Jesus said to her, “Let the children he filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Shallow critics have dared to charge Jesus Christ with harshness in dealing as He did with the Syrophenician woman. It only shows how little they understand His mission and the need of probing human souls in order to produce repentance and faith. The woman was not of the chosen people. She was not in covenant relationship with God. She had no claim on the Son of David as such (Matthew 15:22). The searching words of the Lord Jesus as to the impropriety of casting the children’s bread to the dogs gave her to see her true condition. She exclaimed, “Yes, Lord,” thus owning Him as Master of Jew and Gentile alike, and so humbly pleaded for some crumbs of blessing, which He gladly gave. It was all dispensationally perfect. Now the middle wall of partition has been broken down and “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12).
Now in the fulness of His grace,
God puts me in the children’s place,
Where I may gaze upon His face,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!
Not half His love can I express,
Yet, Lord, with joy my lips confess,
This blessed portion I possess,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!
Thy precious name it is I bear,
In Thee I am to God brought near,
And all the Father’s love I share,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!
—Jane Deck Walker
When He had called the people to Himself with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it: but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Self-abnegation is the law of the kingdom of God. It is the meek who inherit the earth, the poor in spirit who are infinitely wealthy. In the service of Christ we gain by losing, live by dying, and receive by giving. Does this seem utterly opposed to what the world regards as sound wisdom? It is because the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 1:20), and the principles of action which natural men approve are absolutely opposed to those of Heaven.
The Bible abounds with instances of men who triumphed by seeming defeat. Consider Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Paul, and pre-eminently our blessed Lord Himself.
On the other hand, how many there are whose sad failures illustrate the truth that “those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37). The names of Cain, Pharaoh, Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, and Pilate are only a few that might be cited.
It is the part of those who profess to be followers of Christ to share His rejection. Why should they expect recognition from a world that gave their Savior a cross of shame? To faith there is no greater luxury than identification with Him in suffering and sorrow, that the life given up may prove to be a life preserved to eternal glory.
The cross on which our Lord expired
Has won the crown for us!
In thankful fellowship with Him
We bear our daily cross.
Set free in grace—He vanquished him
Who held us in his chains—
But more than this. He shares with us
The fruit of all His pains.
Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.
After six days, the transfiguration took place. Peter, who was present on that memorable occasion, tells us that it was then “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” was portrayed. In other words, it was the manifestation of the kingdom of God in embryo (2 Peter 1:16-21).
The King Himself was there in His glory and majesty. The Father’s voice acclaimed His perfections and called on all men to “hear him.” There appeared with Him in the same glory two archetypal men: one who had passed through death, the other who had been caught up alive into Heaven. These pictured the heavenly side of the kingdom. The disciples in their natural bodies pictured those on earth, basking in the sunlight of Messiah’s presence. It was a momentary glimpse of the kingdom to be set up when Christ returns in power to reign.
With such a vision before their souls, the disciples could well afford to count all things else but loss that they might have part with Him in that day.
Though darker, rougher, grows the way,
And cares press harder day by day,
And nothing satisfies,
The promise sure before me lies
Of that blest place beyond the skies
Where Jesus waits for me.
With sight too dim to visualize
The scene, though spread before my eyes,
I know it will be fair;
Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,
The things that are for us prepared,
But Jesus will be there.
—Robert R. Pentecost
This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting,
Behind all effective service there must always be a life of prayer. It is only as we ourselves are in touch with God that we can be channels through which divine power and blessing will flow forth to others.
No amount of activity, nor of sincere desire to help, can make up for lack of communion with God. Of old the Levites, who represented ministry, waited on the priesthood, which speaks of worship (Numbers 3:9-10). “This kind does not go out except by prayer” (Matthew 17:21). Prayer is the recognition of our own helplessness and our appropriation of divine energy, which works in and through the self-judged, obedient believer, to the glory and praise of God. This too is true fasting—the denial of self and ceasing from all fleshly confidence.
When you pray at morn or sundown,
By yourself or with your own;
When you pray at rush of noontide,
Just make sure you touch the Throne.
