Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Christ in His humiliation confined His ministry almost entirely to the people of Israel. Now in resurrection, all national restrictions are clone away with and His gospel is to go forth among all nations, for God desires to have all men come to repentance and to the acknowledgment of the truth, that they might be saved. Everywhere the gospel of the risen Savior is to be proclaimed. To stop at the cross is to preach but a half gospel. It is the truth of the resurrection that completes it. “If Christ is not risen,…you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection is the proof that His work has been accepted, and so God can now offer a full and complete salvation to ail who trust in Him. To profess Christianity while denying the physical resurrection of the founder is to be self-deceived. There can be no salvation apart from the raising up of the Son of God from the dead.
They knew that their Redeemer lived,
His friends of long ago.
They saw Him die and mourned for Him
In hopelessness and woe;
And then they saw Him, touched His hand,
Heard His familiar voice;
And they in wonder and in awe,
Believing, did rejoice.
We know that our Redeemer lives,
Though hidden from our view;
For in His life we have found life,
Life full and rich and new;
Our hearts have felt His touch, our ears
Have heard His blessed voice;
We have the witness in our hearts;
Believing, we rejoice.
—M. B. Smith
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
It is well known that the term “Word” translates the Greek word
Logos. This was an expression already well known to thinking people when our Lord appeared on earth. Everywhere in the Greek speaking world the writings of Plato were circulated. He had spoken of the insolubility of many mysteries, but had expressed the hope that some day there would come forth a “Word”
(Logos) from God that would make everything clear. John might even have had this in mind when, directed by the Holy Spirit, he penned the wonderful sentences with which this Gospel begins. It is as though God is saying: “The ‘Word’ has now been spoken. In Christ the mind of God is fully revealed. He who hears Him hears God, for in Him ‘are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’” The Word never had a beginning. The Son is as truly eternal as the Father is. To teach otherwise i
s to deny the very foundations of our faith. He could not have a beginning, for He Himself is the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13).
Thou art the everlasting Word—
The Father’s only Son,
God manifest, God seen and heard,
The Heaven’s beloved One;
In Thee most perfectly expressed
The Father’s self doth shine;
Fullness of Godhead, too: the blest,—
Image of th’Infinite Unseen,
Whose being none can know;
Brightness of light no eye hath seen,
God’s Love revealed below.
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That ev’ry knee to Thee should bow.
This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me: for He was before me.”
Few preachers have equalled John the Baptist in self-depreciation and Christ-exaltation. He sought to turn the attention of his hearers from himself to Jesus, and if he made disciples, it was only that they might be persuaded to leave him and follow Christ, the One who was preferred before him (John 1:15), because He was pre-existent. John was happy and content to be esteemed the Bridegroom’s friend, and rejoiced as he entered into His joy (John 3:29).
Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be loved;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action;
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.
Not I but Christ, in lowly, silent labor;
Not I, but Christ, in humble, earnest toil;
Christ, only Christ, no show, no ostentation;
Christ, none but Christ, the Gatherer of the spoil.
—A. A. F.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Luther called this verse, “The Miniature Bible.” Others have designated it, “The Gospel in a nutshell.” It tells of the infinite love of God to a ruined world, manifested by the supreme gift of His only begotten Son. In grace He became a man and gave Himself for our sins on the cross, making atonement for our iniquities. Thus God is be able in righteousness to bestow the gift of life eternal on those who deserved eternal death. It is when we believe the message that we receive the benefits of the gospel. To believe is to trust. He who trusts alone in Christ Jesus for salvation shall never perish, but even now is the possessor of eternal life—a life that can never be forfeited.
FOR GOD, the Lord of earth and Heaven,
SO LOVED, and longed to see forgiven,
THE WORLD in sin and pleasure mad,
THAT HE GAVE the greatest gift He had—
HIS ONLY SON—to take our place,
THAT WHOSOEVER—Oh, what grace!—
BELIEVETH, placing simple trust
IN HIM, the righteous and the just,
SHOULD NOT PERISH, lost in sin,
BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE IN HIM.
