Imagine you’re sitting in a roadside pub, having an inexpensive cup of some rather foul wine, and you’re not thinking about anything in particular. Around you are the sounds, sights and smells of such a place: the swearing, the dirty jokes, the unkempt-looking and -smelling sorts of people who spend time in this sort of place.
Why are you here? Because, having traveled south to see the baptizer-teacher down at the Jordan—having not been particularly impressed by the weirdness of the experience of that man—you are waiting for your brother, Andrew (who has lagged behind to talk with the baptizer), in order to travel back to the Galilee and get back to work on your fishing boats.
You are sitting here, in this roadside pub, thinking of nothing really at all, when the door opens—the light flooding in—and in comes your brother, just now. There is a very strange look in the look of his eyes. He approaches in the half-darkness of the pub and grips you by both shoulders.
“I have met the Messiah,” he says, “the Anointed of God!”
You take a deep breath in—let it out. “Where?” you ask.
“He is sitting under a tree outside,” Andrew says.
“No,” Andrew replies. “God.”
You wait for him to say something else. He just stares at you. “God is sitting outside under a tree?”
“Outside? Under a tree?”
He nods again.
“Alright,” you say. “Let’s go have a look.”
You pay off your tab and then wind your way through the half-light, following after your brother, out through the day-drinkers of this roadside pub. The outside light is blinding for a moment. You follow after Andrew down the road to the left; then across a narrow path across a field—there is a short stubby tree in the middle-distance. In its shade is another man of the Galilee—the younger brother of James of Zebedee—and then, for the first time, you see the Man your brother was talking about.
He is rising to His feet to meet you in the shade, there.
His eyes are sparkling with the warmest kind of affection.
He steps out of the shade—the sunlight lights His features—He extends His hands toward you—all warmth, all kindness, all joyfulness—and then (quite surprisingly) He embraces you, kisses you on the cheek. He is whispering in your ear as He does so:
“Everyone calls you Simon, but I won’t. For me, you will always be Peter—Petros—a rock.”
You take a step back and away from the intensity of this Man. The look in His eyes is ageless; all-consuming; eternal. You are both awed and slightly afraid of the look in His eyes. This encounter with Him is the beginning of the rest of your life…
Decades later, imagine that man—now an old man—sitting down to a bare-topped table and taking up his writing quill. He is again thinking of that day—of the way it felt to make the acquaintance of God incarnate—and he smiles to himself and then writes this:
Simon PETER, a servant and messenger of Jesus Christ, sends this letter to those who have been given a faith as valuable as ours in the righteousness of our God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. May you know more and more of grace and peace as your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord grows deeper.
He has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness. It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature.
"...since our nature has God as its requisite author, it is certain that we must have Him for our teacher that we may be wise; Him, too, to dispense to us spiritual sweetness that we may be blessed."
Augustine of Hippo
The City of God
* * * *
"Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:16b,17, ESV)
You have been adopted into the very family circle of God and you can say with a full heart, “Father, my Father”. The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are the children of God. Think what that means. If we are his children we share his treasures, and all that Christ claims as his will belong to all of us as well! Yes, if we share in his suffering we shall certainly share in his glory.
In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God! (Romans 8:15b-21, Phillips)
O Father, thou art my eternity.
Not on the clasp of consciousness—on thee
My life depends; and I can well afford
All to forget, so thou remember, Lord.
In thee I rest; in sleep thou dost me fold;
In thee I labour; still in thee, grow old;
And dying, shall I not in thee, my Life, be bold?
- George MacDonald
from The Diary of an Old Soul
* * * *
Listen, and I will tell you a secret. We shall not all die, but suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, every one of us will be changed as the trumpet sounds! The trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised beyond the reach of corruption, and we who are still alive shall suddenly be utterly changed. For this perishable nature of ours must be wrapped in imperishability, these bodies which are mortal must be wrapped in immortality.
So when the perishable is lost in the imperishable, the mortal lost in the immortal, this saying will come true: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ ‘O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’
It is sin which gives death its power, and it is the Law which gives sin its strength. All thanks to God, then, who gives us the victory over these things through our Lord Jesus Christ!
And so brothers and sisters of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord’s work. Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted. (1 Corinthians 15:51-58, Phillips)
Then Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and, according to his custom, went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read the scriptures and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book and found the place where these words are written—‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord’.