When you pray in hours of leisure,
Praying long and all alone;
Pour not out mere words as water,
But make sure you touch the Throne.
When you pray in busy moments,
Oft to restless hurry prone;
Brevity will matter little,
If you really touch the Throne.
Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side.”
It is a great thing to learn that each servant of Christ must act individually as before the Lord and yet, on the other hand, that he is responsible to cooperate with his fellow servants so far as possible, without seeking to control or dictate to them.
We are always prone to forget that we are not to judge one another, but to remember that each one stands or falls to his own master (Romans 14:4). But this should not make us self-centered and disinterested in the work of others. The trials of our fellow-servants should move us to prayer on their behalf, and their victories should cause us to rejoice. We cannot properly appraise even our work now, let alone that of our brethren, but all will come out when “the Lord comes” (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).
It seemed hard for our Lord’s disciples to learn these things, and it is evident that few of us have learned them today. We are so apt to overestimate the importance of our own ministry and to undervalue the work of our fellow servants. This is a subtle form of pride which is most hateful to God, and most harmful to the work of the Lord.
Ah, the judgment-seat was not for thee—
These servants, they were not thine:
And the Eye which adjudges the praise and the blame,
Sees further far than thine.
Wait till the evening falls, my child,
Wait till the evening falls;
The Master is near, and knoweth it all—
Wait till the Master calls.
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great posessions.
No more searching incident than this is found in the four Gospels, unless it be the Lord’s interview with Nicodemus, as recorded in John 3. Surely, no honest person can contemplate it without facing the question, “On what do I base my hope of eternal life?” If on self-effort, I build on sinking sand. If on Christ alone, my confidence is founded upon an unshakeable rock.
But I must be sure that my professed faith in Him is not a mere intellectual acceptance of certain historic facts. To believe in Him is to commit myself to Him. This necessarily involves my recognition of His Lordship, He who died to save me is now to have authority over my life.
Anything short of this is but an empty profession. Let me then face the matter honestly and never be satisfied until I know beyond a doubt that I have yielded to the claims of the Lord Jesus.
The rich young man was of charming disposition and pleasant personality, but he was devoid of divine life which is the result of new birth (John 3:3). There is a vast difference between the attractiveness of what is merely natural and the beauty of character that is spiritual in its origin. No human effort can ever change flesh into spirit. Therefore the need of the impartation of life from above, which comes through faith in Christ (John 3:6-7, 14-16).
What will you do without Him
When the great White Throne is set,
And the Judge, who never can mistake
And never will forget,—
The Judge whom you have never here
As Friend and Saviour sought,
Shall summon you to give account
Of word and deed and thought?
—F. R Havergal
You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them…Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.
In worldly politics we are accustomed to the selfish saying, “To the victors belong the spoils.” Even in a democratic country like our own we have become inured to the idea that when a particular party gets into power, its adherents may expect to be rewarded with public offices at the behest of senators and other officials. And while civil service reform was intended to put a stop to such practices, there is very little activity of conscience regarding this method of recognizing faithful party-henchmen.
But it is far otherwise in the kingdom of God. There self-seeking has no place, and he who serves with self-interest in view will lose out at last. When our Lord sits on the judgment seat every man’s work will be manifested “of what sort it is.” Quality will count in that day. The one who will be given the chief place at last is the one who abases himself to serve all.
Cleave to the poor, Christ’s image in them is;
Count it great honor, if they love thee well;
Naught can repay thee after losing this.
Though with the wise and wealthy thou shouldst dwell,
Thy Master oftentimes would pass thy door,
To hold communion with His much-loved poor.
— J. J. P.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Mark 11:25, 26
Those who have entered into the kingdom by new birth (John 3:5) are all forgiven sinners who stand before God on the ground of pure grace. Nevertheless, as children in the family of God, they are subject to the Father’s discipline and are under His government. The moment our responsibility as sinners having to do with the God of judgment ended, our responsibility as children having to do with our Father began. In this new relationship we are to display the activities of the divine nature and therefore are called upon to act in grace toward any who may offend us. If we fail to do this, we will be sternly disciplined in order that the government of God may be maintained.
