Words that the Master Spoke
M. H. Sellwood, Four Marks
In these days when we can turn on a computer and at the press of a few keys produce a verse list, a phrase list, ask for cross references or a word definition and much more, is it possible we can neglect the systematic reading of the Scriptures, and our dependence on the working of the Holy Spirit who testifies to the Lord Jesus?
While the Lord Jesus always sought to manifest His Father and do His will, He also in His perfect speech revealed Himself as an obedient servant. In His unique communications to the people, He spoke with authority, manifesting Himself as the only begotten Son of God. There was nothing complicated or difficult in the words He used. We notice the simple phrases follow Me, unto Me, by Me, in Me, with Me, and of Me. Let us consider just two of these.
Follow Me, Matt. 4. 19
At the outset of His public ministry we hear the Lord calling His disciples from their secular occupation of fishing, where they experienced the rigours of the sea, the disappointments of empty nets and the joy of a full draft of fishes.
These Galilean fishermen were later to amaze the religious and the learned teachers, as they were fired with enthusiasm for their Lord and Master. When they first heard the Lord Jesus call, 'Follow me', they responded, and left their nets and followed Him.
When we come to John 21. 15-22, we hear our Lord speaking to Peter three times, with those challenging words, 'Lovest thou me'. Peter responds thrice, 'I love Thee'; then the instruction comes, 'Feed my lambs', and twice over, 'Feed my sheep'.
Having received this commission Peter, looking round, sees John following and asks the Lord what this man should do. The reply comes, 'What is that to thee, follow thou me'. Our following of the Lord Jesus is personal, as the apostle Paul said, 'Lest I should build upon another man's foundation'. Thus we need to continually hear our Lord saying, 'Follow thou me'.
Come unto Me, Matt. 19. 14
If 'follow me' suggests a command, 'come unto me' is an invitation. Rebuking His disciples who would send away the children of Jerusalem, we hear our blessed Lord saying, 'suffer the little children to come unto me'. What welcoming words He spoke, displaying the tender heart of compassion which characterized Him. This kindness of heart and gentleness is needed in every one seeking to win young souls for the Saviour. It makes a good start to life for the young to come to Jesus while their hearts are still tender. The Lord Jesus Himself said, 'Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven', Matt. 18. 3. Faith is often referred to as simple and childlike, and our presentation of the gospel should be simple; profound, yet not complicated.
To present the Saviour to boys and girls is as important, perhaps more so, then to preach to an adult congregation of believers. Our sympathies are toward Christian parents, and their families are likely to be attacked by the devil who is still saying, 'hath God said?' The message of the gospel, heard in Sunday School, mid-week children's meetings and gospel meetings, provides a sound basis on which to build a spiritual life. Instruction in a Christian family is a parental responsibility, not only at the family altar, but through personal communications with mother or father. Remember Timothy, who witnessed the faith of his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice.
Adopting a progressive systematic study of the bible on a one-to-one basis, suited to young persons need, should always include praying together. It is good to get members of the family praying in the home, while not undermining the male/female relationship in the assembly as set out in Scripture. Our priority must be the spiritual condition of our offspring, grounding them in the truths most surely believed among us. This will favourably contribute to the witness and worship of the assembly until the Lord Himself shall return to take us to Himself, 1 Thess. 4. 16.
Come unto Me, Matt. 11. 28
The Lord Jesus invites the multitude to come to Himself, a call to all who labour and are heavy laden. The stresses and strains of life create the need to seek an eternal solace, only to be found in the Lord Jesus. Whether it is the lost one seeking for eternal life, or the believer in need of shelter from the onslaught of the evil one, or comfort in times of sorrow, all can come to Him.
His promise never to leave us or forsake us has been proved by believers many times. His presence is known in personal living; if we only appreciate His nearness when in a collective company we miss the Emmaus road, Luke 24. 13-33, and Patmos isle, Rev. 1. 9-18, experiences. How good to hear the voice of Jesus saying 'What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another?' and to experience our hearts burning within us. While John never spoke, the Lord Jesus spoke to him and turning to see he heard the sweet voice of His, and our Lord saying, 'Fear not, I am the first and the last'.
Our personal communion with our blessed Lord is a vital contribution to our own spiritual life, and also that of our times together. He who is the same yesterday, today and for ever, says, 'I will give you rest'; 'Learn of me'. We must not underestimate the word of God, or study simply to increase our knowledge of the Scriptures. We need more and more intimate experiences of our Lord Jesus as found in God's word, and in the comfort of His presence in the quiet of our homes, so that we might enjoy a happy, peaceful relationship with Him. This is so essential for our joy and testimony.
Come unto Me, John 6. 45
In the previous section we mentioned the phrase 'learn of me'; now the Lord Jesus speaks of learning of His Father. He that has so learnt comes to Him, contrasting the Jewish belief that Abraham was their father with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures testify of Christ, who is referred to by the prophets as they looked forward to His day. Isaiah in his prophecy, 54. 13, sees a time when all children shall be taught of the Lord, and Jeremiah refers to another day, 31. 34, when in the nation of Israel the need of learning will not be required, for 'they shall ail know me' saith the Lord. The writer to the Hebrews, 10. 16, speaks of the new covenant, with God's law written on their hearts and in their minds.
There are some aspects the words of the Lord that run side by side. Those who know the Father come to Him, and in John 14. 6, those who come to the Father, must come to Him through the Lord Jesus Himself. These are precious words that Jesus said, 'no man cometh unto the Father but by me'. For both Jew and Gentile the only way back to God is by the Lord Jesus, and our continual approach to our God and Father is through our Mediator who revealed His Father to us. He declared His name, and manifested forth His glory, which we now behold by faith in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 4. 6.