A Risen Saviour's Challenge
The period during which our blessed Lord lay in
the tomb must needs have proved a dark and bewildering moment
to many of those who looked for redemption in Israel. It would
demand a calm, clear and vigorous faith to raise the heart above
the heavy clouds which gathered just then upon the horizon of
God's people; and it does not appear that many possessed such
a faith at that trying moment.
We may doubtless look upon the two disciples who
traveled together to Emmaus as illustrating the condition of many,
if not all, the beloved saints of God during the three days and
three nights that our beloved Lord lay in the heart of the earth.
They were thoroughly bewildered and at their wits' end. "They
talked together of all these things which had happened. And it
came to pass that, while they communed together and reasoned,
Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were
holden that they should not know Him."
Their minds were full of surrounding circumstances.
All hope seemed gone. Their fondly cherished expectations were
blasted, apparently. The whole scene was overcast by the dark
shadow of death, and their poor hearts were sad.
But mark how the risen Saviour's challenge falls
upon their drooping spirits! "And He said unto them, What
manner of communications are these that ye have one to another,
as ye walk, and are sad?"
Surely this was a reasonable and weighty question
for those dear disciples-a question eminently calculated to recall
them, as we say, to their senses. It was precisely what they wanted
at the moment, occupied as they were with circumstances instead
of resting in the eternal and immutable truth of God. Scripture
was clear and plain enough had they only hearkened to its voice.
But instead of listening only to the distinct testimony of the
eternal Spirit in the Word, they had allowed their minds to get
thoroughly down under the action and influences of outward circumstances.
Instead of standing with firm foot on the everlasting rock of
divine revelation, they were struggling amid the billows of life's
stormy ocean. In a word, they had for a moment fallen under the
power of death so far as their minds were concerned; and no marvel
if their hearts were sad and their communications gloomy.
And does it not sometimes happen that you and I
in like manner get down under the power of things seen and temporal,
instead of living by faith in the light of things unseen and eternal?
Yes, even we who profess to know and believe in a risen Saviour-who
believe that we are dead and risen with Him-who have the Holy
Spirit dwelling in us, do not we at times sink and cower? And
do we not at such moments stand in need of a risen Saviour's challenge?
Has not that precious, loving Saviour oftimes occasion to put
the question to our hearts, "What manner of communications
are these that ye have one to another?" Does it not often
happen that when we come together or when we walk by the way,
our "communications" are anything but what they ought
to be? It may be gloomily moping together over the depressing
circumstances which surround us-the weather-the prospects of the
country-the state of trade-our poor health-the difficulty of making
both ends meet-anything and everything, in short, but the right
Yes, and so occupied do we become with such things
that our spiritual eyes are holden, and we do not take knowledge
of the blessed One who in His tender faithful love is at our side,
and He has to challenge our vagrant hearts with His pointed and
powerful question, "What manner of communications are these
that ye have?"
Let us think of this. It really demands our consideration.
We are all far too apt to allow our minds to fall under the power
and pressure of circumstances, instead of living in the power
of faith. We get occupied with our surroundings instead of dwelling
upon things above-those bright and blessed realities which are
ours in Christ.
And what is the result? Do we better our circumstances
or brighten our prospects by gloomily moping over them? Not in
the smallest degree. What then? We simply make ourselves miserable
and our communications depressing; and, worst of all, we bring
dishonor on the cause of Christ.
Christians forget how much is involved in their
temper, manner, look, and deportment in daily life. We forget
that the Lord's glory is intimately bound up with our daily deportments.
We all know that, in social life, we judge of the character of
the head of a household by what we see of his children and servants.
If we observed the children looking miserable and downcast, we
should be disposed to pronounce their father morose, severe and
arbitrary. If we see the servants crushed and overwrought, we
consider the master hard-hearted and grinding. In short, as a
rule, you can form a tolerably fair estimate of the head of a
house by the tone, spirit, style and manner of the members of
How earnestly, then, should we seek, as members
of the household of God, to give a right impression of
what He is by our temper, spirit, style, and manner! If men of
the world-those with whom we come in contact from day to day in
the practical details of life-if they see us looking sour, morose,
downcast-if they hear us giving utterance to doleful complaints
about this, that and the other-if they see us occupied about our
own things-grasping, griping, and driving as hard bargains as
others-if they see us grinding our servants with heavy work, low
wages, and poor fare-what estimate can they form of Him whom we
call our Father and our Master in heaven?
