, , , , , ,

Another strange thing is that we should be able to receive the Lord Jesus as a stranger. He has gone into the glory, and will he ever say of us, “I was a stranger, and ye took me in”? Yes, he will say so, if we render to him that spiritual hospitality of which he here speaks. This can be done in several ways.

Brethren and sisters in Christ, for such I trust you are, we can receive Christ as a stranger when believers are few and despised in any place. We may sojourn where worldliness abounds and religion is at a discount, and it may need some courage to avow our faith in Jesus

Then have we an opportunity of winning the approving word, “I was a stranger, and ye took me in.” There is a sure proof of love in receiving our Lord as a stranger. If the Queen desired again to visit Mentone, every villa would be gladly placed at her disposal; but were she driven from her empire, and reduced to be a poor stranger, hospitality to her would be a greater test of loyalty than it is to-day.

When Jesus is in low esteem in any place, and he sometimes is so, let us be all the more bold to avow our allegiance to him. I fear that many professors take their colour from their company, and are hail-fellows with the irreligious and the unbelieving. These cry “Hosanna” with the multitude of the Lord’s admirers, but in heart they have no love to the Son of God.

Our loyalty to Christ must never be a matter of latitude and longitude; we must love him in every land, honour him when the many disregard him, and we must speak of him when all forget him.

Spurgeon, “The New Year’s Guest”, vol. 30, no. 1757.

The section begins with a problem: How can we receive Christ as a stranger when he has gone into glory? Spurgeon will first consider the problem of Christ being a “stranger”. Christ is a stranger in the world (a point Spurgeon has already made) as it is written in John 1:11, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

The “strangerliness” of Christ lies in his being unknown by most. This leads to the proposition that we receive Christ as a stranger when we receive despite what others think of Christ: “we can receive Christ as a stranger when believers are few and despised in any place.”

While this proposition has content, it still has the potential for being bloodless: we understand the words but we still don’t care as we should. If we do not feel the proposition, we cannot rightly understand the proposition.

To make the matter clear and the proposition stick, Spurgeon proposes the Queen. Victoria was a widow and well loved. He ask, Anyone would receive her as queen, but if she would lose her place of state who would take her? The thought of this aged woman, alone and seeking shelter would have no doubt generated sympathy in his hearers.

He then asks the question, Are you loyal to your queen or to her power? Do you love her for what you think she might be able to do for you, or who she is? The phrase “test of loyalty” makes the parallel with Christ powerful.

The implied application to Christ is easy? Do we love how others perceive him — or do we love him even when others do not? The irony is, of course, that the rejection by “others” is irrelevant to Christ’s true status. The rebellion is only temporary.

Thus, Spurgeon exegetes the heart, demonstrating our fear of man and how it plays out with respect to Christ. Note that Spurgeon shows the fear rather than states the fear. This makes the cut deeper: people believe stories not propositions. Stories — even extremely short stories– go deeper.

The ill of the heart being revealed, Spurgeon then makes his application.

A great fault of many expository sermons is that the application comes without first demonstrating the need for the application. Spurgeon demonstrates the need for the application.