"I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself." (John 14:2)
One of the red letter days in the annals of the ancients was the occasion when God communicated His purpose to establish an eternal abode. The covenant home is one of the brightest prospects connected with the contract which God concluded in the first place with father Abraham. Throughout the remainder of his life the revealed realities caused the patriarch to look “for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.” The covenant home is centered in Christ Who is the tree of life which is pictured as being in the midst of the Paradise of God. The uniqueness of the symbol expresses the unfailing resourcefulness of the Redeemer, resources which are continually accessible and constantly available to all. The Son of man, Whose portraiture is exhibited in the first chapter of this final unveiling is here manifest in the maturity of His manifold character, which is adaptable to every phase of eternal life. The apostle Paul had declared Him to be "the fullness of the Godhead bodily." How clearly this fact is now disclosed in the twelve manners of fruits which are yielded every month! The redeemed of the Lord will then behold Christ as the infallibility of God's truth, the majesty of God's power, the authority of God's throne, the sovereignty of God's rule, the supremacy of God's might, the sufficiency of God's grace, the infinity of God's love, the immutability of God's justice, the impregnability of God's peace, the tranquility of God's rest, the stability of God's word and the pity of God's heart.
The perpetual productivity is promoted by the unclouded radiance of the Sun of Righteousness, the healing of Whose wings was predicted centuries before by the prophet Malachi. (Mal. 4:2) The remarkable figure of this perennial tree with its foliage, flowerage and fruitage typifies the unceasing sustenance to meet every requirement of the new Creation, the resources of which are all resident in HIM. Earlier He is declared to be the one “in Whom all fullness dwells,” therefore, in His own personality He is the embodiment of Godly virtue, the reservoir of all knowledge and the repository of everlasting life, which includes exuberant joy and eternal peace.
The contrast made between the vine and the tree is clearly defined in the Scripture. The symbolism of the vine is a suggestion of spiritual union, whereas the tree of life expresses the immortal unity of the eternal life in sanctity, satiety, superiority and sublimity. The people of God are all partakers of the divine nature and participate in the divine name, Rev. 22:4. No longer does the strain of circumstance cause anxiety, no agitation through stress of environment can disturb, no assailings because of storm can possibly mar the blessed calm of a perfect contentment. The unwithering verdure of the tree of life with its leaves for the maintenance of health, together with the manifold variety of imperishable fruits is the final emblem of the unfailing ability of this glorious Bridegroom to graciously sustain and satisfy the capacities of His immortal people through endless ages.
"Christ, the Builder of that city,
All creation rightly owns,
Taking us from nature’s quarry
Makes our lives His building stones.
For that city we must labor,
For its sake bear pain and grief,
In it find the end of labor
And the anchor of belief."
The symmetry and beauty of the city of God "show forth the praises of Him Who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." (I Pet. 2:9) The perfect state of the society has imprinted upon it the divine stamp of perfect righteousness and the echoes of hope issuing from patriarchal days here become a realized goal. The aspirations of heart emanating from the emancipated through long centuries of expectation are now completely met. The age.old desires for permanent peace are at last fully satisfied.
Compacted in this city of God we discover in a unified and consummate fulfillment the widest range of purpose, the greatest fruit of sacrifice, the holiest results of priesthood, the final aim of salvation, the grandest issue of covenants, the profoundest vindication of justice, the highest realization of marriage, the deepest state of harmony, the loftiest display of glory, the sweetest presentation of praise, the costliest robes of adornment and the choicest crown of recompense.
If we are to value fully the realities of this celestial city we need a more vital faith in the character and competence in the Bridegroom Who establishes it. We cannot do better than examine the stately witness which He bore to Himself, when making the most formidable of all His manifold claims, “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Rev. 22:13)
From the excellent glory He uttered these astounding and arresting words. No triple title ever named or claimed by anyone approaches in degree of dignity or durable distinction aught of the luster of longevity, miter of maturity or center of constancy indicated in this sensational proclamation.
He Who stands in solitary splendor above all votaries and towers in superiority above every victorious ruler would at this stage have His people aspire to greater heights and contemplate Him in yet loftier capacities.
