Setting Jesus at Nought
“And Herod with his men of war set him at nought.” — Luke xxiii. 11.
IT is your Lord whom Herod set at nought! Once worshipped of angels and all the heavenly host, he is made nothing of by a ribald regiment. In himself “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person”; but now set at nought by men not worthy of the name. Soon to reassume all his former glory with the Father, and to descend in infinite splendour to judge the earth in righteousness, and reign as King of kings; and yet here he is set at nought! It is a sight of horror and of shame. How could angels bear to see it? This paltry prince and his rough retinue made nothing of him who is All in all; they treated him as beneath their contempt. The veriest abjects flouted him. The meanest soldier in the petty army of a petty princelet made unholy mirth of heaven’s high Lord and earth’s Redeemer. What a sorrowful and shameless business! May we be helped to sorrow over it! These wretches were of our race. May we mourn because of him! When the thorns of grief and repentance are at our breast, may God grant that they may act as lancets to let out the foul blood of our pride, for we, too, are partakers in this tremendous crime, since our sin involved our Saviour in the necessity of bearing this barbarous scorn.
Herod himself set him at nought. In this loathsome being I see the most likely person to think nothing of the Lord Jesus. Let me just say a word or two about this member of a detestable family, that I may see whether his like can be found here to-night. I will not give you any history of this Herod. It is not worth while. This “fox” is not worth unearthing. The page of history is stained by the Herodian name. I will give you enough concerning him to help you to answer the question— Are you like him? Have you set Christ at nought?
I.. This shall be our first enquiry: WHOE IS THE MOST LIKELY PERSON TO SET OUR LORD AT NOUGHT?
Herod was a man who had once heard the Word of God; yes, heard it with a measure of attention, and apparent benefit. We read, “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” According to the margin, Herod “kept him or saved him” — preserving him from those who would have laid violent hands upon him. But he broke away from his respectful regard of John, and now that Jesus stands before him, his memory of the Baptist does not restrain him from mocking the Baptist’s Lord. He had silenced that eloquent tongue, and now he had no care to listen to anything which might further bestir his conscience. We often find that the greatest despisers of Christ are those who formerly were hearers and readers of his Word, but have turned from it. An apostate Methodist is a scoffer: a runaway Baptist is an infidel. It looks as if men must have some knowledge of the truth to be able to fight against it in the most malicious way. The viper must be warmed in the man’s bosom that he may have strength to bite him. Is not this a wretched business? Am I talking to any here who, not so many years ago, were regular attendants upon a faithful ministry, but who have grown weary of it, and given it up? I do not know what reason you give; but I suppose the real reason is, that you love the world better than Christ, and so you have left his people and his Word. It troubles your conscience that you have done so, and now you try to conceal your uneasiness by picking holes in your former minister, and finding fault with the truths which he preached to you. I know the tricks and manners of apostates. Wanting an opiate for your consciences, you invent a fault in the gospel, or try to disbelieve it altogether. What an unhappy thing that the hopeful hearer should decline into a hopeless despiser! Herod heard John, but he ridiculed Jesus. See to what unconverted hearers may come!
If I look at Herod again, I see in him a man who, after hearing the Word faithfully preached, had distinctly done violence to his conscience. He heard John until John came home to him about the woman with whom he was living in an incestuous union. Herodias would have killed John at once; and though Herod did not dare to go so far as that, yet he shut him up in prison. A filthy lust must not be rebuked: Herod imprisons his reprover. He knew that John was right, and he trembled at his rebuke; but he could not give up his sin, and so he put the servant of God in a dungeon. He was held fast, as many a man before and since has been held fast, by an evil woman. She demanded of him that at the very least the man of God should be cast into prison. How dare he speak against what the prince chose to do? How dare a peasant censure so great a man as Herod about his personal life? So, instead of bowing before the supreme authority of right, and listening to the voice of truth as uttered by the Lord’s Elijah, he must needs exercise his royal power, and lay his reprover by the heels. The man who could do this was in training for the more daring act of setting the Lord Jesus at nought. First despise the man, and then the Master. First do violence to your better self, and then scoff at godliness. My friend, do you remember that night when you distinctly decided for the devil? Do you recollect when, after having the evil set before you, and seeing it, and counting the cost, you decided to continue in it? Then you turned with bitterness upon the honest reprover whose rebuke you had aforetime endured. Perhaps it was your wife upon whom you turned with anger. What hard words you said to her for the gentle remark she ventured to make! It was an effort for you. You gave conscience an awful wrench; and therefore you put yourself into a passion, and talked like an injured man. Or was it your brother? It may be you quitted his society in order to be free from his remarks. Was it your child, or your friend? You could not put them in prison; but you were determined that you would not bear any more of their protests. You abused and silenced them; not because you thought they were wrong, but because they made you feel that you were wrong. By all this you have prepared yourself to set the Lord at nought; and we cannot wonder that you do so.
