Luke 22:14-15, 27 (from “But”)-28
John 20:19-21 (to “Peace be to you”)
PC It has been on my heart for some time that we should have an impression of the presence of the Lord amongst us. I sought in prayer the help of the Lord to speak together about this important matter, of having a real impression of the presence of the Lord amongst us.
I was particularly impressed with the fact that, once we have come together, we can have an impression that, really, the Lord Jesus is pleased to be with us. It is a real matter. It is not a physical one, as, of course, we know, but it is a matter of really experiencing His presence. And I thought of these passages, the first one being the passage that sets forth the conditions in which we can receive the Lord.
The first condition, I thought, is in relation to us individually. Once we are individually attracted to the Lord, as Peter was, we then can meet together and receive the Lord in a collective way. As we know, most of this passage refers to the Lord in relation to Israel, but I thought of what we can derive for ourselves. It is remarkable how the Lord compelled His disciples to leave the crowd and go into the ship alone. They left the ‘Israel’ position, in that situation, and they put themselves into a ‘remnant’ position. But Peter left that position as well and went towards the Lord. I think this is really important: to go to the Lord, to be attracted to Him in order to be ready for His coming to us.
We are together as believers that have experienced the attraction of our Lord Jesus Christ individually. It has been said that Peter did not have the power to go to the Lord, but he had the love to go to the Lord. And by such love we could then have the rest of the experiences that the disciples had together.
In the second passage, the Lord tells the disciples what He was going to do. He was eating the last Passover with them, and He was going to leave them and complete His work. He was amongst them when He said this to them. I thought last Lord’s Day, as we were gathered together, that what the Lord then revealed to His disciples is our portion now, which draws us together in order to receive our Lord. The disciples did not receive Him in the same way in which we can receive Him now, because at that moment the Lord still had to do His work, but it is remarkable how the Lord leaves them with a real impression of what He was going to do. He was talking to them all together.
And then in Matthew 18 we have the presence of the Lord among those that are gathered to His name. That is another challenge for us: are we gathered to the Lord’s name? Do we have His Person as the main object before us, and do we know that the Lord will be amongst us? It has been said that this passage does not relate to the morning meeting on the Lord’s Day, but rather to our commitment in prayer. That means that the Lord has an interest in what we are committed to together. And therefore He takes account of what is in our hearts, which, after all, has been put there by Himself.
Then we have read about the fact that the Lord enters in amongst His disciples and gives them peace. I think this is really the aim that we have in view. At that point the entrance of the Lord amongst His disciples was after His finished work. Everything was settled. All that was related to the old dispensation was finished, and what the Lord was going to show them was that they could be in peace in order to carry on in their gathering, having a sense of His presence as a risen Man.
This was what was on my heart. I hope we can work it out together.
MJC Is it in your mind that, first of all, we should be individually attracted to the Lord?
PC Yes. The Lord was here with a lot of care and grace for Israel, but He was not going to recognise any particular position. He was going to start to make things new for God, and there would have been a place where He gathered His own. The grace of the Lord has extended it to us. So we have been called to Him individually, and then we have fellowship together as believers.
MJC Peter could say elsewhere, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast words of life eternal” (John 6:68).
PC Yes, indeed, he had experienced what the presence of the Lord meant, and he was speaking in a collective way at that time. This is really encouraging for us. To whom would we go for a meeting like this if we did not have the possibility of having the presence of the Lord?
TRP What was it that attracted the disciples to the Lord, and caused them to leave everything?
PC Well, I think Peter was impressed by the power of the Lord over the circumstances around. After all, we are in Matthew’s Gospel, and the Lord is in His powerful position there. He could walk on the waters as if He were walking on the solid ground. It shows that His power was over every element around. Peter was attracted by this power of the Lord. And I expect it was his affection for the Lord as well. He really had an affection for Him, and he was tested about it, but he declared three times in John 21 that he really loved the Lord. But you have an impression yourself?
TRP God opened the eyes of the disciples to see something unique and distinctive in Christ. Has He opened my eyes?
