Some of the Present Activities of our Lord
by Inglis Fleming
The present activities of our Lord are often overlooked. We are happy in knowing that He is a seated Saviour, that the work of atonement is done, that purging of our sins has been effected by Him and that He has set Himself down “at the right hand of the majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).
But our Lord not only died for us, He lives for us, that we may be saved by His present life.
Luke, in writing to Theophilus, speaks of what Jesus “began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). This seems to indicate that the Lord has not ceased these operations, but is active still in blessing through His ministry on high.
In Mark 16 we find this corroborated,
IN THE WORK OF THE GOSPEL
we see Him still engaged. He is the great Evangelist. He had bidden His disciples, “Go. . . into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature . . . And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them” (Mark 16:15, 20).
What encouragement is here! The preacher can go forth in confidence that the Lord is interested in his service, and will work with him through the message given. It is God’s appointed way of blessing and He pleases “through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Thus the preacher may be assured of support in his labour. It may be on one occasion, or on another, that the result may be effected, or it may be every time.
The word in Ecclesiastes 11:6, gives cheer. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening with hold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” “Both alike good.” In the grace of our Lord this may result. In any case it is for the servants to sow, it is the Lord who gives the increase in either this or that—or the other, or in both. We need spiritual energy to go forth and tell the sweet story of salvation being assured that our Lord will work with us.
It may be noted that in this last chapter of Mark we learn of this spiritual energy being shown. Mary Magdalene having seen her risen Lord went and told the disciples.
Again the two, who were going into the country, to whom He appeared went and told of it at once to the others. “Go and tell,” was the word. “They went and told”—the result. Shame will be ours “in that day” if we fail, in our turn, to go and make known the grace which has met us in our need and can meet others in their need.
IN GIVING ETERNAL LIFE
Turning to John 17:1, we are permitted to hear the Son of God, the Son of the Father, telling out His heart’s desires. “Father, glorify Thy Son,” He prays, “that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” The Lord Jesus is now glorified and from that glory where He is He still glorifies the Father. In what way? Does not the next verse show? As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” On the ground of His finished atonement our Lord is active, when the gospel is proclaimed, in giving eternal life to those given Him by the Father.
And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (v. 3). This knowledge of the Father and of the Son is one of the great characteristics of eternal life. It is our greatest privilege even while on earth to be brought into “fellowship with the Father and with His Son,” To have communion thus with them will be our joy in eternity. But it is our privilege to enjoy it in part now, while we wait for its unhindered enjoyment, when in the Father’s house, in the likeness of His Son. That this may be the case and that thus the Father’s heart may be gratified, the Son, from His glory, is giving eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him. Given by the Father to the Son, brought by the Son to the Father, in righteousness, receiving eternal life for present and everlasting enjoyment, this is the believer’s present portion and position. Not only will he “not perish”—that is one thing—but “eternal life” is his—that is altogether different and infinitely greater.
IN WASHING THE FEET OF HIS OWN
In order that we who believe should live in the enjoyment of eternal life and of our sonship privileges, our Lord continues to minister to those to whom He has given eternal life according to the Father’s gracious counsels. In view of this we find His typical action, in John 13, in washing His disciples’ feet. That it was typical teaching we are assured because our Lord said, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” The spiritual bearing of His action would be understood when He was glorified and when the Holy Spirit had come.
“Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” Perfectly, persistently, He loved them. Knowing all that they were, and would be, He loved them. But He was leaving them in the world and was acquainted with all the difficulties which would face them while He was away, gone “unto the Father.”
His heart of deepest affection desired that they should have “part with Him,” even though He were absent. He was therefore about to unfold to them the heavenly privileges of having His joy, His peace, filling their hearts, and of their sharing with Him in these things. For this their feet must be cleansed from earthly defilement, that unhinderedly they might have communion with Him, in His place before the Father, and His place before the world.
Every believer has part in blessing “through” Christ. Every believer has part in blessing “in” Christ. But it is our Lord’s desire that every believer should have “part with Him.”
Thus His ministry goes on today in removing all that hinders us, by His service, direct, or through that of others, by “the washing of water by the word.”
Blessed, gracious Lord! He would take our feet into His pierced hands, in lowliest service for His loved ones, so that our hearts might beat with His own, while we tread the path of faith which leads to the Father’s house on high. May we respond to this love and place our feet in His hands that we may be cleansed, for He has said, “If I wash thee not thou hast no part with Me” (John 13:8).
IN HIS ADVOCACY
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:2). The communion which is our portion, “fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ,” may be lost. Through folly and sin allowed in our heart or life, we may forfeit, for a time, that holy intercourse which should be enjoyed. Therefore the apostle writes to his little children in order that they should not sin. But the fact that he writes this shows that it is possible that they may do so. What then happens? Has the propitiation made in the precious blood of Christ failed in any wise? No! Jesus Christ the righteous, is still with the Father, and He is our abiding righteousness. In virtue of His work for the purgation of our sins at Calvary, He intercedes on our half. He did this for Peter before his downfall and then looked upon him after his denial. That prayer and that look brought about Peter’s true repentance as he “went out and wept bitterly” and Peter was restored and able to strengthen his brethren and witness in power.
For us the effect of our Lord’s gracious advocacy is, that the Holy Spirit brings home to us our sin and sinfulness, and leads us to the full confession to God of these. And “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He is faithful to His purpose, to the relationship into which He has brought us, and faithful to His word. He is just and righteous to forgive, because of the work of His blessed Son in atoning for our souls at the cross.
He does not excuse our sin, for there is no necessity for sin, on our part. He brings us to judge ourselves on account of it, in the light of Calvary. We then see how that sin needed the sufferings and death of our Saviour in order to blot it out. So we learn to loathe sin more and more and to love Him who bore our sins and who now maintains our cause on high, by His gracious intercession. His active love on our behalf is manifested when we sin—not when we have confessed the sin. It is His advocacy which leads to our confession.
IN HIGH PRIESTLY MINISTRY
Though so rich in heavenly privilege and with such glorious prospects as are ours of being with and like our Lord Jesus, yet we find ourselves compassed about with weakness. Our bodies are “bodies of humiliation,” still. We are exposed to sickness and death, hunger and thirst, sorrow and suffering, loss and bereavement, while on our upward, homeward, heavenly road. Thus it is that we need the succour, and the sympathy of our Lord Jesus. “We have such an one, an High Priest,” therefore. His hand has power to succour, His heart has power to sympathise.
He has been tried by all the external sufferings and circumstances which are known to us (never was He tried as we are by the “sin in the flesh” of which we are conscious, for He was “holy, harmless, undefiled”). Seeing this is so, He ever makes intercession for us and ministers to us suited grace and mercy as occasion demands it, giving us the support of His almighty arm that we may come up “out of the wilderness leaning upon” our Beloved. And He ever lives.
Death overtook the Jewish high priests. But our Great Priest lives beyond death in the power of an endless life. And so we read, “He is able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). As it has been put, “He is an all-the-way-home Saviour.”
He is able to save the vilest sinner because He once died for sinners on the cross. He is able to save all-the-way-through, the weakest believer, because He always lives for him. So it is that with fullest confidence we may face the future whatever it may bring for us. His hand will not fail us, “He has said, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,’ so that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’” (Heb. 13:5-6).
He is all-sufficient and sufficient for all the way.
Thus we have traced some of the present activities of our Lord. Our condition here in the world, with the flesh still in us, and the opposition of Satan levelled against our progress and testimony calls for this activity. But the day is coming when He will come for us and present us faultless before the presence of His glory exultingly. Then He will rest in His love for we shall answer in every way to His desire for us, while praise—endless praise will rise from our glad hearts.