« PreviousContinue »
thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” They had sometimes before put that question to him. But they did not yet fully comprehend his answers. And it would have been agreeable to him, if they had now given him occasion to speak again of the place whither he was going ; especially if they had by their inquiries manifested an increase of knowledge, and a growing esteem and affection for heavenly things.
This message therefore our Lord sends to his disciples immediately after his resurrection, before he showed himself personally to any of them. “I am indeed risen from the * dead. I who was dead, am alive again. But let not « • therefore any fond thoughts arise in the minds of any of you.
. Į am soon to leave this world, and go to him that • sent me, as I often told you formerly.
6 I ascend to my * Father, and your Father : to my God, and your God.””
" This message was altogether worthy of our Lord. And it was exceedingly suited to produce a serious and attentive frame in the minds of his disciples, and to carry their thoughts from the things of this world, however engaging, to those of another.
3, Our blessed Lord intended by this message to comfort and strengthen his disciples by assurances of a like glory and happiness with what was allotted to himself.
“ I go to my Father,” says he,“ and to your Father, to my God, and your God.” I am raised up to life. So likewise
” • shall all they be in due time who believe in me, and fol• low, and obey me, To all such the Father will by me give eternal life.'
Our Lord proved a resurrection to the pharisees from God's having called himself “ the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob."
Our Lord had been now declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection. Herein God had shown himself a Father to him. He here says to his disciples, that God is not only his God and Father, but theirs also. Thereby he assures them of a resurrection to life, to die no more, and of their partaking of glory and happiness like his. Then their sonship, and God's fatherly love and care for them, will be manifest. So says our Lord. “ Neither can they die any more. For they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection," Luke xx. 36.
Whilst our Lord was yet with the disciples, and before he took his leave of them, he said: “I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come
again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” John. xiv. 2, 3; and afterwards, ver.
“ Because I live, ye shall live also." Thus we see at once how God
not only the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also how he is the God and Father of his disciples and people. He is the Son of God, and God is his father, in a sense peculiar to himself. He is their elder brother, and the first-born from the dead, and has in all things the pre-eminence. They likewise are dear to God, as children ; they have been born of God, they are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. And they have an inheritance. It is in the heavenly mansions of their Father's house with Christ, who is their head and Lord.
4. In this message to the disciples our Lord might intend to encourage their expectation of the fulfilment of the promise of the gift of the Spirit, to enlighten them, and qualify them for the difficult work to which he had called and appointed them; a thing which he had often spoken of, especially when he discoursed of bis leaving them. “ Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is expedient that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come. But if I depart, I will send him unto you,” John xvi. 7, 8.
APPLICATION. I shall add a thought or two by way of reflection.
Admirable are the condescension and the goodness of the Lord Jesus. “ Go to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, to my God, and
Jesus is risen from the dead to die no more. He nevertheless calls his disciples, as yet in a state of affliction and trial, brethren. They had accompanied him in his temptation. And he still calls them brethren. We therefore need not scruple to esteem and call them our brethren, who in some respects are inferior to us.
The goodness of Jesus is also very admirable. The disciples had lately failed in their regard to bim, and left him alone in his hour of disgrace. Nevertheless, when risen from the dead, and death has no longer any power over him, nor are any of the afflictions of this life able to reach him, he sends them this message full of affection and tenderness. It is not a threatening, it is not an upbraiding message, but encouraging and cheering.
We should not abuse his goodness. But if we are sincere, let us hope that Jesus, who knows all things, will not reject us for unallowed failings and neglects.
And let us also be willing to own others for our brethren, who are not perfect, but are defective, and fail, though sincere, in an hour of temptation ; and let us do what we can to strengthen and comfort them,
CHRIST'S POVERTY OUR RICHES.
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though
he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye
through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. viii. 9. THESE words lie among divers arguments, which the apostle offers to the Corinthians, to induce them to a liberal contribution for the relief of the poor saints in Judea. And these words may be considered as containing an argument to generosity therein. Or, whilst they contain indeed a very powerful motive to liberality, and to every good work, they may be considered as exhibiting to these christians a reason why the apostle need not press their liberality to the utmost, by the use of many arguments, they being already acquainted with a very forcible inducement. “ For ye know the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ." However, it is not my design at this time to consider the words, particularly with regard to their connection, or to excite your liberality to any contribution. I now treat of them, as a remarkable and distinguished part of the portion of scripture read this morning in our ordinary course, and as likely to furnish meditations suitable to the solemnity of the Lord's supper to be this day administered among us.
In the words are several things observable.
III. The moving cause and consideration of his “ becoming poor," which was, our benefit; or, “ that by his poverty we might be rich."
IV. How Christ's poverty conduces to our riches.
V. “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in becoming poor, that we might be rich."
1. In the first place we are to observe the riches of Christ. Hereby is meant the great dignity of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the mighty power which he was possessed of, and his command over all things. In a text very parallel with this the apostle speaks of Christ being “ in the form of God,” Philip. ii. 6. In another place he says, “ in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” Col. ii. 9; that is, really; not as in the temple of old at Jerusalem, in a bright fame, or resplendent glory, a visible outward symbol of the divine presence. But in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Deity really. He has divine knowledge, wisdom and power. In Matt. i. 23, is applied to Jesus the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the birth of a child, of whom it was foretold : “ They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is, God with us.” And St. John at the beginning of his gospel says : “ The Word was made flesh,” or took human nature, “ and dwelled among us. And we saw his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
This is great riches. Let us also observe some of the proofs hereof. They are very evident in the life of Jesus. In him appeared the knowledge of all things, of the thoughts and designs of men, things done formerly, in private, and thing's future. He had likewise all power for healing diseases, raising the dead, and for restraining his enemies when he saw fit. He commanded the winds and the waves, and they obeyed him. He multiplied small provisions for the supply of great multitudes; and he spake as man never spake, with perspicuity and true sublimity, to the admiration of the people, to the conviction of some of his enemies, and the surprise of others of them.
II. The next particular is our Lord's poverty. became poor.” In this expression two things are implied ; first that he was poor, and then, that he was so willingly, and with his own consent.
First, Jesus Christ was poor. Hereby is meant by the apostle not only the being destitute of a large patrimony, or plentiful income, and many accommodations, but all the mean circumstances of our Lord's outward condition.
However, he was poor in the literal sense of the word. He descended from the family of David, when it was in a low estate; and when he appeared in his public character, he had no settled habitation of his own. When one of the Jewish scribes came to him, making an offer to follow him whithersoever he went, our Lord recommended to him to consider the consequence of such a resolution; for, says he, " the Son of man hath not where to lay his head,” Matt. viii. 20. There are many evidences of our Lord's poverty ;
for he subsisted chiefly by the contributions of a few zealous friends and followers. When they came to him for the tribute-money, or the annual offering for the use of the temple at Jerusalem, he seems not to have had of his own wherewith to pay it; and therefore rather than give offence by not paying it, he wrought a miracle for a supply.
But by the poverty mentioned in the text, we are farther to understand all the many sufferings and inconveniences to which our Lord was exposed in this world, as a person in mean circumstances; the ingratitude of some, whom he had obliged by very valuable benefits, the neglect of many, who pay regard not to merit, but to wealth and outward show and appearance; the scorn of the great and powerful, the frequent contradictions and continual oppositions which he met with from the scribes and pharisees, and the chief priests, and the rulers, and all the pain and ignominy of his death.
That all this may be justly understood to be comprised in this expression of the text, may be concluded from the parallel place before referred to. " Who being in the form of God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant :—and being found in fashion as a
a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Philip. ii. 6–8.
Secondly, All this poverty was free and voluntary. Though he was rich,“ for your sakes he became poor :" or, in the words just cited, “ he made himself of no reputation."
That our Lord's poverty, and all the inconveniences attending it, and all the sufferings he underwent, as a man, mean, and despised of the people, were freely submitted to, is apparent. When he wrought a miracle for the sake of the tribute-money, he carried it no farther than an immediate supply for that one particular exigence; though he therein showed a command over all nature. The two miracles of the loaves, when he multiplied small provisions, are another clear demonstration that he could have abounded in all good things if he had pleased. How be declined all worldly power and splendour, is evident from his shunning and disappointing those who would have had him assume regal state and authority: “ When Jesus therefore per,
. ceived," says the Evangelist,“ that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone," John vi. 18. And when, for the good of his disciples, he spake to them beforehand of his last sufferings, and Peter said, “ Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee," Matt. xvi. 22, he re