Chirst Sermon Illustrations

Chirst Sermon Illustrations

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Scotland has given many martyrs to the Church and to civil liberty, but there is no tale of martyrdom which so touches a Scottish heart as that of the two Wigtown martyrs, Mary Wilson and Agnes McLaughlin, who perished in the Solway tide. For refusing to retract their Christian declarations the friends were condemned to drown. The elder woman was fastened to a stake much farther out than the younger, with the thought that when the younger saw the suffering and death struggle of her friend she would recant. Quickly the inexorable tide of the Solway came in—first to the older girl's ankles, then to her knees, then to her waist, then to her neck, then to her lips.

The executioners called to the younger girl, "Look! What seest thou?"

Turning her head a little, she saw the struggles of her drowning friend, and then made her calm answer, "What do I see? I see the Lord Jesus suffering in one of his members."

It was a great day for Washington and a great day for the nation when, at the close of the Civil War, the victorious armies—the army of the Potomac and the army of Sherman— marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and past the reviewing platform where stood the President of the United States and General Grant. The multitudes cheered the famous generals as they rode by on their war horses, the sun flashed from thousands of gleaming bayonets, and over all waved the starry banner of a reunited and redeemed nation.

But history shows us a greater and a grander triumph. Mounted on a white horse, his vesture and his thigh bearing a name—King of Kings and Lord of Lords—Christ, the conqueror of Calvary, passes by in triumph. In the chains of captivity and defeat we behold his great enemies, spoiled now of their dread weapons and power—sin, and death, and hell, and Satan himself. And following the King come the great host, the armies of those whom Christ has released from captivity, emancipated from death, and led to victory: Moses and his host who marched through the Red Sea, Joshua and his army of conquest, Gideon and his three hut dred men, Elijah and his seven thousand, Peter and the thousands he brought into the Kingdom, Paul and the great host whom he led to Christ— men of every nation and kindred and tribe of the then known world. Legion after legion, regiment after regiment, army after army, they wheel by and salute their captain and king, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

That same amazing Wiertz who painted Napoleon in hell gave us two other great canvases. One is entitled, "One of Earth's Great Ones." It is a terrific indictment of man's worship of the warrior, showing a monstrous and colossal giant crushing the bones of men and trampling them under his feet as he cruelly leers upon them.

The other is "The Triumph of Christ." On the cross hangs the Saviour. It is one of the most beautiful bodies of Christ to be seen in any gallery of the world. From the points of the crown of thorns streams ineffable light. Great angels sound their trumpets; and dark, sinister, evil figures flee away into the darkness. So at length will it be! Christ is the Last Conqueror! The Light of the World shall banish the darkness of the world! Divine love shall conquer sin, and the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea!

When Julian the Apostate, who sought to light again the fires on the altars of the pagan gods, and thus destroy Christianity, was on the march with his army in the campaign against Persia, in the year 363, one of the soldiers of his army said to a Christian who was being abused by the soldiery, "Where is your carpenter now?"

"He is making a coffin for your emperor," was the reply of the Christian.

A few months afterward Julian received a mortal wound in battle. The rumor spread through the army that the wound was inflicted by a Christian soldier in the ranks of the Roman army. According to the story of Theoderet, Julian, realizing that his death was near, dipped his hand in the blood of his wound and threw the blood toward heaven, exclaiming as he did so, "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!"

Yes, the carpenter of Nazareth, exalted to the right hand of God, is making a coffin for all the kings and kingdoms of this world. One by one they flourish and are gone. But Christ's is an everlasting kingdom. All that is not obedient to him, and subject to him, shall perish. That alone endures which belongs to him.

A convict who had been for twenty-six years a prisoner on Devil's Island, the notorious French penal colony off the coast of South America, of his own volition returned to the colony where he spent a quarter of a century. Asked to give his impressions of the world and of civilization when he went back to it, he said the thing that most impressed him was "the extraordinary spiritual collapse in the world and the decline in conscience and in intelligence." Periods of darkness, such as the one we are now experiencing, come over the earth from time to time; and the cause of truth and righteousness seems to have suffered irrevocable defeat. But even in the darkest age there are silent tokens of the coming triumph.

When Lord Nelson reported to the British admiralty his great victory over the French fleet in the Battle of the Nile, he said that "victory" was not a large enough word to describe what had taken place. When Paul spoke of the victory which through Jesus Christ he had won over all the ills and advesaries and temptations and woes of life, that greatest of all words, "conqueror," was not sufficient to describe it; and therefore he said "more than conquerors." "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us."

On one occasion, after he had been delivered out of great peril at Ephesus, where he had the sentence of death passed on him, and after he had been delivered out of deep and painful anxiety concerning the church at Corinth by the return of his messenger, Titus, Paul cried out in the joy of his soul, "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to have a triumph in Christ!" There he made use of the greatest of all Roman scenes and pageants—a Roman triumph. The triumphal arch was the last word in Roman art and splendor. With their sculptured reliefs depicting battles and sieges in all parts of the world, these great arches, such as those of Titus and Constantine, look grandly down today upon the heap of rubbish and the sea of ruins that once was Rome. Bitten and defaced by the winds and rains of ages, scarred and battered by catapult and cannon, these arches have survived the vicissitudes of centuries.

Before the triumphal arch came the triumphal procession. Sometimes, as in the case of Julius Caesar, these great spectacles of victory came after a long lapse of years, when peace had been established. Arrayed in silken garments and crowned with garlands, the conqueror rode in his chariot at the head of his victorious legions. At the wheel of his chariot walked the princes and potentates who had been taken captive, and who, after having helped to make a Roman holiday, would be strangled or decapitated. As the procession moved toward the walls of the city along the Appian Way, or die Via Sacra, successive pageants and pantomimes recalled the incidents of the conqueror's battles and campaigns, while clouds of incense went up to heaven from the altars which had been reared along the line of march. It was this greatest of Roman scenes and exhibitions which Paul had in mind when he employed it as a metaphor to describe the triumph he had won through faith in Christ. Always he is the triumphant man, the "more than conqueror."

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