PC That is remarkable, is it not, because amongst the crowd of Israel that could not see anything in the Lord, or rather refused it, the disciples’ eyes were opened. And this is really what is on my heart – am I attracted to the Lord in such a way that when we are together, we can put our impressions together? They derive from Him.
MJC What about the Lord’s voice? First of all, Peter and the disciples see the Lord, and then Peter speaks to the Lord, and then he hears the Lord’s voice. What part does that play for us today, do you think?
PC I think it makes us very exercised, because, physically speaking, we cannot see the Lord, but, spiritually speaking, we can hear His voice, through the Spirit. We have to be careful when we speak about these things, but we have the authority of Scripture in Matthew 14 to realise that the Lord is there. The Lord’s voice was telling him to come. So this is really what we should start hearing. I think we can all be encouraged, particularly the young ones, to seek the Lord’s voice, and He still says, “Come.”
BED When they were troubled, the first thing the Lord said was, “Take courage.” What do you make of that? That was before He said, “It is I: be not afraid.”
PC I think the Lord fully realised the contrary conditions that were against them. He was a Man as well, and He knew what troubles meant. All the opposition was there, and therefore what He did first of all was to encourage them.
MSB In relation to what was said just now, Mr Darby’s hymn says,
Blest Lord, Thou spakest! ’twas Thy voice
That led our hearts to Thee;
Do you think that is the beginning of this?
PC Certainly. It is important to know that the first part is from the Lord. We have to own our sinful state, of course, when we go to Him, but He is forming us. There were many decisions in Peter’s life, but this was an important one, as being attracted to the Lord. It is true that the Lord and Peter went back into the ship afterwards. Peter was attracted to Him in order to experience the power of the Lord over all matters. His mistake was not leaving the ship, but his mistake was to look at the water instead of looking at the Lord.
Ques The answer to their fear was the voice of the Lord, and He says, “It is I,” or “I am.” It is a name of God. But I have a question. Peter says, “Lord, if it be Thou.” In a similar situation at the end of John, John says, “It is the Lord” (John 21:7). Have you any comment on that?
PC I suppose that Peter was overwhelmed by the circumstances. He wanted to make sure that it was really his personal link with the Lord on which he could depend. John was more advanced at that later moment. He certainly had had a lot of experience with the Lord. He had leant on the Lord’s breast (John 21:20), and he knew how to recognise Him. But I wonder whether Peter would have done the same later on in life.
DWB He had thought it was an apparition, so he wanted confirmation that it was the Lord Himself. Is that not a very current matter? This passage describes conditions we are in today.
PC Yes, because it is a matter of having a personal link, and depending on the power of the Lord and having faith in Him. Faith plays a primary role in this chapter. “Lord, if it be Thou, command me to come to Thee.” That meant that Peter had full faith that the Lord could help him. Then, as I know in myself, it lacked a bit later, but the Lord soon solved the problem for him. But I think the point is really to make sure that we do not depend on our imagination of an apparition, but on the reality of His presence.
PKL Peter has some wonderful revelations of the Lord in this Gospel; “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). In John’s Gospel, at the end of chapter 6, when the Lord asks, “Will ye also go away? Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go?” (vv67‑68). There was no one else for Peter.
PC No. He had sure experiences with the Lord, as we all do. We are attracted to Him, and then we start being brought nearer. And the nearer we come, the more we experience His love and the power that derives from Him.
DWB Could you tell us what the water suggests?
PC Certainly, at that point, the waters could cause death to Peter. The winds were contrary and the water was agitated, in turmoil, and those were things that were against them. But the Lord is able to walk on them. Everything is subjected to Him. He was going to be the only King. And His majesty would have been able to influence the hearts of His disciples in that ship, as it will in the remnant in the day to come. But, later on in the Gospel, the Lord refers to His Church as well, and I think we are brought in with that. The waters around are against the Church, but we shall go through because it is the building of the Lord Himself. But what do you think?
DWB I think that is good. So it is a matter of faith to leave everything and go to the Lord in the midst of the difficult conditions in which we are found.
