Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Now, that continuous operation of Jesus Christ in the midst of men is not to be weakened down to the mere continued influence of the truths which He proclaimed, or the Gospel which He brought. There is something a great deal more than the diminishing vibrations of a force long since set in operation, and slowly ceasing to act. Dead teachers do still rule our spirits from their urns'; but it is no dead Christ who, by the influence of what He did when He was living, sways the world and comforts His Church; it is a living Christ who to-day is working in His people, by His Spirit. Further, He works on the world through His people by the Word; they plant and water, He 'gives the increase.' And He is working in the world, for His Church and for the world, by His wielding of all power that is given to Him, in heaven and on earth. So that the work that is done upon earth He doeth it all Himself; and Christian people unduly limit the sphere of Christ's operations when they look back only to the Cross, and talk about a finished work'there, and forget that that finished work there is but the vestibule of the continuous work that is being done to-day.

Christian people! The present work of Christ needs working servants. We are here in order to carry on His work. The Apostle ventured to say that he was appointed to fill up that which is behind of the suffer-, ings of Christ'; we may well venture to say that we are here mainly to apply to the world the benefits resulting from the finished work upon the Cross. The accomplishment of redemption, and the realisation of the accomplished redemption, are two wholly different things. Christ has done the one. He says to us, 'You are honoured to help Me to do the other. According to the accurate rendering of a great saying of the Old

of us.

Testament, 'Take no rest, and give Him no rest, till He establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.' Christ's work is finished; there is nothing for us to do with it but trust it. Christ's work is going on; come to His help. Ye are fellow-labourers with and to the Incarnate Truth.

III. I need not say more than a word about the third thought, suggested by these texts-viz., the completion of the work which began on the Cross. It is done!' That lies, no man knows how far, ahead

As surely as astronomers tell us that all this universe is hastening towards a central point, so surely that far-off divine event' is that to which the whole creation moves.' It is the blaze of light which fills the distant end of the dim vista of human history. Its elements are in part summed up in the context—the tabernacle of God with men, the perfected fellowship of the human with the divine, the housing of men in the very home and heart of God; 'a new heaven and a new earth,' a renovated universe; the removal of all evil, suffering, sorrow, sin, and tears. These things are to be, and shall be, when He says "It is done!'

Brethren! nothing else than such an issue can be the end of Creation, for nothing else than such is the purpose of God for man, and God is not going to be beaten by the world and the devil. Nothing else than such can be the issue of the Cross; for · He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied,' and Christ is not going to labour in vain, and spend His life, and give His breath and His blood for nought.

Nothing but the work finished on the Cross guarantees the coming of that perfected issue. I know not where else there is hope for mankind, looking on the history of humanity, except in that great message, that Jesus

Christ, the Son of God, has come, has died, lives for ever, and is the world's King and Lord.

So for ourselves, in regard to the one part of the work, let us listen to Him saying 'It is finished !' abandon all attempts to eke it out by additions of our own, and cast ourselves on the finished Revelation, the finished Obedience, the finished Atonement, made once for all on the Cross. But as for the continuous work going on through the ages, let us cast ourselves into it with earnestness, self-sacrifice, consecration, and continuity, for we are fellow-workers with Christ, and Christ will work in, with, and for us if we will work for Him.

CHRIST OUR PASSOVER

*These things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken.'-JOHN xix. 36.

THE Evangelist, in the words of this text, points to the great Feast of the Passover and to the Paschal Lamb, as finding their highest fulfilment, as he calls it, in Jesus Christ. For this purpose of bringing out the correspondence between the shadow and the substance he avails himself of a singular coincidence concerning a perfectly unimportant matter-viz., the abnormally rapid sinking of Christ's physical strength in the crucifixion, by which the final indignity of breaking the bones of the sufferers was avoided in His case. John sees, in that entirely insignificant thing, a kind of fingerpost pointing to far more important, deeper, and real correspondences. We are not to suppose that he was so purblind, and attached so much importance to externals, as that this outward coincidence exhausted in his conception the correspondence between the two.

But it was a trifle that suggested a greater matter. It was a help aiding gross conceptions and common minds to grasp the inward relation between Jesus and that Passover rite. But just as our Lord would have fulfilled the prophecy about the King coming 'meek, and having salvation,' though He had never ridden on a literal ass into the literal Jerusalem, so our Lord would have fulfilled the shadow of the Passover with the substance of His own sacrifice if there had never been this insignificant correspondence, in outward things, between the two.

But whilst my text is the Evangelist's commentary, the question arises, How did he come to recognise that our Lord was all which that Passover signified? And the answer is, he recognised it through Christ's own teaching. He does not record the institution of the Lord's Supper. It did not fall into his scheme to deal with external events of that sort, and he knew that it had been sufficiently taught by the three earlier Gospels, to which his is a supplement. But though he did not narrate the institution, he takes it for granted in the words of my text, and his vindication of his seeing the fulfilment of A bone of Him shall not be broken' in the incident to which I have referred, lies in this, that Jesus Christ Himself swept away the Passover and substituted the memorial feast of the Lord's Supper. • This do in remembrance of Me,' said at the table where the Paschal lamb had been eaten, sufficiently warrants John's allusion here.

So then, marking the fact that our Evangelist is but carrying out the lesson that he had learned in the upper room, we may fairly take the identification of the Paschal lamb with the crucified Christ as being the last instance in which our Lord Himself laid His

hand upon Old Testament incidents and said, “They all mean Me.' And it is from that point of view, and not merely for the purpose of dealing with the words that I have read as our starting-point, that I wish to speak

now.

I. Now then, the first thing that strikes me is that in this substitution of Himself for the Passover we have a strange instance of Christ's supreme authority.

Try to fling yourself back in imagination to that upper room, where Jesus and a handful of Galileans were sitting, and remember the sanctity which immemorial usage had cast round that centre and apex of the Jewish ritual, established at the Exodus by a solemn divine appointment, intended to commemorate the birth of the nation, venerable by antiquity and association with the most vehement pulsations of national feeling, the centre point of Jewish religion. Christ said: 'Put it all away; do not think about the Exodus; do not think about the destroying Angel ; do not think about the deliverance. Forget all the past; do this in remembrance of Me.' Take into account that the Passover had a double sacredness, as religious festival, and also as commemorating the birthday of the nation, and then estimate what a strange sense of His own importance the Man must have had who said: “That past is done with, and it is Me that you have to think of now. If I might venture to take a very modern illustration without vulgarising a great thing, suppose that on the other side of the Atlantic somebody were to stand up and say, 'I abrogate the Fourth of July and Independence Day. Do not think about Washington and the establishment of the United States any more. Think about me!' That is exactly what Jesus Christ did. Only instead of a century there were

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »