The Lord and His Disciples

Power and Grace

Our attention is often arrested by the very remarkable contrasts brought together in the Scriptures, things that according to the reckoning of men could have no affinity, are found to run together and enhance the greatness and beauty of each.

An instance of this is seen in connection with the Lord and His disciples on the glorious resurrection day. His death had scattered them, for it had been told in the prophetic word, that at the smiting of the Shepherd the sheep would be scattered. But the power of God had brought again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep, and the news of this stupendous fact had spread amongst the sorely perplexed and broken-hearted flock.

How busy were those Galilean women that day, "the King's business required haste," and in the Gospel of the King it is recorded that "they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring His disciples word" (Matt. 28:8).

On the evening of that day they were gathered together, the last of them drawn to that blessed tryst from distant Emmaus by the Lord's personal service to them; and being thus gathered, two things commanded their thoughts and filled them with wonder: (1) The Lord is risen indeed, and (2) hath appeared to Simon. Nothing could be of greater moment to them than the first, for it was the manifestation of their Lord's victorious power, and was the confirmation of all things which He had spoken to them. And though they did not understand at the time, what the results of this glorious resurrection were, yet it must have opened a new world to their souls, and shown them that what, in their eyes, had been weakness and defeat had become the veritable triumph of God.

But how could they meet the risen Lord? had they not forsaken Him in the midst of His exceeding sorrow, and might He not in consequence discard them for others more faithful and worthy? They might have thought so, and gone to hide themselves from Him for very shame, but — He had "appeared to Simon."

They do not say He hath appeared unto Mary Magdalene; they knew that her eyes had been the first to look upon Him, but there was nothing remarkable about His appearing to her, for she — devoted heart — had stood bereaved without the empty tomb, weeping out her sorrow, because she knew not where her beloved Lord lay. The world was a wilderness night where no comfort shone because the Lord was gone. It was no surprise to them, or to us, that since He was risen, He should appear to Mary.

But to Simon, who had abandoned his Master, and had proved the veriest coward in the presence of the scorning of a servant maid; who had denied his Lord with oaths and curses — that He should appear to Simon filled them with wonder.

So the two marvels are linked together by them, and in the Holy Spirit's record for us.

His MIGHTY POWER had brought Him from the grave.

His TENDER GRACIOUS LOVE had carried Him even to Simon.

It was this Lord who stood in the midst of them; the powers of darkness had been smitten before Him, and the failure of His followers had not changed Him. He was all-sufficient for every foe without, and for every failure within. No wonder then that it is recorded that the joy of seeing Him was so overwhelming, that they could scarcely believe. But their doubts were speedily removed, they saw the Lord, and it is also our privilege to see Him — their Lord and ours — who had risen indeed, and appeared unto Simon.

We need Him as much as they did, for the malignity of the devil is not one whit less now than then, and we have to mourn failure and sin as terrible as Simon's, for the Church has not kept His Word, and has often denied His Name. But Christ remains unchanged, and every purpose of God, with every hope of His people, hangs alone upon Him.

How blessed then to know that this same Lord is in the midst of His saints today!

Days of stress and trial they are, in the which the devil is seeking to stamp out all testimony for God, both as to the true word of the Gospel, and in the lives and unity of His own.

But He abides. If His pilgrim people are treading a wilderness journey in the which they are conscious of fierce opposition, of their individual needs, and much failure, He says to them, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee," so that they may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Heb. 13:5-6).

Or if His servants go forth to spread His gospel according to His own command, He says, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end" (Matt. 28:20), so that while they feel their weakness, they have no cause for discouragement.

Or if His saints gather together because they love His name, desiring only to please Him, He says, "Where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst" (Matt. 28:20).

Having Him, we have an infinite and eternal sufficiency, what need for ought beside? Having Him, we can well dispense with wealth, power, eloquence, wisdom of men, and all the things that attract and charm the unregenerate mind and heart; for in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is the power and wisdom of God. He is full of grace. He is our Shepherd and Bishop, our Master and Lord. We must cleave to Him alone. He is our rallying point and our support.

To rely upon our fellow Christians, or to turn to men, whom we deem to be spiritual, for help and support, as some would have us do, would be as futile as it would have been for John to have leaned upon Simon in the hour of trial, but we may all (as John did) lean upon the Lord (John 13:23), and He faileth not.

If we fail, there is restoring grace with Him, and He knows how to apply the balm to hearts broken by a sense of sin, even as when He appeared to Simon. Well may we then lift up our heads, and take courage, having hearts made glad by the sense of what He is.