MJC Do not agitated waters in Scripture very often speak of the nations as influenced by the prince of this world? We see this quite often around us, do we not? I was thinking of what you have just been saying, that we need much help to rise above circumstances. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord, and not be swayed by, or fear, the situations through which we are passing.
PC Yes, it is a privilege we can have if we experience His presence. I think that once we leave the individual position, where it is necessary to start, we come to the situation where we are together. Being together is not anything that has to do with what the world knows as social gathering. It is an experience depending on the presence of the Lord, Who can teach us and make us go through all that is contrary.
ADB Is it interesting that it was not the waters that were troubling Peter, but it was actually the wind?
PC Say more.
ADB It was the wind that was disturbing the waters. It is the evil power: I am thinking of what has been said about the nations in turmoil and the prince of this world. The problem for Peter is the power that is causing the turmoil.
PC Yes, that is very important. The enemy is always there, but the Lord is more powerful than he, and that is what the experience was about. Once the disciples had the Lord back in the ship, they were able to reach the destination in calm water. So the enemy was defeated, and that would be a great aim of our being together, to keep the enemy’s influence out.
TRP Some of the disciples were skilled and knowledgeable seamen. But skill and knowledge of divine things cannot replace the presence of Christ in our midst, can it?
PC No, it is a living matter. The Lord is alive and is amongst us as our Leader in this way.
PKL You said in your opening remarks that Peter did not have the power but he had the love. Love was sufficient, was it not, to have carried him to the Lord? But, as you said also, it was the wind and the waves that got into his vision; but love would have been enough, would it not?
PC Yes. To be fair, it is not my remark, but I have been reporting what has been said in ministry. But I think love was more than enough, because I have thought of it, that the Lord knows my failings, my weaknesses, but if He notices love in my heart He will appreciate it straight away, and He will work from that love to introduce the necessary power. We need power, but it is important that we do not use our own.
PKL Paul speaks of “Him that gives me power.” “I have strength for all things in Him that gives me power” (Phil 4:13). So the power is not, exactly, intrinsic to any one of us, but we depend upon divine power to do anything.
PC Yes, exactly.
DO I was thinking about this remark of the Lord Jesus, “Take courage; it is I: be not afraid.” Do you think this is the beginning of the fellowship between believers and the Lord Jesus Christ?
PC Yes, I certainly think so because what the Lord gives us is in order that we may enjoy it together, but only after our individual experience with Him can we put together what we have. That is the principle of fellowship: sharing what we have received under His guidance, which is essential in order to make things work according to His will. That is why I thought in the second passage that the Lord was teaching them what the Passover should have become for them. We have to use human terms, but the Passover was going to become for them the Supper, and that is the occasion that has been kept for us. The Lord is engaging the affection of His disciples as together in order for them to enjoy communion with Himself.
MJC Could you say a little for the help, particularly of those who are younger, as to the difference between the Passover and the Supper?
PC The Passover was what the Israelites celebrated. It reminded each true Israelite of the way in which they were delivered from Egypt. Egypt is for us a type of the world. It showed them, also, how they were delivered from Egypt not through themselves fighting, but through God’s intervention for them. They had to go through the waters in order to be delivered. Going through the waters meant having to face death. That was indicating, for the believer of our days, what the Lord Jesus has done Himself. But in the Supper we do not, exactly, remember in that way an historical event that has happened like that one in Egypt, but we remember what the Lord has worked out for us in order that we may go out of Egypt ourselves. And we remember the precious result, that despite the fact that we still live in the world, we can enjoy our link with Him.
MJC “For also our Passover, Christ, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7). When we come together on Lord’s Day morning, it is not for the Passover, it is to remember the One Who went that way.
DJB I was thinking of just the same Scripture. If we have found peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no more sacrifice for sin (Heb 10:18). But why did the Lord actually join in the Passover feast?
PC I wonder whether, being here also for Israel, He wanted to complete everything according to the ordinances. What do you think yourself?
DJB I am sure that is right. I just wondered whether, as a Man here serving God, He had a particular reverence for God’s ordinance and respected it. It was the way that He Himself was soon to go, but He had regard to what God Himself had appointed.
