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VOL. XXIX APRIL 1. No. 7
A.D. 1908—A.M. 6036
Views from the Watch Tower…………………… 99
Faced by a Social Crisis…………………. 99
Demonism Attributed to Superstition……….. 99
Are Not Anarchists Demented?………………100
Was It Not Necessary?………………………..100
„I Go that I May Awake Him”…………………..102
„Friends Sorrowing and Jesus Glad”…………103
„Thy Brother Shall Live Again”…………….104
Jesus Anointed at Bethany…………………….106
Love Begins at Home………………………108
„Humble Yourselves, Therefore”………………..109
Self-Seeking a Mistake……………………109
Humility Despised by the Wrong-Headed………110
Berean Studies on the Atonement……………….111
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FOR TRACT DISTRIBUTION we always recommend the January issue of the „Old Theology Quarterly.” Thus the same matter is being circulated everywhere. We still advise that the distribution be from house to house except where Catholics or Jews are predominant. The tracts are „nested”—four different kinds folded together—so that when they are unfolded in a home several persons may be served and exchange with each other; and one of the four tracts is pretty sure to interest some one. We have orders with the printers for over 4,000,000 of these quadruple tracts and some of them are already being shipped. Order all you can and will use wisely as free samples. We prepay freight charges. Remember to co-operate with other WATCH TOWER readers in regard to this work. Confer, lay out the territory and order together, stating population you can serve as well as quantity desired.
DISCIPLES AND BAPTISTS
We desire the co-operation of such of the friends as live in cities and towns where „Baptists” and „Disciples” reside. If you are willing to assist address us so stating, and reporting how many of their churches are in your town and the attendance at each, as well as the number who would co-operate with you in the service. „He that reapeth receiveth wages.”
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We have some Polish literature for those who desire to serve the Polish of their vicinity. Write us, saying how many of these churches you could serve and the attendance at each.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
FACED BY A SOCIAL CRISIS
REV. WASHINGTON GLADDEN, D.D. (Congregationalist), expressed himself as follows a little time ago:—
„It is idle, it is fatuous to hide from ourselves the fact that we are facing here in the United States of America a social crisis. The forces which are at work mean destruction.
„The swollen fortunes that many are gloating over are symptoms of disease. They are not the reward of social service, they are the fruit of plunder. We have made them possible only by permitting the gate of opportunity to be made narrower and the burden of toil more unrequiting for millions of people. They exist only by our acts. A society which tolerates such conditions cannot live.
„It is because we have begun to have some dim conception of this truth that we are moving now toward the correction by law of these great injustices. We must exterminate them; that is the fight in which there must be no faltering. If we would not be destroyed we must destroy the destroyer. This is the truth which our brave President, by word and deed, is always enforcing upon us, and he is entirely and everlastingly right about it.
„What has the Christian Church been doing while the powers of piracy and plunder have been gathering their forces and spreading their net and heaping up their spoils? Where was the Christian Church when the grafters were ravaging the cities, and the rebaters and the frenzied financiers and the insurance sharks were getting in their work? For the most part she has been standing by and looking on, winking her eyes and twiddling her thumbs, and wondering whether she had any call to interfere. Indeed she has gathered into her communion many of the most conspicuous of the perpetrators of the injustices—they are nearly all church members—and has made herself a pensioner upon their bounty, and has been content with preaching to them the simple gospel that such men always love to hear.
„The fact is plainly apparent that the Church has lost its grip on the world, and she is not going to regain it until she finds out what is her real business in the world. Let her address herself to that with faith and courage and she will soon find her resources returning.”
DEMONISM ATTRIBUTED TO SUPERSTITION
We must not blame intelligent people for considering witchcraft, spiritism, clairaudience and clairvoyance to be merely products of superstition and imagination. We, too, would have been so inclined but for the Word of God on the subject and various corroborating experiences. And herein lies a part of the danger. When the unbelieving are suddenly made aware that there is really an intelligent occult influence at work, they are amazed that they have been favored to have demonstrations of and to appreciate a truth of which so few know. They delve into its mysteries as they would not have done had they not previously considered it all a fake—especially if the proofs reach them along innocent, amusing or ludicrous lines. Note the testimony of our home city, which is doubtless paralleled in other cities. The extract is from The Pittsburg Post:
A WAVE OF SUPERSTITION
Superintendent Bell, of the Humane Society, made the startling statement that he is daily besieged with requests to arrest and punish supposed sorcerers who have cast „spells” about their victims and are driving them to the verge of lunacy.
It is to be expected that with such a great cosmopolitan population as Allegheny enjoys, superstitions transplanted from faraway lands would flourish among the foreign and negro elements. The negro and Latin races will probably always be inclined to superstition. Traces of the doctrines of the voodoos or witch-doctors of Africa, the legends and folklore of Europe and the fantastic superstitions of the Orient are to be found within the very shadows of our churches and in the midst of our civilization. Even educated Italians are to be found who believe profoundly in the influence of the „evil-eye,” and almost every race has its pet superstition, but it is neither the negroes nor foreign classes who have alarmed the officials by appealing from the evils of superstition, as the many cases which have been brought to the attention of Superintendent Bell are almost without exception native-born white persons.
Mr. Bell said:
„It seems almost ridiculous to talk of persons being literally ruined by ‚hoodoos’ and evil ‚spells’ cast upon them by mysterious conjurers in these enlightened times, and if I had not the evidence of my own eyes I would doubt the truth of many of the cases which are to be found upon our records. Never before in my long experience in the Humane Society have I known evil superstition to be so prevalent and to have
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such alarming results. The epidemic is growing worse every day and it is time for some radical action to be taken.
„One of the first cases called to my attention seemed to me to be particularly distressing, as I had known the victim of the delusion before she came under the ‚influence’ of some alleged evil spirit. An attractive young woman and exceedingly capable stenographer who had been employed for years by a well-known alderman came to me and told me that she had been forced to give up her employment, as she could not work on account of a ‚spell’ having been cast upon her; she said that voices came to her while she was at work, calling upon her to ‚come, come, come,’ and whispering strange things in her ears, driving her to distraction.
„I laughed at the girl when she asked me to stop the people who were hounding her, but she came back again and again, and as she seemed to be a nervous and mental wreck from harping on the one subject and brooding over the ever-present spirit voices, I resolved to investigate the case and if possible arrest and make an example of the person who had so worked upon her mind as to wreck her life. She said that she had been to spiritualistic circles and a certain medium had cast the spell upon her. My investigation secured no evidence, as every person she mentioned professed entire ignorance of the matter.
PUZZLING CASES COME TO LIGHT
„The affair puzzled me, as I saw that the girl was really seriously affected by the delusions. She was unable to keep any position, not even where only the simplest housework was involved, and she is today sinking lower and lower in the social scale. Other cases which have been brought to my notice in great numbers during the past few months are just as puzzling. Although such investigations are really outside of my jurisdiction, I am willing to make every effort to have a test case of the prosecution of the persons responsible for this deplorable condition of affairs if I can secure the evidence. Positive proof must be secured, however, that some person is responsible for the wrecking of a life in this manner. An attempt to try a case with little evidence would only result in failure, as such a case is sure to seem ridiculous to the skeptical. In no one of the many cases has such evidence been produced, but still the victims come with their complaints, and they are increasing in number every day.
„Not only women, but men come to me, and one and all complain of being mesmerized, hypnotized or enchanted in some manner by persons who wish to persecute them.
„Just last week a nice little woman and her husband came to me and asked that I stop the people who had cast a spell over them and were hounding them to death by sending spirits constantly about with them wherever they went. The man was a big, husky fellow, and I inquired particularly if he drank. I thought it might be some other kind of spirits which was annoying him, but they stuck to their story and seemed to believe firmly in the delusion.
„Persons of all walks of life are among the complainants,
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but the majority of them have been attending spiritualistic circles and associating with mediums before the ‚voices’ begin to bother them. One man who was a solicitor was forced to give up his work, as a ‚voice’ constantly whispered to him, and it apparently was not the ‚still, small voice’ of his conscience.