Then he shut the book, handed it back to the attendant and resumed his seat. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed upon him and he began to tell them, “This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it!” (Luke 4:16-21, Phillips)
* * *
A couple months ago, it struck me that this may be one of the most instructive moments we ever witness in the life of Jesus. At the very beginning of what we would call His “ministry years,” He is essentially saying He’s already finished: His personal presence is the eternal answer to our hearts’ every question. Yes, we still require to know Him better, to hear His teaching, to watch the miracles in all they reveal to us of the heart of God. Yes, the Cross will represent the required atonement for our sin; the Resurrection the needful freeing we require from death.
But… here with Jesus, here at the beginning of His ministry, here with some of His first hearers hearing His teachings, He is telling them and us--what?
That He Himself is the place of the Spirit’s presence; that He Himself is the Good News of the Kingdom; that He Himself is the place of perpetual, once-for-all-time freedom; that He Himself is the experience of finally receiving sight; that He Himself is deliverance—both for each of us and for others; that He Himself is the Jubilee, the final freeing, the heart’s release; that He Himself is the beginning, means and end of everything intended for humankind since the moment of our Creation.
Is that how you understand the totality of the Person of Jesus? Is He Himself--for you—everything that He truly is?
"This fact of the historical Christ brings a high degree of certainty and authority, but not full certainty and authority. For, after all, if Jesus is only historical, it would be authority outside ourselves standing in history. No authority from without can be complete authority for us, unless it can become identified with our very selves, and can speak from within. The Christ of history must become the Christ within. We cannot live upon a remembrance, however beautiful. We can only live upon a realization. But Jesus becomes that. He told his disciples that it was expedient for him to go away, so he went, but ‘he changed his presence for his omnipresence.’ He came back more vital than before. Timid believers became irresistible apostles, for Christ had moved into their inmost souls. Life became merged: ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ cries the transformed Paul. Archimedes, after pondering a mathematical problem, suddenly finds the solution, and in his excitement rushes up the street crying, ‘Eureka, I’ve got it!’ These men, pondering deeper problems, find a deeper solution, and cry from deeper depths: ‘We’ve got it.’ Christ becomes self-evidencing. The historical passes into the experimental. They become witnesses."
E. Stanley Jones
Christ at the Round Table
“How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves. For those out of Christ, time is a devouring beast; before the sons of the new creation time crouches and purrs and licks their hands. The foe of the old human race becomes the friend of the new, and the stars in their courses fight for the man God delights to honor. This we may learn from the divine infinitude.
“But there is more. God’s gifts in nature have their limitations. They are finite because they have been created, but the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus is as limitless as God. The Christian man possesses God’s own life and shares His infinitude with Him. In God there is life enough for all and time enough to enjoy it. Whatever is possessed of natural life runs through its cycle from birth to death and ceases to be, but the life of God returns upon itself and ceases never. And this is life eternal: to know the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”
The Knowledge of the Holy
Two criminals crucified with Jesus
TWO CRIMINALS WERE ALSO LED out with him for execution…
One of the criminals hanging there covered him with abuse, and said, “Aren’t you Christ? Why don’t you save yourself—and us?”
But the other one checked him with the words, “Aren’t you afraid of God even when you’re getting the same punishment as he is? And it’s fair enough for us, for we’ve only got what we deserve, but this man never did anything wrong in his life.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And Jesus answered, “I tell you truly, this day you will be with me in paradise.”
Later that evening…
TOWARDS THE END, he would cast his glance to the left—to the now-empty cross of the teacher—and his struggling breaths would continually offer up last words. He offered up his last words perhaps one hundred times that evening. (They had broken his legs an hour or two before this.) When he turned his gaze, his darting glimpse a fragmentary impression of the scene, he would snatch another look at that empty cross; consider it. From the horizontal downward, the vertical was a river’s delta of dried blood. Its color veined and spider-webbed its way down to the earth. The earth below had a black puddle; blood drops all around. The empty cross seemed to tell a story he didn’t fully understand.
The flesh of his hands and arms was beginning to tear from the full weight of his body hanging—his broken legs sagged, twisted, beneath him. Each and every breath was shallower; agony. He could hear the groans of his former partner-in-crime, farther past.
When the end came, it came, mercifully, quickly.
The breaths became exhausting, exhausted.
He could feel his head start swaying forward and to the right.
