The Four Looks!
George Everard, 1882
"Looking unto Jesus!" Hebrews 12:2
Four precious promises embrace the whole field of God's bounty and goodness to His people. The Four "Alls" touch our need on every side.
1. Conscience is satisfied through "the blood that cleanses from all sin."
2. Our manifold temporal and spiritual necessities are met by the assurance that "God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
3. The pressure of anxiety is met by the invitation, "Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
4. The issue of numberless sorrows and trials is the seen purpose of Divine wisdom: "All things work together for good to those who love God."
Here are indeed . . .
four wells of sweetest water,
four mines of purest gold,
four trees of life laden with fruit,
four castles of defense to which we may run.
Somewhat in the same way may we regard "the four looks" which form the subject of this address. They cover the whole field of a Christian's walk and life. They tell alike of his privilege and duty of his strength and of the path in which he must travel through the world. They are all inseparably joined together, and may be comprised in the single sentence, "Looking unto Jesus." Yet this "looking unto Jesus" branches out in several directions, which may be spoken of one by one.
1. There is a look for salvation the sinner turning his eye for help and mercy to the only Savior. It is the brazen-serpent look, as it has been well called. Lo, there is the dying Israelite the poison of death is in his veins, the fearful scourge of fiery serpents has been upon the host, and the deadly wound has been felt. What can he do? What remedy can he find? There is but one. The prayer of Moses has been heard the brazen serpent has been uplifted in the midst, and every one who has been bitten has but to look and be healed. So the man casts his dying gaze upon the glittering object, and in a moment, a new life is felt, and disease and death flee away.
It is thus with Christ crucified. Here is the one appointed remedy for guilty, perishing man. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:14, 15). Looking and believing is the same thing. Saving faith is a heart-look at the crucified Savior. "Look unto Me," He cries, "and be saved, all you ends of the earth."
Yes, a look of faith at Christ dying for your sin will bring you pardon, peace, and righteousness. Despairing, guilty one, who are ever poring over your sin-wounds, your past transgressions, and your treacherous heart be sure of this one thing, salvation is in Christ, not in yourself. One believing look to Him who died for sinners will bring you more comfort than months of self-effort. The Spirit has awakened you to see your sin; now by the same Spirit, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Look to Jesus, and live. Look to Jesus, and be glad. Look to Jesus, and cast away all your gloomy, hopeless thoughts. A look brings salvation. Think not of merit, or work, or human power; think not of self its feelings, reasonings, strivings, doings but let there be the outlook from all within.
Look out and look up to the one Savior God's chosen Messiah the one Sacrifice, the one Priest, the one remedy for the sins and miseries of mankind. No one of all the host of Israel looked up in vain to the brazen serpent. Just so, not one of all earth's perishing inhabitants shall look in vain to the Savior of sinners. You may be all evil all unworthy in yourself everything may seem against your being saved; but He saves to the uttermost, and He will save you. A thousand voices, within and without, may seem to threaten you with utter rejection, but one voice is heard above them all, faithful and sure "Him that comes unto Me I will never cast out."
A young man died not long ago with his foot firm upon the Rock of Ages and the new song of redeeming love upon his lips. A year or two before, he had been groping in the dark, knowing not the way of peace. But one day the precious promise I have just quoted came into his mind. He knew not where to find it. So he searched and when he found it, he rejoiced as one who had found great spoil.
It is a sweet and blessed word. It meets all doubts; it scatters all fears; it overcomes every difficulty; it will do to carry with us through the grave.
I shall never forget how solemnly, yet how joyfully, it sounded to me nineteen years ago from the lips of a young man at Hastings. He was at the very point of death his breath was nearly gone. Brothers and sisters were watching his departure. Then came his last utterance, broken, but yet audible: "Him that comes unto Me I will NEVER NEVER cast out." His hand fell from mine, and he was gone!
But if salvation is free to all, why is it that so few look to the Savior? Why is it, that so many live and die without Christ?
Ah, there is a high stone wall that stands between! There is a lofty barrier which men succeed in erecting between Christ and themselves. There is a fatal self-satisfaction that keeps men back. They are content with their present condition; they have no eye to see their guiltiness, or the appalling debt they owe to Divine justice; they see nothing of the peril of a broken law, or the gulf of misery that lies before the unforgiven one, so they seek not the Savior's mercy.
I need You, precious Jesus,
For I am full of sin:
My soul is dark and guilty,
My heart is dead within.
I need the cleansing fountain
Where I can always flee
The blood of Christ most precious,
The sinner's perfect plea.
2. We must ever be looking to Christ for grace, help, and strength in the walk and conflict of daily life.Those who have looked to Christ for pardon and salvation are still daily to be looking to Him for all help along the way: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills, whence comes my help." "My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net."
It was laid to the charge of Israel at one time, that they looked for help to Egypt, and trusted in horses and chariots, but "did not look unto the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 31.1). And when brighter days were at hand we are told, "At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes have respect unto the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 17.7).
It is a great point of heavenly wisdom to be ever looking away from human resources, and looking for all to Christ. It was the saying of one whose life was drawing to a close, "My entire trust is in my Savior, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Let no one disturb me or try to take away the eyes of my soul from Him my blessed Savior and my only Redeemer."
Some are trusting in a priestly system, which lets down a veil, a thick blind between the sinner and the Savior, and hinders that free and open access to Him which is the very glory of the Gospel. Some are ever looking to ordinances as if they could necessarily confer grace, forgetting that they are but the lattice-windows through which we would see the King, or channels by which the Holy Spirit strengthens those who use them in faith.
Some are ever looking to their feelings; and if they cannot feel as they would, they are ready to sink into despair. Some are looking to their efforts and resolutions, and are expecting to do great things. But the secret of power and victory is to fix the eye steadily on Christ. As soon as we cease doing so, we fail and are discouraged. While Peter kept his eye on the Savior, he walked safely over the tempestuous sea but when he looked to the waves and hearkened to the boisterous wind, he began to sink.
Perhaps you have a difficulty in grasping fully the force of this expression "Looking unto Jesus." But consider for a moment have you not used the same with reference to temporal things? You have said, perhaps, "I am in such a strait, and I have no one to look to but my brother or friend." We often hear or utter words like these, and they give us the true idea of looking unto Jesus.
In our hearts we think of Him, and depend upon Him to aid us.
In each conflict, we rely upon Him to fight for us.
In each trouble, we cast ourselves upon Him for support.
In the path of duty and suffering, our hope is in Him to sustain and support us.
In perplexities and distresses, we know that none but He can open out the way for us. And, assuredly, the more we thus keep looking unto Him, the holier, the happier, and the stronger shall we be.
There are many thoughts that may encourage us in thus daily looking to the mighty and merciful Savior. Every one of his offices tells us of something in Him that meets a need in us. We are very ignorant of divine truth and He is the great Prophet of His Church. We are battling with enemies within and without and He is the King who supports us and can put our foes beneath our feet. We have sins and infirmities that rise up in our consciences, and would bar our approach to God but He is our Advocate and High Priest who can silence the accusation and give us boldness before God.
I love, too, to think of Christ as the Treasurer, the Storekeeper of heavenly gifts. With loving heart and open hand He delights to dispense according to our need. He is our Joseph, and without Him nothing good can come to us. But when we go to Him, He opens the storehouse, and bestows the heavenly bread and all else that is profitable for us.
I have often had a thought, rather bearing upon this point, that has helped me on the way. We have had tradesmen coming to our doors, or perhaps the lad sent by them; and morning by morning the knock comes, and the inquiry, "Anything needed today?" Now it seems to me that the Lord comes to my door, and through some invitation or promise of His Word, He asks me this. He asks me if there is anything I require; and whatever it may be, He is ready to supply it. So I look to Him to fulfill toward me His purposes of mercy. When He says to me, "Anything needed today?" I go and say to Him, "Yes, Lord, everything is needed today!"
I need Your presence to go with me wherever I go, and to abide with me wherever I remain.