These dignified designations combine in their magnificence every other title He bears, for they indicate that He precedes all others in His priority, exceeds all in His superiority and succeeds all in His finality. He holds the exclusive honor without competitor as Revealer, Creator and Mediator. Within this orbit of revelation, creation and mediation every former title, office and vocation is involved and included. Language cannot be framed to make a greater claim than this. No other words known convey in their meaning and message such a limitless conception of the magnitude of resource, the magnificence of renown and the multitudinous rights that are resident in the Son of man.
Christ's preeminence abides without equal, His preponderance abounds without rival and His prescience avails without counsel eternally.
The more we contemplate the claim, the more easily we shall be able to grasp His absolute ability to prepare so glorious a home as an everlasting abode for His beloved bride. Let us briefly consider each of the three claims.
These constitute, as we are aware, the first and last letters of the alphabet of New Testament revelation, and, when used in the manner adopted here, they denote that Christ is the sum and substance of all divine revelation. He is figured as the whole alphabet in its resourcefulness, so that He is the Key to knowledge, the Repository of the riches of wisdom, the Spring of spiritual truth, the Author of all prophecy and the Revealer of the will of God.
Christ is Himself the Regenerator of life, the Resplendency of light and the Reservoir of love. In Him reside all potentialities; He is the Citadel of prerogatives and the Center of all possibilities, the Controller of privileges and the Confirmed of all promises.
All the fruits of the new covenant, all the fullness of the new creation and all the features of the new eternal city are furnished by Him and founded upon His faithfulness.
Every combination of words constructed from the signs of the alphabet convey some phase of information, injunction or instruction. This holds true whether the words are used to describe momentous events, memorable experiences, magnificent scenery, mighty deeds, melodious songs or merciful deliverances. All literature is compiled from the use made of the letters and all mathematics are based on the numerical values of the same.
However, Christ means far more to revelation than the alphabet does to all such records. In relation to the whole range of revealed truth He is the very soul of its beauty, the heart of its integrity, the life of its vitality, the hope of its prophecy, the key of its mystery, the wisdom of its philosophy, the truth of its infallibility, the power of its authority, the subject of its history, the antitype of its typology and the body of its unity. One of the names emblazoned on His vesture is "the Word of God." (Rev. 19:13)
Then again the alphabet is accessible to all peoples, available on all continents and adaptable to all subjects at all times, and it therefore comprises the fountain and fullness of literary resources for conveying every form of knowledge of every variety in every sphere. So likewise Christ is not the exclusive possession of any one class or clan, creed or community. No one nationality, society, party or country can lay sole claim to Him. The Son of man is universal in both the mission of His manifestation and the ministry of His mediation. "Look unto me all ye ends of the earth and be ye saved" is Isaiah's message. (Isa. 4:22) "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” records the apostle John. “Death passed upon all men for all have sinned,” quoth St. Paul. “He by the grace of God tasted death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9)
Furthermore, the signs contained in the letters of the alphabet never wear out with use nor cease to be of real value, neither do they ever become obsolete with age. So also Jesus Christ is “the same, His years shall not fail.” His character is complete; nothing can be added to make Him perfect. In his conduct He is constant; nothing He does could be improved. In his consistency He is continuously active and everything He commences He completes. As He which is and was and is to come His attributes are changeless, timeless and ageless.
His claim argues finality, signifies supremacy, symbolizes adaptability, typifies immutability, confirms indestructibility, verifies His Deity and emblemizes eternity. Withal our blessed Lord is also so glorious that He beautifies meekness, He enriches goodness, He adorns greatness, He gilds preciousness, He burnishes lovingkindness, He garnishes graciousness, and He perfects holiness, therefore He is well able to bedeck and beautify the city of God with celestial comeliness.
“Teach me but Christ, all wisdom you bestow,
Teach me all else, I less than nothing know.”
From the eternal into time
To open by Thy power sublime
The way of Life, Thyself its source
That we to God might have recourse
And from Thy Father's home above
Replenish all in perfect love.
