G. V. Wigram.
Christian Friend, vol. 9, 1882, p. 16.
There is much to remark in the way the coming of the Lord is presented to the disciples after the resurrection. They, poor things, after the Lord was risen, were still running on Jewish things, and looked for the kingdom to be restored. But God has His plan. He says, "No, the time is come for a testimony of grace to go forth, beginning at Jerusalem." There is another thing. They see Jesus go up; they gaze after Him. Their hearts are up with their Lord. So ought our hearts to be looking after Him; nothing ought to satisfy the believer's heart but the Lord Himself. Then the promise comes to them, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." This is the first putting forth of the coming of the Lord Jesus as the hope of the believer's heart;* and the security of it is in the absolute manner God presents it as His plan.
* It is the appearing rather than the coming of our Lord in this passage. But the principle abides. — Ed.
The mystery is the very essence of the Church. The Jews are waiting for a Messiah — the Church is on quite a different basis. We have pretrusted in Christ. We know Him as One who has come, who has everything and yet nothing. What has a Christian here? Literally nothing. The infidel may say, "Show me something." I know what I have got — Christ in heaven. He is my anchor, my whole soul is resting there; my heart is in heaven with this Lord Jesus. The heavenly bride's place is that which Christ took below. He had nothing here. He could not turn to this or that person and say, "I can trust in him." His spring was in God. He could trust Him and Him only, and so with ourselves. If I have the Son's heart on the Father's throne, the Father's heart and house are opened to me. We find daily His sympathies can flow down to His people. While passing through the sand of the wilderness, our feet cut and bruised, Jesus has a heart that can sympathize, and make all "work together for good." What Polar star have you to guide you? None but the coming of Christ Himself. What hope have I apart from the coming of Christ? Literally none. The bride of Christ has nothing as a future save the coming of her Lord.
One thing very touching to the heart is the way in which Christ conforms our removal to His own. Because He loves His bride, no one can be trusted to fetch her save Himself — not a power in heaven, not if legions of angels volunteered it. He will so arrange it, that all shall recall His own removal. He will present her to Himself. It is part of His special privilege as Son, to arrange all for His Father, as well as for the Church. He will purge the heavenlies; He will come down with the same chariot of cloud as that in which He ascended to fetch her up and present her to the Father. Every little thing in which we can be conformed to Him is sweet; but when it is something put on her by His own hand, it is sweeter still. Like the disciples, we too should want our Master back, want to see Himself. Personal love is the answer to that love which proved stronger than death. He proved His love and the fountain of His love to be entirely independent of them. He settled the matter with Peter, went through it with Thomas — proofs enough of love. Their hearts could not rest satisfied without being with "this same Jesus."
It is very sweet to have the Lord looking down on us here, but nothing like being with Him. What is the force of my saying, "This is a wretched, howling wilderness"? What is it but "Nothing can satisfy my renewed nature except to see Himself"? He set His heart upon His bride. He loved her, and gave Himself for her. The heart that gets the simple thought of the personal love of Christ to the Church, will be strengthened to encounter the perils of the wilderness. We have to be where He puts us, because the great thing is to taste His love, and I can taste it down here. There is no question but that I should taste it much more with Him; but if it is His will for me to stay, that makes me happy to stay. When Christ is displaying power, there is Satan to oppose Him; it does not suit him to be in opposition where Christ is not.
Have you ever said, "Come, Lord Jesus"? Why do you say it? He is waiting; not satisfied till He presents His Church. Have you felt nothing will satisfy you but seeing Him and being like Him? Have you felt in the quick of your soul, that if God were to give you heaven without Christ, it would be a blank place to your hearts? Why do you say "Come"? Because God has not forgotten His own plan. God would have some associated with Him up there in the desire of the Holy Ghost: that is why you say "Come." It is part of God's plan about Christ. If God says, "I have chosen you, and am working part of my plan for my Son in you," I do not understand people saying, "Oh, I am not this or that!" You would be far more humble, if you thought more about God, and less about yourself. Why do the sympathies of Christ flow forth to you? Dare you say, "Because I was so faithful to the sympathy He showed me yesterday"? Yet it does flow forth to you; and unless you are blind, you can lift up one stone after another, and find water flowing under all. Why? Because of what you are? No; He looked out for such bad clay, that no other potter could make anything of it. There is only one way God can keep such vessels full, and that is by keeping you close to the gushing fountain.
Do His sympathies depend upon you? Not a bit. We cannot be trusted with the full amount of joy. We should be puffed up. Peter must have his hands tied, or they would be busy to take off the crown of martyrdom. Are you better than Peter? Nay, but worse,
You are looking for Christ from heaven. Your looking will not bring Him, but you will be happy if you are looking. The only spring of living waters Christ knows is in God. It is not the will which Christ sets in movement in your heart that is the power, but Christ's love. I am ashamed when I think of Christ's patient waiting to fetch us. Do you think Christ, in the glory of the Father, has a heart large enough to have a care to come and fetch us, and are you not ashamed? He says, "There is that poor thing stumbling through its duties, but I will soon go and pick it up." The Father's house is higher up than the manifestation of glory, the New Jerusalem, the court of the kingdom, but Christ will delight for the world to see the Father's glory in a way it can admire. But there are sweeter things than that — home-ties, relationships. The name of the Father hardly comports with the pageantry of rule, but it meets our hearts when He says, "Surely I come quickly." (Rev. 22:20.) Here is the answer to the call of the Bride. God's thought when man had forgotten the hope is, "I will trim the lamp again." I believe God is moving, and that it is impossible in the riches of His grace that there should be none to meet His testimony. Even in Malachi some were looking for Him. He could not have come three hundred years ago, when all was in gross darkness; but now, were He to rise up from the throne this night, there are many who through grace from the depths of their hearts have cried, "Come, Lord Jesus." Does your heart answer, "I am one"? May it be our desire that He would revive the testimony in the hearts of His children. G. V. W.