The Sequel

Suppers with the Saviour

(Rev. 3:20; Song of Sol. 5:3; Mark 14:3; Luke 24:30)

Let us turn first to the supper proposed by the Saviour, in the midst of the message to Laodicea (Rev. 3:20): “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him.” This invitation is usually applied to the knocking of the Saviour at the heart of the sinner needing salvation, and no doubt it is legitimate to so use it.

But surely it is primarily addressed to the believer; it is a promise which belongs to us. In the corrupt Laodicean church, “when the church had departed from faithfulness, God throws back individuals on the Word of God for themselves” (J. N. Darby). So here an individual believer is addressed. Exactly so it is in the message to Thyatira (chap. 2:18) where, when the church is condemned for evil doctrine (vers. 20, 22), He turns to a believing remnant (ver. 24), “You…as have not this doctrine,” with His admonitions and promises. So, primarily, in chap. 3:20 the Saviour is addressing an individual believer.

This is borne out by the immediate context. It is believers who in verse 18 are counselled to “buy gold tried in the fire,” lest they be saved only “so as by fire.” The “white raiment” recommended to them is surely not the imputed but the imparted “righteousness of Christ.” Again, in verse 19, “as many as I love.” This love is not the general word for love for sinners, “agape,” but the rarer word, “phileo,” “love of a friend,” which God can only have for those who are no longer “enemies by wicked works.” Finally, “and chasten,” applies only to believers. Sinners are not “chastened” but punished. Believers only are “chastened”; this is to be remedial, not penal.

This promise, then, is to believers, and it is so precious and important that we need to make quite sure that it does belong to us! What then does this “knock” at the door imply? Surely, that it is not the loud knock on the outside door, the summons to salvation. Such a knock on the outside needs to be loud. No; it is rather the gentle knock of One already inside the house, an invitation on the inner door for further access and intimacy; the call to communion. He is in, He longs to come further in. He already is in the hall, thank God, but He needs to come in to “the large upper room furnished” for Him in our hearts.

Yet how often only limited access is afforded to Him by the believer. He has come in at the new birth, but He is not wholly admitted into the new life. He is still merely a Guest, not a Guide and Counsellor and Lord. Is not that what He really desires in ver. 20? He has bought us, He longs to enjoy us, that we might enjoy Him. Yet how often there are doors in the believer’s home and heart still shut to Him, keys not yielded to Him, rooms to which He is denied access. Do we knowingly and deliberately shut Him out of parts of our lives? Well, it will cost us dear; for “if He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” And how grievous the results to Him, to us. “Grieve not the Spirit,” He gravely admonishes us, yet is there any surer way to do it? Oh, let us cry:

“Come in, Oh, come! The door stands open now!
I know Thy voice, Lord Jesus, it is Thou!”

“And He went in to tarry with them.”

And what is this meal that He specially desires to share with us. It is not the midday meal. That we eat when the day is but half-done; it is to sustain us for labor; then, too, we are rightly occupied with tasks He has set us. “No time for rest till sinks the setting sun.” But supper, the evening meal, we eat when at last we are at leisure, and our daily task is done. Night falls and shuts out the distracting world, and shuts us in to peace and quiet. Activities have come to rest, and now at last He can find “a heart at leisure from itself.” He seeks to sup with us in unhurried intimacy and communion. As usual it is a mutual affair; first, He sups with us of our providing, and then He “girds Himself,” and we sup of His royal bounty.

A story is told of a man lately bereaved of his wife, who looked to find some consolation in his young daughter. But as the days went by she took to withdrawing herself into her locked room, and from his company, to his pained surprise. This went on some weeks, when one day she proudly came to him with some needlework she had been making for him in her simple love. He received it with gladness, but exclaimed: “It was you I wanted, not your work!”

