| Morrison's Daily Sermon.|
The Sending of the Sword[/b]
I came not to send peace, but a sword Mat_10:34
Christ Came to Bring Both Peace and a Sword
There seems to be a glaring contradiction between this word and some other words of Jesus. Some of the most familiar Gospel wordswords that shine down like stars on the world's darknessspeak of Jesus as the great peace bringer. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Yet here, "I came not to send peace, but a sword." The point I wish you to observe in passing is Christ's disregard for superficial consistency. Life proves many a proposition to be true that logic would readily demonstrate as false. And the strange thing about the words of Christ is, that while they seem to contradict each other at the bar of reason, they link themselves together into perfect harmony when we go forward in the strength of them. Are you fond of arguing about Christ's teachings? You may argue till doomsday and never find their power. They are words of life meant to be lived out; there is no argument in all the armory like action. And it is only as we set our faces heavenward, making these statutes our song in the house of our pilgrimage: only as we view every new morning as a new opportunity of putting Christ to proof; it is only thus, through the gathering experience of days, that we awaken to their power and truth. I notice in the engines of our river steamers that there are rods that move backward as well as rods that move forward. A child would say they were fighting with each other, and that half of the engines were going the wrong way. But though half the engines seem to go the wrong way, there is no question that the ship is going the right way: out of the smoke and stir of the great city into the bays where the peace of God is resting. So with the words of Christ that seem to oppose each other. Make them the driving power of the soul: and the oppositions will not hinder progress, and the contradictions will reveal their unity, and you shall be brought to your desired heaven.
So to our text; and there are two lights in which I wish to set it. (1) The coming of Christ sends a sword into the heart. (2) The coming of Christ sends a sword into the home.
Christ Sends a Sword into the Heart
First, then: The coming of Christ sends a sword into the heart. Now this is exactly what I should have expected when I remembered the penalties of gain. For everything a man achieves there is a price to pay. There comes a wound with everything we win. Think of the knowledge of nature that we now possess. All knowledge, whatever joy it brings with it, brings with it in the other hand a sword. All love, though it kindles the world into undreamed-of brightness, has a note in its music of unrest and agony. Every advance mankind has ever made holds in its grasp new possibilities of pain.
It is through thoughts like these that I come to understand how the coming of Christ into the heart must send a sword there. To receive Christ is to receive the Truth; it is to have the Spirit of Love breathing within us: and if truth and love always bring sorrow with them, I shall expect the coming of Christ to be with pain. I have no doubt there are some to whom Christ came, and made them very happy. You will never forget the hour of your conversion, when, as by the rending or a veil, the night was gone, and the trees in the forest clapped their hands before you, and every star in the heavens shone more brightly. A true experience, a very real experience: there are those here who look back on such an hour. But Jesus does not always come that way. He comes with the sword as well as with the song. He comes to banish the old shallow happiness, to break the ice that was over the deep waters, to touch the chords that had never given their music, to open the eyes to the hills above the cloud. And if He has come to you thus, so that you are not happier but consumed with a passion of divine discontent, I bid you in God's name go forwardit is Christ with the sword, but it is still the Christ. It is a great thing to feel like singing. Perhaps it is greater still to feel like struggling. This one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind I press towards the mark.
Three Ways Christ's Coming into the Heart Brings a Sword: He Opens Up the Depths of Sin within Us
There are three ways in which the coming of Christ into the heart sends a sword there. I can only briefly touch on these three ways. Christ opens up the depths of sin within us; that is one. We see what we are in the light of His perfection. We were tolerably contented with our character once, but when Christ comes we are never that again. Like the sheep that look clean enough among the summer grass, but against the background of the virgin snow look foul; so you and I never know how vile we are until the background of our life is Christ. You would have thought that when Christ filled Peter's net, Peter would have been ecstatically happy; but instead of that you have Simon Peter crying, "Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Christ came to Simon Peter with the sword; showed him himself; taught him how dark he was. And whenever the sword-stroke of an indwelling Savior cuts into the deeps of a man's heart the wound is very likely to be sore.
He Calls Us to a Lifelong Warfare
And then Christ calls us to a lifelong warfare. The note of warfare rings through the whole New Testament. The spirit is quickened now to crave for spiritual things, and the flesh and the spirit must battle till the grave. I knew a student who had been to Keswick and had drunk deep of the teaching of that school. And very noble teaching it is when nobly grasped. And he came back to Scotland in a kind of rapture; everything was to be easy evermore. And he went to one of our most saintly and notable ministers to tell him about this newfound way to holiness, and the minister (with his beautiful smile) looked at him and said, "Ah, sir, it will be a sore wrestle till the end." For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual darkness. And the evil that I would not that I do, and the good I would that do I not. Paul knew the peace of God that passed all understanding, yet to Paul the Savior came bearing the sword.
