THE MAN OF GOD  Or "Spiritual Religion Explained and Enforced"
by Octavius Winslow

Learning of Jesus

"Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls." Matthew 9:29

Our blessed Lord, the Prophet come from God, differed in this particular from all other teachers- He designed that His disciples and followers should not only believe in His person, embrace and follow His doctrine, but that they should be assimilated to His image. He came not merely to inform the judgment with truth, but, penetrating into the innermost recesses of the soul, He sought to transform His disciples into His own moral nature, so that He presented Himself to His people as the Model they were to imitate, as the Teacher from whom they were to learn.

Such are the truths embodied in these beautiful words of our blessed Lord, in considering which, as we trust the Holy Spirit will teach us, we shall direct the reader's attention, to the PORTRAIT of Christ; the EXHORTATION of Christ; the PROMISE of Christ.

Our Lord Jesus alone could draw His own moral portrait. His own person was so mysterious, His name so wonderful, His character so lofty; there was such a blending of the two extremes of being in their highest perfection, the absolute God and the perfect man, that it would have been utterly impossible for any finite mind to portray Him in original perfection. Christ alone could reveal Himself. As no one knows the Father, but Christ the Son, so no one knows the Son, or has an understanding of the character of Christ, or can trace the fine delicate shades of the portrait, but those to whom Christ himself reveals it. Now here is our blessed Lord portraying His own character, drawing His own image. It was no vain pride, no self-conceit in Jesus, when he thus portrayed Himself.

We deem it one of the profoundest acts of humility in the saints of God gratefully to acknowledge the grace which God gives them. It is false humility to conceal any measure of grace which Jesus has vouchsafed; and to deny any part of the work of the Lord Jesus in our soul. Oh, beware, in the deepest confessions of your unworthiness, of abjuring the grace of God in you. If the Lord has given you the smallest degree of knowledge, the least measure of faith, and the weakest portion of love, acknowledge it, to the praise and glory of His sovereign grace who has made you what you are.

Let us, then, contemplate this portrait of the Lord Jesus, "I am meek and lowly in heart." We trace it in the first great condescension when He assumed our nature. What an unfolding was this of the lowliness and meekness of Jesus! For we must ever bear in mind that it was not a finite being descending to a lower scale in the finite. Were an angel to become human, it would be but a finite being coming down in the scale of the finite. And where would be the profound stoop, the marvellous condescension and humility? But here was the Infinite stooping to the finite! Here was the Divine assuming the human, between which there existed no comparison! You may weigh one finite thing with another. There is some comparison between a grain of sand and an Egyptian pyramid. But there is no comparison between the finite and the Infinite, so vast and immeasurable is the difference.

Now mark the great condescension of Jesus. Though He was Infinite, He stooped to the finite. Though He was "God over all blessed forevermore," He became "bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh." Contemplate in some of its features this exhibition of the lowliness and meekness of Him who though He was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God, yet assumed our nature and became man. Study His filial reverence to His earthly parents- it forms one of the loveliest traits of His human character. He placed Himself under parental law, recognized parental authority, and was subject to His parents in all things. What an example for the young! Christ honored His parents- imitate Him in this, and He will honor you.

Look at His baptism. It was an astonishing exhibition of His condescension and lowliness. One marvels not, when He appeared on the banks of the Jordan, and asked the rite of baptism at the hands of the evangelist, that John should have said, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? Allow it to be so now," said the lowly, condescending Jesus; "for thus it is necessary to fulfil all righteousness." Then, descending into the stream, He was baptized, illustrating His precept by His own act, thus leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps.

Then travel to His cross; see Him emerge from the gate of Jerusalem bearing the wood upon His shoulders- see Him travel with it to the hill of Calvary; there behold Him like a sheep, dumb before His shearers, so He opened not His mouth. See Him resigning Himself into the hands of His murderers, offering no resistance, breathing no reply, threatening no vengeance, but, like a lamb led to the slaughter, meekly bowing His blessed head to the stroke, with no words breathing from His lips but forgiveness to His enemies.

Trace the Savior's whole carriage while on earth- meekness and lowliness marked every act. Look at His deportment with His disciples- washing their feet, administering to their necessities, looking after their comfort, bearing with their infirmities, and in a thousand nameless ways blending the dignity of the God with the condescension, tenderness, and lowliness of the man. Well might He say, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart." "Behold the Lamb of God,"- the God-man enduring all this without a murmur, "who, when He was reviled, reviled not again."

Trace the same character of Christ in all His dealings with a poor, tried, sin-burdened, heartbroken sinner. Is there anything in the spirit of Christ, or in the conduct of Christ, with a soul who feels his poverty and emptiness, contrary to this character of condescension, meekness, and lowliness? No! my reader, no! If there is one who, if we may use the expression, draws out this character more than another, it is that poor soul who, bowed beneath its burden of sin, sues for pardon and mercy at His feet.

I see the smoking flax- the bruised reed; not a spark visible in the one, no strength apparently in the other. It is the image of that weak faith, that little grace, that bruised and bowed spirit with which the Savior delights to come in contact. "A bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax He shall not quench." Oh, no! His love, grace, and power will mend the one and fan the other.

What shall I say of His dealing with a poor afflicted believer? Ah, we little know what the sympathy of Jesus is for His sorrowing ones; what His compassion is for His afflicted ones; what His condescension is for those who, are treading the steps He trod- the path of suffering, of trial and adversity; that leads to the kingdom. Can He look coldly at our case? Can He deal harshly and unsympathisingly with our sorrow? Can He sport with our grief and trifle with our woe? Utterly impossible! Are you afflicted? Are you in sorrow? Are you tempted? Are you in poverty? Think of the kindness, the gentleness, and sympathy of Jesus; hear Him say, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. My heart is the home of meekness and lowliness, kindness, sympathy, and love. I am prepared to embosom myself in your grief, and make it all My own."

Now, observe, appended to this character and portrait is AN EXHORTATION, "learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart." "Learn of me." We are to come to Jesus as learners. There are two characters in which our Lord is represented to us in this exhortation. First, He appears as a Teacher. "Learn of me- sit at my feet- become my disciple." The only authoritative Teacher in the Church of God, the only true Prophet, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is it there is so much error in the Church of God? Why is there is so much darkness and crudeness in the books we read, and in the sermons we hear? Why is it that we see so much ignorance and obscurity in setting forth the truth of God? It is because men will not sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him. Men would rather learn of their fellow men than of the God-man; they prefer human writings to the Divine- the school of man, to the school of God. And this is one reason why there is so much false doctrine, the teaching that causes to err, both from the pulpit and from the press. We may be carried away by great learning, brilliant genius, and apparently profound piety; but if we place ourselves at the feet of Jesus as a lowly disciple, and there receive our views of truth, we shall then understand those profound mysteries of God's revealed Word, which are hidden from the worldly wise and prudent, but revealed to those who become learners of Christ.

Secondly, Our Lord also would have, us learn of Him as our Pattern and Model. "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, " that is, "Imitate me, resemble me, learn to be like me." Jesus was a living epistle of His own gospel- the impersonal embodiment of His own truth. There is not a doctrine He expounded, or a precept He enjoined, that He did not exemplify in His own life. Learn of Him in His submission to the Divine will. Oh, what perfect blending of the will of Christ with the will of God! Not more perfectly blended are the hues of the rainbow than was the will of Jesus with the will of God. Come, learn submission to the Divine will.

Do you find it hard to bow to that will at this moment? Perhaps the bitter cup trembles in your hand. Perhaps a dark cloud overshadows you. Perhaps the path in which by the providence of God you are called to walk, is rough. Perhaps the surrender you are called to make is painful. Perhaps you feel your will in painful antagonism to God's will. There is a controversy between God and you; you cannot drink that bitter cup, you cannot enter into that dark cloud, you cannot tread that thorny path, you cannot take up that heavy cross, you cannot make that sad surrender. The cup is too bitter, the cloud too dark, and the road too rough. Come, sit at His feet, and learn a lesson of submission to the Divine authority, and to the Father's will. Hear your Lord and Master say, "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me unless I drink it, may Your will be done."

Look, too, at His patient endurance of suffering! Are you a sufferer, suffering from God, or suffering from the world? Or, it may be, suffering from your fellow-saints; for of all the sufferings the saints of God endure from man, the deepest wounds, the heaviest trials, alas! are often from our fellow-believers. Even like our blessed Master, no hand smote Him so heavily, He felt no sorrow so severely, as that which came from the disciples whom he loved.

But, beloved, learn of Jesus. Learn patient endurance under suffering. Learn to receive it with meekness, silence, and lowliness. Learn to breathe a blessing for a curse, and to give a look of love for a frown of anger. Learn from Him- when reviled, to revile not again. Imitate Him in His meekness and lowliness, in His carriage and deportment, as He traveled through this world, in all the acts of kindness He performed, the words He spoke, and the whole spirit He exemplified. See how holy, and condescending, and humble He was. Imbibe His temper and spirit, remembering that pride, malice, and revenge, are improper in the disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus. Learn of Christ, who was meek and lowly in heart.

