Suffering, Sustenance and Satisfaction.

Christ, learnt by us in sorrow, results in Him being known by us in all the fragrance that issued from His Manhood, for it was as a Man, in circumstances of sorrow, that He first touched us when, to pick us up, He "came" (Luke 10:33-35) where we were. Then, knowing Him in this way, we become occupied with Him and attached to Him. The glorious result of all this is that we become morally like Him, and His judgment of things becomes, in measure, our own. What a blessed privilege is thus given to us by Him — to have something of His outlook on things; to be allowed to feel, in some simple way, as He felt what surrounded Him; to be permitted to see, dimly it may be, as He saw, and so to appreciate everything in this scene according to its true value — His valuation. Then it is we know what it is to "suffer with Him" (Rom. 8:17).

He was eternally with the Father in a place where everything was according to His mind. He came into this scene where nothing was suited to Him. Everything here, His service excepted, caused Him suffering, for there was a complete absence of affinity between Him and all else in this world. He was "out of heaven" (1 Cor. 15:47, New Trans.), the corn of wheat abiding alone (John 12:24), and His feelings not having been impaired by sin, He felt the nature and contrariety of things here far more keenly than the choicest of His Saints could ever do. All that was here — His people the Jews, the state of men generally (fallen and depraved), and the world at large, only occasioned Him grief, sorrow and suffering. But His devoted service to His Father, was His meat — His sustenance and satisfaction, for He could say "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me" (John 4:34). This service and communion with the Father during His earthly sojourn, ministered to Him. Nothing else gave Him pleasure or satisfaction here.

What characterised His earthly pathway, should surely be true of us. So the blessed Lord tenderly leads us through sorrow and suffering to conform us to Himself. By this means, He draws us to Himself, and we are led to feel, in no uncertain manner, that He is all that we have here, and that nothing else but our occupation with, and our devotion to Him, displaying itself practically in our service, can minister to, or satisfy our souls. The nearer to Him we live daily, the more we shall feel keenly the barrenness of this wilderness-world, and suffer commensurately. But there is that which brings satisfaction and sustenance — the service committed to us by Himself. His service was His devotion to His Father's will. Our service is devotion to His (Christ's) will. And this is to represent Him morally here. Often we have wrongly assumed that service for Christ is limited to teaching believers, or preaching to sinners. Such activities should certainly be taken up as service for Him, but the service He has given to us embraces far more than preaching or teaching, for it involves the whole of our daily lives. When Christ was here as a Man, He met everything which was contrary to Godliness, by His own divine perfections. Our precious privilege is to continue this service by displaying Christ morally here. Is not this done in the following way? If we have to do with people who act in the power of the flesh, and who display the sad works that result therefrom, is it not our service for Christ to "walk in the Spirit" and so manifest the precious fruits of "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23. New Trans.)? If, in business, we see corruption and unrighteousness abounding, is it not His will for us to seek to maintain integrity and righteousness, leaving the results with Him? If, in the world at large we see impurity, unholiness and violence, does He not desire us to seek purity, holiness and gentleness? If we see Christendom marked by a profession of the Name of Christ whilst allowing that which is of the flesh, is it not due to Him that we should "depart from iniquity?"

Our service for Christ, according to truth, springs from occupation with Himself, and not from being occupied with the service. The latter proves our devotion to Him, for who could possibly be constantly attached to such a glorious Person, and yet not serve Him? Of Himself the blessed Lord could say that He came "not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). If we are prepared for the same life of self-sacrifice, we shall in the midst of the suffering experience the joy of the sustenance and of the satisfaction which comes from serving Him.
Leonard Steeds.