I need Your wisdom to guide and direct me in every difficulty, and to show me the course I ought to pursue.
I need Your arm to uphold and support me in every temptation that may cross my path, that I turn not to the right hand or to the left.
I need Your all-sufficient grace to sanctify me, to cleanse me from old sins, to make me more humble and holy and heavenly-minded, to fill me with genuine, sincere love, and to transform me in Your likeness.
I need Your help and blessing in every word I speak, and in every work I have to do in Your service.
I need Your pardoning mercy to wash away the sins, negligences, and ignorances of every day.
I need Your Holy Spirit to be ever dwelling within as the spirit of Adoption.
In fact, I need You to be ever at hand in loving-kindness and faithfulness and I need day by day everything that Your love, power, and goodness can supply.
Thus looking unto Jesus for all I need, waiting upon Him and trusting in His promises, I shall never be sent empty away.
There is another point of deep importance in the Christian's looking unto Jesus for needful grace. I speak with reference to one who may have fallen. Through the power of temptation, or through terrible and overwhelming sorrows, and the Christian being off his guard, or his faith faltering he sometimes is utterly broken down. He has yielded to some grievous sin, or has given way in utter despair. He is now completely prostrate and his own heart whispers that there is no hope, and that for him there is no salvation. But even in this case I would bid you look unto Jesus. There is help provided if you will only look for it. There is grace to lift up and restore: "The Lord upholds those that fall, and raises up all who are bowed down."
A little while ago I heard an incident which seemed to remind me of this. A lady had a young acacia tree in her garden. From its associations, she had a special interest in its growth. But the storm came, and a rough blast broke the main stem, and the tree was bending low on the ground. But could nothing be done? At least she will try. A part of the bark was still unbroken, so she took the stem and gently lifted it up into its former position. She then carefully bound up the wound, and staked and fastened the tree so that the wind could scarcely shake it. Nor was her care unrewarded. The sap arose and healed the wound, forming a knotted ring around the tree, and it grew and flourished in her garden.
And is not this like the work of Christ in restoring the backslider? He will not break the bruised reed, but hold it up and strengthen it. The soul may be utterly broken down, the wound may be grievous and the bruise apparently incurable but Christ is at hand; He has a special care for the fallen one. He binds up and deals gently and tenderly with His feeble, erring child. He does not upbraid, but He pardons and saves. He sends His Spirit and awakens a new desire. He recalls some sweet promise such as that given to backsliding Israel: "I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely for my anger is turned away from him" (Hosea 14.1-4). He reminds the sinner of His dealings with Peter; and as He freely forgave him his threefold denial and restored him to his place in His Church so let not the backslider despair. Return to your rest, and there is a welcome for you. The ark of safety is near; the window is open; a hand is stretched out to take you in. Therefore look up. Look unto Jesus, and He will remember you in mercy! He will restore your soul, cheer your broken, trembling spirit, and make you a blessing in His Church.
"O Jesus, full of truth and grace.
More full of grace than I of sin,
Yet once again I seek Your face,
Open Your arms and take me in;
And freely my backslidings heal,
And love the faithless sinner still."
3. There is a looking unto Jesus as our great pattern and example in the Christian life.We are to look unto Him that we may copy Him and walk in His footsteps.
A story is told of Alexander the Great, that on one occasion his soldiers halted, and could no longer make way against the blocks of ice and roughness of the way along which he was leading them. Then, dismounting, he took the axe in his hand, he set his men the example of clearing the way, and went on before them in spite of every obstacle. Nor did they afterwards hang back. They would not yield to weariness or fatigue as they saw their commander thus going on before them.
Thus must the Christian behold Christ leading the way, and by His grace he must walk in His footsteps. It is to this mainly that the Apostle refers in Hebrews 12.1-3. We are exhorted to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!"
Let us ever steadfastly consider Him, gaze upon Him and wherever we see His footprints, endeavor to place our own there.
