« PrécédentContinuer »
again in the Isle of Patmos many years afterwards. He was still the "same," and said, "I was dead." But when the beloved disciple who had lain on His bosom at supper beheld the countenance of the glorified Son of man as the sun shining in his strength, he fell at His feet as dead; so true is it that flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of God, nor gaze on the glory that comes from the throne of God. Hence, for our comfort, we are assured that we shall be changed into His likeness before we behold Him, for not otherwise could we look, with undimmed eye and undaunted heart, on Him as He will then be manifested! Yet, He will Himself be unchanged; His person
His heart the same. He who as the Lamb of God came into the world to save, will be the Lamb still, though in the very midst of the throne, and exercising the Almighty power committed into His hands. May this thought of the identity of the Christ of the Gospels with the Christ of the Revelation so link the past and the future in our minds, that in the blessed Person of “this same Jesus'
we may day by day find our joy fulfilled and our peace overflowing.
II. The identity in the manner of the Lord's departure and return.*_This second point of identity is full of interest. He went not He went not away in the presence of a crowd.
. The world left Him in the tomb, which was watched by its soldiers, and when the morning sun witnessed to an empty grave, they circulated the report that His body had been stolen away at night. Nor from that day to this have unsaved eyes looked upon the Son of God. Only those who are of faith can say with Paul in the Hebrews, “We see Jesus.” During forty days He appeared to His disciples to whom “He showed Himself alive after
Some beloved brethren differ in certain respects from the writer in the interpretation of the Scripture under consideration.
His passion, by many infallible proofs, " speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God;" and so by us He is spiritually seen now, and we hold communion with Him.
A few weeks previously He had led His disciples to Gethsemane, and now He leads “them out as far as Bethany." There He lifted up His hands, and blessed them, and in the act of blessing, He was parted from them and carried up to heaven. The scene was one belonging exclusively to His own. They were with Him, and saw Him as He went away, and they only. His departure was sublime in its simplicity. There were no chariots of fire and horses of fire, and no whirlwind, as in the case of Elijah. Something of the visible might add to the glory of the translation of a man to heaven, but nothing was needed to add to the glory of the ascending of the Son of God, whose hands and feet and side had been pierced; and nothing was allowed to interfere with the calm worshipping spirit of the disciples that centered on Himself. It was His person only that occupied their thoughts; and not till He was out of sight did the two angels appear, as two also appeared in the tomb after the Lord had left it.
In speaking to the disciples, the angels emphasize this fact, that the Lord had been taken away from them, for their words are, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven;" and this beautifully accords with our Lord's language in reference to His return, "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.” To this point the fourth chapter of Thessalonians exclusively directs our attention. The meeting in the air is only for those who are Christ's; the coming of the Lord “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with
the trump of God," is for the saints alone. Those who sleep shall hear and shall come forth, and those who may then be living shall with them be “caught up together in clouds to meet the Lord in the air."
The judgment seat of Christ, the marriage of the Lamb, and the marshalling of the armies in heaven, with other events, will intervene before He comes with all His saints “in flaming fire taking vengeance.”
The Lord's departure and His return thus beautifully harmonize in character, fulfilling the words of the angels, “shall so come in like manner." His coming for the Church will be in marked contrast with His subsequent manifestation as King of kings when, as if fresh from the cross on Calvary, He appears with garments dipped in blood to avenge His death on a guilty world. In His coming as the Bridegroom for the bride there is a quiet homeliness of procedure, in marked contrast with the display of kingly majesty, "pomp and circumstance," with which He comes as the King to destroy His enemies and to subdue His rebel kingdom.
May the Lord, then, keep His people waiting and watching till He shall come to receive us unto Himself, that we may be at rest-with Him ere He comes in flaming fire with His mighty angels, to take vengeance on them that have rejected Him, and to be admired in those who believe. Then shall the world know indeed that the Father sent the Son, and that He loves His redeemed ones, even as He loves the Son. The petition, “ Thy kingdom come ” will then be fulfilled, and the prayer of John xvii. will have its perfect answer.
Till then, let our cry be, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
CONFESSION.–Our confessions do not end aright if they end not in praise. We must not allow our failings to dim our eyes to God's grace.
THE MIRACLES AT THE CROSS.
MATT. xxvii. 45-54. The theme that occupies the souls of millions of saved sinners is expressed in the familiar words,
" When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the King of glory died.” And millions more will yet behold that Holy Sufferer with adoring wonder. But others have looked upon Him, and more will yet look, with very different eyes. “And sitting
. down they watched Him there,” is what is said of the throng of the crucifiers on the hill of Calvary. Yes, they "watched
“ Him;” but it was with the idle malicious eyes of lovers of sin and haters of God. And what millions, before whom He has been “ lifted up,” have since looked on Him with similar eyes! By means of the doctrine of Christ, professors of His name have in all ages given passing glances at the cross and at Him hanging on it, but alas! neither to trust Him nor to love Him. The cross of Christ has been used simply as a subject for the painted canvas, or as a theme for the mere sounds of music; or, worse still, as a pathetic part of the so-called “ Christian religion,” by which to dominate over the feelings and conscience of listeners. and by which to enhance priestly power and priestly wealth. But let us dwell on what is happier.
It is not so much to our Lord Himself upon the cross, or to the moral miracles of righteousness, mercy and love, which faith sees in Him in His dying hour that we would now turn, but rather to those external miracles which accompanied His wondrous death. These seem to be given us, as fingers from God, pointing all beholders to the infinite value of that holy Offering which caused the rending asunder of the Son of God Himself-soul from bodywhen He died for sin.
Crucifixion was fearfully common in Palestine under Roman rule, and the outward and visible part of the dying of our Lord was simply the yielding up His breath, as any other dying one does. The expression in Matt. xxvii. 50, "yielded up the ghost," is only old English for "gave up His spirit,” and does not in the least imply any hastening of His own death by an act of His divine power. As His blessed head was bowed at that moment, any one of the idle beholders might have said to another, “Ah, the Nazarene is dead,” just as the soldier also saw He was dead before he pierced His side.
But though in appearance like any other dying, how infinitely different was it in its nature and character and value! Hence the need of testimony to its deep and hidden worth. And surely one part of God's outward testimony to the unparalleled preciousness of the death of His Son is to be found in the recorded miracles that accompanied His dying hour.
The signs and wonders in Egypt compelled even the magicians to say, " This is the finger of God;" and well might the signs and wonders at Calvary extort from all who know of them the centurion's cry, "Truly this was the Son of God !” But, alas, they do not !
In Matthew's gospel the miracles recorded are three in number.
1st. The three hours' darkness.
3rd. The earthquake by which the graves of sleeping "saints
were opened. All these could be the finger of God only. They were no part of our Lord's living obedience, as were the miracles of feeding the multitudes or the raising of Lazarus from