John Nelson Darby comments on every single chapter of The Gospel Of Luke. The author was not only an evangelist, but also one of the pioneers of the Dispensionalists movement. The Man of Sorrows offers plenty of room for meditations, but also valuable and suggestive thoughts by this able minister of the Word of God.
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The Man Of Sorrows
As set forth in The Gospel Of Luke.
John Nelson Darby
The Man Of Sorrows
How To Use
The Man Of Sorrows, J. N. Darby
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
THERE are three ways in which this volume may be helpfully used.
1. By reading straight through as an ordinary book, making a pencil note in the margin of portions suitable for meditation and careful study.
2. Taking chapter by chapter, first reading the chapter in the Bible itself, then carefully noting the valuable and suggestive thoughts by this able minister of the Word of God.
3. As a book of reference. The Subject Index will readily indicate where any incident or event mentioned in the Gospel may be found. The Bible chapters are indicated at the head of each page, the verses at the beginning of each paragraph. The black type clearly indicates portions of the Gospel quoted.
Some of the quotations are from the Author's New Translation of the New Testament.
THE Saviour is presented to us in Luke in His character as Son of Man, displaying the power of Jehovah in grace in the midst of men. At first, doubtless, we find Him in relationship with Israel, to whom He had been promised; but afterwards moral principles are brought out, which apply to man, as such, wherever he might be. And indeed what characterises Luke's account of our Lord and gives special interest to his gospel is that it presents to us Christ Himself, and not His official glory, as in Matthew, nor His mission of service, as in Mark, nor the peculiar revelation of His divine nature, as in John. It is Himself, such as He was, a man upon the earth, moving among men day by day.
1-4.--Many had undertaken to give an account of what was historically received amongst Christians as it had been related to them by the "eye-witnesses." However well intended this might be, yet it was a work undertaken and executed by men. Luke had an exact and intimate knowledge of all from the beginning, and he found it good to write to Theophilus, in order that he might know "the certainty of the things he had been instructed in."
It is thus that God has provided for the whole Church by the teaching contained in the living picture of Jesus that we owe to this man of God. For Luke, although he might be personally moved by Christian motives, was, of course, none the less inspired by the Holy Ghost to write.
5-17.--The history brings us into the midst of Jewish institutions, feelings, and expectations. First, we have a priest of Abia (one of the twenty-four classes, 1 Chron. 24), with his wife, who was of the daughters of Aaron. "They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." All was with them in accordance with God's law Jewishly; but they did not enjoy the blessing so earnestly desired by every Jew; they were childless. Yet it was according to the ways of God to accomplish His work of blessing while manifesting the weakness of the instrument which He was using. But now this long-prayed-for blessing was to be withheld no longer; and when Zacharias draws near to offer the incense the angel of Jehovah appears to him. At the sight of so glorious a being Zacharias is troubled; but the angel says to him, "Fear not, thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John," i.e., "the favour of Jehovah."
And not only should the hearts of many rejoice in him, but he should be great in the sight of the Lord and be filled with the Holy Ghost. "Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." The "spirit of Elias" was a firm and ardent zeal for the glory of Jehovah and for the re-establishment, through repentance, of Israel's relations with Him. The heart of John clung to this link of the people with God, and it is in the moral force of his call to repentance that John is here compared to Elias.
18-23.--But Zacharias' faith, as is, alas, so often the case, was not equal to the greatness of his request. He knows not how to walk in the steps of Abraham, and he asks again how such a thing can be (18). God's goodness turns the unbelief of His servant into a chastening that was profitable for him, and that served, at the same time, as a proof to the people that he had been visited from on high. Zacharias remains dumb until the word of Jehovah is accomplished.
24, 25.--Elisabeth, with feelings so suitable to a holy woman, remembering what had been a shame to her in Israel (the traces of which were only made the more marked by the supernatural blessing now granted to her), "hid herself five months," whilst, at the same time, she owned the Lord's goodness to her. But what may conceal us from the eyes of men has great value before God.
