Intimacy with the Lord.

Notes of a lecture, revised.

Luke 5:4-11, Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-8, John 20:14-18; Rev. 22:14-18.

T. H. Reynolds.

Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892, p. 261.

What I desire to bring before you is the way in which the Lord draws our hearts to Himself. I do not speak of how the conscience is set at rest. I trust every one here is at rest, through the work of Christ, as to all questions of sin and judgment. But it is possible to know the work of the Lord, and greatly rejoice in it, and yet never really to have touched His company. These scriptures show how the Lord values our company, our affections, our love. In Peter we get the way the soul is first set at ease in the company of the Lord. If a poor man received a great benefit from a nobleman, he would better enjoy his gift than his company. This feeling needs to be removed. While we only appreciate the grace of the Lord in having paid our debts, how little we know His love. There is a difference between grace and love. We can enjoy grace a great way off, but to enjoy love there must be nearness; we must be in the company of the one who loves us. When the Lord came from heaven He did not come into the midst of angels, but of men, in order to find companions for eternal glory. Peter had already known the Lord, but now it dawned on him who the One was whom he knew. He learnt lay the miraculous draught of fishes that Christ was the Lord of earth and heaven, who could command the fish to come into his net. When we apprehend in some measure the person of the Lord, we wonder that He should want to bring such as we are into His own company. We see the attraction that was in His person. Peter says, "Depart from me"; yet he was attracted to Him all the while. We get now the grace of the Lord. Now, notwithstanding our sense of disparity, He sets us at ease in His presence. He says, "Fear not." Peter is set at ease with the Lord. It is not only to believe what He has done for us on the cross, but how He would take away every suggestion of fear, and make us at home in His company. Have we learnt this?

"Oh ever homeless stranger,
Thou dearest friend to me,
An outcast in a manger
That Thou mightst with us be."

We with Him, and He with us. We shall be with Him for ever, but do we know His company now?

Luke 10:38. We have an advance here. In Luke 5 the Lord had come down in grace to minister to man, and Peter is drawn into His company. Now we are in another scene. We find here the Lord on His way to suffer. (Luke 9:51.) "He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." (Luke 10:38.) "As they went, He came to a certain village." After the Mount of Transfiguration, where Moses and Elias spake to Him of His decease, He was on His way to death, He was passim', out of the world. On the way "Martha received Him into leer house." She had not the sense of the path the Lord was taking, that He was not staying in this world, so she invites Him into her house, and seeks to entertain Him with her things. She did value His company, but she would like to entertain Him with her things. She did not understand what was before the Lord at this time, and she was cumbered about much serving. She was making the Lord her guest. Mary was the Lord's guest, and He was entertaining her with His things. Martha served Him, I doubt not, to the best of her ability, with her house, her means, her time, her labour. Mary is in the company of the Lord. Martha wants the Lord in her company, to bring the Lord to her side of things. Mary goes to the Lord's side. Do we know a little of that? He has this object in bringing us to His company, to bring us to His side of things. The Lord did use what was Peter's, his boat, but this is more. He wants to bring us to the path that Mary chose. Martha blamed her for idleness. The Lord says, "Mary hath chosen that good part." What is the good part? It is the Lord's things. It cannot be taken away. We might be using our wealth for the Lord, and it might all be taken away; but if I get to His side of things, and let Him open out that to me, so that I become His guest and He entertains me with His things, it is a good part that cannot be taken away. See where we are brought to in getting into the company of the Lord. Our part is to let Him take us up to His place, let Him be the entertainer, so to speak. Let Him open to us all that He can tell us of His things.

Turn now to John 12:1-8, and you will find an advance again. The Lord has reached Jerusalem, and His circumstances are greatly altered. Three things come out in the first part of this chapter. They represent three different states of soul. It was most grateful to the heart of the Lord to turn aside to Bethany, and to find those who would appreciate Him. There will be a moment in the history of the earth when the rejected One will know a people who will gladly receive and welcome Him. This is foreshadowed here in Martha. Ours is to go out of the scene with Him, but He will come back to earthly things again. Lazarus is there. He represents the nation of Israel brought back again to life in this world. It is not here the resurrection that puts in heavenly glory, but that which brings back to life in this world, as it is said of Israel, "Thy dead men shall live." It will be a wonderful thing when the remnant receives Him, and the nation is brought back as from death. But we have a third thing. In Mary we have one who already in spirit had gone to the Lord's side of things. And she still represents that to us, as seen in verse 3. That is her service. Judas, as one who had companied with the Lord, represents apostate Christianity. He represents those who have had to do with Christianity and its blessings, and yet who will turn and give up Christianity and apostatise from Christ. Only two men are called in scripture "The son of perdition" - Judas and anti-Christ. Judas was about to sell Christ; he had not the smallest appreciation of Him. Only think how people may have all the love and grace of Christ put before them, and yet not appreciate Christ. They may do good to men, and yet not have one atom of appreciation of Christ. How very much even Christians are tainted with this spirit of the world! Mary stands out beautifully; she represents the affections of the true Church. Where do her affections go? She has a sense, taught of God doubtless, that Christ is going out of the world. "Well," she says, "my heart goes out with Him." The most precious thing she has got she pours on Him for His burial. Christ interpreted it so. The same with His disciples. (John 17:6.) The Lord puts His interpretation on their poor little affections. So here with the devotedness of Mary. I do not say she understood the meaning of her act; but a kind of instinct in her apprehended the danger that awaited Him, and she appreciated Him the more; but the Lord understands, and puts the full meaning on it: "Against the day of my burying hath she kept this." If drawn into His company, where do our affections go? Are we free from the spirit of the world that can have all the grace of Christ before it, and yet withhold from Him? The Lord give us to understand how He lays hold of our hearts to draw us into His company, and have us go outside this world to where He has gone

John 20. Now the Lord has come out of death in resurrection. In Mary Magdalene we have one greatly attached to Him. He had cast out from her seven devils. She is mentioned elsewhere as following Him, and ministering to Him of her substance. She seeks Him in death, but in very deep affection. She thought she had lost Him. When we have lost a friend we find out how much we love him. Now Mary's affections came out in this way. She is inconsolable; the one thing she wants is Himself, though it be in death, His body. It has been called ignorant affection. Would to God we had more of it! He must be first; we often want to put our love first. George Herbert puts it thus:

"As when the heart says, sighing to be approved,

Oh, that I could love! God writeth - Loved."

Do not say, "Oh, that I could love!" Be occupied with His love, and love because He loves. Mary loved Him, and she is the one to whom the Lord first appears. She knows the intimacy of John 10 - an inward intimacy. The Spirit of God alone can teach it. He saith unto her, "Mary." She is a figure of the Church learning Him in resurrection. At first she is in the place of the Jewish remnant. She thought she had got Him back here again; she springs forward as much as to say, "I have got Him back." "No," says the Lord, "touch me not." He is conducting her out of the place of the Jewish remnant into the place of the Church. "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God"; I am going to that scene there. "Go and tell my brethren" - they were to be with Him where He is. He brings us to His side of things before the Father, into the affections that He knows with the Father. Surely that is deep and blessed intimacy! If you have been conducted along this line, if you know the Lord now in resurrection and in ascension, you will be prepared for the last, and that is the next thing, His coming again.

Turn now to Revelation 22. Here, at the close of the book, the person of the Lord shines out. Through the book He has been revealed in many and various characters as Jehovah, the First and the Last, the One clad in a priestly garment, as a warrior, a Lamb, as One in angelic guise. Spiritual perceptions may say in many cases, I see the Lord in these varied characters; but when we come to this last chapter, all at once the sweet words break in, "I, Jesus." It is as when the disciples were in the storm. "They were afraid." But He said unto them, "It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received Him into the, ship." It is the person of the Lord there brought out. So here, at the close of the book, "I Jesus … I am the root and the offspring of David." That is what He is for the earth; the Sun of righteousness will arise; the remnant will receive and know the Lord. He is presented in two characters here, "the root and the offspring of David" - that is the guarantee of all blessing for the earth" the bright and Morning Star." That is a heavenly Christ, the portion of the Church. It is the peculiar character of the Church's relationship to Christ. She belongs to Christ while He is in heaven, she knows Him there. The Jews will not know Him till He comes back to earth. His relationship will be renewed with them on earth. Abraham saw Christ's day on earth; but his faith penetrated even farther, he looked for "a city which hath foundations," etc., that is, the Church. Abraham will see the glory of Christ reflected in the Church, but there will be no company of saints, but the Church will ever be in relationship with Christ while He is absent. "The Morning Star" is a heavenly Christ, and that is our portion to know Him thus. When the day breaks it will be Christ shining on earth. The Morning Star does not belong to the day. The Church belongs entirely to heaven, we have our own peculiar portion in association with a heavenly Christ. It is the privilege of the Church here to respond for both, the earth and the heavens. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come." All the administration of heavenly glory to the earth will be by the Bride. The Church must go into heavenly glory before the earth can get its blessing. "I Jesus." Do you say, "I know Him"? You may not understand all connected with His person, you may not appreciate all; but can you say, "I know Him"? Immediately "the Spirit and the Bride say, Come." If I know what is to be found in the company of Christ, to have tasted His love in the smallest way, I must surely know a little what it is to desire His coming. I do not doubt there are many hindrances; but the Lord is expressing His affection in the words, "I come quickly," and He counts on a response from His Church. The Spirit utters it in the Bride, "Come, Lord Jesus." Then, though I may not be able to enter fully and intelligently into the proper affections of the Bride to the heavenly Bridegroom, yet I hear what is said - this challenge of the Lord - introducing Himself to our notice, "I Jesus," and the response of the Spirit and Bride - "do I hear it?" "Let him that heareth say, "Come." This is what the Lord is doing, bringing His own person before His beloved saints, conducting them to intimacy with Himself. The response will be, "Come!" It does not hinder service, for we shall surely all the more invite thirsty souls. "Let him that is athirst, Come." The Lord lead our hearts more into it for His name's sake! T. H. R.