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BOOK: The Deeper Christian Life by Andrew Murray
VI. THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST – Part I
“But straightway Jesus spake unto them saying, Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.”– Matt. 14:27.
All we have had about the work of the blessed Spirit is dependent upon what we think of Jesus, for it is from Christ Jesus that the Spirit comes to us; it is to Christ Jesus that the Spirit ever brings us; and the one need of the Christian life day by day and hour by hour is this, –the presence of the Son of God. God is our salvation. If I have Christ with me and Christ in me, I have full salvation. We have spoken about the life of failure and of the flesh, about the life of unbelief and disobedience, about the life of ups and downs, the wilderness life of sadness and of sorrow; but we have heard, and we have believed, there is deliverance. Bless God, He brought us out of Egypt, that He might bring us into Canaan, into the very rest of God and Jesus Christ. He is our peace, He is our rest. Oh, if I may only have the presence of Jesus as the victory over every sin: the presence of Jesus as the strength for every duty, then my life shall be in the full sunshine of God’s unbroken fellowship, and the word will be fulfilled to me in most blessed experience, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all I have is thine,” and my heart shall answer, “Father, I never knew it, but it is true, –I am ever with thee and all Thou hast is mine.” God has given all He has to Christ, and God longs that Christ should have you and me entirely. I come to every hungry heart and say, “If you want to live to the glory of God, seek one thing, to claim, to believe that the presence of Jesus can be with you every moment of your life.”
I want to speak about the presence of Jesus, as it is set before us in that blessed story of Christ’s walking on the sea. Come and look with me at some points that are suggested to us.
1. Think, first, of the presence of Christ lost. You know the disciples loved Christ, clung to Him, and with all their failings, they delighted in Him. But what happened? The Master went up into the mountain to pray, and sent them across the sea all alone without Him; there came a storm, and they toiled, rowed, and laboured, but the wind was against them, they made no progress, they were in danger of perishing, and how their hearts said, “Oh, if the Master only were here!” But His presence was gone. They missed Him. Once before, they had been in a storm, and Christ had said, “Peace, be still,” and all was well; but here they are in darkness, danger, and terrible trouble, and no Christ to help them. Ah, isn’t that the life of many a believer at times? I get into darkness, I have committed sin, the cloud is on me, I miss the face of Jesus; and for days and days I work, worry, and labour; but it is all in vain, for I miss the presence of Christ. Oh, beloved, let us write that down, –the presence of Jesus lost is the cause of all our wretchedness and failure.
2. Look at the second step, –the presence of Jesus dreaded. They were longing for the presence of Christ, and Christ came after midnight: He came walking on the water amid the waves; but they didn’t recognize Him, and they cried out, for fear, “It is a spirit!” Their beloved Lord was coming nigh, and they knew Him not. They dreaded His approach. And, ah, how often have I seen a believer dreading the approach of Christ, –crying out for Him, longing for Him, and yet dreading His coming. And why? Because Christ came in a fashion that they expected not.
Perhaps some have been saying, “Alas, alas! I fear I never can have the abiding presence of Christ.” You have heard what we have said about a life in the Spirit: you have heard what we have said about abiding ever in the presence of God and in His fellowship, and you have been afraid of it, afraid of it; and you have said, “It is too high and too difficult.” You have dreaded the very teaching that was going to help you. Jesus came to you in the teaching, and you didn’t recognize His love.
Or, perhaps, He came in a way that you dreaded His presence. Perhaps God has been speaking to you about some sin. There is that sin of temper, or that sin of unlovingness, or that sin of unforgivingness, or that sin of worldliness, compromise, and fellowship with the world, that love of man and man’s honour, that fear of man and man’s opinion, or that pride and self confidence. God has been speaking to you about it, and yet you have been frightened. That was Jesus wanting to draw you nigh, but you were afraid. You don’t see how you can give up all that, you are not ready to say, “At any sacrifice I am going to have that taken out of me, and I will give it up,” and while God and Christ were coming nigh to bless you, you were afraid of Him.
Oh, believers, at other times Christ has come to you with affliction, and perhaps you have said, “If I want to be entirely holy, I know I shall have to be afflicted, and I am afraid of affliction,” and you have dreaded the thought, “Christ may come to me in affliction.” The presence of Christ dreaded! –Oh, beloved, I want to tell you it is all misconception. The disciples had no reason to dread that “spirit” coming there, for it was Christ Himself; and, when God’s word comes close to you and touches your heart, remember that is Christ out of Whose mouth goes the two-edged sword. It is Christ in His love coming to cut away the sin, that He may fill your heart with the blessing of God’s love. Beware of dreading the presence of Christ.
3. Then comes the third thought, –the presence of Christ revealed. Bless God! When Christ heard how they cried, he spoke the words of the text, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Ah, what gladness those words brought to those hearts! There is Jesus, that dark object appears, that dreaded form. It is our blessed Lord Himself. And, dear friends, the Master’s object, whether it be by affliction or otherwise, is to prepare for receiving the presence of Christ, and through it all Jesus speaks, “It is I; be not afraid.” The presence of Christ revealed! I want to tell you that the Son of God, oh believer, is longing to reveal Himself to you. Listen! Listen! LISTEN! Is there any longing heart? Jesus says, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
Oh, beloved; God has given us Christ. And does God want me to have Christ every moment? Without doubt, God wants the presence of Christ to be the joy of every hour of my life, and, if there is one thing sure, Christ can reveal Himself to me every moment. Are you willing to come and claim this privilege? He can reveal Himself. I cannot reveal Him to you; you cannot grasp Him; but He can shine into your heart. How can I see the sunlight tomorrow morning, if I am spared? The sunlight will reveal itself. How can I know Christ? Christ can reveal Himself. And, ere I go further, I pray you to set your heart upon this, and to offer the humble prayer, “Lord, now reveal Thyself to me, so, that I may never lose the sight of Thee. Give me to understand that through the thick darkness Thou comest to make Thyself known.” Let not one heart doubt, however dark it may be, –at midnight,–whatever midnight there be in the soul,–at midnight, in the dark, Christ can reveal Himself. Ah, thank God, often after a life of ten and twenty years of dawn, after a life of ten and twenty years of struggling, now in the light, and now in the dark, there comes a time when Jesus is willing just to give Himself to us, nevermore to part. God grant us that presence of Jesus!
4. And now comes the fourth thought, –The presence of Jesus lost, was the first; the presence of Jesus dreaded, was the second; the presence of Jesus revealed, was the third; the presence of Jesus desired, is the fourth. What happened? Peter heard the Lord, and yonder was Jesus, some 30, 40, 50 yards distant, and He made as though He would have passed them; and Peter, –in a preceding chapter I spoke about Peter, shewing what terrible failure and carnality there was in him, –but, bless the Lord, Peter’s heart was right with Christ, and he wanted to claim His presence, and he said, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come upon the water to Thee.” Yes, Peter could not rest; he wanted to be as near to Christ as possible. He saw Christ walking on the water; he remembered Christ had said, “Follow Me;” he remembered how Christ, with the miraculous draught of fishes, had proved that He was Master of the sea, and of the waters, and he remembered how Christ had stilled the storm; and, without argument or reflection, all at once he said, “There is my Lord manifesting Himself in a new way; there is my Lord exercising a new and supernatural power, and I can go to my Lord, He is able to make me walk where He walks.” He wanted to walk like Christ; he wanted to walk near Christ. He didn’t say, “Lord, let me walk around the sea here,” but he said, “Lord, let me come to Thee.”
Next week: VI. The Presence of Christ II