Contemplation, Adoration and Desire

"For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered to but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:43).

We bless and thank the Lord for these words that came out of His mouth. They reveal His heart to us, and declare that amazing love that must serve and suffer. No human words could describe His glory, the glory which He had with the Father before the world began, and no human thought could soar up to that unapproachable light in which He dwelt in those distant ages, but this we know that He was there when time began. It was His hand that set the pendulum of time in motion, and by His word all things were made. His works declare His power and wisdom, but creation, even in its infinite and illimitable variety, could not satisfy His nature. His love was set upon the sons of men, and He became the Son of Man to serve them and to save them. He did not wait until they asked Him to come to their aid. His own love, love that surpasses all our comprehension, moved Him to leave His throne in glory to be the servant of man's need, and their need did not arise from any earnest desire in their hearts to do the will of God, but from wilfulness and disobedience and sin. It was to minister to sinful men that He came.

Far off from God we had wandered, but He followed us; He sought us and came alongside us to win us, when He was born in Bethlehem. We wonder at His lowly birth, and great humility. He did not come to the Imperial palace, nor to the homes of the proud and great, but to the manger-cradle. The world had no place for Him at His advent but a stable, and He accepted this cold and indifferent reception without resentment, for He had come not to be ministered to but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.

We follow Him with wonder in that life of service amidst the sin and moral putrefaction of the world. His surroundings made Him the Man of sorrows; He could not be other in the world where sin reigned to death. And He looked beneath the surface and knew well the root from whence the world's misery sprang and grew. This root bore bitter fruit when He was here, for when men saw Him they hated Him, but that did not turn Him from His service of love. Their sorrows and their woes moved Him to compassion. Their neglect of Him, and their scorn of Him, and their reviling, and their blindness to their own need and blessing, broke His heart, indeed, but only served to reveal the deeper love and fuller grace that were in Him. There divine goodness was unbaffled and undeterred by evil, even when that evil rose up to slay Him. Then goodness triumphed with a great triumph for the slaying of Him was the saving of them.

He came to seek the lost, and none who sought Him were spurned by Him; the lepers, the outcast and sin's broken drudges were welcomed; they came to His feet and He made them feel that He was glad to have them there, and their needs made Him their servant. And yet how scant was their gratitude. One here and another there, chiefly women, returned to give thanks and to weep in silent adoration at His feet, but the men went everyone of them to their own homes. Men, beasts and birds were all housed and sheltered when the night storms raged, but He had no home on earth; the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head.

"O Lord; Thy wondrous story

  Our inmost souls doth move,

We ponder o'er Thy glory

  Thy lonely path of love."

That lonely path, uncheered by the smiles of men, and made hard by their hatred, led onward to the cross, for there were deeper needs and more terrible foes, and greater claims to be met than ever man knew or dreamt of, and to meet these He had to go to deeper depths. It was an amazing descent from the throne of His eternal glory to the manger of Bethlehem, and from the home of the Father's everlasting love to homeless strangership in a world of sorrow and sin, but what mind of man or angel can understand the deeper descent into judgment and death. Yet He did not hold back from that. He humbled Himself, even in His Manhood, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. He travelled the distance — immeasurable to everything but the love of God — from the everlasting throne, in its intrinsic and unapproachable holiness and light, to the depths of man's degradation and judgment and death. Not only the malice of the powers of darkness, formidable and ruthless, and man's hatred, unreasonable and without a cause, were there at the cross, to make it terrible, but He was made sin for us. He came to give His life a ransom for many, and that mission involved Him in the unparalleled woe of the Sin-bearer. God's face was hidden from Him as He drank the bitter draught of judgment for sin for the sake of men. "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." He did not save Himself, He could not save Himself. His love and His Father's will made that impossible. He had come to save us, upon this His love was bent, and this was His Father's will. His Father who ever loved Him had a fresh reason for loving Him, when He gave His life a ransom for all.

Great and holy Saviour . . . we rejoice to know that Thou art crowned with glory at Thy Father's right hand, but it is not that that bows us in deepest gratitude and adoration at Thy feet.

"Not because the crowns of glory
  Shine upon Thy sacred brow,
Not because all heaven adores Thee
  Do Thy people bless Thee now:
But because midst shame and sorrow
  Thou didst suffer on the tree
This the cause of their thanksgiving
  Why they raise their song to Thee."

We bless Thee for what Thy soul endured when Thou for us didst bleed. We bless Thee because Thou didst come, not to be ministered to but to minister, and to give Thy life a ransom for many. Saviour, we owe all to Thee, and, spirit, soul and body, we belong to Thee. This now is our chiefest boast.

"Bought with Thy blood most precious,
Whose can we be but Thine."

Thou art our Lord. To Thee we bow the knee. We desire to do Thy will, O living Lord, and to be like Thee now, as we shall be like Thee in Thy glory.

"Like Thee in faith, in meekness, love
In every beauteous grace."

We desire to tread in Thy footsteps, and not seek to be ministered to, but to minister. We pray that we may be delivered from all our selfishness and constrained by Thy love not to live to ourselves but to Thee, who died for us and rose again. We cannot give our lives a ransom for others. Thou only, upon whom death had no claim, couldst give Thy life a ransom for others, but we can be chief among our brethren by being the servants of all, and so we may be like Thee for Thou wert amongst Thy disciples as He that served. Thou wert the bondslave of man's necessities. Overshadow us, Lord, with Thy presence, teach us Thy way, move us by Thy love. Throughout these coming days, be they many or few, mould us and fashion us according to Thy holy will. May we be all that Thy grace has purposed for us. Thou hast given us an example, that we should do to others as Thou hast done to us, and we would know the happiness of those who love Thy word and keep it. We would be pleasurable to Thee, conscious of Thy smile, and have the deep joy of Thy company to the end. We ask it for Thy dear Name's sake. Amen.