Let us not despise and turn away from such homely
words. Depend upon it, there is need of such in this day of much
profession. There is a vast amount of intellectual traffic in
truth which leaves the conscience unreached, the heart untouched,
the life unaffected. We know we are dead and risen; but when anything
occurs to touch us, either in our persons, in our relations, or
in our interests, we speedily show how little power that precious
truth has upon us.
May the Lord give us grace to apply our hearts
very seriously and earnestly to these things, so that there may
be, in our daily course, a more faithful exhibition of a genuine
Christianity-such an exhibition as shall glorify our own most
gracious God and Father, and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ-and
such, too, as shall afford to those who come in contact with us
a fair specimen of what pure religion really is in its action
upon the entire course and character.
May we all realize more a risen Saviour's presence,
and find therein a triumphant answer to all the dark suggestions
of the enemy, the depressing reasonings of our own hearts, and
the deadening influence of surrounding circumstances. God, in
His infinite mercy, grant it, for the Lord Jesus' sake.
It is impossible to read this charming section
of inspiration (Luke 24) and not be struck with what we may venture
to call the rallying power of a risen Saviour's voice and presence.
We see the dear disciples scattered hither and thither in doubt
and perplexity, fear and despondency-some running to the sepulcher;
some coming from it; some going to Emmaus, and some crowded together
at Jerusalem, in various states and conditions.
But the voice and realized presence of our Lord
Jesus rallied, reassured, and encouraged them all, and brought
all together around His own blessed Person in worship, love, and
praise. There was an indescribable power in His presence to meet
every condition of heart and mind. Thus it was; thus it is; thus
it ever must be, blessed and praised be His precious Name! There
is power in the presence of a risen Saviour to solve our difficulties,
remove our perplexities, calm our fears, ease our burdens, dry
our tears, meet our every need, tranquilize our minds, and satisfy
every craving of our hearts. Jesus! Thou art enough,
The mind and heart to fill;
Thy life--to calm the anxious soul
Thy love--its fear dispel.
The two disciples going to Emmaus proved something
of this, if we are to judge from their own glowing words to one
another. "Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked
with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?"
Yes, here lay the deep and precious secret: "He talked
with us"-and "He opened to us the Scriptures!"
What seraphic moments! what high communion! what loving ministry!
A risen Saviour rallying their hearts by His marvelous words and
mighty exposition of the Scriptures.
What was the effect-what the necessary result?
The two travelers instantly returned to Jerusalem to seek their
brethren. It could not be otherwise. If we lose sight of a risen
Saviour, we are sure to get away from our brethren, sure to get
occupied with our own things; to pursue our own way- get into
coldness, deadness, darkness, and selfishness. But, on the other
hand, the moment we get really into the presence of Christ, when
we hear His voice and feel the sweetness and power of His love,
when our hearts are brought under the mighty moral influence of
His most precious loving ministry, then we are led out in true
affection and interest after all our brethren and in earnest desire
to find our place in their midst in order that we may communicate
to them the deep joy that is filling our own souls. We may lay
it down as a fixed principle-a spiritual axiom-that it is utterly
impossible to breathe the atmosphere of a risen Saviour's presence
and remain in an isolated, independent, or fragmentary condition.
The necessary effect of His dear presence is to melt the heart
and cause it to flow out in streams of tender affection toward
all that belong to Him.
But let us pursue our chapter. "And they
rose up the same hour" of the night-thus proving they had
but little business at Emmaus, or how paramount was the blessed
object now before them, "and returned to Jerusalem, and
found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was
known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spoke, Jesus
Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace
be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed
that they had seen a spirit."
They, too, needed a risen Saviour's challenge to
bring them to their senses-to calm their fears and raise their
drooping spirits. They needed to realize the power of His presence
as the risen One. They had just declared to their two brethren
from Emmaus that "The Lord is risen indeed;" but
yet when their risen Lord appeared to them they did not know Him,
and He had to challenge their hearts with His stirring words,
"Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your
hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle
Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see
Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands
and His feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered,
He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a
piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And He took it,
and did eat before them."
What tender love! What gracious condescension to
their weakness and need! What compassionate entrance into all
their feelings, spite of their folly and unbelief! Gracious Saviour!
