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Visions of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Four Gospels present the Lord Jesus Christ under four distinct aspects. The Gospel of John tells us of Christ, in His all-glorious Deity. The first chapter of the Gospel gives us a view of the Lord, under different and distinct names.
What the world needs today is a new vision of Christ; and, in Him, a new vision of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Men have been humanizing Christ, and deifying man, until they have all but taken from Christ His glory, and from man his need of a Saviour.
If Jesus Christ is only the Babe of Bethlehem and the Man of Galilee, He is not a Saviour.
If Jesus Christ is no more than the Great Teacher, with lofty ideas of ethics, He is not God's Son and our Redeemer If Jesus Christ is the world's greatest man, living merely ahead of His time, and thinking beyond His contemporaries He is not the Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, The Everlasting Father and The Prince of Peace.
We need to remember that if we rob Christ of His Deity we also rob Him of His Saviourhood.
We need to consider that if we take from Christ His eternity, we are taking from Him His eternal Sonhood.
We need to weigh this fact to make Christ no more than man, is to for ever make man no more than a sinner, lost and undone.
In the Bible, Christ is the Word, the Logos, in whom was life and from whom is light.
In the Bible, Christ is the Creator of the physical universe, and the re-creator of twice-born men.
In the Bible, Christ in the world, is the foreshowing and revelation of the Father in Heaven.
Jesus is the only One who is God's perfect revelation of the Father; He is the only perfect manifestation of Truth, and the only faithful expression of Grace, There is a time coming, when at the Name of Jesus Christ, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father. Let us bend the knee now, and worship at His throne.
I. CHRIST THE WORD (John 1:1 ; John 1:14 )
Two things are before us in our two verses:
1. Christ the Word with God. There are those who have no knowledge of Christ as co-equal and co-existent with the Father. They sadly imagine that the so-called first Christmas day, when Mary brought forth her first-born Son, and laid Him in the manger, was the beginning of Christ's existence. These people know not that in the beginning Christ was with the Father. They know not that Christ came forth from the Father and came into the world. These people have never known that before the physical creation, was Christ the Creator. That Christ was the Word which said, "Let there be light and there was light." That Christ said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so." That Christ said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven * * and it was so." If someone argues that it was God who said these words, we reply, that the Logos was with God and the Logos, the Word, was God.
2. Christ, the Word, made flesh. He who walked among men is the same as He who was in the beginning with God. He who was made flesh and dwelt among us was the same Word who was with the Father and came forth from the Father.
The Logos, the Word, that was in the beginning, spoke, and the Logos, the Word, which was made flesh and dwelt among us, spoke. In the eternity past it was the same Word, the same God as was manifested among men. Do you marvel that it was said of Him, "Never man spake like this Man"?
In Christ, the Word, we beheld the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Consider Jesus Christ as He moved among men, speaking forth words of life and of power. The demons were subject to His word. When He spoke all nature obeyed. At His command the powers of darkness fell back.
Think of Christ, the Word, standing fearlessly before the maddened sea as with calm mien and unperturbed voice, He said, "Peace be still," and suddenly the winds and the waves fell back from before His command, and there was a great calm.
II. CHRIST THE LIFE (John 1:4 , f.c)
The part of this brief verse, which we have to consider, is contained in four short but meaningful words. The words are these "In Him was life."
Jesus Christ was Life in the beginning. He possessed inherent life. His life was without beginning and is without end. The life which Jesus Christ possessed was the Author of life. In Him all life found its beginning, and from Him all life sprang. The life which was with Christ is the same life as that which indwells every regenerate child. We have everlasting life because we have Him. It was Paul who wrote, "When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear, then shall [we] also appear with Him in glory."
The Life which was Christ, and the Christ who was the Life is the security of all life. He said unto His disciples, and He says unto us, "Because I live, ye shall live also." Our "life is hid with Christ in God." No man is able to take our life from us, because no one is able to take His life.
What is more marvelous than life? It is vibrant with power; it is marvelous in its glory. Even vegetable and animal life is attractive. There is something about the growing fields of grain that amazes us; there is something about the fiery steed, or the dog, man's faithful friend, that entrances us. When we consider the life, however, that is human, its genius, its accomplishments, and its intelligence, we are amazed.
