John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…
Those who do not regard Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, find themselves at once placed in a difficulty, by the very attitude which He assumes toward mankind in this respect. The Bible abounds with the very strongest denunciations against the sin of trusting anybody else but God. The ancient law pronounced a distinct curse upon any man who fell into this sin. The Psalmist exhorts us not to allow ourselves to be drawn into it (see Jeremiah 17:5, 6). Now, if our blessed Lord laid Himself out to induce, on the part of His contemporaries, a moral attitude towards Himself, which was incompatible with the direct law of God, He was not a good man, but an impostor. Christ was either the Son of God, or else, from first to last, throughout the whole course of His ministry, He allowed persons to fix upon Him a confidence which they ought not to have reposed upon any person — whatever his pretensions — unless that person were God Himself. Nay, it is not merely that He permitted His people to trust Him; but He actually held Himself forward as an object of faith. He positively demanded faith in Himself before He would comply with the entreaties of those that approached Him. Still more emphatic is the position which He occupies in the moral world. He represents Himself ks the object of the sinner's confidence. "As Moses lifted up the serpent," etc. What blasphemy if He be not the Son of God! I venture to say that the man who fixes the eye of intelligent faith upon the dying Son of Man, if Christ be not the Son of God, is guilty of idolatry, and the blighting curse of the prophet will rest upon him: "That man shall be like the heath in the desert, he shall not see when good cometh." I marvel greatly, then, if Christ be not the Son of God, why these results do not follow. How comes it to pass that those who trust Him most fervently, are not the most shrivelled beings on the face of God's earth? I said I was to speak to you about Christ's trustworthiness. There is this great truth that underlies it all; but I want to point out other considerations that lead us in the same direction, in order that our faith may be strengthened. First, He gathered around Him a little band of followers, and asked them to do a good deal. Their fishing boats and nets, to be sure, were not very valuable property; but then, remember, these were all they had. What authority had they to make such a tremendous sacrifice? Simply the bare word of a Stranger, who says, "Follow Me." Very well, did He prove Himself trustworthy? They wandered about with Him many a weary night; sometimes their commissariat was very slender indeed; yet, somehow, they never wanted; "the five barley loaves" managed to supply the wants of all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus. "Jesus Christ is the same to-day." In our outward circumstances, how many are there of us that make proof of it? How many are there of us who pass through difficulty and trial, and sometimes have been sore straitened, and yet the Lord has met our wants"" He has fulfilled His promise. Is that all? No; by no means. From beginning to end of our Lord's blessed ministry, He was continually being approached by the children of want and misery. Now observe — from the nobleman at Capernaum to the dying thief on the cross of Calvary, the very first thing He demanded of them was confidence; and we do not read of one single case where that confidence was ill reposed. There were plenty of enemies who would have been glad to point to such cases. Contemporary history says nothing about them. The Jews have left no contradiction of the glorious facts which our blessed Lord actually achieved: the cases where He failed remain unknown, and will for ever remain unknown, because they never existed. All this leads up to the conclusion that the Lord Jesus Christ was pre-eminently a trustworthy Person. But now, one step further. If He was trustworthy in these minor details of His daily life, does it not seem reasonable to conclude that He would also be trustworthy in the great work which He came into the world specially to perform? "Well," you say, "it was a greater work than any of the rest." So it was. "It entailed a great deal more moral power." Yes, a great deal more. "It involved vaster mysteries." Yes; all true. Set against that, however, another consideration. We shall readily admit that God must have known the nature of the work; He must have foreseen its difficulties, understood its condition. Now, there was only one Person God could have trusted with the work — His own eternal Word, co-eternal with Himself — One with Himself for ever — He could afford to trust Him. Now then, if God could trust Him with this work, I think we may trust Him with it. The passage of Scripture which I have brought before you, represents Him as "the faithful Witness, the First begotten of the dead." He stands before us as the risen Christ, and the question naturally arises, Is His character different now from what it was when He lived here on earth, 1800 years ago? Well, it seems only reasonable to suppose that the words of the risen Saviour will be even more trustworthy, if possible, than the words of a living Saviour. As the Son of God, He knew all about eternity from all eternity; but, as the Son of Man, He had to make that long, long voyage into that unknown region which lies beyond the stream of death. He has returned from His journey, and He stands before His disciples in the fulness of resurrection-life as "The Trustworthy." If He was trustworthy when He lived, surely He is no less trustworthy now. Lo! the risen Jesus stands before you. His very life witnesses to something. The fact that He is "raised from the dead to die no more" witnesses to something. What does it witness to? The very first words He utters, set my doubt at rest. He speaks of "My Father and your Father, My God and your God." What? Has a risen Christ borne faithful witness to me, that there is now established between fallen man and a holy God this blessed relationship, so that I may look up and say, "Father!" and that I may know that He looks down and says "Son!" What were His first words to the disciples, as they gathered together in fear and trembling? He stands in their midst, and says, "Peace be unto you." Is it true? The risen Christ says so: "the faithful Witness" says so. It is true; because it is witnessed to by a risen Saviour. The Lord Jesus Christ stands before us as "the First begotten of the dead," and as "the faithful Witness."
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;