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III. WHO THIS JESUS IS WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO DO.
Now one other line of thought, and that is who this Jesus is with whom we have to do. Who is He?
1. In the first place, He is One whom God hath appointed and anointed to be your King. We read in Acts ii. 36, “This same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, God hath made both Lord and Christ” (that means “anointed King”). You have a way of saying here in England that King Edward is your divinely appointed king, and I believe it. I believe he is, but in an infinitely higher sense Jesus of Nazareth is your divinely appointed and divinely anointed King. If you reject Jesus Christ you reject your divinely appointed King; if you deny Jesus Christ, you deny your divinely appointed King; if you shut Jesus Christ out of your heart, you shut your divinely appointed King out of your heart; and if you take your stand against Jesus Christ, you take your stand against your divinely appointed King. And you are guilty of —listen—high treason! There closed a trial in London the day before yesterday in which a man was tried and convicted of high treason, and sentenced to death. Whether or not they will carry out the sentence into execution I do not know; but I do know that if the man was guilty, as the jury found, then according to the English law, and the law of any well-organized government, he is worthy of death. But, men and women, I charge every man and woman in this building to-night—I care not what position in society you hold—I charge you, I indict you, every man and woman, every man and woman in the building out of Christ, of high treason against Heaven’s King, and if you got your just deserts you would die.
One day in Maryborough, over in Australia, a fine looking man came to see me, an unusually fine-looking man, with splendid physique and dome-like forehead. He said, “I want a talk with you,” and I said, “Very well, take a seat, sir.” He said, “I don’t know about your preaching. Now I am a moral, upright man, and no one can deny it. Now,” he said, “I would like you to tell me what you have against me.” I said, “Are you a Christian?” “No, sir,” he replied. “Have you taken Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, and surrendered your life to Him as your Lord and Master, and confessed Him as such before the world, and given your life to Him?” “No, sir,” he replied. “Then,” I said, “I charge you, sir, with high treason against your King. Jesus Christ is your King; God made Him so; and I charge you sir”—and I looked him right in the eye—“I charge you, sir, with the crime of high treason against your King.” And a dark cloud came over the man’s face as he got up, and, going out of my room, he said, “Good afternoon,” and walked away.
Months passed away; we had been over to Tasmania and conducted a mission there, and had returned, and I was preaching in Ballarat, about forty miles away from Maryborough. After the service, a fine-looking man came to me, and said, “Do you remember me?” I knew his face, hut I could not remember where I had seen him. I said, “I have seen you somewhere, but I cannot place you.” He said, “Do you remember ever charging a man with high treason?” I said, “I have charged many a man with high treason.” “Yes.” he said; “but do you remember charging any specific man with high treason?” Then he began to tell me his story, and I commenced to gather who he was. He said, “I am the man, and I have come to Ballarat, sir, to tell you that you will never charge me with high treason again;” and he held out his hand, and I held out mine, and he took mine in his mighty grip—and it was a mighty grip—and he said “Down!” and he dropped on his knees, and I dropped on to mine, and he said, “Lord Jesus, I hand in my allegiance; I give up my treason; I take Thee as my King.”
You men ought to do it to-night. He is your King, and every man and woman among you that does not accept Him and acknowledge Him as such to-night I charge you with high treason against Heaven’s King.
2. But He is more than your King—He is the Son of God. He is a divine Person, and if you reject Him you are guilty of rejecting the Son of God; if you deny Him you are guilty of denying the Son of God; if you shut Him out of your hearts you are guilty of shutting the Son of God out of your hearts; if you take your stand against Him you are guilty of taking your stand against the Son of God.
