«AN ASTOUNDING MIRACLE NO. 1765 A SERMON PREACHED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 10, 1884, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, ...»
Sermon #1765 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
AN ASTOUNDING MIRACLE
PREACHED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 10, 1884,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“And they went into Capernaum, and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, saying, Let us alone, what have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold your peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commands He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him.
And immediately His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.” Mark 1:21-28.
YOU will find the same narrative in Luke, at the fourth chapter, from the 31st to the 37th verse. It will be handy for you to be able to refer to the second passage, from which I shall quote one or two matters.
These two evangelists commence the narrative by telling us of the singular authority and power which there was about the Savior’s teaching—authority, so that no man dared question His doctrine;
power, so that every man felt the force of the truth which He delivered. “They were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with power.” Why was it that the Savior’s teaching had such a remarkable power about it? Was it not, first, because He preached the truth? There is no power in falsehood except so far as men choose to yield to it because it flatters them, but there is great force in truth; it makes its own way into the soul. As long as men have consciences they cannot help feeling when the truth is brought to bear upon them. Even though they grow angry, their very resistance proves that they recognize the force of what is spoken. Moreover, the Savior spoke the truth in a very natural, unaffected manner. The truth was in Him, and it flowed freely from Him. His manner was truthful as well as His matter.
There is a way of speaking truth so as to make it sound like a lie. Perhaps there is no greater injury done to truth than when it is spoken in a doubtful manner, with none of the accent and emphasis of conviction. Our Savior spoke as the oracles of God. He spoke the truth as truth should be spoken, unaffectedly and naturally, as one who did not preach professionally, but out of the fullness of His heart. You all know how sermons from the heart go to the heart. Moreover, our great Exemplar delivered His teaching as one who most heartily believed what He was speaking, who spoke what He knew, yes, spoke of things which were His own. Jesus had no doubts, no hesitancy, no questions, and His style was as calmly forcible as His faith. Truth seemed to be reflected from His face just as it shone forth from God in all its native purity and splendor. He could not speak otherwise than He did, for He spoke as He was, as He felt and as He knew. Our Lord spoke as one whose life supported all that He taught. Those who knew Him could not say, “He speaks after a right kind, but He acts otherwise.” There was about His whole conduct and deportment that which made Him the fit person to utter the truth, because the truth was incarnate, and embodied, and exemplified in His own person. Well might He speak with great assurance when He could say, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” He was as pure as the truth which He proclaimed. He was not a speaking-machine, sounding out something with which it has no vital connection;
but out of the midst of His own heart there flowed rivers of living waters. Truth overflowed at His lips from the deep well of His soul, it was in Him and therefore came from Him. What He poured forth was His own life, with which He was endeavoring to impregnate the lives of others. Consequently, for all Volume 30 www.spurgeongems.org 1 2 An Astounding Miracle Sermon #1765 these reasons and many besides, Jesus spoke as one that had authority, His tone was commanding, His teaching was convincing.
Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit who had descended upon Him in His baptism, rested upon Him, and bore witness by His divine operations in the consciences and hearts of men. If Jesus spoke of sin, the Spirit was there to convince the world of sin. If He set forth a glorious righteousness, the Holy Spirit was there to convince the world of righteousness, and when He told men of the coming judgment, the Holy Spirit was present to make them know that a judgment would surely come at which each of them must appear. Because of His unlimited anointing by the Spirit, our Lord spoke with power and authority of the most astonishing kind, so that all who heard Him were compelled to feel that no ordinary Rabbi stood before them.
That power and authority was seen all the more in contrast with the Scribes, for the Scribes spoke hesitatingly. They quoted authority, they begged leave to venture an opinion, they supported their ideas by the opinion of Rabbi this, although it was questioned by Rabbi the other, they spent their time in tying and untying knots before the people, quibbling about matters which had no practical importance whatever. They were wonderfully clear upon the tithing of mint and anise. They enlarged most copiously upon the washing of cups and basins. They were profound upon phylacteries and borders of garments.
They were at home upon such rubbish, which would neither save a soul, nor slay a sin, nor suggest a virtue. While handling the Scriptures they were mere word-triflers, lettermen, whose chief objective was to show their own wisdom. Such attempts at oratory and word-spinning were as far as the poles asunder from the discourses of our Lord. Self-display never entered into the mind of Jesus. He was so absorbed in what He had to teach that His hearers did not exclaim, “What a preacher is this!” but, “What a word is this!” and “What new teaching is this!” The word and the teaching with their admirable authority and amazing power subdued men’s minds and hearts by the energy of truth. Men acknowledged that the great teacher had taught them something worth knowing, and had so impressed it upon them that there was no shaking themselves free of it.
