An All-Sufficient Object for the Heart

An address on Jesus Coming, Walking, Dwelling

"The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and says, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he says, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and says to them, What seek ye? They said to him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He says to them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and says to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (John 1:29-42).

Self-occupation makes for ill-health and invalidism. This is an inexorable law of the spiritual life. A self-centred person cannot be either healthy, or happy, If we are to be kept in spiritual health and vigour we must have an object for our hearts and aims outside of ourselves. And I think that we shall all readily admit that being God's creatures He Himself ought to be that object; if He is not, we are living sinful and empty lives. That God may have His right place in our lives, He has revealed Himself to us, not by writing now upon tables of stone but by sending His well-beloved Son. The stern law would never have attracted and won us, but who shall describe the attractiveness of Jesus, our Lord? God was in Christ. "He that has seen Me has seen the Father," He said. And He who has revealed the Father rightly becomes now the object of our hearts when we know Him. But how does this come about, how does our Lord Jesus displace self and fill our hearts Himself instead?

Jesus Coming

First we learn that we are the objects of His heart. He sought us before we sought Him. We read, "John saw Jesus coming to him." What a moment that was for John, and what a moment it is for us when we see this great sight. We sing,

"I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad.
I found in Him a resting place,
And He has made me glad."

Yes, thank God that is most blessedly true, but before we came to Jesus like that He came to us. Unlovely and sinful as we were He came to us.

John saw Jesus coming to him, and he cried, "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world." This was the first public testimony borne to the Lord when He appeared in this Gospel. This first chapter of it opens with a recital of His divine glories. He is God, the Creator, the Source and Giver of life, and the Only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, and it closes with the prediction of glories yet to be, for He is the king of Israel and the Son of Man; but not of those glories that never had a beginning nor of those that are still to be revealed did John now speak. It was JESUS that he saw coming to him, the lowly Nazarene, the Man of sorrows; and of Him he said, "Behold the Lamb of God."

We also have seen Him coming to us as the Lamb of God, the One who died for us, so great was His love! He has come to us as the One who poured out His blood that our sins might be cleansed and our souls saved from hell and that He might redeem us to be His own for ever. This was the measure of His love! He came to us and we met Him first as the Lamb of God who suffered, who was the great sacrifice to make atonement for us, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. O children of the family of God, it is not because there shine upon the sacred brow of your Saviour crowns of imperishable splendour that you love Him, but because He first loved you and gave Himself for you. As the Lamb, holy and spotless, He endured and exhausted the judgment that your sins called for, as the scapegoat He has carried those sins far away, even into the land of forgetfulness, and He has come back without them, and as He showed to His disciples His hands and His side, wounded and pierced for them, so now, He shows them to us. He has come to us pouring out His love in suffering and sacrifice that He might redeem us from all iniquity and win us for Himself for ever.

Yes, He has come to us full of grace and truth, He has come from the height of His glory to the depth of our misery to save us and sanctify us and glorify us with Himself for ever.

"How wonderful! that He the Son has come,
And here for us as Lamb of God has died.
Our sins were laid on Him, He did become
Our substitute, when He was crucified."

Jesus Walking

Now I must speak of Jesus walking. "The next day after John stood, and two of his disciples, and LOOKING UPON JESUS AS HE WALKED, he says, Behold the Lamb of God." Seeing Jesus coming has saved us, beholding Him as He walked will sanctify us wholly according to His own desire (John 17). But I would have you notice that between verses 29 and 36 the Holy Spirit comes in. "This same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of this. If we are to enjoy vigorous spiritual life, and health, two things are necessary — an all-sufficient, all-absorbing object outside of us, and a patient yet all-victorious power within us. The object outside is Jesus, the power within is the Holy Ghost. But when we think of our Lord and Saviour as "He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost," it is in other circumstances than those that we have considered. When we think of Him as the Lamb of God we remember Calvary and its suffering, the thorn-crowned head bowed in death and the precious blood flowing from His side, but when we consider Him as "He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost," we look away from Calvary and earth and the grave, we look far above the stars and we see this same Jesus enthroned. Yes, blessed be God, He has put Him there. I ask you, babes in Christ, does it not thrill your hearts to know that your Saviour, once despised and rejected of men is now at the right hand of God? Does it not make you glad and rejoice when you "see Jesus crowned with glory and honour"? It is from that exalted place that our Lord has sent down the Holy Ghost to dwell in us that we might follow Him without faltering and be in living communion with Him who is the very spring of our life and health. How far heaven seems from earth, who can measure the distance? And Jesus is there in heaven and we are here on earth, yet the Holy Spirit within us can make our Lord and Saviour as real to us as if He sat by our side and talked with us face to face.

If we look upon Jesus as He walked, we shall follow Him as the disciples of John did; and He has come to us for this purpose, not only to seek and save us, but to lead us out of the place where He found us. We were dead to God, trying to make ourselves happy amid the glamour and in the filth of this world, and He came into it, Himself holy and pure in the midst of all its moral putrefaction, that He might separate us to Himself and draw and lead us out of the world. He works out His great design by love. He does not drive us, but He binds us to Himself by cords of love. He becomes attractive to us, and then we follow Him. O look upon Him as He walked! How wonderful were His footsteps from the manger to the mount of glory, from thence to Gethsemane, then on to Calvary, through death to Emmaus and the upper room in Jerusalem, then out to Bethany and up to the Father's right hand. We do not wonder that the disciples gazed steadfastly into heaven as He went up. We follow Him this night with our eyes, and the challenge comes home to us. Shall our hearts and our feet follow Him also?

Of course we must face things. We do not move an inch upon this path of God's will for us apart from exercise of heart, and we must make decisions, we must choose and refuse, and tonight, and at this crisis in our spiritual history, we must choose between self and Christ. Did you ever look at yourself in God's light? A celebrated American man of letters was offered £10,000 for his Autobiography. He turned down the offer and wrote, "A man cannot tell the whole truth about himself, even if he is convinced that what he writes will never be seen by others. I have personally satisfied myself on that. You cannot lay bare your private soul and look at it; you are too much ashamed; it is too disgusting. For that reason I confine myself to drawing the portraits of others." As far as I know, that man was only judging of himself by a human standard, how much deeper will be our abhorrence of self if we see it in God's light. One look will be enough.

"Who knows thee well, will quit thee with disgust,
Thou selfish mass of animated dust!"

If we quit self, we have Jesus instead; we cannot find a fault in Him. The worst that His enemies could say after the closest scrutiny was, He is the friend of sinners. But He was not only free from all evil, He was full of all good. He is the Lamb of God; the gentleness and meekness of Christ were His as He walked, His sympathy and divine compassion were seen in all His ways. If you are depressed and sad, behold Him as He walked by the side of those two disciples that journeyed to Emmaus (Luke 24). If you have been stricken by a great grief, behold as He walked with the tears upon His face by Mary's side to the grave of her brother. If you have backslidden from His ways, behold Him saying to Simon the son of Jonas, "Follow me."

If you would have your heart filled with worship: see Him as He says, "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment even so I do. Arise, let us go hence (John 14:13). Look upon Him as He walked, He took that way of deepest sorrow to accomplish the will of God, and that will was that we, being firmly attached to Him, might be led by Him into the knowledge of the Father's heart and home.

Jesus Dwelling

I want you to notice that John stood, and Jesus walked. John had led those disciples of his as far as He could. He must stand now for One greater than he had come, One whose shoe latchet he was not worthy to unloose, and He had come to be the Leader of the flock of God, and His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. But as John stood He spoke, and those that heard him followed Jesus. It is right that you should listen to the servants of the Lord as long as they point you to Jesus and move your hearts to follow Him.

This is what happened in our story, and this was what our Lord desired, for this He had come, and a great joy must have filled His heart as He turned and saw these two disciples following Him. In response to His question, "What seek ye?" they replied, "Master, where dwellest Thou?" It is as though they said, "It is yourself we want, and only you." Their eyes had seen His beauty and they could henceforth be satisfied with none but Him. And when they saw where He dwelt they abode with Him. And who think you had the greatest joy in that dwelling that day? They of course were supremely happy, how, could it be otherwise since they were with Him? But who can tell how great His joy was? His is a love that cannot be satisfied without the company of the loved ones. He cannot endure that His loved ones should be far from Him and that is why we have the feet washing in chapter 13. He wants us to have part with Him in His own dwelling.

If we follow Him, He will lead us out of the degradation of our sin and the misery of our selfishness into His own place, and tell us that that place is ours. In the Gospel of John He often uses the possessive pronoun. He speaks about things that are His own: "My Father," "My Father's house," "My peace," "My joy," and so on, and we might well sit entranced as we hear Him, and feel how worthy He is of all that He speaks of, but how great is our wonder when we find that all that He has, He shares with us. We read not only of Jesus coming, and Jesus walking, but of Jesus dwelling also, and if we inquire, "Master, where dwellest Thou?" He answers, "Come and see." And where He finds His home and rest, even in the Father's love, there we may rest, for He tells us, "The Father Himself loves you because ye have loved Me." The Father's house will be our home for ever, the Father's love is to be our dwelling-place now, because it is the dwelling-place of His beloved Son, and He is not ashamed to call us brethren and to declare the Father's Name to us.

If we dwell with Him we shall be like Him, His compassions will fill our hearts, and we shall seek others for Him. Andrew must have learnt how the heart of his Master yearned for others, and so the first thing that He did on the next day was to find his brother Simon and bring him to Jesus. This Andrew was no self-centred invalid, he was vigorous and active, but the spring of his activities was the Christ whom He had found. "We have found the Messias" was his exultant and effective message. Being delivered himself, he delivered others, being attracted by Jesus, he attracted others to Him. He became, by following Jesus and dwelling with Him, a sanctified vessel, meet for his Master's use.

Would you, my hearers, enjoy spiritual health? Then let Christ be supreme in your affections. Behold Him, follow Him, dwell with Him and spend your life in self-forgetful services in His Name in this devil-driven and needy world. May the Lord make these things true of us all in the power of the Holy Ghost.