„Probably the saddest of these cases which I have had called to my attention was that of a young girl whom I had aided years ago when she came under my jurisdiction. She was a healthy, strong girl then, but when she came to my office the other day she was a physical wreck, nervous, shivering, with fear depicted in her every expression. I was told by the people whose home she was leaving that they did not care to have her there any longer, as she imagined that someone was talking to her all the time. In her tearful story she told me the ‚voices’ never leave her.”
ARE NOT ANARCHISTS DEMENTED?
The most charitable view of the following news item from the public press is to suppose the writer and his friends demented. Of foreign birth, born under unfavorable conditions, their minds seem to be poisoned. And yet many Socialists feel aggrieved when we point out that the end of Socialism will be anarchy! Unsuccess, want and hopeless despair will eventually produce just such dementia in very many. The item reads:
Court action will probably follow the publication of a „call to arms” printed in LaQuestion Sociale, the leading organ of the anarchists in Paterson, N.J., and given wide circulation. The attention of Prosecutor Emly has been called to the article and he said today that he is looking up the law to see if legal steps can be taken against the editors because of the publication.
Among other things the article says:
„We invite everybody to get together and arm themselves. Seventy-five per cent. have only a knife in the house which will cut only onions. It will be a good thing for everybody to have a gun. When we are ready the first thing to do is to break into the armory and seize rifles and ammunition. The next thing is to get help of the police station and then the chief of police will ask for soldiers.
„Even at that the dynamite is easy to get. Twenty-five cents worth will blow a big iron door down. We don’t want to forget that dynamite will help to win. Two or three of us can defy a regiment without war. We will start when no one is thinking anything about it. Then we can beat them man for man.
„At that time show no sympathy for soldiers. As soon as we get hold of the police-station it is our victory. The thing is to kill the entire force. If not, they will kill us.”
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WAS IT NOT NECESSARY?
„And he said to them, O thoughtless and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things, and to enter his glory? And beginning at Moses and through all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”—Luke 24:25-27—Diaglott
THE OCCASION of this utterance will be remembered: our Lord thus addressed two of his disciples on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus after his resurrection. They were discussing the strange and wonderful event of the few days previous, when a stranger suddenly drew near and, walking with them, said, „What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another as ye walk and are sad?” And, not recognizing the stranger as the Lord himself, one of them said, „Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” And he said unto them, „What things?” And they said unto him, „Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers
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delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women, also of our company, made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre, and when they found not his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. And some of those with us went to the sepulchre and found it even as the women had said; but him they saw not.”
Then follow our Lord’s words, „O thoughtless and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things, and to enter his glory?” The necessity of those things was the great lesson which he endeavored to impart to these confused and bewildered but earnest disciples.
From the standpoint of Christians today, the necessity of those things is much more easily discerned than from the standpoint of the early disciples in close proximity to those marvelous events. But, nevertheless, there are some now who thoughtlessly stumble into very erroneous conclusions, drawn from a reckless and heedless interpretation of the Master’s plain teaching. They say, Yes, it was necessary for Christ to suffer because the path of suffering is the only path to glory. Christ had to suffer and so all must suffer; and the glory will follow as a natural consequence, as these words of the Lord teach. This is a very plausible argument to many who lean too much to their own understanding. A more reflective mind would say, No, that is not sound logic; for the glory of Jehovah was not attained through suffering; neither was that of the angels, nor of the Son of God in his pre-human existence. And a more attentive mind would say, No, that was not the ground of necessity for his sufferings to which the Lord referred; for he called attention to the divinely inspired prophecies which of necessity must be thus fulfilled; that the suffering was necessary, because it was a feature of Jehovah’s plan for human redemption, and was so expressed by the prophets; and we know that unless it were a feature of that plan, Jehovah would not have required it. The Apostle Paul tells why it was necessary to the plan, saying that it was in order to manifest Jehovah’s righteousness in remitting the sins of the already condemned world, showing that he is just, and yet the justifier of the condemned ones who believe in Jesus, whom God sent forth to be a propitiation, a satisfaction, a substitute for them—who also freely gave his life as a man, his humanity, a ransom for the many—for the numerous posterity of Adam who had inherited his sin and condemnation.—Rom. 3:26.
Hear again the significant query of the Master, „Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things?” The query is designed to awaken the thoughtless to a close observance of the justice and wisdom of Jehovah’s course in this matter. Suppose for a moment that God had promised mankind salvation from death without this, which our Lord terms a „necessary” provision, what would have been the result? Thoughtful minds will at once see that such a course would have proved: (1) That God is a changeable God, declaring at one time that the wages of sin is death, and afterwards reversing his decision and granting life to the condemned; (2) That either in the first or in the second case he was unjust—either that the penalty of death was too severe and, therefore, unjust, or else, if it were not unjust but a righteous penalty, that he was unjust in reversing such a righteous decision; (3) Such a variable course would unsettle all confidence in God. We would be led to question continually his righteousness and wisdom, and could never feel assured against a sudden and unaccountable change of his attitude and dealing toward us. If he promised us life and happiness today, we could not know that tomorrow he would not take back his word and consign us to misery or death.
Such would have been our sad condition had not this necessity to which our Lord referred been fully met by the sufferings, even unto death, of „the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all,” in compliance with the wise and just plan of God for human redemption. (I Tim. 2:6.) By this means mankind is justly released from the just penalty which God pronounced against us; for a loving, benevolent Redeemer took our human nature and then sacrificed it in our behalf—thus bearing, in our stead, the exact penalty due to Adam and inherited from him by all his posterity. Thus our debt was paid, and all who have faith to believe in the promise of life through Christ are now legally free from the condemnation under which they were born, though the appointed time for their actual release has not yet come. They hold in their possession a promissory note—the sure covenant of Jehovah—sealed with the precious blood of Christ, and payable at the „time appointed,” the Millennial Age. Thus they are free men in Christ; they are saved by faith, though they still „walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” And, comforted by the rod of divine discipline and the staff of divine counsel and favor, they fear no evil, knowing that in due time the promise of everlasting life shall be fully verified to them.
But there was another feature of necessity in the divine plan, to which our Lord referred—”Was it not necessary” also „for the Messiah to enter his glory?” The question is to you and to me, as well as to those early disciples; and the fact of its being propounded implies our ability to discern the necessity. Yes, it was necessary. Why? Because we needed, not only a redeemer to assume and cancel our past indebtedness, but also an able teacher and leader—a prophet and king—to break the fetters of sin and death and lead us out of our bondage. If the promise of life and liberty were given alone, without such help, we would still be in the same sad state; for the prison-doors of death are strong and securely barred and bolted, and we cannot burst them open; and the fetters of sin and sickness, of mental, moral and physical imbecility, are firmly clasped about us, and we have not the power to shake them off. And so we feel the necessity of a mighty deliverer, as well as of a loving redeemer. And, thank God, in his only begotten and well beloved Son we have both. He is our Deliverer, as well as our Redeemer, our Saviour, our Prophet, our Priest, and our King—strong to deliver and mighty to save; for though as a man he sacrificed all that he then had—his humanity—even unto death, God, accepting that sacrificed
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humanity as the price of our redemption, renewed his existence in a higher nature—even in his own divine likeness. And thus this second necessity of the divine plan is met in the provision of one who has „all power in heaven and in earth given unto him,” and who is therefore abundantly able, not only to awaken the redeemed race from the silence of death, but also to establish fully all of those who desire and will accept of his favor in everlasting righteousness and consequent worthiness of eternal life. Thus, through the blessings of his kingly and priestly office, he will, in due time, present all the willing and obedient faultless before the presence of Jehovah’s majesty, to receive his benediction and to enter fully into the eternal joys of his loving favor. „In his presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand [in his favor] there are pleasures forevermore.”—Psa. 16:11.
