"Master, where dwellest thou?"

An answer to the above query, as intelligible as it is direct, is afforded by the following quotation from Isaiah 57: "Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit." And the Lord Jesus in His own person illustrated the character claimed by the High and Holy One in that verse. Nay, more; to as many as received Him He vindicated it. Though come down in utmost lowliness, He was the Lord whom Isaiah saw (Isa. 6; compare John 12:37-41); and those in the apostle's fellowship can say, "We have seen His glory."

Grace and truth come by Jesus Christ, and the development of this truth may be said to characterize John's gospel. Even here the Baptist's testimony, as it requires little discernment to perceive, is coloured by that truth. Thus, on the first day, as recorded, in reply to the priests and Levites, he declares, "There standeth One among you whom ye know not. He it is who coming after me is preferred before me" (for, as He afterwards explains, He was before me), "whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."

Let this testimony get hold of a soul, and it at once realizes the moral distance separating it from Him; it understands, too, the constraint under which Peter cried, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." The soul is bowed down before Him, and is on the threshold of a new day; this day dawns as it hears John's second day's testimony to Jesus - "The Lamb of God who beareth away the sin of the world." The very same One whose penetrating glance makes the guilty sinner tremble is He whose death puts the sin away, as John insists, "This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who is preferred before me; for He was before me." Not merely does He in death lay righteous grounds for the clearance of a believer from accumulated guilt, but puts sin away before the eye of God, so that He may henceforth view the justified believer with the utmost complacency - "holy and without blame before Him in love;" and the redeemed one, on the other hand, is perfectly divested of everything which could interfere with or mar his contemplation of the love that wrought for him, and of the blessed One in whom that love has been declared, revealed, and made effectual - the Saviour.

Accordingly, on the third day (John 1:35-39), pointing to the resurrection, the Lamb of God Himself is seen in all His preciousness and worth. A ray of resurrection glory pierces backward through the shadows, laying hold on John, and he gives utterance to the feelings of his ravished heart in the exclamation, "Behold the Lamb of God! "Two of his disciples heard him speak, and leave him to follow Jesus. He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom. John was but the friend of the Bridegroom, and he had his joy fulfilled in seeing Jesus as the worthy object - the attractive Centre around whom devoted souls might justly gather. The two disciples enquire, "Master, where dwellest thou?" Jesus "said unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day," etc.

We have here, then, a brief outline of the steps by which a soul is led on to the haven of true rest. Would that souls reached that haven in three days. It is, alas! otherwise. How far were even His most favoured disciples from discerning morally the abode of Jesus. Their impatience with the Syrophenician, their surprise at the interview between Jesus and the woman of Samaria, and their forsaking of Him at the last hour, as well as the fear of Peter, James, and John, as they entered the cloud of glory on the mount of transfiguration;* all these circumstances alike manifested how little they knew of His abode, either in its height or depth. At the termination of His ministry He has to say, "If ye had known me."

*It may be questioned whether it was not rather Moses and Elias who entered the cloud. Knowing what the cloud was, the disciples feared as they saw them enter into it. ED.

Their dulness in learning of Him, however, affords no standard by which Christians now can judge of their culpability in respect of, or find an excuse for, their lack of knowledge of the Lord, inasmuch as to faith, carnality, which ever hinders, ceases in the cross, and the Holy Ghost is come to lead souls obedient to the Word into all truth. Yet how few there are of those who by faith recognize the value of Christ's work for them, to whom the Lord Himself is known; and it is only as we know the Master that we can discern where He dwells. The bride in Canticles 5 heeded not at first the voice of her Beloved; but a further manifestation of His grace arouses her to seek Him, now gone. She enquires of the daughters of Jerusalem, and their reply supplies the occasion for a touching rehearsal of His attractions. They then would seek Him with her (Cant. 6); and being now under the power of what she knew concerning Him, she can tell where He is! What a lesson this is for any dear soul, precious, oh, how precious, to the heart of Jesus, when through selfishness it may have closed its ear to His sweet voice, if even for a moment!

The circumstances recorded in Luke 24 supply very precious instruction on the subject we are considering. There the "great Shepherd of the sheep, brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant," in the activity of His unchanging love and tenderness follows two poor wandering ones, though with faith so weak as to be inappreciable perhaps to any eye but His. They "trusted it had been He who should have redeemed Israel," and certain women of their company made them "astonished … when they found not His body, and came saying that they had seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive." Beginning with His death, "He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Their hearts burned within them while He talked with them by the way (and no wonder!), so that when He applies His test, making as though He would have gone further, they constrain Him to abide with them, and He will even condescend to do so. Uninstructed, though devoted souls, they had not yet learned to enquire, "Master, where dwellest thou?" but were like many in our own day, who in unfelt self-will select a place suited to their tastes and judgment, and take the happiness afforded them there by the condescending Lord as sufficient argument for remaining in a place not sanctioned by His word. It is because they know Him not. The two disciples discern the Lord in that which figures His death. It is as the Lamb slain that we shall ever learn and ever adore our blessed Lord; and it is in view of Him dying for us, made sin for us, God condemning sin in the flesh in His sacrifice, that we learn the utter worthlessness of our tastes, judgment, wisdom, and to take the Word alone as our guide. Having discovered Him, He vanished out of their sight, and they can no longer remain there. They might then well ask, Where shall we go? where, but to the few gathered in His name, at Jerusalem then; for there, and there alone, they might justly reckon on finding Him. There is a great difference apparent between the disciples when at Emmaus and at Jerusalem. There they ignorantly prepared an abode for the Saviour whom they loved, but recognized not; here they themselves, with other self-emptied simple ones, constituted His abode, as He says, "Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, THERE AM I," there is my abode.

His action in each place is very significant. He will not act the guest at Emmaus. It is He who blessed the bread and gave to them. In Jerusalem it is just the contrary; He is the guest, and puts them into the "more blessed" place as givers. (Acts 20:35.) There may be much blessing received from Him who alone can bless, even in places which He cannot sanction, as at Emmaus; but communion and worship characterize the Lord's abode. And they who know what that is on earth best know what it is to be seated in heavenly places in Him above. (Eph. 2:6.)

Before concluding, there is also what corresponds to all this individually. Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to Him and make our abode with Him." This now. And for the future, already cognizant of the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him (1 Cor. 2:9-10), even while "groaning" because of what he feels and sees around him here below, he can sing -

"I have a home above,
From sin and sorrow free;
A mansion which eternal love
Designed and formed for me."
"The Father's gracious hand
Has built this blest abode,
From everlasting it was planned,
The dwelling-place of God."
J. K.