“Oh, but,” some may say, “we don’t believe He is the Son of God. Don’t you know there are some people in these advanced days that don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” I know it just as well as you do; and I know something else that you will know in a minute—-that is, that denying a fact does not alter the fact. In this superficial twentieth century we have a very easy way of disposing of the facts we don’t like to believe. We say, “I don’t believe this,” and we think that does away with the fact. Men who do not want to believe in hell say, “I don’t believe in hell” and they think that they have shut the gates of hell by saying that. Men who don’t want to believe in the Bible say, “I don’t believe in the Bible,” and they think that they annihilate the Book that has stood for nineteen centuries by saying that. Men who do not want to believe in Christ say, “I do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” and they think by their not believing it He ceases to be the Son of God. Has it never occurred to you that a fact is a fact whether you believe it or not? We have got some people in America that have become so possessed with the idea that denying a thing is quite sufficient to annihilate it, that they declare that there is no such thing as pain. They tell you not to believe there is such a thing as pain, and then you won’t feel it. But when they go to the dentist’s and get into the chair they jump just as much as any one else! And in this foolish belief they are dying by the score; by the miserable madness of Christian Science, that dares to deny sickness, which exists all the same, and sweeps them into premature graves. Denying a fact does not alter a fact, and denying that Jesus is the Son of God does not alter the fact that He is the Son of God. It only makes you guilty of robbing a divine Person of the honour that is His due. Listen: There are five indisputably divine testimonies to the deity of Jesus Christ. In the first place, there is the testimony of the divine life He lived, for He lived as never man lived. Napoleon Bonaparte said, “I know men, but Jesus Christ was no (mere) man.” In the second place, there is the testimony of the divine word He spoke, for he spoke as never man spoke. In the third place, there is the testimony of the divine works He wrought, for He wrought as never man wrought; not merely healing the sick, but cleansing the lepers, stilling the tempest, raising the dead, and feeding the five thousand by a creative act with five small loaves and two small fishes. In the fourth place, then, is the divine attestation of the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the best proven fact of history; it is proved by such indisputable evidence that I wish I had time to do in London what I did in Sydney, meet the skeptics and agnostics of the city, and prove to them that Jesus rose from the dead; and I believe I should see in some of your agnostics and skeptics the honesty which some of the Sydney skeptics showed, in owning their arguments beaten and coming right out and acknowledging the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus did rise from the dead. Before they crucified Him He said, “You will crucify Me, but God will set His seal on My claims by raising Me from the dead.” They did not believe Him; the Unitarians of the day crucified Him for cla iming to be the Son of God. They laid Him in a sepulchre, and put the seal of the Roman Government on the stone, which no one dared to break. But on the third day the Spirit of the living God breathed through the sleeping clay, and the crucified Christ rose from the dead, and God proclaimed in unmistakable tones to all ages, “This is My beloved Son.” In the fifth place, there is the testimony of His divine influence upon all subsequent history. There is no question that Jesus Christ claimed to be divine; no competent student will deny that He claimed to be divine. Well, then, He was one of three things; He was either divine, as He claimed to be, or else He was the most audacious impostor the world had ever seen, or else He was the most hopeless lunatic the world has ever seen. He must have been one of the three. Of all the irrational systems of philosophy that of Unitarianism is the most irrational. It says that Jesus Christ was not divine, but was a good man, perhaps the best man that ever walked the earth. I say if He was not divine He was not good, for He was an impostor. You had a man in this city a few months ago who claimed to be divine, and you all decided that he was either an impostor, or most of you, perhaps, took the more charitable view that he was a lunatic. Jesus Christ was either divine, as He claimed to be, or else He was the most audacious impostor the world has ever seen, or else He was the greatest lunatic. Take your choice. Is there any man here to-night that will say that Jesus Christ was a lunatic, and that His influence on history has been the influence of a lunatic? Nobody but a lunatic will say so. Will any man here dare to say that the influence of Jesus Christ on the history of the world has been the influence of an impostor? No one but an impostor would say so. Then if not a lunatic or an impostor, what? The Son of God! Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and every man or woman that goes away from here to-night rejecting Christ will go away rejecting the Son of God. Every man or woman that goes away from here to-night denying Christ will go away denying the Son of God. Every man or woman that goes away from here to-night shutting Christ out of his heart will go away shutting the Son of God out of his heart. Every man or woman that goes away from here to-night taking his stand against Christ will go away taking his stand against the Son of God. Men, if you were not blinded by sin to the thought of your awful guilt, you would fall on your faces now and cry, “God be merciful to me, so awful a sinner!” I trust some of you will do it before you go away.
3. Jesus Christ is not only your King; He is not only divine; He is something more yet. You say, What? Your Saviour, the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid; and oh, men and women, if you reject Him, if you deny Him, if you take your stand against Him, if you shut Him out of your hearts, you will be guilty of the most awful ingratitude. Never mother loved her son, never mother suffered for her child, as Christ has loved us and suffered for us. “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. Being in the form of God, He thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, but He emptied Himself and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and became obedient unto death, yes, the death of the Cross.” For you and me! Will you, will you reject Him, will you deny Him, will you shut Him out of your hearts, and will you take your stand against Him? Oh, men and women, what are you made of?