His neck now held no power to hold it up…
And when he “awoke,” he was walking through a grand overwhelming door (more like a gateway), all of gold, entering into an impossibly cavernous interior space. He was vaguely aware of infinitudes of forms—huge glorious figures and radiant-faced individuals—watching him: but he focused all his attentions on continuing forward.
For there—up ahead—up a three-stepped stairway ending in a molten golden dais—was the Throne of Heaven and--
The happy thief, for the second time that day, spoke aloud his name:
And the man on the Throne smiled and said to him: “Now didn’t I tell you?”
Last week, I asked a circle of friends from all over the world to send me the "latest, freshest" experiences they were having with the Lord. What a week of constant delights in reading their replies!
Here are some of my favorite lines and thoughts from their return emails:
A quote from an interview with Tim Keller (who passed away just a few days before) - "There is a famous short story by J.R.R. Tolkien called “Leaf by Niggle.” Niggle is a painter who spends his entire life trying to paint a mural of a tree. By the end of his life, he has only gotten one leaf completed. Then he dies. But when he gets to heaven, he sees the tree that was always there in his mind. That is the way of the Christian."
"I have been struck in a fresh way by the accessibility that Jesus offers me - that I don’t have to muster up or do anything to earn access to Him. I can come just as I am with nothing to offer but myself."
"No matter what I am facing, which some days feels like a lot, to know and trust and believe and rely on this amazing truth. JESUS IS WITH ME. Right here. With me. Thank you Jesus. Truly."
"Jesus shows up in everyone, if our eyes are open. The bummer is that sometimes it takes [really difficult times] to…open my eyes…..to see all of what he has for us……this is the Kingdom of God come down."
"[During a meeting this week,] I found my mind wandering to a walk with Jesus. Mind you: this never happens to me. But it was just enough cacophony of the world that I wished that I could leave. I pictured a quiet walk with Jesus and the peace & gratitude for all that I have. And that... that moment is enough."
"Psalms 3:5- (modified into my own language for myself and those who I’m mourning for) - When I sweep my sin under the door, my body wastes away. As long as I pretend I’m fine without God, I will face one disappointment after another. Even my wins will be blunted and fall short of full satisfaction. My vitality gets drained just as the earth is when scorched by fire. But when I acknowledge my need for help and stop ignoring my shortcomings, you are there waiting calmly and peacefully ready to forgive me and bring true life back into my mind and body. You sprout new growth in my life and nourish and strengthen me."
"I have just been thinking about and so grateful for Jesus’ kindness this week. He’s so kind and really does not need to be or owe it to us. There are a couple of places in my life that he is making such a clear “way” where I thought there was no way. What’s been getting me this week is that He always does it with His loving kindness. It’s often (not always) so gentle that I don’t even realize He’s doing it or correcting me or guiding me until I am through it."
In pondering on the Ascension of Jesus: "It feels impossible to rise from that place of utter love, full of tears and sorrow and confusion - to a place in my brain that processes language."
Friends, isn't it amazing to think that, anywhere anyone opens their heart to our Savior, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He still speaks like this!
Remember, this day: He is alive!
Just over a week later, the disciples were indoors again and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood in the middle of them and said, “Peace be with you!”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your fingers here—look, here are my hands. Take your hand and put it in my side. You must not doubt, but believe.”
“My Lord and my God!” cried Thomas.
“Is it because you have seen me that you believe?” Jesus said to him. “Happy are those who have never seen me and yet have believed!” (John 20:26-29, Phillips)
* * *
“The answer of Jesus to Thomas is clear. Jesus was saying to him: ‘Thomas, I know that you do not understand what is happening. No one understands. But whatever happens, you have got me. I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ In this world, in the last analysis, what we need is not an argument but a presence. No argument is convincing, and what Jesus offers is not an argument, but himself.”
The Master’s Men
"Our Lord saith that the Kingdom of God is near us. Yea, the Kingdom of God is within us as St Paul saith 'our salvation is nearer than when we believed.' Now we should know in what manner the Kingdom of God is near us. Therefore let us pay diligent attention to the meaning of the words. If I were a king, and did not know it, I should not really be a king. But, if I were fully convinced that I was a king, and all mankind coincided in my belief, and I knew that they shared my conviction, I should indeed be a king, and all the wealth of the king would be mine. But, if one of these three conditions were lacking, I should not really be a king.