(2) Now let us turn to an Old Testament counterpart of this heavenly knocking (Song of Sol. 5:2). Here the bride exclaims: “I sleep, but my heart waketh; it is … my Beloved that knocketh saying, Open to Me.” Here again these two are not strangers. It is the bride who speaks, the Bridegroom who knocks. This seems so similar to the knocking in Rev. 3 that it confirms the fact that there a believer is in view. The simple serious lesson to be learned from this earlier knocking in the “Song” is that there the bride was unprepared for the desired communion, and missed the interview, for when she opened at last, “my Beloved had withdrawn Himself.” Is that not sadly possible today? May we not attend the supper and miss the Saviour? We may partake of the loaf and miss the Living Bread, for the repast may become merely a ritual. Ever, “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread.” God grant it!

(3) But in Mark 14:3 we have the happy supper at Simon’s, for John 12:2 reveals it was a supper. Here we have a contrast to the bride in Solomon’s Song. For Mary was not caught unawares. Far otherwise! She was prepared, for she alone realized the Saviour’s coming death and the need of it. What commendation from the Saviour when He revealed: “She is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying.” Happy preparation! Blessed foresight! Other women loved Him, and “very early in the morning came unto the sepulchre bringing the spices which they had prepared” (Luke 24:1). But they came too late. The priceless privilege had passed. Never more would that sacred form lie in the tomb; never the opportunity recur of pouring out their love and devotion on the body of their Lord. For, “He is risen,” cried the angels. And is it not like that today? Some day “He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe.” But in this, His day of rejection, there is for us a privilege which will never recur in Heaven of pouring out the alabaster box of our lives at His feet, of bestowing upon Him the spikenard of our love. Then, He called it “spikenard very precious.” He still estimates it as high.

(4) At Emmaus (Luke 24:30). Then came the resurrection morning when the Saviour was occupied fulfilling the twenty-third Psalm, while as “the Great Shepherd” He tenderly cared for His frightened fast-scattering sheep. What interviews He had that day with one and another! How in the early morning He graciously dealt with the women’s fears and tears, as He made them to “lie down in green pastures.” Later in the day He “restored the soul” of impetuous Peter, in gracious privacy. Then, while all Heaven waited for Him, He journeyed with two sad-hearted folk to Emmaus. Psalm 23 had promised: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” and so it was. For, leaving Jerusalem by the Damascus gate, the two disciples had already passed dread Golgotha, where three days before their Saviour had died, and with Him all their hopes. As they passed below the hill it was indeed “the valley of the shadow” they traversed. But soon, according to promise, “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them,” which soon caused their hearts to burn within them. And though He used His “rod” upon them with, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe,” yet also with His “staff” He comforted them as “He opened to them the Scriptures.”

And now the day draws in, and the travellers seem to have come to “journey’s end,” “the village whither they went.” Emmaus stands at the head of the valley of Ajalon, and looks out on to the distant blue Mediterranean and the westering sun. There, centuries before, the sun stood still in Joshua’s day, and a mighty victory was won. Now in tranquil evening, the Sun of Righteousness stands still with these two wondering followers, and we are given a gracious glimpse of the Saviour’s heart. Here He adopts the same kindly attitude of expectation, as in the knock on the heart in Rev. 3:20. There, He might well have demanded admission; at Emmaus He might well have asked for sanctuary from the on-coming night, for “it was toward evening.” But no; “He made as though He would have gone further.” Blessed make-believe! Strange hesitation! Of course, as once before (John 6:6), “He Himself knew what He would do.” But though He has the adoration of angels, He still stoops down and seeks the song of a loving heart, He desires communion with His own. But it must be spontaneous love, and a willing welcome. He desires the invitation to come from us, to the home, to the heart. He seeks it still!

Thank God, He got it that evening! For “they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us.” Blessed, wonderful constraint of God by man! The only other time this verb is used it is in similar circumstances when Lydia, the first Christian convert in Europe, constrained the Apostle Paul to come into her house (Acts 16:15). Evidently love begets hospitality!

