Christ Entering His Glory

The Lord Jesus appears in Luke 24 as the risen Lord and Leader of His disciples, gathering them and binding them together in one object and purpose, and instructing them as to the divine plan of campaign for the carrying of the grace of God to earth's remotest bounds.

"He is Risen"

The fact of the actual bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is of the greatest possible importance. The salvation of the souls of men, the vindication of His own glorious person, and the supremacy of the everlasting God are all involved in it. If Christ be not raised, actually and bodily raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. If Christ be not raised, actually and bodily raised, He is not what He said He was, and His life and words on earth are a cruel deception. If Christ be not raised, actually and bodily raised, God has met with defeat, His throne has been sapped at the very base of it, the devil has triumphed, and evil is almighty in the universe.

If Christ be not raised, God's gracious intentions with regard to the blessing of men have been frustrated, heaven shall never celebrate the greatness of God's salvation, no song shall ever roll over the fields of glory, the Father's house shall be sad and silent for ever. The earth shall remain a desert where no fragrant rose can blossom, and a deluge of darkness more direful and disastrous than that flood which smote the world in Noah's day shall roll over the whole race of men in an everlasting mastery.

If, then, everything depends upon the resurrection of our Lord, and it does, for so we are taught in the Scriptures of Truth, it is good for us that we may travel in thought and faith with those who, on the first day of the week, sought the sepulchre where they had laid Him; it is good for us to look into that empty rock-hewn tomb and to hear angelic voices exclaim, "Why seek ye the living amongst the dead? He is not here, HE IS RISEN." Thank God! And the fact is placed outside the region of question; the Scriptures, the five hundred and over of brethren and Saul of Tarsus who saw Him alive after He was risen, and the happy millions of ransomed men and women who have staked their all for time and eternity upon Christ, and who have sung their song of triumph in the very presence of death, all unite to bear witness to His victory over death; and His own words are to us the crowning of the testimony, "Fear not; I am the First and the Last; I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev. 1:18).

Let those who deny the fact produce their witnesses, and bring their proofs to the test, or for ever cease to trouble us with their profane and vain babblings.

He Must be Supreme

The Lord appears in Luke's Gospel on a great mission. He called it in His first recorded words "My Father's business" (chap. 2:49). It was "to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins . . . to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (chap.1:77-79). So His first utterance in public service was "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor" (chap. 4:18). And throughout the Gospel the opposition to Him was always because He would unswervingly pursue His Father's business. So they murmured because He did eat and drink with publicans and sinners (chap. 5:30); they said with scorn that He was "a friend of publicans and sinners" (chap. 7:34); they murmured again, saying, "This Man receives sinners, and eats with them" (chap. 15:2). And yet again, "That He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner" (chap. 19:7). But the Son of Man had come to seek and to save that which was lost, and their murmurings did not hinder Him in this, though death and resurrection lay in the path of its accomplishment.

It was necessary, according to the divine plan of campaign, that others, His own disciples, not only those eleven whom He met on this resurrection day, but all His disciples throughout the succeeding centuries down even to this day, should bear a part in this wonderful mission of making known this grace to the ends of the earth, and in this resurrection chapter the Lord is seen instructing His disciples as to this and adjusting their thoughts to the new conditions.

These disciples, however, were faithless, dispirited, and sad. Strange that it should have been so, for that first Lord's day was the most glorious of all the days that God had made. But the Lord drew near and went with them, and the more we scrutinize His ways with them as He quietly and irresistibly takes the place of supremacy in their lives, the more glorious does He appear to us.

Their confidence in Him had received a rude shock, and yet they loved Him, and were sadly reciting the doings of the past week when "He drew near and went with them." He drew near in more senses than one; there was no sudden display of power and splendour to fill them with awe, but the exercise of that compassion that fills His heart for the ignorant. He came close to them in their sorrow and woe in all that gentleness that had always marked His dealings with them. They were the bruised reed and the smoking flax, which He would not break nor quench. They were broken of heart and sore of spirit, and needed the balm of the great Physician, and He was there to tenderly point out the sickness and to apply the remedy. Such is He who is the Master of all His servants, and thus does He prepare them to take up His service with boldness and joy.

Their fundamental mistake had been, that, in their innermost thought, they had made Him secondary to Israel. This is disclosed in their woeful complaint, "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed ISRAEL." They had hoped that He would have broken the foreign yoke and made their nation free and glorious in the earth, and if He had done this how great He would have been in their eyes; but, instead, they had seen Him nailed to a malefactor's gibbet. "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth."

He had died, and His death was the grave of all their hopes. They reasoned as men, that since He had died all must be lost, for death is the end of all the glory of man; his thoughts and purposes lie shattered and broken beside his mortal clay. But Jesus was risen again, and resurrection is the power of God, it is God's new beginning and His glory, His thoughts and purposes are all established by it, established in Christ, where disaster can never overtake them, for "He dies no more."

