“Of this blessed man, let this just praise be given. Heaven was in him, before he was in heaven.”Isaac Walton( author of the Compleat Angler) writing of Sibbes.
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was a famous Anglican Puritan. When James Nicholls asked Alexander B. Grosart to edit his sermons and writings for an edition in the 19 century, Grosart searched for materials to write a short biography of this remarkable man.
Unfortunately, He wrote very little about himself and his contempories did not see it necessary to write any sort of account of his life.
So Alexander Grosart sifted the records of the time and mentions in other works etc. to piece together a short account of Sibbe’s life and times.
Maybe if one is famous, a person will leave a mark on history, and there will be some record of their life and times. For most however all that is left is a date of birth and death and maybe the name of his wife and children. Some people disappear from history as if they never existed.
For most of us, the mark we leave on history is negligible and no one would take the time to research or learn about us.
Perhaps our case is that of the old saw, “Where he’s gone and how he fares, nobody knows and nobody cares.”
Yet for the believer, he is never lost from the memory of Christ. Every member of his flock, no matter how insignificant to the world, is in His gaze.
The unmarked grave, the ashes of the martyr’s fire and the depths of the sea cannot hide the earthly remains of the member of Christ’s body.
The great Resurrection will vindicate the fact that many great and famous people, whom crowds idolized and were long remembered, will not be counted as highly as the poorest and humblest believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Putting ourselves in the position of a devout Jew in the time of Jesus, we can only imagine what was involved in espousing this self appointed Rabbi from Nazareth and what it meant in day to day existence. (The Jews of today still have the same difficulty).
For the rank and file of the people it was easy to be carried along by the crowded throng that was enraptured by Christ’s parables and astounded by his unique and undeniable miracles.
For all of what they saw and heard ,it was still possible for many to avoid giving to much thought to the implications of who Christ was and the object of his earthly ministry.
As long as there was a chance that he would get rid of the Romans and they could get a free feed and maybe some physical healing they stayed on the “band wagon”.
The minute Jesus taught things which did not accord with their hopes and world view then they began to have second thoughts and walked no longer with him. The time of wine and roses was well and truly over.
The arrest and crucifixion confirmed them in the wisdom of getting out while the getting was good.
For the more devout among them, came the discovery that following and believing in Jesus was to mean a departure from much of what made the Jews who they were as a people. There was going to be a real diverging of the ways and although it took a while to happen it was already in the process.
It meant separation from friends and relatives, rethinking what the Rabbis and scribes drummed into them and revering Jesus and trusting His word more than that of the Pharisees. It meant the Temple which was the centre of Jewish life was to be so no longer for the believer in Jesus, and that the sacrificial system was not the divine remedy for sin and guilt anymore.
Christ himself was to become all the temple represented.
For the Jew this was a heart rending ordeal and paradigm shift.
If anyone has doubts that it takes nothing less than the power of God to renew the heart and convert the soul, imagine what a drastic change had to be brought about before your devout synagogue and temple going, patriotic Jew became a humble ,gentile accepting, worshipper of Jesus Christ.
We of this day and age may have different difficulties and prejudices to overcome and yet it still takes nothing less than a new heart and a divinely renewed mind to come to faith in Christ. This does not excuse us however from urgently seeking God by his Holy Spirit to work the power of the “New Birth” and grace to repent from sin and plant faith into our hearts.
To Him alone be the glory.
Whenever heaven has been opened to the view of man, its inhabitants have been seen with their faces veiled and bowing before the throne of God. And all acceptable worship upon earth proceeds from the humble and contrite, who tremble at His Word. (Charles Hodge “The way of life”.)