26-38.--And now the scene changes, in order to introduce the Lord Himself into this marvellous scene that is unfolding itself before our eyes. In Nazareth, that despised place, there was found a young virgin, unknown by the world, whose name was Mary. She was espoused to Joseph, who was of the house of David; but so out of order was every-thing in Israel that this descendant of the king was a carpenter. But what is this to God? Mary was a chosen vessel; she had "found favour in the eyes of God."
We must remark that the subject here is the birth of the child Jesus, as born of Mary. It is not so much His divine nature as the Word which was God and which was made flesh (though, of course, it is the same precious Saviour presented here as in John's gospel); but it is Jesus as really and truly man, born of a virgin. His name was to be Jesus, i.e., Jehovah the Saviour. "He shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David," still looking at Him as man born into the world. But He was God as well as man. Holy by His birth, conceived by the power of God, this blessed One, who even, as born of Mary, is spoken of as "that holy thing," was to be called "the Son of God."
The angel then tells Mary of the blessing God had bestowed upon Elisabeth. The wonderful intervention of God had rendered Mary humble instead of lifting her up; she had seen God and not herself in what had happened. Self was hidden from her because God had been brought so near, and she bows to His holy will. "Be it unto me according to Thy word."
39-45.--Afterwards we find that Mary goes to visit Elisabeth, for her heart loves to see and acknowledge the goodness of the Lord. Elisabeth, speaking by the Spirit, acknowledges Mary as the mother of her Lord, and announces the accomplishment of God's promise. "Blessed is she that believed."
46.--"My soul doth magnify the Lord." The heart of Mary is filled with joy, and she breaks forth into a song of praise. She acknowledges God her Saviour in the grace that has filled her with such joy, whilst, at the same time, she owns her utter littleness. For whatever might be the holiness of the instrument that God might employ, and that was found really in Mary, yet she was only great so long as she hid herself, for then God was everything. By making something of herself she would have lost her place, but this she did not. God kept her in order that His grace might be fully manifested.
The character of the thoughts that fill the heart of Mary is Jewish. It reminds us of Hannah's song in 1 Samuel 2, which speaks prophetically of this same blessed intervention of God. But Mary goes back to the promises made to the fathers, and takes in the whole of Israel.
56.--After remaining three months with Elisabeth, she "returns to her house," humbly to follow her own path, in order that God's ways may be accomplished. Nothing is more beautiful in its way than this account of the conversations of these holy women, unknown to the world, but who were the instruments of God's grace to accomplish His glorious designs. They moved in a scene where nothing entered but piety and grace. But God was there Himself, no better known to the world than were these poor women, yet preparing and accomplishing what the angels would desire to look into.
57-59.--But what is only known in secret by faith is at last to be accomplished before all men. The son of Zacharias and Elisabeth is born, and Zacharias, no longer dumb, pronounces the blessed prophecy given in verses 60-80. The visitation of Israel by Jehovah, which he speaks of, embraces all the happiness of the Millennium connected with the presence of Jesus upon the earth. All the promises are Yea and Amen in Him. All the prophecies encircle Him with the glory which will be then realised. We know that since He has been rejected, and while He is now absent, the accomplishment of these things is necessarily put off till His return.
1-7.--When God is pleased to occupy Himself with the world, and to take a part in what passes therein, it is marvellous to see how He acts and the instruction He gives. There is no agreement, but a total opposition between His ways and those of men. The Emperor and his decree are but insignificant instruments. Caesar Augustus acts in view of his. subjects; yet he is, without knowing it, the means of accomplishing the prophecy that Jesus should be born in Bethlehem. The entire course of the world is. outside the current of God's thoughts. The capital fact for Him and for His kingdom here is the babe's birth at Bethlehem; but the Emperor has no thought about it. The decree puts the world in motion, and God makes good His thoughts here below. How wondrous! All the world is in movement to bring about this event, needed to fulfil prophecy, that the poor carpenter, with Mary his espoused wife, should be in the city of David, and David's heir should be born there and then. And this is the more striking, for the census itself was first made some years afterwards, when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. God is accomplishing His purpose of love, but man was blind to it. Who cared to notice the poor Jew, though he might be of the house and lineage of David? The things that are perfectly indifferent to man fill the heart and eye of God.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS.