It is the Father who deals with the members of His own family and who will not overlook harshness or lack of compassion on the part of His children toward their erring brethren.
How sweet, how heavenly, is the sight,
When those that love the Lord
In one another’s peace delight,
And thus fulfill His word!
When free from envy, scorn, and pride,
Our wishes all above,
Each can his brother’s failings hide
And show a brother’s love.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
There is no conflict of duties between the spiritual life and one’s earthly responsibilities. The more truly we love God, the more sincerely will we seek the good of mankind. We express our faith in God by our love for our fellow men (1 John 3:23). The Christian should be an example in his community of devotion to everything that is good and for the well-being of his neighbors. But this does not involve a recognition of the present world order as the fulfillment of the divine ideal. So long as earth’s rightful ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ, is rejected there will never be perfect government in this scene. Nevertheless, “the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1), in the sense that they exist only by His permissive will, hence the importance of subjection to the existing authority in any given country.
If human edicts be positively opposed to the expressed will of God, the Christian is to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19). Where conditions are such that he can with good conscience cooperate with the government, he is to do so. Any other course would be contrary to the spirit of Him who said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Children of a free-born race,
Happy in your dwelling-place,
As your blessings ye retrace,
Think from whence they flow.
Think of that creative Hand,
Author of the sea and land,
By whose power the nations stand,
In their weal or woe.
My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.
The Gethsemane experience of our precious Lord, incomprehensible as it is to our finite minds, emphasizes, as perhaps nothing else could, the reality of His humanity and His utter abhorrence of sin. Although He had become incarnate for the very purpose of becoming the propitiation for our sins, yet as the solemn hour drew nigh when the weight of a world’s iniquity must be heaped upon Him, His holy soul shrank from the fearful ordeal. Hence the impassioned prayer. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” But His human will was absolutely subordinated to the divine will, as evidenced by the words, “If this cup cannot pass…unless I drink it. Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
In that garden was settled forever the question as to whether there was any other possible way of salvation for lost men, except through the pouring out of His soul unto death and the draining of the bitter cup of divine wrath against sin.
hour and the
cup are synonymous. That hour had been before Him ever since He came into the world. It was the hour when He should give Himself a ransom for many. We need to realize that it was not easy for the humanity of Jesus to make this supreme sacrifice. It involved circumstances and conditions that the holy One could only contemplate with horror. Let us learn from His agony in the garden something at least of what it will mean for impenitent sinners to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).
Death and the curse were in that cup,
O Christ, ‘twas full for Thee,
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
Left but the love for me.
That bitter cup, love drank it up,
Now blessing’s draught for me.
— Anne Ross Cousin
Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
Apart from the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus we could have no proof that God had accepted the sacrifice He offered as a propitiation for our sins. He “was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25). By “many infallible proofs” witness has been borne to this great event. Think of any other outstanding incident which occurred any time within some centuries before or after the days of our Lord and ask yourself, “How many witnesses can be cited to prove that this really took place?” You will be astonished as you realize how slender is the evidence that can be adduced. But we have the sober records of the four Evangelists; the added testimony of St. Paul, who saw Christ in the glory; the definite words of James and Jude, the Lord’s brothers, who did not believe during the Lord’s lifetime but were converted when they saw and conversed with Him in resurrection; and the witness of Peter—all of these giving their independent accounts in which they positively declared that they knew Him as the risen One. And these were not fanatical emotionalists, but serious minded men who did not expect Him to rise, and at first could not believe He had done so. Then we have the many eyewitnesses cited by the four Evangelists and by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Added to all these, we have the proof that He is the living Christ in the mighty works of the early church, and His continued manifestations of saving power throughout the centuries since.
Death’s dread power is o’er
Since Christ rose once more,
Turning deepest grief and sadness
Into wondrous joy and gladness.
With Christ’s own now say,
“He is risen today.”
So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
The risen Christ is serving still. Though ascended and glorified, the Savior will never give up the servant character which He assumed in grace when He came from the glory that He had with the Father to this poor world of woe. Throughout all the present age He is “working with” His own as they go forth in His name, and when He brings us into the Father’s house He will gird Himself and serve us. He delights to minister with, in, and to those He loves.