"In similar fashion our salvation depends upon our knowing and recognizing the Chief Good which is God Himself. I have a capacity in my soul for taking in God entirely. I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and presence of God... [Man's] happiness increases and diminishes in proportion to the increase and diminution in his knowledge of this. His happiness does not arise from this that God is near him, and in him, and that He possesses God; but from this, that he knows the nearness of God, and loves Him, and is aware that 'the Kingdom of God is near.' So, when I think on God’s Kingdom, I am compelled to be silent because of its immensity, because God’s Kingdom is none other than God Himself with all His riches. God’s Kingdom is no small thing: we may survey in imagination all the worlds of God’s creation, but they are not God’s Kingdom. In whichever soul God’s Kingdom appeareth, and which knoweth God’s Kingdom, that soul needeth no human preaching or instruction; it is taught from within and assured of eternal life. Whoever knows and recognizes how near God’s Kingdom is to him may say with Jacob, 'God is in this place, and I knew it not.'"
From the sermon "The Nearness of the Kingdom"
“Grant Thy servants, O God, to be set on fire with Thy Spirit, strengthened by Thy power, illuminated by Thy splendour, filled with Thy grace, and to go forward by Thine aid. Give them, O Lord, a right faith, perfect love, true humility. Grant, O Lord, that there may be in us simple affection, brave patience, persevering obedience, perpetual peace, a pure mind, a right and honest heart, a good will, a holy conscience, spiritual strength, a life unspotted and unblamable; and after having manfully finished our course, may we be enabled happily to enter into Thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
- A prayer of the Third Century Church
“A God humiliated, even to the death on the cross; a Messiah triumphing over death by his own death. Two natures in Jesus Christ, two advents, two states of man's nature.
“Saviour, father, sacrificer, offering, food, king, wise, law-giver, afflicted, poor, having to create a people whom He must lead and nourish and bring into His land...
“He alone had to create a great people, elect, holy, and chosen; to lead, nourish, and bring it into the place of rest and holiness; to make it holy to God; to make it the temple of God; to reconcile it to, and, save it from, the wrath of God; to free it from the slavery of sin, which visibly reigns in man; to give laws to this people, and engrave these laws on their heart; to offer Himself to God for them, and sacrifice Himself for them; to be a victim without blemish, and Himself the sacrificer, having to offer Himself, His body, and His blood, and yet to offer bread and wine to God...”
“I am no more than a child, but my Father lives for ever and I have a Protector great enough to save me. For he who begot me and he who watches over me are one and the same, and for me there is no good but you, the Almighty, who are with me even before I am with you. So to such as you command me to serve I will reveal, not what I have been, but what I have become and what I am.”
Augustine of Hippo
* * *
Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. Our heredity on the Godward side is no mere figure of speech—which explains why the world will no more recognise us than it recognised Christ. Oh, dear children of mine (forgive the affection of an old man!), have you realised it? Here and now we are God’s children. We don’t know what we shall become in the future. We only know that, if reality were to break through, we should reflect his likeness, for we should see him as he really is! (1 John 3:1,2, Phillips)
“Jesus had a keen sense of humour which again and again bubbles out irrepressibly, all the more strikingly because it is in contrast with the complete absence of humour in those writings of the Christians of the first century which have been preserved in the New Testament. He had a keen eye for the ridiculous and could make startling what he saw—the self-righteous man with the huge beam in his eye essaying to see and pluck out a mere speck in his neighbour’s eye; the solemn and meticulous legalist who was so conscientious about details and yet so blind to great moral issues that he was like a man who, anxious lest he be contaminated by his food and drink, would painstakingly strain out the most minute gnat and then, without blinking, swallow an entire camel, hair, hoofs, humps, and offensive breath. He laughed at children playing in the market place, especially at those who, pouting, refused to join in the sport, even when their companions were quite willing to adjust the game to meet their wishes. His questions to the crowds about John the Baptist—“What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? … a man clothed in soft raiment?”—must have provoked laughter, so purposely contrary were they to what all of his hearers knew.
“Jesus had the soul of a poet. While few of his recorded sayings are in poetic form, again and again his words breathe the spirit of poetry. His mind thought in terms of pictures and concrete scenes, not in abstract phrases. The parables and sententious sayings in which most of his teachings were couched were such that, once heard, they could not easily be forgotten. It is said that he chose that manner of speaking deliberately, but he could not have employed it so skillfully had it not reflected the quality of his mind.”
