“He came unto his own and his own received him not.” John 1:11
“The loss of Nazareth shall be the gain of Galilee.”
Charles Spurgeon lamented that Jesus Christ, “the Lord of prophets, received no honour in his own country.” Indeed, Christ had been “expelled [from] the city by violence, and yet “the patient one turned his footsteps another way.” Having been outcast, Spurgeon asserted that Jesus will himself “go to the outcasts.”
But, Spurgeon believed that “in turning away from [Nazareth], he will deal with others in mercy.” In this way the “loss of Nazareth” became the “gain of Galilee” as Christ’s presence opened a “door of mercy and hope” to those who were “far off” and “sat in darkness.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon explained that “Some souls are in greater darkness than others.” Here Spurgeon noted that God in his sovereignty “does not [evenly] distribute the privilege of hearing the gospel to all alike” as some lands remained “untrodden by the missionary’s foot.”
For others, due to the “circumstance of their birth and parentage” they never were brought to hear to gospel despite ample opportunity. Indeed, Spurgeon noted that God in his mysterious way “distrubuteth his grace and privileges even as he wills.”
However, this spiritual “darkness” could take many forms. For some it was “ignorance.” Spurgeon lamented that in “Christian England” there were many whose places of worship only preached “philosophy,” “ceremonialism,” or “sacramentarianism” while neglecting salvation in Christ.
For others, the darkness was that of “error,” “discomfort and sorrow,” or “fear.” For Spurgeon, to live in such darkness was terrible. After all “the mind that knows not God, knows not the heart’s best rest,” and was prone to be “tossed about upon a stormy sea, without an anchorage.” Indeed, apart from Christ the fear of “death,” “the bar of God,” and “the sentence of justice” proved to be pressing threats.
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon reminded his congregation that “For those who are in a worse condition than others there is hope and light.” Here Spurgeon recounted the “great trophies” that Christ had won. The Karens were “wonders of grace” while the cannibals of the South Sea Islands were “miracles of mercy.”
Reflecting on his own city, Spurgeon remarked, “no churches reflect more honour upon the Master’s name than those which have been gathered from among the destitute districts.” Spurgeon believed that “God is glorified when the thief and harlot are washed and cleansed.” Accordingly, he solemnly charged scarlet sinners to “be of good courage” for “there is hope for you.”
In Spurgeon’s view, “God’s great object is to glorify his great name,” and this was best accomplished “when his mercy delivers the worst cases.” Furthermore, Spurgeon observed that “zealous saints are usually those who once were in great darkness.” Indeed, “when the spiritual eye has long been dim” light becomes “sweet beyond expression.” Accordingly, the “enlightened soul” had to “tell out the joyful news to others.”
In the third section of his sermon, Spurgeon asserted that “The true light for a soul in darkness is all in Christ.” Indeed, Christ was not only “the light,” but “great light.” In Spurgeon’s view this light shone brightly through the names of Christ.
“Jesus,” the name of hope for a “sinner lost and ruined.” Indeed, it was “Jesus [that] has come to seek and save the lost.” Then there was “Christ,” meaning “anointed.” Thus Spurgeon said, “our Lord Jesus is not an amateur Saviour….He is Jesus Christ whom God hath sent.”
Furthermore, the “person and nature” of Christ were a comfort to those in “darkness.” Since he was in his “constitution…both God and man, divine and human” Jesus alone could bridge the gap between God and man. This provided great comfort for “He is man, and feels your needs; [and] he is God, and is able to supply them.”
In the fourth, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon reminded the “poor soul in darkness” that “Light is all around you.” Here he began by reminding the despondent sinner “what a mercy…that you are not in hell!” Indeed, while they lived and heard the Word of God they were in “the land of hope.” Thus, Spurgeon declared “to-day the gospel command is sent to you” and “if you will now believe in Christ Jesus, every sin that you have committed shall be forgiven you for his namesake.”
Why you should take up and read:
Charles Spurgeon lamented that Jesus was a “prophet without honour” in his own country. But, as Spurgeon knew the “loss of Nazareth” proved to be the “gain of Galilee.” When Jesus Christ was rejected by men, he turned his tender gaze towards those likewise rejected who “sat in darkness.” In this sermon, Spurgeon went to great lengths to assure those in spiritual darkness that the “gospel command” was indeed intended for them. For those still sitting in darkness please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/light-for-those-who-sit-in-darkness#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves at the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.