He is the servant still! In obedience to His word, His representatives went forth unto all the world. Everywhere He wrought in and through them, confirming the word with the promised signs, read about in the book of Acts.
Thou from the dead wast raised—
And from all condemnation
Thy saints are free, as risen in Thee,
Head of the new creation!
On high Thou hast ascended,
To God’s right hand in heaven,
The Lamb once slain, alive again,—
To Thee all pow’r is given.
Thou hast bestowed the earnest
Of that we shall inherit;
Till Thou shalt come to take us home,
We’re sealed by God the Spirit.
We wait for Thine appearing,
When we shall know more fully
The grace divine that made us Thine,
Thou Lamb of God most holy!
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
It has often been remarked that Luke’s Gospel “opens with a burst of melody.” The angels, Mary, Elisabeth, Zacharias, Simeon, Anna, and the shepherds, are all found praising and adoring the God of all grace who has raised up in the house of David, a Redeemer for His people. Mary’s song, that which we commonly call “The Magnificat,” is a wondrous expression of her sense of the goodness of God in providing through her a Savior, not only for the race but for herself. She sings as one who recognizes her own sinfulness by nature, but who rejoices in the divine provision for her salvation; she knew nothing of the false doctrine of her own immaculate conception. She gloried in being saved by grace.
Let sinners saved give thanks and sing,
Salvation’s theirs and of the Lord;
They draw from heaven’s eternal spring,
The living God, their great reward.
Let sinners saved give thanks and sing,
Whom grace has kept in dangers past,
And oh, sweet truth! the Lord will bring
His people safe to heaven at last.
Then the angel said to them “Do not he afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will he to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
The angel’s message was one of joy and gladness, designed to banish fear and fill the heart with hope and peace. But, alas, there were few indeed who responded to it. And although their glad message has been sounding through all the centuries since, this world is still a scene of strife, and often of terror, and the great majority of earth’s inhabitants are strangers to that peace which Jesus came to give. Men are so slow to learn that it is only as they receive Him and own Him as Savior and Lord, that they can appropriate and enjoy the blessings He delights to give. From Bethlehem His path led to the cross where He made peace by His own blood, and now all who believe have peace with God.
Christ by prophets long-predicted,
Joy of Israel’s chosen race,
Light to Gentiles long afflicted,
Lost in error’s darkest maze,
Bright the star of your salvation,
Pointing to His rude abode,
Rapturous news for every nation,
Mortals, now behold your God!
Bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
The searching ministry of John the Baptist was a clarion call to reality. Formalism in religion apart from true heart-exercise is an abomination in the sight of God. He is not served by the work of men’s hands or glorified by the declarations of their lips if the inward attitude is not right. All men are called to abase themselves before Him, and take the place of confessed sinfulness, seeking divine grace for deliverance through the Savior He has provided. Jesus Himself must be the object of faith. It is He alone whose work could meet the claims of God’s righteousness. In Him the Father is fully satisfied, and all men everywhere are called to put their trust in Him. While it was not given to John to unfold the gospel in all its blessed detail, he nevertheless directed the people to that One whose mission it is to save all who believe in Him.
It is not thy tears of repentance nor prayers,
But the blood that atones for the soul;
On Him then who shed it thou mayest at once
Thy weight of iniquities roll.
Then take with rejoicing from Jesus at once
The life everlasting He gives,
And know with assurance thou never canst die
While Jesus thy righteousness lives.
—A. M. Hull
And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.
The grace of God is abundant and free, all-sufficient to meet the need of the vilest sinner, but no man will receive the benefits who is not simple enough and humble enough to take God at His word, acting in like faith upon the message given. There was complete cleansing and healing for Naaman, without money or price. He was healed only in God’s appointed way, and that was summed up in the prophet’s message, “Wash, and be clean.” So today, there is salvation from sin’s guilt and cleansing from its uncleanness for all who will take the place of the needy sinner. They must give up all pretension to human merit and avail themselves of the grace mediated through our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose precious atoning blood we may wash and be clean (Acts 4:12; Revelation 1:5-6).