Consider, then, oh thoughtless ones, how necessary it was that the Messiah should both suffer death, and also enter his glory. Both the humiliation and the exaltation meet our necessities in such a marvelous way that we clearly recognize the fact that only divine wisdom and love and benevolence and grace could have planned the wondrous scheme. „Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Not only was the death and resurrection and exaltation of Christ thus necessary to God’s plan of salvation as viewed from a philosophical standpoint, which the Lord would have us thoughtful enough to observe, but as viewed from the standpoint of prophecy the necessity is also clear; and we should not be slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.
Beginning at Moses, the Lord traced this line of prophesy for the two with whom he conversed, showing how it had been fulfilled in himself; and though his words are not recorded, we still have Moses and the prophets and can read them for ourselves. Moses said to Israel, „The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken.” (Deut. 18:15.) And here, in the risen Christ, was the beginning of the fulfilment of that promise. Moses had also in the typical ceremonies of the Day of Atonement prefigured both the sacrificial sufferings and the subsequent glory of Christ. The sacrifice of the bullock (Lev. 16:11) prefigured the former, and Aaron—in his robes of typical glory and beauty coming out of the tabernacle after the sacrifice had been accomplished and the blood presented in the „Most Holy” as a typical propitiation for the sins of Israel, and lifting up his hands and blessing the people, who until then were lying prostrate on the ground to represent the whole human race in death—prefigured the resurrection glory of Christ and his coming out of the Most Holy presence of Jehovah to bless the whole world in the Millennial Age. (See „Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices.”) Was it not indeed necessary to the fulfilment of these divinely instituted types, says our Lord, for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter his glory?
Again, Moses testifies of Christ in recording the incidents of the typical sacrifice of Isaac by his father, Abraham, who received him again from the dead in a figure (Gen. 22:1-18; Heb. 11:19), thus prefiguring Jehovah’s offering of his only begotten Son and receiving him again from the dead.
Again, there were all those prophecies which so particularly described the circumstances of his death—”He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth;” „He made his grave with the wicked (the sinful human race), and with the rich (in the tomb of the rich man, Joseph of Arimathea—Matt. 27:57-60), in his death” (Isa. 53:7,9); „He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken” (Psa. 34:20); „Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol, the grave), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psa. 16:10); „They pierced my hands and my feet;” „They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture;” „They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psa. 22:16,18; 69:21.) How minutely all of these have been fulfilled!
And Isaiah (53:5) said, „He was wounded [not for his own, but] for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” And Daniel (9:26) said, „Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself.” And Zechariah (13:1) said, „There shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.” Then they told of his glorious reign, saying, „When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, … the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand,” „He will swallow up death in victory.”—Isa. 53:10; 25:8.
Yes, it was necessary to the fulfilment of all these prophecies that Christ should both suffer death and that he should also enter his glory; and in these blessed facts all thoughtful believers may rejoice. A little while and all the faithful, as members of his Body, shall have filled up the measure of his sufferings and shall enter his glory. Then shortly his glory will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.—Isa. 40:5.
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„I GO THAT I MAY AWAKE HIM”
—JOHN 11:1-57—APRIL 12—
Golden Text:—”I am the resurrection and the life.”—V. 25
TOWARD the conclusion of our Lord’s ministry the opposition of the rulers of the Jewish Church became very bitter, causing Jesus to leave Judea for Berea. He remained for some little time near the place where John was preaching at the time of his own baptism. It was while he was there that word was received from Martha and Mary at Bethany, saying, „Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick.” From this we know that Lazarus, their younger brother, was a very dear friend of Jesus. The message was brief; it did not urge him to come nor ask a miraculous intervention; it merely stated the fact.
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In some respects it was a grand model of a Christian prayer. The Lord’s people may always go to him with full confidence in his sympathy and loving interest in all of their affairs, temporal and spiritual. At first they may feel disposed to ask that their own wills be done on earth if not in heaven, but subsequently, if their spirit of consecration and growth in grace continue, they should reach the place where, like Mary and Martha, they would be content to state their troubles to the Lord and wait for him, thankfully accepting as wisest and best whatever he may be pleased to grant.
Then Jesus said, doubtless in the hearing of the messenger that he might report the same, „This sickness is not unto death, but that the Son of God may be glorified thereby.” We are not to suppose that our Lord was mistaken, that he expected that Lazarus would not die, rather that the result would not be continuous death, knowing that he would awaken him. When, two days later, Jesus proposed returning to Bethany in Judea, and the disciples were fearful, our Lord indicated to them that there would be no particular danger. He foreknew all the circumstances and perceived that the miracle he intended to perform would disconcert his enemies long enough to permit of his return to Berea a little later. He explained to them the reason for the visit saying, „Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.” Later he brought this statement down to their comprehension by saying to them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
There is so much in the view point on every subject. From the standpoint of actual fact, barring the divine purpose of mercy and resuscitation, it would have been proper to speak of Lazarus as being dead in the same sense as we would speak of a brute as being dead. But from the standpoint of faith in God and in the promise made to Abraham, that in his Seed all the families of the earth should be blessed—from this standpoint Lazarus was not dead as a brute beast, but was merely inanimate for a time, awaiting the Lord’s due time to call him forth, to re-animate him, to awaken him from the sleep of death. Our Lord stated this on another occasion to the Sadducees, who denied a future life, denied a resurrection, saying, „That the dead are to be raised, Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Luke 20:37.) Our Lord’s argument on this is that if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead in the sense that a brute beast is dead, without hope of an awakening, a resurrection, he would not call himself their God. Our Lord closes up the argument by saying that from God’s standpoint all live unto him.
And our standpoint must be the divine standpoint; we must learn to think in harmony with this divine testimony. Hence we have hope, not only for Christians, saints who have died in Christ, but we have also hope for the world of mankind—”asleep in Jesus.” Their condition would indeed be actual death, the same as a brute beast, were it not that the Lord has provided in Jesus for their resuscitation. But since such provision has been made, we are to think of the world of mankind as not being extinct, but merely asleep. All those, therefore, who accept the teaching of the divine Word, „sorrow not as others who have no hope; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, let us also believe that those who sleep in Jesus [those who are included in the benefit of his sacrifice, those who are redeemed by the precious blood, all the race of Adam] will God bring from the dead by him.” (1 Thess. 4:13,14.) By him the Church will first be raised up, to be made partakers of his resurrection, the First Resurrection, the Chief Resurrection, sharers of his glory, honor and immortality. By him, then, during the Millennial Age, all the families of the earth shall be awakened, brought forth from sheol, from hades, brought to a knowledge of the truth—yea, and if they will receive the message into good and honest hearts, they will be lifted entirely out of sin and death conditions up to the full perfection of restitution and life everlasting through him. Well, indeed, may all those who trust in Jesus rejoice in him and sorrow not in the presence of death, as do others.
„FRIENDS SORROWING AND JESUS GLAD”
The celebrated Charles Spurgeon, preaching on this subject, took this as the title of his discourse from the text, „I am glad for your sakes I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe; nevertheless let me go unto him.” It is well for the Lord’s people, when in a time of stress and trouble, sickness, pain and sorrow, to look with faith toward the Lord, remembering that their tears and troubles may be made to them, under the Lord’s providence, a great blessing. We have an illustration in this lesson: Martha and Mary, ministering to their sick brother, thought of how the Lord loved him and sent him a message respecting Lazarus’ condition, leaving the matter in his hands, trusting to his wisdom and grace, and yet were allowed to pass into the still darker shadows of the sepulchre. The brother died and was buried. Yea, the Master whom they trusted
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in as the Messiah had not alleviated the sickness, had not hindered the dying, had even allowed several days to elapse without a message to them, and Jesus, speaking of all this, said, „I am glad.” How shall we understand this? The explanation is given further in our Lord’s words, „I am glad for your sakes.” So with us it may likewise be true that the Lord will be glad to permit our trials and sorrows and tears and difficulties for our sakes, that we may thus receive some important lessons which we could not otherwise so well learn. One of our lessons is that we must trust the Lord where we cannot trace him, that we must remember his promise that „all things shall work together for good to them that love him.” In the case under consideration the sickness and death of a brother were part of the all things, and doubtless were inscrutable providences to the two sisters. Nevertheless, these very experiences no doubt helped in the working out of valuable lessons, and no doubt were preparations for closer communion with the Lord and for the eternal things.