Happy are they who, by the grace of God, can transfer their hopes from that race of man which lies under the dread and sentence of death, and centre them in Christ, the Second Man, the last Adam, who has risen above the power of death, the life-giving Head of a new race.

We marvel at the folly and faithlessness of these disciples, and yet we are often taken in the same snare, for do we not often make the Lord secondary in some selfish way to our blessing, our comfort, our soul's prosperity, our success in service, or our cause? We have to learn, as they had, that He must be glorious, no matter how others fare, that He must in all things have the pre-eminence, and everything must be secondary to Him.

They had not believed all that the prophets had spoken. They had had their favourite texts, and those texts spoke of the great power of the Messiah, power that should crush their foes and make them the head of the nations; these they read and cherished and loved, but those that spoke of His sorrows His acquaintance with grief, humiliation, rejection, and death they had neither understood nor believed. With great patience He expounded the Scriptures to them, showing them the things written therein concerning HIMSELF, and how that He ought to suffer these things and enter into His glory. He showed them these things until their eyes began to perceive hitherto unthought-of glories in Him, and their hearts glowed within them at the sight of them.

In the council chamber of eternity it was planned that He should have His glory as the Head and Centre of a universe of blessing founded upon redemption, a universe to which men from all nations were necessary, and by the path of suffering He was tested, and in it His fitness for that place was proved. Every test brought out this fitness in clearer light until the final test — THE CROSS.

Every human perfection disclosed its fragrance in His suffering: His absolute and unquestioning obedience to the will of God throughout all the way that that will led Him, His meekness, dependence, self-abnegation, everything, in fact, that man ought to be according to the thought of God He was and that right onward and into death.

In Him also, the lonely and forsaken Man upon the cross, there appeared in full revelation every attribute of God. No ray of light from without pierced the awful gloom that enshrouded Him as the sin-bearer, but from out of that darkness there shone a glory that shall fill eternity. "All divine attributes were harmonized there — wisdom, holiness, mercy, justice, power, and truth" — and above all and through all the very nature of God, which is love, was declared triumphantly in the very place and hour where His justice demanded that sin should be judged to the uttermost.

Wonderful Saviour! It is along that path of unspeakable suffering that He has entered His glory. But the glory He has entered has added no glory to Him, for He was all glorious as He trod that downward pathway of sorrow and shame, He is not, nor can He be, more glorious than He was when He bowed His thorn-crowned head in death.

If He is now exalted to the Father's right hand it is because that place atone in the wide universe is worthy to receive Him. The diamond has been put in the golden setting He has gone to His own place. Crowns of immortal lustre shall shine resplendent upon His sacred brow, but that brow is worthy of them, nor would they fit another.

As He expounded these things to them, thoughts of Israel must have faded from their minds, and He must have arisen to the supreme place in their thoughts, so that when at last their eyes are opened to know Him they no longer do their own will, nor think of their own interests nor comfort, but that same hour of the night they arise and return to Jerusalem. They did His will, though no command had been expressed; instinctively they knew what He would have them do. His LORDSHIP WAS COMPLETE. But His lordship was exercised in perfect grace, and they did His will under the compulsion of love; no other service is acceptable to Him.

Is it so in our lives? Are we like them, or like Saul of Tarsus, who, when the glory of the Lord shone upon him, cried, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" Apart from such complete submission we are short of His intention for us, and so far are useless in His great designs for the blessing of men. He must be supreme. In all things He must have the pre-eminence.

He is the Leader of His Servants

The disciples were gathered together in Jerusalem on that day talking of two things — His resurrection, which was the declaration of His power; and His appearance to Simon, which was the manifestation of His grace — when Jesus HIMSELF stood in the midst of them. He stood there as their Lord and Leader, to direct them as to the world-wide mission upon which they were to go, a different view of things entirely to that presented by John; and in them were represented all His servants who shall serve Him until that mission is completed.

He greeted them with that blessed salutation, PEACE! for theirs was to be a mission of peace, and if they were to prosecute it aright they must be filled with and kept in peace.

With a quiet and matchless dignity He convinces them as to the reality of His resurrection, assures them that it is Himself and none other who stands before them, and opens their understanding as to the teaching of all Scripture concerning Himself. It was this teaching as to Himself that was to prepare them for the mission and to maintain them in peace in it. Out of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms He showed them God's plan and His glory. He showed them that He was the fulfilment of every word that God had uttered whether in promise or prophecy. Their fears, then, that everything they had hoped for was lost, were altogether groundless, for in Him, their risen Lord, everything that God had purposed was secured.

And further, though it was not then declared to them, they afterwards learnt that in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and that they were complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power. All the resources of God were in Him for them, and there was not a power in the universe that could intercept those resources.

