The Welcome Visitor - A Sermon [9](No. 3461)Published on Thursday, June 3rd, 1915.Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON,At the [10]Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

WELCOME

 "And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary, her
   sister, secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As
   soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now
   Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where
   Martha met him. The Jews which were with her in the house, and
   comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went
   out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
   Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at
   his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother
   had not died."--John 11:28-32.
 
   IT seems that Martha had heard of Christ's coming, and Mary had not.
   Hence Martha rose up hastily and went to meet the Master, while Mary
   sat still in the house. From this we gather that genuine believers
   may, through some unexplained cause, be at the same time in very
   different states of mind. Martha may have heard of the Lord and seen
   the Lord; and Mary, an equally loving heart, not having known of his
   presence, may, therefore, have missed the privilege of fellowship with
   him. Who shall say that Martha was better than Mary? Who shall censure
   the one, or approve the other? Now, beloved, you may be tonight
   yourselves, though true believers in Jesus, in different conditions. I
   may have a Martha here whose happiness it is to be in rapt fellowship
   with Christ. You have gone to him already and told him of your grief:
   you may have heard his answer to your story, and you may have been
   able by faith to say, "I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of
   God, which should come into the world"; and you may be full of peace
   and full of joy. On the other hand, sitting near you may be a person
   equally gracious as yourself who can get no farther than the cry, "Oh!
   that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his
   seat!" Dear Martha, condemn not Mary. Dear Mary, condemn not yourself.
   Martha, be ready to speak the word of comfort to Mary. Mary, be ready
   to receive that word of comfort, and, in obedience to it, to rise up
   quickly and, in imitation of your sister, go and cast yourself, as she
   has done already, at the Saviour's feet. I must not say, because I
   have not all the joy my brother has, that I am no true child of God.
   Children are equally children in your household, though one be little
   and the other be full grown, and they are equally dear to you, though
   one be sick and the other in good health--though one be quick at his
   letters and another be but a dull scholar. The love of Christ is not
   measured out to us according to our conditions or attainments. He
   loves us irrespective of all these. Jesus loved Martha, and Mary, and
   Lazarus. He loves all his own, and they must not judge of him by what
   they feel, nor measure his love by a sense of their own want of love.
 
   Hoping that the Lord will now bless the word to all of us who are his
   own people, I shall speak of two things--a visit from the Master--a
   visit to the Master.
 
   I. HERE IS A VISIT FROM THE MASTER.
 
   Martha came and said to Mary, "The Master is come"--or as we might
   read it truly, "The Master is here and calleth for thee." "The Master
   is come." "The Master is here."
 
   Beloved friends who are just now without the present fellowship with
   Christ, which you could fondly desire, permit me to whisper this in
   your ear. "The Master is here! The Master is here!" We cannot come
   round and whisper it secretly as Martha did, but take the message each
   one of you to himself--"The Master is here."
 
   He is here, for he is accustomed to be where his word is preached with
   sincerity of heart. He is accustomed to be wherever his saints are
   gathered together in his name. We have his own dear word for this--the
   best pledge we can have--"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end
   of the world." We have met in his name, we have met for his worship,
   we have met to preach his gospel; and the Master is here. We are sure
   he is here, for he always keeps his word; he never fails of his
   promise.
 
   He is here, for some of us feel his presence. Had Mary said to Martha,
   How do you know that the Master is come? she would have answered, "Why
   I have spoken with him, and he has spoken to me." Well, there be some
   among us who can say, "He has spoken to us." Did we not hear him
   speaking when we were singing that hymn just now?
 
   "My God, the spring of all my joys,
 
   The life of my delights,
 
   The glory of my brightest days,
 
   The comfort of my nights."
 
   Did not we perceive him to be near some of us, when we were singing:--
 
   "Oh! see how Jesus trusts himself
 
   Unto our childish love,
 
   As though, by his free ways with us,
 
   Our earnestness to prove"?
 
   I, for one, did, if none besides; I can bear good witness to you that
   are languishing for his company, "The Master is here."
 
   And mark, he is here none the less surely because you have not, as
   yet, found it out, for a fact does not depend upon our cognisance of
   it, though our comfort may be materially affected thereby. The Master
   was at Bethany, though Mary had not heard an inkling of the good
   tidings; there she sat, her eyes red with weeping, and her whole soul
   in the grave with her brother Lazarus. Yet Jesus was there for all
   that. Make the case your own; though you may have come here troubled
   with all the weeks' cares-- though while you have been sitting here
   the thought of something that will happen tomorrow has been depressing
   you--though some bodily weakness has been holding you down when you
   would lift up your spirit towards God, yet that does not alter the
   fact. "The Master is come"; the Master is here. Oh! there was Mary
   sighing, "If only Christ had been here! Oh! if only Christ would
   come!" And there he was! And perhaps you are saying, "Oh! that he were
   near me!" He is near you now. You sigh for what you have, and pine for
   that which is near you. You think not, like Mary Magdalene, that he
   standeth in this garden. You are asking, "Where have ye laid him?"
   While your joy and comfort seem to you dead, he, whose absence you
   mourn, stands present before you. Oh! that he would but open those
   eyes of yours, or rather than he would open your heart, by saying to
   you, "Mary!" Let him but speak one word right home to you personally,
   and you will answer with gladness, "Rabboni!" The Master is come here,
   though you as yet have not perceived him.
 
   That word "The Master" has a sweet ring about it. He is the Master. He
   that is come is earth's Master. What are your cares? He can relieve
   them. What are your troubles? He can overcome them, and sweep them out
   of the way. The Master has come. "Cast thy burden on the Lord: he will
   sustain thee." He is hell's Master. Art thou beset with fierce
   temptations and foul insinuations of the arch-fiend? The Master has
   come. Oh! lift thy head, thou captive daughter of Zion, for thy bands
   are broken. The Breaker is come up before them; their king shall pass
   before them, and the Lord on the head of them. He who hath come is no
   menial servant, but the right royal Master himself. The Master is
   come. What though your heart now seem cold as a stone, and your spirit
   is cast down within you? What though death hath set up its adamantine
   throne in thy breast? The Master has come, and his presence can thaw
   the ice, dissolve the rock, bring thee all the graces of the Spirit
   and all the blessings of heaven that thy soul can possibly require.
   "The Master is come"--does not that touch your soul and fire your
   passions? Whose Master is he but your own? And what a Master! No
   taskmaster, no slave's master, but such a Master that his absolute
   sovereignty inspires you with sweetest confidence; for he binds you
   with the bonds of love, and draws you with the cords of a man. Master
   indeed is he! Aye, Lord and sole Master of your soul's inmost core if
   you be what you profess to be; the Master whose sceptre is the sceptre
   of reed which he carried in his hand when he was made a scorn and
   scoffing for you; the Master whose crown is the crown of thorns which
   he wore for your sins when he accomplished your redemption. Your
   Master. Thou shalt call him no more Baali, but Ishi shall his name be
   called. He is only Master in that same sense in which the tender
   loving husband is the master of the house. Love makes him supreme, for
   he is Master in the art of love, and, therefore, Master of our loving
   hearts. How sweetly doth "my Master" sound! "My Master." Why, if
   nothing else might bestir us to get up and run to meet him, it should
   be the sound of that blessed word, "The Master is here: the Master has
   come."
 
   But Martha added--and it is a very weighty addition (may the Holy
   Ghost make application of it to your heart)--"and calleth for thee."
   "But is that true?" says one; "doth he call for me?" Dear brother,
   dear sister, I know that if I say he does I shall not speak without
   his warrant, for when he comes into a congregation he calls for all
   his own. He speaketh, and he saith to all whom he loves, "Rise up, my
   love, my fair one, and come away." I know he does, because love always
   delights in fellowship with the object that is loved. Jesus loved you
   or ever the earth was. His delights were with the sons of men from old
   eternity. He loved you so well that he could not keep in heaven
   without you, and he came here to seek you and to save you. And now it
   gives his heart joy to be near you. He said, "Let me hear thy voice;
   let me see thy face: for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is
   comely." I tell you it is Christ's nether heaven to hear the voices of
   his people. It is that for which he left heaven--that he might give
   them voices with which to praise him. Do you think he loved you so,
   and will live without you? Nay, he calls for you.
 
   What is his Word, indeed, all through, but a call to his own beloved
   to come to him? What are Sabbath-days but calls in which he says,
   "Come away! come away, my beloved, from the noise and turmoil of the
   city, and come into the quiet places where my sheep lie down and
   feed"? What are your troubles but calls to you in which, with somewhat
   of harshness as it seems to you, but with an inner depth of love, he
   says, "Away, my beloved, from all earthly delights, to find thy all in
   me"? What is the Communion of the Lord's Supper but another call to
   you, "Come unto me"? The bread which you shall eat, and the wine which
   you shall drink, these are for yourself, and the call which is
   encompassed by them as by symbols is for each one of you. The Master
   is here, and calleth for thee--for each one. "Oh! but" saith Mary, "my
   eyes are bleared with weeping." He calleth for thee, thou red-eyed
   sorrower. "Ay, but my heart is heavy with a sad affliction." He
   calleth for thee, thou burdened sufferer. "Ay, but I have been full of
   levity all the week, and have forgotten him." He calleth thee that he
   may cleanse thee yet again. "Ah! but I have denied him." What saith he
   but, "Go, and tell my disciples, and Peter"? He calleth for thee that
   he may forgive thee yet again, and may say unto thee, "Simon, son of
   Jonas, lovest thou me?" I care not who you are, if you are one of his,
   the Master is come and calleth for thee. "Why," says one, "no
   Christian has spoken to me for a long while." But the Master calleth
   for thee. "But I seem so solitary in this great metropolis, and though
   I know my Master, I do not know any of his people." Never mind his
   people: "The Master is come, and calleth for thee." Ay, but I think if
   I am one of his I must be at the very tail-end of the catalogue, and
   the last of all." He calleth for thee--for thee. Oh! may that word now
   come home, and may each one feel, "If he calls for me, there is such
   condescension in that call, such tender memories of my weakness, such
   consideration for my distance and my forgetfulness, that I will loiter
   no longer. Is the Master come? Lo, I am ready for him. Doth the Master
   call? Lo, my spirit answers, 'Come, Master, my heart's doors are flung
   wide open. Come and sit on the throne of my heart. Enter in and sup
   with me and I with thee, and make this a gladsome season of intimate
   fellowship between my soul and her Lord.'" Turning now to our second
   part, let us talk awhile of:--
 
   II. A VISIT TO THE MASTER.
 
   It follows on the first as a fit sequence. We never come to Christ
   till Christ comes to us. "Draw me: I will run after thee." That is the
   order. It is not, "We will run after thee: Lord, draw us." Neither is
   it thus. When a soul is saying, as we sung in the hymn just now:--
 
   "If thou hast drawn a thousand times,
 
   'Oh! draw me yet again,"
 
   --then, beloved, he is drawing us. When we are praying to be drawn, we
   are being drawn all the while.
 
   In answer to the Lord's visit, you will notice the conduct of Mary.
   She rose up quickly. She bestirred herself. Oh! let each one of our
   souls now say, "Has the Lord called for me? Why, then, should I loiter
   or linger for a single moment? I will get me up this very moment; I
   will say, 'My Lord, I am come to thee. Thou hast called me, and here I
   am.'" Oh! for grace to shake off the sorrow that makes some hearts sit
   still! Mary's dear brother was newly laid in the tomb, but she rose up
   quickly to go and meet her Master. Dear mother, forget for a few
   minutes that dear unburied child still in the house. Forget awhile,
   dear husband, that sick wife of yours towards whom your heart so
   naturally flies. Forget, beloved, just now, all that you have
   suffered, all that you expect to suffer, all that you have lost or may
   be losing. The Master is come, and calleth for thee. Rise up quickly.
   Let not these things constrain thee to inactivity of spirit, but rise
   up now, and by his grace come away from them. She bestirred herself;
   she put on her best efforts, that she might not tarry when he called.
   And then she went, we find, just as she was. She rose up quickly, it
   is said, and she went: she came unto him. No sooner said than done.
   She arose and she came. Well, but should not she have washed her face?
   Tears add but little beauty to the maiden's visage. And that hair of
   hers, I doubt not all dishevelled--might she not have arranged that a
   little, and prepared her dress, and made herself trim for the Lord?
   Ah! that is a temptation for the mass of us: "I cannot expect to have
   fellowship at the table, because I have not come prepared." Brother,
   you ought to have come prepared, but, at the same time, if you have
   not, rise up quickly and come to the Master as you are. The Master had
   seen Mary with tears before, for he had felt her tears upon his feet.
   He had seen her with dishevelled hair before, for she had wiped his
   feet with the hairs of her head. If you are out of order, it is not
   the first time Christ has seen you so. I do not think a mother's love
   depends upon seeing her child in its Sunday clothes. She has seen it,
   I warrant you, in many a trim in which she would not wish anybody else
   to see it, but she has loved it none the less. Come, then, thou
   unprepared one. Come to him who knows just what thou art, and in what
   state thou art, and he will not cast thee out; only make brave to
   believe that, when Christ calls, his call is a warrant to come,
   however unfit we may be. And oh! how promptly she left all other
   comforters to come to Christ. There were the Jews that came to comfort
   her. I dare say they did their best, but she did not stop for the
   rabbi to finish his fine discourse, nor for the first scholar of the
   Sanhedrin to complete that dainty parable by which he hoped to charm
   her ear and assuage her sorrow. She went straight away to the Master
   there and then. So would I have you forget that there are other
   comforters: forget your joys as well as your griefs: leave all for
   him, and let your soul be only taken up with that Great Master of
   yours who calls for you, for all your faculties, for all your
   emotions, for all your passions, for your entire self. Come right
   away, by his help, from everything else that would absorb any part of
   your being. Rise up, and draw near to him.
 
   But it seems, beloved, that when Mary had reached the Master's feet
   she had done all she could, for it is said that she fell at his feet.
   Ah! you remember she had knelt once at his feet when she washed his
   feet: she had sat once at his feet, when she heard his words; this
   time she fell at his feet. She could neither kneel to do him service,
   nor sit to pay him the reverence of a disciple. She fell all but in a
   swoon, life gone from her. She fell at his feet. Never mind, if you
   are at his feet, if you do but fall there. Oh! to die there--it were
   life itself! Once get to Jesus, and you may say, like Joab at the
   altar when Benaiah said, "Come away, for Solomon has sent me to slay
   thee." "Nay," said Joab, "but I will die here"; and at the horns of
   the altar there he died. And if we must die, we will die there at his
   feet. Fall down at his feet. Beloved, if you do not feel you have got
   strength for communion tonight, never mind: it does not want any.
 
   "Oh! for this no strength have I:
 
   My strength is at his feet to lie."
 
   Some of us do know what it is to be scarcely able to get together two
   consecutive thoughts--not to be able to master a text or lay hold of a
   promise; still we could say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in
   him"; we could lie down at the feet that were pierced, and feel how
   sweet it is to swoon at the Saviour's feet. Only get there. Let your
   will and heart be good to get at him now, for the Master is here, and
   calls for you. Come, though in the coming you should utterly fail to
   get enjoyment, come and fall at his feet. Do I hear any of you saying,
   "An! but I have a heavy thought pressing at my heart, and if I come to
   him it is not much that I can say in his honour. I feel but little
   love, and gratitude, and joy. I could not pour out sweet spikenard
   from the broken box of my heart." Be it so, only pour out what you
   have; for what did Mary do? She said--and the Master did not chide
   her, though he might have done--"Lord, if thou hadst been here, my
   brother had not died." Oh! it was half cruel, for she seemed to say,
   "Why wast thou not here?" It was unbelieving in part, and yet there is
   a deal of faith in it--a sweet clinging to him. Martha had the same;
   and it shows how often those two sisters had said to one another,
   "Would God the Master was here." When the brother was very sick and
   near to death, they were saying to one another, "Oh! if we could get
   the Master here!" That had been the great thought with them, so they
   pour it out. Beloved, when you are at Jesus' feet, if you have an
   unbelieving thought, if you have something that half chides him, pour
   out your heart like water before the Lord:--
 
   "Let us be simple with him then--
 
   Not backward, stiff, and cold;
 
   As though our Bethlehem could be
 
   What Sinai was of old."
 
   Tell him the weakness; tell him the suspicion; tell him all the sin
   that has been, and all the sin that is haunting you. Tell it all to
   him; and at his feet is the place to tell it. You will be eased of
   your burden then. Beloved, you know how Mary received consolation. It
   was a great day for her when she got to Christ's feet, and then the
   Master began to do wondrously, and very soon Lazarus was restored. So
   now, your first business, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
   is to get to Jesus. "Oh! but Lazarus is dead." Never mind Lazarus. You
   get to Jesus and he will see to Lazarus. "Oh! but my business fails
   me." Never mind the business just now. Get to Jesus. "Oh! but there is
   sickness in my house." Leave the sickness for awhile now. The one
   thing is to get to Jesus and to his feet. "Oh! but my own heart is now
   as it should be." Forget thine own heart, too, and remember Jesus; he
   is to thee all that thou canst need. He is made, of God, unto thee,
   "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption"; and
   do thou come to him quickly, and thou shalt have all thou wantest.
   "Ah!" says one, "I cannot bear to think of God, for I do not love
   him." "Ah!" says another, "but I can bear to think of him, for though
   I did not love him, he loved me." And now you may say, "I cannot bear
   to think of coming to Jesus, for I do not love him as I should." Ah!
   but think of him, for he loves thee. His grace to thee is boundless.
   Now let thine own self be put aside awhile, and remember this
   "faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus has
   come into the world to save sinners." Come, then, in the strength of
   that!
 
   I must close by saying a few words to those whom hitherto I have not
   addressed. Perhaps there are some here to whom this message has never
   come--"The Master is come and calleth for thee." If it were to reach
   them tonight, it would be the first time they ever heard it. O dear
   heart, I pray it may come to you, that this may be the beginning of
   days with you. The Master has come. This is certain. From the highest
   throne in glory to the manger, to the cross, and to the grave, the
   Master has come. That he calls for thee, this is also certain, I
   think. Let me give you a text in which, I think, he calls for you.
   "Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely."
   "Whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved." Calls
   he not for you, too, in this text, "Let the wicked forsake his way and
   the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, for
   he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly
   pardon"? Calls he not for you in this verse, where he bids all that
   labour and are heavy-laden come unto him, that they may rest; or in
   that other, "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though
   thy sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red like
   crimson, they shall be as snow." He calleth for thee. Do not
   disbelieve him. It is certainly matchless grace, but he is a God and
   none is like unto him. "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so
   high are his thoughts above your thoughts." But does your heart say,
   "Why, if I thought Jesus called for me, I would come"? Then he does
   call thee; that speech of thine, "I would come," proves it; 'tis he
   that makes thee feel willing. Dost thou long for him? Oh! he is
   putting his hand in at the door of thy heart, and making thy bowels
   yearn for him. Does a tear drop on the floor, and do you say, "It
   cannot be that such a one as I should ever live and be saved, and be
   Christ's"? Why, thy very admiration at his grace shows that some of
   his grace is at work upon thee. Trust thou that that arm can save:
   trust thou that that pierced hand can grasp thee; trust thou that that
   heart that was gashed with a spear can feel for thee. Trust thyself
   wholly to him. "Go thy way; thy sins which are many are forgiven
   thee." If thou hast trusted him, thou art saved. Come and cast thyself
   at Jesu's feet tonight. Is there no young man here to whom this shall
   be Christ's voice? You say you cannot believe, and cannot repent, and
   cannot do anything. Then fall like dead at Jesu's feet, and look up to
   him--to him alone, and you shall have life. Is there no young woman
   here burdened in heart, to whom the Saviour's feet may become a place
   of refuge from all her fear? I trust there is. And if I speak to
   someone far advanced in years, who imagines that he, at least, must be
   given up by mercy, it is not so. Thou hast but a few days more to
   live, but the Master calleth for thee. Rise up quickly! May tonight
   witness thy forsaking of thy sins, and thy clinging to his cross; and
   one day thou shalt see his face in heaven without a veil between.
 

   The Lord bless you, beloved, for Christ's sake. Amen

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