The noble devotion of the Lord’s apostles is well illustrated in the words of one of them: Thomas, addressing his fellow-disciples, urged that they should not abandon the Master, that if he intended to go to Judea they should go with him—”let us also go, that we may die with him.” This was the spirit of courage which the twelve shared when they accompanied the Lord, and it helps to reconcile us to their apparent cowardice on the night of his betrayal, a cowardice which was incited by our Lord’s own refusal to accept
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assistance. It was these men who risked their lives to accompany the unpopular Prophet, as they supposed, to death, and who later forsook him and fled. The lesson to us in this connection is that some of us who feel courageous for the Lord and his cause and ready to die therefor, need indeed to watch and pray that we maintain this disposition and not succumb in the hour of stress.
THE JEWS WAILED, JESUS WEPT
It was the custom of the time to have a funeral service of mourning for seven days. Apparently Martha and Mary and Lazarus were of a wealthy, influential family and on the occasion of their bereavement many friends came to sympathize with them, to mourn with them. Jesus did not consider it the part of wisdom to go to the home, which he knew would be crowded with mourners, and then go to the tomb, so he remained a little distance from Bethany and sent word. When the word came that Jesus was nearing, Martha went out to meet him; but Mary, bowed with her grief and perhaps disappointed that the Lord’s word, „This sickness is not unto death, but unto the glory of God,” had seemingly failed, still sat in the house, went not to meet him, as though by her actions she would say, „We hoped much, Lord, down to the very last, but now it is too late; you allowed the favorable opportunity to pass. We are in the midst of our sorrow. How could anything now avail us? Lazarus is dead.” Martha’s greeting, when she came to the Lord, was, „Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died; but I know that even now whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, he will give thee.” There was in this remark something of a suggestion of chiding, as though she had said, Why did you not come? but still I have faith in you, I realize that you are the Messiah. Our Lord’s reply was,
„THY BROTHER SHALL LIVE AGAIN”
It should be noticed that our Lord did not say, Thy brother is not asleep, thy brother is not dead, but that he pointed her mind to the resurrection. Are we wiser than he? May we, as his disciples, teach anything different or in contradiction to what he said? Martha’s answer showed that she understood him well and that she had the general view of all believing Jews at that time, namely, that there was a hope for the dead, both of the just and of the unjust, in the resurrection, at the last day, at the end of the age when the last great day of the great seven-thousand year week shall be ushered in. Our Lord did not contradict her thought, but wished to lead her gradually to a realization of what he desired to do on this occasion and therefore explained that the resurrection power by which all the dead should be awakened in due time was lodged in himself—”I am the resurrection and the life.” Every believer in him, even though he were dead, shall yet live, and whosoever then shall live and still believe in him shall never die. Our Lord inquired of Martha if she believed this view of his power and future work. She replied that she did, that she accepted him as the Messiah, the Son of God foretold to come. Then she went secretly to her sister Mary, saying, „The Master is here and calleth for thee.”
Whatever disposition Mary had to resent our Lord’s apparent indifference and carelessness of their interest, it all vanished now when she heard that the Master had called for her. She went forth to the place where he was, which evidently was in the direction of the tomb, for the Jews who were mourning with her in the house followed her, saying, „She is probably going to the tomb to weep there.” And so when later on our Lord inquired, „Where have you laid him,” we are not to take it as an indication that he did not know, but rather that it was his polite manner of saying, Shall we now go to the tomb? Lead the way. Truly he who saw Nathanael under the fig tree not only knew that Lazarus had been dead four days, but also knew where he was buried. He who „needed not that any man tell him what was in man” would surely know of lesser matters more easily discerned.
When Mary saw the Lord all thought of resentment fled; she fell at his feet and embraced them and through her tears merely said, „Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother would not have died.” The occasion was a soul-stirring one—our Lord’s beloved friend in tears at his feet, numerous Jews weeping with her, or, according to the Greek original, wailing. What effect did this have upon our Lord? Was he cold, stern, forbidding? No! True to the record, he was „touched with a feeling of our infirmities.” (Heb. 4:15.) He was full of sympathy, he fully appreciated the real meaning of death—that it is a curse, an awful curse, which rests upon our race. He said nothing by way of assuring Mary that Lazarus was in heaven, for he spake the truth, declaring on another occasion, „No man hath ascended up to heaven.”—John 3:13.
On the contrary, entering deeply into the affliction that is resting upon our race, under which the Apostle says „the whole creation groaneth,” our Lord wept. This verse, „Jesus wept,” the shortest in the Bible, brings to us a wealth of assurance that our Lord is sympathetic, that he knoweth our frame, that he remembereth that we are dust; and it is one of the best assurances that he appreciates all that he has promised us in the declaration that our trials shall all work together for good to us if we are his and if we are rightly exercised thereby. It is worthy of note here that while the word used in connection with the weeping of the others indicates wailing, it is not so with the Greek word which refers to our Lord’s weeping; he shed tears, but lifted not up his voice in grief; he groaned in spirit and was troubled, he heaved sighs, he entered fully into the sorrow of his friends. And is not this a lesson to all of his followers, that they, with propriety also, may weep with those who weep, as well as rejoice with those who rejoice?
The Jews who were with Jesus noted and commented upon his sympathy, saying, „Behold how he loved him,” but others criticised him saying, This is the miracle-worker. Could he not have helped his friend if he really loved him?
So there are some to day inclined to criticise the Lord for permitting sickness, sorrow and death and who inquire whether the power of God is lacking or the willingness of God lacking that he does not overthrow, restrain these adverse influences now afflicting the human family. The language of faith is,—
„Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.”
The tomb was a grave with a stone at its mouth, and Jesus directed that this should be moved. Of
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course, the same power that could awaken the dead would have been quite sufficient to roll away the stone also, but it seems to have been a rule with our Lord never to do anything by miraculous power that could as well be done by human agency. We may profitably apply this lesson to all the affairs of life and, in harmony with it, when we come to our Lord with our griefs and troubles and perplexities and ask for his blessing and overruling providences, should not expect any special intervention in matters that are possible to us. Indeed, we doubtless would lose a blessing thereby. Who can doubt that the men who rolled away the stone from the mouth of that sepulchre had a blessing afterward in connection therewith as they thought over the matter or told others that they themselves had rolled away the stone! Who can doubt that it helped to impress the importance of the miracle upon them! Let us, then, do with our might whatever we may be able to do and wait patiently for the Lord in connection with things for which our arm is too short.
„HE HATH BEEN DEAD FOUR DAYS”
It was the same Martha who a little while before had said, Even now I know that whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, he will hear thee, and who now protested against the moving of the stone from the sepulchre, saying, „Lord by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days.” She probably knew that
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the Lord had awakened Jairus’ daughter and the widow of Nain’s son, but those were cases in which the animation had been suspended but a little while. In this case, after putrefaction set in, neither she nor others would expect that any power imaginable could recover the dead. It was with this in view, doubtless, that our Lord said beforehand, „I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that you might believe.” It was to be a special lesson not only to his dear friends, Martha and Mary, but also to his dear disciples, and more than this, to all those who would believe through his Word. It was a most stupendous miracle!
Before commanding Lazarus to come forth our Lord prayed audibly before his disciples and before the multitude of mourners. Here our Lord gave sanction to public prayer, showing that when he objected to the prayers of the Pharisees on the street corners, it was because the time and place, etc., were unsuitable and because they prayed to be seen and heard of men. But in his own case he was acknowledging the Father that all those who stood by might take knowledge that not by his own power, but by the Father’s power, as the Finger of God, he worked these miracles.