Kenneth Scott Latourette
A History of Christianity, Volume I
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom for man to comfort his neighbour. ‘He who believes in me,’ says Jesus Christ himself in another Scripture passage, ‘out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ This happens when we look up to him. No one has ever looked up to him without this miracle happening. No one who gets slowly used to looking up to him has failed to glimpse light around him. The dark earth on which we live has always become bright whenever man looked up to him, and believed in him.
“‘Look up to him, your face will shine, and you shall never be ashamed.’ I just mentioned the ‘dark’ earth. Reading the newspapers, looking around at the world and into our own hearts and lives, we can’t possibly deny that the earth is really dark, that we live in a world to be afraid in. Why afraid? Because we all live under the threat of being put to shame, and rightly so. This would not only imply that we have blundered here and there, but that our whole life, with all our thoughts, desires and accomplishments, might be in truth, in God’s judgment and verdict, a failure, an infamy, a total loss. This is the great threat. This is why the ground shakes under our feet, the sky is covered with clouds, and the earth, so beautifully created, darkens. Indeed we should be put to shame.
“But now we hear the very opposite. ‘You shall never be ashamed.’ What I would like to do, dear brothers and sisters, is to ask you, each and all, to get up together and like a choir repeat: ‘We must never be ashamed!’ Each one would have to repeat it for himself and lastly I would repeat it for myself : ‘I must never be ashamed!’ This is what counts. We shall not be, I shall not be, ashamed, not when looking up to him. Not because we deserve to be spared the shame! Not even because our faces shine when raised to him. Our radiance will be and must be a sign that we will not be put to shame. It is an evidence of the relationship established between God and ourselves. And this is the power of the relationship: what is true and valid in heaven, what Jesus Christ has done for us, what has been accomplished by him, man’s redemption, justification and preservation, is true and valid on earth also. The Father does not put us, his children, to shame when we look up to Jesus. In consequence we, his children, may never be ashamed. This we may know, this may be our strength, this may be our life, if only we look up to him, fearlessly and brightly. May each one repeat in his heart: ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.’”
from a sermon in 1956
By Henry Vaughan
My Soul, there is a country
Afar beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
All skillful in the wars;
There, above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits, crown’d with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious friend
And (O my Soul awake!)
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flow’r of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure,
But One, who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.
“…think of the dignity and honor which is ours. Sons of God with Him; Heirs of God with Him; one with Him, perfectly identified with the blessed One in God’s presence. Therefore He is not ashamed to call us brethren. To walk worthy of the Lord is our calling; and worthy of the Lord we shall walk if we have the great fact of our fellowship with the Son of God as a reality before our souls. It is a sad state to speak theoretically of our position in Christ, to know all this with our intellects and not to manifest it in our lives and show forth the excellencies of Him, who has called us from darkness into his marvellous light. He is not ashamed to call us brethren.”
The Lord of Glory
“It was as a Bridegroom Christ came, anointed with all the perfumes of a dedicated love, and until the last bitter hour of His rejection, He moved with such lyric joyousness across the earth, that life became festive in His presence. It is as a Bride the church exists on earth, and if no festive smiles are awakened by its presence, and no gracious unsealing of the founts of love in human hearts, then is it not Christ’s Church, for He has passed elsewhere with another company to the marriage-feast, and His Church stands without, before a barred and darkened door.”
The Empire of Love
Salvation comes not by “accepting the finished work” or “deciding for Christ.” It comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole, living, victorious Lord who, as God and man, fought our fight and won it, accepted our debt as His own and paid it, took our sins and died under them and rose again to set us free. This is the true Christ, and nothing less will do…
The argument of the apostles is that the Man Jesus has been made higher than angels, higher than Moses and Aaron, higher than any creature in earth or heaven. And this exalted position He attained as a man. As God He already stood infinitely above all other beings. No argument was needed to prove the transcendence of the Godhead. The apostles were not declaring the preeminence of God, which would have been superfluous, but of a man, which was necessary.
Those first Christians believed that Jesus of Nazareth, a man they knew, had been raised to a position of Lordship over the universe. He was still their friend, still one of them, but had left them for a while to appear in the presence of God on their behalf. And the proof of this was the presence of the Holy Spirit among them.
One cause of our moral weakness today is an inadequate Christology. We think of Christ as God but fail to conceive of Him as a man glorified. To recapture the power of the Early Church we must believe what they believed. And they believed they had a God-approved man representing them in heaven.
Man: The Dwelling Place of God
Those of the Kingdom of Heaven are everywhere and nowhere: their only conspicuousness is atmospheric; they are otherwise totally hidden. They do good deeds because the Christ within them does them; they feel embarrassed whenever the eyes of men see them. Their works are so synonymous with their enjoyment of abiding in Jesus that they’re surprised at the work their life accomplishes. Their only reward has been the good pleasure of His presence. And that has always been enough for them.
Those of the Kingdom of Heaven are constantly communicating with its King: they are thinking their best and highest thoughts directly to Him. They love to stand and pray, to sit and pray, to drive and pray, to rest and pray, to work and pray: they live in prayer. Their inner life is their cathedral: they meet together with Jesus in its sanctuary, its apses, its towers, its belfries. Unembarrassed, they acknowledge their reliance on His delight; they delight to talk to Him, to hear from Him, as such:
As their perfect Lord, their Heavenly Father, infinitely far removed in the splendors of the Throneroom, who is yet with them;
As the King of a Kingdom with verifiable work to do; whose will is the Father’s; whose climate is of Heaven;
As the Provider-God;
The One who perfectly modeled perfect, personal forgiveness;
As the Shepherd of His sheep; as the Protector from all evil; as the Lord of all Heaven, all power, all glory.
Those of the Kingdom of Heaven are happiest when hungriest: they are satisfied with a sating only offered to them by His hand. They find their joy in eating and drinking of Him. That is their secret. He has become their only diet. (from Mt. 6:1-13, 16-18)
12 Never forget your Savior in any day of your earthly life, for the days are His and of them is made a life which is meant to express His good pleasure; as the sun rises and sets, as the moon and stars shine in their nighttime courses, you are living out the hours in which to encounter Him, know Him, show Him to the world; when you cross your threshold—going out into the world, everywhere, as His personal envoy—your life is meant to sing of His life like a springtime bird sings its anthem. So be joyous that the Holy One has called you to His side, to His Way; has made His home within you; His Cross has freed you forever: you may move through life with head held high, peace and joy your reality, because all your life is on its way Home—death is nothing to you; the days are places of rich personal encounter with Him; He will provide for your needs; and, again, all of this can only end with you in His presence forever. Glorious meaning of all meanings! says this disciple; all in Jesus is glorious meaning!
I am a person just like you, seeking to learn from life, and have weighed, considered and tested many of the wisdoms that the world offers to man. I have tried its forms of delight, and sought to better myself with the “truths” it upholds as eternal; fixed.
The ways of the earth are like “shifting shadows,” like paths leading everywhere and yet nowhere; its wisdoms as diffuse as the sons of men. Brothers and sisters, there is only one Way. To know Jesus is an endless source of wonder, and everything you give in His direction is toward an infinite gain.
The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, life and life eternal: all of these are Jesus. Abide in Him and obey His voice, for this is the joy of His disciples. He Himself will show you how to follow Him—He will reveal His hidden wisdoms—for He is good.
10 Abundant joy makes the human heart open outward;
so a little of His joy in us must lead the way, always.
The wisdom of Jesus leads us along His Way;
the wisdom of man is nothing.
When we walk His Way in wisdom, we gain more,
and then may say to ourselves, “We lack for nothing.”
If the pleasure of the King is upon us, let us abide in Him,
for He promises to add blessing unto blessing.
There is a great glory that I have seen because of the Son, another triumph arising from this King of Kings: advancement is set in low, humble hearts, and the poor in spirit inherit the Kingdom alongside Him. Truly, I have seen the lowest raised up in Him, and the rulers of the ways of man quickly forgotten.
He who descended to us has also ascended,
and the serpent has been crushed under His feet forever.
He is shaping us as stones to be set in His Temple,
this glorious Cornerstone who holds all things together.
If we are weak, it is He Himself who strengthens us,
arming us with His own strength,
and the wisdom to carry it aright.
If the evil one attacks one of His chosen,
He gives every advantage, by His Spirit, to that chosen one.
The whisper of His lips is there within our inner ear;
we may cease to trust our own ruminations.
Today, we may begin—and end—with His words alone,
for His mercies are new; His words, fresh and alive.
Our wise King is clear of speech,
and though we oft’ are slow to hear, slow to understand,
He is forever faithful, speaking to us from the Throne of Heaven.
Our work for Him exalts our life’s meaning,
for it leads others, upward, toward the City of God.
Blessed are we, brothers and sisters, for our King is the Son of God,
and He has made us sons and daughters of God too!
