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LOOKING UNTO JESUS.
REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
«They looked unto him, and were lightened : and their faces were not ashamed.”—Psalm xxxiv. 5. From the connection we are to understand the pronoun “him” as referring to the word “Lord” in the preceding verse. "They looked unto the Lord Jehovah, and were lightened.” But no man ever yet looked to Jehovah God, as he is in himself. and found any comfort in him, for "our God is a consuming fire." An absolute God, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, can afford no comfort whatever to a troubled heart. We may look to him, and we shall be blinded, for the light of Godhead is insufferable, and as mortal eye cannot fix its gaze upon the sun, no human intellect could ever look unto God, and find light, for the brightness of God would strike the eye of the mind with eternal blindness. The only way in which we can see God is through the Mediator Jesus Christ,
« Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find, -" God shrouded and veiled in the manhood, there we can with steady gaze behold him, for so he cometh down to us, and our poor finite intelligence can understand and lay hold upon him. I shall therefore use my text this morning, and I think very legitimately, in reference to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ-" They looked unto him, and were lightened;" for when we look at God, as revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord, and behold the Godhead as it is apparent in the Incarnate Man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified by Pontius Pilate, we do see that which enlightens the niind, and casts rays of comfort into our awakened heart.
And now this morning, I shall first invite you, in order to illustrate my text, to look to Jesus Christ in his life on earth, and I hope there are some of you who will be lightened by that. We shall then look to him on his cross. Afterwards we shall look to him in his resurrection. We shall look to him in his intercession; and lastly, we shall look to him in his second coming; and it may be, as with faithful eye we look upon him, the verse shall be fulfilled in our experience, which is the best proof of a truth, when we prove it to be true in our own hearts, We shall “ look unto him" and we shall “ be lightened."
1. First, then, we shall LOOK TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IN HIS LIFE. And here the troubled saint will find the most to enlighten him. In the example, in the patience, in the sufferings of Jesus Christ, there are stars of glory to cheer the midnight darkness of the sky of your tribulation. Come hither, ye children of God, and whatever now are your distresses, whether they be temporal or spiritual, you shall, in the life of Jesus Christ and his sufferings, find sufficient to cheer and comfort you, if the Holy Spirit shall now open your eyes to look unto him. Perhaps I have among my congregation, indeed I am sure I have, some who are plunged in the depths of poverty. You are the children of toil; with much sneat of your brow you eat your bread; the heavy yoke of oppression galls your neck; perhaps at this time you are suffering the very extremity of hunger; you are No. 195.
Penny Pulpit, No. 2,950.
pinched with famine, and though in the house of God, your body complains, for you feel that you are brought very low. Look unto Him, thou poor distressed brother in Jesus; look unto Him, and be lightened.
“Why dost thou complain of want or distress,
Through much tribulation must follow their Lord.” See him there! Forty days he fasts and he hungers. See him again; he treads the weary way, and at last all athirst he sits upon the curb of the well of Sychar; and he the Lord of glory, he who holds the clouds in the hollow of his hand, said to a woman, “ Give me to drink.” . And shall the servant be above his master, and the disciple above his Lord? If he suffered hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, O heir of poverty, be of good cheer; in all these thou hast fellowship with Jesus; therefore be comforted, and look unto him and be lightened.
Perhaps your trouble is of another caste. You have come here to-day smarting from the forked tongue of that adder-slander. Your character, though pure and spotless before God, seems to be lost before man; for that foul slanderous thing hath sought to take away that which is dearer to you than life itself, your character, your good fame; and you are this day filled with bitterness and made drunken with wormwood, because you have been accused of crimes which your soul loathes. Come, thou child of mourning, this indeed is a heavy blow; poverty is like Solomon's whip, but slander is like the scorpion of Rehoboam; to fall into the depths of poverty is to have it on thy little finger, but to be slandered is to have it on thy loins. But in all this thou mayest have comfort from Christ. Come and look unto him and be lightened. The King of kings was called a Samaritan; they said of him that he had a devil and was mad; and yet infinite wisdom dwelt in him, though he was charged with madness. And was he not ever pure and holy? And did they not call him a drunken man and a wine-bibber? He was his Father's glorious Son; and yet they said he did cast out devils through Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Come, poor slandered one; wipe that tear away! “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call they of his household?" If they had honoured him, then might you have expected that they would honour you; but inasmuch as they mocked him and took away his glory and his character, blush not to bear the reproach and the shame, for he is with you, carrying his cross before you, and that cross was heavier than yours. Look, then, unto him and be lightened.