Now, when they were beginning to perceive this authority in His word, our Lord determined to prove to them that there was real power at the back of His teaching, that He had a right to use such authority, for He was Jesus Christ the Son of God, clothed with divine authority and power. It occurred to Him to display before their eyes the fact that as there was power about His speech, there was also power about Himself, that He was mighty in deed as well as in word, and therefore He worked the miracle now before us. This most astounding deed of authority and power has been passed over by certain expositors as having too little of incident about it to be of much interest, whereas, to my mind, it rises in some respects above all other miracles, and is certainly excelled by none in its forcible demonstration of our Lord’s authority and power. It is the first miracle which Mark gives us, it is the first which Luke gives us, and it is in some respects the first of miracles, as I hope I may show before I have done. Remember, however, that the objective of the miracle is to reveal more fully the power and authority of our Lord’s word, and to let us see by following signs that His teaching has an omnipotent force about it. This truth is much needed at the present moment, for if the gospel does not still save men, if it is still not “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes,” then the attacks of skepticism are not easily repelled. But if it is still a thing of power over the minds of men, a power conquering sin and Satan, then they may say what they like, our only answer shall be to lament their doubts and to scorn their scorning.
O for an hour of the Son of man! O where is He that trod the sea, and bade the rage of hell subside with a word?
I. First, then, to show forth this power and authority, Out LORD SELECTS A MOST UNHAPPY
PERSON ON WHOM TO PROVE HIS POWER.
This person was, first, one possessed. A devil dwelt within him. We cannot explain this fact any more than we can explain madness. Many things which happen in the world of mind are quite inexplicable, and for that matter so are many facts in the world of matter. We accept the recorded fact—an evil spirit entered into this man, and continued in him. Satan, you know, is God’s ape, he is always trying to imitate Him, to caricature Him, so, when God became incarnate, it occurred to Satan to become incarnate too, and this man I may call, without any misuse of words, an incarnate devil, or, at any rate, the devil was incarnated in him. He had become like a devil in human form, and so was in a certain manner 2 www.spurgeongems.org Volume 30 Sermon #1765 An Astounding Miracle 3 the opposite of our Lord Jesus. In Jesus dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily by an eternal union. In this man the devil dwelt for a while. Is not this an awful picture? But note the fact, the man whom Jesus selects to prove His power and authority on was so far gone that the foul fiend controlled his mind, and made a kennel of his body. I wondered, when thinking this over, whether a person of whom this man is the emblem would come into the congregation today, for I have seen such people. I have not dared personally to apply such an epithet to any man, but I have heard it applied. I have heard disgusted friends and indignant neighbors, worn out with the drunken profanity, or horrible filthiness, of some man say, “He does not seem to be a man; he acts like the evil one.” Or when it has been a woman, they have said, “All that is womanly is gone, she seems to be a female fiend.” Well, if such shall come within sound of my voice, or within reading of this sermon, let them take note that there is help, hope, and health even for them. The power of Jesus knows no limit. Upon one who was the Devil’s Own did our gracious Lord display His authority and power in connection with His gospel teaching, and He is not less able now than then.
This man, further, was one whose personality was to a great extent merged in the Evil One. Read the rd 23 verse, “There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit.” The rendering might be equally accurate if we read it, “A man in an unclean spirit.” Do you see that; not only a man with an unclean spirit in him, but a man in an unclean spirit. The phrase is simple enough; we speak of a man being in drink. For liquor to be in a man does not mean half as much as for a man to be in liquor. To give a more pleasant illustration, we speak of a person’s being “in love.” He is absorbed in his affection. We should not express a tenth as much if we said that love is in the man. A man can be in a rage, in a passion, and even so was this man in an evil spirit. He was completely ruled by the evil one. The poor creature had no power over himself whatever, and was not himself actually responsible. In all that I say of him I am not condemning him, but only using him as a type of human sin. Please do not forget this. As far as the narrative is concerned, the man himself scarcely appears. It is the unclean spirit that cries out, “Let us alone.
I know who You are.” These are words spoken by the man, but they are the sentiments of the demon that used the man’s organs of speech according to his own will. The man was scarcely a man with a will or wish of his own. In fact, you do not notice him till you see him flung down into the midst of the synagogue. You only see the proper man when the Savior raises him up before them all, unharmed and rational. Until the miracle is worked the man is lost in the unclean spirit that dominates him. Have you ever seen such men? You say sometimes, and you say truly, “alas, poor wretch! The drink has the mastery over him; he would never do such things as he does if he was not in drink.” We do not mean to excuse him by such an expression, far from it. Or it may be the man is a gambler, and you say, “He is quite obsessed by gaming, though he impoverishes his wife and children, yet he is possessed by that spirit so completely that he has not the mind or the will to resist the temptation.” Or it may be that such another person is carried away with unchaste affections, and we say, “How sad! There was something about that man which we used to like. In many points he was admirable, but he is so deluded by his bad passions that he does not seem to be himself.” We almost forget the man, and think mainly of the dreadful spirit which has degraded him lower than the beasts. The type and emblem of such a person as that, our Lord selected as the platform to show His power. I wonder whether this voice of mine will reach one of that sort? I sincerely hope that none of you are in such a condition, but if you should be, still there is hope for you in Christ Jesus. He is able to deliver such as are led captive at the will of Satan. Though you seem wholly given up and utterly abandoned to the dominion of a terrible sin, to which you yield a willing obedience, yet Jesus can break off the iron yoke from your neck and bring you into the liberty of holiness. It will be an awful thing for you to die in your sins, and you surely will unless you believe in the Lord Jesus. But if you look to Him, He can make you pure and holy, and create you anew.