Happy are we, brothers and sisters, because this King is our Friend,
and He invites us to the Family Table,
for daily communion: union with Himself!
Through abiding in Him the union ever grows;
each day may play its part in the growth.
He is the Bread of Life: our joy;
the New Wine: our Spirit,
our greatest riches: the Kingdom Himself.
Even as you fall asleep, bless the King of Kings;
in your rising, lift up His name;
for the Spirit that is in you is also in Him;
no blessing you speak of Him is ever lost, ever forgotten.
8 Who looks like Jesus?
He who interprets all his existence through Him.
Daily experience of Jesus alters the outward countenance,
and His wondrous joy becomes our inner and outer life.
I remind you: Follow our King’s words and Way, because of the New Covenant He has set with our Father. Be ever in His presence; never outside. Take the positions He Himself took in this world; never others. For the Way of our King is magnificent and unassailable, and none are those who can honestly say of it, “This is not the highest.” Each of us who keeps upon it, walking its straight narrowness, finds it daily to be life, and its footfalls to be the path unto wisdom and righteousness. For it is sweeping in its breadth of experience, because it is the living Way of a Man who Himself lived through all earthly trials. For He tasted every part of our existence; who can say that Jesus doesn’t understand us? No other has ever perfectly walked in obedience, guided perfectly by the Spirit of God, all the way to the point of dying a willed death. There was no shirking it: He died to free all people of their wickedness; to deliver mankind from the “vicious circle of sin and death.” (All this we know, of course, but what I’m endeavoring to do is draw these truths a little lower: all the way down from your head to your heart. I want to see you knowing these things, not knowing about them.)
Too, the Righteous One was buried for us. He who’d freely walked the earth, going in and out of towns, villages, synagogues, homes, was truly dead and gone. This was part of His most glorious glory. Because the sentence hanging over our heads—the penalty due for all who’d engaged in sin—involved our dying, He both died for us and was dead for us. And though a world of sinners continues on with their lives, we know the truth: it may be instantly well if they will only hear, turn, repent and believe. Yes, all mankind—from the saintliest earthly saint to the vilest wicked man or woman—is only a repentant half-turn away from the face of salvation. The Cross and Tomb are both right here: available.
This is the meaning of our heavenly-earthly lives upon this earth, that each of us is meant to live out His righteousness, in His love and mercy, so that all people, everywhere, can sense the goodness of His righteousness, love and mercy. I tell you, this is a wondrous purpose! And He has given us His own peace and joy, for all people need to see His heavenly attributes lived in regular human lives, just like ours. These attributes will always linger long after we leave them; His Way with them begins as they see Heaven’s ways right in their midst.
And as we give ourselves to knowing Jesus, and to carrying out His work upon the earth—hindered by nothing because He is limitlessly powerful—we will get to see the wonders of God in our day, and that there are no things impossible because of the Son and His Spirit. Indeed, the more we seek Him out, the more we find of Him. Even the simplest person can find untold riches of wisdom by simply seeking Jesus.
6 There is a joyous good that I have seen because of the Son, and it may be enjoyed by everyone: any man or woman to whom God gives Himself, so that they lack nothing, either spiritually or temporally, is also given the calling, and opportunity, to pass it on, even to a complete stranger. This is a marvelous thing for any disciple of His to do; it is a great miracle. If that man or woman lives seventy or eighty years, and continually shares the joy of Christ with others, just think of the brothers and sisters they will escort into the Kingdom of Heaven! What a joy! What purpose! For he or she “did not choose Jesus, but He chose them, and appointed them, that they might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” And here they are: knowing the Son themselves, finding rest in Him, and then extending the realm of the Kingdom during the span of their days. Even if their own life should be cut short, they may enjoy this glory today—changing the eternal life of another!
Every deed done for Jesus is of eternity; we may abide in Him, seek His Way, and always find our daily meaning. Every spiritual and earthly joy is already ours in Him! Whether rich or poor, the rule of life—the Way—is the same. So, how much better to fix our eyes upon the things that interested Him, to follow in His footsteps, than to give ourselves to the passing fancies of a dying age. We know the One on the other side of reality!
Indeed, He knows our every breath, He has numbered the hairs on our head, He has counted the course of our days; He knows exactly what we are—and loves us yet. The more of Him we receive, the greater glory; the higher advantage. For He knows precisely what is good for each one of us, having Himself lived this human life: He will teach us to live our lives like He did. Under the Son, we may rise to each new day and live it to the full.