George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Great Affirmation
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you--Joh 14:2
Christ Knew about Death; Socrates Only Speculated
It is not by any amplified detail that these words so appeal to human hearts. It is rather by the quiet, assured confidence with which the Savior speaks of the beyond. In the whole of literature there is but one scene worthy to be compared with this. It is where Plato tells of the last hours of Socrates in prison before he drank the poison. I know few things more admirably fitted to reveal the preeminence of Christ than a comparison of these two incidents. Like Christ, Socrates is going to die. Like Christ, his thoughts run on immortality. He discusses it with the friends who come to visit him; he speculates, he argues, and he wonders. What a perfect and stupendous contrast between that and the attitude of Christ. Socrates speculates about a life unknown. Christ speaks of a life that He has known, a realm as real and familiar to Him as my study is to me. It is not what He says so much; rather it is the tone in which He says it that has reached the heart and comforted humanity and given it an anchor for the soul. Where others speculate, the Savior knows. Where others question, He is quietly sure. Where others see but dimly in the shadows, He sees with the certainty of God. And all this on the night of His betrayal, when all that He had lived for seemed in ruins, and nothing seemed to lie before Him but a grave.
Man's Instinct for Immortality
These great words of Jesus corroborate the longings of the heart. All that we crave and hope for in the deeps here is countersigned by the Lord Jesus. Deep and ineradicable is the instinct of man for immortality, witnessed in every age, in every country, in every religion. Even when men deny it with their lips, still do they confess it with their lives, for life has its arguments no less than intellect. By the powerlessness of the whole world to satisfy the poorest heart; by the cargoes we all have on board of things that are not wanted for the voyage; by the passion for truth, the craving for perfection, the glimmering of ideals we never reach, man stretches out his hands to immortality. Whoever loved without longing for forever? Deep affection postulates eternity. Love does not want a year or a millennium. Love cries for immortality. And now comes Christ and looks upon mankind and sees the secret hunger of their souls and says, "If it were not so, I would have told you."
There are beliefs that influence life but little, like the old belief that the sun went round the earth. We may cling to them, or we may give them up, with little difference to conduct. But there are other beliefs that touch and mold and color every action of the common day, and among these is the belief in immortality. In the light of it everything is altered. Altered is our outlook on the world. Altered is the discipline of life, and the import of the chastisements of heaven. Love is different, and hope is different; duty gains august and awful sanction if that instinct of immortality be true. Changed is the face of suffering, of infirmity, of weakness, and of pain. Changed is the loneliness of dying; changed the horrid darkness of the grave. And Christ says, "Children, do you think one instant that if that were an error I would let you keep it? If it were not so, I would have told you. Believe if you like that the sun goes round the earth. That does not matter. I shall not interfere. You may be Mine; you may be washed and sanctified though you believe that the sun goes round the earth. But that deep instinct for immortal life affects profoundly everything you do, and if it were a deception I would have told you."
"I Would Have Told You So"
He would have told us because He loves us and cannot bear to see His own deceived. He would have told us though it almost broke His heart to see the vanishing of hopes and dreams. He would have told us because He was the Truth and refused to let His people live and die under a hope that was the devil's falsehood. Christ corroborates our deepest longing for an immortal life that shall be personal. And He does it in His own quiet way, confidently, with perfect, full assurance. No wonder, then, that this is the favorite chapter with millions of the human race. No wonder that when Lockhart read it to Sir Walter, his big heart was rested and was comforted. No wonder that in Margaret Ogilvy's Bible the pages would fall open at this place, and when she could not read, she stooped and kissed it.
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