He Heightens Our Ideals
But above all, it is by heightening our ideal that the old peace goes and the pain begins. It is in the new conception of what life may be that the sword-stroke cuts into the heart. We are no more the children of time and space. We are the children of glorious immortality. We are launching out onto a career that will advance and deepen forever and forever. And do you think that the birth of a mighty thought like that can be accomplished without wound or pain? Whenever the horizon widens there is sorrow. The sword of Christ smites through the thongs that bind us. The sword of Christ cuts down the veil that shadows us. The sword of Christ makes free play for our manhood; we step into our liberty through Him. And if, with all that, there comes a haunting pain and an unrest that may become an agony, remember that Christ came to send the sword.
Christ Sends a Sword into the Home
But I pass on now: so, secondly and lastly, Christ comes to send a sword into the home.
Did you ever think how true that was of Nazareth? Did you ever reflect on our text in the light of that home? There was not a cottager in all the village but would think of one home they knew when they heard this. Joseph and Marywas there any home in Nazareth on which the sunshine of heaven seemed to rest so sweetly? The peace of mutual love and trust lay on it, like a benediction from the green hills that sheltered it. Then into that quiet home came Jesus Christ, and the point of the sword has touched the heart of Joseph. And he was minded to put Mary away quietly, for the great love he had to her. Then came the flight to Egypt; then Jesus in the Templeah, yes! the sword is going deeper now. And when the public ministry began, and He was put to scorn, rejected, crucified, I think the sword had smitten that quiet home. It might have been so peaceful and so happy, with the laughter of children and the joy of motherhood. It might have been so peaceful and so happy if God had never honored it like this. But Jesus was born there, and that made all the difference. It could never be the quiet home again. Gethsemane was coming, Calvary was coming; a sword was going to pierce through Mary's heart. He came not to send peace, but a sword.
Now I think that still in many and many a home the coming of Jesus spells out unrest like that. When a young man or woman in a worldly home takes a definite stand, comes out and out for Christ, then the father and mother and every brother and sister will understand the meaning of this text. There is no outward quarrellinghow could there be when all the family are members of the Church? But the new enthusiasm and the new consecration and the new wholeheartedness for Jesus Christall well enough at the distance of the pulpit, but now brought into the bosom of the familycause unrest, uneasiness, and irritation there, and that is Christ coming with the sword. I quite admit the sword is needlessly sharpened sometimes by the pride and arrogance of the young convert. I have had cases in my ministry where all my sympathy went out to the unconverted brothers. But this I want to say, Is there any young man or woman whose difficulty in deciding for Christ is the life at home? Well, then, be very humble; do not obtrude yourself; remember your ignorance, remember your youth; but as you have a life to live, and as you have a death to die, and as you have a God to meet before the Throne, do not let father or mother or the happiest home that ever cradled man keep you from closing with the call of God. If there must be trouble, then trouble there must be. To thine own self be true. As man to man Christ says to you, "I came not to send peace, but a sword."
The Sword in the Hearts of Parents over Their Children
A word to the children of sorrow as I close. A word to the fathers and to the mothers. I want you to remember there is another way in which Christ has brought the sword into the home. For home itself has a wealth of meaning in it that it never would have had save for the Gospel. And the natural love of the mother for her child has been deepened and glorified since Jesus came. Brotherhood, sisterhood, fatherhood, motherhood, childhood, you do not know how little these words meant once. And if now they speak to us of what is truest and tenderest, of ties unsurpassably delicate and strong, it is the love of Christ, it is the revelation of the Father, it is the touch of our Brother that has achieved the change. And what is the other side of that rich heritage? Ask any Christian mother for the answer. Find out if her heart never bleeds over her child; if she has not hours of haunting and torturing fears. Develop love, and you develop sorrow. Deepen the heart-life, and you deepen suffering. It is by doing that, through all the centuries, that Christ has brought the sword into our homes. The Stoic said, "Dry up these fountains of feeling"; so he made a solitude and called it peace. But Christ deepened and cleansed life's wellsprings here, and that very deepening has brought the sword. I think it is worth it. I would not be a Stoic. It is better to live vividly, spite of the pain, than to have the fingertips of all the angels grope at a heart of steel. After all, if He smiteth, He will bind up again. If He woundeth, yet He will make us whole. The sword, like Excalibur swung by the arm of Bedivere, shall flash and sink into the deeps forever, when we wake in the eternal morning of the Lord.
| 2006/3/6 18:14|
| Re: Morrison's Daily Sermon.|
The Intolerance of Jesus[/b]
He that is not with me is against me Mat_12:30
Christ Rejects Accusations Made against Him
Our Lord had just performed a notable miracle healing a man who was possessed of a devil. It had made a profound impression on the people, and had forced the conviction that this was indeed Messiah. Unable to dispute the miracle itself, the Pharisees tried to impugn the power behind it, and in their cowardly and treacherous way they suggested there was something demoniac about Christ. With a readiness of resource which never failed Him, Christ showed in a flash the weakness of that argument. If He was the friend of the demons, was He likely to make a brother-demon homeless? Then moved to righteous anger by these slanders, He said, "He that is not with me is against me."
