John vi. 33-35
Communion and Intercession.
IN John vi. 33-35, Christ is presented in a two-fold aspect—as the "Bread of God" and as the "Bread of life." We are apt to dwell on the latter aspect, as that which, concerns ourselves; but in worship, Christ as the "Bread of God" is the highest thought. The fire descending from heaven and consuming the burnt-offering on Israel's altar was an emblem of God's delight in the sacrifice of Christ, when He offered Himself without spot unto God.
God's delight in Christ can never cease; and this is brought before us in the continual burnt-offering of Num. xxviii. 1-3, "My offering, My bread for My sacrifices made by fire, a sweet savour unto Me, shall ye observe to offer unto Me in their due season . . . two lambs of the first year without spot, day by day, a continual burnt offering."
In Genesis xviii. we read of the first feast that was spread before the Lord: "And the Lord appeared unto Abraham in the plain of Mamre, and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. And he lift up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood by him." Abraham runs with joy and alacrity of heart to meet them. He was a pilgrim at his tent door, ready for the appearing of his Lord. He bowed himself and said, "My Lord, pass not away, I pray Thee, from Thy servant." It reminds us of the word of the disciples at Emmaus, "Abide with us." The Lord never forces Himself upon us; His love is never unseemly; but He hears the prayer of any who now say, like Abraham, "Pass not away. . . . Comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on," Abraham says. What fellowship! What knowledge of the mind of the Lord! Is He not with us to comfort our hearts, and to comfort His own heart in leading our praises? Through His merit and the sweet savour of His offering, our praises ascend, to the glory of God.
"Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal," was Abraham's word to Sarah. In Matt. xiii. the same quantity of meal is mentioned by our Lord, when He foretells in parable, the corruption of Christianity, as signified by the permeating power of the leaven; but here, there is no leaven. "And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good." This reminds us of the prodigal's portion.
Having provided the feast for his heavenly guests, "he stood by them under the tree." It is a mystic scene, and that tree has a deep meaning. Our feast-day in the Lord's presence, on the Lord's-day, must be "under the tree"; it must be under the shadow of His Cross, under that apple tree whose fruit is sweet to our taste; Peter is the only apostle who uses the expression "the tree" for the Cross—"Who His Own self, bare our sins in His Own body on the tree"; and the Cross seems to be thus called with reference to the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden.
Afterwards we have these wondrous words, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" Shall I hide it from the man who met me at the tent door, who hastened to fetch a morsel of bread, at whose hands I have received the feast?
If we desire to know the mind of the Lord, we must learn to welcome Him as did Abraham. "And Abraham drew near"—here is communion—and said, “Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" Is he thinking about a blessing for himself? No; he is thinking about the poor world, about his poor brother Lot, and he longs to save him. Thus, shall we have the heart of Abraham in intercession for the perishing world, if we are in communion with the heart of God.