Until He Comes!
George Everard, 1877
"For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup — you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." 1 Corinthians 11:26
The faithful believer must be a watcher looking out for the morning of Christ's appearing. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. The power of darkness shall not always triumph. The King's chariot is on the way, and His presence will banish evil forever, and shed eternal sunshine over His chosen ones!
And one purpose of our Holy Communion seasons is to remind us of this. "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup — you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."
We look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Our Communions are like a chain reaching from the last supper in the Upper room — to the hour of Christ's second Advent. From the very beginning, there has ever been found a little company of true disciples meeting to commemorate His dying love — and there will be to the end. And each genuine believer touches a link in that chain which is ever growing longer behind, and shorter before. Each successive Communion bears witness that more of the Church's waiting time is gone, and less remains. We hearken to the Savior's voice in ever clearer note proclaiming, "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with Me to give to every man according to his works."
And when the chain is finished, when the last Communion has been held on earth, and the purpose of its institution accomplished — then from every nation, and from every branch of the visible Church, will be gathered to one everlasting Communion above, all those who have by faith been indeed partakers of Christ.
So you must be waiting and watching. If you are Christ's, you have great expectations. Your kingdom is being prepared, and He will come to place on your head the crown of life. So let your thoughts be often turning to this blessed theme. Read over again and again the promises of His appearing, given in the Gospels, Epistles, and in the book of the Revelation. Study also for this purpose, the book of Psalms, and the prophecy of Isaiah. They give a glorious view of the King coming in His Royal Majesty. Yes, and tarry patiently and hopefully for the King, though as yet His chariot wheels seem to delay.
I remember thinking of this one evening during my travels in Sweden. I had spent the afternoon in a lovely spot. In one direction the eye caught sight of a gushing cataract pouring forth its mass of waters into the abyss below. In another direction, one could see the calm, flowing river and the five-arched bridge which spanned it. Then, all around, the hills and pleasant pasture fields added to the beauty of the scene. On the occasion I refer to, the village was all astir. Crowds were seen wending their way to the river-side where arches had been erected, and flags of every color were waving in the breeze. Then came a season of long delay.
Some hundreds of men, women, and children were waiting all about, some standing on the bridge, some sitting on the hill-side, some gathered around the little village Inn, and many grew weary. The sun was sinking low in the West, clouds were arising that foretold storm and rain, and the chills of evening began to prevail. But hark! There is a murmuring of voices. And now a joyful cry: "The King is coming! The King is coming!" was the shout that in a moment awoke the enthusiastic cheers of the throng, and dispelled every thought of weariness or fatigue.
Good King Oscar and his Queen were paying a visit to the place, and as the cortege of the royal party passed along from spot to spot amidst the glad greetings of those simple country folk — I question if there was one but felt happy and proud to welcome their King. An hour soon passed by, the King drove away, the crowd dispersed, and the only Englishman present that day walked on toward his resting-place for the night, thinking of another King and another meeting.
Yes, the King is coming, even the King of all the earth, the king of Saints, the King of Angels, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
But what a contrast to the scene at Elf-Karlby which has just been described! On this occasion some half dozen carriages and a few attendants accompanied the royal party, and a few hundreds of their subjects were present to meet them. But by and by, we shall see the air filled with the angelic hosts that will attend our King, and what countless myriads shall behold Him on that day!
I often recall a crowd that assembled at the time of peace being made with Russia. There could not have been less than three to four hundred thousand within sight of the spot where I stood. I remember well that sea of faces, and when the lurid light fell upon them. I could not but think of that hour when a far vaster multitude will be assembled, and the solemn light of the Great White Throne will make visible the presence of every single individual that has ever trodden our earth!
But the King Himself! Upon Him every eye is fixed. He was glorious in the days of His humiliation. What glory shone forth in Him when as the infant in Bethlehem, the angels sang His praise! What glory shone forth at the marriage feast, at the grave of Lazarus, at His cross — when love could endure such contradiction of sinners, and, though suffering, triumph in the salvation of His Church.
But in the eyes of His saints, He shall be still more glorified at His appearing. Together with the revelation of His everlasting love, shall He display the majesty of His power, and of His impartial justice, equity, and truth toward all mankind.
The King is coming, and toe must be awake and ready to meet Him. Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober; let us cast aside the sleep of indolence, the sleep of false security, the sleep of ease and self-indulgence. "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?" the Savior once said to Peter — and thus He speaks now to each slumbering soul.
We see sometimes an advertisement on the walls: "Sleeping coaches from London to Bradford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the North." But no sleeping coach will convey you from earth to Heaven. You must be awake, and on the watch tower.
A little while, He'll come again.
Let us the precious hours redeem;
Our only grief to give Him pain;
Our joy to serve and follow Him.
Watching and ready may we be,
As those who long their Lord to see.
The King is coming, and we must be decided for Him. There must be no halting between Christ and the world. There must be no blowing hot today, and cold tomorrow. There must be nothing of veering round from North to South, from East to West, to suit the company in which we are thrown. We must . . .
acknowledge the King,
carry His standard,
wear His uniform,
boldly fight in His cause,
and glory in His name.
Shame on us for our timid, time-serving thoughts! If God is for us — then who can be against us? If the King is coming to reward His faithful ones — then can we be too bold, too courageous, too faithful in His service? He has said it: "He who is not with Me, is against Me!"
The King is coming, and we must cast aside every sin and whatever will not endure the light of His presence. If you are a true believer, you must not excuse yourself in the least evil. You must not palliate any inconsistency, but search it out and forsake it.
Never forget that the sins of the Lord's own people are far more hateful to Him, than those of others. The more precious a jewel is, the more you grieve over any flaw in it, or any accident that might befall it. So the Lord is most dishonored in the evils that are found in those that He regards as His jewels.
Or you might look at it in another light. A parent has a child dearer to him than all the world. But if that child is rebellious, or ungrateful, or unmindful of that father's wishes — will it not pain him more than the misconduct of all beside? Even so is it that God reckons His children very dear to Him, and therefore their sin and disobedience are doubly grievous in His sight.
Oh, watch against everything in word, in spirit, in temper, in action — that will wound the Savior's heart, or bring a shadow of dishonor upon His name! Think of His coming, and do nothing that will not stand approved in that day.
The King is coming, and we must not grow faint or weary along the way. It may be somewhat with you, as at the village in Sweden.
The sun of life or of prosperity may decline,
darkness may begin to overspread your home,
shadows may rest upon the Church of Christ,
unbelief and error may hide the light,
storms may lower, and tempests of trouble may threaten
— but be patient and hopeful and wait for the King.
In one sense you know that even now you have Him always with you. He is near you in loving-kindness, in faithfulness, and in His readiness to comfort and help you. You have "the real presence" in a far higher way than if you could eat His body and drink His blood by any imagined transformation of the elements of bread and wine. "When I go to rest at night, the Savior is so near me that it seems as if He were walking on the stairs by my side," said a widow, who had lately lost her husband.
Ah, this is indeed a reality which supports and consoles the sorrowing heart!
And then, when waiting time is over, the King shall come in His beauty — and His bride shall share His glory! "And if I go away, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."