This man also had yielded to sinful companions, and had committed a gross sin as the result of it, for when Herodias danced, and he promised to give her whatsoever she desired, she asked the head of John the Baptist in a charger; and he, not liking to break his word in the presence of the assembled guests, and not willing to stand out against the woman with whom he lived in unhallowed intercourse, yielded, and the Baptist’s head was taken from his shoulders. Ah, well! you may not have sinned quite in that way; but you, too, once had better thoughts and higher aims. Your companions were too many for you, and drove all good out of you. I do not mention this that you may dare to cast the blame upon others of that which was really your own act and deed. If there had been a spark of true manhood in you, you would have resisted the suggestion of those enemies in the garb of friends. But you are soft and plastic, like wax, in the hand of evil; instead of being, as you ought to be, like granite towards evil, and like wax towards good. You now feel as if you had gone too far to turn back. You are now fixed in an evil estate. A black sin seems to bar the way to repentance. Truly, even now you will be welcomed to the bosom of mercy, but you are not anxious enough for it. It is a long lane that has no turning, but you seem to have got into such a lane, and you are driven along it by evil forces. This is the man that thinks nothing of Christ— the man who thinks so much of drinking and dancing, and of the companions which such things have brought around him. Of course he does not think anything of Christ, for his ways would take from him these vile associates. How should he value the holy Jesus? Will swine ever think much of pearls? It is vain that we set before you beauties for which you have no eyes, hopes for which you have no heart. Jesus cannot be valued by a man of Herod’s sort, who puts so high a value upon the opinion of those who sit with him at his banquets.
Once more: the man who thinks nothing of Christ is the man that means to go on in sin, even as Herod did. The die was cast; his mind was made up for evil. He would be very glad to hear Christ: he has no objection still to go to a place of worship and listen to a preacher. He would be very pleased to see a miracle: be would join in a revival, for be would be glad to enjoy something sensational, but be does not mean to give up the sin in which he lives, nor the company which eggs him on in it. He does not mean to cut off the right hand, and pluck out the right eye. Not he! He is too fond of the vice, too much ensnared and bird-limed by his passions; and so, as he gives his heart to his lust, he takes away his heart from Christ; nay, he treats religion with derision, because it is opposed to his bent and inclination. What a sad thing! I generally find, when man speaks against the Lord Jesus, that if you follow him home, he would rather not have you go indoors, for fear his inner life should be known. He does not want you to see the skeleton in the cupboard. I have so often met with this fact in actual life, that when I have heard a man speak bitterly of my Master, I have formed my opinion, and have not been wrong. A little enquiry has revealed so much that I have said, “It is not at all surprising that such a man should speak evil of Christ. It is as natural to such a man to talk against Christ as for a dog to bark.” When a bad fellow once praised Socrates, that philosopher said, “I wonder what I can have been doing amiss, that such a man should speak well of me.” If lustful lips praised the Saviour, one might begin to be afraid; but when they denounce and deride him, we feel that it is the only homage which vice can pay to purity.
This, then, is the man who sets Jesus at nought. I wonder whether he is here to-night! Possibly it is a woman who is doing this. Women fall into precisely the same evils as men from their own side of the house, and the same remarks apply to both sexes. You who once were hearers, you who once were impressed, you who did wilful violence to conscience, you who persist in sin, you who are the slaves of evil company, and dare not do right for the life of you, for fear of ridicule — you are the kind of people of whom Herod was a sad specimen: you set Jesus at nought.
