of the truth of his doctrines. Such an event had never been known. Would an impostor have risked his reputation on a thing so strange and improbable? He gave previous notice of the event, that enemies and unbelievers might gain full satisfaction in the case. Accordingly they took every possible precaution to prevent fraud; and no fraud could rationally be pretended. Yet the body, on the third day, was gone from the tomb. Where was it? It could not be removed by human contrivance. Jesus actually rose at the very time foretold. His resurrection was attended with an earthquake and descent of angels, which would naturally awaken attention and enquiry. He soon appeared to those who had known him before, and who could not have mistaken another for him. He conversed with them, ate and drank in their presence, suffered them to touch and handle him, and to examine the wounds, which he received on the cross; and, for forty days together, gave them all the evidence they could desire of his real resurrection. Even his enemies were confounded. They knew, that the evidence of the fact must be convincing. What could they do? They hired the guard to report, that his disciples stole away the body in the night, while they were asleep. How incredible the story?—It supposes, that the disciples, though greatly intimidated by their master's death, now at once acquired boldness to attempt so perilous an enterprize. It supposes that the guard all fell asleep at once, when their lives depended on their fidelity. It supposes that a massy stone was removed, the grave entered, the body carried off without awakening any of the soldiers. It supposes that they well knew what was done, when they were all asleep.
This pitiful evasion is a confirmation of the reality of his resurrection. Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.
4. Christ was glorified in his ascension.`
He foretold, that as he came from the Father to suffer for man's redemption, so he should return to the Father to receive the reward and the fruits of his sufferings. Of the time and place of his ascension he gave previous notice, in consequence of which, more than five hundred brethren were assembled to behold the wonderful and affecting scene, and to receive his last verbal instructions and benedictions. On his way to the place he was attended with his particular disciples, whom he instructed in their duty, commissioned to preach his gospel among all nations, and encouraged by a promise, that he would send down upon them the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When he had led them as far as Bethany, the appointed place of the ascension, he lifted up his hands and blessed them; and while he was blessing them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven, and a cloud received him out of their sight. As they stood wondering at the scene, there appeared angels in glorious apparel, who said, “Why stand ye here gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you, shall so come in like manner, as ye have seen him go up into heaven." On this they returned to Jerusalem, and gave themselves to prayer.
Soon after his ascension, he bestowed on them the promised gifts of the Spirit, by which they were enabled to work new miracles, speak with divers tongues, and preach the gospel with wonderful success. Thus he demonstrated, that he had actually ascended to his kingdom, was made head over all things to the church, would fulfil all his promises, maintain his own cause, and support his faithful ministers to the end of the world.
That he actually went into heaven, the disciples knew from his previous declaration-from his wonderful resurrection—from their own sight, as far as it could follow him-from the bright cloud, the excellent glory, which visibly received him-from the testimony of angels, and from the following effusion of the Spirit, which, he assured them, should be the speedy effect of his return to the Father.
We have evidence of this glorious event from the testimony of the disciples, and from the manifest accomplishment of the prom