All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. MATTHEW XI.
What think ye of Christ ? Whose Son is He ? were questions put by our Lord Himself to the Pharisees ; and they are questions which should be put incessantly to ourselves, and to all Christians until they have obtained clear answers, founded upon the Scriptures and on full conviction. Let no one suppose that the Divine Word suggests questions to which it affords no answers. The chief, nay, the only, difficulties which exist to prevent earnest lovers of truth obtaining satisfactory replies, arise from their taking for granted what they have been taught previously to their consulting the Scriptures for themselves. These previous views remain like dark shades upon the mind ; and seen through them the Scripture teaching seems to be confused and mysterious, and at length they give up the inquiry as one altogether in vain. They have asked and received not, because they have asked amiss. They have asked and expected to be confirmed in their former ideas, and so have obtained no answer. Let them ask, with the child-like desire to be taught from the very first idea, to know the God they wish to love, and persevere in the inquiry, and they will find the time promised by the Lord Himself has come, when He will show them plainly of the Father.
The doctrine of the New Church is, that the Humanity which God our heavenly Father assumed to save the human race is the Son. This Humanity was inwardly divine from the Father, outwardly clothed, as to mind and body, with what belongs to infirm humanity from the mother, until by sufferings during His life and death, He was made completely perfect — fully glorified. In proportion as this glorification of the Humanity was affected, all things of divine government, and all power in heaven and on earth, were committed unto Him by the Father within Him. The Father then ruled the universe by Him, not as a passive organism, but as a conscious Divine Man. The government was on His shoulder, and of His dominion and peace there should be no end.
The passage before us speaks of this glorified Divine Humanity: “All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” The divine qualities, the divine excellencies, the divine powers, are not from any separate divinity which I possess, they are all from the invisible Father within, just as the lower powers of mind and body which a man possesses, are all from the energies of his ruling love. “No man knoweth the Son but the Father.” The Divine Humanity is infinite in excellence. It is the only begotten. No man nor angel is like it ” No man knoweth the Son but the Father.” This infinitely excellent Humanity can alone comprehend the ardour of the infinite love, the Father. Only in the Son and by the Son can the tenderness of our God and Saviour be made known. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” We should never lose sight of this great truth: the Son alone can comprehend and can reveal the Father.
The views which are commonly entertained respecting the Father and the Son are entirely inconsistent with the passage before us, as they are indeed with the whole Word of God. They teach that the Father and the Son are two distinct divine persons; the Son eternal as the Father, and co-equal with Him in majesty, power, and glory. But we are informed in the text that the Son has received all things from the Father. If there are two separate divine persons, the Son could have had nothing, neither power, majesty, nor glory, before He received them from the Father; for it is said, “All things were delivered to Him of the Father.” And how can we conceive of an eternal divine person who had nothing? Again, if the Father were separate from the Son, after He had delivered all things to the Son, He would Himself have had nothing. And once more we may ask, How can we conceive of a divine person who has nothing? Again, this idea assumes that the Father can be known separately from the Son; that He was so known by the Jews, and He is known now to be such a being as they conceived Him to be, awful, rigid, and swift to punish. The idea of all those who conceive of the Father as a distinct person from our Lord, is now just the same as the Jews had of Him. To them, He was infinitely great, and infinitely severe, and so He is still. Yet our Lord says, “Their ideas of Him were not true knowledge of Him. Nor could He be kown except in and through the Son. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son reveal Him.” Let then all those who have a Jewish idea of the Father of heaven and earth, or who suppose they know Him out of the Son, bear this teaching of the great Saviour in mind, — they know not the Father.