“Call them in”—the poor, the wretched,
Sin-stained wand’rers from the fold;
Peace and pardon freely offer;
Can you weigh their worth with gold?
“Call them in”—the weak, the weary,
Laden with the doom of sin;
Bid them come and rest in Jesus;
He is waiting—“call them in.”
“Call them in”—the broken-hearted,
Cow’ring ‘neath the brand of shame;
Speak love’s message low and tender,
‘Twas for sinners Jesus came.
See, the shadows lengthen round us,
Soon the day-dawn will begin;
Can you leave them lost and lonely?
Christ is coming—“call them in.”
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
The miraculous draught of fishes told Peter that he was in the presence of the Creator. This at once manifested his own sinful state and led to his taking the place of repentance at the Savior’s feet. Though he cried, “Depart from me,” it was grace drawing him to the only One who could meet his need. Instead of departing Jesus met him in loving kindness and compassion, and gave him the word of assurance, “Do not be afraid.” It is those who own their sinfulness who find mercy. Peter had joined the goodly fellowship of Job, David, and Isaiah, all of whom, when consciously in the presence of God, took the place of self-judgment and found forgiveness and cleansing. The place of confession is the place of blessing.
God could not pass the sinner by,
His sin demands that he must die;
But in the cross of Christ we see
How God can save, yet righteous be.
The sin alights on Jesus’ head,
‘Tis in His blood sin’s debt is paid;
And Mercy can dispense her store.
Stern Justice can demand no more.
The sinner who believes is free,
Can say, “The Saviour died for me;”
Can point to the atoning blood,
And say, “This made my peace with God.”
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Actually, until renewed by divine power working in grace, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). But the truly good man relatively speaking, is the one in whose heart the Lord Jesus has found a dwelling-place. He subdues the evil of the natural heart and fills the inward being with the riches of His own love, goodness, and grace, so that from within comes what will glorify Him and bring blessing to mankind. The words that flow from the lips express what fills the heart. Where Christ Himself is known and loved, the mouth will be filled with His perfections and others will be blessed and edified. When the heart is filled with worldliness and carnality the lips will speak of those things which the natural man revels in, as swine in the filth of the sty.
Our hearts are full of Christ and long
Their glorious matter to declare!
Of Him we make our loftier song,—
We cannot from His praise forbear;
Our ready tongues make haste to sing
The glories of the heavenly King.
Fairer than all the earth-born race,
Perfect in comeliness Thou art;
Replenished are Thy lips with grace,
And full of love Thy tender heart.
God ever-blest! we bow the knee,
And own all fulness dwells in Thee.
When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
It has pleased God to honor our faith because faith is that which honors Him. Faith takes Him at His word and counts the things which do not exist as though they did (Romans 4:17). But it is not faith that does the work. It is but the means which God uses to unloose His unlimited power. Faith is the hand which lays hold of omnipotence. As man on earth, our Lord was the pattern man of faith and He taught faith to others. He chose, in this scene of His humiliation, to live in daily dependence upon the living Father (John 6:57). Thus the works of power He wrought were those which the Father gave Him to do (John 14:10). In rebuking disease and death, and in saving from sin those who sought His grace, He was presenting the heart of God toward a needy world. His concern for the life and health of mankind was but the expressed desire of God the Father, that all men who believe in Him might be at last delivered from the effects of sin. It is not always His will to grant perfect health now, but faith can firmly trust Him in every circumstance.
More lonely grows the journey as it nears the end,
Yet with me walks the one Unchanging Friend.
Though all should leave, yet He will still abide
Till death, and up through death will safely guide;
And well I know, He ne’er will loose His hold
Till He has led me safe within His fold,
Where loved ones long in glory, watch and wait,
And lengthening shadows lift at Heaven’s Gate.
—M. E. Logie-Pirie
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God. “ And he strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
Until we know the Lord Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, we do not know Him at all. He is truly the Son of man, for He has taken our humanity in grace, apart from sin, into union with His deity. But He is also the anointed of Jehovah, the eternal Son of the Father, who became man without ceasing to be God, in order that He might redeem sinful men from the judgment that their iniquities have righteously deserved. So the second great truth of divine revelation is that “the Son of Man must suffer.” Only by His sacrificial death could expiation be made for iniquity. And no one could make propitiation for sinners but one who was Himself sinless man and absolute God. He had to be who He was in order to do what He did.