4.--Still we are in Jewish atmosphere. Promises are being accomplished; the babe must be born in Bethlehem. "The city of David" is nothing to the Christian as such, save as showing prophecy fulfilled; to us the Son comes from Heaven. On earth the babe is the object of God's counsels; angels and all Heaven are occupied with His birth; but there is no place in the world for Him! Go where the great world registers every individual, go to the little world of an inn, where each is measured by the servant's knowing eye, and place is accordingly awarded from the garret to the first floor; but there is no room for Jesus. And the manger led, in due time, to the lowest place--the Cross.
What a lesson for us as to this world! What a difference, too, between giving up the world and the world giving us up! We may do the one with comparative ease; but when we feel the world despises us, as Christ was despised, we shall discover, unless He fills and satisfies the heart, that we had a value for its esteem that we were not aware of. When obedience is as important to us in our measure as obeying was to Christ, we shall go right on whatever be before us, without regarding the world; not that we shall be insensible, but when Christ is the object, we shall only be occupied with Him.
All intelligence of the things of God comes from His revelation, and not from the reasonings of men. Hence the simple go farther in spiritual understanding than the wise and prudent of the earth. God acts here so as to set aside all appearance of human wisdom. Happy he who has so seized the intention of God as to be identified with it, and to want none but God! This was the case with the shepherds. They little entered into the great intent of the registration; but it was to them, and not to the prudent, that God revealed Himself. Our true wisdom is through what God reveals. But we never get God's fullest blessings till we are where the flesh is brought down and destroyed--I speak as regards walk. We cannot get into the simple joy and power of God till we accept the place of lowliness and humiliation, till the heart is emptied of what is contrary to the lowliness of Christ. These shepherds were in the quiet fulfilment of their humble duty, and that is the place of blessing. Whoever is keeping on terms with the world is not walking with God, for God is not walking with you there. From the manger to the Cross all in Christ was simple obedience. How unlike a Theudas, who boasted himself to be somebody! Christ did all in God's way, and not only so, but we must do so too.
8-12.--The glory of the Lord shines round about the shepherds, the angel speaks to them, the sign is given, and what a sign! "Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God," and for what? "The mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh." The hope of Israel is revealed to them--glad tidings of great joy to all the people. For Jesus is the pivot of all God's counsels in grace. Adam himself was but a type of Him who was to come. Christ was ever in the mind of God. Such displays of glory are not shown to mortal eyes every day; but God sets them before us in His Word, and we must every day follow the sign given, follow Jesus the babe in the manger. If He filled the eye, the ear, the heart, how we should see the effects in person, spirit, conversation, dress, house, money, and other things.
Such, then, is the sign of God's accomplishment of promise and of His presence in the world--"a babe in the manger"--the least and lowest thing. But God is found there, though these things are beyond man, who cannot walk with God, nor understand His moral glory. But God's sign is within the reach of faith. It is the token of perfect weakness; a little infant who can only weep. Such, born into this world, is Christ the Lord. Such is the place God chose--the low degree. God's intervention is recognised by a sign like this. Man would not have sought that.
13-20.--The heavenly host praise God, and say: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Nothing higher or more astonishing (save the Cross) for those who have the mind of Heaven. The choir above see God in it, God manifested in flesh, and praise God in the highest. They rejoice that His delights are with the sons of men. Of old God had displayed Himself to Moses in a flame of fire, without consuming the bush, and here, still more marvellously, in the feeblest thing on earth. Infinite thought, morally, though despicable in the eye of the world! How hard it is to receive that the work of God and of His Christ is always in weakness! The rulers of the people saw in Peter and John unlearned and ignorant men. Paul's weakness at Corinth was the trial of his friends, the taunt of his enemies, the boast of himself. The Lord's strength is made perfect in weakness. The thorn in the flesh made Paul despised, and he conceived it would be better if that were gone. He had need of the lesson: "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Cor. 12. 9). It is God's rule of action, if we may so say, to choose the weak things. Everything must rest on God's power, otherwise God's work cannot be done according to His mind. One can hardly believe that one must be feeble to do the work of God; but Christ was crucified in weakness, and the weakness of God is stronger than man. For the work of God we must be weak, that the strength may be of God, and that work will last when all the earth shall be moved away.