PC That is certainly so. He was completely obedient to God, and He went right to the end, completing everything. Also I think He offered the disciples the possibility of seeing the unique Passover in which the perfect Offering was there.
MJC And it was the last Passover. The Lord was never identified with the Passover after that point. In the New Testament we read of the first day of the week, the Lord coming to His own.
PC Yes, it was the last Passover and the start of an occasion that was to be repeated. And do we not find it a great blessing of the Lord that such an occasion has been kept for us?
MJC I am so thankful for the words in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “Until He come” – showing forth the Lord’s death “until He come.” The Supper, in the mercy of God, will go on until the Rapture.
GKB Is it not very precious that it is “with you” that the Lord desired to eat the Passover?
GKB It was in the context of the Lord being with His disciples, bringing it into the New Testament. The Lord’s Supper is set in the midst of His disciples.
PC That is why it was on my heart to read this Scripture, because the Lord wanted to be with His disciples. They had Him present with them. It was a great privilege for them, and it is a great privilege for us to look forward to having the Lord amongst us in such a way. We go to the Supper with that desire, but in such a way that despite the Passover being over, the Passover exercise works in our hearts in order that we may be ready for the coming of the Lord. But it is very affecting that the way in which we conduct the occasion starts from the Supper, from the actual breaking of bread, and then we carry on with the worship of the divine Persons. It is a great basis for receiving the Lord amongst us. He becomes the First, He is the first One amongst us, and He can lead us in the service of God.
TRP Is it not a very wonderful fact that the Lord desires our company?
PC That was certainly what was on my heart. It is a real matter. It is true that God desires the company of His creatures since the beginning. But He was denied it by the fall of man. But the Lord Jesus being here was the first One Who could really accomplish the work that makes us fit for the Lord’s company.
TRP And when we come together, we are very often conscious of our weakness and lack of faithfulness in the week, and yet the Lord in His wonderful grace still comes to us.
PC Yes, His grace is operating all the time.
Rem The word translated ‘Passover’ – the Greek term pascha – is related to the Aramaic, and it links to the word used in Exodus for the Passover lamb. It seems that the verb has the idea of ‘passing over to protect or defend,’ so there the Lord’s concern is not so much with the judgment of Egypt, but with protecting and looking after His people.
PC Yes. At the Passover they were protected from the destroying angel, and so I think the Lord is thinking of the protection of His own, and the protection of ourselves as well, as we continue. Because, had we not got the Supper, we would soon lose track of the Lord ourselves. I speak for myself, anyway, but the Lord is giving us protection in such an occasion by attaching ourselves to Him.
TJK In this instance the Lord is taking the place of Host: He set it on, He sent Peter and others to prepare it. Does that apply at the Supper also? We speak of the Lord coming to us, but I wonder if we should not also recognise that He is Minister of the holy places (Heb 8:2).
PC Yes, I see your point. Certainly the Lord has to have the first place amongst us, and we always have to remember that the weekly exercise should lead us to the Supper, but once we get there we certainly have to have the Lord as our Object. That is true of every occasion in which we gather, of course, but particularly of the Supper, the Lord being the Object in view. The emblems that have been given are there as witness to that.
DWB So preparation is needed on our side that conditions might be suited to Him. It says, “He placed Himself at table.” That is, He was satisfied with what the disciples had provided up to that point.
PC Yes, I think this is very important, because preparation involves exercise from ourselves. It was a matter of obedience as well, because the Lord had told them what to do and they did it. And then it is a matter of desire. The Lord is very gracious to them: He does not refer to their desire, He says, “With desire I have desired.” It is His own desire, and it would be a very nice combination: the preparation of the disciples and the desire of the Lord set on this occasion in which He can be amongst them and, by extension, amongst us.
DJB Although the apostle says that “our Passover, Christ, has been sacrificed,” and that is complete, he then says, “So that let us celebrate the feast” (1 Cor 5:8): to maintain the principle of unleavened bread. That continues, does it not?
PC Yes. You mean that the exercise must be there on our side in order to continue.