Who would not love Thee? Who would not trust Thee? May the whole
heart be absorbed with Thee! May the whole life be cordially devoted
to Thy blessed service! May Thy cause command all our energies!!
May all we have and all we love be laid on Thine altar as a reasonable
service! May the eternal Spirit work in us for the accomplishment
of these grand and longed-for objects!
But ere closing this brief article, there is one
point of special interest and value to which we must call attention;
and that is, the way in which the risen Saviour puts honor upon
the written Word. He rebuked the two travelers for their slowness
of heart to believe the Scriptures. "And beginning at Moses
and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures
the things concerning Himself."
So also in His interview with the eleven and the
rest at Jerusalem. No sooner had He satisfied them as to His identity,
than He sought to conduct their souls to the same divine authority-the
Holy Scriptures. "And He said unto them, These are the words
which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things
must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses,
and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened
He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved
Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and
that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His
Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
All this is of the deepest possible importance
at the present moment. We feel persuaded that professing Christians
everywhere need to have their hearts stirred up in reference to
the paramount claims of the Word of God, its absolute authority
over the conscience, its formative power, its complete sway over
the entire course, character and conduct.
It is to be feared, greatly feared, that Holy Scripture
is fast losing its divine place in the hearts of those who profess
to take it as the divine rule of faith and morals. We have often
heard that watchword sounded in our ears, "The Bible, and
the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants." Alas!
if this motto were ever really true, we fear that its truth at
this moment is more than questionable. Very few, comparatively,
even of those who occupy the very highest platform of profession
seem to admit, and still fewer actually acknowledge practically,
that in all things-whether of faith or morals-in all the
practical details of life, in the Church, in the family, in the
business, and in our private walk from day to day-we are to be
governed absolutely by that commanding, that mighty, that morally
glorious sentence, "It is written"-a sentence enhanced
exceedingly in value and heightened in its moral glory by the
telling fact that it was used thrice by our adorable Lord: at
the opening of His public career, in His conflict with the adversary,
and sounded in the ears of His loved ones just as He was about
to ascend into the heavens.
Yes, dearly beloved Christian reader, "It
is written" was a favorite sentence with our divine Master
and Lord. He ever obeyed the Word. He yielded a hearty and unqualified
submission to its holy authority in all things. He lived on it
and by it from first to last. He walked according to it and never
acted without it. He did not reason or question, imply or infer;
He did not add or diminish, or qualify in any one way-He obeyed.
Yes; He, the eternal Son of the Father-Himself God over all blessed
forever-having become a man, lived on the Holy Scriptures and
walked by their rule continually. He made them the food of His
soul, the material and the basis of His marvelous ministry-the
divine authority of His perfect path.
In all this, He was our great Exemplar. Oh, may
we follow His blessed footsteps! May we bring ourselves, our ways,
our habits, our associations, our surroundings, to the test of
Holy Scripture, and reject with wholehearted decision everything,
no matter what or by whom propounded, that will not bear that
We are most thoroughly persuaded that in hundreds
of thousands of cases, the first grand point to be gained is to
recall the heart to that delightful attitude in which the Word
of God is fully owned and submitted to as an absolute authority.
It is positively labor lost to be arguing and disputing with a
man who does not give Scripture the self-same place that our Lord
Jesus Christ gave it. And when a man does this, there is no need
of argument. What is really needed is to make the Word of God
the basis of our individual peace and authority of our individual
path. May we all do so! -- C.H. Mackintosh (available on CD from
O come, Thou stricken Lamb of God!
Who shed'st for us Thine own life-blood,
And teach us all Thy love--then pain
Were sweet, and life or death were gain.
Take Thou our hearts, and let them be
Forever closed to all but Thee;
Thy willing servants, let us wear
The seal of love forever there.
How blest are they who still abide
Close shelter'd by Thy watchful side;
Who life and strength from Thee receive,
And with Thee move, and in Thee live.
Ah, Lord! enlarge our scanty thought,
To know the wonders Thou hast wrought;
Unloose our stammering tongues to tell
Thy love, immense, unsearchable.
First-born of many brethren, Thou!
To whom both heaven and earth must bow;
Heirs of Thy shame and of Thy throne,
We bear Thy cross, and seek Thy crown.