In this new realm with Crystal Sea
Beginning yes . and - End is He,
Eternal years and fadeless light
Shall banish pain and death and night.
And in His courts shall hosts upraise
Their tribute of enduring praise.
The First and Last the Final Goal,
Thou Mediator for the soul.
Thy mighty strength, Thy molding powers,
Remake this Universe of ours
The Garden City of the Lord,
Forever be Thy name adored!
Thou A to Z of perfect joy,
The purest gold without alloy,
The greatest good, the holiest will,
Thou canst our frail vessels fill,
With riches from Thy boundless store,
That satisfy for evermore.
As "beginning and end" Christ is both Creator and Caretaker, for in Him all things cohere, verily He is the Commencer and Consummator of all things. This metaphor marks Him out distinctively in both His priority and finality. His will evolves all laws for the governance and guidance of the universe, and He designs both the purpose and destiny of the visible and invisible. His majestic strength towers above all principalities and powers, and His authority is as sure and steadfast as an impregnable rock. The energy exerted in making worlds and conquering death is the same as that exercised by Him in ministering to the poor and helping the needy. He is a Fortress to defend, a Friend to deliver, a Fountain to refresh and the Fullness of God to renew in us spirit, soul and body.
Christ needs no preface to introduce Himself because He is the Beginning, and there is certainly no room for a postscript here, for He is also the End. He is the Beginning in reason, rank and rule, and He is the End in resurrection, restitution and ransom. He is likewise the Beginning in resource, riches and renown, and the End in righteousness, reunion and rest. The same may be said in relation to every subject of virtue and value for He is "all, and in all." (Col. 3:11)
The more we consider this final claim the more we become convinced that it is the most graphic in definiteness, the most dramatic in descriptiveness and the most majestic in demonstrativeness ever made. The all.inclusiveness incorporates every title perfectly that was given previously in part, in order to present the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ in His perfect and complete personality. The threefold resemblance He selected for expressing His divine attributes is rarest in resplendence, richest in magnificence and remotest in transcendence. Nothing comparable in spiritual imagery was ever before embodied in a single statement by any one. The illustrious likeness He announced is far too profound in its magnitude and meaning to have been the invention of human imagination. The permanent incorporation of all potentialities is indicated in "Alpha and Omega." The paramount inclusion of all prerogatives intimated in "The Beginning and the End." The preponderant identification of all perfections is implicated in "The First and the Last." The three similitudes are also intimately related, and combine strikingly in conveying the loftiest, largest and loudest proclamation ever made to the world through all its generations. Christ exceeds all others in dignity, excels all others in majesty, eclipses all others in glory and is the full and perfect expression of Deity.
The statements made in the earlier chapters of this unveiling depict and describe His greatness in a manner which is fraught with intensest interest. Some titles are in triple form such as ''faithful witness,'' ''First Begotten of the dead," and "Prince of the kings of the earth," also His designations, “The Amen” “The faithful and true witness," "The Beginning of the creation of God." Others are grouped in pairs as for instance: "The Jasper and Sardonix stone," which signify His Deity and Divinity; "the Lion and Lamb," which symbolize His majesty and meekness; "the Sun and Star," which suggest His sovereignty and superiority; “the Alpha and Omega,” which set forth His sufficiency and suitability; "the King of Kings and Lord of Lords," which strikingly portrays His authority and administration. In all of those qualitative offices and in every other that could be quoted He is "the beginning and the end."
If we turn to the realm of creation, we are compelled to observe that every whit of it utters His glory. This reality pertains and applies to the sublimity of the sky which is so measureless, the splendor of the stars which are so countless, the shekinah of the sun which is so exhaustless, the height of the heavens which are so trackless, the luster of light which is so matchless, the cosmos of color which is so corruptless, the symphony of sound which is so ceaseless, the majesty of the mountains which are so ageless, the beauty of the birds which is so flawless, the metals of mines which are so priceless, the symmetry of the snow flakes which are so numberless, the formation of the frost which is so noiseless, the fullness of the fountains which is so traceless, the flavors of the fruits which are so faultless, and the fragrance of the flowers which is so peerless. Yea, the whole earth is full of His glory.
