The Lord's Chief Interest

How perplexed those eleven men in Jerusalem must have been on that first day of the week, when it began to dawn upon them their crucified Master had risen up from among the dead. At first they would not believe it, the report that the women brought was a pack of idle tales, hallucinations of distraught women; and yet it did seem as though the impossible had become fact, for Peter and John had seen the empty tomb with their own eyes. What had happened? and if He was alive, where was He? and what would He do?

Thomas might say, "I don't believe a word of it," and go off to nurse his disappointed hopes and broken heart in moody solitude.

And Andrew, "He'll go to the temple and convince and confound the high priest and all our rulers. He will vindicate Himself and His words, but what of us?"

And Simon the Zealot, "He'll discard us, of course, but He'll strike terror into Pilate's heart and claim the kingdom."

And Philip, "He'll ask His Father and He will give Him the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost part of the earth for His inheritance. Oh, why were we so cowardly?"

And James, "Perhaps He'll forgive us. He was always so patient. We don't deserve it, but there is a hope. Why did we doubt?"

But where is Simon? For three times he denied that he had ever known Him, and then fell to cursing and swearing worse than ever he used to do before the Master called him.

So they might talk together, until they reach the upper room, perhaps the same in which their Lord had kept the passover with them. What memories are theirs, and within those closed doors they sadly discuss the situation. Then comes a rattling at the door, and Simon, impetuous Simon, bursts in among them, saying, "I have seen the Lord, He has appeared to me." That of course convinced them. "The Lord is risen indeed and has appeared to Simon." The witness of the women was true.

But why should He appear to a few weak women and to Simon, who had been more cowardly than they all? Ah! light began to dawn upon them. It was just like Him. He had not changed; the weakest and the worst were always His first thought. They are rather shy of Simon and inclined to hold him at a distance, for he had fallen so low, and after all his boasting too, but the Lord had spoken to him, and if the Lord had spoken to Simon they all might hope. It would be a wonderful forgiveness, but it would be just like Him.

While they thus speak Jesus Himself stands in the midst, and that they might have no doubt that it is He, He shows them His hands and His side. Then they had all been wrong in their ideas of Him, He had not confronted the high priest and vindicated His Name, He had not confounded the Roman judge, He had not claimed the kingdom and the crown, or even asked His Father for His inheritance. Why? Because those fickle, foolish men were more to Him than self-vindication, more to Him than kingdoms and crowns, more than glory and inheritance. Second only to His Father's love and approbation were those men in His estimation; they were His chief interest. His Father had given them to Him, and He had given Himself for them. And now in resurrection life He had come to claim them, for their faithlessness had not changed His love. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end" (John 13:1). But He did not love them more than He loves you and me; it gives Him just as much joy to manifest Himself to us as it did to manifest Himself to theme. They were a sample company — the beginning of His church, and He loves the church and He gave Himself for it. We are part of that church, and have our part in His never-changing love.

We must notice that it was when they were gathered together to talk of Him that Jesus stood in the midst of them. He cared for them each apart from one another. He had proved this by looking after Mary in her sorrow, and Simon in his despair, and Cleopas in his doubts; but to gather them together was His great purpose, and now that they were together He would not, He could not, withhold His presence. He could not stay away from them. They were glad when they saw the Lord, but His was the greater joy.

And so it is today. "Where two or three are gathered together in My Name there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20), are His own words. They are familiar words, but they must not lose their appeal to us. How eagerly we ought to seek the company of those who love Him and delight to talk of Him, not for their sakes only, but for His, because He will meet us there. Love delights in the company of the loved ones. His love can be satisfied with nothing less than that.

Of course, He was supreme in the midst. His love, greater than all theirs combined, gave Him the supreme place there; and the great redemption work that He had done, to have them as His own without a rival claim, gave Him that place; and greater than all, He was supreme because of whom He is. When we gather together to His Name, it is the Son of God who meets us there. To meet Him, to own His supremacy over us and all His own, to hear Him and to worship Him is our chief privilege and our greatest joy, if we are right with Him, if we have not left our first love

"Then were the disciples glad, when they saw THE LORD" (John 20:20). His own had not received Him, the world that He created had not known Him, He was cut off and had nothing, but now He had a circle where His will and word were everything; and His disciples were glad to have it so. That circle has widened out until it has included us. May we be as ready to yield to Him His sovereign place in the midst of His saints — His own circle and chief interest — as were those men on that first day of the week.