Address to Mourning Communicants

"Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look! The Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, "What are you looking for?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are You staying?" "Come and you'll see," He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about the tenth hour." (John 1:35-39).

We had our meditations directed, today, to this beautiful incident in the early Gospel narrative—the two fishermen friends and companions from Bethsaida of Galilee—having pointed out to them, by the Baptist, a Greater far than he—"Behold the Lamb of God!" They are at once attracted, in some mysterious way, by HIM who had just returned to the banks of the Jordan from the temptation of the wilderness, where, for forty days, He had been without home or shelter. They hesitate to intrude—not venturing to address Him or to disturb His meditations—still they follow His footsteps, in the direction of His temporary dwelling—a dwelling probably, like that of the other pilgrims who had gathered around the Desert Preacher—some leafy tent close to the river side or under the shadow of a rock, made of interlacing boughs from the adjoining woods. "Rabbi, where are You staying?" was their simple request, full of humble yet confident faith and trust. His response was immediate, a word of kind welcome—"Come and see."

His voice, His look, His demeanor reassure them. It was the truth of a future saying anticipated and illustrated, "Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out." That long afternoon and evening were spent in loving fellowship with that Gracious Master, whose devoted consecrated servants they were ever after to be—enjoying an immediate three years of blissful personal communion, and when that was terminated and His visible presence withdrawn, believing, they still rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

What the themes of meditation were, during these thrice hallowed hours, we cannot tell. May not their thoughts naturally have grouped themselves around the Baptist's suggestive exclamation—"Behold the Lamb of God!" John was undoubtedly one of these two disciples. And we know that these words lingered in his ears like a strain of heavenly music, and filled his most seraphic visions fifty years afterwards, when he wrote the Apocalypse. How the divine emblem seemed almost to absorb his recollections! Thirty times is Jesus there spoken of as a LAMB. Retaining that first never-to-be-forgotten glimpse of his divine Redeemer, the writer seems to have lived, and suffered, and died, beholding "the Lamb of God!" How long, moreover, this interview in the valley at Bethabara lasted, we are not informed. Probably it was far on towards midnight before they departed. The bright stars and paschal moon may have been shining on the white cliffs and foaming waters when the two disciples came forth, at the close of the most momentous day of their lives. Who can doubt, that they would return to the distant Bethsaida—home with their souls filled with the one wondrous theme and thought—"We have seen the Lord!"

Our experience today has been identical with that of these favored disciples. We have received a gracious invitation to partake of nearer and more confidential communion with our divine Redeemer. "Master, where are You staying?" You Son of the Eternal God, yet the Divine Brother-man—alike the Taker-away of sin and the Remover of burdens from laden-hearts—where are You staying? that we may come and unburden our heavy secrets—and, like these two disciples of old, away from the din of the multitude, sit at Your feet and behold You as the Lamb of God?

"Come and see!"—has been the gracious response. We have obeyed the summons. We have beheld, in impressive emblem and memorial, the Great Propitiation, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The leafy tent or covert of the Jordan has still its glorious spiritual counterpart and reality. "There shall be a tabernacle (a tent) for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain." "A MAN shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and as a covert from the tempest,…as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!" Afflicted communicant!—Pilgrim of sorrow—you have resorted to your Lord's Bethabara-dwelling, at His own gracious summons, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." But while your season of fellowship has doubtless been hallowed and comforting; when you come forth from it now, it is, like these same two disciples, to face the dark night again—the dewy tear-drops on the dank grass—the cold moonshine—the glimmering stars and the roll of Jordan. Yes, 'the roll of Jordan,' with the saddened memories it may be of those who, in the familiar and accepted figure, have recently crossed it; and whose companionship is gone for the forever of time. You walk along, pensive and sad, to mingle, once more, in the noise of the wilderness tents—back again tomorrow to Bethsaida, to your smitten home—to gaze on the vacant seat—to miss the old voice and the sympathetic ear, into which you could have told how your heart burned within you, while He talked to you by the way, and you sat under His shadow with great delight! Ah, perhaps it was the very smiting of that earthly home which drove you, today, to ask, with more intense fervor and more impassioned prayer, as you missed the earthly friend, "Master, where are You staying?" 'My best earthly prop is gone. Oh, Messiah Jesus, I come to You! I come now to Your own appointed dwelling-place, that I may unfold all my grief, and get these heart-storms lulled with Your Omnipotent "Peace, be still"!'

As you now pursue your saddened way, let not the darkness blind your eye to this day's sight and vision. Let not that roll of Jordan dull your ears to this day's exclamation, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Suffering one! fix your gaze on that Sufferer of sufferers—that wounded, bleeding Lamb of God. Think of that wilderness of temptation from which He had just come! See Him, there, assaulted with hunger, thirst, cold, weariness; tempted in body, assailed in spirit; and this by the arch enemy of all. Yet He meekly endures! He is the Lamb "silent before His shearers!" Say, can you murmur where He murmured not? Seek, rather, to honor Him more and more by a closer following of His divine footsteps. Go forth, even in the dark, with the fretted waters at your side, and star after star of earthly hope expunged from your skies, meditating on His faithfulness and love, even "in the night-watches!" Rest assured, if, as you journey on, you try to utter through your tears, "though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him,"—He will, as with the Bethsaida disciples, give you glorious surprises—meeting you, now on the distant lake—now in the busy city—now in "the high mountain apart," until, from these chequered earthly experiences, He takes you across the true Bethabara ("the house of passage") to be with Himself in the tearless land forever!