Be of Good Cheer

Title: Be of Good Cheer

Bible Book: Matthew 9 : 2

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Joy; Cheer, Good



Walter Brown Knight shares the following from the Toronto Globe, “A well-known worker among sailors, the late Thomas Boue, once told his hearers of three good cheers, each of which was enjoined by the Lord Jesus Christ. The first is the cheer of forgiveness, as our Saviour said, ‘Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.’ The second is the cheer of companionship, as Jesus said, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.’ And the third is the cheer of victory, ‘Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ These three cheers cover the whole of life, for it is a striking fact that they deal with our past, present, and future. The sin of the past is blotted out for the Christian, the continual fellowship of Christ is offered for the present, and the future will reveal Christ as the conqueror over the world.”[1]

Rev. George Henderson, F. R. G. S., M. R. S. L. (1878-1964), a Scottish Presbyterian pastor of another era, who wrote under the pseudonym Henry Durbanville, shares, “It should be noted that our Lord uses the expression ‘be of good cheer’ three times: Matthew 9:2; 14:27; John 16:33. The first is the good cheer of His pardon; the second, of His presence; and the third of His peace.”[2]

In this message we will explore the theme “be of good cheer”.

I. Be of good cheer; you can be virtuous.

For our Transgression there is the Good Cheer of His Pardon.

Matthew writes, “So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’ And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This Man blasphemes!’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men” (Matthew 9:1-8).

From 1 John 3:4, we read, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” The word lawlessness is translated “transgression” and “transgresseth” in the Authorized Version, to read, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) explains in his Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, "In 1 John 3 the apostle is very careful to remind his readers that sin in Christian people is still 'a transgression of the law'. 'We still see our relationship to the law', says John in effect, 'for sin is a transgression of the law.' The law is still there, and when I sin I am breaking that law, though I am a Christian and though I have never been a Jew, and am a Gentile. So the moral law still applies to us. That, it seems to me, is the present position."[3]

Rev. Matthew Poole (1624-1679) explains, “The history of this miracle is reported by Mr 2:3-12; by Luke, Lu 5:18-26; by both with more circumstances than Matthew doth report it.”[4]

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) writes, “If we have renewed our repentance for sin, and made a fresh application of the blood of Christ to our souls for the purifying of our consciences, we may then lay us down in peace. Nothing can break in upon our peace but sin; that is it which troubles the camp; if that be taken away there shall no evil befall us. The inhabitant, though he be far from well, yet shall not say, I am sick, shall not complain of sickness, for the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity, Isa. 33:24. The pardon of sin has enough in it to balance all our griefs, and therefore to silence all our complaints. A man sick of the palsy has yet reason to be easy, nay, and to be of good cheer, if Christ says to him, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee;’ and ‘I am thy salvation.’”[5]

In 1895, Dr. William Reed Newell (1868-1956) poetically penned his testimony. After reading this testimony of God’s grace his friend and fellow Bible teacher, Dr. Daniel Towner, Director of music at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, felt led to set it to music, resulting in the beautiful hymn “At Calvary”. Dr. Newell confesses in the first stanza, “Years I spent in vanity and pride, / Caring not my Lord was crucified, / Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.” In the refrain he declares, “Mercy there was great, and grace was free; / Pardon there was multiplied to me; / There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.” Then, in second stanza he recounts, “By God's Word at last my sin I learned; / Then I trembled at the law I'd spurned, / Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.”[6] Oh, child of God, remember the great joy of receiving the pardon of Jesus Christ for your sins!

II. Be of good cheer; you can be vigorous.

For our Trepidation there is the Good Cheer of His Presence.

Some situations scare the life out of you. Matthew writes, “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:22-33).

Rev. Matthew Poole notes, “Mark addeth, Mr 6:52, ‘They considered not the miracle of the loaves; for their heart was hardened.’ Having had so late an experience, both of the power and goodness of their Master, in their late strait for want of bread, they ought not so soon to have showed a distrust in his providence, as if he would have suffered them to have perished in the sea: that miracle did not make a due impression upon them.”[7]

Dr. Andrew Murray (1828-1917) asks, “Will you rest upon His word, ‘Be of good cheer; fear not; it is I’? Every moment Jesus lives in heaven; every moment by His Spirit Jesus whispers that word; and every moment He lives to make it true. Accept it now, accept it now! My Lord Jesus is equal to every emergency. My Lord Jesus can meet the wants of every soul. My whole heart says, ‘He can, He can do it; He will, He will do it!’ Oh come, believers, and let us claim most deliberately, most quietly, most restfully, let us claim, claim it, claim it, CLAIM it.”[8]

Dr. Andrew Murray was a great man of faith. We need men and women of faith in our day; those who will trust in God’s Word regardless of the circumstances and who will obey God’s Word regardless of consequences. We read in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Paul the apostle writes in Romans 14:23b, “For whatever is not from faith is sin.” As a believer, is your life marked by faith or is it marred by sin? Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

III. Be of good cheer; you can be victorious.

For our Tribulation there is the Good Cheer of His Peace.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.’ His disciples said to Him, ‘See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’” (John 16:25-33).

Dr. Adam Clarke (1762-1832) shares, “[Dr. Martin] Luther [1483-1546] writing to Philip Melancthon [1497-1560], quotes this verse, and adds these remarkable words: ‘Such a saying as this is worthy to be carried from Rome to Jerusalem upon one's knees.’"[9]

Dr. Martin Luther writes in his Commentary on Galatians, “At any rate, our opponents cannot accuse us of adultery, murder, theft, and such crimes. The worst they can say about us is that we have the Gospel. What is wrong with the Gospel? We teach that Christ, the Son of God, has redeemed us from sin and everlasting death. This is not our doctrine. It belongs to Christ. If there is anything wrong with it, it is not our fault. If they want to condemn Christ for being our Savior and Redeemer, that is their lookout. We are mere onlookers, watching to see who will win the victory, Christ or His opponents.

On one occasion Jesus remarked: ‘If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you’ (John 15:19). In other words: ‘I am the cause of all your troubles. I am the one for whose sake you are killed. If you did not confess my name, the world would not hate you. The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’

Christ takes all the blame. He says: ‘You have not incurred the hatred and persecutions of the world. I have. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’”[10]

Mrs. Charles E. [Lettie B.] Cowman (1870-1960) shares, “Tribulation has always marked the trail of the true reformer. It is the story of Paul, Luther, Savonarola, Knox, Wesley, and all the rest of the mighty army. They came through great tribulation to their place of power.”[11]

Rev. Matthew Poole explains, “By peace here is not so much to be understood peace with God; which yet we have from Christ, and through Christ, according to Ro 5:1, Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; nor yet peace of conscience, which is the copy of our peace with God; as a peace of mind, a quiet, serene, calm temper, which indeed is the effect of the other, as the cause: that you might not to troubled and disturbed, neither for my sake, nor yet for your own. Though in the world ye meet with troubles, which you will certainly do, because the world hateth you, be of good cheer, (saith he), I have overcome the world; where by world is to be understood, all temptations from it, whether from the flatteries or from the frowns and troubles of it. We are said to overcome the world, but we overcome it as soldiers, fighting under Christ, who is the Captain of our salvation, and his victory is our victory, 1 Jo 4:4; 5:4-5. Christ overcame the prince of the world, and cast him out, as we heard before; and he hath overcome sin, and we in him, in the midst of all tribulations, are more than conquerors through him that loved us, Ro 8:37. This was our Saviour's last sermon which we have upon sacred record in holy writ.”[12]

