I wondered if, this afternoon, we could be occupied with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. This is not an intellectual exercise. We have read quite a few Scriptures; we probably know these chapters, and others which refer to this subject, quite well; I would like us to see these from a very personal point of view. I believe that if we were to conclude this gathering with a real sense of knowledge about the Lord’s sufferings – what the Lord went through for each one of us – we would be drawn to Him in affection. He is the One Who suffered not only in obedience to God, but also on our behalf. If this causes us to draw close to the Lord Jesus afresh, then the exercise this afternoon will have been worthwhile.
Our objective this evening is to have a greater appreciation of the Lord Jesus as a Friend, the Friend of sinners, and I believe it would help us in our pathway here, to walk in a way that is pleasing to Him.
I would like to speak briefly, with the Spirit’s help, on what is within us, as to whether we are aware of what is within us. Sometimes it is a shock to find what is within you!
I would like to begin with what was found in Christ, because when I think of Christ, I think of perfection – divine perfection in a Man.
I wondered if, this afternoon, we could be occupied in discussing and focusing on the sufferings of Jesus. Not as an intellectual exercise – we have read quite a few scriptures; we probably know these chapters quite well; I have only picked a few verses from both chapters in Matthew – but more from a personal point of view. I really think that if we were to conclude this gathering with a real sense of knowledge about the Lord’s sufferings – what the Lord went through for each one of us – and if we were drawn to Him, in affection to Him as the One Who suffered, in obedience to God, but also on our behalf, but I think that if we were drawn towards the Lord Jesus afresh then this exercise this afternoon will have been a worthy one.
The thought of resurrection has come before me. I think there are certain things in Christianity which we perhaps accept as fact, and do not fully appreciate how they are to be worked out in our lives, and I think for myself that resurrection is one of these things.
What is in mind in reading these Scriptures is the thought of what has been prepared. In John 12 it is what the household in Bethany prepared. In Luke’s Gospel it is what Peter and John prepared; also, it says in Matthew and Mark it is what the disciples prepared. In John 14 it is what the Lord has prepared. And in 1 Corinthians it is what God has prepared. We can get, I think, only a little of what these Scriptures may have for us, because in themselves they are very full.
I want to speak of what it says in Hebrews, things that we “have come to” (v22). It is quite important when we are young to understand that in Christianity there are certain things that we need to come to. We might not arrive at all these truths at one time, because it would be in connection, always, with our growth. I have read of these three persons in the Old Testament because what we get in them are the final words at certain points which they had reached in their long history with God.
I would say at the outset that we all need to appreciate increasingly the history that we may have with God.
What is in mind in reading these Scriptures is the cross. It is a subject which deserves considerable attention, always having in our minds what R. D. Edwards said in his hymn as to the wonderful character of the cross. There God’s heart is revealed to us:
O the cross of Christ is wondrous!
There I learn God’s heart to me
I think, beloved brethren, we need to consider what the cross means. I am looking at it not exactly from the way man approaches it, but I am looking at it from God’s point of view, because I think that is a side of the truth which we need to consider in greater depth.
I have an impression to speak about possession – about possessing our inheritance. As believers on the Lord Jesus, we have a wonderful inheritance. We have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph 1:3). It is an inheritance that we shall enjoy when the Lord comes for us or we go to be with Him. But it is in God’s heart that we should enjoy that inheritance now. We know in natural things that it is not enough to know about an inheritance; we need to possess it to enjoy it. And possession involves spiritual conflict.
These Scriptures speak in different ways about the way, and I thought that we might get help in considering these various aspects of the way. If we have come to the Lord, we are in the way. That is how the early believers were described – as being “of the way” (Acts 9:2).