—Barbara C. Ryberg
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
What Jesus said of the water of Jacob’s well is true of everything that earth can offer. There is nothing in this scene that can effectively quench the thirst of a human soul Man is made for eternity, and the things of time can never satisfy. Augustine spoke truly when he cried, “O God, Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our souls can never find rest until they rest in Thee.” But he who drinks the living water of the gospel finds that which quenches his thirst forever. Christ fully satisfies the heart that learns to confide in Him. The word received in the power of the Holy Spirit produces the new birth, thus giving everlasting life. This is the present possession of all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream,
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
In considering the subject of worship, the highest exercise of which the spirit of man is capable, it is important to remember that there is a great difference between the way it is presented in the two Testaments. In former dispensations God was hidden in large measure. His wisdom and His providence were displayed in creation. His love was seen in His care of those who confided in Him. His grace was declared by the prophets as something yet to be revealed. Consequently there was no immediate access into the presence of God. The veil was unrent. His word to Israel was, “Do not draw near this place” (Exodus 3:5); “Worship from afar” (24:1). But since the advent of Christ, all is changed. Grace and truth are now revealed. The veil is rent. The way into the holiest is now made clear. In spirit every believer is invited to “draw near…in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-22). The worship of the new creation is based upon the finished work of our blessed Lord. In spirit we enter the immediate presence of the Father in full consciousness of our sonship. Worship is far more than prayer, or the enjoyment of helpful ministry. It is the spirit’s adoring occupation with God Himself, not merely in gratitude for His gifts, but because of what He is. It is this that the Father seeks. Worship is lowered as we become occupied with the externals even of Christianity. It reaches its highest point as our spirits are absorbed in contemplation of the matchless perfections of the eternal God, in the light of the cross and the empty tomb.
Father, we Thy children, bless Thee
For Thy love on us bestowed;
Source of blessing, we confess Thee
Now, our Father and our God.
Wondrous was Thy love in giving
Jesus for our sins to die!
Wondrous was His grace in leaving,
For our sakes, the heavens on high!
—Samuel P. Tregelles
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
There is perhaps no clearer word in all the Bible than this as to how one may know he has eternal life. Note the five great pillars on which assurance rests. First, “He who hears My word.” Have you heard God’s voice in the Word? Has it spoken to your inner ear—the ear of your soul? Second, “And believes in Him who sent Me.” To believe on Him is to trust in Him. Do you confide in God as the One who sent His Son to die for you? Third, “Has everlasting life.” Note there is no “perhaps” here. All who believe
have God’s great gift of life eternal Fourth, “Shall not come into judgment.” All that our sins deserved was borne by Jesus, so no believer will ever have to meet God in judgment about the guilt of the past. Fifth, “Has passed from death into life.” All who have thus come to God as revealed in Christ are born again.
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Verily, verily, message ever new,
He that believeth on the Son, ‘tis true,
Hath everlasting life.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
Just as physical life is sustained by bread, so we live spiritually as we feed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. This involves personal faith in Him and daily meditation upon what God has revealed concerning Him. In this way the soul feeds on the living Bread. The manna of old typified Him who came down from Heaven and took the lowest place on earth that He might give life and strength to all who would receive and feed upon Him. But it is not only Christ in incarnation who is thus presented. He had to die in order that He might give His flesh for the life of the world. When He is appropriated by faith the believer receives divine life and stands before God justified from all things. Henceforth the new nature delights in Him, and finds its highest occupation in the contemplation of His perfections.
Jesus, of Thee we ne’er would tire:
The new and living food
Can satisfy our heart’s desire,
And life is in Thy blood.
If such the happy midnight song
Our prisoned spirits raise,
What are the joys that cause, ere long,
Eternal bursts of praise!
On the last day. that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.
The gift of the Holy Spirit, indwelling each believer, was dependent upon the glorification of the Lord Jesus, following His sacrificial death and His triumph and resurrection. The Spirit has come to witness to these great truths. He has taken up His abode in all who have believed the gospel, and henceforth He is the power of the new life and the One who leads us out in testimony to the world. On our part we need to be very careful to deal with anything that would grieve Him or dishonor the Lord Jesus whom He delights to glorify. For it is only when He is unhindered by hidden or overt sin that He is free to do the work in which He delights—revealing the precious things of Christ to the soul that they may be shared with others.
How changed is life since now I see—
O blessed truth—Christ lives in me!
His Spirit fills me day by day,
And, as I yield, directs my way.
I need not cry in times of strife
For Him to come into my life,
For He is there since I believed
And Christ’s atoning work received.
Yea, even when my coolness grieves,
God’s Holy Spirit never leaves.
A God Omnipotent and Great,
The Bless’d and Only Potentate,
The Lord of lords and King of kings,
Creator of all living things—
What humbling on my Saviour’s part
That He should dwell within my heart!
—Barbara E. Cornet
I am the good shepherd.
John 10:11, 14
The shepherd character of our Lord Jesus Christ is delightful to contemplate. We were all as sheep going astray, until through grace we returned to the Shepherd and overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). But we would never have returned at all unless He in His love had sought and found us (Luke 15:4-7). Now having made us His own He undertakes to carry us safely home. He makes Himself responsible to supply all our needs; to guide us through this desert way and to see that we have everything our souls require in order that we may grow in grace and glorify Him in all our ways. Surely the least we can do is to rely upon His love and wisdom and thus be able to say with happy confidence, “I shall not want.”
O Thou great all-gracious Shepherd,
Shedding for us Thy life’s blood,
Unto shame and death delivered,
All to bring us nigh to God!
Now our willing hearts adore Thee,
Now we taste Thy dying love,
While by faith we come before Thee,
Faith which lifts our souls above.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Two very precious truths are unfolded in these words of our Lord to Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Death does not end all. When Jesus returns as the Resurrection and the Life all who have died in Christ will live again, raised up from the dead in the likeness of Him who died for them and rose again. Those who still abide in the body in that day shall never die, but will be changed in a moment and caught up to meet the descending Savior in company with all the risen saints. This is our blessed hope. Do we believe it? When faith lays hold of this glorious revelation all things become new.
TODAY? Perhaps! Perhaps today
The Lord may come and catch away
His ransomed Church, His blood-bought Bride,
To take her place at His blest side;
When dead and living saints shall share
One trumpet summons to the air.
Perhaps today! Yes! He may come
And call us to our Heavenly Home—
That wondrous place beyond compare
Which He, in love, doth now prepare.
Our Father’s house! How sweet, how blest,
To be for evermore at rest!
Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
The highest exercise of which the human spirit is capable, once touched by divine grace and regenerated by omnipotent power, is worship, which involves adoration, praise, and implicit devotion. Men may attempt to exalt love of mankind above love to God. But actually the second table of the law finds its basis in the first. He who loves God supremely will love his neighbor unselfishly. The breaking of the alabaster box released the pungent spikenard whose ravishing odor filled all the house. When the best is lavished on the Lord Jesus, forces are freed which make fragrant every department of human life.
The natural heart cannot understand the outpouring of love for Christ. It was Judas who began complaining and so infected the other disciples with the same spirit of fault finding (John 12:4). But the Lord Jesus understood the love that prompted Mary’s act and He valued it accordingly. He delights in a heart wholly devoted to Himself.
Lord, as we bless Thee for Thy love
So world-embracing!—So divine!
May our hearts burn within us, till
The fire within shall burn and shine,
Consuming all the dross of self,
All thought of ease; all lesser love;
Until on earth we do Thy will
E’en as the seraphs do above.
—Margaret E. Barber
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
Preferment in the kingdom of Christ depends not on self-seeking, nor is it achieved by worldly methods. He who would be honored of God in the day when His Son will be acknowledged as King of kings and Lord of lords must be willing to follow Him in His lowly path of unrequited service for the blessing of a needy world. Following Jesus is not following Him
into His heavenly home. It is following Him
out of His Heaven, down into a world of sin and wretchedness, taking the path of humbleness and readiness to be rejected by men. In this way we portray the spirit of Christ to those who do not know Him. It is only in this way that we can represent our Master, the ultimate Servant, correctly. And in order to do this we must first yield ourselves to Him. We cannot live a Christian life until we have a Christian life to live. There is a Life by which we live. And there is a life we are called upon to live. We obtain life only by faith in Him who gave Himself a ransom for all We reveal that life as we yield ourselves to Him as Lord.
Christ never asks of us such busy labor
As leaves no time for resting at His feet;
The waiting attitude of expectation
He oft-times counts a service most complete.
And yet He does love service, where ‘tis given
By grateful love that clothes itself in deed;
But work that’s done beneath the scourge of duty,
Be sure He gives to such but little heed.
Then seek to please Him, whatsoe’er He bids thee,
Whether to do, to suffer, or lie still;
‘Twill matter little by what path He led us,
If in it all we sought to do His will.
Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore Fie said, “You are not all clean.”
The washing of the disciples’ feet by the Lord was more than a lesson in humility, though it was that. It was a wondrous picture of what He has been doing for His own ever since He went back to Heaven. It was written of Him, “He will guard the feet of His saints” (1 Samuel 2:9). His present service is just that. He is keeping our feet clean by “the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26), while we are exposed to the defiling things of this world. We have been bathed once for all by the washing of regeneration. We need daily to be cleansed as to our ways that we may enjoy fellowship with Him who has redeemed us to Himself. As the girded Servant He undertakes to do this for us. Let us not seek to thwart Him by saying, as Peter did in his ignorance “You shall never wash my feet!”
Girded with the golden girdle,
Shining as the mighty sun,
Still His pierced hands will finish
All His work of love begun.
On the night of His betrayal,
In the glory of the throne,
Still with faithful patience washing
All defilement from His own.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
The new commandment, “That you love one another,” is all-embracing. “Love,” we are told, “is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). No one who truly loves his neighbor will ever be guilty of willfully breaking any of the commandments that set forth man’s duty to his fellow. We do not disobey parents when love is in exercise. We will not steal from those we love, nor will we lie about or defame them. To kill or corrupt by uncleanness would be unthinkable, and covetousness too is ruled out, for if I love my brother I do not want his goods, but rather rejoice in his possessions. But such love is not human. It is divine, and is only imparted by the Holy Spirit: so it is as we love God, the unseen, that we love our brothers also (1 John 4:20). Therefore where love rules, we are not under the law. We do not love in order to obtain merit, or to win the divine favor, but because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the indwelling Spirit, after we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1-5) and regenerated by the word of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:23-25). God is love. It is His very nature, and the man who is born again has become a partaker of that nature (2 Peter 1:4). So love is as characteristic of the real Christian as apples are characteristic of an apple tree.
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
This is the Lord’s word to His own redeemed ones. Such are destined to share with Him the joy and gladness of the Father’s house which is the eternal home of all the heavenly saints. He who has gone to prepare this place of rest and unbroken fellowship is coming again in person to receive those purchased by His blood. Centuries have elapsed since the promise was given, “I will come again,” but He has not forgotten. Soon He will descend from Heaven with an awakening shout and we who know Him as our Savior and Lord shall be caught up to meet Him in the air.
So I am watching quietly
Whenever the sun shines brightly
I rise and say,
Surely it is the shining of His face,
And look unto the gate of His high place
Beyond the sea,
For I know He is coming shortly
To summon me.
And when a shadow falls across the window
Of my room,
Where I am working my appointed task,
I lift my head to watch the door and ask,
If He is come?
And the Spirit answers softly
In my home,
“Only a few more shadows,
And He will come.”