Rev. Matthew Henry comments on Isaiah 26:20-21, “He assures them that the trouble would be over in a very short time, that they should not long be in any fright or peril: ‘Hide thyself for a moment, the smallest part of time we can conceive, like an atom of matter; may, if you can imagine one moment shorter than another, it is but for a little moment, and that with a quasi too, as it were for a little moment, less than you think of. When it is over it will seem as nothing to you; you will wonder how soon it is gone. You shall not need to lie long in confinement, long in concealment. The indignation will presently be over-past; that is, the indignation of the enemies against you, their persecuting power and rage, which force you to abscond. When the wicked rise, a man is hid. This will soon be over; God will cut them off, will break their power, defeat their purposes, and find a way for your enlargement.’ When Athanasius was banished from Alexandria by an edict of Julian, and his friends greatly lamented it, he bade them be of good cheer. Nubecula est quae cito pertransibit-It is a little cloud, that will soon blow over. You shall have tribulation ten days; that is all, Revelation 2:10. This enables God's suffering people to call their afflictions light, that they are but for a moment.”[13]

Dr. William R. Newell comments on Romans 8:35, “Christ is always saying, ‘Be of good cheer!’ (Acts 23:11.)”[14] Dr. Luke writes in Acts 23:11, “But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.’”

No doubt the three instances cited by Rev. George Henderson AKA Henry Durbanville in His Last Words refer to our Lord’s three and one half year ministry as recorded in the Gospels. Paul’s experience brings encouragement to each one of us in our personal situation.

Rev. William Charles Poole (1875-1949) wrote the lyrics to a hymn titled, “Just When I Need Him Most” in 1907. In the first stanza he writes, “Just when I need Him, Jesus is near, / Just when I falter, just when I fear; / Ready to help me, ready to cheer, / Just when I need Him most.” In the refrain he confesses, “Just when I need Him most, / Just when I need Him most, / Jesus is near to comfort and cheer, / Just when I need Him most.”[15] Stanzas two, three, and four, followed each time by the refrain, are just as inspirational and encouraging.

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) shares in his classic titled Faith’s Checkbook, “My Lord's words are true as to the tribulation. I have my share of it beyond all doubt. The flail is not hung up out of the way, nor can I hope that it will be laid aside so long as I lie upon the threshingfloor. How can I look to be at home in the enemy's country, joyful while in exile, or comfortable in a wilderness? This is not my rest. This is the place of the furnace, and the forge, and the hammer. My experience tallies with my Lord's words.

I note how He bids me ‘be of good cheer.’ Alas! I am far too apt to be downcast. My spirit soon sinks when I am sorely tried. But I must not give way to this feeling. When my Lord bids me cheer up I must not dare to be cast down.

What is the argument which He uses to encourage me? Why, it is His own victory. He says, ‘I have overcome the world.’ His battle was much more severe than mine. I have not yet resisted unto blood. Why do I despair of overcoming? See, my soul, the enemy has been once overcome. I fight with a beaten foe. O world, Jesus has already vanquished thee; and in me, by His grace, He will overcome thee again.

Therefore am I of good cheer, and sing unto my conquering Lord.”[16]

Dr. Lehman Strauss (1901-1997) shares in Certainties for Today: Comforting Truths for Dark Days, “A great saint of years ago has said that if the world was against him because he refused to compromise with its evil and apostasy, then he was against the world. Beloved, the world is the enemy of Jesus Christ, so let us flee its temptations and refuse to enter into its trysts.”[17]


Steven Melvin McCalip explains, “Jesus Christ is the only man to have ever overcome every temptation put against Him, and when His Spirit dwells in us, and we yield to [Him], we can be of good cheer because we now have the power to overcome these temptations also. The ‘Don't worry, be happy’ crowd should be very worried and very unhappy. They are rejecting the only person that can give them happiness.”[18]

Recently, I read a touching illustration attributed to Dr. George W. Truett (1867-1944), former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. It is the account of firemen cheering on a fellow firefighter as he made a valiant effort to save the last person in peril with the following conclusion, “Oh, you and I are to give our lives cheering a needy world! Ponder this beautiful sentence from Isaiah: ‘They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good cheer’!”[19]

We should give Dr. Truett the benefit of the doubt, since we do not know if he said this or drew this conclusion. No serious student of the Word of God would pass it on without explanation. The verse cited is Isaiah 41:6. Dr. Manford George Gutzke (1896-1993) explains, “Human beings were seen trying to comfort and to encourage each other.”[20] So far, so good, however, we read in Isaiah 41:7, “So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; / He who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, / Saying, ‘It is ready for the soldering’; / Then he fastened it with pegs, / That it might not totter.” Dr. Gutzke further explains, “This again was a description of the building of an idol. There are people today, gathering together and trying to figure out what makes the universe go and how things operate. It is the same kind of thing.”[21]

Regrettably, many provide encouragement to others with no thought about the will of God. Things that violate the clear teaching of Holy Scripture, such as practicing idolatry, should not be encouraged by God’s children.

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes, “A man in Christ is a man upon an extraordinary vantage ground. The world cannot understand him, nor can it withstand him; he lives in it and yet lives above it: he glides through it, not without trial, for ‘in the world ye shall have tribulation,’ but certainly without defeat, for Christ has said, ‘Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.’ If I did not look for immortality, but expected to die like a dog, I would wish to be a Christian. If there were no hereafter, if there were no Heaven or hell, if I only had to meet the sorrows and the strifes and the cares and burdens of this mortal life, I would ask Thee, great Master, Jesus, to let me enlist beneath Thy banner; for Thou giveth peace and rest to all who come beneath Thy sway.”[22]

Believer remember the pardon, presence, and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ and “be of good cheer”.

[1]Walter B. Knight, Knight's Master Book of New Illustrations “Three Cheers”, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), p. 342, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

NOTE: The Toronto Globe began publication in 1844 and became the Toronto Globe and Mail in 1936.


[2]Henry Durbanville, His Last Words (Edinburgh, Scotland: B. McCall Barbour, 1954), p. 82

NOTE: Henry Durbanville is a pseudonym of George Henderson (1878-1964),-1,0,B/browse

NOTE: F. R. G. S., (Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society) M. R. S. L. (Market Research Solutions Limited / U.K)


[3]D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1976), pp. 170-171

[4]Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Bible, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[5]Matthew Henry, The Secret of Communion with God How to Begin the Day, Spend the Day and End the Day with God, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


[6]William R. Newell, “At Calvary” (1895) Available from: Accessed: 12/31/11


[7]Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Bible, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


[8]Andrew Murray, The Deeper Christian Life And Aid to Its Attainment (Chicago / New York / Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1895), Database © 2003 WORDsearch Corp.


[9]Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the New Testament Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.


[10]Martin Luther, A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: A New Abridged Translation by Theodore Graevner, D.D., Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.


[11]Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Streams in the Desert © 1925 Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp., January 21 Reading


[12]Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Bible, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[13]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), Database WORDsearch Corp.

[14]William R. Newell, Romans Verse-by-Verse Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


[15]William C. Poole “Just When I Need Him Most” (1907) Available from: Accessed: 12/29/11


[16]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Faith's Checkbook, “Be of Good Cheer” (John 16:33) May 31 Reading Database WORDsearch Corp.


[17]Lehman Strauss, Certainties for Today: Comforting Truths for Dark Days (1956), Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.


[18]Steven M. McCalip, Where'd That Come From? Everyday Expressions Found in the Bible © 2002 Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.


[19]Walter B. Knight, Knight's Master Book of New Illustrations “Cheer Him, Boys!”, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), p. 175, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


[20]Manford G. Gutzke, Plain Talk on Isaiah, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), Chapter 28, pp. 101-102

Available from: Accessed: 12/29/11




[22]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A Good Start: A Book for Young Men and Women Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210


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