1. When the prodigal had spent “all” he was confronted by a famine, and made to feel the pinch of want. Dark and dreadful destitution resulted from his career of folly. Just at the moment when resources were most required he had to face the fact of absolute poverty. “Will leads to want,” and sin to certain misery. But when brought to a sense of that misery, and forced to feel the mighty pangs of soul-hunger, how happy to act as did that same prodigal—to come in the full, frank, unreserved confession of all your folly and sin and need to the Father, and, in the embrace of everlasting and all-conquering love, to receive a full and frank forgiveness at His hands. For it is blessedly true that God, whilst condemning sin, yearns over the sinner, and welcomes to all the stores of His heavenly mansion the destitute prodigal. Hunger made the needy son walk toward the father; love made the father run to meet and welcome the returning son. Hunger is a mighty power, but love is mightier. Conscious destitution is a tremendous burden; but “compassion” feels that burden, and hastens to give relief and to minister boundless blessing.
2. When the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:26) had spent “all” on physicians, she was ready to despair; for instead of being better she rather grew worse. It was then she heard of Jesus. Her last coin had been spent, her last effort in seeking help and health from man had been made, her moment of poverty and hopeless gloom had arrived. Just then there came within her reach the Healer of diseases and the Friend of the friendless. To Him she applied. A slight touch on the border of His garment, and the long-standing malady was perfectly healed. Virtue went out of this glorious physician, and without the charge of a fraction she was healed of her disease. She had spent “all” on vain and fruitless efforts. Now she is made perfectly whole by an all-sufficient Saviour.
3. When the poor widow threw into the treasury “all” that she had, even all her living, she too had reached the extreme of destitution, and had left herself in absolute poverty. She had not wasted her “all” in prodigality, nor spent it on physicians. Self was by no means her object, either in sinful gratification or in excessive attention to bodily health. No; but, widow and poor though she were, she loved the interests of the Lord and the honour of His house, and, in a faith and devotedness that put others to shame, she threw her two mites into His treasury. That was her “all.” But One saw what she had done, and duly and fully estimated such unusual self-denial. Did she suffer? Did she lose? Was her Lord to be her debtor? Nay; the blessed hand that has recorded for our imitation her hidden act of devotedness would assuredly enrich her an hundredfold now in this present time, and answer her faith in His own generous way.
4. When Paul suffered the loss of “all” things, he too was brought to the point of destitution, but a destitution that was more than compensated. “For whom,” he says, “I have suffered the loss of all things.” What a grand exchange! And did he feel that loss? Did he mourn or regret the surrender he had made? Nay; for he adds, “I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord . . . I count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” A sight of Christ in glory—the only place where Christ can now be seen—had stripped Paul of everything. He had dropped all association with his old, religious, social, political, and worldly, connections. For him the first man had gone. He knew no man now after the flesh; yea, he knew Christ as the glorified Man in heaven, “the beginning of the creation of God”; and for the apprehension of Him there, he abandoned all things here. And it is just in proportion as we too, in faith, see the blessed Son of God—our Saviour—as Man glorified in heaven, originating a new order and supplying a new pattern, that we reach, in happy experience, the same kind of destitution. The stripping process is rendered painless by the sweet reality of the compensation, and the things thus stripped off are held as but dross or dung. Hence “we all, with open face beholding . . . the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).
5. When the merchantman had found one pearl of great price, he sold “all” that he had and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46). But who can measure the extent of His destitution who, to possess that pearl of such price to Him, sold all that He had? All the glory of heaven, all the joys of His eternal home, all that was due to Him there as Creator and God He voluntarily laid aside, and incurred all the sorrow, suffering, and shame of testimony here on earth, and all the judgment due to sin—our sin—on the cross. Who can measure that “all”? But, blessed be His name, He has bought the pearl—the Church that had to be extricated from such moral depths, and redeemed at such infinite coat—and made it His own. Ah! He is rich now. “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” He shall present the Church to Himself all fair and fresh and lovely, the bright reflection of His own beauty and the chosen purchase of His blood. He sold “all” that He had for her. Never was such devotedness, never such love. And the love that died for us is the love that lives for us—love to the end, all-enduring, all-penetrating, everlasting.