You Cannot Understand Christ if You Fail to Notice His Intolerance.
I want to speak on the intolerance of Jesus Christ. However startling the subject may appear, and however the sound of it may jar upon us, I am convinced we shall never understand our Lord if we fail to take account of His intolerance. We have heard much of the geniality of Jesus, and of the depth and range of His compassion; nor can we ever exaggerate, in warmest language, the genial and generous aspect of His character. But it is well that the listening ear should be attuned to catch the sterner music of that life, lest, missing it, we miss the fine severity which goes to the perfecting of moral beauty. Wherever the spirit of Jesus is at work, there is found a sweet and masterful intolerance. The one thing that the Gospel cannot do, is to look with easy good nature on the world. And if this passionate urgency of claim has ever marked the activities of Christendom, we must try to trace it to the fountainhead and find it in the character of Christ.
Intolerance Must Be Knowledgeable.
Of course there is an intolerance so cold and hard that it must always be alien from the Master's Spirit. All that is best in us condemns the temper which lacks the redeeming touch of comprehension.
Christ Died Because of His Intolerance.
I mention that just to make plain to you that I am not shutting my eyes to common truths. Yet the fact remains that in all great personalities, there is a strain of what is called intolerance. There are things in which it must be yea or naythe everlasting no, as Carlyle has it. There are spheres in which all compromise is treachery, and when a man must say with Luther, "Here I stand." And that intolerance, so far from being the enemy of love and sympathy and generous culture, is the rock that a man needs to set his feet on, if he is to cast his rope to those who cry for help. You find it in the God of the Old Testament "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." He is a jealous God, and brooks no rival. He must be loved with heart and soul and strength and mind. You find it in the music of the psalmist, and in the message of prophet and apostle, and you find it bosomed amid all the love that shone in the character of Jesus Christ. Never was man so tender as the Lord. Never was man so swift to sympathise. Never did sinners so feel that they were understood. Never did the lost so feel that they were loved. Yet with all that pity and grace and boundless comprehension, I say you have never fathomed the spirit of the Master, until you have recognised within its range a certain glorious and divine intolerance.
But underneath that worldwide comprehension there is a scorn of scorn, a hate of hate; there is such doom on the worthless and the wicked as can scarce be paralleled in any literature; and till you have heard that message of severitythat judgment which is the other side of loveyou have never learned the secret of the dramatist. In a loftier and a more spiritual sense that is true of our Master, Jesus Christ. He loved us and He gave Himself for us. He says to every weary heart, "Come unto me." But that same spirit which was so true and tender could be superbly unyielding and inflexible. The gentle Saviour was splendidly intolerant, and because of His intolerance He died.
Intolerant toward Hypocrisy.
We trace the intolerance of Christ, for instance, in His attitude towards hypocrisy. One thing that was unendurable to Jesus was the shallow profession of religion. You can always detect an element of pity when Jesus is face to face with other sins. There is the yearning of infinite love over the lost; the hand outstretched to welcome back the prodigal. But for the hypocrite there is no gleam of pity, only the blasting and withering of wrath. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" It is the intolerance of Jesus Christ.
Christ Is Intolerant of Sharing His Uniqueness.
We trace it again in those stupendous claims that Jesus Christ put forward for Himself. The Lord our God is a jealous God, and the Lord our Saviour is a jealous Saviour. "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life""No man cometh unto the Father but by Me""No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." What do you make of these amazing claims, and of that splendid intolerance of any rival?yet all these words are in the Gospel record as surely as "a bruised reed shall he not break." Do you say there are many doorways to the Father? Christ Jesus stands and says, "I am the door." Do you say there are many shepherds of the sheep? Christ stands in His majesty, and says, "I am the shepherd." Pitiful, merciful, full of a great compassion, Christ is intolerant of any rival; He stands alone to be worshipped and adored, or He disappears into the mists of fable. So far as I am aware that is unique; there is nothing like it in religious history. The ancient pantheons had always room for the introduction of another god. It is Christ alone, the meek and lowly Saviour, who lifts Himself up in isolated splendour. Friend of the friendless and Brother of the weakest, He is intolerant of any sharing of His claims.
