God's Centre of Universal Blessing

(John 12).

Although the Son of God has been refused His rightful place by the world, the Father has given all things into His hand, and it is His good pleasure to make Him the centre of every circle in the vast universe of bliss: and our hearts rejoice in the Father's good pleasure regarding His beloved Son. When the Son was here, the Father was drawing men to Him, and this great work still goes on; but it is as lifted up that all is drawn to the Son of Man, God's centre of the universe. From John 12, where we read of the Lord Jesus thus we learn who are drawn to the divine centre, and how they are drawn.

The Lord was on His way to the cross to die: only a few days remained until the passover feast at Jerusalem, and Martha, Mary, and Lazarus made Him a supper. This family had known the Lord Jesus; each one was loved by Him, and His love had captivated each of their hearts. But death had entered their circle, and it was through death that they had learned the blessed Lord in a way they had not known Him before. His love had been deeply realised in His sympathy with them in their sorrow, for "Jesus wept;" but His divine power had been felt and known in the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. He had truly manifested Himself to be the Son of God with power, the Resurrection and the Life.

Here then we find a favoured circle, drawn to the Son of God, as knowing His love and His power. Martha's response to Him is in devoted service, not the service now that is occupied with itself, but which in true affection is lavished upon its object. Martha had formerly believed Him to be "The Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world," but now she knows Him to be the One who has power over death. How blessed indeed for Martha, or for any saint of God to be engaged in service, divine service, which has the Son of God Himself for its only object.

Lazarus is privileged to sit down at the table with Jesus, in sweet and favoured communion with Him who raises and quickens the dead. Does not this beautiful incident teach us that the Son of God acts in mighty power that He might bring us into the circle where our souls can delight in communion with Him? Later on, He tells Peter that His washing of the disciples feet had in view their having part with Him. Our communion with the Lord in the Father's house will be for endless delight and joy, but part with Him now in His own things before the Father is what the Lord would have every saint enjoy.

If Martha is engaged in serving the Lord, and Lazarus is enjoying communion with Him, Mary is occupied in worship; her heart filled with the glory of Christ's Person. The pure nard is of great price, telling that Mary values Him beyond, the most precious thing down here: the Son of God has His true place in her heart, and none other but Himself fills her vision and her thoughts. It is therefore no wonder that the whole company benefits from Mary's precious act: the whole house is filled with the odour of the ointment.

No doubt this first circle gives us a little picture of the Christian company, which is even now privileged to serve the Lord, to commune with Him, and to worship Him, as knowing Him in His glory as Son of God. But in verse 12 we see another circle: a great crowd that comes to the feast; and having heard that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem, they took palm branches, and went out to meet Him, and cried, "Hosanna, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel." Is not this a picture of the coming day when Israel will rejoice in celebrating the return of the Lord Jesus as their King? When He first came, He was refused as the Messiah, but Isaiah 25:9 clearly shows that He will yet be received: "And it shall be said in that day, Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is Jehovah, we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

In answer to their Hosannas, the Lord shows Himself to be their promised King, according to the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, for "when He had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt." But the prophecy was not fully fulfilled then: it awaits the glorious day, of which we have spoken. In but a few days Israel cried "Away with Him;" and the solemn judgment merited by them has since fallen upon the guilty nation. Nevertheless, all the prophecies of old, which speak of Israel's blessing under the hand of their King, shall find an actual and blessed answer, when the Lord returns to take the kingdom, and bring in peace, prosperity, and joy to His ancient people.

If Zechariah 9:9 foretells Israel's blessing under their King, the following verse gives Him a wider domain: "And He shall speak peace unto the nations; and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." It is no wonder then that the Greeks desire to see Jesus, for the picture of Zechariah 9 could not be complete without the Gentiles. How refreshing to the soul to look on to the day when the Nations are blessed, "A great crowd, which no one could number, out of every nation and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing … before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palm branches in their hands" (Rev. 7:9). If Israel have the palm branches in John 12, the Gentiles have them in Rev. 7. These are blessed as having "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

When Andrew and Philip come to tell Jesus of the desire of the Greeks, He speaks of Himself as Son of Man, saying, "The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified." It is as Son of Man that the Lord Jesus will take up the reins of universal government, and bring blessing to the Nations. But before the Christian company can be associated with Him, He must die, for their association with Him is on the risen side of death. Before poor Israel can be blessed, the blood of the New Covenant must be shed. Before the Gentiles can wash their robes and make them white, the blood of the Lamb must be poured out. Death therefore comes before the Lord: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit" So that we see that all is accomplished through His death and resurrection.

The thought of the cross brought trouble to the soul of Jesus, but He would not say, "Father, save me from this hour;" His word to the Father was "Father, glorify Thy Name." What a blessed answer came from the Father, "I both have glorified and will glorify it again!" The Father's Name had been glorified in His pathway: it would be glorified in His death. It will be glorified too as a result of the cross: in every company being drawn to the Son, even as He said, "And I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me."

The Son will fill every sphere, and His praise will fill every part of the vast universe of bliss.
J. Muckle.
"Praise the Lamb," the chorus waking,
All in heaven together throng:
Loud and far each tongue partaking
Rolls around the endless song."

God's Righteous Grace.

If a sinner was to be saved for eternity — if the grace of God was to make a righteous basis for justifying the ungodly, Jesus the Son of Man, must be delivered into the hands of man; and then an infinitely fiercer fire must burn — the divine judgment, when God made Him sin for us; for all that man, Satan, even God Himself could do, comes upon Him to the utmost.
W. Kelly.

A Prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, invigorate our poor cold hearts to sound forth the eternal honours of thine adorable Name; and may our lives be more and more the decided evidence of our hearts-love to thee, for "Thou alone art worthy."
C. H. Mackintosh.