Herein we find expressed the keynote of his mediatorial majesty. Our Lord was the first personality that appeared on the horizon of history; therefore, He precedes all others in His office of mediation and outlives everyone else in this untransferable vocation. The exercise of His ministry and the expenditure of His mercy through the centuries, have not lowered the high.water mark of His manifold fullness nor diminished the energy of His morning freshness.
The attributes of His deity, the qualities of His sanctity, and the mercies of His ministry exceed in their magnitude all possibility of a final description being written. All His glory as Mediator with omniscient understanding, combined with His omnipresence, by virtue of which He is accessible for undertaking the case of every needy suppliant, comprise qualifications that transcend an angel's capacity, yet the mind of the poorest saint can grasp enough of His sacrificial love and sympathetic pity to satisfy the heart and satiate the soul. In every estimate of merit, in every degree of honor, in every quality of virtue, in every phase of dignity, in every office of value, in every epoch of time, in every variety of season and in every order of place, Christ Himself is ''the first and the last.''
He understands the speech of every nation; He knows the language of every people; He is familiar with the tongue of every race and is acquainted with the dialect of every tribe. Christ is able to sense the heartache of the bereaved, weigh the sigh of grief in the sorrow-stricken soul, measure the agony of a distressed mother and detect the tone of a child's cry. With His rare and delicate sensitiveness He discerns loyalty of life, defines love's fervent qualities, decides the real nature of our desires and gauges the genuineness of our devotion, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." (Heb. 4:13) Therefore,
The laurels of His Lordship are not borrowed, the honors of the high and holy offices He administers are not honorary, the credentials of His supreme command are not conferred, and no debt of gratitude is due to any individual high or low for contributing to the personal glory of the Son of God, for His glory was full.orbed before the world was. (John 17:5)
The holiness of His priesthood and heavenly prerogative are not promoted by earthly ceremonies or ordination, nor perfected by ecclesiastical appointment. He is a High Priest for ever, the One Mediator between God and man, without predecessor or successor, the Alpha and Omega.
The beneficence of the heritage He bestows and the benefits He bequeaths were not handed down to Him, because He is the Beginning of the creation of God.
The scepter of His sovereignty is not secured through some stately line of royal succession, for He is the First, the King of Kings.
His regality and righteousness are not the result of racial relationship. He owes nothing to the Hebrew regime either racially or politically, religiously or philosophically but declared emphatically: "Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:53)
His Princely power as the blessed and only Potentate is not procured through the lineage of Israel's kings or from the pedigree of her princes. He is the root of David and not only preceded him but promoted David's kingliness.
The wealth of His wisdom is not an enlarged copy of Solomon the glorious, or of the sages of Greece; He proclaims in His teaching and testimony, “Behold a greater than Solomon is here.”
His dignity and dominion are not dependent on the Pharaohs or derived from the distinguished among the Caesars. He asked no aid from the authorities or administrators of earth but declared, "My kingdom is not of this world. Christ is the only personality ever to appear in this world Who is wholly self.contained in His inherent prerogatives of life, completely self.sustained in His infinite potentialities of light, and perfectly self.explained in His incarnate proprieties of love.
The unprecedented personal witness borne by Christ to Himself surpasses in word formation, sentence construction and symbolic representation every utterance known. The symbols He used express the substance of His eternal being and exhibit the equality in perfection, of light, life and love in absolute harmony.
“The Alpha and Omega” supplies the best possible formula and illustration of His infinity. “The Beginning and End” contributes the clearest available symbol of His immutability. “The First and Last” furnishes the finest figure feasible for the interpretation of His immortality.
When we contemplate the myriad beauties of the stars which scintillate their light across the bosom of eternity, the silent majesty of day so grandly impressive, the solemnizing sunset so gorgeously colorful, and the fleecy clouds and ever.changing mists in their multiform varieties, we can but exclaim with David, “What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him?” (Psa. 8:4)
He Who inaugurates such a ponderous universe and initiates such unalterable principles is quite capable of imparting purity to the heart, of bedecking the bride with faultless beauty and of gracing the society life of a new earth with fadeless glory.
