Read Isaiah xlix. 1-9; Matthew xi. 23-30.
The Lord Jesus in Trial and Triumph.
IT is difficult for us, Gentiles as we are by nature, to enter into this deep trial of the Lord's life. I don't think there is any expression of sorrow like it in the life of the Lord Jesus. He came to God's beloved people; and that beloved people of God made themselves worse than Sodom in their rejection of Him. He came unto them in tender grace, and He sought them for the Father that He knew so well.
He revealed the Father's Name in all sorts of ways of grace. John had come in the stern way of righteousness; they said he had a devil. Christ was there in all the grace of His blessed heart; come down amongst sinners, yet entirely separate from them—familiar, condescending, free; they said He was a wine-bibber—"a friend of publicans and sinners."
The 49th chapter of Isaiah gives something of the experience of the Lord here in Matthew. Israel was not gathered. He came the minister of the circumcision for the truth of God; to confirm the promises made to the fathers—the unconditional covenant that God had made with Abraham and his seed; confirmed to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob when he was a lonely wanderer from his father's house by his own deliberate sin—beneath the open heaven confirmed to him in grace.
To Israel, the beloved people of God, Christ thus came, and Israel was not gathered—the people of God, that He loved and fain would have gathered. He says, Himself looking upon Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not." No one could have said that but Jehovah of Hosts, and yet,
JEHOVAH OF HOSTS WAS THERE,
with tears in His eyes; the humble, lowly, Son of Man, seeking Jerusalem, and seeking Israel for God, with all the keen heart-pain of One in Whose hand the work seems utterly to fail. It was so outwardly, and the Lord felt it so.
And Jehovah speaks of His Servant to Israel, as we read in Isaiah—at last the Lord Jesus speaks—"Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord; My God shall be My strength." Now, this gives us the key to this portion of God's Word. If you have got that firmly in your mind, this portion unfolds itself at a glance in all its beauty. He finds His perfect rest in the will of God; all that He could wish, He finds in God Himself. Not in the work—precious as the work is—given of God as the work is—but in God Himself.
What a beautiful instance we have of that in the 16th Psalm, with which you are all familiar. The 16th Psalm is the language of the Lord Jesus from beginning to end. He is a man of sorrows it is true, and acquainted with grief, and yet,
HE IS THE HAPPIEST MAN UPON EARTH
in that Psalm. He is delighting in God; He finds all His portion in Him; "the lines," He says, "have fallen to Me in pleasant places." Does that sound like the Man of Sorrows? Like one acquainted with grief? He had not where to lay His head, yet He had "a goodly heritage." How was that? Why, "Jehovah is the portion of My inheritance and My lot"—Jehovah untouched by the failure of Israel; Jehovah untouched by the want of success of the Lord's mission to Israel in that day. Now, try to put yourself into the position of Christ. He has come to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and He sees them scattered on the mountains. He sees that they won't be gathered under His wing; He sees the desolation that is coming upon that beloved city; He sees women eating their own children in the straightness of the siege of that beloved city. Ah! His heart is moved to tears—genuine tears, beloved friends; the Lord really wept, and really felt as a man feels deep down in his soul, who weeps
TEARS OF SORROW.
And now, look at the 25th verse: "At that time"—that juncture at which He had arrived—"Jesus answered (it was the answer to all that passed before His Spirit) and said, I thank Thee," etc. (verses 25, 26). The will of God was absolutely the end of all question to the Lord Jesus Christ. He saw the will of God in that apparent failure of the work that God had put in His hand, like David, when Shimei cursed, He received only from the hands of His Father that which was willed to Him. It was not the fearful cup which He received in Gethsemane, but it was a cup which His Father gave Him; and meekly, humbly, He receives that cup from His Father's hand. "I thank thee," "I thank thee." We find that very hard; because, alas, we fail to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin. And sin comes out in us which was not there in the Lord Jesus. It was sorrow, but it was not sin; yet He thanks His Father. Oh, that will was entirely in abeyance to the good pleasure of His Father. Oh, my brother, had we learnt that,
WHAT A TRIUMPH
would all our life be; just to receive all from His hand; to see His will in all that comes upon us. If Shimei curses—it is an evil and bitter thing, a sin and foul dishonour upon his benefactor—David returns blessing for cursing. He does not look at Shimei, but at God. It may be God has bidden him to curse. He receives it as from God. If you and I had learnt that lesson, we should be more than conquerors in everything, through Him that loveth us. "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Thank God, there were babes to whom God had revealed them. Oh, to be a babe; to learn what the wise and prudent know nothing of; to learn the blessed counsels—the will of God; to get behind the scenes, and to dwell in communion with our God. Thank God, there is many a poor woman, many a poor man, lying on the bed for years who has the secret of the Lord, unknown to the wise and prudent; and oh, what joy such blessed ones find in that sick chamber. What a blessing it is to be brought into communion with God about His gracious purposes, and about Christ Who has made all those purposes good; Who has made possible their accomplishment; blessed be God.
And now, what is the next thing the Lord says? These wise and prudent ones in Israel who had turned their back upon God's mercy—who rejected the most blessed intervention of God, in grace, that had ever been seen—they would not have the Son of God from His very bosom. "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father." He is a lowly Man, you see—an humble One—"Grace is poured into His lips." How perfect was that life before God! What joy God found in His very sanctuary in looking down upon the Lord Jesus Christ. What joy it was to Him to follow that Blessed One out in the morning to the crowds that were around Him in the way, and see how, in everything, He was glorifying His God; thinking of the people of God; feeding the hungry; healing the sick; ministering in every way.
HOW GOD DELIGHTED IN THAT LIFE
which was all one continuous doing of the will of God. Not a restless activity that sometimes characterizes us, but that ceaseless setting of the Lord before Him; finding pleasure in whatever was the will of God, whether it was agreeable to the man walking upon earth or not. "Lo, I am come to do Thy will, O God." "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father." He has all in fellowship with His Father. What a commentary upon that verse, "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father." Think of it, my brother, my sister. "I live by the Father." There was the life of a Man on earth; but He lived by the Father; not two lives going in different directions, but one life flowing evenly on." "I live by the Father;" "I draw all resources from the Father;" "The Words that I speak; the thoughts that I think; the actions I perform—it is the Father who doeth the works." Oh, blessed, dependent One. That was what made such music in heaven whilst the Lord was here upon earth. Upon earth, everyone had done his own will till that blessed One came, and then God's will was done upon earth as it is in heaven; and God looked down,
SATISFIED OF HEART;
and Christ received all direct from Him. He was "God over all," but He had taken the lowly—the dependent place. "Man shall not live by bread alone;" therefore, the Lord Jesus does not provide Himself bread—He leaves it with His Father. He had all authority to execute judgment; but He receives all authority from the Father. "All things are delivered to Me of My Father." "No man knoweth Who the Son is but the Father." Blessed person of the Lord Jesus Christ—that Man doing the will of God from the heart—that Man Who has the law of God written in His heart. Blessed, mysterious Man. Born of a virgin—an holy thing born of her—called the Son of God.
"No man knoweth Who the Son is but the Father." How it rebukes all speculations about the person of Christ. How it hushes all restlessness of nature that would unravel that holy mystery. God help you and me to worship before a mystery we cannot solve. "And no man knoweth Who the Father is save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." Oh, blessed grace. You may know the Father if the Son reveals Him. We do know the Father, for the Son has revealed Him. I beg you will weigh that verse well over in your closets to-night, or your first opportunity, with your eyes upon the Word of the living God, and with your heart open for a present revelation of Christ to you; for the Word of God must be a revelation to the heart. I cannot open the Bible as I open another book and read it over and get what God means me to have by the Word. It must be a revelation. And the blessed Spirit of God is here, and in me (not far to seek) to reveal the deep things of God—to make my soul know, by the revelation of Christ to me, what He is. Oh, I do feel this, beloved friends, very much indeed—how little I have known of this revelation from God from hour to hour as I have opened the Word of God. It is a blessed privilege of yours, of mine, when we open this Book that we should really have,
A REVELATION OF THE TRUTH
direct from God to the soul by the Holy Ghost; direct from the Lord Jesus, who has given the Holy Spirit, that other Comforter, to reveal the things of Christ—to make them living realities to the soul every day. Lord help us. It is possible for you to sit down in your closet, and to take the Word of God, and hear the Lord speak to you. I am not talking of an audible voice, but of a real voice in the heart. It may be. It is no good without that—without the Lord really taking of His Own things, and, by the Spirit, making them known to us.