Thou art my Portion, Lord, Thou art my Rock,
Thou the Good Shepherd who loveth the flock.
Thou art the Life, and the Truth, and the Way,
Sun of God’s righteousness turning to day
Night and its shadowing. Thou art the Vine,
Pouring Thy strength into weakness of mine.
Thou art the Comforter, Healer of strife;
Thou art the Lord, and the Giver of life,
Death’s Overcomer, and Saviour from sin,
Victory, Peace, and the Dweller within.
—Bertha G. Woods
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
The claims of Christ are paramount to all others. He asks for a full, unreserved surrender to Himself. None but God is entitled to this. He is God become man for our redemption. Therefore all authority is His. To yield to Him will mean the recognition that we are not our own, but are to be henceforth at His command. To lay down our lives is to put them absolutely at His disposal. If this ever means literally to die for Him, it will but open the door to eternal bliss. To shrink from suffering, to seek to avoid death by denying Him, will mean the life—the true self—lost. To acknowledge Him openly before men, whatever the consequences, will mean an open acknowledgment of us by Him in the day of His revelation, His glorious appearing. He who died to redeem the soul claims our fullest allegiance.
Not my own, but saved by Jesus,
Who redeemed me by His blood,
Gladly I accept the message,
I belong to Christ the Lord.
Not my own! My time, my talents,
Freely all to Christ I bring;
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King.
—D. W. Whittle
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine: and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
He who sees in the parable of the good Samaritan only a lesson of neighborliness and consideration for the needy has failed utterly to get what Jesus had in mind. That He was teaching the importance of compassion for the needy is clear enough on the surface of the story. But there is something far deeper than this. We are all like the poor man dying on the roadside. We have all been robbed and wounded by sin, and sore bruised by Satan and his emissaries. Our case is hopeless so far as law keeping is concerned. No works of righteousness can avail to deliver us from our wretched condition (Titus 3:5). Only the mercy of God as revealed in Christ Jesus, the One who was “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3) can, and will, undertake for us. He is neighbor indeed to all who submit to His grace. Apart from Him there is no deliverance possible. But he who trusts in Him will henceforth be characterized by loving care for others. To profess to love Him, while indifferent to the need of distressed humanity, is but hypocrisy (1 John 3:17).
In lovingkindness Jesus came,
My soul in mercy to reclaim.
And from the depths of sin and shame
In grace He lifted me.
He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took Him at His word,
Forgiven, He lifted me.
And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.
This afflicted creature was one whose condition pictured that of all men until touched by divine grace. She was helpless and hopeless as far as her own ability to improve her condition was concerned. Therefore she needed the great Physician, who always delights to undertake for those who admit they can do nothing to deliver themselves. He saw her need and immediately met it. His voice of power told of His determination to set her free. He knew her as one who had faith in God and He responded to the unspoken desire of her heart.
As He laid His tender hands upon that deformed body, a thrill of new life went through her whole being, and for the first time in eighteen years she stood erect, praising God for her remarkable healing. She was made straight. This is most suggestive. The Lord is still engaged in straightening crooked lives to His glory.
I thought I needed many things
Along life’s toilsome way,
When days were long and heavy cares
Left scarcely time to pray
I thought I needed many things
For those I held most dear,
When they were sad and longed for rest
Or change of portion here.
When it was Thee I needed, Lord,
To satisfy my heart.
To fill my days with rest and peace,
And every grace impart.
—Grace E. Troy
Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’”
The parable of the great supper is one of the most delightful, and yet most solemn of all the gospel pictures given us in the New Testament. It is delightful because of the way it sets forth the grace that is in the heart of God, flowing out to the needy and sinful. But it is most solemn because of the manner in which man’s response to the message of grace is portrayed. There is a difference between this story as given in Luke and the parable of the marriage feast as given in Matthew 22:1-14. Here in Luke it is the sovereign grace of God that is emphasized. In Matthew, the emphasis is put upon the divine government. This is a great supper to which all are invited. That is a marriage feast intended at first for the select few. There the servants who carry the royal invitation are the ministers of the Word, sent forth to say, “All things are ready. Come to the wedding.” Here there is only one Servant in view, the blessed Holy Spirit, and He does what man cannot do: He compels men to come in.
