Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing of Judas, but with the assured confidence of Peter, “ Master, is it I?” But should there be any such now present, to you I address a word of intense emotion. Would that it might be of such power as to smite your innermost soul, and drive you from your hiding-place of lies, from the perilous and awful “ hope of the hypocrite." You are not recognized, we know you not. The thoughts of man are not known to his fellow. But there is One who tries the heart and searches the spirit, and who knows what is in man; and he, I say it with all seriousness and solemnity, he is now within these walls, at this very moment, around you and above you, an all-pervading spirit

the spirit of Christ; and if a traitor is here, he is at once detected by that all-seeing eye, before which the secrets of all hearts are disclosed. Brethren, Christ is now looking on us all, and he knows who shall betray him. Oh let us flee from the terrible doom of the hypocrite, let us live in expectation of that day when disguises shall be torn from every heart; let us pray for the single eye, the faith unfeigned, the love out of a pure heart; that when we shall behold Him who washed his disciples' feet, seated on his throne of glory, we may look up to him with open countenance, and enter into his joy, without a single frown upon the forehead of our Judge, to mar the “fulness of that joy” for ever. God grant that this may be the happy condition of us all—may we be all clean, and sincere unto the day of Christ.

EXPOSITION II.

JOHN XIII. 12-17.

[ocr errors]

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set

down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord : and ye say well ; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet ; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. Por I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord ; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

BEFORE our blessed Lord distinctly declared the import of that interesting incident which we have already in part noticed, he said to his disciples, when he resumed his place among them, “Know ye what I have done unto you?” How affecting is it to think, that Jesus found it necessary to put such a question to them. Though he had been so long with them—though they had been so constantly listening to his heavenly teaching, yet were they “slow of heart,"—they were not apt scholars. They were indeed very much in the condition of those whom Paul addresses in his epistle to the Hebrews—“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God." Thus we find our Lord constrained to rebuke them from

[ocr errors]

time to time. “Are ye so without understanding ?”—“oh ye of little faith!"__"fools, and slow of heart to believe ! ”

But if this question were needful to be put to them, it may, with equal and with greater justice, be put to us all. Let us for a moment endeavour to realize the presence of Christ by his Spirit among us; and let us suppose him saying individually to us all, “Knowest thou what I have done unto thee?” How are we prepared to answer him ? Some perhaps will readily reply— Yes, we know what he has done for us; he left heaven and came to earth for us, he suffered reproach and he died for us, and he rose again and ascended where he was before for us.' This is easily said, but it is not so easily felt; and unless it is felt, the question is not answered. The bitterest enemy of the Saviour might have been acquainted with the mere outward circumstances of his life, and the objects which he declared he had in view; but when he asks his disciples “if they knew what he had done unto them,” he seeks for an answer from the inmost recesses of the soul. Do we then know in our hearts? We have a ready test wherewith to prove ourselves. What manner of life is ours is it a life of faith or a life of sight? Alas, if the answer of the Church generally, or individually, were taken to this question from the language of the life, and not the language of the lip only, how faltering, how feeble would be the reply, if indeed all were not rendered speechless.

Yes, beloved, can it be said that we know what Christ has done for us, when we manifest such cold heartlessness in his service? Can it really be that our hearts are touched, our souls affected by the sorrows and tears, the sighs and the groans, the labours and the watchings, the bonds and the death of Christ? Where then is our unceasing hatred of the sin which gave him cause of suffering where is the

[ocr errors]

enduring love to him which ought to mark our estimation of his love? Oh let the remembrance of what he has done for us, the deep felt consciousness of the soul, that his cross and passion have alone saved us from the bitter pains of eternal death, lead us to have him in all our thoughts-to fill our mind with his fulness, and to put on the Lord Jesus in our lives: thus by a holy conformity with him, both in our spirits and our conduct, we shall give the best answer to this touching appeal of our Divine Master-we shall be "living epistles, written by the Spirit of the living God,” acknowledged by him, known and read of all men ; and the language of this epistle will be, “I will tell you what he hath done for my soul."

But we come now to consider the direct practical bearing of the incident under our consideration; and in doing so, let me refer you to the 24th verse of the 22nd chapter of St. Luke, as most probably informing us of the immediate cause which called forth this act of the Saviour. There was a strife, we are told, among his disciples : and strongly indeed does the selfishness which was manifested in them, contrast with the out-goings of his love on this occasion,“there was a strife among his disciples, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” Here let us note by the way, that had there been any ground for supposing that our Lord intended one Apostle to have supremacy or authority over the rest, this was surely the most likely time, when at least an intimation of such intention would be given; but nothing of the kind is hinted at; indeed the whole tenor of the narrative, and the exhortations of our Lord, strongly prove the reverse.

While then this contest between the disciples was proceeding—while one and another was advancing his claim to higher consideration than the rest, and each supporting his own pretensions, our blessed Lord, knowing what was the subject of their discussion-though doubtless they did not consider this at the time--rose from supper, and laid aside his garments, and washed the feet of the disciples. Here was a practical answer to the question which was dividing them. He whom all acknowledged as chief–he, the nearest place to whose throne was the object of their ambition-he, at the very moment when they were thus proudly and selfishly esteeming themselves more worthy than their neighbour-he himself, their Lord and Master, began to wash their feet. Surely this act of humiliation on his part, must have cut them to the quick : surely more than any admonition, the thought of their poor paltry strivings, contrasted with his condescension, must have overwhelmed them with confusion and shame; and very probably it was this which affected Peter so deeply and acutely, as to lead him in such impassioned language to shrink from the proffered service of his Master—" Thou shalt never wash

my

feet." But Jesus resolved to set the seal of his instruction upon this significant act of his kindness. When he sat down again, it is probable that he thus proceeded to enforce the lesson—"The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority over them, are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you let him be as the younger, and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth ? is not he that sitteth at meat ? but I am among you as he that serveth."Luke xxii. 25, 26, 27. “Ye call me Master and Lord; and

• ye say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example that ye should do as

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »