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time), more of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; more of the Gospel, and its power; more of your duties in my kingdom of grace, and of your inheritance in my kingdom of glory, than you have known during the whole time that I have lived and laboured and discoursed in your presence.”
Lord Jesus, let the comfort of these thy declarations be made ours through our faith in thy word. Like the disciples, may we be willing to suffer with thee: trusting to know thee more and more fully, as we shall receive increasing communications of the Spirit:-until at length, we and all the members of thy true Church, shall be delivered from this sinful world, to be present with the Father and with Thee!
His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly and speakest no proverb.
Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe ?
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone : and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might
have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. The disciples, who had previously been lost in ignorance and perplexity, were
as much amazed at the clearness of our Lord's discourse. They were delighted also by his anticipating those inquiries, which they desired, but had not dared, to make; and likewise by his solving at once all their difficulties. “How forcible are right words !” They were now fully persuaded of Christ's omniscience, and of his Mission from God. Under the sudden impulse, they seem almost to have accounted themselves established believers: like Peter, they all forwardly avowed their feelings, without any suspicion of their infirmities.
When, from a natural eagerness, we are tempted to exclaim, “ Now are we sure; by this we believe” -it were well for us to inquire, “Do we then indeed believe? Is this a genuine faith? Is it such as will stand the test?”—The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. Our Master is not carried away, as we are wont to be, by ardent expressions.
Two very disheartening topics were then brought forward by our Lord, serving as a conclusion to this affectionate conversation. The one was Christ's desertion by his disciples; the other, Their exposure to a world of tribulation. On both these subjects, however, Jesus speaks with his wonted consideration and sympathy. 1. First, he forewarns the eleven, that in a short
time they would all abandon him. 6 Smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” They were at this moment (so they thought) indissolubly united to their Master: a few hours more, and they would be dispersed far away from him. One alone, “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” would venture to stand near his Cross. Moreover, after the burial of their Lord, they would go “every man to his own ”-each one to his house and home and customary pursuits; some to fishing, others to other employments, for their livelihood. That very evening and on the morrow, they would leave Jesus alone; to be mocked, oppressed, condemned, crucified; without a single friend appearing on his behalf.
“ And yet (saith Jesus) I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” One there is who, by his presence, can more than supply the want of all friends, and counterbalance the opposition of all enemies.--Hence we learn, that even the Lord of glory yet felt, in his humanity, his need of the everlasting, supporting arms of the Father : but having this support, he no more complained of desolateness; because the Father was with him. Believers too, when most neglected and forgotten of man, are privileged to feel the same. - If God be for us, who can be against us ?”
2. Then, as to the disconsolateness of the disciples, Jesus provides at parting a sure word of encouragement for them. They for a season would leave him: he warns them of it: but never for an
instant would He desert their interests. His discourse (he tells them) was mainly directed to this end—“ These things have I said unto you, that in me ye may have peace.”
How truly astonishing was the calmness of Jesus at this moment, infinitely surpassing any thing ever recorded of a mere man! He goes forth to tread the wine-press of the wrath of Almighty God, alone: and yet is confident of the good will and complacency of his Heavenly Father.
He has a little band of followers with him, timid as a flock of sheep, who are to confront a world of determined enemies : yet, while assigning to them this difficult commission, and warning them of their own utter weakness, he still promises them certain victory.
- Whence such courage? It sprang from the conviction of this one fact, “ The Father is with me.” And whence the confidence of his disciples? This sprang from Christ's assurance, “I am with you; even I, who have overcome the world.”
We conclude then in the words of this Apostle, St. John, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Believers are not to be seduced by the world's allurements: they know that they have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Neither are they to be awed by the world's enmity : for persecutors can only kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. The promise of Christ outweighs all: “In me ye shall have peace !” Through faith in his blood, we are reconciled to God the Father: being made one with Christ, we imbibe his benign and gentle character: and since his Spirit dwelleth in us, no outward trouble can much disturb our deep serenity. Following his banner, we shall finally gain that victory, which ends in settled and unchanging peace.—What can equal the blessedness of the believer in Jesus? Peace with God is ours; peace in life; peace in the midst of tumults; peace in all time of our tribulation; peace in dying ; peace throughout eternity !