21-28.--"His Name was called Jesus." Besides the additional testimony rendered by the offering of His mother to the circumstances in this world, in which the Lord of glory was born, we may see that while God all through the Gospel is settling man in his new place with Himself, He did not forget His ancient people. He shows us here that He met every thought in every heart that was touched by grace in Israel. His heart was especially toward those who sorrowed over the sins and desolation of His people, and who, withal, waited for redemption, crying from the darkness, "How long, O Lord?" God will accomplish in power that wherein man has failed in responsibility. Should we therefore be content if God's people do not glorify Him? No; faith is not hard; it will sorrow, but it will wait for God, and God's time too. For faithful is He who hath promised, who also will do it. He will bring about His own purposes.
THE PROPHECY OF SIMEON.
25.--Thus was Simeon "waiting for the consolation of Israel." Thus Anna departed not from the temple, but served with fastings and prayers night and day. Thus all they that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. There were those who watched, and Anna knew and spake to them. The rest doubtless were occupied with Roman oppression, but these few waited for Him, bowing before His hand in judgment of evil, but looking for His deliverance.
29.--There was something more in Simeon's soul than the joy of holding in his arms the babe, the expected Messiah. Simeon felt he had God, and was satisfied. So he says, without even looking on to the glory, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word." In Romans 5. 11 the apostle, after speaking of rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God, says, "and not only so." What could be more than that hope? Yes; there is more: "We also joy in God." The eyes of Simeon had seen God's salvation, and he begs of the sovereign Lord that he may go.
We often see something like this in dying saints, who deeply joy in the Lord's love to His own, and in the nearness of His coming for them. Why, one might say, what is His near coming to those who are dying and departing to Him? Just this: The nearer we are to God, the more precious is all the truth of God, and everything which is near to His heart.
30-32.--So Simeon rejoices as he surveys the extent of the divine deliverance. It was for the revelation of the Gentiles, who had been till now hidden in the darkness of idolatry and ungodliness, as well as for the glory of Israel. But his soul is satisfied possessing Christ, and anticipating the effect of His presence in the whole world. He has all in HIM, and desires to depart. If a man walk with God, and has finished his course, he knows that his work is done, and is conscious of the Lord's time being come. He has a companionship and communion with the Lord he has walked with. If simply brought to a bed of sickness, he is not then ready to go; not that he fears, but God is teaching him something else. But when God's time is come all is joy and readiness. He feels like Simeon: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace."
34.--But, further, when Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary the Spirit gives him to disclose the more immediate results of the babe's presence in Israel. He should be the touchstone of many hearts, an occasion for the fall as well as the rise of many; He should be a sign spoken against, a rejected Messiah; and Mary's heart should be pierced through, whatever the present joy or the future glory. Israel was low indeed, but did not know it. Israel must be made to know it, and Christians too, for Christ had to descend to the grave and rise again. The thoughts of the heart must be revealed, whatever the outward garb. But then He is the One who brings out God's thoughts too. If He is the Christ, the glory of God's people, He is also the One who will abase the flesh, and meet the humble man in his pride; He is the One who will make you know whether He in His rejection is more precious than all beside.
THE SILENT YEARS.
39.--When all was done according to the law, "they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth." Jesus would not be the Christ we need if He had taken any glory from Jerusalem. His place is among the poor of the flock, His place all through in Israel.
40.--"And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him." Luke gives us more of the reality of His childhood than the other gospels; He was not made man full-formed like Adam. If one only reads the account without comment, how the soul feels it unspeakably precious! When we see WHO it was, we see human nature in Him filled with God, so to speak. It is not official distinction, but the heart feels God brought nigh. The blessedness of the child's intrinsic loveliness fills the heart. Deeply instructive, too, is the incident recorded in connection with the Passover when He was twelve years old. His true character comes out, though He was not yet to act upon it. He came to be a Nazarene, to be about His Father's business. This is here stated distinctly before He enters upon His public ministry, that it might be seen to be connected with His person, and not to depend merely upon His office. He was the Pastor of the flock in spirit and character. It belonged to Him. He was the Son of the Father, though abiding God's time for showing it.
