The Welcome Visitor
Published on Thursday, June 3rd, 1915.
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary, her sister, secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."—John 11:28-32.
It seems that Martha had heard of Christ's coming, and Mary had not. Hence Martha rose up hastily and went to meet the Master, while Mary sat still in the house. From this we gather that genuine believers may, through some unexplained cause, be at the same time in very different states of mind. Martha may have heard of the Lord and seen the Lord; and Mary, an equally loving heart, not having known of his presence, may, therefore, have missed the privilege of fellowship with him. Who shall say that Martha was better than Mary? Who shall censure the one, or approve the other? Now, beloved, you may be tonight yourselves, though true believers in Jesus, in different conditions. I may have a Martha here whose happiness it is to be in rapt fellowship with Christ. You have gone to him already and told him of your grief: you may have heard his answer to your story, and you may have been able by faith to say, "I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world"; and you may be full of peace and full of joy. On the other hand, sitting near you may be a person equally gracious as yourself who can get no farther than the cry, "Oh! that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat!" Dear Martha, condemn not Mary. Dear Mary, condemn not yourself. Martha, be ready to speak the word of comfort to Mary. Mary, be ready to receive that word of comfort, and, in obedience to it, to rise up quickly and, in imitation of your sister, go and cast yourself, as she has done already, at the Saviour's feet. I must not say, because I have not all the joy my brother has, that I am no true child of God. Children are equally children in your household, though one be little and the other be full grown, and they are equally dear to you, though one be sick and the other in good health—though one be quick at his letters and another be but a dull scholar. The love of Christ is not measured out to us according to our conditions or attainments. He loves us irrespective of all these. Jesus loved Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus. He loves all his own, and they must not judge of him by what they feel, nor measure his love by a sense of their own want of love.
Hoping that the Lord will now bless the word to all of us who are his own people, I shall speak of two things—a visit from the Master—a visit to the Master.
I. HERE IS A VISIT FROM THE MASTER.
Martha came and said to Mary, "The Master is come"—or as we might read it truly, "The Master is here and calleth for thee." "The Master is come." "The Master is here."
Beloved friends who are just now without the present fellowship with Christ, which you could fondly desire, permit me to whisper this in your ear. "The Master is here! The Master is here!" We cannot come round and whisper it secretly as Martha did, but take the message each one of you to himself—"The Master is here."
He is here, for he is accustomed to be where his word is preached with sincerity of heart. He is accustomed to be wherever his saints are gathered together in his name. We have his own dear word for this—the best pledge we can have—"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." We have met in his name, we have met for his worship, we have met to preach his gospel; and the Master is here. We are sure he is here, for he always keeps his word; he never fails of his promise.
He is here, for some of us feel his presence. Had Mary said to Martha, How do you know that the Master is come? she would have answered, "Why I have spoken with him, and he has spoken to me." Well, there be some among us who can say, "He has spoken to us." Did we not hear him speaking when we were singing that hymn just now?
"My God, the spring of all my joys,
The life of my delights,
The glory of my brightest days,
The comfort of my nights."
Did not we perceive him to be near some of us, when we were singing:—
"Oh! see how Jesus trusts himself
Unto our childish love,
As though, by his free ways with us,
Our earnestness to prove"?
I, for one, did, if none besides; I can bear good witness to you that are languishing for his company, "The Master is here."
And mark, he is here none the less surely because you have not, as yet, found it out, for a fact does not depend upon our cognisance of it, though our comfort may be materially affected thereby. The Master was at Bethany, though Mary had not heard an inkling of the good tidings; there she sat, her eyes red with weeping, and her whole soul in the grave with her brother Lazarus. Yet Jesus was there for all that. Make the case your own; though you may have come here troubled with all the weeks' cares— though while you have been sitting here the thought of something that will happen tomorrow has been depressing you—though some bodily weakness has been holding you down when you would lift up your spirit towards God, yet that does not alter the fact. "The Master is come"; the Master is here. Oh! there was Mary sighing, "If only Christ had been here! Oh! if only Christ would come!" And there he was! And perhaps you are saying, "Oh! that he were near me!" He is near you now. You sigh for what you have, and pine for that which is near you. You think not, like Mary Magdalene, that he standeth in this garden. You are asking, "Where have ye laid him?" While your joy and comfort seem to you dead, he, whose absence you mourn, stands present before you. Oh! that he would but open those eyes of yours, or rather than he would open your heart, by saying to you, "Mary!" Let him but speak one word right home to you personally, and you will answer with gladness, "Rabboni!" The Master is come here, though you as yet have not perceived him.
