George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Testimony of His Enemies
They hated me without a cause--Joh 15:25
Love Is Not Blind
I take it that if you want to understand a person, the first essential is that you should love him. It is only love that sees into the deeps and reads the story in the light of God. There is a proverb which says that love is blind. If that were true, then God would have no eyes. Love is not blind. It has the keenest sight. It can read the smallest print without assistance. And we call it blind because the things we see and, seeing, can detect no beauty in, are to the eyes of love transfigured, like a window that reflects the sunset. It is when I am told that God is love that I commit all judgment to Him gladly. It is when I believe that someone loves me that I am never afraid to be myself. And so with Jesus--it was those who loved Him who saw the heights and depths of what He was, and it was always to the men who loved Him that He unlocked the treasures of His heart.
Value of Our Enemies' Estimate of Us
Yet while that is true both about Christ, and about every person be he great or small, it is also true that there may be a value in the testimony of one's enemies. I am not speaking of those malicious slanders which may assail a public reputation. These are a breath out of the mouth of hell to be scorned by every honorable man. I am rather speaking of those hasty comments that are made in the presence of a lofty character, and made, not by those who understand it, but by those who are antagonistic. Whatever in that character is weak is instantly detected by the envious. Whatever in that character is strong is wrested and distorted to a fault. And so through the haze of things that are half-true--back of the mists of prejudice and passion--we sometimes can discern, if we be wise, the lineament and figure of the truth. Now what I want to do is this. I want to look at Jesus Christ like that. I want to look at Him, not through His friends' eyes, but through the eyes of enemies and ill-wishers. I want to ask what qualities arrested them, no matter how they were travestied or torn, as they saw the deeds or listened to the words of this perplexing Personage from Galilee.
His Enemies Were Impressed by the Reality and Courage of His Comradeship
Well, the first thing the enemies bear witness to is the reality and courage of His comradeship. They looked on Jesus as an enemy, and yet they have taught the world that He was a Brother. "He is the friend of publicans and sinners"--that was the charge which they were always hurling. They thought that if nothing else could ruin Him that would forever blast His reputation. And now we take that charge and we accept it, and we believe it because His haters made it, and to us it is the witness and the seal of the magnificent comradeship of Christ. It is almost impossible for us to realize in what odium these publicans were held. Tax collectors for detested Rome, they were one and all of them traitors to their country. And their money was tainted and their hands were foul, and if one made an oath to them it was not valid. They were as loathsome as the hungry dogs that prowl for refuse in the eastern streets. It was of such that Jesus was the friend. Was not that enough to blight His reputation? And He not only spoke with them in public, He went to their houses and He ate and drank with them. And His enemies rejoiced when they saw that, and they said, "His tastes proclaim Him as a sinner"; and we accept the fact and say, "No, not a sinner; His action proclaims Him as a brother."
Jesus Impressed His Enemies as a "Gluttonous Man and a Wine-Bibber"
Then once again we gather from His enemies that He impressed them as a genial man. For you remember another charge they hurled at Him, "Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber." Any charge more villainously false it would be impossible for malice to conceive. Probably they only half-believed it although they used it in their campaign of calumny. Yet am I thankful it has been preserved and preserved, too, by the lips of Christ Himself, for through the vileness of it we discern a truth that is far too precious to let die. It is this that the enemies have borne their witness to--that Jesus was not ascetic and austere. He was no John the Baptist in His robe of hair shunning the pleasant fellowship of men. He was genial. He loved a kindly company. He sat and was happy at the social table. He moved among men not with a face of gloom; He moved among them with a face of gladness and joy. The bitterest foe would never have said that about Isaiah or about Jeremiah. The vilest slanderer would have been laughed at had he ventured so to speak of John the Baptist. And the very fact that men so spake of Jesus, and found an audience who would listen to them, is a witness of unequalled value to His gladness and His geniality.
Jesus' Composure in the Midst of Gloom Impressed His Enemies
Of course it is true that we read that Jesus wept while nowhere do we read that Jesus smiled. And some have concluded that He never smiled because the Gospel does not mention it. It seems to me that that is the wrong conclusion. Is not the other way about more natural? Is it not likely that His tears are mentioned because they were exceptional and rare? Let a thousand men be walking in the streets, and you never read in the newspapers of them. But one of them is crushed--meets with an accident--and it is of him you have the paragraph. So everyone noted it when Jesus wept. It was so unusual, so exceptional. And to the evangelists, when they sat down to write, these tears of Christ were hot and burning still. But His gladness was perennial and pervasive, so common that it did not need a chronicle, and we might almost have been blind to it save for some illuminative slanders. I do not forget that Christ was a Man of sorrows. I do not forget that He foresaw the cross. But of this I am sure, that in this weary world He never moved in a parade of gloom. He hid it deep--all that He had to bear. He went apart when He would agonize. And when the sorrow broke upon the surface, men were amazed and said, "Behold, He weeps!"