Now on that memorable walk to Emmaus, by the evident will of God, the eyes of the two were “holden that they should not know Him.” What was the reason? Why were they denied the conscious companionship of the Saviour during those precious miles to Emmaus? Was it not that they might at once begin to practise a walk of faith and not of sight? Again, as soon as their eyes were opened (ver. 31), He vanished again, certainly not to tantalize them but to teach them. For is not the clue to this apparent mystery of their “holden eyes” and the with-holden Saviour contained in their testimony: “He was known of them in breaking of bread” How did they know Him so quickly then? Cleopas must often have seen and probably touched the Saviour’s hands that stretched out to the loaf that evening. But those hands were now tell-tale hands. They told so eloquently a tale of redemption by suffering. For the scarce-healed wounds, shown a week later to Thomas, must have told their tale and revealed their Lord. Their eyes must have been “holden” by Divine intervention; they were suddenly opened by the same. For that rushing revelation of Himself came in “the breaking of bread” by the wounded hands. This is surely a prophecy of the same intimate revelation of Himself intended when we “eat the Lord’s Supper.”

At that memorable evening meal host and guest got strangely mixed. They had asked Him in; they had provided the food. Yet He took the bread, their bread, and Himself provided the blessing. He must do so still. Human hands may lay the loaf on the table, the Lord’s Table. Human lips still “give thanks” for the bread. Divine Love takes the loaf and invests it with eternal meaning, and endues it with eternal blessing. Blest supper indeed! Blest Saviour! Well may we cry with Bunyan’s Pilgrim:

“Blest cross, Blest sepulchre! Blest rather be,
The One who there was put to shame for me!”

“He blessed them” (Luke 24:51)

“While He blessed them He was parted from them.” Thus the perfect life of God’s Son, which began with, “Glory to God in the highest,” when the angels sang in the fields of Bethlehem, ended with blessing to man, even the lowest, when the Saviour departed. “Glory to God, blessing to man!” What a link between Heaven and earth! How the Saviour’s outstretched arms on Calvary drew God and man together in a loving embrace! These were two of the outstanding features of His perfection and grace. He ever lived to bring glory to God, so that He could say truly at the close, in His great high-priestly prayer: “I have glorified Thee on earth, I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do.” Thus the glorifying of the Father on earth was finished. The blessing of men, which flowed from Calvary, was but begun, and ever since has been an increasing and never-ceasing stream.

Of course the blessing of God does not appeal to everyone. It does not appeal to the worlding. It did not appeal to Esau. For “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him.” God’s blessing seems too unpractical, too intangible, too supernatural, to appeal to the heart of the natural man. He lives for material things, which he feels able to see and touch and enjoy. For him “there is a way that seems right unto a man,” but he does not realize that “the end thereof are the ways of death.” Men who live for “things” may get them in abundance, for God may allow them their request, while yet He finds needful to send “leanness into their soul.” He has designed human hearts for Himself, and He will not have them satisfied with mere things; He reserves that right unto Himself.

Yet how safe, how satisfying, how different, to all else is the blessing of the Lord. “It maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it,” says the proverb (10:22). We could well do without a good many things we have come to look upon as essential to life, but there is one thing we can never afford to do without, and that is the blessing of the Lord. And, thank God, there is no need for the humblest saint ever to go short of it!

Blessing is one of the greatest and most wonderful of the attributes of God. The importance of “blessing” is proved by the fact that it is one of the great words of the Bible and as noun or verb it is found there almost five hundred times.

Sometimes we find man blessing God. In this case he is not seeking to impart blessing to God, but rather, because of God’s rich abundance poured out, the man’s soul rises up in thanksgiving to call God blessed, as did David in Ps. 103, and many another psalm of praise.

At other times we find men blessing other men on God’s behalf. So when Isaac blessed Jacob all the blessing he called down upon his son was founded on God’s covenant and promises, and came from God. So, too, again, with Melchisedec and Abraham. Even Baalam the hireling prophet is allowed to be the medium of God’s blessing to Israel.

But in general it is God Himself directly who blesses man. He is ever bent on doing so. Indeed, He cannot refrain Himself from anyone who is in a condition to be blessed. God is love. That is His character, His being, and love must give; a God of love must ever be a God of outpoured blessing. Thus when we turn to the creation record in Genesis, we find at once that no sooner has God formed His creatures than His heart overflows in blessing toward them: “And God blessed them saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters…and multiply in the earth” (Gen. 1:22). So our first sight of God is as a bounteous Giver. Then having created Adam in His image, His heart of love again overflows to His new creatures, man and woman: “And God blessed them and… said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” For the ruin of the first creation must be healed, the scars must be covered. Again when God had ended His work which He had made, He rested on the seventh day, “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” It is deeply significant that each preceding day of creation had an ending. But no ending is mentioned in connection with the day of rest, because for the soul rest is to have no end, any more than the blessing which accompanied it.

