Let Us Go
When after deep soul-exercise the question of our justification is settled and we are assured of our eternal safety as being before God in Christ, then a practical danger for us as Christians is STAGNATION.
Like the two-and-a-half tribes of Israel that did not go over Jordan into Canaan, we may be content with earthly comfort and fail to go on to the good land and the large land which flows with the milk and honey of God’s good pleasure for His own.
We are called to movement throughout our Christian course. One example of this in Paul the Apostle is seen in Philippians 3. Thirty years after his conversion he is found pressing forward. As a well-trained athlete he is urging on his way. Christ in glory is his goal and he will know no satisfaction until with and like Him there.
Shall we consider some instances of the call for movement. Doing so we may be encouraged to go forward in the things which really matter. With this in view we will refer to some of the invitations in the phrase “Let us go.” The first to which we may turn is that of the shepherds who gave an immediate response to the angelic proclamation of the birth of Christ.
“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem,” they said one to another, “and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us” (Luke 2:15). Faith in the revelation marked them. “And they came with haste.” They saw. They made known to others. They glorified and praised God. In spirit we may go to Bethlehem and view that manger-cradle with that wondrous Babe. The long promised Seed of the woman had come. The virgin had borne the Son. The Son of God eternal had become flesh. The Word had come to tabernacle in the midst of His ruined creation and among His fallen creatures.
“God was manifest in the flesh, seen of angels.” The mystery of the incarnation is great. Faith adores in the Bethlehem stable.
“More just those acclamations,
Than when the angel band
Chanted earth’s deep foundations,
Just laid by God’s right hand.”
The next exhortation and encouragement to which we refer is from the lips of our Lord Himself. His “friend” Lazarus had died. During his illness the sisters, Martha and Mary, had sent to the Lord saying. “He whom Thou lovest is sick.” They were assured of His love. But the Lord tarried until death had taken place with the loved one. Was it not that He awaited His Father’s word to go and until He had the looked-for direction He would not move? The sickness was “not unto death but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” Then in the face of the danger which threatened Him He said, Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there that ye may see and believe—nevertheless LET US GO unto him.” He, the Resurrection and the Life would restore Lazarus to life and health. But that journey to Bethany, to the place of His friend’s death, was but the pathway to the cross. “His hour” was about to strike when He should “depart out of this world unto the Father.” He, the Corn of wheat would die that we might have life—spiritual life. For this He had come “forth from the Father, and come into the world” (John 16:28). He would lay down His life in atonement and then take it again, where He could give us to live in everlasting association with Himself.
At this juncture it is that we get the happiest view of Thomas. His devoted love shines out as he cries out to his fellow-disciples, “Let us also go that we may die with Him.”
He might have to learn, and had to do, that devoted affection could not keep him in the hour of trial, but that he would forsake his Master and flee together with the rest. However, the record of his utterance is given that we may learn his readiness to suffer with his Lord. May we not ask ourselves how far we are ready to go to death with Him? In our baptism we die in figure with Him, being baptised to His death. In the Lord’s Supper we (each for himself) and in communion with each other identify ourselves with His death in the world “showing forth His death until He come” into His rights. But in our practical life do we show that we have died with Christ to the elements of the world? Or in the eyes of others do we seem to be as much alive in the world as they, being as keen after the things of time and sense as “the men of the world which have their portion in this life”?
Here is the test for each one of us. If the enemy cannot hinder our eternal salvation, he will endeavour to hinder our testimony and to lead us to become keen for the things of the passing age. A Christian poet has said,
“There has one Object been revealed on earth
Which might commend the place.
But now ’tis gone.
Jesus is with the Father!”
Thus it is the word comes to us as Christians,
“Let us go forth unto Him without the camp bearing His reproach for here have we no continuing city but we seek one to come.”
This was the cry to Hebrew believers who were still attached to Jerusalem and its temple. In a few years the Romans would destroy both, but as yet they clung to what was visible in connection with the spot “where also our Lord was crucified.”
The call was for decision and action. Christ had been cast out from that city—He had been thrust “outside the camp” and in faithfulness to Him they should go forth unto Him. He was rejected—they should share His rejection, bearing His reproach.
The principle of this is true for us today. An earthly system of religion with its politics and policies, though it bear a Christian name, is to be left. Ours is a heavenly calling. We “are not of the world” even as Christ is not of the world. We are sent into it as Christ’s witnesses while we await His return in glory. The exhortation is heard “set your affections,” your mind, “on things above, not on things on the earth.” Where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, is our place and portion. The reason given is that we have died with Christ and that our life is hid with Him in God (Col. 3:1-3).