There is, however, another life, and that is the life which we have as newborn sons. How wonderful is that life! It is flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone.
There is one thing about life that almost startles us, Life only can beget life. In Him was life and from Him all life sprang. It was God in Christ who put within the acorn, life a life that was able to propagate itself, so that we can truly say, The mighty oak, the peer of the forest, was once enclosed in embryo in the acorn.
This power to transmit life, kind after its kind, was given only from God. After six millenniums of man's dominion upon the earth, he has never found out how to originate life, whether it be vegetable, animal, or human, apart from its own power of self-propagation.
III. CHRIST THE LIGHT (John 1:4 , l.c-9)
We now come to a most interesting part of the description of Jesus Christ which is before us. The Life of which we have just spoken, was the light of men. Jesus Christ was Light, as well as Life.
Before God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven," He said, "Let there be light: and there was light." There was light because "in Him was life; and the life was the light of men." It was also the light of the creation, and it will be the light of the new creation. The Holy City, which shall come down from God out of Heaven, shall have no need of the sun, or of the moon, to give it light, for the Lord God giveth it light, and the Lamb is the Light thereof.
In the world there was darkness over the deep, when God said, "Let there be light: and there was light." Once more, there is darkness upon the earth, and the Light shone in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. That Light, which was on the earth, was the true Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. How strange it is that men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil; this is their chief condemnation. We remember how Christ said, "I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life."
In John 1:4 we read, "The Life was the light." In the verse just quoted we read, where Jesus said that He was, "The Light of life."
Once more, Christ said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." Since the Lord Jesus went His way, the world has been once more in darkness. The only lights that now shine are saints, who are luminaries shining in the present darkness and awaiting the coming of the Lord, who like the sun in righteousness shall soon arise.
IV. CHRIST THE CREATOR (John 1:3 ; John 1:10 )
Our third verse says, "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made." This verse places Jesus Christ before the creation just as plainly as the first verse places Him there. If all things were made by Him, He was before the all things. If without Him was not anything made that was made, then He was with God in the first verse of the Bible, which reads, "In the beginning God ["Elohim"], created the Heaven and the earth."
Our tenth verse says, "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him." This verse is in line with the third verse. Whether it be the physical earth or the cosmos, He is its Creator and Maker. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we read, that Jesus Christ, the Son, made the world. In Colossians, we read concerning our Lord: "By Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist."
Away, forever, with that doctrine of men, falsely called science, which is promulgated under the name of evolution and which takes both God the Father, and God, the Son, as well as God, the Holy Spirit, out of His own creation.
We prefer to take our place with the four living ones, and with the four and twenty elders, who give glory and honor and thanks to Him that shall sit upon the throne. We prefer to join the four living ones, and the four and twenty elders, in falling down before Him as we worship the One that liveth for ever and ever. We prefer to join the four living ones, and the four and twenty elders, in saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."
V. CHRIST IN THE WORLD (John 1:10-11 )
How it thrills the soul, as we think that Christ, who was the Word, for ever God, and for ever with God, was in the world. How it stirs the heart, as we consider that Christ, who was the Life, came unto His own. How it grips the spirit, when we think of Christ, the Light, entering into the world of darkness. Can anything be more inspiring than to read, "He was in the world"? Can anything be more illuminating than to read, "He came unto His own"?
What, are we to understand that the very God of very God, the Creator, came down to dwell with the creature even so, He came. He came forth from the Father; forth from the glory of the throne of God; forth from the adoration of the angelic hosts, who worshiped Him day and night, and He came down to the world of sin, and of shame, of suffering, and of sorrow.
Saddest of all things sad, "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." Strangest of all strange things, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."
When the Christ was born the angels shouted forth His praise, and the Heavenly bodies bowed in obeisance to His coming, but there was found no room for Him in the inn. We wonder if the world has had a change of heart. With shame we answer, No.
VI. CHRIST IN THE NEW BIRTH (John 1:12-13 )
Mid the shadows which shrouded the rejection of the Son of God, there is a ray of light. We read, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name." What shame is theirs who reject Him, but what transcendent glory is theirs who receive Him, and believe in His Name!
It may seem but a little matter to bend the knee before the matchless Son of God, and to crown Him Lord and Christ. It may seem but an insignificant thing to open the heart and to receive Him as one's sacred guest. It may seem unworthy of weight, with child-like faith, to believe on His Name, and yet those, who do these things, become the sons of God.
He who created worlds and threw them into space; He who created man and placed him upon a created earth, once more steps forth in the majestic sweep of created power, and creates anew those who put their trust in Him. John 1:11 says of these that they were born of God.
VII. CHRIST DECLARING THE FATHER (John 1:16-18 )
The verse now before us plainly declares that the Son of God, who came forth from the Father, and came into the world, has declared the Father unto us. These words mean no less than the fact that Christ was God, manifest in the flesh, for only God could declare God in the sense that Christ declared Him. Our next study is to be upon this verse and other Scriptures which elucidate it, under the theme Christ, the manifestation of the Father.
We should see beautiful things not only in nature as Newton saw-in the sun, but we should see the beautiful things in Christ Jesus, the Son of Righteousness.
Dr. Tucker says: It is said of Newton that he had fits of gazing at the sun. At one time he gazed so long that when brought back into his room he was found to be quite blind. Wherever he looked he saw nothing but the sun. Eyes shut or open it was the sun only. The long gazing at the sun had so impressed it on the retina of the eye that nothing else was there.
Would it not be wonderful if believers should intently gaze upon Christ that they could see no one else just the Son and the Son only!
Just as at the Transfiguration, when His face was like the sun and His garments glistening, they
"Saw no man save Jesus only."
Son gazing is a wonderful occupation for the believer. When John saw One whose "Countenance was as the sun shining in its strength," he fell at His feet as one dead. Excess of light and glory brought John into humiliation. It always means prostration and humiliation and a cry for sanctification, to see Him!
If only we would gaze at the Son till we could see no one but the Son! If only on the retina of the inner eye, He could be so impressed that wherever we look, it would be but to see the Son! If only we could say: The Son, I see the Son only!
We could not gaze upon Him now with undimmed eye. We are yet in mortal state. Paul saw for a moment His glory, "A brightness above the sun," and was blinded. We shall see Him one day as He is. Now we gaze by faith and the result is found at 2 Corinthians 3:18 :
"But we all, with open face beholding, as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Son gazing is a wonderful occupation for the Christian. Let the eye be blind to all else but Him. I see "Jesus Only," is a cry of Christian triumph!
Peter The Fisher of Men
We come to the study of one of the outstanding Apostles of the Cross. Whatever you may think of Peter, and his failures, you must grant that he was an energetic, whole-souled, and sacrificial servant of the Lord.
1. Let us observe how Peter was wooed and won for Christ.
(1) The testimony of John the Baptist, and its results. John looking upon Jesus, as He walked, said, "Behold the Lamb of God." Two of John's disciples heard John as he spoke. We never know the far-reaching effects of any vital testimony which we give to Jesus Christ. John had borne a faithful testimony, and John's disciples had. profited thereby. As the two disciples, one of whom was Andrew, heard John speaking of Jesus, they followed after Him.
(2) The query of Christ. Jesus, seeing them following, turned, and said unto them, "What seek ye?" They answered, saying, "Rabbi, * * where dwellest Thou?" The Lord Jesus read the inner yearnings of their heart, and He said unto them, "Come and see." Thus it turned out that the two went with Christ that day, and abode with Him.
(3) Andrew seeking Peter. One of the first quests of a genuinely born-again soul is his desire to bring his friends to Jesus. This was true with Andrew. "He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." Thus Andrew brought Peter to the Lord Jesus.
If we cannot do much ourselves in the way of public service, we may in the quieter walks of life, be able to point some one to the Lord who will prove a valiant soldier of the Cross.
2. How Christ accosted Peter. As soon as Jesus beheld Peter, He said unto him, "Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
(1) Christ's Divine perception. Christ said, "Thou art Simon." The Lord knew everything about Simon Peter the moment that he stood before Him, He knew his vacillating disposition; He knew, as well, his stalwart and strong characteristics; He knew also that Peter was impetuous and hasty. None of this, however, caused the Lord to hesitate as He spoke to Peter.
(2) The Divine forecast. The Lord Jesus said, "Thou art." He also said, "Thou shalt be." "Thou art," was a record of Simon in his self-life. "Thou shalt be," was a record of Simon after grace had completed its work in his life. The Lord took Peter for better, not for worse. He knew that ultimately Simon would become Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
I. PETER'S CALL TO THE APOSTLESHIP (Matthew 4:18-20 )
1. Fishing for fish. As Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon Peter and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea. The Lord, no doubt, saw in a moment that they knew how to catch fish. Immediately, however, He called unto them saying, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
From fishing fish to fishing men was a great stride for these sons of the net. They might have pled their inadaptibility to the discipleship, they might have clung to their nets but they didn't. Without any hesitancy, and with immediate response to the call of Christ, they left the ship, and left their father, and followed the Lord. How many are there among us today who will do as they did?
2. Fishing for men. Peter had known some marvelous catches of fish, but he afterward knew many more marvelous catches of men. He who had been a good fisherman for fish, became a better fisherman for men.
We have heard many addresses on how to catch men; we have read numerous books and booklets on the art of soul-winning; we believe, however, that Christ gave the one supreme requirement for fishing men successfully, when He said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
There is more than a human preparation for soul-winning. There is a supreme Divine preparation. The Lord said, "I will make you fishers." Those whom He makes fishers, are those who follow Him; but, even followers of Christ are not, naturally, successful fishermen. We need to be made fishers, by the Divine anointing of the Holy One. Christ fulfilled this pledge to Peter particularly on the day of Pentecost, when Peter was filled with the Spirit.
II. LAUNCHING OUT INTO THE DEEP (Luke 5:4 )
The disciples had not yet wholly ceased their fishing. It came to pass as the people pressed upon Christ to hear the Word of God that He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's and He prayed him to thrust out a little from the land. There Christ sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. After He had finished speaking, He said unto Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught."
There are several lessons before us.
1. We must launch out into the deep of men's needs, and of God's promises if we would catch men. Fish are in the sea, not on the land. Men also are out in the great sea of life. We dare not shut ourselves up in some cloister, if we would catch men. We must go out where the men are.
2. We must launch out into the deep under the Master's command. Simon quickly said to Christ, "Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net."
The soul-winner cannot, under any conditions, separate himself from the Saviour. We may toil in the night in our strength, and catch nothing, and then again, we may toil in the daytime, when fishing is usually unproductive, and catch fish, if we have the Saviour's blessing. Whether this, or that, we must always stand ready to hear the Master's voice, and to do His will.
3. They enclosed a great multitude of fishes. This is what we would all like to do. There is no joy in fishing for men, week in and week out, with no men being caught for God. There is joy when souls are saved, and the results pile up.
When Peter saw what had happened, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord"!
III. PETER AND HIS GREAT CONFESSION (Matthew 16:16 )
1. The query of the Lord. Christ asked the disciples, saying, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" They said, "Some say that Thou art John the Baptist. Some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the Prophets." This response did not satisfy the Lord. Therefore He asked, "But whom say ye that I am?" Let us remember that we dare not place Christ on a par with any other man. John the Baptist was the greatest man born of woman, and yet he, himself, admitted that he was not worthy to unloose the sandals from the feet of Christ.
2. Peter's response. Brushing aside what some had said concerning Christ, Peter bravely answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." This confession of Peter brought a twofold statement from Christ:
(1) Christ said, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona." Then Christ continued, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven." Peter, therefore, had been Divinely taught.
(2) Christ said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church." The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is builded, therefore, upon the great underlying testimony of Peter's confession, which involved the Deity of Christ.
3. Peter's great error. From the time of Peter's confession that Jesus was the "Christ, the Son of the Living God," the Lord began to show unto His disciples how He must suffer, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Peter rebuked the Lord, saying, "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee." The Lord immediately said to Peter, "Get thee behind Me, Satan." He who had made a good confession, utterly failed to recognize that Christ, the Son of God was the destined Saviour of men, by means of His death, burial and resurrection. It is not the Deity of Christ that saves us, but it is the death of the One who was God.
IV. PETER UPON THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION (Matthew 17:1-2 )
It was soon after Peter's great confession that the Lord took Peter, James and John up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them.
1. Peter held a place of privilege in the Master's ministry. On various occasions he, along with James and John, was chosen to occupy a special nearness with the Lord.
2. Peter profited by his vision of the Lord. The full force of the transfiguration did not immediately dawn upon Peter. It was in after years, when, under the Spirit he was writing his Second Epistle, that Peter explained how the transfiguration of Christ, which he saw in the most excellent glory upon the Holy mount, was the foreshadowing of the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His Second Coming.
V. SATAN'S DESIRE FOR PETER (Luke 22:31 )
We may well understand why Satan should have singled out Simon Peter from among the Twelve, and why he should have particularly desired to have him for his sifting.
1. Satan recognized Peter's ability and power. Satan knew that this stalwart son of grace was a tremendous asset to the work and ministry of the Lord: and that Peter, being impulsive, and rather dogmatic in disposition, might fall an easy prey to his wiles.
The story of Peter's denial, and of Satan's sifting, is told step by step in the fourteenth chapter of Mark. The finality was that, as Peter sat warming himself at the fire on the night of Christ's betrayal, he twice denied his Lord before a maid, and the third time he denied Him with an oath, saying, "I know not this Man of whom ye speak."
2. The Saviour stood by Peter in the hour of Peter's defection. Christ had said to Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." It is most interesting to follow the fruition of the loving prayer and tender care which the Lord exercised toward Peter.
After Peter had thrice denied the Lord, the Lord turned and looked at Peter. That look, so filled with compassion and heartfelt pity, caused Peter to weep over his hasty words.
From the Cross the Lord did not say anything to Peter. However, when the resurrection morn had come, an angel spoke unto Mary, he said, "Go * * tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee." These words must have tremendously stirred the Apostle, who, perhaps, felt that he had been disowned by his Lord.
Afterward, Christ appeared to Peter, and then later on, following the miraculous draft of fishes, He restored unto Peter his work, saying, "Feed My lambs, * * feed My sheep."
VI. PETER AND PENTECOST (Acts 2:14 )
1. Peter, Spirit-filled, proclaimed a marvelous message of truth. We haven't time to discover the wonderful Scriptural statements which Peter set forth in his Pentecostal sermon. Suffice it to say that he proclaimed Christ crucified, Christ risen and seated at the Father's right hand, and Christ the King, who under the oath of God, was destined to sit upon David's throne,
2. Peter's fearless declaration. The man who had quailed before a maid, stood before the masters of Israel and charged them with the death of Christ, saying, "Jesus of Nazareth * * ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."
Nor did Peter ever retrench his faithful and fearless fidelity to his Lord. Beaten and bruised by the leaders, and commanded to speak no more in Christ's Name, Peter solemnly declared, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." No persecution, no threats, ever caused Peter to hesitate, for, continually with great power, he gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Peter, the fisher of men. Our mind goes back to the day when, by the shores of Galilee, the Lord said unto Peter, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
On the day of Pentecost the people, pricked in their hearts, said unto Peter and to the others, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Peter told them to repent and be baptized; and with many other words did he testify and exhort. That day there were added about three thousand souls. These gladly received his word, and were baptized. Truly, Peter had become a fisher of men.
VII. THE DEATH BY WHICH PETER GLORIFIED GOD (John 21:18-19 )
1. A reminder of Peter's early impetuosity and self-will. In John 21:18-19 we have, in a nutshell, a review of Peter's early days. He had paddled his own canoe. His own will had been his law. He had charted his own journey, and piloted his own ship.
The true believer must come out of this spirit of self, and yield himself wholly to know the will, and to walk in the way of his Lord.
2. A prophecy of Peter's future ministry and death. The Lord was not slow to tell Peter that when he was old, after a fitful experience of strenuous service, and toilsome tasks, that other hands would gird him, and that other shoulders would carry him whither his natural flesh would not choose to go. In all of this Christ was speaking of the death by which Peter should not only die, but by which he should glorify God.
3. A call to Peter's obedience. After Christ had spoken of Peter's death, He said, "Follow Me." Peter did not hesitate at the darksome picture that lay before him, but, seeing John standing by, he said to Jesus, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" Jesus said unto him, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me."
