Prepare. Day 42 of Lent. Just as I am.
A People Prepared for the Lord- A Sermon,
Delivered By C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
On Lord’s-day Evening, March 13th, 1887.
“To make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”—Luke 1:17.
John was the herald of Christ; he was to prepare the way for the coming King, but from this text it appears that he was to do more than that. He was not only to make the road ready for the Lord, but he was also “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
That was a great work, a task in which he would require strength and wisdom greater than his own. He would need that the Spirit of God, who was to be given without measure to the coming One, should also be in a measure within himself, if he should really “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
This is not at all a usual expression; at first sight, it hardly looks to us like a gospel expression.
We sang just now,—
“Just as I am—
and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come.”
We sang over and over again those words, “Just as I am, Just as I am,” and we are prone to protest against the idea of being prepared for Christ; we preach constantly that no preparation is needed, but that men are to come to Jesus just as they are.
Yet here is John the Baptist set apart “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
The fact is, dear friends, that to get men to come to Jesus just as they are, is not an easy thing.
To get them to give up the idea of preparing, to get them prepared to come without preparing, to get them ready to come just as they are, this is the hardest part of our work, this is our greatest difficulty.
If we came and preached to men the necessity of preparation through so many weeks of fasting during a long Lent, or through so many days of scourging and penitence, they would attend to us at once, for they would be willing enough to make any preparation of that kind; but, when we say to them, “Come just as you are now, with nothing in your hand to buy the mercy of God, with nothing wherewith to demand or to deserve it,” men want a great deal of preparing before they will come to that point.
Only the grace of God, working mightily through the Word, by the Spirit, will prepare men to come to Christ thus, prepared by being unprepared so far as any fitness of their own is concerned. The only fit state in which they can come is that of sinking themselves, abandoning all idea of helping Christ, and coming in all their natural impotence and guilt, and taking Christ to be their all in all.
Beloved friends, this is the true preparedness of heart for coming to Christ, the preparedness of coming to him just as you are; and it was John’s business thus “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” That is also my business at this time. May the good Spirit, who dwelt in John the Baptist, work through us also, that some here may be made ready for Christ, “a people prepared for the Lord”!