Why was I made to hear Thy voice
And enter while there’s room,
While thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
That gently forced me in,
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin.
And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry.
The three-fold parable of Luke 15 sets forth the joy of Heaven over the salvation of sinners who repent. The Lord Jesus is the seeking Shepherd; the Holy Spirit is the light that makes manifest the lost coin; the returning prodigal is welcomed to the arms of the Father whose love saw him afar off and led Him to run to meet him on the way. Pharisees and haughty scribes could find no joy in the display of grace. But poor sinners revel in its blessedness. The merriment of the Father’s house will go on forever.
As I was my Father loved me,
Loved me in my sin and shame,
Yet a great way off He saw me,
Ran to kiss me as I came.
Then in bitter grief I told Him
Of the evil I had done—
Sinned in scorn of Him, my Father,
Was not meet to be His son.
But I know not if He listened,
For He spake not of my sin—
He within His house would have me,
Make me meet to enter in;
From the riches of His glory,
Brought His costliest raiment forth,
Brought the ring that sealed His purpose,
Shoes to tread His golden court.
But he said to him. “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they he persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
The Word of God is His perfect message to men. If that be spurned He has nothing more to say to them until they meet Him in judgment. Wherever that Word is proclaimed it puts those who hear it in the place of responsibility such as they never knew before. The light shines from the Word. If they refuse its testimony they prove that they love darkness rather than light. That Word contains all that is necessary to show the way of life. It reveals Christ. This was true of the Old Testament. Moses and the prophets all spake of Him. But in the New Testament we have the complete revelation of Him who has come in grace to seek and to save the lost. He who believes finds deliverance. He who turns away will perish in his sins.
What will it profit when life here is o’er,
Though great worldly wisdom I gain,
If, seeking knowledge, I utterly fail
The wisdom of God to obtain?
What will it profit, when life here is o’er,
Though gathering riches and fame,
If, gaining the world, I lose my own soul,
And in Heav’n unknown is my name?
What will it profit when life here is o’er
Though earth’s farthest corners I see,
If, going my way, and doing my will
I miss what His love planned for me?
—Grace E. Troy
I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.
The Lord Jesus spoke often of His coming again. He told of His coming in judgment at the end of the age, to deal with unrighteousness and to bring in the long-looked-for kingdom of God upon earth. To His disciples He spoke of His return as something for which they were to watch. It would come suddenly, unexpectedly, to those who were not looking for it. Those counted worthy to stand before the Son of man will be His own redeemed ones. They will be caught away to Himself, as later revealed through the ministry of the apostle Paul. That blessed event is dateless. It may take place at any time.
What if some day when you and I are standing,
Watching the fitful lightning in the sky,
Hearing the muttered threat of distant thunder,
Knowing humanity’s dread hour is nigh.
What if a sudden thrill should quiver through our being,
Not the death pang that ends all mortal strife,
But in a quickening surge of swift ecstatic power,
“Mortality be swallowed up of life!”
O Blessed Hope that looks beyond the shadows,
That is not troubled by this world’s alarms;
That knows The Life and sees a Transformation,
That waits the welcome of His outstretched arms!
—W. C. E.
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.”
delightful the incident brought before us! Here was a man under the curse of the law, helpless to deliver himself, yet saved by pure grace and immediately manifesting the fruit of the new life. He was a thief. He had violated not only the eighth commandment, but the tenth, and others too. He was under sentence of death. The law demanded his destruction. But Jesus came to reveal the grace of God and to free repentant sinners from the condemnation of the broken law. That very condemnation Christ was Himself to bear within a few days. In view of it, Zacchaeus could be, and was justified before God, regenerated by His divine power and made a new man. How vivid the contrast between the law and the Gospel!