A man came to me one night and said: “I don’t believe in your Christianity.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “It is irrational.” I asked why. “Why,” be said, “you teach, don’t you, that if a man leads a moral life and does his duty by his neighbour and in business, treating his employees fairly, he will be lost for ever for nothing worse than the one thing of rejecting Jesus Christ. That is not just,” he said. I said, “Hold on a minute; suppose you have a mother who is one of the purest women who ever lived. Suppose your mother loved you even as few mothers loved their sons. Suppose your mother if necessary was ready to lay down her life for you to save yours.” He said, “She would.” “Suppose you should do your duty,” I said, “by your wife and children and by your neighbour, and in your place of business, and treat everybody honestly; suppose you were upright in all the relations of life, and treated every person right but one, and that one your mother, who, you say, is so good, who, you say, would be ready to die for you, who, you say, loves you so. Suppose you should turn her out of doors on to the street, leaving her there naked and to starve. What would you think of yourself?” He said, “I would be a scoundrel.” “Well,” I said, “Jesus Christ loves you more than a mother ever did, and Jesus Christ would not only die for you, but He did die for you. Jesus Christ has done more for you than any mother ever did for her child. And now, while you say you are doing your duty by everybody else, you are trampling under foot Jesus Christ.” I said, “What do you think of yourself?” He saw it, that he was a scoundrel. And he was. And so are you, and so are you, every one of you, that is rejecting Jesus Christ. Supposing you had a man here in London who did his duty to his wife and children, who did his duty by his neighbour, who did his duty in politics, in business, and by every person but one, and that one his mother, who loved him and brought him up, who had wasted her life upon him, and was now feeble and decrepit simply because she poured her life out for him. And while he did his duty by everybody else, he turned that mother, to whom he owed everything, out into the street to starve. Would his doing his duty towards his wife cover the infamy of his treatment to his mother? Would his doing his duty towards his neighbour cover the infamy of that treatment; would the doing of his duty in politics, in business, cover the infamy of his treatment of his mother? Never! And will your doing your duty by your wife, mother, father, children, brothers, sisters, and neighbours, cover the infamy, the hideous black ingratitude of your treatment of the Christ who gave up Heaven and died on the Cross for you? Never! You are rejecting the one that was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid; you are denying every day of your lives the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the Chastisement of your peace was laid; you are shutting out of your heart the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid; you are taking your stand against the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid.
Oh, men and women of London, in the light of what depends on your choice, in the light of what Jesus Christ is, what are you going to do with Christ to-night?
It was an awful crisis in the life of Pontius Pilate when he asked the question of the text. There sat Pontius Pilate in all the dignity and power of a Roman governor; and there stood Jesus Christ in all the beauty of His perfect manhood, in all the dignity and glory of His perfect Deity, in all the wondrousness of His matchless love; and there sat Pontius Pilate deep in thought, deciding what to do. There were two kinds of voices speaking in Pilate’s heart—higher voices and lower voices; heavenly voices and infernal voices. Listen to the higher voices. The voice of reason said, “Pilate, release Him; He is innocent.” One voice of conscience said, “Pilate release Him; He is innocent.” The voice of the Spirit of God, whispering in Pilate’s heart, said, “Pilate, release Him.” The voice of common decency said, “Pilate, release Him; He is innocent.” Everything that was noble and true and just in Pilate’s heart said, “Release Him.” But, alas, there were other voices, infernal voices, speaking, and Pilate is listening to them. There was the voice of cowardice, of fear of what the Jews will say, that whispered, “Pilate, crucify Him.” There was the voice of avarice, the greed for gold, saying, “Pilate, crucify Him.” There was the voice of low political policy whispering, “Pilate, crucify Him.” And Pilate sits there deep in thought. At last, he decides, and he decides wrong; and his name has come down to everlasting infamy.
It is a more solemn moment and a more awful crisis for you to-night, for you know better who Jesus is. There you sit, and there stands Jesus again, unseen, but there He surely stands, in all the dignity and beauty of His perfect manhood; there He Stands in all the glory of His perfect Deity; there He stands in all the wondrousness of His matchless love, crowned with thorns, and with pierced hands. And there you sit, trying to decide what to do with Him. In your heart there are higher voices and lower voices. There is the voice of the Spirit of God which says, “Accept Him; confess Him; take your stand on His side tonight.” Here is the voice of conscience which says, “Accept Him.” There is the voice of gratitude which says, “Accept Him.” Everything that is noble and good and true in you says, “Accept Him; confess Him; let Him into your heart; take your stand on His side.” But, alas, there are lower voices in your heart to-night. There is in your heart the voice of cowardice, the fear of what people will say, which says, “Reject Him to-night; take your stand against Him.” There is the voice of avarice, the greed for gold that might slip through your fingers if you became a real Christian and that says, “Reject Him.” There is the voice of lust, low and beastly that says, “Reject Him.” There is the voice of low political trickery, which says it will rob you of influence in your political party if you become a Christian, and that says, “Reject Him.” Everything that is low and base and mean and devilish in your heart says, “Reject Him; deny Him; shut Him out of your heart; take your stand against Him.”
Men and women, which are you going to listen to? What are you going to decide? God help you to decide right to-night.
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