Scripture Notes



John 7:38.

It is admitted that this is not a citation from the Old Testament, or rather, that these exact words are not found; but there can be no manner of doubt that it is a very direct reference to an Old Testament scripture. Let the two, then, be compared in their respective connections. In John we read, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Turning now to Isaiah we find: "If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." (Isaiah 58:10-11.) Commenting upon the latter scripture first, it may be observed that two things follow upon a certain condition (the condition being ministering to the hungry and to the afflicted soul), viz., satisfaction of soul in times of drought, and a state resembling that of a watered garden and a perennial spring. Turning now to our Lord's words in John, we shall see the same two consequences flowing from a certain condition. The condition is necessarily changed in the day of grace, which our blessed Lord had inaugurated: and hence it is here not works of mercy, but "coming" to him, and "believing" on Him. He thus says, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me" (to Him glorified in virtue of redemption, as shown in v. 39) "and drink." Responding to this blessed invitation, and drinking unhinderedly, the soul will indeed be abundantly satisfied, for all our springs are in Him. Then, further, "He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of water." Notice, that believing here means the continuous exercise of faith; and what the Lord promises is, that where this is the case, where faith is in uninterrupted activity in Himself, the soul will be in the state described in the scripture - the scripture in Isaiah; and, in accordance with the surpassing character of the day of grace, should indeed far transcend it, in that rivers of living water would flow out of that soul. We do not offer an exposition of these words on this occasion, inasmuch as we desire to confine ourselves to the question of the scripture to which our Lord referred.


1 Corinthians 15:21-22.

The following remarks of another so forcibly explain this scripture, that we give them as they were written: "There are two great principles established here: by man, death; by man, the resurrection of the dead; Adam and Christ as heads of two families. In Adam all die; in Christ, all shall be made alive. But here there is an important development in connection with the position of Christ in the counsels of God. One side of this truth is the dependence of the family, so to call it, upon its head. Adam brought death into the midst of his descendants - those who are in relation with himself. This is the principle which characterizes the history of the first Adam. Christ, in whom is life, brings life into the midst of those who are His - communicates it to them. This principle characterizes the second Adam, and those who are His in Him. But it is life in the power of resurrection, without which it could not have been communicated to them. The grain of wheat would have been perfect in itself, but would have remained alone. But He died for their sins, and now He imparts life to them, all their sins being forgiven them. When, therefore, it says, 'even so in Christ shall all be made alive,' the being made alive goes on to, and includes, resurrection; and this resurrection is described by the Lord Himself as the 'resurrection of life.' (John 5:29.) The term 'in Adam' will thus comprise his whole race, except, indeed, those who have been, or who shall be, dissociated from him through death with Christ, those, in other words, who have been, or shall be, converted; and the term 'in Christ' will include all who are His, from the first saint on earth until the close of all dispensations. For, inasmuch as the subject of this chapter is the resurrection of the body, the 'in Christ' does not go so far as the same expression in Romans or Ephesians - unless, indeed, it be thought that the apostle has only Christians in view. The whole subject of the two hardships, with the far-reaching consequences of death and life, resurrection and condition, may be earnestly commended to the reader. It is the entire contrast between the first man, who is of the earth, earthy: and the second Man, out of heaven; between, in fact, the old and the new order, as represented by their respective heads."


Mark 8:34-38.

The point of this scripture, as we understand it, is discipleship; but there is undoubtedly an intimate connection with what precedes. Peter, as taught of God, had just confessed that Jesus was "The Christ." Thereupon, for He had been really already rejected, the Lord began to teach His disciples, "that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again." Thus, with the cross in full prospect, everything was changed, and this is marked by His passing from the title of the Christ to that of the Son of Man. "And He spake that saying openly," for the time had come for His disciples to face the altered situation. The sad response of Peter, who took Him, and, in his temerity and self-confidence, began to rebuke his Lord, shows how little he had entered into the truth of his confession, and how ill-prepared he was for the consequences of being identified with a rejected Christ. The folly of his utterance drew down upon him the withering rebuke: "Get thee behind Me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." Alas! how feebly we comprehend that mere human thoughts are morally the expression of Satan; and that turning aside from the cross is the effect of Satan's power! It was this that led the Lord to declare, both to the people and to his disciples, the character of discipleship. It may be summed up in one short word: To follow a rejected Christ in this world involves rejection. Hence it is that He says, "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Self refused, even as Christ sought not to please Himself; and the cross accepted, just as He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross - are the abiding and inexorable conditions of discipleship. But there are many temptations to avoid these; and thus the Lord proceeded to say, "Whosoever will save his life," that is the things in which a man finds his life in this world, in fact, his enjoyments, "shall lose it"; and, on the other hand, whosoever for the sake of Christ and the gospel, shall lose - surrender - his life, the same shall save it. It is impossible to gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life - for it is in these things "life" in this world consists - and to please Christ. Then follows the solemn warning, in the questions put: "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" If any one fall into the temptation of bartering away the future, for the sake of present enjoyment, for a mess of pottage as Esau did, he will lose everything, and he will find out, when, alas! it is too late, that the redemption of the soul is beyond all price, and that he is eternally lost. Finally, the Lord goes right down to the root of unwillingness to follow Him in the midst of a hostile world, and proclaims, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation: of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." May we all lay to heart these solemn and searching words!


Psalm 84:6.

In some margins "Baca" is correctly translated as "weeping"; and so understood the meaning is both significant and beautiful. Verse 5 commences the second part of the Psalm; up to the end of verse 4 we have the house of the Lord - the tabernacles - as the object of the heart, because the living God is there, together with the blessed occupation of those who dwell there - "they will be still praising Thee." Then two things follow: The blessedness of the man whose strength is in Jehovah, and in whose heart are the ways - the ways to the house. These two things constitute the needed equipment for the pilgrim journey, and thus lead on to what is found in the next verse. For it is such, such as are described in verse 5, who passing through the valley of Baca ("weeping") make it a well. When the heart (that is, to give it the Christian interpretation) is on the Father's house above, the believer realises that he is but a stranger and a pilgrim here, and that this world, now become a wilderness to him, is truly a vale of tears. But the very exercises and sorrows through which he is passing, when gone through with God, become to him a well-spring of life. With Hezekiah, he finds that by these things men live, and that in all these things is the life of his spirit. Nor is this all; for "The rain also filleth the pools." Not only does the exercised soul receive blessing through his trials and sorrows; but blessing also descends from God, like the gentle rain from heaven, and fills "the pools" to overflowing with gratitude and praise. May we know more of these blessed testing experiences!