51.--Nevertheless, "He went down with them, and was subject to them." What a majesty in His whole life! His being God secured His perfection as a child and man here below. He had ever the blessed consciousness of His relationship to His Father, an obedient child, but conscious also of a glory unconnected in itself with subjection to human parentage. He belonged to Mary and even Joseph, in another sense He was not theirs. His divine Son-ship was as well known to Him as His obedience to His parents was in due season absolutely right.
52.--"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." His human intelligence being developed, He, though ever perfect, became so in a fuller way; the perfect child grows into the perfect man. The lovely plant grew up and unfolded before God and man.
1.--The two preceding chapters have given the general character. They have shown the going out of the thoughts of God to man. Accordingly we find that the Gospel, as a whole, is particularly occupied with what is not Jewish. Still the Jewish part is given at first with considerable detail, inasmuch as Israel, because of their unbelief and moral worthlessness, are to be set aside in order to make way for new relationships, founded on what God reveals Himself to be for man in Jesus, the true and only Mediator. But if chapter 1 disclosed the faithfulness of God to the Abrahamic promises, to His covenant and His oath, chapter 2 puts us in the presence of the actual government of the world and of the Lord's land and people under the fourth beast, the Roman Empire. What confusion does not sin create? The Jews are subject to the Gentiles. Joseph and Mary, of David's royal house, go up to be taxed. Nevertheless, the ways of God shine so much the brighter for the darkness that surrounded them. He was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. Israel, however, would be put to a new moral test by His presentation of Himself. Alas! it would soon appear that if they had not kept the law they hated grace. "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against."
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
2.--In this chapter we have the ministry of God coming in by a prophet as of old by Samuel. "The Word of God came unto John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness." It is not without object that the Spirit mentions the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar. All the earth was seemingly at rest under its heathen lord; the Word of God found its suited sphere in the wilderness. The law and the prophets were until John, and where should he be in such a state of things but the wilderness? Could he morally own it? God will not have His messenger in Jerusalem.
4.--Prophecy is the sovereign means whereby God can communicate with His people when they are ruined and departed from Him. John understands this, and preaches the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And such was the place assigned him many centuries before by "Esaias the prophet." It was vain for Israel to plead their privileges and rights. All was wrong, and the Judge was at the door . John's work was not to lead the people back to the law; he was preparing the way of the Lord. Herein he differed from the prophets as well as the law, or rather, he went farther, for God's time was come for a step in advance. The prophets led back to Horeb. John says not a word of this, though his father was a priest, and himself, of course, an Aaronite. He does not try to set up again what was closed; he announces the kingdom. He may not introduce the Church, nor even the glad tidings of God's grace (both awaited the accomplishment of the work of redemption), but he drops the law, and shows that God's purpose is the kingdom.
5.--The quotation from Esaias sets aside Israel--not the Gentiles merely, but Israel--as grass, withered grass, without a green blade left. Yet the Word of the Lord endureth for ever, and this when all hope from man was gone. Israel may have failed, but the Word of the Lord shall stand. Moreover, since it was the Lord who was coming, "every valley should be filled." Not the Jews alone, but all flesh should see God's deliverance. If sin plunges all in indiscriminate ruin and a common judgment, God can meet man thus ruined, but His glory will not be shut up in the narrow limits of Israel.
7-14.--But to be blessed man must "repent." God would have realities, and not a mere nominal people; He must have fruits answering to hearts which felt and judged their moral condition, and which, therefore, turned from themselves to God. Ordinances and formal claims which should have been a means of blessing would be no shelter against the coming wrath, nor would God permit them to hinder His creating true children of the promise, even if this generation were but Ishmael over again. Judgment must begin at the house of God.
