Believers Sent by Christ, as Christ is sent by the Father
“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”— John xvii. 18.
HERE is a great fact mentioned, namely, that the Father sent the Son into the world. In this our Lord’s disciples had believed. Jesus says himself, “They have believed that thou didst send me.” It is one of the first essentials of saving faith to believe in Christ as the sent one of God. They had proved, in their own experience, that Jesus was sent of God; for they had found him to be sent to them. Especially they knew this, because they had found in him eternal life. To them it had been life eternal “to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he had sent.” They had entered into the possession of a new and heavenly life, and they rejoiced therein; so that to them the fact that God had sent his Son into the world was indisputable. It was a fact upon which they based their salvation. It was their hope, their joy, their theme of thought, and subject of converse They declared it with the accent of assurance.
Our Lord based upon that fact another. He says to his Father, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” As surely as Christ was sent into the world by the Father, so surely are the saints sent into the world by Christ. Note well, that I say “the saints”: I mean not the apostles only, but all the saints. I dare not limit the reference to what are called ordained ministers or apostles; for I believe it includes all the chosen of God. Was the prayer, contained in this seventeenth chapter of John, for the apostles only? I trow not. Surely our Lord prayed for all whom the Father had given to him, and not for ministers only. Beyond question, our great Intercessor pleaded for all those whom the Father gave to him; and hence it is of all these that he speaks in the words of our text. He mentions not only the officers, but the rank and file of the chosen host who have been called by grace to know him as the sent of God. He says to them all, without exception, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” I do not for a moment dispute the need of a special call to the office of pastor or elder in the church of God, nor do I question that there are officers in the church of God upon whom peculiar responsibility rests; but no class of men may be exalted into a caste of Brahmins, who are alone sent into the world by the great Head of the church. We who spend our lives in teaching are your servants for Christ’s sake; but we rejoice that you also have a high calling of God in Christ Jesus. If we have fuller knowledge of Scripture, or larger gift of utterance, accept us as your fellow-servants, whose talents are cheerfully employed for your sakes; but if you have not these same talents, yet you have others, and you are equally given to Christ, to be by him sent into the world.
This is no trifle, but a very solemn business. To our Lord it was a special matter of prayer. It is here in that prayer which always seems to me to be the core of the whole Bible. Our Lord pleads not only about our being saved, but about our being sent. There is something here which deserves our deepest thought.
There are two petitions in our Lord’s prayer which bear upon this. First, comes the petition— “Holy Father, keep them.” You cannot serve God unless he preserves you. You will never keep the Lord’s flock unless he first shepherds you. The Lord of the vineyard must keep the keepers, or their vineyards will not be kept. The other prayer immediately precedes the text: “Sanctify them.” You cannot go out into the world as the sent ones of Christ unless you are sanctified. God will use no unholy messenger; you must be consecrated and cleansed, devoted and dedicated to God alone, or else you will not have the first qualification for the divine mission. Christ’s prayer is, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” The more truth you believe, the more sanctified you will be. The operation of truth upon the mind is to separate a man from the world unto the service of God. Just in proportion as truth is given up, worldliness and frivolity are sure to prevail. A church which grows so enlightened as to neglect the doctrines of grace, also falls in love with the vain amusements of the world. It has been so in all past ages, and it is sadly so to-day. But a church which, in a living way, holds fast the truth once for all delivered to the saints, will also separate itself from the ways of the world: in fact, the world and the worldly church will shun it, and push it into the place of separation. The more separated wo are, after our Master’s fashion, the more fit shall we be to do his bidding.
Our Lord was evidently most careful as to our commission, which he bases upon his own commission, and declares to be as certain and real as his own sending by the Father. He so values this, that he prays, “Father, keep them,” and “Father, sanctify them.” May those two prayers be heard for us, and then we shall stand with our loins girt, our shoes on our feet, our lamps trimmed, and our lights burning, ready to go forth at the command of the Most High to the very ends of the earth. Our mission by Jesus grows out of his mission by the Father, and we may learn much about it by considering how the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
I. I would open up this subject by asking you, first, to CONSIDER WHAT OUR LORD’S BEING SENT INVOLVED TO HIMSELF; for, to a large extent, there will be a parallel between his being sent and ours. The parallel is drawn by way of quality, not of equality. Christ’s commission is on a higher scale than ours; for he was sent to be a propitiation and covenant-head, and so came into positions which it would be presumption for us to dream of occupying. Still, there is a likeness, though it be only that of a drop to the sea.
