C.H. Spurgeon:
“The Now Resurrection”

C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was one of the best-known preachers of the 19th century. He spoke to several thousand people weekly in his congregation in London, England.

When the Lord Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again, she replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day” (John 11:24). She set a practical bound to the Savior’s words. It were well if the spirit of progress would enter into our faith, so that we felt we had never beheld the innermost glory of the Lord’s words of grace. Have we grasped as yet a tithe of our Lord’s full meaning in many of His sayings of love? When He is talking of bright and sparkling gems of benediction, we are thinking of common pebble-stones in the brook of mercy. Oh that we could but have our intellect cleared; better still, could have our understanding expanded, or, best of all, our faith increased, to reach to the height of our Lord’s great arguments of love!

Martha also had another fault in which she was very like ourselves: she laid the words of Jesus on the shelf, as things so trite and sure that they were of small practical importance. She lays the truth aside as a matter past all dispute. A great many precious truths are laid up by us like the old hulks in the Medway1, never to see service any more. We say “Yes, quite true, we believe that doctrine.” It is a proper thing to believe, but by no means a prominent, practical factor in actual life.

A gentleman stepping into a poor woman’s house saw framed and glazed upon the wall a French note for a thousand francs, which they had thought was a pretty souvenir. They were greatly surprised when they were told it was worth quite a little fortune to them.
Have you not certain of the words of your Lord framed and glazed in your hearts, and do you not say to yourselves, “They are so sweet and precious”? And yet you have never turned them into actual blessing—never used them in the hour of need. You have done as Martha did when she took the words, “Your brother will rise again,” and put round about them this handsome frame, “in the resurrection at the last day.” Oh that we had grace to turn God’s bullion of gospel into current coin and use them as our present spending money.

Martha was also setting the promise in the distance. This is a common folly. Her brother was to be raised that very day. Brothers, do not refuse the present blessing. Even the present hour is bejewelled with loving-kindness. Today the Lord has rest and peace to give you. Lose not these treasures by unbelief.

Martha also appears to me to have made the promise unreal and impersonal. You shake your head, as if the word was not for you. It is a fine feast, and yet you are hungry; it is a full and flowing stream, but you remain thirsty. Why is this? Somehow the generality of your apprehension misses the sweetness which comes of personal appropriation. There is such a thing as speaking of the promises in a magnificent style and yet being in deep spiritual poverty; you know it is your own fault that you are poor and miserable, for if you would but exercise an appropriating faith you might possess a boundless heritage. Behold, God is your portion.

The Lord Jesus proceeded to teach her more of the things concerning Himself. “I am the resurrection…”! (v. 25). Not “I can get resurrection,” but “I am, Myself, the resurrection.” Poor Martha was looking up into the sky for life, or gazing down into the deeps for resurrection, when the Resurrection and the Life stood before her, smiling upon her. The presence of Jesus Christ means life and resurrection. It meant that to Lazarus. If Jesus comes to Lazarus, Lazarus must live.

The life of every Christian is Christ. He is the beginning of life, being the resurrection: when He comes to us we live. Regeneration is the result of contact with Christ: we are begotten again unto living hope by His resurrection from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3). He said, “Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:19), and this is true. “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). As the Lord lives you shall live, and as Christ reigns you shall reign over sin, and as Christ comes to glory you shall partake of that glory.

Adapted from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit; a collection of sermons by C.H. Spurgeon; vol. 30. The Banner of Truth Trust, London, England, 1971, pp. 493-504. From a message given in 1884.