Through the Bible Day by Day
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
WORKING THROUGH HIS FOLLOWERS
The Galilean ministry was coming to a close. The light that had shone there was to move southward and set behind the Cross. Before finally leaving the district our Lord made one last effort on its behalf. Calling together the Apostles He laid His plans before them, divided the district into sections and sent them out in pairs. He gave them no outward investiture, but the inward power of casting out evil spirits. Nothing was to distract them from the great object of heralding the kingdom of God.
Here we seem to encounter the origin of medical missions: their object in healing body and mind; their authority in the command of our Savior; their claims for support. George Eliot once said wisely: “The tale of divine pity was never yet believed from lips that had not first been moved by human pity.”
Notice how Herod’s conscience tormented him! He had begun to feel that scourge, which has never failed to find and follow out the murderer, from Cain onward.
And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
“GIVE YE THEM TO EAT”
Christ feeds the world by His Church. The disciples passed the bread from His hands to those of the hungry crowds. What an honor that though we are least of saints we should have this opportunity of co-operation! But how often are we prepared for our work by being compelled to study the inadequacy of our resources. The only thing for us to do is to place them at His disposal.
But the bread of life is sufficient for all mankind. “They… were all filled.” There is a universal adaptation between hunger and bread. Other foods are confined to special countries and districts, but bread is for the educated and ignorant, the rich and poor, the old and young. So with Jesus Christ. To every soul on earth His living, dying love makes its appeal, and is enough to satisfy.
The fragments feed the distributers. More was left over than had been possessed at first. To impart to others is to gain for oneself. Fling the seed broadcast. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you!
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
THE TRUE USE OF LIFE
Here and also in Luk_9:28 reference is made to the Master’s prayers. He was praying alone, before He broke to His friends the death which awaited Him and in which we may have some share; He was praying, too, when the cloud of glory overshadowed Him. Would it not be well to begin this new day with the resolve to pray more! If the Lord needed it, surely we do, whether for the Cross or the Transfiguration Mount.
Into such prayer, petition and intercession must needs enter. But, ah, what prayer that is, which is neither of these, but the opening of our nature to the inflowing of the divine nature, which is Love, when the soul recognizes its oneness with God and the whole universe!
Our Lord asked these questions that He might lead the Apostles to crystallize their own conceptions in Peter’s magnificent affirmation. But they who will follow His footsteps must expect His lot! First, the Cross is set up in our heart, and day by day our old self-nature is crucified there; then we have to endure for others the Cross of rejection, shame and death. But it is thus that we gain ourselves and come into possession of our own souls. If we dare take this path, neither here nor hereafter will Christ be ashamed of us.
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
A GLIMPSE OF GLORY
From some aspects this was the highest point in our Savior’s earthly career. He was the second Adam and had not sinned. There was no reason, therefore, that He should die. He might in a moment have been changed; that which was mortal might have been swallowed up of life. The door through which Moses and Elijah had come stood open, and by it our Lord might have returned. But He could never, under those circumstances, have been the Savior of mankind. He knew this, so He turned His back on the joy set before Him and set His face toward Calvary.
Moses came as representing the Law; and Elijah, the Prophets. Each of these great departments of divine revelation had anticipated His coming, Luk_24:27; Luk_24:44. As stars fade in the sunrise, so their mission was now merged in Him. They spoke of His decease, literally, His exodus, and it was from this that Peter caught the term which he applied to his own death, 2Pe_1:15. The Apostles never forgot this manifestation of the glory of the Lord, 1Jn_1:1-4; 2Pe_1:17. When you hear that Christ is the Beloved of God, remember Eph_1:6.
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.
THE GREATEST SERVE THE NEEDIEST
When the mountain is bathed in the glory of God we are loath to leave it. But we must not tarry in the enjoyment of its raptures, when the plain contains so much misery. Saints and angels on the one hand, demons on the other! The disciples that have not enjoyed the mountain fellowship have no power over the unclean spirits that haunt men. It is easy to denounce demons; we must do more-we must exorcize them.
But let it never be forgotten that if you are able to cope with the devil, in the power of God, you must be prepared for the Cross, Luk_9:44-45. We cannot die for men, as Jesus did; but we can suffer rebuke and shame with Him, and thus “fill up that which is behind” of His afflictions, Col_1:24.
Let us seek the child-heart! We must distinguish between childishness and childlikeness. One of the loveliest pictures of the coming time is Isa_11:6. Only childlike souls can tame and conquer the beasts. Let us welcome simple holy souls, and be ourselves of that class; and let us cultivate large-hearted charity toward those who cast out demons, though they be not of our school.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
THE STEADFAST FACE
The Master’s steadfast face rebukes us! Alas, we so often flinch and cannot appropriate Isa_50:7. But whether we follow afar off or closely, that lithe, alert, eager figure is always in front and taking the upward path.
We need to remember which kingdom we belong to. We have passed out of the sphere of force and war, into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love. It is a reversal of the divine plan of evolution to go back to the fire of vengeance. The only fire that we can invoke is that of the Holy Spirit; and it is remarkable that one of these two brothers lived to call down that very fire on those same villages. See Act_8:14-25.
The Lord was ever acting as a winnowing fan, detecting the wheat and the chaff in human motive. Be prepared to follow your Lord through loneliness, homelessness, the rupture of tender ties, and the plowing of a solitary furrow. But keep your eye fixed on the correlatives supplied on the eternal side of your life!