„I know that thou hearest me always, but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” After this brief prayer he cried with a loud voice, or commanded in a loud voice, „Lazarus, come forth”—not secret mumbling, not incantations, not legerdemain. Quite to the contrary. And this miracle in various particulars evidently foreshadowed our Lord’s coming glorious work, when, surrounded by his glorified Church, the message from on high shall be to all that are in their graves, „Come forth.” (John 5:28.) Then Lazarus came forth bound hand and foot, wrapped with linen cloths. We can imagine better than describe the wondrous awe of those who stood by. And it was necessary that Jesus should call them to a realization of their privilege, saying, „Loose him and let him go,” for in his burial his jaw had been bound, his limbs wrapped, etc. The miracle was well timed, not only for the benefit of the sorrowing sisters, but also for the benefit of their Jewish friends, many of whom, seeing this miracle, believed on him; and in the interest of the apostles, also, who would be better prepared thereby for the tests which were to come to them a little later in connection with our Lord’s crucifixion.
Meantime, some of the witnesses went their way and related matters to the Pharisees, with the result that the latter became all the more determined that our Lord must die—not because he had done evil works, not because they believed him a bad man, but because they were so thoroughly wrapped up in their own plans and purposes in connection with their nation. Their argument was that if Jesus proceeded with his work it would not be long before the masses of the people would be ready to flock to him, with the result that the Roman government, which had given them much liberty in the control of their national and Church affairs, would take matters entirely out of their hands and thus their rebellion and their government would be entirely overthrown. It seemed to them to be an emergency case which called for drastic treatment. Similar, we believe, will be the attitude of ecclesiasticism a little later on in the present harvest time toward the last members of the Body of Christ. What the Sanhedrin there did in determining to oppose Jesus, the federation of churches will probably do in the way of opposing „Present Truth”—after the federation shall have become thoroughly organized and vitalized. (Rev. 13:15.) The plea was that we must do this for the good of the cause. Their mistake was in too much self-confidence, too much self-reliance upon their own theories as to how the Kingdom of heaven was to be established. The mistake which will be made by the Sanhedrin of our day will be along similar lines. Praying for centuries, „Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,” they have entirely misconceived the meaning of the words, so that the preludes to the Kingdom will appear to them inharmonious and as causing destruction.
WHERE WAS LAZARUS?
We have our Lord’s word for it that Lazarus was not in heaven, for he said, „No man hath ascended up to heaven.” Indirectly we have the Apostle Peter’s testimony also to the same effect, for, speaking of the Prophet David, he declares, „David has not ascended into the heavens.” (Acts 2:34.) Where was Lazarus? What account did he give of himself? Not a word is there written on the subject. He had no account to give of himself; he was nowhere, he was dead. Our Lord lifted his eyes in addressing the Father in heaven, but afterwards, when he spoke to Lazarus, he addressed the tomb, „Lazarus, come forth,” and the dead came forth from the tomb. This, as we have seen, is a picture, a demonstration, of the power of the Lord to testify in advance of how he eventually will be the resurrection power to the whole world. And he himself describing that coming exercise of power represented it in the same general tenor, saying, „Marvel not at this: the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth” (John 5:28), some to full perfection in the First Resurrection, the remainder to be merely awakened
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as was Lazarus, but, unlike him, to be then granted an opportunity for anastasis, raising up completely out of sin and death conditions to the full perfection of human nature—a resurrection by judgments or disciplines, rewards and stripes.
According to the erroneous view which has become so popular throughout Christendom, Lazarus, who was a special friend of Jesus and one whom he loved, must have been in heaven—not in either purgatory or hell. But how strange it would be, if after he had been in heaven for several days, Jesus should do him the unfriendly act of calling him back to earth life—and with what haste he must have returned if he laid aside a crown or palm or harp! No! no! All this belongs to the foolish imagination and is thoroughly out of harmony with the precious lesson of our Golden Text—that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. By his death he secured for Adam and his race a right to re-live and the resurrection power is that by which he will bring mankind forth from under the dominion of death. Lazarus lost consciousness in his sickness at the time of his death, and received consciousness again at the moment of his awakening. In this interim of four days he was in death, asleep; as Jesus said, „Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” He was not awake in any sense of the word; as Jesus testified, „I go that I may awake him,” and, as the Scriptures elsewhere declare, „The dead know not anything,” „There is neither wisdom, knowledge nor device in sheol [hades, the tomb, the sleep of death], whither thou goest.”—Eccl. 9:5,10.
We can fancy the awakening of the whole world, and what a joyful occasion it will be, as one after another they all come forth from the great prison-house of death to be received and welcomed by their friends, and to find the earth enjoying a large measure of restitution blessings and progressing gradually toward the full perfection of Eden, and their friends so far advanced along the way toward perfection and themselves surrounded by the blessings and privileges and opportunities which the Kingdom will afford, with the light of the knowledge of God flooding the whole earth! Oh, how different this will be from what the heathen have been taught and imagined respecting the crossing of the river Styx or their re-incarnation in other forms of animal life! Oh, how different it will be for many who have heard the false doctrine of eternal torment or purgatorial anguish and who died in terror lest this should be their portion! What thankful hearts toward God they will have! Perhaps Satan’s lie may eventually redound to the glory of God, and perhaps this is why the Lord has been silent for so long and has permitted his holy name to be so smirched and slandered and his character so traduced!
„THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”
There is a still deeper thought connected with our Golden Text which we must not pass by. It is this: We who now believe in the Lord and are thereby justified through faith in his blood, and who have heard the call to glory, honor and immortality and who have accepted the same by a full consecration to the Lord—we are sometimes spoken of as already having a new life, the resurrection life, as already having passed from death into life. This, of course, is a figurative use of the words resurrection and life. Reckonedly, we have left the old nature and received the new nature from the Lord through the begetting of the holy Spirit, and it is this new nature which is to be perfected in the First Resurrection. And since our human natures are reckoned dead from the moment that we are begotten of the Spirit, it is quite reasonable and proper that the Scriptures should speak of our present condition as a resurrected condition; that we have risen out of the old order of life and hope and aim to new conditions; that we have started on the new way to life; that the present experiences are transforming, and that the grand consummation of all this transformation will be the actual change from weakness to power, from the natural body to a spiritual body, from dishonor to glory, when we shall participate actually in the glorious change of the Lord’s resurrection.
Let us strive to enter into this rest, this blessing! Faithful is he who has called us to so high a station and privilege, he will also do for us exceedingly, abundantly better than we could ask or think, according to the riches of his grace. „All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” (I Cor. 3:21,23.) In the meantime, to us who live this figurative resurrection life, the Apostle’s words are applicable, For me to live is for Christ to live, for he is represented by us; we are his ambassadors. Meantime we are also to remember that our resurrection hopes are in him; as it is written, „Your life is hid with Christ in God,” and, „when he who is our life shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory.”
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JESUS ANOINTED AT BETHANY
—JOHN 12:1-11—APRIL 19—
Golden Text:—”We love him, because he first loved us.”—1 John 4:19
THE last week of our Lord’s earthly ministry was a busy one. The sixth day previous to the Passover was the Jewish Sabbath, which ended at six o’clock in the evening, and it is possible that it was at that time that our Lord and his disciples were entertained by Martha and Mary at „the house of Simon the leper”—probably their father. Lazarus, their brother, whose recovery from death was noted in the previous lesson, was also one of the table-guests.
Our Lord knew that the time of his death was near at hand, and he had given intimations of this to his beloved disciples, but they were so accustomed to having him say wonderful things beyond the power of their comprehension that they probably failed to realize their closeness to the great tragedy of Calvary. This need not surprise us when we remember the Scriptural declaration that our Lord spake in parables and dark sayings—”and without a parable spake he not unto the people.” For instance, his declaration, „Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And again, „I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man shall eat of this bread he shall live
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forever.” And again, „Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 2:19; 6:51,53.) Having in mind such unusual language, the apostles would be entirely excusable in doubting the proper meaning to be attached to our Lord’s declaration, „The Son of man must be lifted up,” and other similar expressions foretelling his death.
Before coming to the consideration of the Bethany supper and the anointing on that Sabbath evening, let us have before our minds the incidents of the days following it, that we may be able to appreciate our Lord’s declaration that the anointing with the spikenard was preparatory to his burial. The next morning (the first day of the week, now usually called Sunday), having sent after the ass, our Lord rode upon it to Jerusalem. The people, recognizing the wonderful miracle wrought upon Lazarus, congregated and hailed him as Messiah, the Son of David, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah (9:9), and strewed clothing and palm branches in the way (hence this is generally known as Palm Sunday). It was on this occasion that our Lord wept over Jerusalem, and declared, „Your house is left unto you desolate.”—Matt. 23:38.
