“Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” – Mark 5:19
Truth be told, the story of the Gerasene Demoniac makes for an unusual Christmas sermon. Nonetheless, Charles Spurgeon found that the text hit the mark on December 21st, 1856.
In his sermon Spurgeon noted that the poor man had an “extraordinary” case, having been possessed by a “legion of evil spirits” which reduced him to “something worse than madness.” Indeed, attempts had been made to “reclaim” him but “no man could tame him,” at least until “Jesus Christ passed by.”
When Christ said to the devils “Come out of him” they abruptly obeyed, and the man was “healed in a moment.” He then “fell down at Jesus’ feet,” “became a rational being,” and “a convert to the Saviour.” When he asked to accompany Christ he was instead commanded to “go home…and tell.” Indeed, it was this home-going and testimony-telling which was on Spurgeon’s heart.
Charles Spurgeon was keenly aware that “there are a large number of young men who always come to hear me preach.” And, since it was Christmas he knew they would be “going home to see their friends.” Thus, Spurgeon commanded his young hearers to “Go home and tell your friends what the Lord hath done for your souls, and [how] he hath had compassion on you.” Indeed, the bright prospect of familial evangelism lead Spurgeon to say, “I wish there were twenty Christmas days in the year.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon expanded upon his exhortation, saying, “Here is what they are to tell.” First, it was to be a “story of personal experience.” But, Spurgeon had some cautions for his young congregation. He warned them, that “You are not to…begin to preach. That you are not commanded to do.” Furthermore, he also said, “You are not to begin to take up doctrinal subjects…and endeavour to bring persons to your peculiar views.” Finally, they were not to “home with sundry doctrines you have lately learned, and try to teach these.” Rather, “you are to go home and tell not what you have believed…. but what great things the Lord hath done for you.”
Furthermore, the story “must be story of free grace,” and also a “grateful story.” As Spurgeon said, “a man who is grateful is always full of the greatness of the mercy which God has shown him.” After all, Christ’s sacrifice was not “a mere act of kindness” but the grand gift of redemption.
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon rhetorically asked “Why should we tell the story?” First, it was “for your Master’s sake.” Here Spurgeon exclaimed “Oh! I know you love him; I am sure you do,” with the expectation that they would “go home and tell it.”
Second, Christians were to “go home and tell them, in order to make their hearts glad” if their family were believers. Third, for those with unsaved family and friends Spurgeon declared “Go home to them, and tell them, not to make them glad, for they will very likely be angry with you; but tell them for their soul’s salvation.”
In the third, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon rhetorically asked “How is this story to be told?” First he began with the exhortation to “tell it truthfully.” Simply, young believers were not to tell “more than you know” by experience.
Second, Christians were to “tell it very humbly…not as a preacher, not ex-cathedra, but as a friend and as a son.” Third, they were to “tell it very earnestly.” Here it was important to “Let them see you mean it,” and to never “talk about religion flippantly.”
Fourth, Spurgeon them to “tell it very devoutly.” Here he cautioned “Do not try to tell your tale to man till you have told it first to God.” Indeed, Christians needed to “wrestle with God for them” before they could “wrestle with them for God.”
Fifth, and finally, Spurgeon charged his congregation to “Let your reliance on the Holy Spirit be entire and honest.” He also encouraged them to “Trust not yourself, but fear not to trust him.” Indeed, God was the one who “can give you words” and “apply those words to their heart.”
Why you should take up and read:
When Charles Spurgeon wished that there were “twenty Christmas days in the year” it was because he knew that Christmas was a home-going testimony-telling opportunity. In this sermon Spurgeon showed how Christ’s command to “Go home…and tell” held implications for Christmas as well. To all our friends please be sure to take up and read and “Go home… and tell” this Christmas season.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/going-home-a-christmas-sermon#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.