II. Having tried to find out Herod, let us now answer a second question— ON WHAT GROUND DID HE SET OUR LORD AT NOUGHT?
Men have some reason or other for their acts, although often those reasons are most unreasonable. Before we consider the unhallowed reasons for this great crime, let us do homage to the name of the Son of God. O Lord Jesus, even in thy lowest humiliation thou art worthy of all reverence. To thy friends thou art all the more dear and the more honoured because thou wast greatly despised. Thou, bound and brought a prisoner before the tetrarch, art free to rule our hearts. Thou wert charged with sedition, but we fall at thy blessed feet, and proclaim thee King of kings!
Herod sets him up as the butt of his ridicule, and makes nothing of him. As Herbert puts it—
“Herod and all his bands do set me light,
Who teach all hands to war, fingers to fight,
And only am the Lord of hosts and might.
Was ever grief like mine?”
I suppose that part of the reason why he and his men of war made nothing of our Lord was because of his gentleness and patience. Our Lord had no sword, and none of the temper of men who wear weapons. His visage was not like the face of a man of war: it was marred with grief, but not with anger; worn with sorrow, but not with battle. He was the lamb and not the lion, the dove and not the eagle, and therefore the fighting men despised him. If he had any weapons they were his tears and his almighty love; but these the Herodian ruffians utterly despised. All unarmed he stood before them, and when he was reviled he reviled not again. You know how men of muscular strength and physical bravado value men by their thews and bones, and think nothing of those who are feeble in arm and body. The Saviour, in his emaciation and faintness, must have seemed a poor creature to these hectors. The Christian religion teaches us to be meek and gentle, to forgive injuries, and even to give up our own rights rather than to inflict wrong. Such precepts savour of cowardice to the blustering world. Non-resistance they cannot hear of. They do not like the word “Forgive.” “Surely,” say they, “a worm will turn?” Thus they think so little of Christ that they prefer an earthworm’s example to that of the Lord. The sweet savour of gentle forbearance, which the spirit of Jesus breathes into the hearts of his people, is by many held in contempt. They call it cant and hypocrisy, because it is so alien to their nature, so inconsistent with their ideas of manly conduct.
Furthermore, our Lord was ridiculed by Herod because he refused to gratify his curiosity and amuse his love of sensation. The wicked Herod virtually said to the holy Jesus, “Come, work us a miracle. We hear that thou didst deliver from death, now release thyself from our hands. We hear that thou didst multiply loaves and fishes, and feed multitudes, give us a banquet here. Thou canst do all things, so report says Did not of thee Moses — work come, miracles do some before little thing Pharaoh that? we Work may a see miracle and believe before. us.” There stands our Lord, with all power in his hands, but he will not lift a finger for his own deliverance and Herod’s amusement. O blessed Jesus, it is the same still, thou wilt not dazzle nor amuse, and therefore men prefer any charlatan to thee.
Herod then begins to question him. He asks him this, and that, and the other, with many a jest rolled in between; but he receives no answer. He who answered blind beggars when they cried for mercy is silent to a prince who only seeks to gratify his own irreverent curiosity. Then the men-at-arms laugh at their silent victim. " Why," they say, “the man is dumb. Either he can say nothing for himself, or he is obstinate and ill-mannered. He speaks not when he is spoken to. Has he lost his wits?” Thereupon they multiply their profane jests, and make nothing of the silent One. I do not doubt that often men turn away from the faith because their curiosity is not gratified, and they see nothing marvellous in it. A gospel for the age! A brand new gospel every year might suit them; but the old is stale: they know all about it, and sneer at it. Plain gospel is too plain for them. They desire adornment, or at least mystery, and the pomp which veils the unknown. They would rather go where there are gorgeous ceremonies, and mutterings in an unknown tongue amid the smoke of incense and the harmony of music. The simple gospel of “Believe and live” does not suit them; for it seems fit only for the poor and unintellectual: thus they set Jesus at nought.
Moreover, the royal claims of Jesus excited their scorn. I think I hear the “Aha! aha! aha!” of Herod as he said, “Call him a King? You could find such kings as this in every street of Jerusalem. Talk of a kingdom for him! Go to the pool of Bethesda, and fetch up some poor wretch who lies waiting there for the moving of the water, and call him a king! King? What hosts art at thy command? What kingdom dost thou govern? What laws canst thou make? Here! Put the white robe upon him. Let him at least look like a monarch. Yes, that old robe will do! Is he not every inch a King?” Then the soldiery took up the jest! How bitterly, how derisively did they make his royalty the football of contempt! Thus to-day the world makes nothing of the royalty of King Jesus. A nominal king he may be, but as a real king they will not have him. Those who would be in the dust before the meanest princelet have no esteem for him. There is no pomp about the pure religion of Jesus; there is no glory of philosophy about his teaching; and so they set him and his cause at nought. Ah, me! what will a rebellious people do in the day when he appeareth to claim his throne and punish sedition?
Then, too, they denied his prophetic office. “Look!” said Herod, “he will not speak. I have asked him twenty questions, and he will not answer one of them. This is a pretty prophet! John was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, but this man has no voice at all. A dumb prophet! Why, he is mute as a fish, and has nothing to say for himself.” With such unhallowed merriment did Herod and his men of war set the Lord at nought. How they provoked him! But he stands in the majesty of his self-government, quiet to the end. Here was an omnipotence which restrained the lips of omnipotence. It was a wondrous power, that Godlike patience which enabled indignant holiness to withhold its word of condemnation. The prophet proved his commission by his silence; and yet he provoked their scorn, so that they set him at nought. At this time, because the Christian faith is silent upon a great many questions, certain men deride it. When men come to it with captious questions they receive no answer, and they are irritated thereby. When they idly demand a miracle, and it does not yield to their desires, they have fresh jeers for it. “You preach up the faith of Christ as the only true and divine religion: let us see it work wonders. Where are your miracles? We have asked you fifty questions about the past and the future, and you do not reply; where is the ground for your boastings?” Thus they make nothing of Christ, and disdain his claim to teach with authority.
Those, I suppose, were the grounds upon which Herod, and such as Herod, make light of Christ. Poor grounds they are, and such as will fail to justify them before the bar of God.
III. Now, dear friends, let us consider, HOW DO MEN NOW SET OUR LORD AT NOUGHT? Herod is dead and buried, and there is no sort of reason why we should not let him rot into oblivion. I therefore speak to you, and try to discover whether you are setting Christ at nought. I fear there are such. Who are they?
Some set him at nought, for they will not even consider his claims. “Oh,” say they, “we have plenty else to think about besides religion. What is there in it which will fill our pockets? There is nothing at all in it worth a moment’s attention.” How do they know? They do not know. Nothing in it? God gives his own Son to die for guilty men, and there is nothing in it I The highest thoughts of God are set forth in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you do not think it worth while even to consider what God has therein revealed? A man goes to a bookstall, and turns over a book. It is a novel: he reads a page, and would like to buy it. But suppose it is a book upon the glories of Christ. Does he read then? Does he wish to buy it? No, it is one of those dry theological books, and he shuts it up. He will make no bid for a volume on so dull a subject. He would like to know of Alexander the Great or even of Tom Thumb, but for the world’s Redeemer he cares nothing. He makes nothing of Christ. Do I not convict some here present to-night? They have never set apart one solitary hour in their lives to the honest and candid consideration of the claims of Jesus, the divine Saviour. If it be so, you have indeed made Christ very cheap; and if you perish for lack of him, your blood be on your own heads! If this be the medicine that will heal your disease, and you huff at it, and will not even hear of the cures it has wrought, who is to blame if you perish? Who is to save the man who will not listen when salvation is put before him? Yet the great mass of our fellow citizens are of this kind. In London there are millions who make so little of Christ that they will not even come to hear what his ministers have to say about him, nor read their Bibles, nor show the least interest in the matter. In many a house in London Mahomet is practically as much esteemed as Jesus. Ah me!
