Brethren Archive

The All-Sufficiency of the Son of God

by Inglis Fleming

Matthew 17

In view of the close of His ministry, and to confirm the faith of His own, the Lord takes Peter, James, and John up into a mountain apart. He separates them from the usual haunts of men in order that they may be free from interruption and learn the thought of God. And let us not forget that we, beloved, have to be separated from the world in ways and spirit if we would enter into the mind of Christ and behold His glory.

There in this “apart” place He is transfigured before them. As someone has said, “The glory salutes Him.” He has trodden His unsullied way for the praise of God, ever doing His holy will and telling out His grace and goodness towards His fallen creatures. Now at the close of His pathway He is as it were invited into that glory, the expression of the immediate presence of God, for He was in all His course in perfect consistency with it.

His face shines as the sun, His raiment is white as the light, His personal glory shines forth, that which was usually veiled is displayed before wondering eyes. Then with Him are seen Moses, the lawgiver, who had died; Elias, the prophet, who had been caught away to heaven without dying, picturing for us both the saints risen from the dead and those who have been changed without dying at His coming (see 1 Cor. 15:15; 1 Thess. 4:15) who will company with Him in His kingdom.

They are, as Luke tells us (chap. 9:31), speaking with Him of His decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. It was this which engaged their attention. That decease had been typified in all the sacrifices offered under the Law of Moses, and by Elias on Carmel, when “at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice” the bullock was killed for a burnt offering. They saw the great Antitype had come, and with Himself they could talk over all that He was about to effect at the cross of Calvary. Peter, delighting in the scene of glory, would fain detain it. He did not realize that the sufferings of Christ must precede the glories that should follow. Thus it was that he cried, “Lord, it is good for us to be here, if Thou wilt let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias.” He was putting the Son on the level of the servants as though all three were equal.

The glory was affronted, as it were, now. The cloud overshadows them, and a voice is heard “from the excellent glory,” saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him.”

Moses, the lawgiver, and Elias, the prophet, must disappear so that the eye may rest upon the Son alone. So when the cloud was gone the disciples saw no man but Jesus only, or as Mark’s Gospel narrates, “Jesus only with themselves.” Yes! He was to be all-sufficing. They had valued, rightly valued, the honoured servants, but now the Son had come and all others must pass from the gaze of faith that He alone may fill their vision. But, wonder of wonders, He the Lord of glory, Creator and Upholder of all, is “with themselves.” In lowly grace He was to be found in their company, and in a little He would go unto death that they might be His companions in life eternally. For “He died for us that . . . we might live together with Him.”

God is jealous for the glory of His Son and will not brook that another should share with Him His glory. In all things He must have the pre-eminence. And do not our hearts, beloved, rejoice in this, in some sense of His greatness, while we joy also in the love that chooses such as ourselves to be with Himself for ever.

Having come down from the mountain, a multitude of people are found in evident distress and difficulty. A grievous sufferer had been brought to the disciples who had remained at the foot of the mountain. They had been unable to heal him. Now the father of the afflicted lad comes at the first opportunity to Christ, and casting himself on his knees before Him cries, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is lunatic and sore vexed: for oft-times he falleth into the fire and oft into the water, and I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him.” The Lord was enough on the mountain’s brow and He is enough at the mountain’s base. He was enough to fill the mind of His loved ones on the highest height, and now He is proved enough to meet the need of His stricken creature in the lowest depth.

“Bring him hither to Me,” He said. If there was not sufficiency in His apostles there was in Himself. With them prayer and fasting had been lacking, and not laying hold of His power they had been found weak in the presence of the foe. But He was all that was needed at this juncture as at every other.

What comfort we have in this! We may have failed in dependence and self-judgment. We may have been lacking in drawing from the almightiness of His resources. But He remains for us to bring to Him the cases which we have found too hard for ourselves. He may have to show us the source of our failure, but He will meet the need and answer the longing cry of the distressed.

“And Jesus rebuked the demon and He departed out of him and the child was cured from that very hour.”

There is nothing too hard for Him. No case is too difficult for Him. No problem for which He has not the solution. He is all-sufficient and sufficient for all and at all times. We find ourselves in a world where Satan’s power is put forth. Clearly or craftily he works on every hand. And in ourselves we are no match for him, whether in seeking our own spiritual well-being or that of others. But Christ abides faithful. Amid all the breakdown in our own lives or in those of others He has not failed nor ever will fail. We can turn to Him ever, and we shall find in Him all that is required.

Oh, for simple faith to take a firm hold of His omnipotence at all times.

“Bring him to Me,” He says of any soul, saint or sinner, whose blessing we seek. It may be that in the case of some loved one, parents and preachers have been unable to help. Then bring him close up to the Master. Let no one intervene. The Saviour suffices for the sinner and the saint alike and they cannot dispense with Him. None other will do to meet the crying necessity. But He will do. He has met the requirement of every one who has come to Him in the past, and what He ever has done He is able to do for each and for all who turn to Himself.

And may we not apply the words, “Bring to Me,” to every matter of trial and difficulty we encounter while on our earthly way? He would have us come to him in all circumstances. And may we not say, indeed, that He orders the circumstances that we may prove Him to be a necessity to us?

He loves to be used by His own and brings to pass events so that we may turn to Himself.

“I had no one to turn to but the Lord,” said one who had found that only He could give the succour called for. The answer from her fellow believer was, “That was a mercy, for if you had had anyone else you would not have turned to him.”

Alas! is it not so? that instead of making our Lord and Master our immediate refuge, we flee in times of storm to this one or to that one, and only when these fail do we seek His aid. And yet He upbraids not but ministers according to His abounding fullness, satisfying our every want.

Coming to the city of Capernaum, Peter is challenged as to whether his Master pays the tribute—the tax for the support of the temple. At once Peter replies, “Yes!” He does not refer the matter to the Lord, but blurts out his assurance that the levy is met.

The Lord shows His omniscience, in that when they had come into the house the Lord anticipated any remark Peter might make or any question he might ask, by His enquiry, “What thinkest thou, Simon?—of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? Of their own children or of strangers? Peter saith unto Him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.” The Son was there. One greater than the temple was in their midst and His glory as Son had but recently been declared upon the holy mount. The disciple had bungled. And was it so that in the bag that Judas carried there was not enough to meet the demand? We know not. But in Christ was all- sufficiency. He is omnipotent. The fish of the sea are at His bidding. All creation is under His command. He who bade the ravens supply a seer’s hunger, who opened the mouth of an ass to rebuke the folly of the prophet, who stopped the mouths of lions in the den of Darius, who prepared a great fish to shelter, and a worm to discipline, an erring servant, He will direct now a fish of the sea to find and furnish the necessary piece of silver.

And His grace towards and thought for a failing disciple are seen in the provision the Lord makes. He says, “Notwithstanding lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea and cast an hook and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth thou shalt find a piece of money: that take and give unto them for Me and thee.”

What perfections are here!

Lest we should offend them.” He would not have the work hindered. He would not have a stone of difficulty put in their way, sinful and perverse though they had shown themselves to be. What perfection of mercy.

Find a piece of money,” and that in a fish’s mouth, and that fish the one that should first come up, the creature hasting to the hook, as it were, to obey the Creator’s call. Perfection of power!

That take and give unto them for Me and thee.” It was a stater, a piece of money of sufficient value to pay the impost for two. He, the Lord of all, will link with Himself His foolish follower as He pays the temple tribute, and lays the fish of the sea under tribute to provide the necessary sum. Perfection of grace!

Thus in all His sufficiency is seen, and in the display of it He has given a picture of the greatness of His goodness towards His own. He associates them with Himself.

And as we may now say, not by an act of might or word of command to a creature but by the infinite sufferings of Calvary. He was alone in His glory, but gave Himself in order to secure many companions. He went into death that we might be with Him in life. He descended into the depths that we might be with Him in the heights. He endured the cross that we might enjoy its consequence. The darkness was His that light might be ours. The distance immeasurable to the finite mind was known by Him that nearness ineffable and eternal might be known by us.


S.T. 1925

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