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Notes of Conferences at Leominster
204, 221, 254, 275
Heb. xii. 23.—Who are the “just men ?".
THE GOLDEN LAMP.
" THIS SAME JESUS."
". This same Jesus
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”—ACTS i. 11.
At the opening of another year we would recall to our readers' attention the scene on the Mount of Olives on the memorable fortieth day after the resurrection of our Lord. With the faithful few of His disciples around Him He stood there as the One greater than Elijah, who was about to ascend to heaven and to leave them, as Elijah did Elisha, with a promise of a double measure of His Spirit, for had He not said, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father ?”
While they beheld He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight; and as they continued gazing up into heaven, two white-robed messengers were sent with another gracious promise, to allay the grief of their burdened hearts.
To understand the full force of the angels' message we must seek to enter into the position of the disciples, and as we do so, these precious words will thrill our hearts, even as theirs were thrilled, so that they went back to the city "with great joy,” and continued “praising and blessing God.” (Luke xxiv. 52, 53.)
The words we refer to are these—“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as ye
have seen Him
go into heaven.” How forlorn for the moment they must have felt as the parting cloud received their Lord! As He receded from their view—the One with whom they had for three years closely companied, on whom they had leaned, and in whose presence they at length learned that they were in the presence of God as the last strained look told them
— He was visible no longer, how lonely and sad must they have been! Again and again He had spoken of leaving them for“ a little while;” but they evidently realized it not, for their last question was, “ Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?”
How sweetly, then, must have sounded the message from the throne of God, sent by the lips of the angels, reminding them that they were not left as orphans, bereft and alone ! How blessed for them to be assured that while all heaven was triumphant, and “the everlasting doors” were lifting up their heads to welcome the King of glory, then His poor followers and friends who were still in this dark world were not forgotten ! In the very moment of heaven's highest jubilee they were remembered. This is the way of our God, for while worlds on worlds are waiting His command, His bosom of infinite grace finds room for the very weakest of His own, and the cares and burdens of their hearts are never unheeded.
So has it ever been, and so is it now, though often the distrustful heart is ready to say in its sense of loneliness and desolation, “Jehovah hath forsaken me, and my
, Lord hath forgotten me;" yet this whisper of the Spirit ever comes back to the soul, “ Can a woman forget her sucking child ? .... Yea, they may forget, yet will I not
forget thee.” So came the angelic vision to the disciples, telling them they were not forgotten, and were not to be forsaken, for their Lord had said, “I go to prepare a place
I for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”
In the message of the angels there are two points that we would touch upon. There is, so to speak, a double identity that is of especial interest; first, the identity of the Person, " This same Jesus," and then, the identity in the manner of His departure and return—“shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”
I. The identity of the Person.—How much must the expression “This same " ha
“This same” have conveyed to those who had been with Him throughout those three years of His earthly ministry! What precious recollections must have gathered round that sacred Person, whose looks, whose words, whose touch they had observed with such awe and wonder, and how fully each one could have borne witness to the grace, the tenderness, the holiness of the heavenly Master who had just been taken away! As each precious memory came back upon the soul, they would repeat the angels' words : “This same Jesus.”
Remembering how He turned the water into wine to meet the lack in the joys of the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee, and how He stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus ere He uttered with a loud voice those mighty words, “Lazarus come forth,” they would say one to another, “ This same Jesus !” Recalling the glories of the transfiguration, and the sorrows of Gethsemane, they would echo the words, “ This same Jesus!” He who took Peter's wife's mother by the hand and raised her up, who took the little children in His arms, who said to the widowed mother Weep not," as He touched the bier and gave her back
her son—He it was of whom the angels spake, “ This same Jesus." Yes, the same Jesus who wore the crown of thorns, and stood unmoved before Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate, who on the cross comforted the dying thief, and in His own dying agony cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?” We also can say,
“ This same Jesus,” the Jesus of the Gospels of Matthew, of Mark, of Luke and of John; the One who has been with all of us all our journey through ; the Jesus of each heart, who soothed us in our trouble; and who helped us in every time of need. And it is
this same Jesus” that we are each one looking for, the Friend of our daily life, the Comforter in our sorrows, the Guide of our pilgrimage, who has been with us all the way, whom we ought to know so well, with whose voice we ought to be so familiar. It is He who is coming again. He who has been taken away from us (for we seem to have lost Him),“ which was received up from you into heaven,” as the angels say, will come for us.
It were well for us who often sing-
** To Calvary, Lord, in spirit now
Our weary sonls repair,”
if we would repair to Olivet, and there contemplate the ascended Lord received into heaven by the cloud of God's glory. Like the Cherubim of glory in Ezekiel xi., which
went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city," so did our Lord stand upon that same mountain and thence ascend. And as we read later on, “ Behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east," so will the Lord of glory "descend from heaven."
But while the Person is the same, how changed will He be when seen again! John saw Him as He went away, and