Wednesday, January 16, 2008

He labored not for himself but for others

The three years of Christ’s ministry were three years of ceaseless toil. He never rested: one wonders how he lived at all. It is but little marvel that his poor body was emaciated, and that his visage was more marred than that of any man. What with stern conflicts with Satan in the desert — conflicts so severe, that, if you and I were to undergo them, they might make our hairs turn grey in a single night; what with conflicts with the crowd of men who all seemed to rise up at once against him, like warriors armed to the teeth, while he stood like a defenseless lamb in the midst of cruel wolves — what with preaching, with more private teaching, with healing the sick and the lepers, restoring the maimed, the deaf, the blind; going about everywhere doing good, and never ceasing in his journeys, walking every inch of his way on foot, save when he was tossed on the stormy bosom of the lake, in some small boat which belonged to his disciples — never having a home wherein to dwell, crying, “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” — surely never man labored like this man. That three years of our Savior’s ministry reads like the history of three centuries. It is the life of a man who is living at a matchless rate. His minutes are all hours; his hours all months; his months all years; or longer still than that. He does enough in one day to give a man eternal fame, and yet, thinking nothing of it, he goes to something yet more arduous; and on, and on, and on, he toils his whole life through. The most hard working man among us has his hours of sleep. Give us but sleep and we can do anything, we rise up from our beds like giants refreshed with new wine, to run our course anew. But Jesus sleeps not.

“Cold mountains and the midnight air,
Witness the fervor of his prayer.”

He has stood up to preach all day long; he has fed thousands. and at last he faints. His disciples take him even as he is, for he cannot walk, his strength is gone; and they carry him down to the boat and lay him there. He shuts his eyes, he is about to have some little repose but they come to him, and cry, “Master, why sleepest thou? Awake! we perish.” And he arises to rebuke the waves, and finds himself on another shore, and in another field of labor, upon which he enters at once without delay. He seems to have known no moment of repose. He preaches day by day, he prays by night. He seemed to be a sun that never had a setting, always shining always progressing in his mighty course. Oh! there never was such a worker, never such a toiler as this Lord Jesus, who toiled not for himself but for others.

From a sermon entitled "Jesus About His Father's Business," delivered March 4, 1860. Flickr photo by Aube insanite; some rights reserved.

No comments: