Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.
~ Isaiah 49:7, Isaiah 50:2
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
~ Isaiah 53:1-3
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
~ Isaiah 6:9-10
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
~ John 6:37, John 5:44
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
~ Matthew 13:13-15
Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
~ John 12:39- 40
He came unto his own, and his own received him not. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
~ John 1:11, John 3:19
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
~ Romans 6:23
Ye will not come to me, by Robert Murray M’Cheyne. Sermon LXXXIX. October 8, 1842.
Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.—John v., 40.
There is nothing more affecting in the Gospel narratives than to read of the vast multitudes who heard the words of the Lord Jesus, and remained unsaved. He stood in the midst of them, the Saviour of the world, willing and able to save them to the very uttermost; he stretched out his hands all the day. Each one of that crowd needed him; he was the only one who could save them, the only hiding-place for their souls: and yet they were not saved. Oh! why was this? Hear. “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” The same affecting scene is still before you: Jesus is in the midst; you all need him; but ye will not come to him that ye might have life.
I. What is in the hand of Jesus?—Life.
Jesus standing in the midst of a crowd of poor hell-deserving sinners, declares that in his hand there is life. He here implied that all around were dead, void of life, and that in his hand alone they could find life.
This life is of three kinds.
1. Life judicial—that is, pardon; so verse 24: “Is passed from death unto lite.” “He that hath the Son hath life.”—1 John v., 12. “Believing, ye might have life through his name.”—John Xx., 31. Every one of that crowd was lying under sentence of death on account of sin; there was none righteous, no, not one. All were ready to perish. Some of them knew it, and had dark forebodings; most of them did not know it, and did not care about it. Still it was true of all; all were under sin, all condemned to die the second death, poor condemned criminals; the sentence of the law had gone out against them, and any one moment might be put in execution. In Jesus’s hand there was life—a way of pardon open and free to them all. “In him was life.” He came into the world, and died in such a way that he could honestly and truly offer himself to every creature as their Surety and Saviour This is still the same; you all need life judicial; you are underlying the curse of a broken law. All in this assembly who have not come to Christ, are under sentence of eternal death. But there is life in the hand of Jesus; the Lord Jesus offers himself to each of you as your complete surety. O how sad that the most will not come to Christ that they may have life!
2. Life Spiritual—that is, inward holiness, spoken of in verse 25, “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” He had been telling them that the Father had given him authority to quicken whom he will. It is a hidden life.—Col. iii., 3. It is Christ living in the soul.—Gal. ii., 20. All the crowd around him were dead in trespasses and sins, like the dry bones, very many and very dry. But here was the Fountain of living water, the Rock smitten, and the life-giving stream gushing forth: enough to quicken ten thousand worlds. The same scene is still here, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” He is the Unseen present; in his hand is the fountain of a new life. Your souls are dead, your will dead, heart dead, mind dead to God and divine things. O that you would come to him and find life! You need your eye quickened, to see him; your ear, to hear him; your heart, to receive him; your whole soul, to close with him. There is a fulness of spiritual life in Christ: “If thou knewest the gift of God, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” —John iv., 10.
3. Life of glory—called in the Word “eternal life” and “everlasting life :” “The righteous into life eternal.”—Matt, xxv., 46. “I give unto them eternal life.”—John x. “Whoso believeth in him should have everlasting life.”—John iii., 16. “He that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”— Gal. vi., 8. All around were on the way to the second death. “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death,” standing over the lake of fire. Jesus had eternal life in his hand, ready to give the right to it, the foretaste of it, and itself in due time. No wonder he cried so earnestly. So now every unpardoned soul is on the way to death, over the lake of fire. Jesus has everlasting life.
II. The witnesses.
1. John: “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness to the truth.”—Verse 33. Compare John i., 7: “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.” God raised up John, on purpose that he might point men to Jesus; and so he did. He was a burning and a shining light, and they were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. When he told them of the life to be had in Jesus, they were glad for a season; and yet they did not come to Christ to have life. So with you; a standing ministry is still in the midst of you. However weak and dim the light, still it points to Jesus: and I may add, you have been willing for a season to rejoice in the light. Ye seem to love to hear, and yet ye will not come.
2. The works. (1.) The miracles of Christ. He had just been healing a man thirty-eight years impotent. He healed all that came, cleansed lepers, turned water into wine, raised the dead: all these bare witness of him that he was the Son of God with power. (2.) The quickening of dead souls: “The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.”—Verses 20, 21. Greater works than these! The quickening of a dead soul is a far greater miracle than raising a dead body; both are beyond man. but the latter is most divine. Jesus had quickened some, his own few disciples, the Samaritans. These works bore witness of him. So still, saved souls in the midst of you are Christ’s witnesses, showing you that there is a way of pardon, and yet ye will not come.
3. The Father: “The Father himself which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.”—Verse 37. At Christ’s baptism and transfiguration: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The inward teaching and drawing of the Father.—John vi., 45. The Father had no doubt striven with many of them; and so with many of you, yet ye will not come.
4. The Scriptures. The whole Bible is the record concerning Jesus.—Luke xxiv. The Law of Moses speaks of Jesus in type; the Prophets tell of Jesus in prophecy; the Psalms, the inward workings of his heart; the Gospels, the narrative of his outward life; the Epistles, the scheme of salvation by him; the Revelation, his future glorious coming. All, all tell of Jesus; Jesus pervades the Bible; it is the standing witness to Jesus. There may he no faithful ministry in the land, no works of conversion going on; the Father’s drawings may be awanting; still the Bible is God’s faithful witness to Jesus. The written Word testifies of the living Word. Hence Moses will accuse you to the Father; so it is now, and yet ye will not come.
III. The reason why men are not saved.
It is very remarkable that the only reason Christ dwells on here is, “Ye will not come unto me.” He does not say, There is no pardon for you; no grace for you in my hand. On the contrary, he says to those who were probably reprobates: “Ye will not come unto me.” Christ could have mentioned other reasons. 1. He could have spoken of the decrees of God. “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.” John x., 26. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Every thinking man must know and feel that none will ever come to Christ; but those who were given him by the Father from all eternity. 2. Christ could have spoken of their dead souls, dead in trespasses and sins. He could have shown them that their hearts were dead, wills dead, souls dead. He could have shown them that unless he made them willing in the day of his power, they never would come. But, he does not touch on these things. 3. The only reason he dwells on is this: “Ye will not come unto me.” Why? Because he thus brings them in guilty of wilful rejection of him.
Some of you may not be able to reconcile these things. If I am decreed to be lost, how can I be blameable? Christ could reconcile them, and therefore said, “Ye will not come unto me.”
And why will ye not?
1. Some ignorant; ignorant of God’s righteousness. I believe there are many of you quite ignorant of the way of life in the hand of Jesus. “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
2. Some do not feel pressing need. The winter’s cold drives the little birds near the houses; want makes them bold; so if you felt your pressing need, you would draw near by the blood of Jesus.
3. Love of lusts. “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” Verse 44. Many love life judicial, and life eternal, but not life spiritual. They do not wish to be sanctified. “He shall save his people from their sins.” But you love your lust; you love the darkness and come not to the light.
1. Think how you will meet Jesus in the judgment-day. He will say, “I would often have gathered you, and you would not. I sent unto you all my witnesses, rising up early and sending them, and you would not. I pleaded with you in affliction, showed you the vanity of all the creatures, but you would not come to me.
2. Think how you will bear the reflection in eternity. When you have tasted of the realities of hell for a thousand years, this will add bitterness to all; I might have been in heaven this day, but only I would not come to Jesus that I might have life. O cursed folly, cursed pride, cursed ignorance, that kept me back from the Saviour of the world! Arise, plead thine own cause.