His Enemies Were Impressed by the Reality of His Power in Working Miracles
Once more, we have the testimony of His enemies to the reality of His power in working miracles. To me there is nothing more significant than that in the whole record of the Gospel. There is a good deal of talk on the miracles today. There are many to whom the miracles are stumbling blocks. There is something lawless in these displays of power to many who have been trained as we have been, but I am not going into that subject. It is too great to be treated by the way, but I want to suggest to you two considerations which seem to me of singular importance.
The first is that those who knew Christ best never expressed amazement at a miracle. It is always the people who are amazed at miracles, never any of the twelve disciples. I never read that Peter was amazed. I never read that Thomas was amazed. It was not they; it was the village crowds who were filled with wonder at these mighty deeds. And that just means that as men got nearer Christ, the less and less amazing grew the miracles. The more they knew Him--the more they understood Him--the more natural did the miracle appear. It was a deed of wonder to the ignorant just because they were ignorant of Christ. They judged Him by the other men they knew, and so His deeds of power were amazing. But to John, who lay upon his Master's bosom and had fathomed the infinite secret of His heart, it was not the miracle that was so wonderful. It was the wonderful Christ who was behind it.
And then the other suggestive fact is this. Christ's enemies did not deny His miracles. They never said, "He does not cast out devils by Beelzebub." Now, would not they have denied them if they could? Were not the miracles a mighty trumpet blast? Can you not imagine how the news would spread and be the talk beside a hundred hearths? And yet these miracles that drew the crowd and awed the reckless and thrilled a thousand hearts, these never once in the whole Gospel story were denied by the bitterest enemy of Christ. He casteth out devils by Beelzebub. They had to admit, you see, the casting out. It would have been their triumph to dispute it. There is not a trace they ever tried to do so. And what I say is that that bitter taunt which blights the motive, yet cannot touch the fact, is one of the strongest of all the lesser arguments that the miracles of Jesus Christ were real.
Jesus' Enemies Were Impressed by His Intensity
Then once again I gather from His enemies something of the intensity of Christ. They went to see Him, and they went to listen to Him, and they said, "He hath a devil, and is mad." It was not everyone who passed that verdict. There were simpler men who took another view. Thrilled by the depth and beauty of His speech, they could only say, "Never man spake like this man." But to the cold, precise, and formal Pharisees this baptism of fire was but insanity. And they steeled their hearts against the burning of it, and they said, "He hath a devil, and is mad." Had He been cold as they themselves were cold, how utterly foolish such a charge as that! The people would have turned on them and torn them and bidden the physician heal himself. What made the charge pass for truth for an hour was just the burning intensity of Christ, the fire that glowed at a white heat within Him, and shone through every syllable He spoke. There are two charges the enthusiast has to bear. Sometimes he is drunk, and sometimes mad. On the day of Pentecost, it was the one. With Paul as he stood before Festus, it was the other. And so when the enemies of Christ stood by and smiled and shrugged and said, "The man is mad," it only tells us what a fire was burning and what an intensity was glowing there.
His Enemies Were Impressed by His Calmness
I sometimes think our thoughts are not quite right in regard to the calmness of our Lord and Savior. Do we not dwell upon the rest of Christ in a way that is apt to rob Him of His power? l believe that Christ was infinitely calm. I believe He was unutterably restful. "Come unto me and I will give you rest"--and men looked upon His face and felt it true. Yet "He that is near to Me is near the fire," is one of the unwritten sayings of the Master. The rest of Jesus is not a rest that dulls and stupefies, the rest of Jesus is a rest that glows and irradiates. There is a calm which is the calm of sleep. There is another of intensest life. When all the powers are in perfect equipoise, then there is rest though energy be infinite. That is the calm of the expanse of ocean when we say it sleeps under the silver moon, and yet that sleep is but the perfect balance of the most mighty and stupendous forces. I like to think of the calm of Christ like that. His peace was as the sleeping of the sea. There was not a ripple on the expanse of water and not a breaker to frighten a child. And yet it was intense--the rest of God--and spoke of unseen powers that were tremendous; and so men looked at Him and smiled and shrugged and said, "He hath a devil, and is mad."
Jesus' Enemies Were Impressed by His Trust in God
Then in the last place and in a single word--His enemies witness to His trust in God. That was the last taunt they flung at Him. It was the bitterest, and it was the truest. "He trusted in God," they cried when He was crucified. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him. Ah, how cruel it was--how diabolic--while the nails were through His feet and through His hands. And yet I think I see the face of Jesus lighting up with a glad look of triumph. Even His enemies had to confess at last that through storm and sunshine He had trusted God. Now tell me, have you any enemies? If you have friends you probably have foes. Well, now, if they began to taunt you, could they say with a sneer of you, "He trusted God"? Happy the man of whom that can be said! Happy the heart which has that hostile witness! Happy the life which has revealed its trust to the watchful eyes of malice and of hate!
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