Beloved, the great thing is to have the heart right in the sight of God. God looks at the heart. Men may mistake sometimes, and suppose such a one is harsh, and unsympathizing, and proud, and all the while God may see within a heart that will at any moment stoop to the lowliest and most menial service for Christ's sake. It is the heart that God looks at. Others may misinterpret the state of your heart, and may misconstrue your words and actions; but if the Lord sees that yours is a humble and condescending heart; a heart which, if need be, would prompt you to go to the obscurest saint of God and discharge lowly offices of kindness and love for Christ's sake; such a heart and such conduct is acceptable in the sight of God. Many a man may appear to be humble and meek, but in heart there may be pride and covetousness- a spirit of which God has said, "I cannot bear with." Lord, search my heart!

I desire for you, my reader, and for you, O my soul, to walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called; to act, to live, to speak, as under the all-observing eye of the heart-searching God. Then you can endure meekly man's erroneous interpretation; and with dignity, blended with the profoundest humility of soul, can act independently of your fellow's opinion, presenting your heart to God's inspection, and saying, "Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in matters too high for me." "Search me, O God, and know my heart; prove me and know my ways, and see if there be any evil way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." "Oh, learn of me," says the Savior, "for I am meek and lowly in heart."

Then comes the gracious promise- the blessed repose found only in sitting at Jesus' feet as learners and imitators:  "And you shall find rest for your souls." What an expressive word is this! Beloved, have you found this rest? How few are there who know it by experience!  This is a restless world. Where is real rest to be found? Only by sitting at the feet of Jesus, and learning of Him. Look at the mental rest a man finds, who gives up his own reason, and, as a pupil, repairs to the feet of Jesus for instruction. The moment a man goes to the feet of Christ, and submits his judgment to the judgment of Christ, he finds mental rest. The moment he receives the truths of the gospel from Christ, he finds repose.

He has, perhaps, been tossed on the sea of speculation and false doctrine; driven from teacher to teacher, from book to book,  from church to church, from school to school, knowing not what mental rest is. He finds human opinions conflicting, and knows not where to search for the truth. But giving up his research, and sitting as a little child at the feet of Jesus, with the prayer breathing from his heart, "Lord, what I know not, teach me; I am ignorant, instruct me; I am in darkness, illumine me; I am but as a child in knowledge, give me understanding. I give myself up to Your teaching; I cast myself upon Your instruction; be my Teacher and my Prophet;" soon he will receive that divine illumination, and that mental rest which is experienced only in a child-like reception of the truths of the gospel from the lips and at the feet of Jesus.

There is rest, too, for the soul in the atoning work of Jesus: rest from sense of guilt, from fear of condemnation, and from the terrors of the law. Perfect rest does that soul find that comes to Jesus' feet, and receives in childlike faith the atonement He has made for the chief of sinners.

Rest of heart, too, does he find who takes his place at the feet of Jesus in the spirit of obedience to Christ. "Take my yoke upon you," says the Savior, "and learn of me." Take my commands, take my precepts, take my cross, take my example, and bow your neck to my yoke- the yoke of my truth, the yoke of my precept, the yoke of my commands, the yoke of my example, the yoke of my love. And in wearing it, you shall find rest unto your soul.

This rest is found only in obedience to Christ's command. Many a saint of God sees some especial and positive command of Jesus; but, because the yoke is irksome and requires some little sacrifice, he shrinks from it and finds no rest. Ah, my reader, if you see a positive command or precept of Jesus to be obligatory upon you as a professed disciple, your heart will be restless and agitated until you bow with obedience, meekness an d lowliness, to the command, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me." "If you love Me keep my commandments."

Oh, what a privileged place is this to which Jesus invites you! It is at His blessed feet! Favored spot! The feet that trod many a weary mile for you! The feet that were transfixed to the cross for you! Take all your sorrows, all your trials, all your sins there- your schemes frustrated, your cisterns broken, your heart's loneliness, your dark providences, the deep problems in your Father's dealings- study and solve them in Christ's school, at Christ's feet. Be willing to learn, whatever the school in which Your Lord and Savior may see best to place you in. Oh, study to be Christ-like in your spirit, deportment, and actions.

Ask yourself in all that you do, "Is this Christlike?" Did He ever expose the infirmity of a brother, or of a sister? Did He ever trample in the dust any individual, be he foe or friend? "Lord, at Your feet a learner would I be, a disciple, a little child. Teach me; fashion me into Your own lovely image, for I would transcribe the lineaments of Your perfect character to myself, that when others see me, they may take knowledge of me that I have been with Jesus, and have learned of Him."