J. N. Darby.
(Words in Season, Vol. 2, 1888, page 171.)
The whole of this portion is founded on the deep consciousness of Christ Himself in passing through the world, that all in connection with earth was closed and broken up. The fire was kindled; all would come out more distinctly at the cross; but all that was in opposition was now actually shewing itself, bringing out the truth of the portion and the position of those who are Christ's being entirely heavenly, having nothing down here, waiting for the Lord with loins girded. He having been definitely rejected, all linking them to earth is broken.
In chapter 11 some said, "He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils." What was that but calling the Holy Ghost a devil? It was a hopeless sin, the direct enmity of Satan. In this chapter, also, we find "singleness of eye"-our responsibility to let our light shine out; also, two characters of Satanic power-1st, malicious, a liar; 2nd, a murderer. In chapter 12, "Be not afraid of them that kill the body." If open persecution come in through Satan, they are not to be afraid. But in verse 13, there is the danger of the worldly influence of Satan, a quiet influence, the more to be feared because not open-a kind of influence that goes on when not watching, and weans the heart away from the only thing we have as Christians, i.e., a heavenly portion, making us solicitous about, and setting a value on, worldly things; but the Lord comes to the rich man to shew the utter folly of any who are making the world their portion, and then He enters on the use to be made of riches. We have not got apostles at whose feet to lay down everything for the Lord, but we are to hold all mammon for the service of the Lord, our portion being in heaven, yet having the privilege of using it for the Lord, turning what is mere dross and dung into something for service to the Lord, and then not to have a care.
Sweet the way in which the Lord discharges them from all care: "Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." How blessedly they are brought into direct connection with the Father. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but the word of God endureth for ever. Directly we come to a Father taking care of us, the heart is discharged entirely from care about this world. How blessed the thought of that God being our Father without whom not a sparrow falls to the ground, and that we are in this blessed relationship because Christ has taken us into it with Himself "Fear not, little flock," &c. As those belonging to the kingdom, how ought we to walk? All laying up treasure here carries the heart with it; if laying up treasure, we shall like to keep it. On the one hand, warned against the spirit of the world; on the other, not to have a care, because He who is your Father careth for you. Walking with loins girded and lights burning, be ye as men waiting for their Lord, every moment having in the whole spirit, tone, and temper the sense of constantly waiting for the Lord girded (the long garments tucked up for service). There then is the distinct power of life seen. Servants in the midst of all down here, waiting for their absent Lord with their affections tucked up (loins girded). It is a great thing to walk through the world with the distinct thought that the Lord is out of it because it would not have Him. Suppose yesterday, or six days ago, He had been rejected by the world, and He had told us He was going to prepare a place for us, what should we think of the nature and character of that world that had blasphemed and rejected Him? Could we be taken up with it if our hearts are really attached to Himself, and He up there having done the work to bring us into the place of holiness before He went, that we should be up there accepted in Him? Should not we be waiting for Him with girded loins, walking through the world that spit upon and hated Him with hearts out of it?
It is to be constant watching. Blessed are those servants (ver. 37). "Soon I shall take my turn in serving. You must now be watching with hearts and eyes fixed on Me, but when I come I shall have it My own way; I shall gird Myself and put you at My table, and then I shall serve you. Here there must be watching and waiting, but there is a place where I shall have things My own way; I shall spread the table and serve you. All the fat of the house will be set before you; lay your account upon that. You are to be in the place where you are not going only to rule the world that turned Me out, but there where all the energy of My love will flow out to you."
The watching for the little while now, is for the outflowing of the eternal blessedness of His love at that day when He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down that He may serve them. There it is not watching, but service to those now watching. The loins girded for service and watching is to be the character of our walk all through this present wilderness path, suffering linked with it. If we suffer, we shall reign. We get suffering as the consequence of what He puts into our hands. What a wonderful thing for us that we are to be set in the place of rule in everything below Him. Now one sees here the blessedness of His love to His own; how He takes their hearts out of the world, expressing Himself as if all was over. His own heart cannot get on in such a world. He is driven in on Himself by the condition of all round Him, forced to shut up the very love ever ready to flow out.
The whole thing is, morally speaking, over; the world judged, He out of it; and that is the place you get, the place he is in now; that is what detaches the heart from all things not of the Father, but of the world. The Holy Ghost sets Christ's walk before us to shew us the character and spirit we ought to have in the world if our hearts would go rightly through it. It is only as the heart is fixed on Jesus as the One soon coming-that only will make us in our lives the diligent expression of His coming. Not only our treasure above, counting all but dross, but the practical place of separation to Him, the heart thinking only of Him, and separating from the world that won't have Him. Oh! may He fix our hearts on Himself, that He may see us in spirit and walk like men waiting and watching for Him. The Lord truly keep our hearts waiting and longing for Him from heaven!