Out of the distance and darkness so deep,
Out of the settled and perilous sleep;
Out of the region and shadow of death,
Out of its foul and pestilent breath;
Out of the bondage, and wearying chains,
Out of companionship ever with stains;
Into the light and the glory of God,
Into the holiest, made clean by blood;
Into His arms—the embrace and the kiss—
Into the scene of ineffable bliss;
Into the quiet, the infinite calm,
Into the place of the song and the psalm.
The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
It is an interesting and challenging fact that we nowhere find in the Gospels, nor in all the New Testament for that matter, certain words which are widely used today, and often as though they really provide the key to the ministry of the Lord Jesus. Such terms as “the social order,” “social service,” “the social gospel” are conspicuous by their absence. Our Lord did not attempt to overturn the social order of His day by some new system of ethical instruction. He did not take into consideration the mass as such. He dealt with the individual. And He showed that personal sin was the root of all the trouble in the world. But He did not merely attempt the reformation of the sinner. He came not to reform, but to save. He did not come to help the race to better its condition. He came to bring in an entirely new creation through the regeneration of individual sinners.
This program adhered to necessarily makes for improved social conditions. If individuals are saved, they will affect in a marked way the environment in which they live. Consequently, the social order has been wonderfully improved through the coming of Christ and the proclamation of His gospel. But the important thing is to put first things first; preach the gospel to the individual, and when he is saved set him to work seeking the salvation of his neighbors. It was in this way that the Christianity of the first three centuries overturned the paganism of the Roman Empire. To reverse this order is fatal.
Not what these hands have done
Can save my guilty soul;
Not what this toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole.
No other work save Thine—
Nought save Thy blood will do:
No strength, save that which is divine,
Can bear me safely through.
—Herbert G. Tovey
You are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me.
To be selected by Christ as workers together with Him was a great honor, and the same privilege is ours today (2 Corinthians 6:1). He called, they obeyed, and millions have profited by their service. How different would have been their lives had they planned for themselves instead of heeding His voice! What makes the tragedy of Judas’ defection so awful is that he had all the privileges and opportunities of the rest and he threw them all away because of covetousness and worldly ambition.
To do the will of God is to enjoy life at its very best. Jesus said, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). The doing of that will meant the cross with all its agony and shame. But only so could He be perfected as Captain of Salvation (Hebrews 2:10). He endured it all for the joy set before Him, and now He sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied (Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 53:11). It is given to us not only to believe on Him, but to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29), and to serve with Him for the blessing of a lost world. Then, at His return we shall share His glory.
And there with Thee we shall rehearse the story,
Thy faithful love in desert scenes below;
And walking with Thee in that cloudless glory,
To Thee our endless praise shall ceaseless flow.
Until that day, Lord Jesus, keep us faithful
To Thy blest Word and not deny Thy Name!
Oh, shield Thine own from every harm and evil,
Content to suffer loss and bear Thy shame!
—J. W. H. Nichols
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Backsliding is never a sudden descent from intense spirituality to open sin. Declension is a gradual process, even as growth in grace is that which goes on day by day as one walks with God. The word “backslider” occurs only once in the Bible in Proverbs 14:14. We frequently find the term “backsliding,” though only in the books of Jeremiah and Hosea. Although these words are not found in the New Testament, we have many warnings against drifting from experiences once attained. Peter’s case is a solemn example of backsliding, and shows us how one wrong state or attitude leads to another, until at last one may fall into grave evil-doing and so bring great dishonor upon the name of the Lord whom we profess to love. Peter’s backsliding seems to have begun when he ventured to rebuke Jesus, who had just declared the necessity of going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23). It was evidently the result of spiritual pride following the Savior’s commendation because of Peter’s great declaration as to the true nature of His glorious person. Though sternly rebuked, we do not read of any confession on Peter’s part, and sin unjudged leads inevitably to something worse as time goes on.
Thou lovest me! And yet Thy child
Is wayward, foolish, oft defiled;
Is slow to learn and dull to hold,
Quick to forget what Thou hast told;
In service feeble, seeking ease
Ofttimes, instead of Thee to please;
Thus poor my record e’er will be,
And yet, O God, Thou lovest me!