There are many others who prefer their business to Jesus. They would not mind giving some little attention to the Lord Jesus, but then they are too busy just now. They say that they really cannot afford the time. O my busy hearer! you will have to find time to die before long: why not think of that solemn certainty? You are very busy, and yet you find time to eat. Have you no time to feed your soul? You find time to put on your dress, have you no time to dress your souls? You seek out the surgeon when you are ill; have you no time to seek out a Saviour for your sin-sick soul? Ah! it is not that: you have the time, but you have not the heart.
Others prefer amusements to the Lord Jesus. “Well,” says one, “we must have recreation. In my spare time I like a game.” I know that. I am not for denying you healthy recreation, but everything should be in order, and I claim first place for Jesus Christ and his salvation. What! is it not worth while to give up a sport to seek Jesus? Do you think a game of cards more important than seeking the pardon of your sin? An evening at the theatre or the music-hall; do you really think so little of Jesus that you can live without him, and satisfy your mind with these poor things? Can you suffer the paltry amusements of the world to stand before the Lord Jesus? Yet it is so with some of you: I wish it were not. My Master’s blood and righteousness, the salvation of a soul from hell, the preparing of a heart for heaven— these are laid away in the lumber-room, to allow the childish pleasures of a vain world to engross your thoughts. You will know better one day. God grant you may learn wisdom while yet it may be of use to you. Too late! What awful words! May you even now feel that if the Son of God has lived and died for men, it is of the first importance that you put business and pleasure in their proper places, and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Another sort of persons make nothing of Christ, because they profess to see nothing profound and philosophical in the faith which he has revealed. These are the Greeks, to whom the doctrine of the cross is foolishness. O foolish Greeks! These wise men will not hear some of us because we can be understood of the people. “Anybody can understand you,” say they, “you speak after the manner of the crowd, and what you say is simple enough to be clear to the most ignorant. We like something deeper, something too profound to be readily grasped. We are above common-place people, and need something more intellectual and philosophical.” A man of note once said to me, “Why do you keep on preaching to those thousands at Newington? Preach so that the mob will leave you, and the elite will support you.” To whom I answered, that if one man’s soul was of less value than another, his was of the least value who could talk so slightingly of others. Those who make no pretence to culture, are often far more sensible people than those who affect superiority. The man who thinks that he is intellectual, and talks in that fashion, is a miserable snob, and has scarcely a soul at all. When a man despises the multitude, he deserves to be despised himself. But, my dear sir, if the salvation of Christ be very simple, and very plain, is it not so much the better? Have you not enough of philanthropy to make you feel that if you could have a gospel only for the Hite, it would be a matter of deep regret? Is not a gospel for the multitude the thing to be desired? Do you not desire the vast mass to be saved? I hope you do. But I fear you make nothing of Christ when you despise his gospel because you imagine that it is not deep enough and philosophical enough for you. The most profound science in the world is the science of the cross! Christ himself is the highest wisdom, for he is the wisdom of God.
Others make nothing of the Lord because they confide in themselves. They think themselves quite good enough without a Saviour. If they are not quite perfect, they believe that they can make themselves so, and be saved without an atoning sacrifice, or a new heart, or union to Christ. They are doing their best, and they make no doubt whatever that they will find their way to heaven as well as others. Do you thus think? You are in grave error. There was a learned Romanist who once ventured to say that if salvation could only be had on terms of free grace, he would not have it. Do you know what happened? Why, he did not have it: that was all. And that is what will happen to you. If you will not have salvation as a free gift of grace, without any merit wherewith to purchase it, then you must go without it, and perish in your sin; for the terms of free grace will never be altered to suit the pride of the human heart. If any man sets up his righteousness in the place of Jesus Christ, the sin-removing Lamb, why then he has made nothing of Christ, and the Lord will make less than nothing of him. Alas! that any man should be so profane as to think himself so good that he does not need God’s grace and the atoning blood! Such pride insults the Lord Christ, and will bring sure destruction upon the man who is guilty of it.
I have no doubt that there are many also who make nought of Christ because they have no conscience whatever as to his present claims upon them. O dear sirs, if you did but know his kindness to the sons of men, even to his enemies, and how he sought them with his tears, and then bought them with his blood, you would feel forced to love him.