But I hear another say, “ Ah! but my trouble is worse than either of those. I am not to-day smarting from slander, nor am I burdened with penury; but, sir, the hand of God lies heavy upon me; he hath brought my sins to my remembrance; he hath taken away the bright shining of his countenance; once I did believe in him, and could read my title clear to mansions in the skies,' but to-day I am brought very low; he hath lifted me up and cast me down; like a wrestler, he has elevated me that he might dash me to the ground with the greater force; my bones are sore vexed, and my spirit within me is melted with anguish." Come, my tried brother, “Look unto him and be lightened.” No longer groan over thine own miseries, but come thou with me and look unto him, if thou canst. Seest thou the garden, of Olives? It is a cold night, and the ground is crisp beneath thy feet, for tlie frost is hard; and there, in the gloom of the olive garden, kneels thy Lord. Listen to him. Canst thou understand the music of his groans, the meaning of his sighs? Surę, thy griefs are not so heavy as his were, when drops of blood were forced through his skin, and a bloody sweat did stain the ground! Say, are thy wrestlings greater than his? If, then, he had to combat with the powers of darkness, expect to do so also; and look thou to him in the last solemn hour of his extremity, and hear him say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And when thou hast heard that, murmur not, as though some strange thing had happened to thee, as if thou hast to join in his "lama sabbacthani," and hast to sweat some few drops of his bloody sweat. “They looked unto him, and were lightened.”
But, possibly I may have here some one who is much persecuted by man. "Ab** saith one, “I cannot practice my religion with comfort. My friends have turned against me; I am mocked, and jeered, and reviled, for Christ's sake." Come, Christian, be not afraid of all this, but, “ look unto him, and be lightened." Remember how they persecuted him. Oh! think thou of the shame and spitting, the plucking
off the hair, the reviling of the soldiers; think thou of that fearful march through the streets, when every man did hoot him, and when even they that were crucified with him did revile him. Hast thou been worse treated than he? Methinks this is enough to make you gird your armour on once more. Why need you blush to be as much dishonoured as your Master? It was this thought that cheered the martyrs of old. They that fought the bloody fight, knew they should win the blood-red crown—that ruby crown of martyrdom; therefore they did endure, as seeing him who is invisible; for this ever cheered and comforted them. They remembered him who had," endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that they might not be weary or faint in their minds.” They “resisted unto blood, striving against sin;" for they knew their Master had done the same, and his example did comfort them. I am persuaded, beloved brothers and sisters, that if we looked more to Christ, our troubles would not become anything like so black. In the darkest night, looking to Christ, will clear the ebony sky; when the darkness seems thick, like that of Egypt, darkness that might be felt, like solid pillars of ebony, even then, like a bright lightning flash, as bright but not as transient, will a look to Jesus prove. One glimpse at him, may well suffice for all our toils, while on the road. Checred by his voice, nerved by his strength, we are prepared to do and suffer, even as he did, to the death, if he will be with us, even unto the end. This, then, is our first point. We trust that those of you, who are weary Christians, will not forget to look unto him, and be lightened.”
II. And now I have to invite you to a more dreary sight; but, strange it is, just as the sight becomes more black, so to us, does it grow more bright. The more deeply the Saviour. dived into the depths of misery, the brighter were the pearls which he brought up--the greater his griefs, the greater our joys, and the deeper his dishonour, the brighter our glories. Come, then—and this time I shall ask poor, doubting, trembling sinners and saints, to come with me.--come ye now to Calvary's cross. There, on the summit of that little hill, outside the gates of Jerusalem, where common criminals were ordinarily put to death-the Tyburn of Jerusalem, the Old Bailey of that city, where criminals were executed—there stand three crosses; the centre one is reserved for one who is reputed to be the greatest of criminals. See there! They have nailed him to the cross. It is the Lord of life and glory, before whose feet angels delight to pour full vials of glory. They have nailed him to the cross: he hangs there in mid-heaven, dying, bleeding; he is thirsty, and he cries. They bring him vinegar, and thrust it into his mouth. He is in suffering, and he needs sympathy, but they mock at him, and they say, " He saved others; himself he cannot save.” They misquote his words; they challenge him now to destroy the temple, and build it in three days; while the very thing was being fulfilled, they taunt him with his powerlessness to accomplish it. Now see him, ere the veil is drawn over agonies too black for eye to behold. See him now! Was ever face marred like that face? Was ever heart so big with agony? And did eyes ever seem so pregnant with the fire of suffering, as those great wells of fiery agony ? Come and behold him, come and look to him now. The sun is eclipsed, refusing to behold him! earth quakes; the dead rise; the horrors of his sufferings have startled earth itself,
“ He dies ! the friend of sinners dies ;”. And we invite you to look to this scene that you may be lightened. What are your doubts this morning ? Whatever they be, they can find a kind and fond solution here, by looking at Christ on the cross. You have come here, perhaps, doubting God's mercy ; look to Christ upon the cross, and can you doubt it then? If God were not full of mercy, and plenteous in his compassion, would he have given his Son to bleed and die? Think you, that a Father would rend his darling from his heart and nail him to a tree, that he might suffer an ignominious death for our sakes, and yet be hard, merciless, and without pity ? God forbid the impious thought! There must be mercy in the heart of God, or else there had never been a cross on Calvary.
