« AnteriorContinuar »
heaven and earth; and they could not want: he triumphed over all his enemies; and they could not fall before them. He ascended to bestow gifts, and especially that great gift of the Holy Spirit, who, as is said, John vii. 39, “ was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” When they received him as the great Comforter, to abide with them for ever, they experimentally found that they sustained no loss. The disciples had committed their souls to Christ, and were fully satisfied that he was every way worthy of that trust. Now they saw that they had good reason to believe and rely on him; and with joy would they recollect his words, “Where I am there shall my servants be;" and his intercessory prayer, John xvii. 24, “ Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.” Well would they now understand the meaning of his words, John xiv. 28, “ If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father.” Often are the Lord's people ready to think that their happiness would have been inconceivably great, had they enjoyed Christ's bodily presence. Happy were the disciples with it; but at Bethany they learned that they could be equally happy without it. We have only to wait a little while, and we shall be ever with the Lord, and see him as he is.
7. That, as with him, so with them, the cross is the way to the crown. He drank of the brook in the way, and lifted up his head; and so shall they. His ascension of itself taught them this lesson; and it was peculiarly evident, from the place from which he
chose to ascend-Mount Olivet. There he lately gave a proof of his humanity, and sinless infirmity, and amazing love to sinners, when, bearing the wrath of God, he sweat great drops of blood: now in the same place he gives a proof and display of his divinity in ascending. There, lately, he was not only in an agony, but suffered the greatest ignominy; there the band of soldiers came to apprehend him; and, in the very same place where his enemies seemed to triumph, he led captivity captive, and completely triumphed over them all. The same mount gave him a passage both to the cross and the crown. From the place where Christ suffered God's wrath, he chose to ascend to sit down at his right hand; and in the very place where his friends saw his greatest distress, they also saw his glory. Places are to us what God makes them; and what is now a place of weeping, may, in a little, be a place of triumph.
As Christ was in the world, so might the disciples expect to be. He had expressly told them, that they would be hated of all men for his name's sake, and that through much tribulation they would enter the kingdom. They were now to return to the world, and oppose these enemies, to whom their Master had given the deadly stroke. Whatever difficulties they might meet with, they were not to despond or be dejected. All their trials would soon be over, and they also would be received to glory.
In fine, the meaning of what they had heard from Christ concerning his death, was then opened up. Dark were their views about the nature and design of that event, before it happened. Often he spake
to them about the necessity of it, and the glory which should follow; but they did not understand him. Even after his resurrection they were slow of heart to believe what the prophets had spoken; and to two of them, going to Emmaus, he began at Moses and all the prophets, and expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself: but still darkness pervaded their minds. This event at Bethany greatly enlightened them about what he formerly said. It opened up, with remarkable clearness, the nature and end of his death. It was a satisfactory explication of the Old Testament types, shadows, and prophecies, respecting the sufferings and death of the Messiah. No longer were the minds of the disciples warped with their former notions about external pomp and grandeur in their Messiah. They now saw that his kingdom was spiritual, and not of this world. They were convinced that the deliverance which he came to accomplish was nothing less than from the wrath to come; and that, however contemptible he had appeared in the eyes
many, he was equal to the arduous undertaking. And thus instructed, “ they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."-We proceed,
II. To mention some of those blessed ATTAINMENTS, which were another part of their happiness at Bethany.
In general, all the instructions which they received were great attainments, infinitely more to be desired
than gold. Even speculative knowledge of divine things is excellent; how much more that which is saving? While the disciples had their faculties improved, their hearts were bettered, their graces increased, and their spiritual life promoted.—The following are specimens.
1. It was a happy attainment to be singled out as witnesses of such an event, and admitted to such familiarity with their Master immediately before his entrance into glory. That they were at Bethany at that time was not fortuitous or accidental: it was not owing to any foresight of their own: no, they were led out of Jerusalem by Christ himself with this precise view, to witness his glorious ascension, and share of his precious grace. While they were led out, multitudes were left behind. Here, as in many other cases, the mighty, the noble, and the wise, were passed by; and a few mean and despised persons were selected to accompany Christ.
They were his friends. They had continued with him in his temptations, and, as they were to be sharers of his kingdom, he chose them as witnesses of his ascending to take actual possession of it. Christ never forgets his friends; and they who have followed him with much difficulty, and through bad report, will be amply rewarded. As these stood by him in his humiliation, they were the first to share in the advantages of his exalted state.
They were admitted to great familiarity. He conversed with them at Bethany. The matter and manner would be such as became the great speaker and the memorable occasion. If the hearts of friends are open
ed upon particular occasions, and at parting, Christ's would not be shut at Bethany. He would say something about himself, and the glorious place to which he was going ;-something about his love to, and care of, them, to encourage them in their trials, till " their warfare should be accomplished.” We see in what an endearing manner he often spake to them on former occasions; and his heart could not be less expanded when just about to leave them in an evil world, and go to take possession of the mansions in his Father's house, as their forerunner and representing Head! How sweetly did he speak to them at the institution of the supper! Matt. xxvi. 17–36. With what familiarity and tenderness did he treat them, John xiii. 1–9, when he girded himself with a towel and began to wash their feet !
may truly be said of all who ever came to the place where Christ was dispensing his blessings, and were made sharers of his grace, as of the disciples, that they came not by chance. They are always brought by the Lord's secret and powerful providence. His hand may not be noticed at the time; but if divine grace is communicated, those who receive it will afterward observe that the Lord himself led them. Indeed, there is nothing accidental about divine grace. The time, place, and measure, were all determined; and often the Lord's providence appears almost as powerful and miraculous in bringing the persons unto the means of divine institution, as his grace in conquering their hearts and gaining them to himself. In every period of the church we have some instances almost equally striking as these of the