In their inestimable range and dignity, the three titles incorporate the omniscient wisdom of the Word in revelation, the omnipotent will for the whole wide world of creation, and the omnipresent way of welcome in the witness of mediation. (John 14:6)
Our Lord is at once the Source of all sufficiency, the secret of all sovereignty and the spring of all superiority. By virtue of His changeless character His presence pervades the spacious realms of Heavenly hierarchies. By the merit of His ceaseless control His power predominates the confines of the celestial courts of administration. By right of His countless conquests His purpose prevails enduringly in an everlasting kingdom of absolute authority. His will is at the very center and reaches to the circumference of all things, visible and invisible. (Eph. 1:9.10)
When we calmly contemplate Christ's final covenant claim we are able to ascertain how completely He sets aside every other right of possession. He takes to Himself His great power and reigns. (Rev. 11:17) Nothing He achieves is aided by human ability.
Every standard of reckoning, including the extreme range of distance, the uttermost depth of degree and the remotest bound of duration are dwarfed into insignificance in the light of Christ's profound declaration. As the prophet Zephaniah said, "Thou remainest," and so He does ever and always, as the One Who is wholly worthy, gloriously genuine and finally faithful. This authentic personal testimony from the ascended King, anointed Priest and authoritative Lord Who holds the exclusive right to the greatest accumulation of titles, accredited triumphs and amaranthine trophies known, exceeds in range and resplendence the totality of all other kingly honor and regal renown.
By His sacrificial victory He is the only one Who vindicated the holiness of the Law, vouched for the dire cause of humanity's humiliation, vanquished the debt and death which were instigated by Hell, and voiced the rights of His reconciled hosts in the courts of the Heavenly sanctuary.
Although He is now enthroned amid the unapproachable splendor of an uncreated grandeur superior to all in the unblemished beauty of holiness, yet the lowly demeanor of His gracious deportment remains unchanged. How could there be any misunderstanding about His identity when He signs Himself by His best known name -- “I, Jesus.”
This act of Christ is esteemed by His own people to be one of the most delicate and tender touches of His gracious ministry. The exquisite display and elaborate description of His majestic might has not erased His Kingly considerateness and kindly care in one iota. The same humility of heart and lordly love combine in His characteristic demeanor. Having been permitted a glimpse into the stellar resplendence of His star-like fame environed in stately serenity, the lunar radiance of His moon.like fairness in all its silvery beauty, and the solar brilliance of His sun.like features in their golden glory we are amazed to find this lowly, lovely, lordly name used as His signature.
Yet Jesus stands for manifest majesty, manifold mercy and withal a mighty ministry. This name signifies a citadel of comfort, a strong-hold of sympathy, a mansionry of mercy, a temple of tenderness, a tower of treasure, a castle of confidence and a palace of pity in one peerless personality, a fountain of fragrance, a spring of sweetness, a river of righteousness.
We would need to amass the total of all the generous gifts, bounteous benefits, glorious graces, precious promises, copious credentials, ponderous powers and spacious splendors in one, in order to find even so much as an index to His famous qualities for they are so extensive; His name is above every name. Yea, "Thy name is as ointment poured forth," Song of Songs 1:3, therefore it is as a fountain of fragrance, a river of excellence, an ocean of beneficence, a sea of quintessence, a mountain of magnificence and a stream of transcendence. JESUS is the true vine, the tree of life, the truth of God, the temple of hope, the throne of grace, the theme of poets and the title of glory. Every ceremonial value of the Jewish economy, every cardinal virtue of Christianity and every celestial voice of the Heavenly society pays tribute to Jesus, for He is the Saviour of men, the Signet of God, the Seal of life and the Shepherd of love. The variegations of His manifold grace and the variations of His multiple glories are without compare. We need but reflect back to His earthly manifestation to witness His mercy. “He did no sin,” said the apostle, "He did no violence," said the prophet, but He blessed the young, He protected the feeble, He saved the lost, He healed the sick, He regarded the aged, He strengthened the weak, He served the unfortunate, He cleansed the lepers, He delivered the captives, He endowed the worthy, He enlightened the guileless, He enriched the devout, He engraced the dignified, He rewarded the diligent and He beautified the meek.