But do you doubt God's power to save ? Are you saying in yourself this morning, “How can he forgive so great a sinner as I am ?" Oh! look there, sinner, look there, to the great atonement made, to the utmost ransom paid. Dost thou think that that blood has not an efficacy to pardon and to justify. True, without that cross it had been an unanswerable question,—“How can God be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly ?” But see there the bleeding substitute! and know that God has accepted his sufferings as an equivalent for the woes of all believers; and then let thy spirit dare to think, if it can, that there is not sufficient in the blood of Christ, to enable God to vindicate his justice, and yet to have mercy upon sinners.
But I know you say, “My doubt is not of his general mercy, nor of his power to forgive, but of his willingness to forgive me.” Now I beseech you, by him that liveth and was dead, do not this morning look into your own heart in order to find an answer to that difficulty ; do not now sit down and look at your sins; they have brought you into the danger-they cannot bring you out of it. The best answer you will ever get, is at the foot of the cross. Sit down, when you get home this morning, for half-an-hour, in quiet contemplation, sit at the foot of the cross, and contemplate the dying Saviour, and I will defy you then to say, “I doubt his love to me." Looking at Christ begets faith. You cannot believe on Christ except as you see him, and if you look to him you will learn that he is able to save; you will learn his loving-kindness; and you cannot doubt him after having once beheld him.
Dr. Watts says,
“ His worth, if all the nations knew,
Sure the whole world would love him too;". and I am sure it is quite true if I read it another way
“ His worth, if all the nations knew,
Sure the whole world would trust him too." Oh, that you would look to him now, and your doubts would soon be removed; for there is nothing that so speedily kills all doubt and fear, as a look into the loving eye of the bleeding, dying Lord.“ Ah," says one, “but my doubts are concerning my own salvation in this respect; I cannot be so holy as I want to be.” “I have tried very much,” says one, “ to get rid of all my sins, and I cannot; I have laboured to live without wicked thoughts, and without unholy acts, and I still find that my heart is deceitful above all things;' and I wander from God. Surely I cannot be saved, while I am like this?” Stay! Look to him, and be lightened. What business have you to be looking to yourself? The first business of a sinner is not with himself, but with Christ. Your business is to come to Christ; sick, weary, and soul-diseased, and ask Christ to cure you. You are not to be your owa physician, and then go to Christ, but just as you are; the only salvation for you is to trust implicitly, simply, nakedly, on Christ. As I sometimes put it-make Christ the only pillar of your hope, and never seek to buttress or prop him up. “ He is able, he is willing." All he asks of you is just to trust him. As for your good works, they shall come afterwards. They are after-fruits of the Spirit: but your first business is not to do, but to believe. Look to Jesus, and put your only trust in him. “Oh," another cries, “ Sir, I am afraid I do not feel my need of a Saviour as I ought.” Looking to yourselves again! all looking to yourselves you see! This is all wrong. Our doubts and fears all arise from this cause—we will turn our eyes the wrong way—just look to the cross again, just as the poor thief did when he was dying; he said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Do the same. You may tell him if you please, that you do not feel your need of him as you ought; you may put this among your other sins, that you fear you have not a right sense of your great and enormous guilt. You may add to all your confessions, this cry, "Lord help me to confess my sins better; help me to feel them more penitently." But recollect, it is not your repentance that saves you; it is just the blood of Christ, streaming from his hands, and feet, and side. Oh! I beseech you by him whose servant I am, this morning turn your eyes to the cross of Christ. There he hangs this day; he is lifted up in your midst. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so is the Son of Man lifted up to-day in your eyes, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but have everlasting life.