Others there are who equally depart from the teaching of the the words before us, in assuming that the Lord Jesus was separate from the Father, and was only a human being, great by goodness, talent, and mission, but still only a mere man. They conceive they know the Son, and that He was a finite human being — a mere mortal. Yet how palpably these views are contradicted by our text is evident : ” No man knoweth the Son but the Father.” Singly something more than human is implied in this. The expression in the original, too, is stronger than “no man,” it is “no one” (oudeis); thus no man nor angel is implied, no one but the Father knows the Son. Surely then, there must be in Him something greater than man, greater than angel; something which proceeded forth and came from God, the only-begotten of the Father; the very form and image of divine substance (Heb. i. 2), and thus having a dignity, and excellency, a fullness in Him which none but the Father alone could adequately comprehend. ” No man knoweth the Son but the Father.”
We thus learn from our text, at the outset, that no one knows the Father, but he who has learned the Father in the Son; and, secondly, no one knows the Son who looks at Him simply on the outside. He could only be accurately judged of from within. He has a name written which no man knoweth but He Himself. Its outward expression, however, is “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”— Rev. xix. 12, 16.
Before, however, advancing in the consideration of the text, allow me to notice the varied descriptions our Lord gives of Himself. Here, it is written, “All things are delivered unto Me of My Father.” Shortly after we find Him saying, ” I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” — Luke xii. 50. Here, in the first case. Here, in the first case, He is represented as having possession of all things; in the second, as straitened, and desiring further purification. Once more, we read, “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand” —John iii. 34, 35. But again, He says, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do; For what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”— John V. 19. “I can of mine own self do nothing.” — Ver. 30. In the 17th of John again, it is written, “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God.” — Ver. 3. And yet, in the awful scene at Gethsemane, He utters the words, full of resignation and grief, ” O My Father, if it he possible, let this cup pass from me.” — Matt. xxvi. 39. Here He appears weak and bowed down. But when His sufferings were over, and He was fully glorified, He announced His last charge to His disciples before He left in those solemn and sublime words — ” All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.”
These differences of the Lord’s utterances to some are sources of great perplexity, to some also they are causes of dispute. One class of readers will occasionally hold to the one class of passages, and entirely pass by the other. Another class will take the opposite passages, and close their eyes to anything which implies suffering or inferiority on the part of the Lord. Only, however, by taking both do we obtain the whole counsel of God. And from both it is evident that the Lord, in glorifying His human nature, went through precisely similar states to those the regenerate man has passed through, in spiritualizing his lower nature. As man is sometimes exalted to states of joy and peace, and then feels entirely heavenly, so that nothing seems wanting to him only that paradise should be opened to him; but, at other times, when he is tempted sorely, he feels quite devoid of good: light has departed, and he mourns like the apostle — “When I would do good, evil is present with me.”The Psalms are filled with these alternations of trial and triumph, because they are the divinely appointed descriptions of the struggles of the regenerate life. The consciousness is, where the excitement is. In temptation, the excitement is, where the tempting evil is. In triumph the excitement is, where the conquering good is. We speak from our consciousness, and thus seem all good at one time, all deficient at another.
This double consciousness, or rather variety of consciousness, may be illustrated by the variety of language which occurs in the Psalms. And this illustration is the more to be adopted because these divine compositions are intended to describe the various states and feelings which occur in the course of man’s regeneration. And when we remember that David, the royal psalmist, was also the type of the Lord the Redeemer, as is universally admitted in the Christian Church, we shall see that the words which imply to the spiritually-minded Christian, and describe his varying states, also, in their highest, inmost sense, describe the states and sufferings of the Redeemer.
In one Psalm, the 21st for instance, we have the language of confidence, gratitude, and delight. “The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord; and in Thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the requests of his lips. For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold upon his head.” But in the very next Psalm how very different is the description. “I am a worm, and no man ; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head.” These sayings are widely different in their character, but they are precise portraits of the states of the soul under different circumstances, and as we feel, so we speak. These varieties of feeling have led to serious mistakes among those who have not well understood the nature of the soul and its regeneration. The joys the Lord has in mercy given them, very early after their repentance, they have supposed were complete salvation. And hence they have presumed they were completely fitted for heaven, and preached up instantaneous salvation when they yet knew very little of themselves, and had made very slight progress indeed.