Here, then we have a revealing of the heart and character of God. He created, but that He might bless. His blessing was inevitable. It had to find an outlet and object, and that object was man. He has never changed. Such is always the One with whom we have to do. Are we making it possible for Him to bless us in the full measure in which He desires?

Now it is ominous and important to notice that when God’s commands are broken and His laws disobeyed, as at the fall, He has no option but, in place of universal blessing, to impose a far-reaching curse. There is evidently no alternative, no middle course open to Him. Men are either qualifying for, and enjoying God’s rich blessing, or He must frown upon their plans and restrain them with a curse. Thus, quickly following His pronouncement of blessing in Genesis 1 He is constrained to announce in Genesis 3, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” Thank God, man was not cursed. The serpent and the ground were cursed, and both for man’s sake, for his discipline. Yet man could still be blessed on God’s known terms.

Then we come to the Flood, God’s purge of the world, when a new beginning was made under Noah. A new covenant was declared, and from it again blessing flowed, a “flood” of blessing which quite cancelled out the previous “flood” of judgment. Again the same formula was repeated for the third time: “And God blessed Noah, and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 9:1). And so rich is that blessing that when the cloud is mentioned for the first time in the Bible, prophetically it has a bow in it already, to be a sure promise of God’s benediction and protection.

Then comes the call of Abraham (Gen. 12:1), with still a new covenant with men. Is it not in keeping with the character of God, and a principle of His dealings with men, that at once a still greater blessing is pronounced? The word is used five times in two verses, to fully express the purpose of God. It contains indeed one of the most remarkable and far-reaching predictions in the Bible, a prophecy that has often been the despair of statesmen, a promise that has become a law of nations. Speaking of Abraham, and the people to spring from him, God pronounces: “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” Thus again blessing and cursing are strangely intertwined. “Behold the goodness and severity of God, on them which fell, severity, but unto thee, goodness” (Rom. 11:22). God closes with a prediction of the Saviour through whom alone it was possible for blessing to flow from God to man, “And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

The whole beneficent purpose of God toward men is well-summed up in the priestly benediction authorized by God to be pronounced by Aaron and his sons, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee: the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Num. 6:24-26). Blessing and keeping, sunshine and grace, the seeing of His face, and the enjoying of His peace, are these not a supreme description of blessing at its best? Who of us can afford to live as to come short of it?

Then there came to earth the Saviour, to confirm to men the benediction of God. He came to die; He came also to bless. When He came it was not for individuals only; His benison was far wider, His love far larger. He came to bless whole classes, so He names them richly in the Beatitudes. How appealing they are, how compelling their need! For it is the poor in spirit, the meek and those who mourn who have arrested His love, while it is the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted who have access to His heart. So He opens Heaven’s storehouse to the poor in spirit. They that hunger and thirst after righteousness have free access to the “treasures of darkness”: and though the world resist the meek, Heaven cannot, and so they inherit the earth. And those that mourn? Why, they have for their consolation, “the God of all comfort!” What a Saviour!

The Old Testament had closed on a gloomy note: “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). The New Testament was to close in glowing grace and glory: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all,” for just before is the statement: “There shall be no more curse” (Rev. 22:3). Where then fell the curse foretold by Malachi? Not on the earth, but on the Saviour as He hung on Calvary, for God had foretold: “Curseth is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13). That was just the death designed by God and men for the Saviour.

“He bore the curse; alone He bore the load;
For us He drank the cup; Jesus the Son of God. He bore the curse.”

Let us conclude now with three special benedictions of the Saviour ere He returned to Heaven.

(1) The blessing of giving. Somewhere on His earthly journey to the Cross our Lord announced a principle and voiced a blessing which might have been forever lost to the Church but for the Apostle Paul. In Acts 20 we are told of the affecting farewell he took of the Ephesian elders on the beach at Miletus. There the apostle’s heart was wrung with the sorrow of parting, “knowing that they should see his face no more.” There he stressed to them his manner of living, “coveting no man’s silver.” As his final appeal to them to “have the mind of Christ” and to care for the poor and needy, he quoted a sentence long before uttered by the Saviour, and never so far recorded in Scripture. These were “the words of the Lord Jesus… ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”

So he rescued from oblivion words not yet included in the written Word of God, which really voice the whole motive of Christian and missionary effort, the virtue of giving rather than receiving: the principle of “doing without” on earth, that we may “lay up treasure in Heaven”; of “letting go” things here, that we may keep them forever hereafter. Thus the deep truth of the words:

“Measure thy life by loss instead of gain;
Not by the wine drunk, but the wine poured out.”

Truly the selfish believer is his own worst enemy; any one “wrapped up in himself, makes a very small parcel!” He will gain small blessing and little final reward.

Yet, “there is that scattereth, and it increaseth all the more.” Christ Himself came to give a new emphasis to life; He came “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” We are to have “the mind of Christ” and share His blessing of unselfishness. May God teach us all this new spiritual arithmetic, the subtraction here really means final and heavenly addition.

(2) The blessing of trusting. Again, in the upper room the Saviour announced for all time another spiritual law for the Christian which really earns him his name of “believer.” Dealing with doubting Thomas (who by the way has had many descendants), He announced: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” The world’s law (continually broken) is, “See and understand before you believe,” but this is reversed in the spiritual realm where it ever is, “Believe before you see,” and you will see later on. This had to be so, because the salvation of God is a revelation from above. It could never have been conceived by the mind of man; it had to come from the heart of God.

The Word of God makes it quite clear that we are utterly unable to do anything towards the saving of our souls, or the cleansing of our sins. Revelation asserts that these could only be accomplished by the free gift and grace of God in answer to our cry of faith; thus salvation is only “by faith;” we are “justified by faith,” we have “access by faith,” indeed, “the just shall live by faith,” for “without faith it is impossible to please God.” The “faith way,” then, is God’s way.

Faith, or believing God, will lead us into many adventures; it will lead us through many dark tunnels, when hope may seem almost extinguished. But tunnels are always on the main line and lead somewhere. The dark tunnel of some difficult experience that we must go through in faith, will always emerge into further smiling valleys of blessedness and the knowledge of God. It mightily pleases God and is wonderfully profitable to man, that continually we should be called to trust God in the dark where we cannot “see,” that “nevertheless afterward” there should be “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” May God lead us into the full blessing of believing!

“Faith is the eye, whereby our sight
Out-distances the starry night;
The shining way the saints have trod,
Triumphant to the feet of God.”

(3) The blessing of departure. Now the Saviour was going, returning to His home and His Father. Let us then join the little company, and go with Him and His disciples “as far as to Bethany.” What will His parting portend to them? What will He do or say? In His life He had already blessed everyone who could be blessed. He had just blessed the whole world of believers through death, His death on Calvary. What will He do on departure? Well, He had kept back one final blessing still, a departing blessing. He must still surprise us with His love and bounty, even at the last. So, “He lifted up His hands and blessed them, and…was parted from them.” How typical, how in keeping with His character and love!

This, indeed, was but the last act of a life-long habit, a life-long attitude of ever enriching men. That last blessing is still descending through the “windows of Heaven” upon every contrite heart. Are you being “greatly refreshed” these days, dear fellow-believer? Have you had a new blessing from God, just lately? Is your heart being “greatly enlarged” these days with blessings which are to be “new every morning?” Or is God’s blessing largely passing you by, so that your heart is somewhat parched and dry? Well, really and truly, “Blessings abound where’er He reigns,” Is He really reigning in your heart and mine? Then in that case we need “never know when drought cometh.” For truly,

“Jesus, Thou art enough,
The mind and heart to fill;
Thy patient life to calm the soul,
Thy love its fear dispel.

Oh, fix our earnest gaze
So wholly, Lord, on Thee,
That with Thy beauty occupied,
We elsewhere none may see.”