"'The Lord diggeth deep when He meaneth to raise the building high; and when He would give men to know much of Christ, He first bringeth them out of themselves by godly sorrow.' We see many to be but low and mean in point of grace, not rising like towers towards Heaven, but lying low upon the earth: these have never been digged out by a deep sense of sin, nor excavated by profound soul-trouble, and hence it would not be safe to build high with so shallow a foundation. If we could read the secret history of dwarfed Christians we should find that they never had much humbling of heart. They tell us there is as much of a tree under as above ground, and certainly it is so with a believer, his visible life would soon wither were it not for his secret life, and his high enjoyments would fall over to his ruin were they not balanced by his inward humiliations. There must be deep foundations if we are to have high walls; we must be emptied of self, and everything of human strength, or we shall never be filled with the love of God.
"O my heart, be ready to be trenched deep if this be the necessary preparation for being built up aloft. Welcome pain and down-casting if edification is to follow."
We delight in the study of John the Baptist. Christ said that he was the greatest man born of woman, yet he was not self-centered or proud. Had he been so, he had not been great.
1. John was a man who magnified Christ, and not himself. To the populace, as he preached, he never made any statements that would call attention to himself. His one passion seemed to center in magnifying the Lord. He plainly and positively told forth that he was not the Light. He just as emphatically said that the One who was to come after him was preferred before him. He confessed, and denied not, saying, "I am not the Christ." He claimed to be only a voice crying in the wilderness.
As we enter this exposition we would particularly stress that statement of John the Baptist: "He must increase, but I must decrease." Would that all of us would take this attitude of self-abasement.
We should never glory in men. Neither should we glory in the flesh. We should never mangify others, never ourselves.
2. Two of John's disciples left him to walk with Christ. When John saw Christ coming he bare record that He was the Son of God. The next day after he stood with these two disciples, and, as Jesus appeared, John said, "Behold the Lamb of God." This seemed to be, on John's part, a suggestion that these disciples should walk with the Lord. They certainly felt that way, for when they heard John speak they followed Jesus.
Is it not true that we should always be ready to leave all men, as well as all things, in order to follow our Lord?
Lord. I hear Thy loving call
To leave my all;
Gladly follow I Thy way,
Let come what may;
Father, mother, sister, wife,
And e'en my life
On Thine altar all are laid:
My vow is made.
All are subject now to Thee,
Thine own to be.
We can remember how our Lord said on one occasion, "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple." We should be willing to say, "I am Thine, and all that I have is Thine." When we ponder who Christ is, and what He has done for us, we should be willing gladly to bow our head, and wear His yoke; immediately willing to be His bondslave, with no reservations whatsoever.
3. They followed Christ. Perhaps you will allow us to make a suggestive statement. As they left John to walk with the Lord, they did not know everything that lay ahead of Him. They did not know what following Christ might mean to them in the future. They followed one step at a time.
Perhaps, you remember this little verse:
"One step I see before me,
It is all I need to know
For o'er each step of my onward path
He makes new light to glow."
There is another suggestion that comes to us. They not only followed Him step by step, but they followed Him in step. That is. they kept step with Christ. This is what we need to do. Where He goes, we should go. If we were out of step with our Master, we would surely meet disaster.
I. JESUS SAW THEM FOLLOWING (John 1:38 )
This statement in the first clause of our verse is worth more than a casual look. It suggests several things to us.
1. The eyes of the Lord are upon those who seek His face. Jesus read their minds. He knew they had followed Him, and He knew why they followed Him.
Somehow or other, we are sure that, to this hour, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who diligently seek His face. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those who seek Him, or who follow Him.
Christians who wander into bypaths bring sorrow to the Lord, and they make it impossible for the Lord to bless them. Christians who leave all to follow Him make it possible for the Lord to shower His best upon them.
2. What are the blessings which come to those who follow after the Lord? We might note a few of these.
(1) Christ said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." This was literally true in the disciples. It will be true of us. If we follow Him He will place us in definite and positive service for Him.
(2) When we follow Christ we have the promise of His best. This was no small thing to the disciples. They walked with Him, and the result was that they heard His messages; they saw His miracles. They had all those beneficent results which come to us from contact with those who are greater than we are.
(3) They were promised a wonderful inheritance. Christ said, "Ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." They who followed Christ in the hour of His humiliation, are destined to follow Him in the hour of His glorification. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Revelation 14:4 ).
II. WHAT SEEK YE? (John 1:38 , s.c)
The question which God asked in the Garden of Eden was, "Where art thou?" The question which the wise men asked at the birth of Jesus, was, "Where is He that is born king of the Jews?" The question which Christ asked in this study is "What seek ye?" Sometimes God is seeking us. Sometimes we are seeking Him. However, the Lord wants to know why we seek Him, and what we seek Him for.