In fact, as we know, John was beheaded, and the Lord was crucified, and the kingdom, presented in Him and by Him, was rejected by Israel. By and by it will be set up visibly and in power. Meanwhile the Church is set up, because the kingdom is not set up in this manifested way. And those who now take their place with the Lord share His rejection. They are members of His body, the Church. They shall share His glory, but it will be heavenly and not earthly glory. In another sense we are in the kingdom now. To faith Heaven rules now, and we own it, and know it; but Satan is actually prince and god of this world, and hence those who are made kings to God (for that is our true place) are called to suffer. Therefore Paul went everywhere preaching the kingdom of God, as well as Christ and the Church. We have that by virtue of which we shall reign with Christ; but even that is not our best portion. To be one with Christ--His body and bride--is far more blessed. If your mind only rests on the person of Christ, there is no difficulty in seeing that when He is cut off all must cease as regards the earth. He is the centre of all, and when rejected what prophecy spoke of, and what seemed about to be accomplished, breaks off. Thereupon Christ ascends and takes up a glory above the Heavens, and there now the saints find their place with Him (cp. Psalm 2 and 8).
John Baptist, then, addresses himself to the Jews, demanding repentance and righteousness as its fruit; shows them that if they were nearer to God outwardly as Jews they must expect judgment the sooner. If the Lord was coming, He must have what became the Lord. The axe was even then lying at the root of the trees. If there was not good fruit on the trees every one must be hewn down and burned. Repentance or wrath--which? The Lord would allow no plea of descent from Abraham if their ways belied Abraham; He must have righteousness. It is the Lord that is just at hand, and He must have a people fit for Him, or He would out of the very stones make a suited people for Himself.
Evidently John's word is not a voice of mercy to the poor sinner. God is presented in the way of judgment, not of sovereign mercy. He does not say "Come unto me." John could not, because he was not Christ, and none but He could say "Come unto ME." John came in righteousness.
In 10-14 moral testimony is given, and that in detail. John deals with the practical iniquity of each set of people. So even when the question of the Christ is raised (15-18), "One mightier than I cometh," says he. It is of His power especially he thinks, His power morally as outwardly. "He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." It is the power of the Holy Ghost and His consuming judgment. He could not speak of the grace of the Gospel which we know now. He proclaims One who was coming after him, not a present salvation. Whatever would not stand the fire was to be burned up. For His fan "is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable" (cp. Isa. 21. 10). God's floor was Israel; there He was getting His wheat, if any were to be found. But His fan is in His hand; He is going to make short work. Titus finally set aside God's floor upon the earth; Israel's sin had lost it morally when they rejected Christ, but at the destruction of Jerusalem it was done with thoroughly for the present.
19, 20.--Luke's method of instruction is to be noticed in passing. He shows that John had preached and exhorted moral truth, and then disposes of him, putting him, as it were, out of the scene in order to bring Christ in. It was not that historically John was imprisoned at that juncture by Herod the tetrarch; it took place long after. But it is a sample of Luke's manner, who returns to the Lord as taking His place amongst the remnant of Israel. For the Lord does not identify Himself with the nation; but directly there is a poor remnant He identifies Himself with it.
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST.
This history opens with verse 21, and how wonderful and full of grace. "Now when all the people were baptised, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptised, and praying, the Heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from Heaven, which said, Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased." One may have looked and listened mournfully as one reads of John Baptist and his testimony. We might have asked, as the dying record of men passed before us, What is man? But now my eye rests on Jesus, I find the Lord from Heaven a Man. All is to begin again. Do I ask again, What is a man? At once Christ comes out. Do I look at myself, or at all around? What do I see? Enough to break my heart, if there is a heart to be broken. The only thing which prevents people being utterly broken down is that they have not a heart to feel things as they are. But a rest is here. I have got a Man now who satisfied God, this blessed Man on earth in the presence of God, looking to God, and an object to God! Not Messiah purging His floor, but Him in whom God's thoughts and purposes are all folded up; not man perishing before the moth, but Jesus the Son of Man, not merely coming down from Abraham and David, but traced up, "which was the Son of Adam, which was the Son of God"--the Second Man, the last Adam, the quickening Spirit. What a relief, for what is man? What oneself when the heart's sin is known, giving up God for an apple from the. beginning hitherto! But now a Man, a blessed Man appears, "and praying." We are not told this elsewhere, and why here? Because Luke presents man in his perfection, the dependent man, for dependence is the essence of a perfect man. Truly we see God shining all through, but yet in Jesus, the dependent Man, in the place and condition of perfectness as man. The root of sin in us is self-will, independence. Here my heart has rest. A dependent Man in the midst of sorrow, but perfectly with God in all. See Luke's account of the transfiguration also; in humiliation or in glory it makes no difference as to this, the perfect is ever the dependent one.