Christ Is Intolerant When It Comes to Sharing the Allegiance He Demands from us.
Again I trace this same intolerance in the allegiance which Christ demands from us. He is willing to take the lowest place upon the cross; but He will not take it in your heart and mine. When He was born in the fullness of the time, He did not ask for the splendour of the palace. He was born in a manger, reared in a lowly home, and grew to His manhood in obscurest station. But the moment He enters the kingdom of the heart, where He is King by conquest and by right, there everything is changed, and with a great intolerance He refuses every place except the first. "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me""Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead." That is the word of a King in His own Kingdom, claiming His rightful place among His subjects.
And when you speak of the meek and lowly Jesus, never forget there is that imperial note there. He is divinely intolerant of everybody who would usurp the throne that is His right.
Such, then, are one or two instances of the intolerance of Jesus Christ, and now I want to examine its true nature, that we may see how worthy it was of Christ.
The Intolerance of Christ Is the Child of Glowing Faith.
The first thing I note in the intolerance of Jesus is that it is the child of glowing faith. The intolerance of Christ is little else than the other side of His perfect trust in God. When one is a stranger to you, bound by no ties of love, you are little affected by what is said about him. The talk may be true, or it may not be true, but it is none of your business, and you do not know. But the moment a man becomes a hero to you, that moment you grow intolerant of liberties. If you believe in a woman, your heart is aflame with anger should anyone sully her name even with a breath.
That is the fine intolerance of faith in ardent and eager and devoted natures. That is the faith which Jesus Christ was filled with, in God and His righteousness and providential order. And with a faith like that there can be no compromise; no light and shallow acceptance of alternatives. Under the sway of such a glowing trust a certain intolerance is quite inevitable. It is easy to be infinitely tolerant, if all that Christ lived for means but little to you. An age that can tolerate every kind of creed is always an age whose faith is burning low. And just because Christ's faith burned with a perfect light, and flashed its radiance full on the heart of God, you find in Him, in all His God ward life, a steady and magnificent intolerance.
Christ's Intolerance Was Found in His Perfect Understanding.
Then once again the intolerance of Jesus is the intolerance of perfect understanding. It was because He knew so fully, and sympathised so deeply, that there were certain things He could not bear. One great complaint we make against intolerance is that it does not sympathetically understand us. It is harsh in judgment, and fails in comprehension, and has no conception of what things mean for us. We have all met with intolerance like that, but remember there is another kind. Take the case of drunkenness, for instance; there are many people very tolerant of drunkenness. They talk about it lightly, make a jest of it; they are none of your rigid, longfaced Pharisees. But sometimes you meet a man, sometimes a woman, to whom such jesting talk is quite intolerable, and it is intolerable not because they know so little; it is intolerable because they know so much. The curse has crossed the threshold of their home, and laid its fatal grip on someone who was dear. They have seen the wreck and ruin of it, and all its daily misery, and the drying up of every wellspring of the heart. So in their grief they grow terribly intolerant, and it is not because they do not understand; they are intolerant because they understand so well. Never forget that it is so with Christ. He is intolerant because He comprehends. He knows what sin is; He knows how sweet it is; He knows its havoc, its loneliness, its dust and ashes. And therefore is He stern, uncompromising, and says to us, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." There are men who are intolerant because of ignorance; Christ is intolerant because He knows.
Christ's Intolerance Is Based on His Love.
Lastly, the intolerance of Jesus is very signally the intolerance of love. Love beareth all thingsall things except one, and that is the harm or hurt of the beloved. Here is a little child out in the streets, ragged and shoeless in the raw March weather. Let it stay out till midnight, no one complains at home. Let it use the foulest of language, no one corrects it. Poor little waif, in whom all things are tolerated, and tolerated just because no one loves it! What kind of mother has that little child? What kind of father has that little child? You know them in the street, swollen and coarse, reeking with all the vileness of the city. They tolerate everything because they do not love; when love steps in, that toleration ceases. Now we all know that when our Saviour came, He came at the bidding and in the power of love; love wonderful, love that endured the worst, love that went up to Calvary to die. And just because that love was so intense, and burned with the ardour of the heart of God, things that had been tolerable once were found to be intolerable now. That is the secret of the Gospel's sternness and of its passionate protest against sin. That is why age after age it clears the issues, and says, "He that is not with me is against me." The love that beareth all things cannot bear that hurt or harm should rest on the beloved. Christ is intolerant because He loves.
| 2006/3/15 2:45|