Our Lord’s mission involved complete subjection to the Father’s will. He said, “My Father is greater than I”: this did not relate to his essential nature and dignity as God, but to the position which he took up in reference to the Father when he was sent to be our Saviour. He that sendeth is greater than he that is sent: the Saviour took up that subordinate position that he might do the Father’s will. From that time forth, so long as he remained under his commission, he did not speak his own words, nor do his own deeds; but he listened to the Father’s will, and what the Father said to him he both spoke and did. That is exactly where you and I have to place ourselves now, deliberately and unreservedly. Our Lord sends us, and we are to be, in very deed, subordinate to his command in all things. We are no longer masters; we have become servants. Our will is lost in the will of our glorious superior. If we are ambitious, and our ambition is guided by wisdom, it will take us down to that basin and the towel, and we shall be willing to wash the disciples’ feet, to show that we are sent by our condescending Lord. We shall henceforth have no respect unto our own dignity or interest, but shall lay ourselves out to serve him to whom we belong. Whatsoever he saith unto us we shall aim to do. Although we are sons of God, yet now we are also servants; and we would not do our own will, but the will of him that sent us. Oh, to be sound on this point, so as to yield our members in perfect obedience, and even bring every thought into subjection to Christ! Oh, to die to self and live in Christ! Can you drink of this cup, and be baptized with this baptism? I trust you can; and, if so, you shall fulfil the errand upon which he sends you.
This meant for our Lord the quitting of his rest. He reigned in heaven, all angels paid him homage; but when the Father sent him, ho left his high abode. He was laid in the manger, for there was no room for him in the inn. Where the horned oxen fed, there must the holy child be cradled. The royalties of heaven are left behind; the rest which he enjoyed in the bosom of the Father must be renounced for toil, and hunger, and thirst, and weariness, and the death of the cross. Dear friends, you may serve the Lord, and yet be as happy as your Lord was; but if Jesus has sent you into the world you are not to seek ease or comfort; you are not even to make your own spiritual comfort the first object of your thought. How nice that evening at home would be! But you are sent, and therefore must turn out to win souls. How delightful it would be to read that book through, and to leave the class alone! But you must not, for you are sent to instruct and save. Henceforth you are to consider nothing but how you can answer the design of him who has sent you. Your aim must be to do the utmost possible for your Lord. The Christian who does much is still an idler if he could do more. We have never reached the point of diligence till we are doing all that lieth in us, and are even then wishing to do far more. Bought with his precious blood, the vows of the Lord are upon us, and we renounce our natural love of ease, that we may please him who has sent us.
When sent of God, the Saviour also had to forego even heaven itself. He was here on earth the God-man, the Mediator, and he did not return to the splendour of his Father’s court till he could say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me.” We must not sigh for heaven while so much is to be done on earth. The rest of glory will come soon; but just now we have to do with the work of grace. Let us stick to our work here below, and do it thoroughly well, for our Lord has gone above, and is preparing a place for us. Is it not wonderful how God even now denies himself for the salvation of men? Why does not our Lord come at once in his glory? Why do we not see the millennial reign begin? It is because of the long-suffering of God: he waits and puts off the closing scene, because he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He keeps back even the glorious advent to give men space for salvation. That for which Jesus longs, and the Spirit longs, and the spouse longs, is kept back in mercy to the guilty. The Bridegroom postpones his marriage day that men may be brought to him by the divine longsuffering. If Jesus can do this, surely we may well wait out of compassion to our fellow-men. Even our hope of being for ever with the Lord may wait a while. So long as there is another sinner for us to rescue, we will remain in this land of our exile. That is what our Lord means: the Father has sent me from heaven, and kept me out of heaven, for the sake of men; and even so shall I detain you among the tents of Kedar for a while, that you may bring in my redeemed through the gospel.