They were only just over the Red Sea, and they imagined they were already close to Canaan. They have only got a sunny day in early spring, and they suppose they have got all the glories of the summer. The next day may be chill and cold, and they may be as much depressed as before they were exalted ; but we should all remember that both these changes are necessary to produce the grand result, — the purification of the soul from self and sin, and its formation to be happy to all eternity.
How deep a state of agonizing trial is described in Psalm cii. “My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.” Yet in the very next Psalm comes the most glorious language of highest exultation: ”Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases: who redeemeth thy life from destruction: who crowneth thee with loving-kindnesses and tender mercies.” Such and so various are different sensations of which the regenerating man is conscious, and the Lord Jesus, as to His Humanity, went through all these. ” He was tempted in all points like as we are.” — Heb. iv. 15.
The distinction between the Humanity of the Lord and the state of man, was, that man has in him, by birth, the germs of an angelic nature, through which he derives help from his heavenly Father and deliverer, to restore his fallen manhood from the ruins of the fall. Man is tempted by evil spirits, but only by such portion as he is able to bear. And each time he triumphs he feels a happiness faintly approaching to angelic; enough, however, to discover to him that ” the kingdom of God is within him.”
The Lord’s Humanity, however, had in it the germs of a divine nature. He was tempted by all hell, through the infirmities of the humanity from the mother, and overcame by the power of His own Godhead within. And, when He overcame, after each temptation, it was not an angelic state that was opened in Him, but a divine one. All things, as stated in our text, were delivered into His hand. All power was given unto Him in heaven and on earth.
He assumed and glorified our nature, that it might be the head of all things to us, a new and living way to the blessings of divine peace: the vine, of which we might become the branches. How strikingly He states this in His own words. “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified by the truth.” — John xvii. 19.
In doing this divine work of His own sanctification, the Lord’s consciousness varied, as ours also varies in the process of our sanctification, and thus we have a complete explanation of those varied accounts of the Son which the gospels afford. The Son is the Lord’s Humanity, so far as unglorified, straitened, and able to do nothing; so far as glorified, perfect, and able to do all things. Thus may we see why it is said of the Son as to His divine nature at the incarnation, ” Let all the angels worship Him” (Heb. i. 6), and in His state of full glorification, “Thy throne, God, is for ever and ever : a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (ver. 8, 9). The Divine Humanity is God from God; the visible God in whom is the invisible.
Thus, knowing the Son, we may through Him and in Him know the Father. “No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.”
The rendering of the latter part of our text is not a happy one. It ought to be, Neither knoweth any one the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal.
The passage in the original not only declares that the Father cannot be truly known except by means of the Son, but also asserts that he can only be known to those to whom the Son willeth to reveal. Thus asserting that there are some to whom the Son wills to reveal, and some to whom He does not will. The Lord often made a similar distinction. Some He invited to Him, some He repelled. ” He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” — John iii. 21. These He invited. But, on the contrary, “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” — Ver. 20. These He repelled. When any one has a disposition to do the truth, he has a genuine love of the truth, and this genuine love of the truth is the turning point between a saved and a condemned state. He who is in a love for the truth will never be condemned. He who is not in a love for the truth cannot be saved. The apostle asserts this very strongly in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, chap. ii.: ” And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” — Ver. 10. Again, “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” — Ver. 12. The love of truth places man on the heavenly side: the love of unrighteousness, and thence of the falsehood which excuses it, keeps man on the infernal side. The love of truth is that charity which, according to the apostle, “rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor. xiii. 6), and of which he further says, “Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” To men of genuine love, therefore, the Son willeth to reveal the Father, and to none others, in fact, is it possible. “If any man love God,” the apostle Paul says, ” the same is known of Him.” To him the Son wills to reveal, and He being in a state of love Himself, can understand the revelation. Hence, the apostle John said, ” Beloved, let us love one another : for love is of God ; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love” (1 John iv. 7, 8).