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
It is all-important that we recognize in Jesus not simply a great teacher or a religious leader who, having found God for himself, could now point out the right way to others. He is far more than one who showed the way. He is Himself the Way the Truth, the Life. The authority with which He spoke was the very voice of God, who had become incarnate in Jesus. He who subsisted in the form of God from eternity had divested Himself of His glory and taken the servant’s form that He might become the propitiation for our sins and that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9-10). He spoke with authority because He had come to reveal the mind of God; and though in humiliation He chose to be subject in all things to the Father’s will, the very words He uttered were those the Father gave Him. All His works too were in the power of the Holy Spirit, to whom He yielded Himself for service, choosing to learn obedience by the things which He suffered. He who had always commanded became the obedient Servant in order to carry out the counsels of the Godhead in all perfection.
By Thee, O God, invited,
We look unto the Son,
In whom Thy soul delighted,
Who all Thy will hath done;
And by the one chief treasure
Thy bosom freely gave,
Thine own pure love we measure,
Thy willing mind to save.
O God of mercy—Father,
The one unchanging claim,
The brightest hopes, we gather
From Christ’s most precious name;
What always sounds so sweetly
In Thine unwearied ear,
Has freed our souls completely
From all our sinful fear.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.
Men talk of choosing a career, selecting a profession, or deciding what trade to follow; and often the ministry of the Word is put on the same level as what are commonly called the learned professions. But actually, it is not the servant of God who chooses his path. It is Christ who calls by His grace and who fits His servants by divinely bestowed gifts for the work of ministering His truth to others.
Jesus selected and called the twelve. Why Judas was included must remain a mystery beyond human understanding, though we know it was that Scripture might be fulfilled (John 6:70; 17:12).
It has often been said that the disciples were not college or seminary trained men, but what school could offer so rich a curriculum today as these men enjoyed during three-and-a-half years of intimate association and holy fellowship with Him who was both Jehovah’s Servant and their Lord?
A disciple is a learner: an apostle is a sent one, a missionary. The twelve were both. They learned of Jesus. They were sent forth by Him to carry the message to others. During the days of His flesh, that ministry was confined to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the chosen nation. In resurrection our Lord extended its scope to embrace “all the world.”
Go, labor on; spend and be spent,
Thy joy to do the Father’s will;
It is the way the Master went;
Should not the servant tread it still?
Go, labor on; enough, while here,
If He shall praise thee, if He deign
Thy willing heart to mark and cheer:
No toil for Him shall be in vain.
Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice;
For toil comes rest, for exile home;
Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom’s voice,
The midnight peal: “Behold, I come!”
In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.
terribly do they dishonor God who tell us that angels, apostles, the mother of Jesus, or other eminent saints are necessary as go-betweens in order that we may receive of the Father! Even our Lord Jesus Himself tells us the Father gives out of the love of His own heart. It is not necessary to have someone as a special pleader on our behalf, “The Father Himself loves you.” How blessed to realize this, and so to go to Him with implicit confidence, assured that He delights to do for us everything that is consistent with His holy purpose and therefore which will be for our good.
If you had been living when Christ was on earth,
And had met the Saviour kind,
What would you have asked Him to do for you.
Supposing you were stone blind?
The child considered, and then replied,—
“I expect that, without doubt,
I’d have asked for a dog, with a collar and chain,
To lead me daily about.”
And how often thus, in our faithless prayers,
We acknowledge with shamed surprise,
We have only asked for a dog and a chain,
When we might have had—opened eyes.
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
Sanctification is two-fold; positional and practical. All believers are sanctified (that is, set apart to God) by the one offering of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in this sense, “perfected forever” (Hebrews 10:10, 14). But we are called to walk in conformity with our place in Christ. This is practical sanctification and by the Word of truth ministered to the heart in the power of the Holy Spirit. In our Lord’s high-priestly prayer in John 17 He stresses the importance of this. He set Himself apart to go to the cross and to the throne that our hearts might be occupied with Him where He now is, in order that we might be separated from all that is of the world.
There amidst the joy eternal
Is the Man who went above,
Bearing marks of all the hatred
Of the world He sought in love.
He has sent us here to tell
That His love is changeless still.