And you children of God, I turn to you, for you have your doubts too. Would you get rid of them? Would you rejoice in the Lord with faith unmoved and confidence unshaken? Then look to Jesus; look again to him and you shall be lightened. I know not how it is with you my beloved friends, but I very often find myself in a doubting frame of mind; and it seems to be a question whether I have any love to Christ or not. And despite the fact that some laugh at the hymn, it is a hynin that I am forced to sing :-
“ 'Tis a point I long to know,
And really I am convinced that every Christian has his doubts at times, and that the people who do not doubt are just the people that ought to doubt; for he who never doubts about his state perhaps may do so when it is too late. I knew a man who said he never had a doubt for thirty years. I told him that I knew a person who never had a doubt about him for thirty years. “How is that?" said he “that is strange." He thought it a compliment. I said, “I knew a man who never had a doubt about you for thirty years. He knew you were always the most confounded hypocrite he ever met; he had no doubt about you.” But this man had no doubt about himself: he was a chosen child of God, a great favourite of the Most High; he loved the doctrine of Election, wrote it on his very brow; and yet he was the hardest driver and the most cruel oppressor to the poor I ever met with, and when brought to poverty himself, he night very frequently be seen rolling through the streets. And this man had not a doubt for thirty years; and yet the best people are always doubting. Some of those who are just living outside the gates of heaven, are afraid of being cast into hell after all; while those people who are on the high road to the pit are not the least afraid. However, if you would get rid of your doubts once more, turn to Christ. You know what Dr. Carey had put on his tomb-stone- just these words, for they were his comfort;
“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
Into Christ's arms I fall;
My Jesus and my all.” Remember what that eminent Scotch divine said, when he was dying. Some one said to him, What, are you dying now?” Said he, “ I am just gathering all my good works up together, and I am throwing them all overboard; and I am lashing myself to the plank of free grace, and I hope to swim to glory on it." So do you do; every day keep your eye only on Christ; and so long as your eye is single, your whole body must and shall be full of light. But if you once look cross-eyed, first to yourself and then to Christ, your whole body shall be full of darkness. Remember, then, Christian, to hie away to the cross. When that great black dog of hell is after you, away to the cross! Go where the sheep goes when he is molested by the dog; go to the shepherd. The dog is afraid of the shepherd's crook; you need not be afraid of it, it is one of the things that shall comfort you. “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Away to the cross, my brothers! away to the cross, if thou wouldest get rid of thy doubts. Certain I am, that if we lived more with Jesus, were more like Jesus, and trusted more to Jesus, doubts and fears would be very scarce and rare things, and we should have as little to complain of them as the first emigrants in Australia had to complain of thistles; for they found none there, and none would have been there it they had not been carried there. If we live simply by faith on the cross of Christ, we live in a land where there are no thistles; but if we will live on self, we shall have plenty of thistles and thorns, and briers, and nettles growing there. “They looked unto him, and were lightened."
III. And now I invite you to a glorious scene-CHRIST'S RESURRECTION. Come you here, and look at him, as the old serpent bruises his heel!
“ He dies ! the friend of sinners dies,
And Salem's daughters weep around.” He was wrapped in his grave clothes and put into his grave, and there he slept three days and nights. And on the first day of the week, he, who could not be holden by the bands of death, and whose flesh did not see corruption, neither did his soul abide in Hades-he arose from the dead. In vain the bands that swaddled hiin; he unfolded them by himself, and by his own living power wrapped them in perfect order, and laid them in their place. In vain the stone and the seal; the angel appeared and rolled away the stone, and forth the Saviour came. Ir vain the guards and watchmen; for in terror they fled far away, and he ruse the conqueror over death-the firstfruits of them that slept. By his own power and might, he came again to lire. I see among my congregation, not a few wearing the black weeds of sorrow. You have lost, some of you, the dearest of your earthly relatives. There are others here, who, I doubt not, are under the constant fear of death. You are all your litetime subject to bondage, because you are thinking upon the groans, and dying strife, which fall upon men, when they near the river Jordan. Come, come, I beseech you,