1. What think ye of Christ? Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and God the Son. John had so heralded Him when he bare, record to Christ. Jesus now was seeking to know what the attitude of the two disciples was toward Him. The same thing is asked years later when He said, "What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He?"
He had the same thing in mind when He said to the disciples, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" Afterward He asked, "Whom say ye that I am?" Before Christ would accept us as His followers He must know whether we faith Him as God.
2. What want ye of Christ? You believe that Christ is God, why do you want to follow Him? This is very vital. Some of those who followed Christ followed Him for no other reason than because they thought He was about to be a deliverer of Israel and a monarch on His throne.
You will remember how one said on one occasion, "I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." The Lord, however, replied, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." We must decide whether we want to follow Christ in His sufferings, or in His reign. If we would enter into the latter, we must be willing to follow in the former. "What seek ye" is still a vital question.
III. WHERE DWELLEST THOU? (John 1:38 , l.c.)
There are so many avenues which come to our mind in this question, we would like to suggest them to you.
The two disciples, of course, who walked with Jesus and called Him "Rabbi" (which is to say, Master), did not mean everything that we suggest. We are taking the question out of its setting, and we want to ponder it step by step.
1. Christ first of all dwelt with the Father. He was with the Father from time immemorial. He spoke of the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. That is where He did dwell.
2. Christ dwelt among men. He came forth from the Father, and He came into the world. "Where dwellest Thou?" First, in Heaven, He dwelt in light; then on earth He dwelt in darkness. Formerly He dwelt with the Father; then He dwelt with men. In this we find that He humbled Himself. He became in fashion like as a man. Where did He dwell? His first earthly dwelling place was in a manger in Bethlehem; the second was in Nazareth, where as a lad He wrought in a carpenter's shop. Wherever He dwelt on earth He dwelt in humiliation with no place that He could call His own. He was among men as one who served. He ate with the publicans and with the sinners. He died between two thieves.
3. Christ now dwells at the Father's right hand. From the Mount of Olives He ascended, and sat down on the Father's throne. Stephen saw Him there as He stood to receive him. He now dwells in Heaven for us. He is our Intercessor. He is there managing our affairs.
4. Christ will dwell once more upon the earth as King. We love the expression: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty." This speaks of the time of His Second Advent. It is then that He will radiate from Jerusalem the blessings and glory of His presence to the ends of the earth.
IV. COME AND SEE (John 1:39 , f.c)
The disciples sought the Lord. He welcomed their search, and bade them to "Come and see."
1. "Come and see." The Lord Jesus was willing to bear inspection. He was not moving under false colors. He was not making a false claim.
Unto this hour, God, our Lord, is willing for us to put Him, and all that He is, everything that He says, to the test. Of old, He said, "Prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts." We love the expression, "Come and see."
2. "Come * * and * * rest." Here is another cry which the Lord made on a different occasion. He said unto the multitudes, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The two disciples said to Christ, "Where dwellest Thou?" He said to them, "Come and see." He seemed also to say, "Come * * and * * rest." "Come and abide." "Come and find in Me a Saviour, a Friend, a Keeper.
3. "Come and dine." When we go into a home, we may go on a visit to see and to learn more of a friend. We may go seeking closer contact with one we love. We may go to rest, or to relax in their dwelling, but "come and dine," is the sweetest statement of all.
This was made on the occasion when Christ, in risen glory, called to His disciples, "Have ye any meat?" They replied, "We have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing." Jesus said to them, "Let down your nets for a draught." We well know the story, and how when they at last came to shore Jesus said, "Come and dine."
We may come to see, or to rest, or to dine. To us the last of the three is the best. There is something around the "table" that surpasses any other contact that we have with our friends. "Come and dine" is also an expression which leads us to believe that in Christ is our abundant supply.
V. THEY CAME AND SAW AND ABODE (John 1:39 )
Our text says, "They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day." Let us take these three statements one at a time.
1. They came. Christ said, "Come," and they came. Christ still says, "Come," but many come not. We delight in the hymn, "Just as I am without one plea * * O Lamb of God, I come."