The words of our text are, “As thou hast sent me into the world”; and this implies affinity with men. Our Lord was not sent to the edge of the world to look over the fence, and converse hopefully from a distance; but he was sent right into the world. He took on him human nature, and became bone of our bone. We read, “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.” He was a man among men. In this way Jesus has sent you, my brethren, into families, into offices, into establishments, into places where you labour for daily bread, amongst a company of ungodly men. Do not cry out because you have thus to mingle with them. Your Lord was sent into the world, not, I say, to the outskirts of it, nor to some elevated mountain, high above it, from which he might look down. He was sent into the world in an emphatic sense; and so are you sent, wisely sent, to tarry even among unconverted, infidel, and impure men, that you may do for Christ his great work, and make known his salvation.
He was sent into the world, and this involved abiding in humiliation. “The world knew him not”: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. You are not sent into the world to be honoured and pampered; nor even to receive your righteous due. If God aimed at your immediate glorification, he would take you to heaven; but he aims at your humiliation, that you may be like his Firstborn. You are to have fellowship with the Only-begotten in many ways; and among the rest, you are to be partakers of his sufferings. Expect to be misunderstood, misrepresented, belied, ridiculed, and so forth; for so was the Sent of the Father. You are to look for evil treatment; for as the Father sent his Son into a world which was sure to treat him ill, so has he sent you into the same world, which will treat you in the same manner if you are like your Lord. Be not surprised at persecution; but look for it, and take it as part of the covenant entail; for as Ishmael mocked Isaac, so will the seed after the flesh persecute that which is born according to promise.
In a word, your being sent of Christ involves unreserved dedication to his work. When Christ came into the world, he did nothing but what his Father sent him to do. He had no secondary object of any sort. From the reservoir of his being, no little stream trickled away in waste, but the whole of it went to turn the great mill-wheel of his life. The whole current and force of his nature went in one way, working out one design. Now, as the Father sent Jesus, so has Jesus sent you, to be henceforth by occupation a Christian. You are to be consecrated wholly and alone to the one object for which Christ has set you apart. There may be other lawful objects; but these you render subsidiary to the one object of your life. You have but one eye, and that eye looks to your Lord. Henceforth you belong to Christ, body, soul, and spirit— from the morning light to the evening shade, and through the night-watches. There is not a hair of your head but what Jesus values; for he has put it down in the inventory— “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Give him, then, every single power, however feeble; every part of your nature, however insignificant. Let your whole being be the Lord’s; for “ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price.” “This is a high standard,” says one. My brethren, it is none too high; and it is sad that any should think it so. God help you to know that you are sent, and clearly to perceive what your mission involves. We, too, are missioned from above; we, too, are to have a hand in the saving of the world.
II. Secondly, having thus shown you the parallel so far, I now ask you to CONSIDER WHY OUR LORD WAS SENT INTO THE WORLD.
Our Lord came here with one design. Christ was not sent to teach a correct system of philosophy. He was not Plato, but Jesus; not a sage, but a Saviour. He could have solved the problems of the universe; but he did not even allude to them. He was not an Aristotle, ruling the world of human thought; although he could have done so easily had he chosen. Blessed be his name, he came to save from sin; and this no Plato or Aristotle could have done. All the sages and philosophers put together are not worth so much as the little finger of a Christ. Christ entered into no rivalry with the academy; he came on a very different errand. Neither was our Lord sent to be an inventor or a discoverer. Ail the discoveries that have been made in modern times could have been at once revealed by him; but that was not his object, and he kept scrupulously to his one design. He could have told us the secret of the Dark Continent; but he was not sent for that end. He could have anticipated all that we have slowly learned, and saved the world the long processes of experiment and observation; but this was not the object of his mission.