DJB Yes. The apostle graciously said what it meant; he said it was the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,” which are two good preparations, are they not? They do not extend to love, but they are necessary.
SML Had you any thought about the later statement, “But I am in the midst of you as the One that serves?” What do you see in that, please?
PC Well, there are many Scriptures that can help us about the Lord being amongst us, but I thought that here the Lord is introducing the occasion in which our hearts can be centred upon Him. And following what He says here, is the occasion in which He serves. Even if we think of us serving the Lord, we have to take account of how graciously He serves amongst us in order that we may be prosperous in our services towards divine Persons. I am often impressed on the Lord’s Day morning how the Lord prepares us in order that we may worship the Father in a suitable way. How could we do it without His leading and without His service? But do you have something more in mind?
SML No, I was hoping that you would open it up for us, as you have. It is a very wonderful thing that He comes to serve His own. It brings out the reality of His love. As we see that, it prompts affection from us in response. But He does not come in, you might say, in any prominent fashion: He comes as One to serve His own, as loving and valuing them and their company. It is a very attractive presentation.
PC Yes, and what follows is very important: the Lord says to them that they have persevered with Him in His trials. He was crediting them with the part they had with Him. And so He was serving them, but they were with Him in the trials. And I think it is very important to be aware of what the Lord went through for us, and also what He is taking account of in our hearts because of all the troubles that are there to be overcome in our pathway.
Rem He washes our feet so that we can have part with Him (John 13:8). And He is also the Chief Musician; the One Who serves becomes the One Who leads the praise!
PC Yes. You are widening the subject quite a bit, because washing our feet is a practical service of the Lord in view of our being down here. The Chief Musician certainly has to do with the service in the sanctuary, and that is the highest ‘part with Him,’ we could say, in which we are involved.
DO Do you think all that is described here – the Lord Jesus wanting to show us how close He is and how much fellowship He desires to have with us – is to strengthen us on our way?
PC Certainly so, yes. He was there to witness to them how much He has to share with them. They are to share with Him in that way, but they could not have fellowship with Him in His coming sufferings because He had to go through them alone. They all fell asleep at the end, and they could not watch even one hour (Matt 26:40)! The Lord was going through on His own. But they knew what the position was that He went through for them, because they really were attached to their Lord, and yet He was opposed by the Jews, who in the end came to take Him away from them.
PJC Do you think the Lord really does appreciate whatever small amount of affection and love we have towards Him? Even though it might be difficult to see it in our lives, the Lord can take account of it! He really appreciated how the disciples had persevered with Him even though, as you say, there had not been very much perseverance and they had failed; He appreciated what was in their hearts. I am just thinking how much the Lord does appreciate thoughts we have towards Him. We can be encouraged to remember Him. Some might feel, particularly younger ones, that they have to work themselves up to a point where they are worthy of remembering Him, but the Lord accepts us as we are even with just a little affection towards Him.
PC Yes, I think so, and it is very comforting to know that He does that, because if I think of my measure, I feel quite discouraged, but I think of what the Lord takes account of, and that He promotes growth, and help and exercise in order that we may grow in the knowledge of Him. In fact that is why He takes account of such smallness, even where only two or three are there. I can assure you that I experience it personally: it is a great cheer to know that the Lord is there, even with two or three!
TRP Is not the Lord’s service to us in view of our fulfilling our service to the glory of God?
PC I am sure of that. It is important to know that whatever the Lord works in our hearts will produce a fruit, not according to our measure but according to His own purpose. That is very cheering.
MJC The Lord comes to affection, does He not? I think it is good to see this, that the Lord loves us, but He comes to those who love Him.
BED Is that why the Lord came to Mary, because her affection was there?
PC Yes, it is very important to have affection for the Lord. The passage in Isaiah is very testing, it says, “There is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). Naturally speaking we would not desire Him because of our sinful nature, but what the Lord works in our hearts promotes affection for Himself. This is really how the divine system works, based on love. He is presented to us in holiness and righteousness in love.
MJC It comes back to John 3:16, does it? “For God so loved the world.” He has proved that love in the giving of His beloved Son.
