THE FAME OF JESUS
“And the fame of Him went out into every place of the country round about” Luke 4.37.
This was according to the ancient purpose and settled decree of God the Father in the council of peace. But the people always appear to have proceeded in direct contrariety to Jesus’ special commands to them. He was often enjoining upon them to tell no man. Our precious Christ carried out the prediction concerning Him, that He should not cry, nor cause His voice to be lifted up nor heard in the streets, that a bruised reed He would not break, and the smoking flax He would not quench; and yet He was to do the work which the Father gave Him to do. Certainly He was not seeking fame when He was in the temple at twelve years of age, hearing the doctors and asking them questions and astonishing them all. Instead of making use of their astonishment, and the success with which He had conversed with them, for His fame, He took the rebuke from His parents, went down to Nazareth and worked with them for eighteen years at His reputed father’s trade. He sought not fame when He came forth to His ministry at thirty years of age, and went about doing good. When they would make Him king, He would not have the fame, but quietly retired into the wilderness and went into a mountain to pray. Yet with this retiring disposition, which marked the deep humiliation to which the Lord Jesus bowed, His fame could not be obstructed – it must reach all worlds, it must be published and noised abroad. Angels, men, and devils must help to spread it, and when it is said of Him that He sought to retire from the observation of the multitude, ‘he could not be hid’. He went forth to accomplish the great work which the Father had given Him to do, and that work must not only establish but spread His fame as long as time and eternity are moving on. He would not occupy a splendid house or mansion that He might be famed for His residence. He had nowhere to lay His head. He had not the common comforts of life. He would go to a fig tree for fruit when He was hungry; He would go
to Simon’s house for a meal. He was the meek and lowly Lamb of God. Yet His fame spread in every place through all the country and through all the world.
We will notice a few things in which Christ is and must be famed.
THE MAJESTY OF HIS PERSON. A right apprehension of the Person of Christ will lead to a right apprehension of all that pertains to His work, and if we have not right apprehensions of the Person of Christ, we can be right nowhere in the whole range of theology. Scriptural views, believing views of the Person of Christ will be the key to open and give access to all the mysteries of His character, of His undertaking, of His mediation, of His redemption, of His entire work, and of His present employment. Now I speak of Him as essential, self-existent Deity; without His essential Deity the Bible is a cunningly devised fable, and He has no power to save you or me, He has neither merit nor righteousness to give, for if He were a creature, He would want all His righteousness for Himself, and would have none left for you or me. But when I come to the all-important fact that all worlds acknowledge Him to be God, not only on His own claim, but on the Father’s acknowledgement of Him, for when He brought Him into the world at the incarnation. He commanded all the angels of God to worship Him, – I bow, adore and love.
In order to have right apprehensions of Christ’s Person we must notice that He is, in His humanity, pure and sinless – in all things made like unto His brethren, and yet without sin; the body which the Father prepared Him and the soul to inhabit it which He poured out unto death. So that we view the Man Christ Jesus as perfect Man, sinless Man, acquainted with all the sinless infirmities and weaknesses of man, without guile, without the possibility of a sinful thought existing in Him or finding its way to His heart; as pure and holy and sinless in His manhood as He is in His Godhead, or else He could not have been sacrificed in His human nature for sin. You will recollect in the types under the law it was strictly enjoined that nothing that was unclean or that was in any way defaced or defective could be offered in sacrifice, all pointing to the perfection and sinlessness of our precious Lord who, when He gave His soul an offering for sin, gave a soul which had no guile in it, no sin, no depravity. All the sins of His Church were laid upon Him, but none was found in Him. Mark this distinction, just the reverse of the position in which we stand; none laid upon us, but an awful amount of them within us, which He has promised in the end to subdue. The prince of this world came and found nothing in Him. He is an eagle-eyed old serpent too. Pilate found no sin in Him; the Sadducees were challenged to convict Him of sin if they could, but He was
“holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners”; and yet His manhood so mysteriously and yet so inseparably connected with the Godhead that the Apostle speaks of it as “the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh”. The Godhead did not become humanity, and the manhood did not become Deity, and yet the manhood, in its sinless form, was so united, so emphatically one with the essential Godhead, that all the glory, and all the merit, and all the value and all the virtue of His eternal, self-existent Godhead was imparted to the manhood when He obeyed and suffered. Therefore His blood is said to be the blood of God. “Feed the Church of God, which he (God) hath purchased with his own blood”.
