The Remembrance of Christ

Since we have just celebrated Good Friday and Easter, I felt it appropriate, and even necessary, to share this sermon by Charles Spurgeon with you. Its title is “The Remembrance of Christ”. I have extracted portion of it. Be blessed.

 “This do in remembrance of Me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24

It seems, then, that Christians may forget Christ. The text implies the possibility of forgetfulness concerning Him whom gratitude and affection should compel them to remember. There could be no need for this loving exhortation if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous and our remembrance superficial in its character, or changing in its nature. Nor is this a bare supposition – it is, alas, too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It seems at first sight too gross a crime to lay at the door of converted men. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Ransomer – that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son. But if startling to the ear, it is, alas, too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the fact. Forget Him who never forget us? Forget Him who poured His blood forth for our sins? Forget Him who loved us even to death? Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault of all of us – that we can remember anything except Christ. The Object which we should make monarch of our hearts is the very thing we are most inclined to forget. Where one would think that memory would linger and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder – that is the very spot which is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness – the place where memory too seldom looks. I appeal to the conscience of every Christian here – can you deny the truth of what I utter? Do you not find yourself forgetful of Jesus. Some creature steals away your heart and you are unmindful of Him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should have your eye steadily fixed up the Cross. It is the incessant round of the world, world, world – the constant din of earth, earth, earth, that takes away the soul from Christ. Oh, my friends, it is not too sadly true that we can recollect anything but Christ and forget nothing so easy as Him whom we ought to remember? While memory will preserve a poisoned weed, it suffers the Rose of Sharon to wither.

The cause of this is very apparent—it lies in one or two facts. We forget Christ because regenerate persons as we are—still corruption and death remain even in us. We forget Him because we carry about with us the old Adam of sin and death. If we were purely new-born creatures, we would never forget the name of Him whom we love. If we were entirely regenerated beings, we would sit down and meditate on  what our Savior did and suffered. As He is. All He has gloriously promised to perform. And never would our roving affections stray, but stay centered, nailed, fixed eternally to one Object—we should continually contemplate the death and sufferings of our Lord. But alas, we have a worm in the heart, an abode of pests, a morgue within. Lusts, vile imaginations and strong evil passions like wells of poisonous water send out streams of impurity. I have a heart, which God knows I wish I could wring from my body and hurl to an infinite distance. I have a soul which is a cave of unclean birds, a den of loathsome creatures where dragons haunt and owls congregate, where every evil beast dwells—a heart too vile to have a parallel—“deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” This is the reason why I am forgetful of Christ. Nor is this the sole cause. I suspect it lies somewhere else, too. We forget Christ because there are so many other things around us to attract our attention, “But,” you say, “they ought not to do so, because though they are around us, they are nothing in comparison with Jesus Christ—though they are in dread proximity to our hearts, what are they compared with Christ?” But do you know, dear  Friends, that the nearness of an object has a very great effect upon its power? The sun is many, many times larger than the moon, but the moon has a greater influence upon the tides of the ocean than the sun, simply because it is nearer and has a greater power of attraction. So I find that a little crawling worm of the earth has more effect upon my soul than the glorious Christ in Heaven. A handful of golden earth, a puff of fame, a shout of applause, a thriving business, my house, my home will affect me more than all the glories of the upper world.

And now let us attend to His Word, “This do in remembrance of Me,” hoping that its solemn sounds may charm away the demon of base ingratitude.

First of all, we shall speak of THE GLORIOUS AND PRECIOUS OBJECT OF MEMORY—“This do in remembrance of Me.” Christians have many treasures to lock up in the cabinet of memory. They ought to remember their election—“Chosen of God before time began.” They ought to be mindful of their extraction, that they were taken out of the miry clay, hewn out of the horrible pit. They ought to recollect their effectual calling, for they were called of God and rescued by the power of the Holy Spirit. They ought to remember their special deliverances—all that has been done for them and all the mercies bestowed on them. But there is One whom they should embalm in their souls with the most costly spices—One who, above all other gifts of God, deserves to be had in perpetual remembrance. One, I said, for I mean not an act, I mean not a deed. But it is a Person whose portrait I would frame in gold and hang up in the stateroom of the soul. I would have you earnest students of all the deeds of the conquering Messiah. I would have you conversant with the life of our Beloved. But O forget not His Person. For the text says, “This do in remembrance of ME.” It is Christ’s glorious Person which ought to be the object of our remembrance. It is His image which should be enshrined in every temple of the Holy Spirit.

But some will say, “How can we remember Christ’s Person when we never saw it? We cannot tell what was the peculiar form of His visage. We believe His countenance to be fairer than that of any other man—although through grief and suffering more marred—but since we did not see it, we cannot remember it. We never saw His feet as they trod the journeys of His mercy. We never beheld His hands as He stretched them out full of loving kindness. We cannot remember the wondrous intonation of His language, when in more than seraphic eloquence He awed the multitude and chained their ears to Him. We cannot picture the sweet smile that always hung on His lips, nor that awful frown with which He dealt out anathemas against the Pharisees. We cannot remember Him in His sufferings and agonies for we never saw Him.” Well, Beloved, I suppose it is true that you cannot remember the visible appearance, for you were not then born. But do you not know that even the Apostle said though He had known Christ after the flesh, yet, thenceforth after the flesh He would know Christ no more. The natural appearance, the race, the descent, the poverty, the humble garb—they are nothing in the Apostle’s estimation of His glorified Lord. And thus, though you do not know Him after the flesh, you may know Him after the spirit! In this manner you can remember Jesus as much now as Peter, or Paul, or John, or James, or any of those favored ones who once trod in His footsteps, walked side by side with Him, or laid their heads upon His bosom. Memory annihilates distance and leaps over time and can behold the Lord, though He is exalted in glory!

Ah, let us spend five minutes in remembering Jesus. Let us remember Him in His Baptism, when descending into the waters of Jordan, a voice was heard, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Behold Him coming up dripping from the stream. Surely the conscious water must have blushed that it contained its God. He slept within its waves a moment—to consecrate the tomb of Baptism—in which those who are dead with Christ are buried with Him. Let us remember Him in the wilderness, where He went straight from His immersion. Oh, I have often thought of that scene in the desert, when Christ, weary and worn, sat down, perhaps upon the gnarled roots of some old tree! Forty days had He fasted. He was hungry. Then in the extremity of His weakness there came the evil spirit. Perhaps he had veiled his demon royalty in the form of some aged pilgrim and taking up a stone, said, “Wayworn Pilgrim, if you are the Son of God, command this stone to be made bread.” I think I see him, with his cunning smile and his malicious leer, as he held the stone and said, “If”—blasphemous if—“If you are the Son of God, command that this stone shall become a meal for me and You, for both of us are hungry and it will be an act of mercy. You can do it easily, speak the word and it shall be like the bread of Heaven. We will feed upon it and You and I will be friends forever.” But Jesus said—and O how sweetly did He say it—“Man shall not live by bread alone.” Oh, how wonderfully did Christ fight the Tempter! Never was there such a battle as that. It was a duel foot to foot—a single-handed combat— when the champion lion of the Pit and the mighty Lion of the tribe of Judah fought together. Splendid sight! Angels stood around to gaze upon the spectacle, just as men of old did sit to see the tournament of noted warriors. There Satan gathered up his strength. Here Apollyon concentrated all his Satanic power that in this giant wrestle he might overthrow the Seed of the woman! But Jesus was more than a match for him. In the wrestling He gave him a deadly fall and came out more than a conqueror. Lamb of God! I will remember Your desert strivings when next I combat with Satan. When next I have a conflict with roaring Diabolus, I will look to Him who conquered once and for all and broke the dragon’s head with His mighty blows!

Further, I beseech you remember Him in all His daily temptations and hourly trials, in that life-long struggle of His through which He passed. Oh, what a mighty tragedy was the death of Christ! And His life, too! Ushered in with a song, it closed with a shriek, “It is finished!” It began in a manger and ended on a Cross—but oh, the sad interval between! Oh, the black pictures of persecution when His friends abhorred Him. When His foes frowned at Him as He passed the streets. When He heard the hiss of calumny and was bitten by the foul tooth of envy. When slander said He had a devil and was mad—that He was a drunken man and a wine-bibber—and when His righteous soul was vexed with the ways of the wicked. Oh, Son of God, I must remember You. I cannot help remembering You, when I think of those years of toil and trouble which You did live for my sake! But do you know my chosen theme—the place where I can always best remember Christ? It is a shady garden full of olives. O that spot! I would that I had eloquence, that I might take you there. Oh, if the Spirit would but take us and set us down hard by the mountains of Jerusalem, I would say, See, there runs the brook of Kidron, which the King, Himself, did pass. And there you see the olive trees. Possibly, at the foot of that olive tree lay the three disciples when they slept. And there, ah, there, I see drops of blood! Stand here, my Soul, a moment. Those drops of blood—do you behold them? Mark them. They are not the blood of wounds—they are the blood of a Man whose body was then unwounded. O my Soul, picture Him when He knelt down in agony and sweat—sweat because He wrestled with God—sweat because He agonized with His Father. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” O Gethsemane! Your shades are deeply solemn to my soul. But ah, those drops of blood! Surely it is the climax of the height of misery. It is the last of the mighty acts of this wondrous Sacrifice. Can love go deeper than that? Can it stoop to greater deeds of mercy? Oh, had I eloquence I would bestow a tongue on every drop of blood that is there—that your hearts might rise in mutiny against your languor and coldness and speak out with earnest burning remembrance of Jesus. And now, farewell, Gethsemane.

But I will take you somewhere else where you shall still behold the “Man of Sorrows.” I will lead you to Pilate’s hall and let you see Him endure the mockeries of cruel soldiers—the smiting of mailed gloves, the blows of clenched fists. The shame, the spitting, the plucking of the hair—the cruel buffetings. Oh, can you not picture the King of Martyrs stripped of His garments—exposed to the gaze of fiend-like men? See you not the crown about His temples, each thorn acting as a lancet to pierce His head? Stare you not at His lacerated shoulders and the white bones starting out from the bleeding flesh?

Now, finish the scene of woe by a view of Calvary. Think of the pierced hands and the bleeding side. Think of the scorching sun and then the entire darkness. Remember the broiling fever and the dread thirst. Think of the death shriek, “It is finished!” and of the groans which were its prelude. This is the Object of memory. Let us never forget Christ. I beseech you, for the love of Jesus, let Him have the chief place in your memories. Let not the Pearl of Great Price be dropped from your careless hand into the dark ocean of oblivion. I cannot, however, help saying one thing before I leave this head—and that is, there are some of you who can very well carry away what I have said because you have read it often and heard it before. But still you cannot spiritually remember anything about Christ because you never had Him manifested to you—and what we have never known—we cannot remember.

Having spoken upon the blessed Object of our memory, we say, secondly, a little upon THE BENEFITS TO BE DERIVED FROM A LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF CHRIST.

First, remembrance of Jesus will tend to give you hope when you are under the burden of your sins. Let us notice a few characters here tonight. There comes in a poor creature. Look at him! He has neglected himself this last month. He looks as if he had hardly eaten his daily bread. What is the matter with you? “Oh,” he says, “I have been under a sense of guilt. I have been again and again lamenting, because I fear I can never be forgiven—once I thought I was good, but I have been reading the Bible and I find that my heart is ‘deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.’ I have tried to reform, but the more I try, the deeper I sink in the mire. There is certainly no hope for me. I feel that I deserve no mercy— it seems to me that God must destroy me, for He has declared, ‘The soul that sins it shall die.’ And die I must, be damned I must, for I know I have broken God’s Law.” How will you comfort such a man? What soft words will you utter to give him peace? I know! I will tell him to remember Christ. I will tell him there is One who paid the mighty debt of misery. Yes, I will tell you drunks, swearers—whatever you have been—I will tell you that there is One who for you has made a complete Atonement! If you only believe on Him you are safe forever. Remember Him, you poor dying, hopeless creature and you shall be made to sing for joy and gladness. Look, the man believes and in ecstasy exclaims, “Oh, come all you that fear God and I will tell you what He has done for my soul”.

There is another effect, you see, of remembering Christ. It tends to give us patience under persecution. It will give us strength in temptation.

We are now arrived at the third portion of our meditations which is A SWEET AID TO MEMORY.

Behold the whole mystery of the sacred Eucharist. It is bread and wine which are lively emblems of the body and blood of Jesus. The power to excite remembrance consists in the appeal thus made to the senses. Here the eye, the hand, the mouth find joyful work. The bread is tasted and entering within, works upon the sense of taste, which is one of the most powerful remembrances. The wine is sipped—the act is palpable. We know that we are drinking and thus the senses which are usually clogs to the soul become wines to lift the mind in contemplation. Again—much of the influence of this ordinance is found in its simplicity. How beautifully simple the ceremony is—bread broken and wine poured out. There is no calling that thing a chalice, that thing a paten and that a host. Here is nothing to burden the memory—here is the simple bread and wine. He must have no memory at all who cannot remember that he has eaten bread and that he has been drinking wine. Note again, the mighty pregnancy of these signs—how full they are of meaning. Bread broken—so was your Savior broken. Bread to be eaten—so His flesh is food, indeed. Wine poured out, the pressed juice of the grape—so was your Savior crushed under the foot of Divine Justice. His blood is your sweetest wine. Wine to cheer your heart—so does the blood of Jesus. Wine to strengthen and invigorate you—so does the blood of the Mighty Sacrifice. Oh, make that bread and wine to your souls tonight a sweet and blessed help of remembrance of that dear Man who once on Calvary died. Like the little ewe lamb, you are now to eat your Master’s bread and drink from His cup. Remember the hand which feeds you.

But before you can remember Christ well here, you must ask the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I believe there ought to be a preparation before the Lord’s Supper. I do believe in a holy preparation for the Lord’s Supper—when we can on a Saturday, if possible, spend an hour in quiet meditation on Christ and His Passion. When, especially on the Sabbath afternoon, we can devoutly sit down and behold Him—then these scenes become realities and not mockeries, as they are to some. I fear greatly that there are some of you who will eat the bread tonight and will not think about Christ—some of you who will drink the wine and not think of His blood—and vile hypocrites you will be while you do it! Take heed to yourselves, “He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks—what?—“damnation to himself.” This is plain English. Mind what you are doing! Do not do it carelessly. For of all the sacred things on earth, it is the most solemn.

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