The Conspicuous Christ
Christ, by virtue of His omnipresence, is everywhere; notwithstanding, there are some places in which His presence seems more evident than in others. To some of these particular places your attention is now to be directed. Let us consider how conspicuous Christ appears in the Holy Scriptures, the manger of Bethlehem, the death of the cross, and the throne of sovereignty. There are places where His excellencies shine forth just as clearly, but these will suffice far our present meditation.
The Holy Scriptures
In speaking of the Holy Scriptures, the Lord Jesus said, “They are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). This was His own testimony concerning the content of the Bible. The light that radiates from His blessed personality permeates every part of the Scriptures of Truth. The creation of our first parents, the account of Enoch, the ark and its passage through judgment waters, the call and pilgrimage of the patriarchs, the election of Israel and her journeyings, the tabernacle and the temple with their contents and their service, the exploits and the Psalms of David, the majestic utterances of Isaiah, the moving glorious figures of Ezekiel, and the accumulated prophecies of the Old Testament Canon all combine to exhibit the meaning and the influence of Christ. Like some vast orchestra conducted by the Holy Spirit, these all harmonize in sounding forth the praises of Christ, and by their mighty anthem they acclaim the eternal glories of the Son of God. Scripture, like the mount of transfiguration, provides the occasion for the shining forth of the majesty and glory of God’s Christ.
The Manger of Bethlehem
Some may ask, “What comfort may we derive from the thought of Christ in a cradle?” Simply this, since the manger became the entrance through which He came into this realm of ours, and since He therefore has contacted life in every respect, He can sympathize with us in all our varying experiences. From birth to burial, Christ lived on this same earth surrounded by similar circumstances as we; hence, He is fully competent to succour us, and to strengthen us in all the vicissitudes of daily living. The very things which are the common heritage of the saints are the things that in great measure made up the life of our blessed Lord: poverty and grief, peace and joy.
Poverty: Our unspeakably rich Lord Jesus willingly was born in a home among the poor, the same kind of a family into which many of His people have been born. It is sad that the high degree of material prosperity in western lands, which has brought wealth to so many, has resulted in a carnal ease that forgets the importance of an interest in glorifying God in every aspect of life. Like Israel at the end of the Babylonish captivity, many today are willing to permit the few to carry the responsibility of the Lord’s service while they have their interest in mundane things.
To those who may not have much of this world’s goods, yet have hearts devoted to the Lord Jesus, His life and poverty are an inspiration. Moreover, because of His own experiences while here, He is able to sympathize with them, and to grant for their devotion to Him spiritual compensations which far outweigh any earthly wealth.
Grief: The Lord’s people often find themselves surrounded by sorrow, affliction, and grief. What a consolation it is for all such to know,
“In every pang that rends the heart,
The Man of Sorrows has a part!”
George Whitfield tells about a godly lady who lost her only child. In the realization that she had lost one of the objects of her affection, she said, “The Lord Jesus wants my whole heart; moreover, He shall have it.” Through the conscious realization of the Master’s presence with us, our Bochims become Beulahs; and our Marahs, Films. The Psalmist declares, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength” (Psa. 84:5-7). The pilgrims to “a better country” can, by the alchemy of divine grace, turn the base metal of their grief into the fine gold of the Saviour’s glory.
“Widow Brown says that I always do her good,” said a little girl to her mother. “Well, dear,” enquired the mother, “What do you say to her that does her good?” “I do not say anything; when I see her crying, I too cry, and she says that my tears always do her good.”
Sorrowful child of God, expose your grief to the tears of Him concerning Whom we read, “Jesus wept,” and mystic relief will ensue.
Peace: How profoundly peaceful was our divine Master! His masterly control in every situation sustained Him in a state of perfect serenity. His power over every conflicting influence gave Him inward as well as outward calm. Oh, my brethren, one of His bequests to His own was peace! “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). Peace is not the result of callousness and indifference to adverse happenings in life, but it is rather the outcome of the power and enabling of God to face these very happenings with courage. How encouraged and strengthened Timothy must have been by the attitude of the Apostle Paul to adverse circumstances. Paul could say of them, “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24).
Joy: There was nothing morose or peevish about the perfect Man Christ Jesus. At a time of complete desertion and rejection, the Lord Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Matt. 11:25). Joy, born through contact with heaven, keeps the soul thankful. Along with peace, surely this blessing has been left us in our Lover’s will. Laughter may be only froth; may be as the crackling of thorns under a pot that leaves only white ashes. Heavenly joy is both felicitous and contagious, and leaves the soul experiencing divine contentment.
Through these considerations, we learn again that our beloved Lord Jesus can effectively influence the varied pathways of His people by the force of His own earthly experiences.
The Death of the Cross
More particularly would we fix our attention upon our Lord between His death and resurrection. His body had been tenderly taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb, but His soul, alert and prayerful, was in the unseen world. Listen to His voice from the disembodied state, “Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psa. 16:10). This experience of the Lord Jesus illuminates forever the death-bed of the saints. Christ has passed through the state between death and resurrection; consequently, His people may do so without fear or apprehension. Under this very circumstance, He will accompany His own, and whisper into the heart His promise of comfort, “Be not dismayed for I am thy God.” Every expiring saint of God can respond and say, “I will fear no evil: for Thou are with me.” Each one of His own may, even as He did, anticipate the resurrection and the glory. Death is not an ending, it is an avenue; it is not aterminus, but a thoroughfare over which the ransomed walk. Its sting has been removed, its power broken. So controlled is it in the hands of Christ that it only elevates the soul to God.
The Throne of Sovereignty
What a glorious spectacle, a glorified Man upon the throne of world dominion! This was the subject matter of much of Old Testament writ. This, Moses intimated in some of his mysterious statements. For this, David composed his Psalms and tuned his harp. Isaiah beautifully describes it as resulting in a renovated earth. It is toward this that the groaning creation moves. The cross outside the city was actually the preparation for the throne inside the city. The thorns upon the Saviour’s brow will be replaced by an unfading diadem. The chaos and the conflicts of this age with their devastation will then be at an end. The dastardly movements of some of its tyrants and of their godless confederates will give way before the coronation of God’s King. The old shall give place to the new, and whether the earth is destroyed by the atomic bomb or by the direct intervention of heaven, nothing will thwart the plans of God. He has declared, “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion” (Psa. 2:6). If in Zion the light was darkened at noonday, in Zion, also, He Who is the Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel, shall yet shine with undimmed lustre, and the effulgence of His glory will announce to the universe that this conspicuous place is His both by right of redemption and also by right of conquest.