TRP We may take courage that the Spirit of God has shed abroad His love, God’s love, in our hearts (Rom 5:5). That is, God’s love for Christ has been given to us as a priceless gift. That is not up to me, but it is up to me to use that gift.
PC The service of the Spirit is very important in that way. In order to experience the Lord’s presence we really need the Spirit’s help. I think that is why, in the last passage, we have the experience that the disciples would have together, experiencing the peace of the Lord, “Peace be to you.” It was not the same as the peace upon the waters; that was a different situation. Here, what they had experienced was to see their Lord taken away from them, put on the cross, put into the grave. And now they could have Him back amongst them.
MJC And back in a different condition, in resurrection condition.
MSB Before we go on to that, can you say what is involved in being gathered together “unto My name” – to the Lord’s name?
PC Well, I have asked myself that question because I find it very exercising. I must confess I pondered on the way in which I sometimes go to the local meetings – whether I really have such exercise on my heart. Am I going to the meeting in order to be gathered to the Lord’s name? That means that we are involved with Him, linked with Him, and committed to Him as the Lord amongst us. That is the way we have known Him. God has been presented in the Lord Jesus as the Way we have to follow. “I am the Way,” He said (John 14:6). And so, being gathered to His name commits us to Himself. That is a very deep matter when we gather, because that means that we have to take everything else out. But you might have more to say.
MSB I was just thinking that the Lord’s name is in rejection here, and gathering to Him means that as we gather, things need to be in accord with His name, do you think?
PC Absolutely. That is the only way we can expect the Lord’s presence. The Lord calmed the waters and the wind. That was the opposition that was current. When He came to the disciples here, He showed them His hands and His side: His work had been completed. They had to start with His work and reject everything else.
PKL In the Acts, the “name” comes into prominence because the Lord is no longer here. “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazaraean rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). And then, a few chapters later on, they were “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonoured for the name” (Acts 5:41). They would do what was right before the Lord. Does it actually mean that we are gathered to the Man Who is not here? Gathered around Someone Who is not here? We are not gathering around a Person we can see with our physical eyes, but we are seeking a spiritual experience. The young may be getting puzzled when we say we see the Lord. Well, we do not actually physically see Him, but we see Him by faith, with the eyes of our heart. Is that the experience that the disciples had in the Acts?
PC Yes, I think so. For us it is a spiritual experience, a spiritual matter, but we have to remember that when we gather to His name, we also own His authority, and therefore He will lead us as we submit to Him as our Lord; He will lead us in the field of experience and blessing. One of the blessings is to see Him, to perceive His presence. The disciples going to Emmaus would be a good example: they had the Lord before their eyes, but they could not recognise Him, and yet their heart was burning within themselves as He spoke to them (Luke 24:32). The Lord was there physically; it is not so now, but we can experience His presence in our hearts.
MJC In connection with the question that has been raised, I cannot rightly experience gathering to the Lord’s name if I have not gone through the exercise of 2 Timothy 2: “Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity” (v19). I think the two are inseparably connected, do you not?
PC Yes, that raises the practical exercise of fellowship, because we are drawn to the Lord and we are individuals. Then we are all to enjoy good and joyful experiences together, but they have to be there in our hearts on a righteous basis. The Lord has introduced what is righteous. This helps us to understand why the Passover is ended: it had to be performed every year, but the Lord’s work has been done once and for all, and we have to put ourselves in accordance with that.
MJC The story goes of a brother who went to see Mr Coates on a Saturday evening, and was told by his housekeeper that he could not see him because he was celebrating the Passover. That was in view of his coming to the Supper on Lord’s Day morning. I think that puts the whole thing into context. The Passover is our realising what the Lord has done for us, and how we need to judge ourselves in relation to that, so that we may freely enter into the privilege and joy of gathering to the Lord’s name for the remembrance of Himself.
PC Yes, this goes back to the preparation of which we were speaking before. It is really having exercises in our hearts as to how to meet the Lord. Of course that also extends to the responsibility of fellowship: there is a responsibility in having the Lord amongst us; it is not only a matter of enjoyment, it is a matter of responsibility too, and facing the conditions in which we can have Him amongst us.
