Robin Redbreast Galatians 6:17

I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.—Galatians 6:17

I wonder if you know the legend of how our dear old friend Mr. Robin got his red breast? To a great many people a robin suggests the autumn, when he comes to cheer us up with his quaint little piping song. And to a great many others he suggests the winter-time, when he comes to pick the crumbs off our window-sills. But when I see a robin with his bright scarlet breast I think of Eastertide. Shall I tell you why?

It is said that when Jesus was climbing the steep ascent of Calvary with the crown of thorns on His head He fell down under the weight of His cross. A little robin sat warbling on a tree near by, and when it saw the cruel crown piercing the Savior’s brow it flew to His side and tried to pluck even one thorn away. But the sharp spike pierced its dear little breast and stained it crimson, and from that day till this the robin has worn on its breast the marks of the wound that it bore for Jesus’ sake.

Of course that is just a legend, but although it is only a story it carries a very beautiful and true meaning. St. Paul once wrote a letter to some friends in a province called Galatia, and he told them that he bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

I wonder what Paul meant when he said that? Well, I fancy he was thinking of all the sufferings that he had endured for Jesus’ sake and that marked him as Jesus’ own. Like the robin, he had shared in Christ’s sufferings and he bore the marks of them, and these marks were the signs that he belonged to Jesus. They were Christ’s special badge. In one of his letters to the Corinthians he gives us a long list of these sufferings. He had been beaten many times; he had been stoned, he had been in perils by land and sea; he had been in danger from his own countrymen, from the heathen, from robbers; often he had been hungry, and cold, and weary, and sick.

Some of you may have seen a flock of sheep with blue or red marks on their backs to show their ownership, and you know that cattle very often have marks burned on their horns for the same purpose. Now in Paul’s day the masters used to brand a special mark on runaway slaves, so that they might be known again. And sometimes men burned on their bodies the name or special sign of the heathen god to whom they had devoted themselves.

Paul says that the marks that his sufferings had left on his body were the special signs whereby he might be recognized as a disciple of Christ. They were the marks by which Jesus knew him, and they were the marks by which other people knew he belonged to Jesus.

Now, if we are going to be true followers of Christ, we also shall have to bear the marks that hurt. We may not have to suffer the things Paul had to suffer, but if we want to be faithful disciples and of real use to our Master, our discipleship is sure to cost us a great deal of trouble and perhaps some pain. But you know that that is true of anything that is worth doing. If you want to be a good scholar you must work very hard and take a great deal of pains to learn. If you want to be a good musician you must go through a lot of disagreeable drudgery. If you want to be a good cricketer you must practice very hard and play many a losing game. And if we want to be good followers of Christ we shall have to take a great deal of trouble and perhaps suffer many rebuffs and discouragements.

What are a few of the marks we must bear for Jesus?

Well, first, there is the mark of self-discipline. And that is a mark that often hurts very much. Some of us will have to try to get the better of our temper; we shall have to check the angry word that rises, and swallow the bitter retort though it almost chokes us. Some of us will have to conquer selfishness and laziness, and make our feet run on other people’s errands though they almost refuse to go. And some of us will have to learn to give up to others. And some of us will have to struggle with envy and spite and jealousy.

Another mark of Jesus we may have to bear is reproach. Sometimes we may have to stand up for the right and take the consequences, no matter how much it hurts or how much other people laugh at us. Now please don’t run away with the idea that I want you all to be prigs. There is no more detestable person than the boy or girl who is always putting other people right; but there comes a time to most of us when we have to play either the man or the coward, and when that time comes I hope you will stand up for your Master and bear His marks however much they hurt.

Yet another mark we have to bear for Jesus’ sake is the mark of other people’s burdens. He came down to earth to bear burdens—the burdens of sin and sorrow and death; and when you are helping to bear burdens you are doing the most Christ-like work. So every time that you make a sad person glad, or help a weary person to be a little less tired, every time you make the way a little easier for someone in a difficulty, you are bearing the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Now perhaps you will think this is a very sad sermon, but I want you to remember two things. First, the marks of Jesus are a soldier’s wounds, and they are not things that should make us sad; they are things that should make us proud and glad. Do you think a soldier is sad about the marks of the wounds he gets in battle? I fancy he is generally very proud of them. And I think that when our day of battle is over and our Captain calls us home we shall be very much ashamed to meet Him face to face if we don’t bear some of His marks.

And, secondly, the marks of Jesus make us beautiful. The robin would hardly be worth looking at were it not for his red breast, and we have no real beauty unless we bear Christ’s marks. The marks of temper, and selfishness, and pride, and envy, and meanness spoil our faces and put ugly stains on our character, but the marks of Jesus adorn us with a beauty that will endure for ever.

James Hastings' Children's Great Texts Of The Bible - This material seems appropriate for children ages 8-12.  Like the Great Texts Of The Bible (For Adults), this series examines the Great Texts of the Bible, but from a child's perspective. Each section begins with a scripture, and Hastings uses illustrations to relate the meaning of the passage for a child's life.  Hastings focuses on practical lessons and the moral of the story that children might apply to their lives. Because Hastings studied the classics as an undergraduate, many sections include classic poems and classic literature quotes.