We need to do this with reference to the duties of everyday life. The glimpse that we have of Christ at Nazareth, and His conduct with reference to Joseph and Mary, may show us how He was our perfect Exemplar with reference to family relationships. And in all the lesser duties, in all the less prominent graces of life, He never failed. In the very least word and deed, He was ever holy, harmless, and undefiled, continually in everything doing the will of His Father in Heaven.
And it seems to me that Christian people need to be most on their guard in this respect. It is on the right performance of the numberless little details of life, that our growth and progress in holiness chiefly depends.
The growth of a tree does not arise so much from the action of the larger roots as of the hairlike fibers which are perpetually receiving moisture and nourishment from the soil, and when these are broken in the transplanting of the young tree, no care or effort can preserve it alive.
Ah, Christian, be careful in what may seem the lesser matters! Let no duty be neglected as of small account. Let no opportunity for doing good pass by unimproved. Perpetually practice in little things, the graces of faith and love. Watch over your thoughts, and be frequently in prayer. Strive to be ever applying what you know of the Word, to the circumstances of each day and hour. Be careful about the employment of leisure moments. In the least as in the greatest matters, walk in the footsteps of the Master.
More especially must we look to Christ as our Pattern in His last sufferings, for good and evil culminated at the cross. Never before was so clearly manifested the wickedness of fallen man never before had there been witnessed such a lofty height of grace and virtue as was then seen in the sinless Redeemer.
Terrible indeed were those clusters of Sodom those deadly sins that were brought to light at the crucifixion.
Causeless hatred against Incarnate Love,
strange ingratitude for countless benefits,
heedless indifference to justice and truth and the fear of God,
the sway of expediency and the fear of man,
unbelief and faithlessness,
envy and malice,
covetousness and hypocrisy,
unfeeling cruelty towards One whose life had been unselfish benevolence and unspotted holiness
a strange variety of the evils that reign in man's heart all these stand out in plainest colors around the cross!
But in the suffering Savior, there appeared a glory of goodness and holiness beyond all that had been manifested previously every possible grace shone out like the unclouded sun in the meridian. We can but touch upon a few points. No more interesting or profitable employment could engage the attention of the Christian, than fully to search out in each incident of the Passion the various graces manifested; and, as you do thus, pray that the same mind may be formed by His Spirit in you (Philippians 2:5-8).
Look unto Jesus in His Passion, and follow Him in His steadfastness of faith. He ever trusted in God. In the garden He cries, "Abba, Father!" When bound and fettered, and led away a prisoner to the house of Annas, He saw in it all, the bitter cup which His Father had willed that He should drink. Beneath the dark cloud of comfort withheld, He could yet plead, "My God, my God," and pour out His soul before Him.
Thus let the Christian strive to act. Look to Jesus, and follow Him in His unwavering confidence. Fully rely upon your Father's care and help.
In the dark and in the light,
in the storm and in the calm,
in the valley and on the mountain,
in the day of health and in the hour of sickness,
surrounded by every comfort, or deprived of all that makes life desirable,
rejoicing in active labor in the vineyard, or passing week by week wearily on the bed of suffering
still trust and be not afraid. Trust God with your soul, and trust Him with your circumstances. Encourage yourself in the remembrance that your Father will never leave you, nor forsake you. He will keep safely the soul that has been washed in the Savior's blood. He will direct your way and guide every footstep; He will make all events of your life work together for your good and His own glory.
Look unto Jesus and follow Him in His burning zeal and compassion for souls. He never wearied in His work He was ever seeking the stray ones. He spoke to the woman at the well and to sinful woman in the house of Simon. He was moved with compassion towards the multitudes, because they were as sheep having no shepherd, and He taught them many things. For this He toiled even to the end. On the way to the cross He speaks a tender, yet solemn warning to comfort the women who bewailed Him. He prayed for the forgiveness of His murderers. He saved the thief that hung by His side. Every drop of His precious blood, tells of His pity for the perishing.
Let the believer put on the same spirit. Be not selfish in religion be not content with your own salvation. If God has truly converted you it is that you may go forth and labor for others. Do your best to slay the dragon of selfishness. Go out in the highways and bring in the outcasts. Speak a word to your fellow-sinner. Think of your unconverted relatives. Pray for them pour on their heads a constant stream of kindness, and then watch your opportunity to speak or write a word in season. Gather the little ones into the fold of Christ. Despise not the fallen, but put forth your hand and pluck them as brands from the burning.
I have often thought of a touching story with reference to the great fire which raged so fiercely in London a few years ago and destroyed so much property. Three men were on the Thames in a burning barge, and were in imminent peril. They had no means of effecting their escape; but some boatmen put forth from the opposite shore, not without the greatest risk, and great was the shout that arose from ten thousand voices when they attained their object and saved the lives of the three men. Greater far shall be the honor given hereafter to those who have faithfully labored for souls. Not a starless crown shall yours be if you thus act, but one resplendent with many a precious jewel by your means saved from destruction and brought to the kingdom of everlasting glory.
Look unto Jesus, and follow Him in His meekness and patience under reproach and persecution. As a lamb silent before her shearers, so did He silently and calmly bear all that was laid upon Him. When He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not. He hid not His face from shame and spitting. Greatly does it glorify God when the Christian thus acts. Take it patiently when the reproach of the cross weighs heavily upon you. You may hear the cutting remark, you may notice the intentional slight, you may have to meet with ridicule or opposition in some shape that may be very trying; but take it quietly. Return sweet for bitter. Show a readiness to forgive and benefit those who thus act or speak. This will often go far to disarm the ill-feeling that may be manifested towards you.
A servant of Christ had much to endure from a group of young men because he stood aloof from their wicked ways, and would not join their company. But he was too sharp with them he would speak hastily and angrily. This would increase their ill-will. One day they insulted him more than ever. It was an act very hard to bear; but he then thought of the Savior's conduct. He remembered that the soldiers had acted precisely in the same way, and yet He took it meekly. From this time he saw that he had been wrong, and endeavored to return only good for evil. The result was soon apparent. After a while he was able to reckon the young men among his friends rather than his enemies.
Look to Jesus, and follow Him in His entire self-surrender. Christ gave Himself wholly to do the Father's will He withheld nothing. He was obedient unto death even the death of the cross. So yield yourself without reserve to God. Keep back nothing. Yourselves, your time, your influence, your gifts and talents, your home, your children, your favorite pursuit, all that you love the most and value the best lay all at His feet to be used for Him, or, if need be, cheerfully surrendered at His bidding. Whatever comes, be loyal to your King. Give up all to Him, for you are not your own, but are bought with a very high price.
In everything behold Jesus as your Example. Study His holy character, and beg that His Spirit transform you and mold you after His likeness.
"We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
4. There is a looking unto Jesus as the Coming One."Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
He came once to save the lost, but He comes hereafter to raise to His throne those whom he has rescued and saved. It is to be the perfecting of their glory, and the manifestation of their high calling as the sons and daughters of the Most High, and as citizens of the heavenly Zion. He comes to make plain the purposes of God, and to effect the restoration of all things. For the past, what has been seen on earth but discord and disorder, woes and wickedness everywhere covering the face of the earth? But He comes to cast out all things that offend, and to bring back a more glorious Paradise than Adam lost. For this we must look.
When the heart sickens as we hear of fair regions laid desolate by cruel wars, of the massacre of helpless women and children, of ungodly powers tyrannizing over some regions, of heathen superstitions reigning supreme in others we must hope and wait. Christ will make all things new, and for Him we look. He comes to reign in righteousness and peace. He comes to set up the tabernacle of God among men. He comes to sweep away every vestige of oppression and wrong. He comes to exalt those who have loved and followed Him, to set them among princes, and to adorn them with a crown of immortality! He comes to be their Portion and their exceeding great reward. With Him they shall dwell, in Him they shall rejoice, and His presence shall be to them the light of everlasting day.
Come, Lord, and wipe away
The curse, the sin, the stain;
And make this blighted world of ours
Your own fair world again!