Jesus Not Known
James Smith, 1860
The believer's mind should be constantly directed to Jesus, and the more he is taken up with Christ, the better. He is the same to his people now that he is in glory, as he was when upon earth; as he proved himself to be the same after his resurrection — as he was before his death. What a deep interest he took in his disciples, and in all their concerns; such an interest as they never thought of, or expected. When they were fishing — he stood on the shore watching; and when discouraged because they had toiled all night and taken nothing — he directed them to cast the net on the right side of the ship, and they should find fish. But they never thought of their Master being there, and as it was early, and perhaps it was hazy, "The disciples did not know that it was Jesus." John 21:4.
This Is a Common Fault.We do not expect Jesus to take that interest in our common, every day affairs — which he does.
We are brought into some deep trial and are sorely afflicted; we look at the trial, at the instruments employed in it, and talk about it as a worldling would — but we do not realize that it is Jesus. And yet every trial is sent by him, and he accompanies every trial, that we may make use of him in it, or seek its sanctification from him. A precious promise is applied, it comes home just at the nick of time when it is most needed. We feel its power, taste its sweetness, and enjoy its supporting influence — and yet we do not know that it is Jesus. But it was him, who by his Spirit sent that sweet word to cheer and strengthen you.
We meet with some bitter disappointment, occasioned perhaps by the fickleness or forgetfulness of a friend. We are filled with grief. We are dejected and cast down. We do not see that it is Jesus, who is weaning us from earthly friendships and creature props, that we may rest on him alone. Providence interposes for us, deliverance is wrought, or supplies are sent; they come unexpectedly, or from a quarter we never anticipated. We take them, enjoy them, feel thankful for them, and talk of the mercy — but we do not perceive that it is Jesus! But it is, for he works by his providence for us, as well as by his Spirit in us.
Some idol is taken away, or some gourd is smitten, we are grieved to lose our idol, and have pity for the gourd; but do we recognize the hand and the presence of Jesus! He is speaking, and saying, "From all your idols, I will cleanse you." He is working, to bring you to trust in him, and in him alone.
We are in some trouble, a sweet peace flows into the soul, and a holy calm reigns in the breast; we are delighted with the sweet sensations, and rejoice in the pleasant emotions — but do we know that it is Jesus? Are we aware that he gives the grace and imparts tranquility — or do we try to trace it to some other source? Strength is secretly imparted, so that we overcome our difficulties, prosecute our journey, and with patience carry our cross; we are almost surprised at ourselves, and wonder how it is. Ah, we need not wonder, for if we were at all quick-sighted, we would see that it is Jesus.
Beloved, in every trouble and in every deliverance, in every sorrow and in every comfort, in every trial and in every conquest — we should realize that it is Jesus. Jesus working for us, and Jesus working in us, to will and to do of his own good pleasure. It is a sad mistake, when we see creatures only — but not Christ; instruments — but not the great agent.
The Cause of this Mistake is, that we forget, or lose sight of the following facts. That Jesus rules all events. Nothing can take place without him. He appoints or permits all that come to pass, and he superintends all, to secure our good and his glory. He is ever present with us. Always and everywhere, Jesus is with us — he never leaves our side, or withdraws his eye from us. He is always working for us. Whether we perceive it or not, whether we believe it or not, Jesus is always acting for his people, and for every one of them; the poorest, the feeblest, the most despised.
He is constantly watching over us. And watching over us to do us good. He observes every foe. He sees every purpose we form, every plan we draw, and every effort we make. His word to Israel is made good to us, "I will rejoice over them to do them good, with my whole heart, and with my whole soul."
He is daily fulfilling his word. Providence performs the promise. Providence fulfils the prediction. Providence proves Jesus faithful.
He is trying our confidence and love. He often says, "Can you trust me?" "Do you love me?" And he is more jealous of our confidence and love, than of all besides.
Now if we realized . . .
that Jesus rules all events;
that he is ever present with us;
that he is always working for us;
that he is constantly watching over us;
that he is intent upon doing us good;
that he is daily fulfilling his word;
and is trying our confidence and love —
instead of reflecting upon creatures, or being crushed by circumstances — we should know that it was Jesus. But we do not, therefore let us notice,
The Painful Consequences.We unjustly complain and complain — when in reality, we have nothing to complain of. A complaining Christian ought to be a wonder in God's universe.
We needlessly doubt and fear. We can never be justified in doing so, and if we knew and felt that it was Jesus who was dealing with us — we would not.
We often inordinately grieve. We should grieve for nothing but sin, and after none but the Savior; but losing sight of him, we often grieve over the smallest trifles, and make ourselves unhappy, when we ought to rejoice.
We do not relish our mercies as we should. If we received them as from the hands of Jesus, as procured for us by the sufferings and death of Jesus, as proofs of the love and favor of Jesus — they would have a peculiar flavor then.
We do not look to him through our trials. Yet every trial is but a thin veil behind which he stands, through which he speaks, and on account of which he expects to hear from us.
We do not expect his blessing upon our troubles, or that our troubles should be made blessings to us. We do not prize him as we ought, nor give him the thanks that he deserves.
Oh, if we knew that it was Jesus who afflicted,
comforted, sent us mercies, or withheld supplies:
we would cease to complain;
we would no more give way to doubts and fears;
we would not inordinately grieve over our losses;
we would enjoy our mercies with a peculiar relish;
we would . . .
look to him through every trial,
expect his blessing on every trouble,
and praise him night and day.
Beloved, Jesus is the gardener — who with knife in hand walks among his plants, and prunes them that they may bring forth more fruit.
Jesus is our friend — who meets us in the path of duty, in the rough road of tribulation, in the way to the kingdom — that he may correct, reprove, bless, and do us good.
Jesus is our Comforter — who comforts us in oil our tribulations — but who will only comfort when he can secure our welfare, and his own glory by doing so.
Jesus is our Provider — whose Word is pledged to supply us, and who rejoices in an opportunity to send us a blessing.
Jesus is more — he is our Husband, who claims our heart; and claiming, will have it. If it is withheld from him, he will correct us for it, and visit us with stroke upon stroke, until we return to him.
Jesus is our all, and is more than all to us. We should therefore always have him in our thoughts, and before our eyes; and when any blessing comes, we should be ready to say, "Jesus sent it!" Or if any trouble comes, we should be ready to say, "Jesus has sent it!" Then our comforts would be sweetened and sanctified; and then our troubles would be real and lasting blessings.
Holy Spirit, glorifier of Jesus, never, never allow us to
be so blind as not to know Jesus. Never allow us to be so absorbed with the
things of time, or so taken up with ourselves — as not to recognize the
presence of Jesus. But let us . . .
see him in every event,
hear his voice in every dispensation, and
aim to glorify him in all that happens to us!
O for grace to be wholly, and always, taken up with Christ!