JN. 4: 34; 9: 1-7; ISA. 6: 8; ROM. 10: 15; JN. 20: 21.
Jottings of an Address at Teignmouth, December 3rd, 1938.
THE thought of being sent is before us in these Scriptures. We may to some extent be serviceable to the Lord, but to be sent involves that we are completely at His will and have no other thought or object. It is seen perfectly in Christ in John's gospel, and we learn everything from Himself and in Himself. So in chapter 4: 34, when the disciples would suggest other sources of strength and support, Jesus says, ''My food is, that I should do the will of him that has sent me, and that I should finish his work." We are very little in the appreciation of that path, and are very little like it, for reserves and incompletion often mark us.
John 9 suggests that it is in nature unknown; naturally, we have no eyes to see or appreciate it. It is not the sin question here, but what we are as born into this world, blind to all that is spiritual. There is the sin question, and it has to be raised and settled by the gospel. The disciples suggest the sin question as the cause of this man's blindness, but Jesus says, ''Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents (i.e., that he was born blind): but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.'' The necessity for the work of God is in view; it begins in John 3, in being born anew, but more has to be done in us; the works of God have to be completed. ''While it is day" suggests the present moment, the day of opportunity. We are to come under the service of Christ while it is day; the night comes, and the day will close. We need to be stirred up; the work of God in us is to be done now while it is day. Many believers think that much of the work of God will be completed in the future, but this is not so; it is to be done now. How important to surrender ourselves to it!
This man in John 9 is doubtless a picture of a believer, but the sin question is not in view here. Other gospels treat of that in relation to blind men, but they are not said to be born so. Here it is a question of being born blind, suggesting what we are in nature; we cannot see what is of God. For this we need spiritual vision. Jesus will serve us if we feel the need; this man felt it and was ready and prepared for all the consequences. He came eventually into the path of one sent. It involved a terrible break with the religious leaders, it even meant being cast out from his former associations.
The thought of being sent shines out in Jesus as the sent One here; He is not said to be sent from Heaven. As a divine Person in Deity, we could not think of Him as sent. He says, ''I am come down from heaven, not that I should do my will, but the will of him that has sent me,'' John 6: 38.
The ointment made of clay and spittle suggests the humanity of Christ. Jesus came here in flesh and blood condition, but that in itself did not give sight; we might say it made man more blind. Unless we move beyond the thought of Christ here in flesh, we do not obtain spiritual vision. But this man was told, ''Go, wash in the pool of Siloam,'' meaning ''sent.'' The word ''Go'' involves absolute and unqualified obedience. We often reason and our minds become active, but this man goes. He himself refers to the fact and the narrative also states it. People often say that they will not accept a thing until they see it, but we do not arrive at the truth in that way; there must be the obedience of faith. This man took the ground of being blind, whereas the religious leaders took the ground of seeing. If we take the ground of being able to judge of spiritual matters on natural grounds, we have no spiritual vision. We may be partially on that line; the measure in which we take the ground of being blind, and obey the commandment of Jesus, is the measure in which we acquire spiritual vision.
The process of washing involves the death of Jesus; the ointment does not give sight. We need not only Christ here, but as having died; it means the removal of everything after the flesh in order to obtain spiritual vision. ''If even we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we know him thus no longer," 2 Cor. 5: 16. That condition has come to a close in His death. We are not stripped of all that is natural while here; there is what is right in nature and God leaves us in it while here, but the natural becomes subservient to what is spiritual. The spiritual is going to remain, the natural will end.
He ''came seeing,'' and eventually he was brought to see nothing less than the glorious Son of God. He is cast out, not wanted by the religious world of that day, but he is found by the Son of God. Thus, in principle, he becomes a sheep and is introduced into all the privileges of chapter 10.
The Scriptures in Isaiah and Romans suggest what is characteristic in those sent. In Isaiah 6, in regard of the prophet himself, Jehovah says, ''Whom shall I send?'' We may think we are not called to any special service, but all are called to special service; God has something for each one of us to do. It is erroneous to limit service to a certain few who preach and teach. The Levites had to serve in relation to the tabernacle, and every male from a month old was numbered for service. In time, it comes into view what our service is, and the necessity for qualification for it. In Isaiah himself, one great thought was availability, and then qualification. The service of a prophet was not a very attractive one; for they were often not wanted, and their words not appreciated. ''Whom shall I send?" God wants somebody; who is ready to go? Jeremiah said he was a child; he could not speak. It is all right to feel our inability, but there is One who enables us.
What shines out in Isaiah is readiness. Can we say in regard to what may come across our path in service, ''Here am I?" It is wonderful to hear Jehovah say, "Who will go for us?'' Does it not suggest Divine Persons working together, though not yet declared in the Old Testament, but now known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, operating together and deigning to use us? It has been said that God can do without us, but He deigns to use us. God is not going to release us; sooner or later we must face whether we are to be wholly for God. Isaiah says, ''Here am I; send me;” this lies at the bottom of the matter, readiness to be sent.
Romans 10: 15 presents the other side of the matter. The preacher may present the mind of God, but he is not able to carry out the service effectively unless he be sent. This accounts for lack of results often. There may be much activity, but no result. Effectiveness lies in whether what we say in service is supported by what we are. Jesus said that He was ''Even the same that which I also say to you,'' John 8: 25. Paul could say to Timothy: ''thou hast been thoroughly acquainted with my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings," 2 Tim. 3: 10.
The teaching in John 9, leads up to the word in chapter 20: 21, "As the Father sent me forth, I also send you." Jesus, in going out of the world, desired to have those who could take His place and be wholly at His will: ''I also send you.'' What a dignity is thus conferred on those whom He sends, involving that the features that marked Him as sent by the Father, are to be continued in His own! Not only in our public service, but in our whole path we are to be marked out as being sent ones.
"Words of Grace and Comfort" 1941