Christ is our king

Christ spoke and acted as a King. It must not be supposed that, even in the days of His flesh, He could forget who He was, or “behave Himself unseemly” by any weak submission to the will of the Jewish people. Even in the lowest acts of His self-abasement, still He showed His greatness. Consider His conduct when He washed St. Peter’s feet, and see if it were not calculated (assuredly it was) to humble, to awe, and subdue the very person to whom He ministered. When He taught, warned, pitied, prayed for, His ignorant hearers, He never allowed them to relax their reverence or to overlook His condescension. Nay, He did not allow them to praise Him aloud, and publish His acts of grace; as if what is called popularity would be a dishonour to His holy name, and the applause of men would imply their right to censure. The world’s praise is akin to contempt. Our Lord delights in the tribute of the secret heart. Such was His conduct in the days of His flesh. Does it not interpret His dealings with us after His resurrection? He who was so reserved in His communications of Himself, even when He came to minister, much more would withdraw Himself from the eyes of men when He was exalted over all things.

I have said, that even when a servant, Christ spoke with the authority of a king; and have given you some proof of it. But it may be well to dwell upon this. Observe then, the difference between His promises, stated doctrinally and generally, and His mode of addressing those who came actually before Him. While He announced God’s willingness to forgive all repentant sinners, in all the fulness of loving-kindness and tender mercy, yet He did not use supplication to these persons or those, whatever their number or their rank might be. {298} He spoke as one who knew He had great favours to confer, and had nothing to gain from those who received them. Far from urging them to accept His bounty, He showed Himself even backward to confer it, inquired into their knowledge and motives, and cautioned them against entering His service without counting the cost of it. Thus sometimes He even repelled men from Him.

For instance: When there went “great multitudes with Him … He turned and said unto them, If any man come to Me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” These were not the words of one who courted popularity. He proceeds;—”Which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? … So likewise, whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.” [Luke xiv. 25-33.] On the other hand, observe His conduct to the powerful men, and the learned Scribes and Pharisees. There are persons who look up to human power, and who are pleased to associate their names with the accomplished and cultivated of this world. Our blessed Lord was as inflexible towards these, as towards the crowds which followed Him. They asked for a sign; He named them “an evil and adulterous generation,” who refused to profit by what they had already received [Matt. xii. 39; xxi. 23-27.]. They asked Him, whether He did not confess Himself to be One with God; but {299} He, rather than tell such proud disputers, seemed even to abandon His own real claim, and made His former clear words ambiguous. Such was the King of Israel in the eyes both of the multitude and of their rulers; a “hard saying,” a “rock of offence even to the disobedient,” who came to Him “with their lips, while their hearts were far from Him.” Continue this survey to the case of individuals, and it will still appear, that, loving and merciful as He was most abundantly, yet still He showed both His power and His grace with reserve, even to them, as well as to the fickle many, or the unbelieving Pharisees. — from Sermon 23. Christian Reverence