We sometimes imagine that the reason for the slow progress of truth is to be found in the feeble means there are for its propagation; or, in the circumstances in which persons live, and which are unfavourable to their reception of truth ; but far beyond the power of these influences is the feeble advance of truth owing to the feebleness of the love of truth for the truth’s sake. The love of wealth, the love of power, the love of pleasure, these are the potent influences of men now, but the love of truth is only influential with a few. But few though they may be, these are they to whom the Son wills to reveal the Father. To these He addresses the sacred words, “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
But what is the revelation of the Father ? It is the unfolding of the Eternal Love. GOD is LOVE. This is the all-originating source of all the divine operations : the CENTER from which all the other attributes of God flow, as rays from the sun. His truth is the light of love. His omnipotence is the power of love. His justice is love’s persevering demand for right, as the only means of happiness. From love, creation and every divine act has proceeded. This principle is then rightly called The Father. But the real character of the divine love could not be known before God was manifest in the flesh. Men had communications in old time by prophets, by angels and spirits, but no man had heard the voice of the Father at any time, or seen His shape- John v. 37. The appearances, which were called by the ancients, “Seeing God,” took place by angels being for the time filled with His spirit, and speaking from Him (Acts vii. 30, 38 ; Heb. ii. 2). In very deed no man had seen God at any time, until the only-begotten Son brought Him to view (John i. 18).
His unutterable purity was such that it was humbling Himself to behold the things that were in heaven. But the world was lying in wickedness. All the means previously had failed. Mankind, in every age, had become worse, and the measure of iniquity was now full. It was the fullness of time. Men were worshiping deified lusts and passions, or deriding all worship. Ancient faith had died out. And if any appearance of respect for holy things remained, it was largely contaminated with hypocrisy. It was night. Darkness had covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. The world lay in sensuality, but with awful fears and dreadful sorrows, expecting to hear the thunder of doom ; when, lo! it was announced that love to redeem was disclosed from the Father, not vengeance to destroy. ” God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The angelic proclamation was made, “For unto you is born, this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” And the heavenly host broke out in adoring praise, ”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” In this way the Son first made known the Father. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself not imputing their trespasses unto them.” — 2 Cor. v. 19.
” In His love and in His pity Ho redeemed them.” — Isa. Ixiii. 9.
And what a revelation of divine love was this! No vindictive justice for man’s many transgressions; no revenge for man’s many insults; no punishment for centuries of rebellion; no triumph over man’s multiplied miseries; for hell triumphed over the human race, and hoped for lasting sovereignty; but no, divine love forbade it, and the Son was born who alone could make mankind to know the Father. In the very act of incarnation the Eternal became known as a Saviour, a Helper, not a fearful Judge: the fulfilment of those divine words was complete, “I, even I, am He who blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” — Isa. xliii. 25.
To illustrate this, let us suppose a great king, whose subjects in a distant part of his empire had never seen him, though they had received from him the best laws, and many messengers. They had, however, broken his laws, defied his authority, beaten and slain his messengers, and madly joined themselves to his enemies and their’s. Let us suppose these enemies finding they were freely admitted into the territories which ought to have been guarded against them, had turned upon their foolish allies, and begun to plunder their cities, to confine some in dungeons, to harass, ill-treat, and murder others ; when all seemed to portend utter ruin and massacre, and groans, and sighs, and mourning were heard everywhere. But, when the misery is at its depth, an unknown champion is ushered in. He defends the helpless, sets free the captives, defeats and drives off the ruthless foe, and proclaims liberty and peace over the land. And if this redeemer, when the grateful people came to thank and bless him, was made known to them as their good king whose laws they had previously broken, but who, moved by his love, had come to deliver them at once from their misery, and from the guilt which had led to it; would not this be the revelation at once of their father and their king ? Thus was our Father made known to us by the Son. Hence the delivered Church is represented as saying to the Redeemer, ” Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer: Thy name is from everlasting” (Isa. lxiii. 16).