No citizen of this society will be able to boast of any endowment he made to furnish a foundation, supply a sapphire, provide a pearl or fashion a living stone for the city, "for the Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel's Land.”
This significant signature, "I, Jesus" is a pearl of Paradise, a gem of glory, a legacy of love, a doter of crystal, a jewel of joy, a cup of cheer, a satchel of song, a mine of music, a harp of hope, a dowry of delight, a casket of charm, a bouquet of beauty, a vessel of virtue and a banquet of bliss.
No national narrowness finds any place in the heart of Jesus, our Lord, no racial resentment has lodgment there, no social snobbery engages His interest, no parochial partisanship enlists His sympathy, no clannish culture enjoys His patronage, for with Him there is no respect of persons, but “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, upon them that fear Him.” (Psa. 103:17)
Change can never cramp His Christliness, time takes no toll of His truthfulness, decay does not deface His delightfulness, length of years leaves no lines on the feature of His loveliness, He abides eternally the same, and we are to be like Him "for we shall see Him as He is." (I John 3:2) The reality of His living presence is a realized experience in the lives of millions and His constraining love is the greatest conquering force in the world to this hour. His boundless resources for renewal secure a satisfying portion of perpetual dawn in the soul and furnish an ever-expanding life with larger liberties. We should learn to appreciate the fact more increasingly that God has given us a gift of such sort in His only begotten Son, a gift that can never be outvied, outworn, or outgrown.
The character of His notable Kinship, valuable Leadership, sociable Friendship and equitable Judgeship should assure every trembling, troubled or tarnished soul that failure need not be final.
Christ can mend the song bird's broken wing, reclothe the prodigal in robes of righteousness, restore the years the canker worm hath eaten, remold the marred vessel, recover the soul that has faltered and become fettered, renew to purity and peace the defiled and defeated, and make all things new.
The attempt to set forth the Lord's attributes by using earthly analogies, we find them altogether deficient in depicting the spacious stateliness of His superior dignity. How can we reckon the stored up treasure of His boundless blessing, the manifold mercies, countless comforts, endless excellencies, measureless ministries, voluminous virtues and stupendous sympathies? The total value of all glittering gold cannot compare in worth with one grain of the glistening grandeur of His glorious grace. The full volume of the sun's rays cannot equal the resplendence of one single beam of the brilliant splendor of His boundless sympathy. The highest estimate ever proposed as a worthy price for the costliest cluster of exquisite pearls is dwarfed into insignificance in the light of the luster of the smallest fraction of His immortal loveliness. If we could calculate the cubical content of the entire atmosphere surrounding the globe, together with the complete volume of water in all oceans, seas, rivers and lakes, tabulate the length, breadth, depth and height of space to the uttermost bound of infinity, and measure the immensities that exist in relation to the eternities preceding and succeeding the termini of time, the sum total would be less in relation to the grace of Christ than a speck of dust in proportion to a ponderous star.
Who can estimate the merits of Messiah, Who although rich, yet for our sakes became poor? By virtue of the exclusive excellencies of His exquisite grace He loved us, loosened us from bondage and lifted us to share the wealthy society of the celestial court, so that we might participate in the imperial banquet of the marriage supper which is to celebrate the momentous hour of an eternal union of Godhead and humanity. The very fact of the incarnation betokens His infinite love, and is a foreshadowing of the intimate intercourse and unbounded blessedness into which the sons of God, who were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, are destined to enter.
