This scripture, as the reader will perceive, is cited from Psalm 69, where we read, "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me." (vv. 8, 9.) Tracing out its meaning, both in the psalm, and also in the gospel, we learn, first, that our blessed Lord was so devoted to the glory of God, in the interests of His house, that it lifted Him above every natural claim that might have been alleged against Him. Hence it was that, when Mary, finding Him in the temple, said, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing," He replied, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:48, 49.) The claim of the Father, whose will He had come to do, was absolute in His soul, excluding every other claim, and in the constant acknowledgment of this He found His incessant delight. It was His daily food. (Ps. 40:8; John 4:34.) This led, secondly, to His complete identification with God and His interests on the earth, so that He felt everything according to God, and for God. He thus said, "The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me." He received everything, not as it related to Himself, but as it affected God and His glory. A reproach uttered against God wounded His heart, because He was here not for Himself, but for God. What might be said against Him could be borne, but a reproach against God was to Him an intolerable sorrow. How little do we know, as being here for Christ, what it is to be more wounded by any dishonour done to the name of Christ than by a wrong done to ourselves! This indeed could only be when we have lost sight of ourselves in His interests; when the aim and object of all we are and do, as well as the motive, is Christ. (Compare Phil. 1:12-26.) Coming now to John's gospel, we find that, under the constraint of His consuming zeal, our Lord was intolerant of any corruption in His Father's house. Thus it was that He purged the temple when He went up to Jerusalem at this feast of the passover. And what were the evils that evoked this display of His zeal? He found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. All this had commenced for the convenience of the people. It was easier to buy an animal for sacrifice on the spot than to bring one up to Jerusalem, and it saved much trouble to be able to purchase the sacred shekel when it was wanted; and in this way a regular traffic had sprung up within the holy precincts of the temple buildings. In other words, man's convenience had shut out all thought of what was due to God, and in this way man had usurped the place of God. Is there no warning voice in all this for the present day? Do not the convenience of the saints and other things often set aside the Lord's authority as Son over the house of God? The antidote to all corruption in the assembly is this self-same consuming zeal which animated our blessed Lord - a zeal which will be always directed to the maintenance of. His rights and the holiness of the house of God. (Compare Ps. 101.)
Three distinct periods are embraced in these few verses. The first (vv. 20, 21) is that of the Church from Pentecost until the Lord's return; and the prayer of our Lord is, that all His people might be one; "as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us;" and He desires this exhibition of oneness as a. testimony to the world; nay, as a means of convincing the world that the Father had sent Him. The second period is that of the display of the saints in glory with Christ, sharing with Him, by His grace, the glory which the Father had given Him, "that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one;" and thus to certify to the world, as they behold this wondrous display, that the Father had sent the Son, and that He had loved the saints, whom the world had despised, in the same way as He had loved the Son when He was upon the earth. We know this now; and the world will know it when the Lord Jesus comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that have believed. (2 Thess. 1.) The twenty-fourth verse embraces eternity; and what a precious unfolding of grace and truth it contains! The saints have been given to Christ by the Father; the Lord wills that they shall be with Him where He is, that they may behold His glory - the glory given to Him of the Father (see v. 5), because He had been the object of the Father's heart from all eternity. What blessed fields of meditation! And what an anticipation of eternity is permitted us as we traverse them with reverent adoration! And what abounding grace that has admitted us to listen to these intimate communings of the Son with the Father! E. D.
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Position without power, principles beyond practice, jealousy about orthodoxy and truth and mysteries, with little personal communion with the Lord - all these the soul stands in constant fear of, and in equal judgment and refusal.
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Truth does not become ours until we act upon it.