It is supposed that it was on the second day (Monday) that our Lord scourged the money-changers out of the temple, and taught the people there; and we gather from the narrative that it was in his journey on this day that he pronounced the curse upon „the barren fig tree,” supposed to represent the Jewish nation—barren of fruit and therefore rejected. It would appear that the third day (Tuesday) was again spent teaching in the temple, answering questions, etc., and that evening, as they returned again to Bethany, he discoursed with his disciples respecting the great events near at hand. The fourth day (Wednesday) apparently was spent quietly at Bethany, and on the fifth day (Thursday) the disciples made ready the Passover supper which was eaten after six o’clock that evening—the beginning of the sixth day (Friday) according to Jewish reckoning—the 14th of Nisan. The Gethsemane experiences followed that night and the trial before Pilate the next morning, and the crucifixion later.
„BE NOT FORGETFUL TO ENTERTAIN”
Now we come back to witness the hospitalities extended to our Lord six days before the crucifixion, at the house of Simon the leper, the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus. We are to remember that our Lord was a visitor in those parts—his home, to the extent that he ever had one, being in Galilee, where the most of his time was spent. „He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.” (John 7:1.) But now the time for his sacrifice had come, and in harmony therewith he came amongst his enemies—although it was known that prominent Jews sought to kill him and also sought the death of Lazarus, who was a living witness to his Messianic power.
We may suppose that this was no ordinary supper, but in the nature of a feast or banquet in our Lord’s honor. Nevertheless, one incident connected with it so outshone all its other features that the narrator mentions it alone—the anointing of our Lord with the „spikenard ointment, very costly.” Our Lord himself declared, „Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” (Mark 14:9.) It is entirely proper, therefore, that we should examine with some particularity the details of this service so highly esteemed by the Master.
Prof. Shaff says, „By the ‚ointment’ we are to understand rather a liquid perfume than what we commonly know as ointment.” The alabaster box was rather in the shape of a flask or vase, and the breaking of the box (Mark 14:3.) signifies the opening of its tyings and seals by which the precious odors were confined. Judas’ words of dissatisfaction furnish us a clue respecting the costliness of this perfume, for he says that it „might have been sold for three hundred denarii.” A denarius, translated „penny” in v. 5, is represented as being the average daily wages at that time—”a penny [denarius] a day.” (Matt. 20:2.) If we compare these values with present money values, counting farm labor at fifty cents a day (which is certainly a moderate valuation), the three hundred denarii would be the equivalent in wages of one hundred and fifty dollars of our money. Thus we see that the perfume was indeed „very costly.” There was nearly a pint of the perfume, a Roman pound being twelve ounces. Nor need we question the possibility of perfumes being so expensive, for even today we have a counterpart in value in the attar of roses made in the far East. It is claimed that four hundred thousand full-grown roses are used to produce one ounce of this perfume, which, in its purity, sells as high as one hundred dollars an ounce, or twelve hundred dollars for the quantity used by Mary in anointing our Lord. It is said that Nero was the first of the Emperors to indulge in the use of costly perfumes for his anointing; but one much more worthy of tribute, homage and anointing with a sweet perfume was the One whom Mary had the honor to anoint. He was—
„PRINCE OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH”
Judas was first to object to this as a waste, the difficulty with him being that he loved the Lord too little and money too much. The amount that love is willing to expend for others is, to some extent, at least, a measure of the love. Another Evangelist informs us that several of the disciples, under the influence of Judas’ words, took the same view of the matter and spoke disapprovingly of Mary’s action. The Apostle John, however, takes this opportunity to throw a little sidelight upon the character of Judas—more than is apparent in the common translation of v. 6. His declaration is, „Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the box, and stole what things were deposited in it.”—Diaglott.
Our Lord’s words, „Let her alone!” were in the nature of a severe reproof to those whose sentiments of love had no other measure than that of money. It was indeed true that there were plenty of poor, and there would still be plenty of poor, and plenty of opportunities
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to minister to them; but the opportunity to specially honor the Lord, and to pour upon him the fragrant odors so beautifully expressive of Mary’s love and devotion, would not be for long, and our Lord declares that the circumstances fully justified the costly expenditure. He shows himself out of sympathy with the sentiments which balance themselves too accurately with money values. Moreover, we may esteem that in many instances like the one here recorded the persons who are so careful lest money should be spent except for the poor are often like Judas, so avaricious that very little of whatever money gets into their possession reaches the poor.
On the contrary, it is the deep, loving, benevolent hearts, like that of Mary, which delight in costly sacrifices at times, which also are likely to be deeply sympathetic and helpful to the physically poor. And in our ministrations to others we are not to forget that money is not the only thing of which people are sorely in need—some need love and sympathy who do not need money. Our Lord was one of these: his own heart, full of love, found comparatively little companionship in the more or less sordid minds of even the noblest of the fallen race represented amongst his apostles. In Mary he seemed to find the depth of love and devotion which was to him an odor of sweet incense, of refreshment, of reinvigoration, a tonic: and Mary apparently appreciated, more than did others, the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the Master’s character; she not only delighted to sit at his feet to learn of him, but now delighted, at a great cost, to give him some manifestation of her devotion, her love.
She poured the perfume first upon our Lord’s head (Mark 14:3), the usual custom, and then the remainder she poured upon his feet. But the Apostle John, in recording the matter, seems to have forgotten entirely the anointing of our Lord’s head, so deeply was he impressed with the still more expressive devotion manifested in the anointing of the feet and the wiping of them with the hairs of her head. It is indeed a picture of love—a devotion well worthy of being told as a memorial.
ACTIONS LOUDER THAN WORDS
Some one has said:—
„She took ‚woman’s chief ornament’ and devoted it to wiping the travel-stained feet of her Teacher; she devoted the best she had to even the least honorable service for him. It was the strongest possible expression of her love and devotion. She gave her choicest treasures in the most self-devoted manner. She was bashful and retiring, and could not speak her feelings, and therefore she expressed them in this manner.”
We are not surprised to learn that the whole house was filled with the odor; and we doubt not that the odor remained for a long time: but far more precious than that was the sweet odor of Mary’s heart-affections which the Lord accepted and will never forget, and the sweet odor of her devotion which has come down through the centuries to us, bringing blessing to all true hearts who have honored her service and desired to emulate her conduct.
„UNTO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE”
It is not our privilege to come into personal contact with our dear Redeemer, but we have, nevertheless, many opportunities for doing that which to some extent will correspond to Mary’s act—it is our privilege to anoint the Lord’s „brethren” with the sweet perfume of love, sympathy, joy and peace, and the more costly this may be as respects our self-denials, the more precious it will be in the estimation of our Elder Brother, who declared that in proportion as we do or do not unto his brethren, we do or do not unto him. (Matt. 25:40,45.) Moreover, he represents these „brethren” in a figure as „members of his Body”; and from this standpoint we see that, while it is not our privilege to pour the perfume upon the Head of the Body—now highly exalted far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named, next to the Father—it is our privilege to pour the perfume upon the feet of Christ, the last living members of his Church of this Gospel Age.
We know not to what extent the closing years of this Gospel Age may correspond to the closing days of our Lord’s ministry; we know not how similar may be the experiences of the „feet” of the Body of Christ to the experiences of the Head of the Body; we do know, however, that in any event it is our blessed privilege to comfort one another, to encourage one another, to sustain one another, in the trials incident to our „filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.” (Col. 1:24.) And to whatever extent we would improve these opportunities as did Mary, we must first appreciate them as she did.