Yet so prone are we to error, and so little have many learned of the Father, in consequence of not looking for the Father in the Son, that they imagine it was the Father’s wrath against man which brought the Redeemer down. They have been misled by the unscriptural fiction, invented in the dark ages, that God was angry with man for taking the forbidden fruit, and doomed both the taker and the whole human race to perdition, unless another divine person, which they suppose to be the Saviour, would come and die in man’s stead. Thus reversing all the knowledge of God and of redemption. They talk of reconciling God, the Scriptures speaking of reconciling man. They say much of the Lamb of God who was slain to pacify His Father. The Scriptures proclaim the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. The Scriptures speak of the works of the devil being destroyed (1 John iii. 8) ; of ransoming man from the power of the grave, and of redeeming him from death (Hosea xiii. 14).
It was a sad reverse of the truth that was arrived at, when men, fancying they could know the Father out of the Son, attributed to Him the anger and the revenge of their own fallen nature, instead of the love and tenderness of the Son, brought to view in the redemption of the world. But it was not anger, it was love, brought the Saviour into the world, — the Father’s love. The will of the Father was unutterable love to save mankind. ” I came down from heaven,” the Lord said, ”not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life.” — John vi. 38, 40. The love of the Father was far beyond what the Humanity had yet attained, it was infinite; and that will was to be done, not the will of the partially glorified Humanity. But if the Father had willed punishment, how could the world have been saved ? The idea is as absurd as it is unscriptural. It represents one of the divine persons demanding to have a sacrifice, for his justice, and the other two requiring no sacrifice, but one of them giving it. And yet they are all represented as being alike in will, mind, power, and glory. Such is the result of seeking to know the Father out of the Son. No one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal Him. But what a miracle of love did the Son reveal in the Father ! It was not love only to the obedient, but to the rebellious, the worthless, the vile. The apostle puts it well, when he said to the Romans, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure some would even dare to die. But God commendeth HIS LOVE toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” — Rom. v. 7, 8. Yes, it was lore to us; when we were sunk in unworthiness and sin, a love to save and bless us, which brought God in Christ to our help, “to reconcile the world unto Himself.” — 2 Cor. v. 19. It was not a sacrifice to vengeance he made, but to His own love. And not His death only was such a sacrifice, but His life. For the Lord of Life to demean Himself to become a servant, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; to walk, to fight through our valley, covered with its thickest gloom, to endure a life-long of all the assaults of hell; this was sorrow, this was sacrifice. But our Father’s love demanded it, and He gave it. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He put Him to grief: not, however, to please vengeance, but to satisfy His love ; and not that another should be bruised, but that His own Humanity assumed to save mankind, should through sufferings be glorified. And glorified and united fully to the Father; when, as the prophet says, His soul was made an offering for sin; He would see His seed in all the redeemed. He shall prolong His days, His reign should endure for ever, and the pleasure of the Lord in the salvation of His immortal children shall prosper in His hand (Isa. liii. 10).
The second portion of the knowledge of the Father which is revealed by the Son is, that He is a God of order. He would save mankind by an orderly method.
It has sometimes occurred to the natural man that it would have better become the dignity of the Supreme Ruler of the world, to have saved the world by an immediate exertion of omnipotence. Why not at once have put down the powers of hell, without the slow process of the incarnation, life, and death of the Redeemer ? The prophet no doubt alludes to this feeling when he says, ”Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? “But such a fiat would only have revealed power, not our heavenly Father’s wisdom, nor His bearing, suffering love. Immense power would have been seen, and would have been regarded by the naturally-minded as swayed by anger, by vengeance, by motives such as sway himself. This would not have revealed our Father, nor would it have had the effect of redeeming man from his sins.