He did not come to be a conqueror. God gave us in him neither Alexander nor Caesar: of such slaughterers the world has always had enough and to spare. He conquers evil, but not by the sword. Our
Lord did not come even to be a politician, a reformer of governments, a rectifier of social economics. There came one to him, who said, “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” You might have supposed that the Lord would have arbitrated in that case; but he did not do so, for he said, “Who made me a judge or a divider over you?” He kept to his one business, and we shall be wise to do the same. Point me to a single instance in which he interfered with the government of Pilate, or of Herod. Had he anything to say about the tyranny of Caesar? When he takes Caesar’s penny in his hand, he simply says, “Pender unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” He was none of Caesar’s, for he belonged to God, and to God alone. Should not Christian people take heed that they follow Christ in this unity of aim and purpose? This I know, I am not sent to preach to you any new philosophical system, nor to advocate any political party, nor to meddle with any of those social matters which can be better managed by others. It is mine to preach the gospel of the grace of God; and this one thing I do. If you can serve Christ and your fellow-men in any way, do it; but never get away from your one aim and purpose. If we are enabled to save men’s souls by the Holy Ghost resting upon our teaching we may die content, even though we have left fifty other excellent things undone. There are enough of the dead to bury the dead. Burying the dead is a good work; but this will be a labour more congenial to the dead around us than to ourselves: let us leave it to them. We cannot do everything: let us do that which we are sent to do. Oh, that every Christian would feel that, whatever else he would like to be, his first business is to be a servant of Christ. Your first concern is to serve Christ, and it ought to be your second thing to serve Christ. Then I would claim that it should be your third thing, and I shall get far on in numbers before I should allow any other character to take a leading position. May no possible object bear any comparison in your desires and endeavours in comparison with your resolve to glorify God your Saviour!
Notice, further, that our Lord, was not sent to be ministered unto, but to minister. I fear that many of his professed servants think they have been sent to be ministered unto. Their religion consists in coming to places of worship to be ministered unto. Through the week they would like to have very particular attention from the pastor and the church officers, and you hear them grumbling that they are not sufficiently looked after. Surely, they must have been sent, not to minister, but to be ministered unto. Brethren, let us give them as much as we can of our services, for they evidently need them; but Jesus was not sent to be visited, and waited on, and served: he came to minister to others; and he did so to the full, and could truly say, “I am among you as he that serveth.” Beloved friend, you know that it is more blessed to give than to receive; therefore feel it to be your joy to live as one who is sent by Jesus to be the servant of the church, and winner the of souls.
Let us enquire what was Christ’s work upon earth. It was, first, to teach. Wherever he went he was an instructor of the ignorant. He preached of the kingdom, and of faith, and of grace. We are to teach. “I do not know anything,” says one. Then do not tell it; but first go to the Lord and ask him to teach you something; and as soon as ever you know the A B C of the gospel, go and teach somebody that A B C. You need not teach him D E F and G H I till you have advanced so far yourself; but teach all you are taught. Learn first; but when you have learned, then let others learn from you. This is what Jesus did: be teaching the gospel everywhere.
Forget not that he lived, and his living was teaching. His actions were so many heads of his life-sermon. His every movement was instructive. He went about doing good. Make your life tally with your teaching; and make your life to be a part of your teaching; nay, the best part of your discourse. The most solid and most emphatic teaching that comes from you should be what you do rather than what you say: and Christ has sent you into the world for that end. Our Lord came also to suffer for the cause of truth and righteousness. If you follow him closely, you must expect to suffer also. Do not cry out about it, as though some strange thing had happened unto you. Take joyfully the spoiling of your good name. If Christ has sent you forth like sheep in the midst of wolves, wonder not that the wolf gives you a bite or two: is it not his nature? Let the wolf howl, but do not trouble yourself about it; for what else should a wolf do? When pain, and weakness, and bodily infirmity seize on you, and you lie for days and weeks tossed with pain all through the sleepless nights, take it all patiently, and say, “I am sent to show patience, that men may see what grace can do.”
You are sent to save men. It is true that you have not to redeem them by blood; that the Lord has done most effectually. You have not to suffer as a substitute; for his one sacrifice has sufficed; but you are sent to seek and to save that which was lost by proclaiming salvation by Christ Jesus. Every man who is saved himself should feel that he is called at once to labour for the salvation of others, Your election is not only flection to personal salvation, but to personal service. You are chosen that, through your being saved, others may be called into the like felicity. View this very clearly, and get it fixed in your minds, and then carry it out in your daily lives.
“Ah!” say you, “our Lord might very well give himself up to his work; for if he had not done so, the whole world must have perished.” Listen! Your work also is indispensable. How is the work of Christ to be made effectual among the sons of men for their salvation? Must they not hear it, that they may believe it? How shall they hear without a preacher? I venture to say that as the salvation of men depended upon Christ, so, in another sense, the salvation of men at this hour depends upon the church of God. If believers do not go and preach Christ, who will? If you that love him do not commend him, who will? Do you think that the Houses of Parliament will ever meet together to consider the evangelization of the heathen? If the Government did take such work in hand, it could do nothing, for it is not a fit agent, and it would hinder rather than help the good design. Do you think the worldlings, the sceptics, the critics will ever unite to spread the kingdom of Christ, and save the souls of men? Do not dream it. If the church of God does not go forth on her holy errand, nothing will be done. “But it might be done by angels,” says one. I know it might; but “unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” He has committed unto us the word of reconciliation, even to us who are men; and we must attend to it, or great guilt will lie upon us. I should like every Christian to feel that he has to be the instrument of salvation to certain persons. It is all allotted; the whole country is measured and divided, and we have each our portion, which we must conquer for our Lord. If I belong to the tribe of Judah, I have to help my brethren to drive out the Canaanites from our portion. If you belong to the tribe of Issachar, or Benjamin, you must look to your own allotment, and clear it of the enemy. Joshua is the leader, but every Israelite is in his army. Christ has power over all flesh, as the head of the body, and he has given to each of his members a portion of his power, so that each member of his body has power over some portion of the “all flesh,” and that power must be used in the giving of eternal life to as many as the Father hath given to Jesus. God grant that you may feel this, and may go to your work as Christ went to his!
III. This leads me a little further, and I now invite you to CONSIDER HOW OUR LORD CAME; for this will show us how we ought to go forward when we are sent.
First, our Lord came with alacrity. The work of our Redeemer was no forced work. He was sent; but he willingly came.
“Down from the shining seats above
With joyful haste he fled.”
“Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” said he. He came cheerfully among the sons of men. You that are sent of Christ must always go gladly to your service; never look as if you were driven to the field like oxen which love not the plough. God does not delight in a slavish spirit. If we serve Christ because of the yoke of duty, we shall serve badly; but when our service is our pleasure, when we thank God that to us is this grace given, that we should “preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,” then we shall labour wisely, zealously, and acceptably.
Next, our Lord came with authority. The Lord God had sent him. He had the Father at his back. Be sure that, when Jesus sends you, you are invested with authority, and they that despise you do it at their peril. Your blunders and mistakes are not authorized; but so far as you speak his Word with a desire for his glory, he that receives you receives Christ, even as our Lord said, “He that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” God is with you, be not afraid; your Lord will not let your words fall to the ground.
Our Lord came with ability, too. What did his ability consist in? Mainly in this— “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me.” This is also where your sufficiency must be found; and you can have as much as you please of it. You cannot get every faculty of the brain, but you can have every influence of the Spirit. It may be, you cannot reach the highest form of education or of utterance, but these things are not vital: God can speak by your stammering tongue, even as in the case of Moses. You shall do the Lord’s work, and do it well, if you are anointed of the Holy Ghost. He who does Christ’s work in Christ’s power works an abiding work which will eternally glorify God. He who sends us out into the world to carry the gospel to every creature will give us grace to obey his bidding.
Our Lord came with absorption. Jesus came, as I have said before, to do what he was sent to do, and nothing else. He meddled with nothing beyond his vocation: every thought of his manhood, every power of his Godhead, he devoted to fulfilling the errand on which he came. His zeal had eaten him up. He was covered with it as with a cloak. The man Christ was all on fire, and all on fire with one desire, that he might finish the work which his Father had given him to do: for this joy he endured the cross, despising the shame.