“Sure Christ deserves the noblest place
In every human heart.”
Truly know Jesus, and you must love him. But some men do not think that they owe him anything, or are in any need of him. It is nothing to such that he died, for they did not require his death to save them: in their judgment they are not lost. Those who are of this mind will leave this Tabernacle to-night, and will go back to the world just as they came in, practically saying, “Whether Jesus lived or whether he died, and whatever he did or was, I care nothing, for I owe him nothing.” And yet you owe him everything. You had not been here to-night if it were not for the mercy which has spared you, and which has come to you through him. The axe would have had you down long ago but for his intercession. There had been no gospel to set before you to-night if it had not been for the death agony of the Lord Jesus. You owe the very opportunity of hearing the gospel, and the opportunity of accepting it to his dying love. Oh, that you had a conscience which would make you just towards Jesus! Oh, that you felt that you were bound to love him and live for him, because of all that he has done for guilty men!
As they have no conscience of his claims upon them, so many have no fears concerning the day of his appearing. Whether you believe it or not, Jesus, as your Judge, is at the door. He said, years ago, “Behold, I am coming quickly.” He is still coming, and must soon arrive to commence the last dread session of justice. What matters it how many more years may elapse? They will fly like the wind. The day will come when heaven and earth shall be ablaze. The thick darkness will lower down,
“And, withering from the vault of night,
The stars shall pale their feeble light.”
The hour will come when the earth and sky will rock and reel, and pass away, rolled up like a worn-out vesture. Then shall the trumpet ring out exceeding loud and long — “Awake, ye dead, and come to judgment!” How will you endure that voice which shall disturb the stillness of the sepulchre? “Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!” How it will peal forth! None of you will be able to resist the call. From your beds of dust you will start up amazed to a terrible awakening. From the sea, from the land, from the teeming cemetery, from the lonely grave, men will rise, and all of them stand before Christ! In that day you will see nothing but the great white throne, and him that sits upon it. You will be unable to close your eyes, or turn your gaze elsewhere. There will he sit, and you will know him by his scars.
“How resplendent shine the nail-prints!
Every eye shall see him move.”
Still shall the trumpet thrill out the summons, “Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come away!” And you must come, whether you will or not; and if you have despised the Lord as Saviour, you will tremble before him as Judge. You will then hear his voice, which in itself is sweeter than the harps of heaven, but to the ungodly it will be more full of thunder than the crash of tempest— “Depart! Depart! Depart!” O my hearer, what will then become of you? The prospect is terrible: but you have no concern about it. To die, to rise, to be judged, to be condemned: you take no account of it. Like Herod, you set him at nought. How dare you do so? How dare you despise the great Judge? Ah, my Lord, have mercy upon them! Have mercy upon them now, and turn them from doing to thee and to themselves this grievous wrong of making nothing of the Lord of all. They set him at nought!
This is very heavy preaching to me. If it is as painful to you to hear as to me to speak, you will be glad when I have done. I pray that these solemn words may long remain upon your hearts. Oh, that they might bring you to Jesus at once by the power of the Holy Ghost!
IV. But I close with this: WHAT DO BELIEVERS SAY ABOUT THEIR LORD? Herod made nothing of him: what do we make of him?
Well, we say, first, that we mourn and lament that there ever was a time when we ourselves made nothing of the glorious One. It is many years ago with some of us; but we cannot forget it, nor cease to bewail it. There were a certain number of years in our lives in which it was nothing to us that Jesus should die. O my dear hearers, perhaps some of you have been lately converted after forty, or fifty, or sixty years of sin. Repent with all your hearts that you were Herods so long. Christ has forgiven you; but can you forgive yourselves? No; I think that you still smite on your breast, and say, “Lord, I grieve that ever I lived a moment without acknowledging my Lord— that I ever ate a meal or drew in a breath without bowing before him.” Lord, bury those years in forgetfulness which we spent in forgetfulness of thee!