To redeem mankind by a power which should put down the hells, and not destroy even them; to present a perfect example of obedience, wisdom, and worth, a victorious resistance of every temptation, every sin; to exhibit unutterable love, love in suffering, love unto death; to form a Divine Mediator whom the Holy Spirit of blessing, light, and power might flow; to do all this by exact obedience to those very laws which man had fallen by breaking; thus to magnify the law and make it honourable. All this was accomplished by the assumption of humanity according to the divine laws of order. For these ends God became a man; for these the prophet was inspired to say, “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” — Isa. xl. 10, 11. And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of waters in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
Every circumstance of the Saviour’s life was a revelation of the Father. I speak not now of the power requisite to deliver men from the cruelty of evil spirits, and enable Him to say, ” I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” —Luke X. 18, 19. Though this of itself reveals the mighty God, the everlasting Father; but I speak of the different circumstances of His life as recorded in the Gospels. He restored the sick at His word, and thus revealed the Divine Physician from whom all healing comes. He raised the dead, and thus revealed the Lord and Giver of Life. He fed the multitudes with new-created bread, and thus revealed the presence of the Creator. He pardoned the sinful and the sorrowing, and thus revealed the tender forgiveness of the Father of Mercy. No penitents were rejected: when they acknowledged they had nothing to pay — and what can sinners pay their God ? — He frankly forgave uttering the divine law. Those whose sins are many are forgiven when they love much, but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
In circumstances of the greatest trial, He never failed to appear and deliver His disciples, because in this He revealed our Father’s care and mercy. What an awful night that was on the Sea of Galilee, when the disciples well-nigh suffered shipwreck. The heavy clouds had gathered over the dark deep waters; the winds howled fearfully over the foaming waves; the whistle of the tempest became more and more piercing, as the ship bounded over wave and furrow of the deep, but hour after hour becoming less manageable by the struggling crew. The yawning abysses threatened to engulf them, or the mountains of water to roll over them: human skill, wisdom and power were all in vain. Nothing was left them but the appeal to their wonder-working Master. They awoke Him; for He will be entreated and appealed to; then safety came. With divine dignity He uttered the sacred words, “Peace, be still,” and there was a calm. Well might even the sailors exclaim, ” What manner of man is this ? For even the winds and the seas obey Him!”
How clearly is the Calmer of the storms of life’s wide sea here revealed. The affairs of life are like a sea, and often not a sunny one. We launch our bark in life’s early day, and skim brightly, smoothly onwards. Our vessel, if rightly built, goes forwards, and everything promises fair for reaching the destined haven. But now a storm comes on; clouds gather darkly o’er our path. Misfortunes, afflictions, heavy trials come ; storms of fears, of delusions, of anxieties, of yawning cares come on; billow after billow rolls at and over us; we are well nigh in despair. But we look to the Lord in our distresses. He rises for our help. “Peace, be still,” again falls from His divine lips. He makes the storm a calm, and brings us to the desired haven. We recognize our Father and Saviour, and exclaim with the Psalmist, “O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, for. His wonderful works to the children of men.”
But the sublimest revelations of the Father in the Son were made at Gethsemane and on the cross.
He triumphs most who unflinchingly endures most, when love demands the sacrifice. This grand lesson of suffering to save was afforded in the horrors of that dark garden among the olive-trees. The Gospel narrative of the dread sorrows of that fearful scene is brief, but written in dreadful lines: “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The garden in which He was, the cup of which he speaks, so fearful that He wished it to pass away, the gloom of night, all indicate the character of the temptation. It was the effort of all legions of darkness to induce Him to spare Himself; to leave the work of redemption unfinished, and the human race to their fate. All the false persuasions that the legions of darkness could press upon Him were perseveringly applied; the Circean cup of pleasure, not purity, was pressed upon Him with infernal cunning and malice; He endured this in the garden. On His single person hung the safety of the universe. In the Psalms the inner character of the temptations of the Lord are more fully revealed: He is tented as saying, ” Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon Me with their their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me to the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me.” While thus beset with crowds of infernals, whose might and malice are thus indicated, the ingratitude of mankind would be Satanic malice pressed upon Him. The weakness of His disciples, soon to be shown in their desertion of their Benefactor, one of them at that moment plotting with His enemies to betray Him with a kiss. All this bearing on the Humanity not fully glorified, might well cause the agonizing sweat, and the prayer that it might pass away. But the Father, the Infinite Love which was within, would bate not a tear, not a groan: all was to be endured that hell could inflict, and was endured, and by enduring was triumphed over. An eternal lesson was given to His creatures, of patience, of meekness, of suffering love; the horrors of that night passed away by the reception and strength to endure the still deeper sorrow of the cross, to end in the final glory of the resurrection. Thus was the Son made perfect, and thus was the Father revealed.
