‘Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.’ Hosea 6:1–2
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 116:12–19
A missionary was preaching to a Maori tribe in New Zealand. He had been telling them of the suffering love of Christ, how he had poured forth his soul unto death for them; and as he concluded, the hills rung to the thrilling question ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.’ Then stood forth a plumed and painted chief, the scarred warrior of a thousand fights, and as his lips quivered with suppressed emotion, he spoke. ‘And did the Son of the Highest suffer all this for us men? Then the chief would like to offer him some poor return for his great love. Would the Son of God deign to accept the chief’s hunting dog? Swift of foot and keen of scent, the tribe has not such another, and he has been to the chief as a friend.’ But the missionary told him that the Son of God had need of no such gifts as these. For a moment the chief paused; then as a new thought struck him, suddenly despoiling himself of his striped blanket he cried with childlike earnestness, ‘Perhaps he who had not where to lay his head will yet accept the chieftain’s blanket. The poor chief will be cold without it, yet it is offered joyfully.’ Touched by love’s persistency, the missionary tried to explain to him the real nature of the Son of God; that it was not men’s gifts but men’s hearts that he yearned for. For a moment a cloud of grief darkened the granite features of the old chief; then as the true nature of the Son of God slowly dawned upon him, casting aside his blanket he clasped his hands, and looking right up into the blue sky, his face beaming with joy, he exclaimed ‘Perhaps the Son of the Blessed One will deign to accept the poor chief himself!’
For meditation: Christ chiefly gave us himself (Galatians 2:20); blessings come with him (Romans 8:32; Ephesians 1:3). From you God chiefly wants yourself, not your material possessions, but your repentance and faith in him, the Saviour of the world.
Sermon no. 400
14 July (1861)