And when that blessed heart thus expressed its dependence, did He get no answer? "The Heaven was opened." Does Heaven open thus on me? It is open to me, indeed, no doubt, but I pray because it is open; it opened because He prayed. I come and look up because the Heavens were opened on Him.
It is, indeed, a lovely picture of grace, and we may be bold to say that the Father loved to look on--to look down, in the midst of all sin, on His beloved Son. Nothing but what was divine could thus awaken God's heart; and yet it was the lowly, perfect Man. He takes not the place of His eternal glory as the Creator, the Son of God. He stoops and is baptised (Psa. 16) . He says, "In Thee do I trust." He says to Jehovah: "Thou art My Lord; My goodness extendeth not to Thee." He says to the godly remnant in Israel (i.e., to the saints that are in the earth and to the excellent): "All My delight is in them." He needeth no repentance, yet is He baptised with them; just as when, later on, He puts forth His sheep He goes before them. He identifies Himself in grace with Israel, even with such as were of a clean heart. And the Holy Ghost descends like a dove on Him, fit emblem of that spotless Man, fit resting-place for the Spirit in the deluge of this world. And how sweet, too, that Jesus is pointed out to us as God's object. I know the way the Father feels about Him. I am made His intimate, and admitted to hear Him expressing His affection for His Son, to see the links re-formed between God and man. Heaven is opened, not on something above, but upon a Man upon the earth. Thus I get rest, and my heart finds communion with God in His beloved Son. It is only the believer who enjoys it, but the link is there. And if I have that in and about me which distresses the soul, I have that in Him which is unfailing joy and comfort.
THE GENEALOGY OF CHRIST.
23-38.--The genealogy quite falls in with the thought that God is showing grace in man and to man. Jesus, the beloved Son of God, is traced up to Adam and to God. Jesus is Son of Man; He is heir in this sense. He takes up the inheritance God gave to man. O what a truth! Where could one's heart turn for rest if it had not Jesus to rest in? With Him let Heaven and earth be turned upside down, and still I have a rest. What blessedness for the heart to have the object God Himself is occupied with! May our hearts also be more and more occupied with Him!
We saw the Lord taking His place of servant with the excellent in Israel, and thereon the Heavens opened, and Himself owned by the Father as His beloved Son. His delights were with the sons of men, and He is traced up, not to Abraham only, the root and depository of Jewish promises, but to Adam and God Himself. Independently of His proper divine glory as Son of the Father, Jesus should be called the Son of the Highest, the Son of God. As Man on earth He was sealed with the Holy Ghost. He took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. His entire perfectness now was to fulfil as a servant the will of Him who sent Him, for a servant doing his own will is a bad servant. Dependence, waiting, and obedience were the characteristics of this place, and they are found in Him to the uttermost. Hence, as in the Psalms, "I waited patiently for the Lord." He would not ask for power, but waits on God. "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt . 26. 53). Put thoroughly to the test, He would do nothing but His Father's will. He was to learn obedience. Having taken the place He would go through it wholly, not in one act, but experiencing the force of that expression, learning obedience, without one comfort here, with enemies around, bulls of Bashan besetting, dogs compassing. He had to learn obedience where obedience was always suffering, even to the yielding up of life. Every single step was humiliation till the close came in the Cross, where the wrath of God was borne in love to us. No doubt He found in His rejection fields white for harvest, and so shall we, in our measure, when walking in the same path. But the Cross was always before Him--everything that could stop a man. Nevertheless, He went on, patiently waiting, and not asking for deliverances. Thus, He presented perfect God to man, and perfect man to God.
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