And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.…
Our sympathies are already aroused when we see anything that is lost. Even a dog that has wandered away from its master, we feel sorry for; or a bird that has escaped from its owner, we say: "Poor thing!" Going down the street near nightfall, in the teeth of the sharp northwest wind, you feel very pitiful for one who has to be out to-night. As you go along, you hear the affrighted cry of a child. You stop. You say: "What is the matter?" You go up and find that a little one has lost its way from home. In its excitement it cannot even tell its name or its residence. The group of people gathered around are all touched, all sympathetic, all helpful. A plain body comes up, and with her plaid she wraps the child, and says: "I'll take care of the poor bairn!" While in the same street, but a little way off, the crier goes through the city, ringing a bell and uttering in a voice that sounds dolefully through all the alleys and by-ways of the city: "A lost child I three years of age, blue eyes, light hair. Lost child!" Did you ever hear any such pathos as that ringing through the darkness? You are going down the street and you see a man that you know very well. You once associated with him. You are astonished as you see him. "Why," you say, "he is all covered with the marks of sin. He must be in the very last stages of wickedness." And then you think of his lost home, and say: "God, pity his wife and child! God, pity him." A lost man! Under the gaslight you see a painted thing floating down the street — once the joy of a village home — her laughter ringing horror through the souls of the pure, and rousing up the merriment of those already lost like herself. She has forgotten the home of her youth and the covenant of her God. A lost woman! But, my friend, we are all lost.
1. In the first place, I remark that we are lost to holiness. Are you not all willing to take the Bible announcement that our nature is utterly ruined? Sin has broken in at every part of the castle. One would think that we got enough of it from our parents whether they were pious or not; but we have taken the capital of sin with which our fathers and mothers started us, and we have by accumulation, as by infernal compound-interest, made it enough to swamp us for ever. The ivory palace of the soul polluted with the filthy feet of all uncleanness. The Lord Jesus Christ comes to bring us back to holiness. He comes not to destroy us, but to take the consequences of our guilt.
2. We are lost to happiness, and Christ comes to find us. A caliph said: "I have been fifty years a caliph, and I have had all honours and all wealth, and yet in the fifty years I can count up only fourteen days of happiness." How many there are in this audience who cannot count fourteen days in all their life in which they had no vexations or annoyances. We all feel a capacity for happiness that has never been tested. There are interludes of bliss, but whose entire life has been a continuous satisfaction? Why is it that most of the fine poems of the world are somehow descriptive of grief? It is because men know more about sorrow than they do about joy. Oh, ye who are struck through with unrest, Christ comes to-day to give you rest. If Christ comes to you, you will be independent of all worldly considerations. It was so with the Christian man who suffered for his faith, and was thrust down into the coal-hole of the Bishop of London. He said: "We have had fine times here, singing gladsome songs the night long. O God, forgive me for being so unworthy of this glory." More joyful in the hour of suffering and martyrdom was Rose Allen. When the persecutor put a candle under her wrist, and held it there until the sinews snapped, she said: "If you see fit you can burn my feet next, and then also my head." Christ once having taken you into His custody and guardianship, you can laugh at pain, and persecution, and trial. Great peace for all those whom Christ has found and who have found Christ. Jesus comes into their sick room. The nurse may have fallen asleep in the latter watches of the night; but Jesus watches with slumberless eyes, and He puts His gentle hand over the hot brow of the patient, and says: "You will not always be sick. I will not leave you. There is a land where the inhabitant never saith, 'I am sick.' Hush, troubled soul! Peace!"
3. Again, I remark that we are lost to heaven, and Christ comes to take us there. Christ comes to take the discord out of your soul and string it with a heavenly attuning. He comes to take out that from us which makes us unlike heaven, and substitute that which assimilates us. In conclusion: You may hide away from Him; but there are some things which will find you, whether Christ by His grace finds you or not. Trouble will find you; temptation will find you; sickness will find you; death will find you; the judgment will find you; eternity will find you.
(De W. Talmage, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.