He has sent us, that in sorrow
And in suffering, toil and loss,
We may learn the wondrous sweetness,
The deep mystery of His cross—
Learn the depth of love that traced
That blest path across the waste.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Jesus did not deny that He would have a kingdom in this world. The prophets of old predicted the triumph of the kingdom of God, administered by the Son of man (Daniel 7:13, 14) in this lower universe. But when that day dawns it will not be a dominion of the present world order. It will be a heavenly kingdom set up on earth. Not by man’s power, as through armies and carnal weapons, will His authority be set up and maintained. God the Father will give Him the throne of David when the appointed hour shall strike. Then He will rule the nations with the inflexible rod of righteousness, and His saints will reign with Him, thus sharing His glory.
l.o! He comes, from heaven descending,
Once for favored sinners slain!
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train!
Jesus comes, and comes to reign!
See the Saviour, long expected,
Now in solemn pomp appear!
And His saints, by man rejected,
All His heavenly glory share.
See the Son of God appear!
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit
“It is finished!” It was only one word of the Greek that Jesus uttered but it told of a completed work to which nothing now can be added. There on the cross He bore the full penalty for sin. He paid the price in full. The anxious sinner seeking salvation has nothing to do but believe the message in order to enter into peace. Nothing can be added to a finished work. To attempt to add to it is but to spoil it. The debt is paid, sin is atoned for. The guilty soul is instantly cleansed from every stain and justified freely by His grace when he puts his trust in Jesus and rests upon that finished work.
Nothing to pay?—no, not a whit:
Nothing to do?—no, not a bit;
All that was needed to do or to pay,
Jesus has done in His own blessed way.
Nothing to do?—no, not a stroke;
Gone is the captor, gone is the yoke:
Jesus at Calvary severed the chain,
And none can imprison His freeman again.
Nothing to settle?—all has been paid;
Nothing of anger?—peace has been made:
Jesus alone is the sinner’s resource,
Peace He has made by the blood of His cross.
Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
Neither John nor Peter knew that Jesus was to rise from the dead. Although He had told His disciples very definitely that He would be brought back to life on the third day, their minds were unable to grasp it. But the evidence of the grave-cloths (not “clothes,” as in the kjv) was too convincing to be doubted. They lay in that crypt not folded up, as many have thought, but “folded together,” just as they had enswathed His body, but like a cocoon from which the butterfly had emerged. The disciples knew that no power on earth could have removed that body and left the grave-cloths undisturbed. It was the resurrection power of God which alone had wrought this stupendous miracle. They had no choice but to believe.
O joyful day! O glorious hour!
When Jesus, by almighty power,
Revived and left the grave;
In all His works behold Him great,—
Before, almighty to create, Almighty now to save.
The first-begotten from the dead,
He’s risen now, His people’s Head,
And thus their life’s secure:
And if, like Him, they yield their breath,
Like Him they’ll burst the bonds of death,
Their resurrection sure.
So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
Sometime on the day of the resurrection the Lord had a private interview with Peter. He sent him a special message by the women early in the morning (Mark 16:7), but He appeared personally to him later (Luke 24:34). A veil has been drawn over the scene of that sacred interview, but we cannot doubt it was the means of restoring his soul and of reassuring the failing disciple’s heart. Now we learn of his public restoration and his confirmation in the office of apostle. That experience by the lakeside was one that Peter would never be able to forget in future years. It revealed, as nothing else could, the tender consideration of the Lord whom he had denied three times, who now led him on to a three-fold confession of his faith and love. Further, the Lord assured him that some day he would go, for His name’s sake, both to prison and to death. Never again would Peter be ashamed to own his connection with the Lord Jesus. On the contrary, he was yet to drive home with telling effect the fact that all blessing, for time and eternity, was to be found in Him (Acts 4:12), and that even the great sin of denying and crucifying the Holy One and Just (Acts 3:14, 15) might be fully forgiven if the guilty offender would but turn to God in repentance and seek remission of sins in His name (Acts 2:38; 3:19). By this experience too the rest of the apostles would realize that there was no further reason to treat their erring brother with any degree of reserve; for if the Christ, whom he had denied, thus openly expressed His confidence in him, they too might consider him as fully restored to the office he seemed to have forfeited.