Next, it is now our grief that any others should set the Lord Jesus at nought. It must be a great grief to any man here if she who lies in his bosom sets the Lord at nought. Dear woman, I know what your daily burden must be if the husband who is so dear to you does not love your Saviour, whom you love with a higher love. What an anguish it is to nourish and bring up children, and see them refuse our Lord! “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth”; and no greater sorrow than to see them running into evil ways. Could we really see the heart of an unregenerate man or woman it would cause us the utmost distress. If we felt as we ought to feel, if there were only one unconverted person in this Tabernacle, we should make a Bochim of it till that heart was yielded to Christ. If there existed only one man or woman who did not love the Saviour, and if that person lived amongst the wilds of Siberia, and if it were necessary that all the millions of believers on the face of the earth should journey thither, and every one of them plead with him to come to Jesus, before he could be converted; it would be well worth all the zeal, and labour, and expense of all that effort. One soul would repay the travail in birth of myriads of zealous Christians. Lord, we cannot bear it that there should go on existing men and women who make nothing of the bleeding Son of God! It is an awful thing: as awful as hell itself! Out in that street to-night think of the thousands who will be hunting for the precious life. Walk along our crowded thoroughfares, and think of the myriads even of this city who live and die without God, and without hope, making nothing of Jesus, and you will feel a heartbreak which will make life a burden. I could wish that you felt that heartbreak for their sakes, and for Christ’s sake.
But then, dear friends, what do we make of Christ ourselves now? Well, that I cannot tell you, except it be in one word—Christ is all. Herod made nothing of him; we make everything of him.
“All my capacious powers can wish,
In thee doth richly meet;
Nor to my eyes is light so dear,
Nor friendship half so sweet.”
Could any of you who love my Lord tell me what you think of him? I am sure that you would break down in the attempt. For my own part, I always fail in the glad endeavour.
“When my tongue would fain express
All his love and loveliness,
Then I lisp and falter forth
Broken words not half his worth.”
If we could give every drop of our blood for Jesus; if we could be burnt at a slow fire for a century for him, he deserves all our suffering and all our life. Could our zeal no respite know, a whole eternity of service would not adequately set forth what we think of him.
I close with this practical thought. Sometimes believers show their love and their appreciation of their Master by special acts of homage. Herod, you see, when he made nothing of him, said, “Here, bring out that glittering white robe of mine, and put it on him, that we may heap contempt upon him. He calls himself a King! Let us pay him homage!” They mocked him, and they put the robe upon him, and then sent him back to Pilate. Now, I want you to imitate Herod in the opposite direction. Let us do our Lord special honour to-night. Let us crown him. As soon as we have opportunity, let us make some special offering of our substance to his cause. Let us set apart a season for adoration and reverent worship. Let us resolve that for his sake we will speak well of his name to somebody to whom we have not yet spoken. It may be that some of you can sing a hymn to Jesus with choice music, or write a glorious verse for his dear sake. Go, take your pen, and dip it in your heart, and write a fresh tract in honour of his blessed name. Herod set him at nought, but let us set him on high in our best manner. Set him at the highest figure that your thought and your imagination can reach. It may be that some brother here could preach about his Lord, and yet he has not opened his mouth from timidity. Come, try, my friend. Shake off your bashfulness. It may be that some sister here might teach women, or get together a class of youngsters, and glorify Christ by instructing them. I long to undo what Herod did, and pay the Well-beloved a recompense for his shame. Oh, how would I honour him! But what am I? What can one person do? Come, all of you, my brethren, and help to cry “Hosanna!” Alas! what are we all together? The music has no volume in it, compared with what he deserves. Come, all ye saints, and worship him! And what are all the saints on earth? Come, ye in heaven, who bear the palm, redeemed, perfected, and white-robed as ye are; come, worship him who washed your robes in his own blood! And what are all they? Even the armies of the redeemed suffice not. Come, all holy ones and praise him!
“Angels, assist our mighty joys!
Strike all your harps of gold!
But when you raise your highest notes,
His love can ne’er be told.”
Therefore do I summon all things that are to praise the Lord, without whom was not anything made. I charge all living things to adore him who is the resurrection and the life. Let space become one great mouth for song. Let time unceasingly flow with hallelujahs. Let eternity become an orchestra to the praise of Jesus, who was mocked of Herod and his men of war. Glory be to his name! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.