Brethren in Christ, are we conscious that our Lord is such a glorious Lord, Centre, Leader, and Head for His servants? Those who are in the knowledge of this will fear no foe, for all the foes are defeated, as His resurrection is witness, they will dread no lack for all the mighty fullness of God is at their disposal in Him.

His presence in the midst of those disciples made them one, one in heart, object, and purpose; for what place could divergent views and selfish aspirations find in the presence of their glorious risen Lord? As they looked upon Him, bearing in His body the wounds of the cross, wounds received in His devotion to them, a tide of love to Him must have surged through every heart, and each would instinctively drop into his divinely appointed place with regard to Himself and each other.

Oh! that we all may see Him in His glory, love, and all-sufficiency; that selfish strife and ignoble pride may cease and perish amongst the servants of the Lord, and that there may be, by the grace of God, a holy determination to yield to Him the supreme place, not only in our individual lives, but as the Centre and Leader of His servants.

In the Great Outer Circle

Having assumed His rightful place amongst them and opened their understanding that they might have a right knowledge as to Himself and the new circumstances in which they saw Him, He turned their eyes to the great outer circle of "all nations" and said to them, "Thus it is written." Let that sentence impress us as it must have impressed them, and mark the place that THE SCRIPTURES hold in this chapter: first as to His own personal glory, it was "All that the prophets had spoken;" then in the sacred circle of His beloved servants it was, "All things must be fulfilled, which were spoken in Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me," and now in connection with the whole world it is "Thus it is written." There can be no right understanding of any relationship which we may have with the Lord apart from the Scriptures, nor can we rightly act in any sphere with Him apart from the guidance of the Scriptures. They have all-authority; they cannot be broken; the sufferings of Christ were for their fulfilment, and equally for their fulfilling must the grace of God be made known amongst all nations.

And further, mark the place that THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST occupy in this chapter. First, as to His own personal glory, "Ought not Christ to have suffered?" Then, in the sacred circle of His servants, "He showed them His hands and His feet." Lastly, in this wide circle of all the world, "Thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise again the third day."

There is no sphere in which we may move with Him on this other side of the glory in which we may forget His sufferings and death, and on the other side when at home in the glory of God He will still be the Lamb that was slain. The value of the Scriptures is that they keep Him constantly before us, for they unfold to us "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow."

How wonderfully interwoven are these great things: the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures, the sufferings of Christ, His resurrection and glory, and the grace of God to all nations. Let no rude hand attempt to tear them asunder, or destroy any one of these divine verities, for if one could be spoiled the whole fabric would be marred.

But what place have the Scriptures and the sufferings of Christ with those who profess to be carrying out this blessed mission in these days? The question needs to be asked, for neither can be popular in the world that knows not God, and the popular taste, alas! is often consulted rather than the will of God.

The preaching of Christ crucified strikes at the root of all the pride of men; it means that he, in spite of all his boasted progress, must abase himself at the feet of the One who hung upon a gibbet, that only by this means can he be in right relations with God.

It means that in spite of all his culture, religion, learning, and power, he is a sinner under the power of death, the judgment of God, for "death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). It means that Christ, the holy and the true, upon whom alone death had no claim, went down into it as the judgment of God, and that only thus could it be removed.

This preaching is to the Jew (the religionist) a stumbling-block, and to the Greek (the philosopher) foolishness; nevertheless it is the power of God and the wisdom of God. And how wonderful it is to us who believe, and how great our joy when we see Him, who went into death for us, raised again from the dead. He has sustained the judgment, has passed through the deep waters, "He divided the sea whose waves roared" and has made the depths a way for His ransomed to pass over — the Lord of Hosts is His name. How great indeed is His glory in God's salvation.

"Christ died for our sins . . . was buried and rose again from the dead." These are the great facts that have to be heralded in every habitation of man, and these facts are according to the Scriptures. And these facts are to be heralded that men may know that in consequence of them a way has been opened by which they may return to God, and returning have all their sins remitted. And these priceless blessings have to be offered in His name; that is, His servants are to do it on His behalf, as His representatives. His ambassadors, backed by His authority, and, as He told them, endued with the power which He would send them from above. Then "He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them, and it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and CARRIED UP INTO HEAVEN."

His work was finished, and the glory of God claimed Him, and their raptured eyes followed Him into that shekinah cloud. He is in that glory still; Stephen saw Him there, Saul of Tarsus saw Him there, and we by faith may also see Him there: "JESUS, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOUR" (Heb. 2:9).

God grant to us, in His limitless grace, that our eyes and souls may be filled with His glory, and that to serve Him in the spreading of the gospel, which is concerning Him raised from the dead, may be accounted by us an unspeakable honour. Then shall we diligently pursue it in the power of the Holy Spirit until we see Him in His Father's house.