My great, my wise, my never-failing Friend,
Whose love no change can know, nor turn, nor end!
My Saviour-God! who gavest Thy life for me
Let nothing come between my heart and Thee!
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Four times in this chapter we read that “He was taken up.” God has highly exalted Him who stooped to the death of the cross for our redemption. Now He sits in highest glory at the Father’s right hand, the Man of patience, waiting for the hour when He is to return to the scene of His sufferings, first to claim His chosen bride and then to reign in righteousness over all the world. In that day of His power “He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). The time draws nigh. Therefore let us labor on in faith while we await His return. The very fact that the hour of the second advent is not revealed should keep us on the alert, ever expecting to hear His shout, and to be called to meet Him in the air.
But whether it be noontide, or whether it be night,
Or whether at the morning’s dawn or in the evening’s light,
When we shall see His blessed face and clasp those pierced feet,
And mount with Him above the sky, then is our joy complete.
Yes, “satisfied,” thrice “satisfied,” to in His likeness wake,
To dwell with Him thro’ countless years when that glad morn
When He will come again.
—M. E. Rae
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
It is all-important to understand what took place at Pentecost. There had been many Pentecosts in Israel’s history, for it was an annual feast celebrating the beginning of the harvest, but all these were types. The Pentecost of Acts 2 was the fulfillment of the type. On that day God began a new work of taking out a special people to Himself, from Jews and Gentiles, to form the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit came that day as a divine Person to indwell believers and to baptize them into one body. He came too to empower them for service as a redeemed and cleansed people so that the message of the gospel might be carried to the ends of the earth. Strictly speaking, there can never be another Pentecost, any more than there can be another Passover owned by God since Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. But it is necessary for each believer to recognize and yield to the Spirit who came at Pentecost if he would be a witness in power to a lost world.
Before the coming of the Spirit the apostles were so many individuals as yet unfilled for the great task allotted to them. After that momentous event they were members of the body of Christ, endued with power from on high to go forth to proclaim the gospel message to the ends of the earth.
The Comforter, now present,
Assures us of Thy love;
He is the blessed earnest
Of glory there above:
The river of Thy pleasure
Is what sustains us now,
Till Thy new name’s imprinted
On ev’ry sinless brow.
The promise is to you and to your children.
It is a recognized principle, running through all dispensations, that God desires to save the households of His people. Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his house (Hebrews 11:7), and God said to him, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). Of Abraham the Lord declared, “I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19). David said, “You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come” (2 Samuel 7:19). The promise to the Philippian jailer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
O Thou who gave them, guard them—those wayward little feet,
The wilderness before them, the ills of life to meet.
My mother-love is helpless, I trust them to Thy care!
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, oh, keep me ever there?
The faith I rest upon Thee Thou wilt not disappoint;
With wisdom, Lord, to train them my shrinking heart anoint.
Without my children, Father, I cannot see Thy face;
I plead the blood-stained lintel, Thy covenant of grace.
Oh, wonderful Redeemer, who suffered for our sake,
When o’er the guilty nations the judgment-storm shall break,
With joy from that safe shelter may we then meet Thine eye,
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, my children, Lord, and I.
Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. “And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
The “signs of an apostle” (2 Corinthians 12:12), that is, the ability to work miracles in the name of the risen Christ, followed close upon the Pentecostal endowment in order to confirm the apostles as the direct, authorized representatives of the glorified Lord. When He was on earth and His mission confined to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24), He gave them similar powers, but in resurrection these were confirmed and enlarged. Such gifts were not promised to all believers, but to “those who believe” of the apostolic company (Mark 16:17, 18). And so we see Peter, once cravenly denying his Lord, now not only boldly confessing Him, but doing mighty deeds in His name. He bore testimony to the might of the One whom Jew and Gentile had united to crucify, but who had been raised from the dead by the power of God.
All blessing for mankind is bound up in the risen Christ. He sits now exalted at the Father’s right hand to dispense riches of grace to all who come in His name, owning their need and confessing their sin. The healing of the man lame from his birth was in order to demonstrate the power and authority of the name of the Lord Jesus.
We see Thee, Lord, vacate Thy home—
That scene immune from blight,
To visit man in all his woe,
To save him from his plight.
Thy love to us constrained Thee, Lord,
To suffer, bleed and die,
That we, redeemed with Thine own blood
Might dwell with Thee on high.
Rejected here and put to death
By those whom Thou didst love,
Thou art no more in Person here,
But in bright courts above.
—C. C. Crowston
And said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
In the seventh chapter of Acts we have Stephen’s address when called to witness before the Jewish Council. He traces all Jehovah’s ways with His people from Abraham to Christ and leads us in spirit by the God of glory (v.2) up to the glory of God (v.55). When he falls smitten by the stones hurled by his cruel murderers he exclaims with rapture, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Elsewhere, after the ascension of our Lord, He is set forth as
the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. Here He is standing as though bending eagerly forward to welcome His faithful witness and to express His deep sympathy with him in his suffering. Such is His attitude toward His persecuted saints. How blessed to know that His love is unfailing and His welcome sure! Meantime His protecting care is over us.
Safely covered with His feathers—
Oh, the blest security!—
Sheltered from all kinds and weathers,
Covert from the enemy.
In all confidence abiding,
‘Neath His strong protecting wings,
Oh, how sweet is such confiding,
While the trustful spirit sings.
Covered? Yes, as He can cover.
Sheltered? Who could shelter thus?
O’er His own His love doth hover—
His, because of Calv’ry’s cross.
Covered, trusting, watching ever.
Knowing there is nought to fear,
Sweet the confident assurance
While His coming draweth near.
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
The Pentecostal gift of the Spirit was not granted to these Samaritan converts immediately. They came of a schismatic group who were intensely jealous of their own claims to being the chosen people, as were the Jews to the south of them. They had to learn definitely that “salvation is of the Jews” as our Lord had declared (John 4:22), so they had to wait until the apostles came from Jerusalem before they were baptized into the one body of Christ.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is to be distinguished both from new birth by the Spirit and from the gifts of the Spirit. All believers are born of the Spirit, by the Word of God when they believe the gospel (1 Peter 1:23-25). The gifts of the Spirit are the graces or talents He divides “to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11), in order that we may work for God in our various spheres. But the gift of the Spirit is the Holy One Himself, who indwells believers and by whose baptism we are made members of Christ and so added to the Lord.
“One spirit with the Lord;”
Oh, blessed, wondrous word!
What heavenly light, what pow’r divine,
Doth that sweet word afford!
“One spirit with the Lord;”
Jesus, the glorified,
Esteems the Church for which He bled,
His Body and His Bride.
And though by storms assailed
And though by trials pressed,
Himself our Life, He bears us up,
Right onward to the rest.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
The conversion of Saul of Tarsus was, as every true conversion is, a supernatural event. Brought face to face with the risen, exalted Christ, he saw himself a poor, guilty sinner (1 Timothy 1:15, 16), who had been fighting against his own best interests in resisting the claims of the Lord Jesus, Repentant and subdued, he yielded himself in whole-hearted allegiance to the One he had spurned, counting all things but loss for Christ (Philippians 3:7-8). Some such crisis there must be in the lives of all who are saved, unless indeed they had trusted Jesus so early in life that they have never been consciously His enemies. But they too are called to a complete surrender to His will when in years of maturity they recognize that He is not only Savior but Lord.
It is evident that Saul had known considerable soul-searching as indicated in the expression, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). Like an obstinate ox he had been injuring himself while resisting the authority of the Lord. Convinced at last of his error in the past, there was instant surrender to the claims of the risen Christ.
I was journeying in the noontide,
When His light shone o’er my road;
And I saw Him in that glory—
Saw Him—Jesus, Son of God.
All around, in noonday splendor,
Earthly scenes lay fair and bright;
But my eyes no more behold them,
For the glory of that light.