Our Lord came with abiding resolve to go through with his mission to the end. He never thought of going back. He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. He pressed through shame, through death, to accomplish our redemption. In these days we shall not do much unless we have a desperate determination to persevere in the teeth of difficulties. Those who can go back will go back. Remember how Gideon proclaimed throughout the host, that if any man was fainthearted he might go home; so do we proclaim to-day: go home if you are wavering. If you do not love Christ enough to be resolved to serve him to the last, what is the good of you? You will break down and lose us the victory at some important crisis. He that has been bought with the blood of Christ, and knows it, feels that he must endure to the end; for only he that endureth to the end shall be saved. We go because our Lord’s sending constrains us. “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” Woe is unto you if you do not teach the children, or speak to individuals, or write letters, or in some way fulfil your mission!
IV. Bear with me a little, while I bid you CONSIDER HOW OUR LORD BEHAVED AS THE SENT ONE. Oh, that we may learn from him how to fulfil our own mission!
Our Lord began early. While he was yet a youth, he said, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” As soon as ever a man is converted, he should enquire, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Young believer, do not let many weeks pass over your head before you have attempted somewhat for your Lord. I will correct that exhortation; I wish you would not let a single day pass away without your bearing testimony for your Master.
But, next, our Lord waited very patiently. He was thirty years old before he preached openly. We do not know all that he did in the workshop at Nazareth. Is it not possible that he supported his widowed mother by his hand-labour? We do not know; but of this we are sure, that it is the duty of many young men to look after their parents first. It is the duty of all to “show piety at home.” Many Christian women will have done well if they have carried out home duties. She was a holy woman upon whose grave they placed this epitaph, “She made home happy.” This is what Jesus did for the first thirty years of his life. He was doing the Father’s will when he was a young man at home. Though he did not preach, yet while he was working and learning, he was carrying out the purpose for which he was sent. When the time came for him to commence his more public service, he sought proper entrance into it. He did not blunder into God’s work by a rush and a leap; but he went to John to be baptized, and to be publicly recognized as the Messiah. John was the porter, and he opened the gate to the Good Shepherd, who came in by the door, and did not climb up some other way. He came to John, who represented the prophetic chair of the Jewish church, and so ho entered into his work as minister in a lawful and proper way. I like our young friends, when they feel their time has come for public service, to begin in right style and due order, carrying out the Lord’s mind in the Lord’s way. Wilfulness in beginning may throw a man out of gear as to his future work; and it argues a spirit ill prepared for acceptable service.
That being passed, see how he laboured at his work. He was always doing the Father’s will. He worked all the day, and every day, and everywhere, with everybody. Some Christian people can only render occasional service. They are very good at a Convention. They save up their holiness for meetings. At a religious gathering they are in fine form; but they are not every-day saints. The kind of person the church needs most is the maid-of-all-work, the worker who can turn his hand to anything which providence allots him, and is glad to do so, however humbling it may be. My venerated grandmother owned a set of choice china, which, I believe, is, part of it, in existence now. Why does it exist now? It has seen little service. It only came out on high-days and holidays— say once in six months, when ministers and friends came to tea. It was a very nice set of old china; too good for children to break. Some Christians are like that fine old ware: it would not do to use them too often. They are too good for every day. They do not teach their servants, and try to win the poor people in their own neighbourhood to Christ; but they talk well at a Conference. Oh, you fine bits of egg-shell china, I know you! Don’t fear. I am not going to break you. Yet I would somewhat trouble you by the remark that in the case of such ware as you are, more pieces get broken in the cupboard than on the table. You will last all the longer if you get to work for Christ in everyday work. Jesus was not sent out for particular occasions, and neither are you. Wo use our Lord for a thousand hallowed purposes, and even so will he use us from time to time, if we are but ready and willing.
Notice about our Lord’s service, that his prayers always kept pace with his work. This is where most of us fail. When our Lord had a long day’s work, we find him taking a long night’s prayer. “I have so much to do,” says one, “that I could not be long in prayer.” That is putting the case the wrong way upwards. When you have most to do, you have most need to pray; and unless you keep up the proportion of each spice; and so in our lives there must be a due measure of Word, and work, and prayer, and praise. I may say of prayer what one said of salt in the Scripture, “Salt without prescribing how much.” Prayer can never be in excess. You can salt meat too much, but you cannot salt your service too much with prayer. If you are accustomed to pray in your walk and works, at all hours and seasons, you do not err. There never will be in any of us a superfluity of devotion. God help you to be like his Son, who, though he was sent, and had the Father with him, yet could not live without prayer. May you not only feel your need of prayer, but fill up that need abundantly!
Once more, in all that Jesus did he remained, in constant fellowship with the Father. He said, “He that sent me is with me.” That is a beautiful sentence. Let me repeat it— “He that sent me is with me.” The great Father had never to call to Jesus and say, “Come nearer. You are departing from me. You are too busy with Mary .and Lazarus and Peter and John, and so you are forgetting me.” No, no. He did always the things that pleased God, and he was always in communion with the great Father in everything that he did. “Ah!” says one, “it is hard to commune with God, and be very busy.” Yes, but it will prove harder still to have been very busy, and not to have dwelt with God. It is easy to do much when you walk with God: and easier still to make a great fuss and do nothing because the Lord is away. To get near omnipotence will not make you omnipotent, but it will make you feel omnipotence working with you. Oh, that we might thus dwell with God as Jesus did; for he has sent us for this, even as the Father sent him.
I would leave with you four words. We are sent; therefore, whenever we try to press Christ upon men we are not guilty of intrusion. We have sometimes known strangers asked in this place about their souls, by certain of our friends, and they have grown angry at such a question. This is very silly of them, is it not? But I hope the friend who meets with an angry answer will not be at all hurt. You are not intrusive; though the angry person says you are. You are sent, and where Jesus sends you you have a right to go. The postman frequently knocks at the door as late as ten o’clock. I suppose you want to be asleep. Do you cry out— “How dare you make that noise?” No, he is the postman, an officer of Her Majesty, and he is sent out with the last mail, and must deliver the letters. You cannot blame him for doing that for which he is sent. Go you and knock at the doors of the careless and the sleepy. Give them a startling word. Do not let them perish for want of a warning or an invitation. Go on without fear: your commission is your warrant: if Jesus has sent you, you have a right to speak even to princes and kings.
Next, we are sent; therefore, we dare not run away. If Jesus bids us go forward, we must not retreat. If what we have preached and taught be of God, if we are ridiculed for it, let us take no notice, but steam ahead. Put more coals in the furnace, get the steam up, and go faster than ever in the same course. We defy the devil to stop us, for we are sent.
Next, we are sent; therefore, toe are sure to he helped. Our King never sends a servant on an errand at his own charges. Our own power fails us, but be never allows his power to fail us when engaged in his service. Those who are sent shall be sustained. But, if we are sent, remember lastly, we have to give in an account. Our Lord does not call for the time-sheet every night; but a timesheet is kept all the same, and there will be a day for passing in the checks, and we shall have to answer for what we have done. I speak not now to you ungodly ones, whose account will be terrible at that last great day. God save you! May you believe on him whom God hath sent! But now I speak to Christian people: you will have to render in your account, and may God grant you may not have to make a lamentable return in this fashion — “On such a day so much wood, and on such a day so much hay, and on such a day so much stubble.” Let there be down in your book nothing but gold, silver, and precious stones; for it must all be tried with fire, and if you yourself are saved, if your work is burned up you will suffer loss. What pain to find your life-work to be a lot of wood, and hay, and stubble, which will blaze furiously, and die out in ashes! You know what I mean: so much time spent in planning frivolous amusements for the people, so much talent expended in teaching what is not the gospel, so much zeal consumed upon matters which do not concern eternal things, all this will burn. Beloved, do your Master’s work, win souls, preach Christ, expound your Bibles, pray men to be reconciled to God, plead with men to come to Christ. This kind of work will stand the fire; and when the last great day shall dawn, this will remain to glory and honour. God bless you, brethren, for Christ’s sake!