That word "The Master" has a sweet ring about it. He is the Master. He that is come is earth's Master. What are your cares? He can relieve them. What are your troubles? He can overcome them, and sweep them out of the way. The Master has come. "Cast thy burden on the Lord: he will sustain thee." He is hell's Master. Art thou beset with fierce temptations and foul insinuations of the arch-fiend? The Master has come. Oh! lift thy head, thou captive daughter of Zion, for thy bands are broken. The Breaker is come up before them; their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them. He who hath come is no menial servant, but the right royal Master himself. The Master is come. What though your heart now seem cold as a stone, and your spirit is cast down within you? What though death hath set up its adamantine throne in thy breast? The Master has come, and his presence can thaw the ice, dissolve the rock, bring thee all the graces of the Spirit and all the blessings of heaven that thy soul can possibly require. "The Master is come"—does not that touch your soul and fire your passions? Whose Master is he but your own? And what a Master! No taskmaster, no slave's master, but such a Master that his absolute sovereignty inspires you with sweetest confidence; for he binds you with the bonds of love, and draws you with the cords of a man. Master indeed is he! Aye, Lord and sole Master of your soul's inmost core if you be what you profess to be; the Master whose sceptre is the sceptre of reed which he carried in his hand when he was made a scorn and scoffing for you; the Master whose crown is the crown of thorns which he wore for your sins when he accomplished your redemption. Your Master. Thou shalt call him no more Baali, but Ishi shall his name be called. He is only Master in that same sense in which the tender loving husband is the master of the house. Love makes him supreme, for he is Master in the art of love, and, therefore, Master of our loving hearts. How sweetly doth "my Master" sound! "My Master." Why, if nothing else might bestir us to get up and run to meet him, it should be the sound of that blessed word, "The Master is here: the Master has come."
But Martha added—and it is a very weighty addition (may the Holy Ghost make application of it to your heart)—"and calleth for thee." "But is that true?" says one; "doth he call for me?" Dear brother, dear sister, I know that if I say he does I shall not speak without his warrant, for when he comes into a congregation he calls for all his own. He speaketh, and he saith to all whom he loves, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." I know he does, because love always delights in fellowship with the object that is loved. Jesus loved you or ever the earth was. His delights were with the sons of men from old eternity. He loved you so well that he could not keep in heaven without you, and he came here to seek you and to save you. And now it gives his heart joy to be near you. He said, "Let me hear thy voice; let me see thy face: for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." I tell you it is Christ's nether heaven to hear the voices of his people. It is that for which he left heaven—that he might give them voices with which to praise him. Do you think he loved you so, and will live without you? Nay, he calls for you.
What is his Word, indeed, all through, but a call to his own beloved to come to him? What are Sabbath-days but calls in which he says, "Come away! come away, my beloved, from the noise and turmoil of the city, and come into the quiet places where my sheep lie down and feed"? What are your troubles but calls to you in which, with somewhat of harshness as it seems to you, but with an inner depth of love, he says, "Away, my beloved, from all earthly delights, to find thy all in me"? What is the Communion of the Lord's Supper but another call to you, "Come unto me"? The bread which you shall eat, and the wine which you shall drink, these are for yourself, and the call which is encompassed by them as by symbols is for each one of you. The Master is here, and calleth for thee—for each one. "Oh! but" saith Mary, "my eyes are bleared with weeping." He calleth for thee, thou red-eyed sorrower. "Ay, but my heart is heavy with a sad affliction." He calleth for thee, thou burdened sufferer. "Ay, but I have been full of levity all the week, and have forgotten him." He calleth thee that he may cleanse thee yet again. "Ah! but I have denied him." What saith he but, "Go, and tell my disciples, and Peter"? He calleth for thee that he may forgive thee yet again, and may say unto thee, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" I care not who you are, if you are one of his, the Master is come and calleth for thee. "Why," says one, "no Christian has spoken to me for a long while." But the Master calleth for thee. "But I seem so solitary in this great metropolis, and though I know my Master, I do not know any of his people." Never mind his people: "The Master is come, and calleth for thee." Ay, but I think if I am one of his I must be at the very tail-end of the catalogue, and the last of all." He calleth for thee—for thee. Oh! may that word now come home, and may each one feel, "If he calls for me, there is such condescension in that call, such tender memories of my weakness, such consideration for my distance and my forgetfulness, that I will loiter no longer. Is the Master come? Lo, I am ready for him. Doth the Master call? Lo, my spirit answers, 'Come, Master, my heart's doors are flung wide open. Come and sit on the throne of my heart. Enter in and sup with me and I with thee, and make this a gladsome season of intimate fellowship between my soul and her Lord.'" Turning now to our second part, let us talk awhile of:— (Please click here to continue reading, "The Welcome Visitor")