George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
We May Live Too Long
Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him--Joh 11:9-10
The Confidence of Christ
These words are the recoil of Jesus from the fearfulness of the disciples. They had just told Him that if He went into Judaea, He did it at the peril of His life. To that, the answer of their Lord was, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? Is not My life planned out for Me by God? Are not My times in His hand? Till the appointed hour strikes, ten thousand may fall at My right hand, but it shall not (and it cannot) come nigh Me." It was this confidence, not in a dark fate, but in the perfect ordering of love, that kept our Savior undismayed and tranquil when fear was on every hand. There were twelve hours in His day, and till the sands of the twelfth hour had run, His enemies were powerless to touch Him.
In View of the Glory of the Cross
Now this was spoken by our Lord when He knew that Calvary was not far away. The miracle He was about to work on Lazarus was to prove to be the crisis of His life. When St. John speaks of the Savior being "glorified," he is almost always thinking of the cross. That lifting up of Jesus was His glory: the cross was His crown. And when our Lord says here that the sickness of Lazarus was for the glorifying of the Son of God (Joh 11:4), He knew that the impending miracle was to lead Him straight to the bitter way of Calvary. There were twelve hours in His day--with what swiftness these winged hours had fled! It seemed but yesterday since He had played at Nazareth, and now the sun was setting. What deep thoughts of life and opportunity, and of the flying shuttle on the loom of time must have occupied the heart of Jesus as, deliberately, He moved onward to Judaea! Must He die just then? Might He not prolong His life a little? It was a sweet, glad thing to be alive--could He not postpone the agony a season? If He was tempted in all points like as we are, surely He was tempted thus when He went forward to raise Lazarus--and to die (Joh 11:53).
Heavenly Light on the Pathway of Life as Long as It Lasts
And then out of these deep and solemn musings come these wonderful words that stir the heart--"But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth." The figure is, that as long as daylight lasts the traveler has the light of heaven to guide him. But let him push on into the falling darkness, and he stumbles, for the light is gone. And Christ fought back the insidious temptation to escape death and to live a little longer by that awful thought of stumbling in the night. Just as long as His twelve hours endured He had the promise and certainty of light. Led by His Father, He would be kept from stumbling, however hard and perilous the way. But let Him push on, past the appointed time, into the service of a thirteenth hour, and His feet, which had been beautiful upon the mountains, would stumble in the bewilderment of night. In other words, He must not shun the cross. To escape it would only lead to tragedy. A year gained by avoidance of the agony would be a year bereft of the shining of God's face. So He set His face steadfastly towards Jerusalem and refused the aid of the legions of angels and cried with a loud voice, "It is finished."
Prolongation of Physical Life at Spiritual Detriment
And for us the lesson is just this--and there are times when we all need to learn it--that we may purchase a few years of added life at far too great a spiritual cost. When a believer, in times of persecution, lengthens his years by being false to Christ; when a minister shuns the sickbed of infection lest he catch the infection himself and perhaps die; when a physician flees at the approach of plague; when anyone evades or shirks the cross, he is prolonging his life into the night. I do not think I have known a single young fellow who got exemption in the war to save his skin whose character has not deteriorated steadily. Life thus lengthened is always unillumined. There is no sunshine in the thirteenth hour. To shirk one's duty that life may be prolonged is to gain years that are not worth the living. And yet how often gentle, kindly hearts beg us to take care and not run risks, just as Peter did when he heard about the cross. We are immortal till our work is done. There are twelve hours in the day. Possibly by shirking dangerous duty a man might add to his day a thirteenth hour. But if he does, says Jesus, no birds will sing for him nor will the light of the glad sun direct his feet--he will walk in the night and he will stumble.
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