The Lord Jesus Christ is famed for THE OFFICES WHICH HE SUSTAINS.
He is the great Prophet, and on this account it was that He met with Elias as the representative of the prophets on the Mount of Transfiguration to converse with Him. But what did He say of Himself during His three years’ ministry on earth? He told His disciples that they should be hated of all men for His Name’s sake;
that their names should be cast out as evil; that they should be treated as He was by the enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ. And the prediction relative to the destruction of the temple, how it was to take place and how one stone should not be left upon another that should not be cast down, was literally carried out and positively fulfilled. So again with regard to His prediction of His death: “After three days the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners”. He even points out with the sop who it was that should betray Him. “He it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot”. He knew that the devil had put it into his heart to betray his Master. Then when He was delivered over to the Gentiles to be executed, the grave could not retain Him an hour beyond His appointed time. So of all His prophecies in His resurrection, His appearing again to His disciples, in the spread of His Gospel: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”; it is going on and proceeding, and at one time or another has been preached all over the world, and we look to our precious Christ as failing in no prophecy which He uttered. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall not pass away”.
Is He not also famed as a Priest? The devil hates His office as a Priest more than he does as a Prophet. I rather think the devil would be content to let Him be Prophet and King, if it were not for His being a Priest. His Priesthood is of a distinct order – after the order of Melchisedek, and not after the order of Aaron. He is so famed as
a Priest that while all other priests demand offerings to be brought to them, He brings it Himself, and becomes it Himself; that while all other priests must have an altar, He becomes an altar in His humanity. He is far-famed for absolution. When He absolves He seals forgiveness to the soul and shows man that God has blotted out his iniquities for His own sake, and will not remember his sins any more. Our Priest offers incense continually, the incense of His own merit, and always has a censer full of it before God which ascends to Jehovah and is acceptable in His sight.
He is far-famed in His office as a Potentate. I choose this word for many reasons. Earthly potentates are fond of it. And the Apostle Paul has it – “Who is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords”. Here is the Potentate who has that Name written on His vesture and on His thigh, who never was despotic, who sways His sceptre of love and mercy, peace and grace, in the hearts of His people, who sends out from His own stores, like His type, Joseph, in the land of Egypt, provisions to supply all the wants of all the subjects of His realm.
Christ is famed in the RELATIVE TIES which He condescends to own. He is not ashamed to call His Church, brethren. Just think for a moment of His Headship, His husband-like affection, and His brotherly tenderness.
As the Head over all things to His Church – the Head of life, the Head of influence, the Head of order, the Head of comfort, the Head of His body the Church, the fulness that filleth all in all. He is far-famed in this. Nay more, He is the living Head that can never die. So famed, that He was the head of His Church as far back as Abraham’s and Noah’s days, and He is the head of His Church now, and shall be till time shall be no more. In this Headship there is a union that can never be severed. “I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Consequently, while the living Head hath life in Himself – “As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself”, and to give eternal life to all the members of His mystical body – while the union lasts, while the oneness is perpetuated and maintained, while Jesus keeps up His request which He offered in John seventeen and now offers before the throne, “That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us”, -what is to sever the union? And if nothing can sever the union between Jesus and His Church, nothing can destroy a member, nothing can kill a child of God, nothing remove or take away the life
divine that is imparted by union with Christ. It must be consummated in life eternal.
If we view Christ as the Husband of His Church we may give the
challenge to all the husbands in the world to find such a one. You
cannot find one who ever put up with the frowardness and wandering and treachery and distrust and rebellion and far-strayings of the wife, as the Lord Jesus Christ does. He is a faithful Husband still. “Thy Maker is thy Husband, the Lord of hosts is His Name”. He is such a Husband that He hateth putting away. No crime under heaven can make Him put away His Bride. He is such a Husband for wealth that there is not a want she stands in need of but He opens His fulness to supply. He is such a Husband for affection that He not only maintains it towards His Bride, but He imparts it to His Bride to constrain her love to Him. “We love Him because He first loved us.” He is a Husband ever faithful, ever at hand, so that He will never leave nor forsake His beloved Bride.
Christ is far-famed as a Brother, even a Brother born for adversity. When His reputed brethren and kindred after the flesh came to the house where He was preaching to the people and could not get in for the crowd and one told Him, “Thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to speak with Thee” Christ said
‘Who is my mother and who are my brethren?” adding, “Whoso doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my mother and sister and brother. He was born to suffer all the adversity which His people’s crimes had brought upon themselves, all the poverty, all the curse, all the sorrow, all the care, all the labour that was brought upon them by sin, both original and actual. His life was a life of adversity. Earning His bread by the sweat of His brow, He went through persecution and scoffing and derision and was at last murdered for His brethren’s sake. There is another sense in which He was born for adversity, that when He finds any of them in adversity, it is His to administer comfort to them, to sympathize with them in their distresses, feeling that He is emphatically the Brother born for adversity, and that whoso touches them touches the apple of His eye. He bears our sorrows and our sickness and is even now “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” What a Brother! He is our precious far-famed Jesus in all these senses.
Let me now touch upon THE EXTRAORDINARY WORKS which seem to have been the cause of the expression, “His fame was spread in every place of that country round about”.
What had Christ done? He had cast out devils, He had raised the dead. He had restored Simon’s wife’s mother from the fever. He had removed the uncleanness of those who were possessed by an
unclean spirit. He had wrought miracles, and yet though He had lone so many mighty works among them the enemies believed not on Him. And yet this caused Him to be far-famed. It was not of His own seeking, for in some instances He told the person whom He
blessed to tell no man. But they went and published it so much the more.
Moreover Christ’s fame was not only to be published on account of the mighty works which He had done, but, though real, they were also typical of the greater work pertaining to His errand upon earth. He has redeemed sinners; He has rescued sinners, and He has received sinners, and all these acts publish His fame. He has redeemed sinners having bought them with His blood, having paid the ransom stipulated in the covenant of grace, having put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, having vanquished the ‘accuser of the brethren’ and taken the lawful captive from the mighty; having satisfied justice, magnified the law, and laid down His life for His church. “Having obtained eternal redemption for us”, Christ is famed in heaven for this very thing. “Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” is their song, and they spread His fame through all the sacred scenes of bliss where glorified beings are eternally adoring Him. He is famed too on earth for the same thing; for we will publish His redemption as a perfect one, a complete one, worthy of Himself, as that which God cannot reject or refuse, or the sinner be robbed of for whom it is effected.
He is famed as One who has rescued His redeemed. Thus saith Jehovah “The prey shall be taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered, for I will contend with them that contend with thee, and save thy children”. He is far-famed for this, for every sinner for whom He shed His blood is, sooner or later, rescued from the grasp and tyranny of sin and Satan and brought into the enjoyment of the glorious liberty of the children of God.
He is famed as a receiver of sinners. The Pharisees in His day when He was upon earth could not understand this, and therefore they threw it in His face as a reproach. “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” It is your mercy and mine that He does, for if He did not receive sinners I should despair of going to His footstool. I could not preach Him in any other character. If sometimes I am indulged with the privilege of approaching His throne in the spirit of adoption as a child, yet there are other seasons in which Satan would dispute my sonship and rob me of the spirit of adoption, though he cannot rob me of the adoption itself. What am I to do? If I am afraid to go to Him in the spirit of adoption, I approach Him as a receiver of sinners and say “Lord, I am vile”. I go to Him as I did at the first moment I went to Him, as deserving nothing but hell, meriting eternal wrath and destruction, therefore I say, “God be merciful to
me a sinner”, embracing those moments with which He is pleased to favour me when I come to Him in the spirit of adoption and commune with Him as a son. I tell the guiltiest, the vilest, the blackest sinner, the most deeply stained of all Adam’s posterity, if Christ has but convinced you of sin, if He has made you willing to be His child, He is as willing to receive you as He was to receive me, and I cannot describe to you how tenderly and affectionately He received me when first I was brought to His feet. Is He not famed for this? It is a far-famed Christ whom we preach.
It is as His kindred that we publish His fame. We are those who are allied to Him by grace, those who are partakers of the Divine nature, those who have passed from death unto life, those who have the mind and Spirit of Christ, those who are born from above, those are regenerated by the power of the Holy Ghost, and made to bear the image of the heavenly, having in their unregeneracy borne the image of the earthly.
No partaker of life divine can consider it a matter of little importance that the fame of Jesus should be spread by him. Do you come to the point that Paul did when he made a vow that Christ should be magnified in his body whether by life or by death? Have you reached that standing in experience to be able to say, “To me to live is Christ?” Is every effort of life turned that way? Is every power you can grasp, all the influence you can command, every faculty with which you are endowed, put forth and employed under the Holy Spirit’s mighty power, to spread the fame of Jesus? Is it possible for any worldling, however bitter his hatred, to look at you through any one day and not be obliged to say, “This man has been with Jesus; this man honours Jesus”?
Not only do Christ’s kindred spread His fame, even His enemies must do it. I put this in contrast. You will recollect the apostle Paul rejoiced in this, “There are some that preach Christ of goodwill, and some that preach Christ out of envy and strife”. What did he mean by their preaching Christ in this way? He did not mean publishing His glories and excellencies but he meant making Him known. Even their revilings and persecutions, yea, and their leading Him to the brow of a hill to cast Him down headlong, yes, and all the evil they heaped on His Name and all the reproaches they cast on Him, all made Him more known, all spread His fame; so that what the devil takes so much pains to do to reproach Christ, spreads His fame, though not intentionally.
But let me tell you, Christ has His messengers. All Christ’s servants are ambassadors, sent for the express business of spreading His fame. Our business is to spread the fame of Jesus. Not to induce the people to say, “What a fine preacher!” but, “What a precious Christ!” Not, “What an eloquent man!” but, “What a glorious
Saviour he set forth!” Therefore the apostle Paul says, “I am determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified”. And he says in another place that he would glory in nothing else. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”. You will find in his epistles he was incessantly at this point, the exaltation of Christ, the spreading His fame everywhere, speaking of Him as the glorious only-begotten of the Father, “able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him”.
Further, this glorious far-famed Jesus is exalted and His fame is spread by the objects of His attention for whom He wrought so much. Whoever He healed always besought Him that they might go with Him, and if they were not allowed to go with Him away they went and spread His fame far and wide, and set forth the miracles He had achieved on their behalf. Now, beloved, has Jesus done anything for you? Has He opened your eyes? Has He humbled your heart? Has He stripped you of your filthy rags? Has He clothed you with His own robe? Has He healed all your diseases? Has He forgiven all your sins? and can you refuse to spread His fame? Will you not wish for the loftiest mountain upon earth as a pulpit? Will you not wish for the canopy of heaven only to be your sounding-board? Will you not wish for a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, that you might proclaim to earth’s remotest bounds, ‘Jesus Christ saves sinners, and He has saved me as one”? Ah, beloved, has Jesus done anything for. you? Then I know you will not hesitate to spread His fame.
“All that the Father hath given me shall come to me,” Christ said when upon earth, and these who are attracted to Him, are wondering at His authority as the Queen of Sheba did of Solomon when she heard of His fame. She came from the uttermost parts of the earth to recognize it, to be well satisfied and convinced that it was not exaggerated and exclaimed, “The half was not told”. Our Lord says concerning Himself, “A greater than Solomon is here”, and His fame is greater and more lasting. They came to hear of that fame; they came to hear His wisdom; they came to hear the gracious words proceeding out of His lips – His greatness, His glory, the majesty of His Person, the preciousness and adaptation of His offices, the perfection of His work in redemption, yea, and the relative ties He condescends to own, saying, “I am thy salvation”. These demand of me that with all my powers, with all my time and to the extremity of my strength, I shall exert my energies for no other purpose than to extend the Name and fame of my glorious Christ.
Moreover, when the soul is brought to discover and become satisfied that Christ has saved him and called him with an holy
calling; saved him in Himself with an everlasting salvation, and that that salvation will never be destroyed nor He be ashamed of it, world without end; that Jesus not only saved him, but that He is the salvation itself, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid”; then surely he will, as long as he stays on earth, be desirous of spreading the fame of his precious Lord.
Oh! for more power while here on earth to tell
The wonders of His never-dying love;
Speak out the preciousness of blood divine
With eloquence (if God would grant it me)
And bid the world with holy awe draw near,
And listen to the fame of Christ my Lord.
If some will scoff at Him, why, scoff they must;
All the election must and shall be saved.
In life, in death, in resurrection, yea,
To all eternity, they shall proclaim
The fame of their all-glorious, precious Christ.
The Gospel Magazine Mar – Apl. 1887