All day long Christ gave His invitation unto Israel. He asked them to come unto Him, but they were a disobedient and gainsaying people, and they would not hear His voice. We read in John 5:1-47 how Christ said, "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." Almost the last call of the Bible is, "Whosoever will," let him come. Why is it that such a loving invitation is so often refused?
2. They saw. Had they not come they never would have seen, but they came, and they saw where He dwelt. We can almost hear the shepherds after the angels left them, saying one to another, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see * *." So they came. They saw the Babe lying in the manger. They saw Mary, His mother, and they departed with great joy, declaring His glory. If we only come, we will see in Him the One altogether lovely.
3. They abode with Him that day. To come is good; to see, is better; to abide, is best. So many of our earthly fellowships are but for a day, but here is a fellowship which may be, and should be, forever. The Lord said, "Abide in Me, and I in you." We rejoice in the word of I Thessalonians for "ever be with the Lord." They abode with Him for a day. That was just the first step. These same two abode with Him for three and a half years until He went to be with the Father, and by and by they went to abide with Him forever.
VI. HE BROUGHT HIM TO JESUS (John 1:40-41 )
John 1:40 tells us, "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother." John 1:41 says, "He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."
He first went and sought him,
To Jesus he brought him:
'Twas Andrew brought Peter that day;
When Jesus hailed Peter,
He then detailed Peter,
And called him to service that day.
1. He sought his brother. In after years Christ said, "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee." One of the first things we should do when we are saved is to find our brother, or our sister, father, or mother, and bring them to Christ.
2. He brought his brother. It is not enough to seek. We must bring. Christ said, "Go, * * and compel them to come in." In the Book of Mark we read of a young man who was borne of four who brought him to Jesus. We must go out where they are, and then we must bring them in. He found the sheep that went astray. He placed it upon His shoulders and brought it home.
3. He testified concerning Christ. First he sought, then he brought, but that is not all. He said to his brother, "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."
Here was Andrew's announcement as to whom Christ was. It gives us an inside view of Andrew's faith.
VII. THOU ART * * THOU SHALT BE (John 1:42 )
"And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
1. Christ's knowledge of what is in man. As Christ beheld Peter He knew him, knew him far better than Peter knew himself. He could look at him, and say to him, "Thou art Simon the Son of Jona." There is no doubt but that Christ played upon the fact of Peter's characteristic willfulness. God does know us altogether. There is not a thought in our mind, nor a word upon our lips, but that He knows them all.
2. Christ's knowledge of what we shall be. To Peter Christ said, "Thou shalt be." "Thou art Simon * * thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone." The Lord took Peter for better, and not for worse.
It was a long stretch from Simon to Cephas, from the rugged, rough, and willful son of Jona, to the settled, established Cephas, the son of God. Thank God, our Lord undertakes in our behalf.
3. Changed like unto his Lord. Jesus Christ is spoken of continually in the Word of God as a stone. He was the "Stone which the builders rejected." He is now the chief Cornerstone, the Stone which is the head of the corner. When He speaks of the Church, He says, "Upon this Rock I will build my Church." When we come to Christ we come to Him, "a stone disallowed" indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious.
The Holy Spirit is changing us from glory to glory into the image of our Lord and Master, changing us into a "stone."
John Baptist knew that his life would be brief. Yet, how filled it was with service.
"When men have much to say in a letter, and perceive that they have little paper left, they write closely." Looking at the shortness of life, and the much that has to be written upon its tablets, it becomes us also to do much in a short space, and so to write closely, "No day without a line," is a good motto for a Christian. A thoroughly useful life is multum in parvo: it is necessarily little, for it is but a span; but how much may be crowded into it for God, our souls, the Church, our families, and our fellows! We cannot afford wide blanks of idleness; we should not only live by the day but by the twenty minutes, as Wesley did. He did not keep a diary, but a horary; and each hour was divided into three parts. So scanty is our space that we must condense, and leave out superfluous matter; giving room only to that which is weighty, and of the first importance.
Lord, whether I live long or not, I leave to Thee; but help me to live while I live, that I may live much. Thou canst give life more abundantly; let me receive it. and let my life be filled, yea, packed and crammed, with all manner of holy thoughts and words and deeds to Thy glory.
Chas. H. Spurgeon.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on John 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany