The Hour Which Stands Alone
“Father, the hour is come” (John 17:1)
The hour which stands alone in history was at hand. To that hour all the centuries preceding had looked forward. To that hour all the centuries succeeding look back. That hour is the centre of all time and the centre of all eternity. The enemies of our Lord had sought again and again to take Him, but they had failed. The time had not come for Him to deliver Himself up. And no man could take His life from Him. He had “power to lay it down” and He had “power to take it again.”
But now His earthly pathway is ending. His farewell ministry to and for His own is being given. Judas the betrayer has gone out, the Lord having said to him, “That thou doest, do quickly.”
The judgment of the world has been pronounced (John 12:31). The Lord has pictured for His disciples His present ministry in the typical action of washing their feet (13:1-8), for loving “His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end”—all the way through—and would have them know even now the blessedness of “part with Him” in communion and service.
He has unfolded before them the blessedness of the Father’s house—to which He was going in order to open it up for them, so that He might have the joy of their being with Himself—and that theirs might be the joy of being with Him in that home of light and love.
But meanwhile they were to be left in the world which had rejected Him and He prepares them by His communications for a path of suffering and rejection, saying, “Now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass ye might believe”—adding, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you,” as in His grace He had done previously, “for the Prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.”
Defeated in the wilderness, Satan, the prince of this world, was about to return to the attack with all the power of death and all the forces of evil available through the hatred and malice and envy of men. But he had nothing in Christ. There was no vulnerable point in the holy Son of God, as there is in us. All the waves of Satanic power would hurl themselves against Him in vain, for
“Spotless, undefiled and pure,
The Great Redeemer stood.”
And all the crushing which He endured would only bring out the sweetness of the odour of those moral perfections which were ever in Him.
As another has shown, it is the anti-type of the meat offering baken in a pan (Lev. 2) “It shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil. Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon.” It was not only of fine flour, unleavened, mingled with oil in the making of it—our holy Lord in His holy nature, untainted by sin in any form—conceived by the Holy Ghost and anointed by the Holy Ghost, but when “parted in pieces” it was to be “anointed with oil.” All would be seen to be in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the awfulness of the breakup at the end of His perfect pathway this should be manifested in fullness.
Satan tested Him anew, Disciples fled (one having betrayed Him and another having denied Him). Jew and Gentile took counsel together against Him. In the hours of His mock judgment and scourging and crucifixion they sneered and spurned, disdained and derided Him. Then it was that His moral perfections were displayed as never before. He would pray for His murderers. He would comfort and care for His mother, He would open paradise to the repentant thief. He would ascribe holiness to God, saying, “Thou art holy” even when forsaken on our behalf. He was glorifying God in the fires of His wrath.
The true “Breadcorn” was “bruised,” the Stone was “tried,” the fat (the hidden perfection of the sacrifice) was brought to light (Gen. 4:4; Lev. 3:16), the cake was “broken in pieces.” Through the Eternal Spirit He “offered Himself without spot to God.”
When tested or troubled we are in danger of manifesting irritation and selfishness. Our imperfections become exhibited. In our Lord every footfall was for the glory of God, and told the story of grace to man. Above and beyond all there was witnessed what His life had declared, “I love the Father.”
The “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” of Luke 2:49. The “I do always those things that please Him,” of John 8:29. The “Even so, Father,” of Matthew 11:26. The “Father, glorify Thy Name,” of John 12:28. The “Abba Father not what I will, but what Thou wilt,” of Mark 14:36. These and all else had borne witness, and their witness agreed together that in love to the Father He had come down from heaven to do His will and glorify His Name. The cross gave its testimony. It was the solemn “Yea and Amen” to all that had been uttered before. In view of it He could say, “I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” Then, “Arise, let us go hence,” is His word to His own. Leaving the supper table with its precious ministry in act and word to His own, He would go to Gethsemane, to Gabbatha, to Golgotha and by way of these to the glory of God.
He would go thus to prepare a place for His loved ones, according to the will of His Father, accomplishing His pleasure. Thus He opened the way in righteousness for the fulfilment of the Father’s counsels of grace to have us in His house in the company and likeness of Christ Himself.
Now that we are at rest through His accomplished atonement, we delight to trace His hallowed pathway while we await His glad coming again. “Lord, haste the day!”