If we consider leadership, what a lofty array of might and ability in that direction is expressed in His Messiahship. He is represented as Chief in every domain and dominion. He is not only Sovereign of the seasons, but governs them with unfaltering authority. He is Master of mysteries and supplies the key that unlocks the treasuries of truth and unveils the glories of the supernatural. He is the King of knowledge and imparts to the understanding the capacity to comprehend the spiritual realities of the invisible world. He is the Regent of righteousness, and imputes to the repentant a suitability of character that qualifies for communion with the God of holiness. He is the Prince of prevailers, who, having overcome all opposition to the will of God sat down with His Father upon His throne until His enemies be made His footstool. He is the Lord of leaders, and in His shepherd sympathy sacrificed Himself to save His sheep, and gives to them everlasting life so that they shall never perish. He is the Potentate of providences, and by virtue of His prescience in this sphere is never taken unawares, but orders and arranges beforehand the requisites for every hour of emergency. He is the Monarch of majesties, and as the King of kings will yet subdue all things unto Himself, for "the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ." This will mean the realization of one will for the whole wide world.
Within the confines of the city we reach the crown and climax of God's counsels, the aim and object of Christ's manifestation and ministry, and the project and purpose of the Spirit's perfecting. The gorgeous gates admit the regenerate peoples into the fullest realization of restfulness in God with replete satisfaction. Here it is that the redeemed of the Lord enter the holiness of Heaven, experience the perfectness of the divine presence, enjoy the contentedness of celestial companionship and embrace the blessednesses of His loving bosom. “Then shall I be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” “The eternal God is thy abode, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Psa. 17:15; Deut. 33:27) The whole ministry of Messiah is rendered, not because of our merit, but because of His majestic mercy in mediation.
This constitutes one of the main reasons why Christ instituted the feast of remembrance to be a means of commemoration as a memorial of His mission and passion. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is the celebration of the triumph of His atonement, His conquest over death and the victory of His ascension and coronation at the right hand of God. The objective in view is one and the same, "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:16) When instituting this sacred supper with the elements of bread and wine Christ submitted the signs in symbolical form of His sacrifice which signified our salvation, the emblems of His exodus which express our emancipation, and the memorials of His mediation which manifest our membership in the body of Christ, “Therefore,” said He, “Do this in remembrance of me." The loyalty of devotion in such exercises is constrained and maintained by love alone. "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
Many years ago when the Shah of Persia was spending a vacation on the wonderful mountains to the North of the capital, he was leisurely strolling over the hills one bright afternoon, and met an interesting shepherd with whom he held converse for some time without disclosing his identity. The following year, when revisiting the district, the king sought out the shepherd for a further interview and introduced a few of the state problems that were disturbing his mind. His majesty was agreeably surprised at the wise answers that were given suggestively, as to methods of dealing with some of the difficult matters that were mentioned. When the Shah returned the third year to his summer resort he sought out his shepherd friend again, and at the close of a long interview told him that he wanted him to come and live in the capital. The shepherd asked to be excused on the ground that he had been brought up a shepherd and would not fit into city life very well, whereupon the king made known to him whom he was addressing, and added, "I have the authority to demand that you come to the city." The shepherd apologized and expressed regret for the manner of his reply, for said he, “I was wholly unaware that I was in the presence of the king. If Your Majesty requires me to go to the city, I shall most surely go.”
The king made every provision to make his appointed counselor comfortable in the new surroundings, and soon learned that he could place implicit confidence in his judgment. Within a few years a bitter spirit of jealousy became apparent among a group of the courtiers, and various accusations were laid against the king's trusted counselor. The Shah took little notice of these until a charge of contemplated treason was fabricated. His Majesty was informed that this very personage he had brought to the capital now esteemed himself to be of such importance in the affairs of the kingdom that he had devised a scheme to overthrow the king and usurp the throne. The king was reluctant to believe it, but the rumors persisted, and eventually the courtiers conveyed the information that in one room of the spacious residence in which the advisor lived, the plans of a well.laid scheme of overthrow were already prepared, and into the room where these were kept no one was allowed to enter at any time.
Finally, the king paid a visit to the minister's home and asked to be shown over the premises. At the close of the inspection he said, "Have you shown me into every room of your residence?" "No," replied the minister, "there is one room into which I do not allow any one to enter at any time. A spark of suspicion flashed across the king’s mind for the first time, and he said, “I demand to see inside that room.”
"Very well, Your Majesty, if you demand admission, you shall go in." Whereupon the key was brought, and as soon as the door was unlocked the king stepped in so as to prevent any change being made in the set.up of the room. His Majesty was amazed at what he saw. "What does all this mean?" he straightway inquired. "Your Majesty," said the minister, "this table and stool I made for myself with an adze when living on the hills. The skin in front of the table belonged to my faithful shepherd dog. The others on either side are the skins from two of my pet sheep, the water bottle, wooden sandals and the crook are those which I used in the days of my shepherdhood." "What are they doing here?" said the king eagerly. The counselor answered, "Your Majesty, I come in here for one hour every day and look at these relics of my past, which remind me of the days when I was an insignificant, unknown shepherd on the northern hills. Then I recount what has been done for me, the dignified status to which I have been promoted and the confidence reposed in my counsel. By so doing my heart and life are maintained in loyalty and gratitude to Your Majesty for what has been done for me." The king turned silently with tear.filled eyes and left the room.
What an impressive lesson is here for us to learn! The king of Persia did not require to make himself of no reputation, experience rejection by his own people and suffer an ignominious death in order to promote a shepherd citizen to renown. Joseph, the shepherd lad of Palestine, endured far more than the Shah of Persia for the purpose of emancipating by his God.given foresight and skill a famine.stricken civilization, but Christ, the Lord, greatly excels even Joseph, and although rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. (II Cor. 8:9)
Let us stop and think what poverty of degradation we were actually in, and the permanent distinction we have been lifted into by Christ. From our being subjects in the kingdom of darkness we have been promoted to the inheritance of the saints in light. The distant remoteness of our state as far off has been exchanged for a place of relationship in which we are brought nigh, and for exclusion we now have entrance. Appraisers and valuers cannot estimate such love nor calculate the worth of His saving grace. Such values exceed valuation. The Redeemer's riches exceed the standards of reckoning. His manifold mercies excel mathematical calculation. Treasures of this nature cannot be tabulated.
When Jonathan beheld the ruddy face of David flushed with victory he unbuckled his girdle and sword and handed them to David, whereupon the young hero protested and spoke of these accoutrements as having gained him fame in Israel, but Jonathan disallowed the protest and as good as declared, "Fame in Israel, I would have had no fame but for you, no princedom and no kingdom. Were it not for your chivalrous courage in conquering Goliath, I should have been a serf and a slave to the Philistines, tormented and tortured by them at will. Take my robe, David, you have all title and claim to authority in Israel."
In the light of such things let us in reverent worship and deep sincerity commemorate the victorious triumph of our valiant Savior, and celebrate in this feast of eu.charis, that is, good grace, His prevailing power which has gained immortal fame and wrought for us so great a salvation. Our Lord has entrusted the memory of His supreme sacrifice, an unparalleled suffering to the familiar emblems of bread and wine. How simple are these figures, how sociable they are as we unitedly participate, and yet how suitable! Our Saviour sought not the society of the stately, nor selected the friendship of the lofty among men, but came to seek and to save the lost. Man in his prime can be very pompous and proud, but all such things perish in the day of death, whereas communion with Christ outshines all crowns, outlives all calendars, outclasses all creeds, and outvies all compensations.
When the famous General Grant lay in death, and the well.known Christian undertaker of New York, Stephen Merritt, was summoned to Buffalo to prepare the body for burial, he looked at the silent, pallid form of the man who had been the leader of a great nation, and who had had the highest honors conferred upon him by the crowned heads of Europe and Asia, then locking both doors of entrance to the room, knelt beside the corpse, and said, "O God, is this the end of human greatness? Then let me rededicate my life to Thee for the utmost of Christian service and sacrifice."
We do well to remember that our Lord and Saviour is worthy of the highest praise in the noblest language from the greatest saints and with deepest gratitude for evermore.
Are we girding ourselves and strengthening ourselves to make our Savior King? (I Chr. 11:10)