„LOVE BEGINS AT HOME”
Nothing in this suggestion is intended to imply any neglect of the members of our natural families „according to the flesh”; attentions to these are proper always, and are generally so understood, and should more and more be appreciated and used in proportion as the Lord’s people receive freely and fully of his spirit of love—kindness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering. But we emphasize that which the Scriptures emphasize, namely, that our interest and efforts are not to be confined to those of fleshly tie, but, on the contrary, are to be „especially to the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10.) There will be other and future opportunities of doing good to mankind in general, but the opportunity for serving „the Body of Christ” is limited to the present age.
Apropos of this propriety of doing good to others—expressing our love by our conduct as well as by our words, to the members of our families as well as to the members of the Body of Christ—we quote the words of another:
„The sweetest perfume that the home circle ever knows arises from deeds of loving service which its members do for each other. The sweetest perfumes of our homes do not arise from elegant furniture, soft carpets, elegant pictures, or luxurious viands. Many a home, having all these, is pervaded by an atmosphere
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as tasteless and odorless as bouquets of waxen flowers.”
Another has said:—
„If my friends have alabaster boxes full of fragrant perfume of sympathy and affection laid away, which they intend to break over my body, I should rather they would bring them out in my weary and troubled hours, and open them, that I might be refreshed and cheered with them while I need them. … I would rather have a plain coffin without a flower, a funeral without a eulogy, than a life without the sweetness of love and sympathy. … Flowers on the coffin cast no fragrance backward on the weary road.”
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„HUMBLE YOURSELVES, THEREFORE”
—JOHN 13:1-15—APRIL 26—
Golden Text:—”A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”—John 13:34
OUR Lord’s ministry was about ended. He met with his twelve chosen disciples to celebrate the Passover supper, declaring, „I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15.) The passover lamb which they were to eat typified our Lord himself, and the eating of it by his disciples represents how believers of the Gospel Age feed upon Christ in their hearts, and by faith appropriate to themselves the blessings secured to them through his death, „For even Christ our Passover [Lamb] is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast.” (I Cor. 5:7,8.) But, inasmuch as Jesus was the antitypical Lamb, it was appropriate that the type should be discontinued; and hence it was that our Lord, following this last typical Supper, instituted the Memorial Supper of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine as representing the antitype—his broken body and shed blood.
According to the Jewish custom the Passover supper was celebrated by families, and the twelve apostles, specially chosen by our Lord and giving their allegiance to him as their Head, constituted the nucleus of the family of God—whose hearts and hopes and aims were one—for „ye are all called in one hope of your calling.” (Eph. 4:4.) Judas was not excluded, although our Lord evidently knew beforehand that it was he who should betray him. This furnishes us the lesson that, as followers of Christ, we should not judge one another’s hearts, nor surmise evil. After the evil of the heart has manifested itself in words or deeds is quite time enough to separate ourselves from others who profess the Lord’s name and desire to fellowship with us. True, the evil begins in the heart, before the outward act, but we should always hope that the brethren may gain the victory, and should seek to do nothing to stumble any, but everything to help them to overcome the influence of the Adversary and the weaknesses of their own flesh.
John does not give a particular account of the Passover supper, but seems to bring in merely certain valuable features and lessons connected therewith and omitted by the other evangelists. His declaration is that our Lord knew beforehand that he had reached the end of his earthly career and was specially solicitous of improving the closing hours with his particular, chosen friends and companions by inculcating some good lessons. „He loved them to the end”—completely, fully; his own sharp trials, present and approaching, did not distract him nor absorb his attention. He was, as heretofore, still thinking of and endeavoring to bless others. Nor need we suppose that this love for the twelve applied to them exclusively; rather that he viewed the twelve as the representatives of „them also which should believe on him through their word”—as he expressed the matter in his prayer to the Father. With this view in mind we can realize that what our Lord said and did to the apostles was intended to be applicable and instructive to all who have been his since then.—John 17:20.
SELF-SEEKING A MISTAKE
From Luke’s account it would appear that on this occasion there was a strife amongst the apostles, a contention respecting which of them should be esteemed greatest. (Luke 22:24-31.) This strife may not have been solely one of selfishness, in the evil sense of the word, but, partially prompted by love for the Master, it may have been in respect to their several positions at the table, the coveted position possibly being closeness to our Lord’s person. We remember how James and John had made request that they might be on the right and on the left of our Lord in the Kingdom, and we remember that in connection with this narrative it is declared that John was next to our Lord, and leaned upon his bosom.
Quite possibly this dispute respecting greatness arose in part from the fact that they were not in this instance treated as guests, but merely had the upper room put at their disposal; having no host, no provision was thereby made for the usual washing of the feet, and it was neglected. The matter of feet-washing in eastern countries, when sandals were worn, was not merely a compliment, but a necessity, the heat of the climate, the openness of the sandals, and the dust of the roads, making it almost indispensable to comfort that the feet be bathed on arriving at the house after a journey. Apparently this question as to which of the twelve was greatest, and as to which should perform the menial service of feet-washing for the others, had developed the fact that none of them was anxious to take the servant’s position.
Apparently our Lord permitted them to thus disagree, without settling their dispute, without appointing any of their number to the menial service. He allowed them to think the matter over—time to relent and reconsider—and they even proceeded to eat the supper, contrary to custom, with unwashed feet.
Then it was that Jesus arose from the supper, laid aside his outer garment, and attaching a towel to the
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girdle of his under-garments, took a basin and a ewer for the water, and began to pour the water and wash the feet of his disciples. It was not the custom of the East to pour the water into the basin and put the foot into the water, but to pour the water upon the foot being washed; thus each had clean water, and little was wasted—for water is much more scarce and precious there than with us. We are to remember also that in the East at that time tables and chairs such as we use were not in vogue. On the contrary, the tables were low and shaped somewhat like a horseshoe, and those who sat really reclined, lying upon the table, with the left elbow resting upon a pillow or divan, their heads toward the inside of the horseshoe, where there was a space provided for the food, and also a space for a servant to enter and place the food. Thus it will be seen that the feet extended backward, and could quite easily be reached without disturbing those who were eating.
„YE ARE CLEAN, BUT NOT ENTIRELY”
Our Lord very evidently had already washed the feet of several of the disciples before he came in turn to Peter. Seemingly none of them offered objection, although no doubt the thought of their own contentions upon this subject, and unwillingness to serve one another, brought them blushes of shame and confusion of face. But when it came to Peter’s turn he protested. It would never do, he thought, to permit our Lord to perform so menial a service. He asks, „Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” But our Lord did not stop to reprimand Peter—to give him a thorough „setting down” and scolding, as some of his followers might be inclined to do under such circumstances: he merely insisted on continuing, and treating Peter the same as the others, saying that he would explain the matter later, and that if he washed him not, he could have no part with him.
One cannot help admiring the noble traits in Peter’s conduct, even though with the same breath we be forced to acknowledge some of his weaknesses; and herein all the Lord’s followers find a lesson of encouragement, for though they find weaknesses and imperfections, if they find also the heart-loyalty to the Lord which was in Peter, they may continue to have courage and hope and to press on as did he, from victory to victory, and at last to have the prize, the reward of faithfulness.
When Peter learned that there was more meaning to the washing of the feet than merely its kindness and comfort, and its reproof of the lack of the spirit of humility amongst the disciples, he wanted, not only his feet, but also his hands and his head washed. Noble, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent Peter! But our Lord explained that this was not necessary, saying, „He who has been bathed has no need except to wash his feet, but is wholly clean.” (V. 10—Diaglott.) Public baths were in use at that time, but even after having taken a general bath, on return to the home it was customary to complete the matter by washing the feet; and this seems to be the inference of our Lord’s remark. The apostles had been with our Lord, for three years, and under the influence of his spirit of love, meekness, gentleness, patience, humility, had been greatly blessed—by „the washing of water through the Word” spoken unto them.—John 15:3; Eph. 5:26.
HUMILITY DESPISED BY THE WRONG-HEADED
There is an intimation in the Lord’s words that the spirit of pride which had manifested itself among them had been inspired to some extent by their treasurer, Judas,—as evil communications always are corrupting. (I Cor. 13:33.) This final lesson from their great Teacher was a very impressive one upon the eleven, whose hearts probably were in the right condition to receive the reproof and the lesson; but upon Judas, although his feet also were washed, the effect evidently was not favorable. The spirit of evil which had entered into him before the supper—the desire to obtain money, and the proposition to obtain it by betraying the Lord, evidently continued with him, and instead of being moved aright by our Lord’s humility and service, he was the more moved in the opposite direction—to think little of him. So it is with all who have professed the Lord’s name in every time. Those instructions, examples and experiences, which are working out blessing and proving beneficial to some, are proving injurious to others. The Gospel, in its every phase, is either „a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death.” As it was God’s goodness and mercy that hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so it was the love and humility of Jesus that hardened Judas’ heart, and these principles are still at work, and may be witnessed in the harvest siftings today.—2 Cor. 2:16; Exod. 7:13.
After accomplishing the work of washing the feet of all, our Lord resumed his outer garment and reclined again at the supper (this was the Passover Supper—the Memorial Supper of bread and wine being instituted afterward). Our Lord now improved his opportunity and explained to them the meaning of what he had done. He pointed out to them that this menial service did not signify that he was not the Lord and Master, but signified that as Lord and Master he was not unwilling to serve the lesser members of Jehovah’s family, and to minister to their comfort, even in the most menial service; and that they should not have been unwilling, but glad to render such service one to another.
The example which our Lord set was not so much in the kind of service (feet-washing) as in the fact of service. Nothing in this example, as we understand it, was in the nature of a ceremony to be performed by the Lord’s people annually, weekly, monthly or at any other time; but the principle of his service constituted the example, and is to be observed amongst his followers at all times—they are to love one another and to serve one another, and to consider no service too menial to be performed for each other’s comfort and good.
Those who have interpreted this to signify a ceremony similar to the symbolical ceremony of the Memorial Supper and the symbolical ceremony of Baptism are, we think, in error. There seems to be nothing symbolical in it. It is merely an illustration of the principle of humility which is to attach to every affair of life. If any of the Lord’s people need washing, or need any other assistance of a menial character, their brethren should gladly and joyfully serve them; and whosoever possesses the spirit of the Lord will surely render such service; but to insist, as some do, that each of the Lord’s people should first wash his own
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feet and have them clean, and then that each should wash one another’s feet ceremoniously, is contrary to his example which he instructs us to follow. The example was a service, and not an inconvenience and ceremony.
Once a year, on the day before „Good Friday,” the pope washes the feet of twelve aged paupers, who are brought from the streets and duly prepared by a preliminary washing in private. The pope’s ceremonious washing is done in the presence of many notables. A similar ceremony is performed annually by Emperor Francis Joseph of Austro-Hungary. Neither of these ceremonies, however, is, to our understanding, according to our Lord’s example, but contrary to it—likewise the ceremonious washing performed by some denominations of Christians.
All who are truly the Lord’s followers should heed carefully and follow exactly the true example of the Master’s spirit of meekness, humility and service to the members of his Body. The whole thought is contained in his words, „The servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things [if you appreciate these principles applicable to all the affairs of life], happy are ye if ye do them [if you live according to this rule, loving and serving one another].”—Vs. 16,17.
Feelings of emulation, strife and vain-glory seem to specially beset those of the Lord’s people who are possessed of any degree of talent or ability or honorable situation in life, and especially those who are in influential places in the Church. These, therefore, need to be specially on guard against these besetments of the flesh, remembering that, as some one has said, „There is a pride that looks up with envy, as well as a pride that looks down with scorn.” The Lord’s followers are to remember that pride in any person, in any station, respecting any matter, is highly reprehensible in God’s sight and displeasing to him. „The Lord resisteth the proud, but showeth his favor to the humble.” Hence, all who would abide in the Lord’s love have need to be very careful along this line—to keep very humble, very lowly in conduct, and particularly in mind.—Jas. 4:6; I Pet. 5:5.
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BEREAN STUDIES ON THE ATONEMENT
THE TEXT BOOK USED FOR THIS COURSE IS SCRIPTURE STUDIES, SERIES V. (E)
Questions on Study II—The Author of the Atonement
(1) Was the arrangement for an atonement for human sin an afterthought or an original purpose? Who was the author of the arrangement? Has he accomplished his purposes? Page 33, par. 1.
(2) Are the prevalent views on the relations between the Father and the Son correct? If not, wherein is the error? Page 33, par. 2.
(3) State the proper view of the question. What is God’s relationship to the plan of atonement? And what Christ’s? Page 34.
(4) State the error of the view that our Lord Jesus stands weeping for sinners and importuning the Father for their forgiveness and, as the hymn declares,
„Five bleeding wounds he shows,
They intercede for me.”
(5) Let us have five texts on the subject from the apostolic writings, with a brief explanation in each case showing how they apply. Page 35.
(6) Quote from our Lord Jesus’ own words on this subject eleven texts and show briefly the application of each. Page 35, last par., and 36.
(7) What does the „scroll” of Rev. 5 represent? Whose was it originally and in whose possession was it when Christ died? Page 36, par. last.
(8) What is signified by the giving of the „scroll” to the Lamb of God, for him to open it and fulfil its provisions? Page 37.
(9) Did that „scroll” represent the Abrahamic promise or Oath-bound Covenant or „Everlasting Covenant”?—Heb. 6:17-20.
(10) Is it because of the Father’s honoring of his Only Begotten Son that we as well as angels should honor him? Page 37.
(11) If the Scroll is the Covenant, how is our Lord Jesus the servant or „Messenger of the Covenant”? And how does he fulfil this service of the Covenant?
(12) Has Christ through his Spirit, the holy Spirit, made known to some the „hidden mystery”—”Christ in you the hope of Glory”? Has he shown us „things to come”?—Rev. 1:1; 4:1; John 16:13-15; Psa. 16:11; 25:14.
(13) What divine law was illustrated in the exaltation of our Lord? Page 38, par. 1.
(14) Cite some Scriptures showing that our Lord’s exaltation was dependent on his faithfulness to the Father’s will, and that his exaltation is a proof of his faithfulness even unto death. Page 38, par. 2.
(15) What was our Lord’s reward and what is the proof thereof? Page 39.
(16) Give the meaning of the name Jehovah. Page 40.
(17) Cite some Scriptures and elucidate them in proof of the heavenly Father’s excellent glory and honor and dignity and power. Pages 40 and 41.
(18) To whom is the great name Jehovah applied in the Bible? Page 41, par. 2.
(19) By many it is supposed that the name Jehovah belongs also to our Lord Jesus. Is this correct or not? Page 42, par. 1.
(20) How about the term Jehovah-Tsidkenu found in Jeremiah 23:5,6, apparently applicable to our Lord Jesus? Explain its significance and application. Page 42, par. 2.
(21) Are other Hebrew words used in the Bible showing compounds with the word Jehovah? Page 43, par. 1.
(22) Is the fact that our Lord appeared amongst men before he was „made flesh” (before he assumed the human nature) a justification for the application of the Father’s exclusive name, Jehovah, to him? Page 43, par. 2,3.
(23) The Apostle styles our Lord Jesus „The Lord of Glory” (I Cor. 2:8); and in Psa. 24:7-10 Jehovah is mentioned as „King of Glory.” Does this justify the thought that Jesus is Jehovah? Page 44, par. 1.
(24) A fifth proof that our Lord Jesus is Jehovah is educed from the comparison of Isa. 2:2-4 with Micah 4:1-3. What is the proper answer? Page 44, par. 2,3.
(25) What is the proper thought respecting the sixth objection based on a comparison of Psa. 90:1,2 and Micah 5:2? Page 45, par. 1,2,3.
(26) What is the seventh claim on this subject and how should we understand Isaiah 25:6-9? Page 45, last par., and 46, par. 1.
(27) Consider the eighth text offered in proof—Isa. 9:6. Do the titles, Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace prove that Jehovah is another proper name or title for our Lord Jesus? Page 46, par. 2,3.
(28) Do the Scriptures which refer to Jesus as the Arm of Jehovah prove that Jehovah is the proper title for our Lord Jesus? If not why not? Page 46, par. 4, to 47, par. 5.