TRP We are drawn together to Him: He is to fill our hearts, our souls, our whole being. If that is true of me, then I will seek to be free of anything that dishonours Him. It is a consequence, it is not a law.
PC The Lord draws us to Him, and that is His power and His grace. On the other side, we gather together on our own responsibility in order to have the Lord amongst us. The two things go together, and the exercise of the heart is promoted by the Spirit.
MJC It is both a privilege and a responsibility and, as our attention is being drawn to this, we need to see both sides. We cannot have love for the Lord unless He has worked in our hearts and drawn us to Himself, but there is also our side in responsibility to provide right conditions, and to make sure that we are in a right state.
TRP And that is the result of my love for Christ. That is the motive power in my soul which the Spirit would develop within me, a real, burning love for Christ. He alone is worthy of it!
PC Yes. The disciples’ example here is good: they were together. I do not know whether they were really expecting the Lord to come, but they were together and they found the Lord amongst them. The way in which they were together was by closing the door to everything outside. It was a matter of keeping themselves ready for that experience.
DWB It is the practical pursuit of righteousness, faith, love and peace (2 Tim 2:22) that provides the conditions whereby we can be together and experience the Lord’s presence.
PC Yes, I think that the devout disciples were gradually taught that, and so are we. Once we have experienced the blessing of the Lord’s presence, we then are to face up to the exercise of having Him amongst us. His grace is always there to meet us at the beginning, but then we have to move accordingly.
JB His coming amongst us is in view of taking us to where He is, is it not? He says, “I ascend to My Father and your Father” (v17). That message was brought to His disciples.
PC I think that is very important, because the Lord intends to lead us. As when He was here, it is the same now; He always has in view praise to the Father. We are to be led in that. It is as our brother was saying before, He is the Minister of the sanctuary. In that way we can be sure we will be moving in the right way, led by Him.
Ques Is there an echo here of the first passage we looked at? There they were afraid because of the wind and the waves. You might say, Peter was a fisherman, he was used to going out on the Sea of Galilee. Sometimes the Lord will so arrange that circumstances happen in which, where we thought we were confident, we cannot cope, and we need the Lord as the answer to our fear, or, as was suggested earlier, it may be that the political situation or the nations are causing us to fear. Here it is the religious angle, it is the Jews. The disciples are gathered together with the doors closed because of the Jews. Young people find RE teachers will start asking questions to make you doubt the Bible. They are just echoing what the serpent said at the beginning, ‘Has God said …?’ (Gen 3:1). And so you have religious opposition. And still the answer is the Lord.
PC The Lord was sufficient to the disciples in conditions of fear. He says to them, “Peace be to you.” And He says that twice. It shows that He intends to confirm this to their hearts in order that they might be led in the way where He is the One before them and they go with Him.
DWB And the enemies being overcome, He comes in just to lead them in the sanctuary. He came and stood in the midst, He did not sit down.
PKL The Lord was always sufficient for every thing that came against Him, whatever it was. The only time that He says, “Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say?” (John 12:27) was in anticipation of the cross. We could think about that, the wonder of a Person Who was actually sufficient for everything, but Who could feel at that point that He was troubled so as to ask what He should say!
DO The world does not have peace. The Lord Jesus wants to make sure that as Christians we have peace, because He says twice, “Peace be to you.” This may be one of the conditions of experiencing His presence and having fellowship with Him. It is only in peace that we can enjoy our salvation.
PC Certainly that is a very important point. I thought this peace not only met the need of each heart there, but also prepared them in order to be serviceable. As Jews, they did not know how to worship the Father according to His will and according to His pleasure, but now they could be in peace because, as we remarked, He was standing there amongst them ready to lead them in the service. This is one of the beauties of our occasion together on the Lord’s Day morning, because once we take account of the Lord’s work, obeying His commandment to remember Him, then we carry on in worship towards Him because we are drawn to Him, and then He leads us to the Father, not forgetting of course the service of the Holy Spirit, Who is God Himself.
10 August 2013