J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)
There is a danger of being disheartened and "vexed" through the prevalence of evil, "Because of the abounding of iniquity, the love of many shall wax cold." How perfect the blessed Lord was in this! All was iniquity around Him, yet, in perfect communion with God, His spirit walked in peace, so that He could notice and recognise even all that was naturally lovely - the lily of the field - God's care of ravens - all that was of God here. But this is because He was perfectly near God (I speak of His mind as Man), but, for the same reason He judges perfectly man and all his thoughts and intents of heart.
But marriage is owned from the beginning - a child, in which simplicity, confidence and undistrusting readiness of heart to believe, guilelessness as not having learnt the world nor its vanity - beauty of character, when He looked on the young man, who had displayed that character, He loved him; this is lovely, but the presence of God must try man - where was his heart? He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. With the best dispositions and readiness to be taught, and plenty to make good use of, the state of the heart is found; "who then can be saved?" With man it is impossible, but then with God all things are possible. At the very outset, the Lord had shown him he was all on the wrong tack, seeking goodness in man - God only was good; the heart was detected - the Cross alone would do, those who follow Him must take it up - death to what man was, the only path. But then there was a blessed starting point for this, "He came to give his life a ransom for many," Mark 10.
The Cross was first redemption, then the death of the flesh; and we are, for ourselves, to take up the Cross, and, for others, to serve as Christ did. He had in this character, as now calling souls, only the cup to give - His baptism and His cup, though there was large, ample reward for those for whom it was prepared.
Then comes the reference of this question to the disciples' path. Where the flesh is not crucified, the world and Satan have power - they followed trembling, when He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. There can be sincerity and blessing - Christ, the Son, revealed and holding fast by Him, but the flesh not subdued to the measure of that which we really believe, then there is fear and weakness, and it goes even to the point of being called Satan by the Lord. See the difference of Paul by the Holy Ghost - his righteousness which was a gain to him, was loss to him, he needed it not; had he anything of this world? It was dung and dross, and followed - this one thing I do. If he had forty stripes save one, or despaired of life, he had the sentence of death in himself; he looked to a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory - a bright example of the power of grace and the Spirit, so as to have an undivided and so undistracted heart, and power with him as in Christ, a perfect example of the good which Paul had to imitate - a heart perfectly free in its own self; tested indeed, but perfect, and so perfect with God that it could, as above all the evil around it, deeply as it was felt, see and recognise all that was of God.
6 It is wondrously full of instruction to see man's heart sifted, yet all good of God owned; that edge of the divine word, of the word of Christ, which can run its edge through all that to us is so mixed up; nature and fallen nature - nature from God, and nature from man - and in perfect goodness in the midst of all, yet tell us plainly of the needed Cross, and the grace of a needed redemption.