Just as the character of a human soul, and especially of its ruling love, is revealed by the acts its body performs, so the character of the Father within Him was revealed by the acts the Son performed. And as the body is trained and habituated to what the ruling love constantly enforces, until it becomes, as it were, the embodiment of that love in every feature, so, but in a still higher degree, the Son became the very embodiment of the Father, so that He could say, “All things that the Father hath are mine.” — John xvi. 15. ”All mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” — John xvii. 10. The Father shining through the Saviour is plainly revealed, as tenderness unutterable, as love immeasurable and unspeakable, but ever acting by His divine laws. As doing everything which laws of mercy and order will permit to the penitent, but from very love, divine goodness never outraging them, never suspending them.
To this glorious Divine Man, then, we are invited, to find our real Father. We can find Him nowhere else. ” No man,” He said, “cometh unto the Father but by me.” How affectingly, after the teaching of our text does He say, ”Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Oh, what a welcome lesson this should be to us! Who has not heart-sorrows, bitter griefs, deep troubles, which have kept the spirit toiling for relief, looking on every hand for succour? Here, in the glorified Saviour , it is to be found. It is not human help but divine. It is rest promised by Him who is able to give it. “I will give you rest.” How can we hesitate to accept the assurance? The Divine Man, who has perfected His own Humanity, offers power to regenerate ours. O let us confide in Him. He is our Father, our Saviour, our Regenerator, all in one. Have we been in doubt if we shall be saved; if we shall be accepted by the everlasting Father? Here is He who has revealed Him, and it is Him embodied invites you, ” Come unto Me.” Are we doubtful if we are among the invited, and trouble ourselves with wearisome cares, anxieties, and doubts? Hear Him again: “All ye that are weary and heavy laden.” Your wearisomeness of heart, your burdensome state of mind, are the very recommendations: “Come.” And listen to the blessing promised, ” I will give you rest,” — divine rest.
This rest implies complete victory over evil, deliverance from worldly care, and the removal of the fear of death. There can no rest while the conflicts between virtue and vice, truth and falsehood, agitate the soul, much less while evil is there unmolested; for lusts, like wild beasts, are ever restless. But the rest given by the Saviour is the rest of His divine peace: sweet calm of sin subdued, and goodness diffused over the soul. This is a peace flowing from the centre of the spirit, and using itself through every fibre as streams of blessedness. It is like the peace of a bright summer over the soul, where all is beauty, all is life, and all is harmony. A holy fullness is there, but, because of the according sweetness of all things, a holy rest. Only one Being can truly say, ” I will give you rest.”
The rest from worldly care follows the other ; the greater includes the less. He who really receives continual victory over evils, will be satisfied that his Saviour will care for him in life also. He will be assured that He who cares for the sparrow will never forsake him. He will seek the kingdom of God above all things, and will be satisfied that all needful earthly good will likewise be afforded. His wants will be moderate, and while he does his duty he will be content with what the Providence, which gives its beauty to the lily, shall daily afford to him. Thus, also, will the words be fulfilled, ” I will give you rest.”
And the last source of unrest will be removed. To those who have received the Saviour’s peace, death has been transformed. He is no longer a dreaded enemy, but an angelic friend. He is the herald of heaven ; the messenger of everlasting life. His approach gives no disturbance, since we have felt the power of the divine words, ” I will give you rest.”
Blessed, then, for ever blessed, be the divine goodness which came nigh to us in the person of the Son; that entered into our nature and glorified it, that God and man might for ever be united in Him, and He might thus be the head of all things, and by Him all things should consist. May we never seek to know the Father elsewhere than in the Son. For there He is revealed as mercy, love, and tenderness unutterable. In Him we may find peace.
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY –From The Divine Word Opened (1887)
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum