At the Feet of Jesus!
George Everard, 1884
Holy Scripture abounds in promises to the humble. With such, Jehovah makes His dwelling-place, "For this is what the high and lofty One saysHe who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15
"He exalts the humble and meek."
"He who humbles himself shall be exalted."
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
To take the lowest place, to sit down in the lowest room is the sure road to true peace on earth and a throne of glory hereafter. By this path our Master went before, and we must endeavor to walk in His footsteps.
For this purpose, let us keep close to the Savior. For all that we need, let us abide "at His feet." And to assist us, let us consider the example of four who did so. Luke in his gospel tells us of each of them. And as we study the conduct of each, we shall find the same humility, though considerable variety in the other graces which they thus exercised.
1. Let us look at the feet of Jesus, as the place for the LEARNER.As Saul of Tarsus sat at the feet of Gamaliel and learned much of Jewish lore the Christian must sit at the feet of Jesus, and he shall become an apt scholar in all the wisdom of the heavenly kingdom. We see this in the story of Mary of Bethany. We read that Martha "had a sister called Mary who seated herself at the Lord's feet and was listening to His teaching." (Luke 10:39). And was there ever a better student in divine knowledge? While her sister was hard at work, desiring to honor Christ by providing for His need Mary sat quiet and still, calmly drinking in the words of grace and wisdom and love that flowed from His lips. His words sank very deep. She was filled with faith and love and reverence and holy joy and strength of soul. She was prepared for days of sorrow that lay before her. She learned well the lesson of His love, which led her in future days to bring her box of ointment and anoint Him for His burial.
Like Mary, come to the footstool of Jesus. Be a willing pupil in His school. Ever hearken to the voice that speaks to us from God. For the written Word is to us, in place of the teachings of the Incarnate Word. In the four gospels we have the storehouse of that wisdom which fell from his lips when on earth. In the Old Testament we have the gospel in the bud, the grandeur of the divine character, and the source of many of His illustrations. In the Acts and the Epistles we have, in all their fullness, precepts and promises and truths revealed by the Spirit for the edification of the Church in all ages.
And in the study of the Word, nourish a quietness and stillness of spirit as in the very presence of Jesus. Believe it, that Christ is as near to you as to Mary as she sat at His feet. And in the consciousness of this, avoid all hurried, hasty reading. Watch against the mind being preoccupied with business or anything of earth. Realize Christ close beside you, and let this thought calm and refresh your spirit, and prepare you to receive whatever instruction you need.
And as you read be ever looking to Jesus for divine illumination. We can imagine Mary looking up again and again to the Savior when anything seemed beyond her. Then He would open her understanding, give her some fresh word of explanation, and make it all plain.
And will He not do this for you? When you look up to Him will He not give you the anointing of the Spirit, so that by this heavenly unction you shall know all things needful? Will He not suggest some other passage of the Word, some new view of an old truth, which will remove your difficulty and make your way plain and clear? Only catch the humble, teachable spirit of Mary, and doubtless you shall have Mary's blessing and reward. "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." Proverbs 8:34
2. Let us look at the footstool of Jesus as the place of PENITENCE.It is a blessed thing to be with Christ, as a lowly, teachable learner drinking in the words of eternal life. It is no less blessed to be near to Him as a sinner humbled for the past, confessing and acknowledging the evil of years gone by, and looking to Him for the free mercy that He loves to give. And have we not an instance of this kind presented to us in Luke 7:37-50? I love to see the spirit of this woman. Far, far away, has she been on the mountains of sin and vanity but the Good Shepherd has drawn her back by the mighty attraction of His grace. And here is the outcast, the perishing one, at the footstool of the Redeemer of mankind. She "stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears and wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet and anointed them with ointment" (verse 38).
The scornful Pharisee may look on in bitter contempthe may despise the woman and misjudge the loving Savior. But the woman does not depart from Him who alone can whisper to her forgiveness, peace and hope. She has no words to utter. Her tears are both her confessions and her prayers. Sobs and sighs are heard, rivers of tears bathe the Savior's feet, as she waits upon Him for the pardon she seeks.
Forever blessed is such a spirit. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Here we see sincere sorrow, and godly repentance. Here are those sacrifices of a broken and a contrite heart, which God will not despise.
Nourish the same mind. Your sin may have been as great as hers or you may have been kept free from all open vice. Still you need a deep view of your own vileness as before God. You need a humbled, self-abasing spirit, pleading nothing but your own misery, and God's mercy.
But let us mark here, penitence in the Savior's presence. It was not remorse hardening itself into unbelief and despair but it was sorrow casting itself upon a merciful Savior. It was the silver thread of repentance, intertwined with the golden thread of faith in Christ. She knew she was a great sinner, and she owned and lamented it but she knew also that Christ was a great Savior; and herein was her hope and consolation.
Let it be so with you. Open your eyes to see your sin in all its magnitude, in all its hatefulness but also open your eyes to see your Savior near to You, ready to heal every wound, ready to forgive every sin. More of His grace is known to you, than to this sinful woman. She knew of His heart of love, and of His words of kindness. But you know the marvels of His great atonement, and all the shame He endured for sinners. Then go by faith into His presence, and believe that you are welcome. Go to His footstool, and tarry there in humility and faith. Look on Him bruised for your iniquities, and wounded for your transgressions. Go near and kiss those feet once nailed to the cross for your sin.
Go not to man; go not to human priest, expecting to gain peace and absolution from his lips but go to Christ Himself. Go and stand by Him, and hearken to His forgiving voice. Go and wait before Him until you hear His word of life, "Your sins are forgiven you, go in peace!"
But let us take another step.
3. Let us see the footstool of Jesus as the place of COMMUNION and FELLOWSHIP.The Christian needs ever to abide near to Christ, to obtain strength and daily power to meet the various ills of life, and to go forward in the path of holiness. And we have an instance of one who thus was near to Christ, "When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet." (Luke 8:35).
Christ had been merciful to the man. He had delivered him from a legion of evil spirits. He had changed and transformed him from the wild, savage maniac, the terror of all around to the happy, trustful, loving disciple. Once he wore no clothes. Now, clothed and in his right mind, he is "sitting at the feet of Jesus." While the Gadarenes besought Christ that He would leave them this man beseeches Jesus that he may be with Him.
But now he has work to do. From the feet of Jesus, he is to go forth as a witness for Him. He is to tell others what great things Jesus had done for him. Nor is he unwilling he goes forth on his errand and publishes everywhere throughout the whole city the tidings of Christ's pity and compassion toward him.
Here is the mark of one truly converted to God. When under the power of the Wicked one, he would have Christ leave him to his misery and sin. But when Christ has set him free, then to be near his Deliverer is the one desire of his heart. He would not go where he cannot have Christ with him. He wishes to be found wherever Christ will meet with him. To be with Christ in the poorest and meanest abode, is far better in his sight than to be without Christ in the palace of luxury and wealth. Without Christ he can never be satisfied. With Christ he can be happy anywhere.
"I need your presence every passing hour,
What but Your grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like Yourself, my Guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me."
If you know the power and grace of Christ, ever maintain this fellowship. Walk with Him all through life's busiest scenes. Keep still close to Him in the chamber of weakness and suffering. When sorrow weighs heavily upon your heart, or the fear of death oppresses still let His loving Presence be your solace and your stay.
Yet let not selfishness hinder your work for Him. Like this healed demoniac, you may have to sacrifice your own wish to go and bear witness for Him.
Duty may call you to forsake the privileges of a Christian land, to go as a messenger of the cross to a heathen country. A voice may bid you give up a service in God's house Sunday by Sunday, that you may go and search out those who care nothing for Christ. But you shall be no loser. Christ will make up for it by fresh gifts of His grace. Never, never will He be nearer to His servant than when that servant goes forth at His bidding to tell others of His grace.
There is yet one other view of Christ's footstool presented to us by Luke.
4. Let us regard it as a place for THANKSGIVING and PRAISE.Nothing more befits a Christian, than hearty gratitude for mercy and salvation. And we see this in the instance I would name (Luke 17:16). The ten lepers lifted up their voice afar off, "Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us!" He heard their cry, and as they obeyed His command, they were healed.
But where was their gratitude? They received a benefit beyond all price; they are healed of the terrible plague which robbed them of all life's enjoyment, and would before long have brought them to the grave. But they receive the gift and forget the Giver. They go their way to eat and drink and enjoy their newly-found health but they have no word of praise for Him who has done so much for them. Thus is it with the nine.
But the tenth is of a different spirit. Though a despised Samaritan, yet he alone shows forth gratitude to the Good Physician. He receives the benefit and immediately returns to give thanks to his Benefactor. "One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet giving Him thanks, and he was a Samaritan" (verses 15, 16). And his thankfulness opens the door for the blessing, "Arise, go your way, your faith has made you whole!" (verse 19). He had now found from Christ a double healing. He was cleansed from his leprosy and he was freed from the deeper pollution of sin. He could go to his home that day strong in body, and rejoicing in the everlasting peace and salvation which had been granted to him.
Come near to Jesus, and praise Him like this cleansed leper. Nothing is more blessed than a praising, joyful spirit. It brings glory to God, and shows forth His goodness and mercy. It baffles Satan and drives him away. It encourages young beginners, and shows them the happiness that Christ gives His people. It awakens thought in the children of the world, and often leads them to desire a better portion. It brings fresh blessings to him who exercises it. God loves to pour down His richest and sweetest comforts, into the lap of those who delight to magnify His name.
I commend to you the footstool of Jesus!
Go to it for teaching.
Go to it as a humble penitent.
Go to it for communion and fellowship with the Savior.
And forget not to thank Him for all His benefits towards you.
Make the feet of Jesus your constant resort and resting place. No place is more safe; no place is there where you will find more help, and grace, and strength for service or for suffering. If you have never come before, come now to His footstool.
For if that footstool is not to you the place of refuge, and hope, and salvation it will be to you one day the place of utter defeat and irretrievable ruin. There is one passage in Holy Scripture that stands out in strong contrast to the thoughts of this chapter. "The LORD says to my Lord: Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." Psalm 110:1
In this prophecy, I see a world of sinners at the feet of Messiah. Once they despised and rejected Him, and hardened themselves in pride and unbelief. But all this is over now. Where now all their boasted might and power? Where now the glory and the wealth and the human wisdom in which they trusted? All is gone. All has come to nothing. At His feet lie the proudest, the mightiest, those who have been renowned in this world, but enemies of the kingdom of God. Yes, the wicked shall be the footstool of Christ in the day of His coming. "You spurn and set at nought all those who stray from Your statutes, for their own lying deceives them and their tricks are in vain." "He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet."
Ah, choose you, my fellow-sinner, which shall it be? The footstool of Jesus now or hereafter? Which will you have? Choose it now and you will find it a place of unspeakable blessedness. Reject it now and you will find it a place of utter destruction.
Think how Joshua put his feet on the necks of the kings before he slew them. And a day is coming when mercy is past and judgment alone remains and our Joshua will put forth His power to cast down those who oppose His authority. Oh, choose the safe part! Trust Christ now with your entire salvation. Let His love be your constant refuge and His mighty arm your defense. Leave everything in His hands, and commit to Him your present and eternal welfare. Then your enemies will be Christ's enemies, and you shall be forever exalted, while everything that is against you shall be forever cast down.
"O choose for me my portion,
My bitter and my sweet;
The cup Your hand does mix me,
I will drink it at Your feet.
While I'm waiting for the moment,
The brightest and the best,
When You shall stoop to lift me
From Your footstool to Your breast."