I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.…
I. LIFE. We must not confound this with existence. Before the disciples believed in Jesus they existed, and altogether apart from Him as their spiritual life their existence would have been continued. Life, what is it? We cannot tell in words. We know it, however, to be a mystery of different degrees. There is the life of the vegetable. There is a considerable advance when we come to animal life. Sensation, appetite, instinct, are things to which plants are dead. Then there is mental life, which introduces us into quite another realm. To judge, to foresee, to imagine, to invent, to perform moral acts, are not these functions which the ox hath not? Now, far above this there is another form of life of which the mere carnal man can form no more idea than the plant can of the animal, or the animal of the poet. Education cannot raise man into it, neither can refinement reach it; for at its best, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," and to all must the humbling truth be spoken, "Ye must be born again." It is to be remarked concerning our life in Christ, that it is —
1. The removal of the penalty which fell upon our race for Adam's sin.
2. Spiritual life. Christ works in us through His Holy Spirit, who dwelleth in us evermore.
3. A life in union with God (Romans 8:6-8). Death as to the body consists in its separation from the soul; the death of the soul lies mainly in the soul's being separated from its God.
4. This life bears fruit on earth in righteousness and true holiness, and it is made perfect in the presence of God in heaven.
II. LIFE PRESERVED. "Ye shall live also." Concerning this sentence, note —
1. Its fulness. Whatever is meant by living shall be ours. All the degree of life which is secured in the covenant of grace, believers shall have. All your new nature shall thoroughly, eternally live. Not even, in part, shall the new man die. "I am come," saith Christ, "that ye might have life, and have it more abundantly."
2. Its continuance. During our abode in this body we shall live. And when the natural death comes, which indeed to us is no longer death, our inner life shall suffer no hurt whatever; it will not even be suspended for a moment. And in the awful future, when the judgment comes, the begotten of God shall live. Onward through eternity, whatever may be the changes which yet are to be disclosed, nothing shall affect our God-given life.
3. Its universality. Every child of God shall live. The Lord bestows security upon the least of His people as well as upon the greatest. If it had been said, "Because your faith is strong, ye shall live," then weak faith would have perished; but when it is written, "Because I live," the argument is as powerful in the one case as in the other.
4. Its breadth. See how it overturns all the hopes of the adversary. You shall not be decoyed by fair temptation, nor be cowed by fierce persecution: mightier is he that is in you than he which is in the world. Satan will attack you, and his weapons are deadly, but you shall foil him at all points. If God should allow you to be sorely tried your spirit shall still maintain its holy life, and you shall prove it so by blessing and magnifying God, notwithstanding all. We little dream what may be reserved for us; we may have to climb steeps of prosperity, slippery and dangerous, but we shall live; we may be called to sink in the dark waters of adversity, but we shall live. If old age shall be our portion, and our crown shall be delayed till we have fought a long and weary battle, yet nevertheless we shall live; or if sudden death should cut short the time of our trail here, yet we shall have lived in the fulness of that word.
III. THE REASON FOR THE SECURITY OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE. "Because I live."
1. This is the sole reason. When I first come to Christ, I know I must find all in Him, for I feel I have nothing of my own; but all my life long I am to acknowledge the same absolute dependence. Does not the Christian's life depend upon his prayerfulness? The Christian's spiritual health depends upon his prayerfulness, but that prayerfulness depends on something else. The reason why the hands of the clock move may be found first in a certain wheel which operates upon them, but if you go to the primary cause of all, you reach the mainspring, or the weight, which is the source of all the motion. "But are not good works essential to the maintenance of the spiritual life?" Certainly, if there be no good works, we have no evidence of spiritual life. To the tree the fruit is not the cause of life, but the result of it, and to the life of the Christian, good works bear the same relationship, they are its outgrowth, not its root.
2. It is a sufficient reason, for —
(1) Christ's life is a proof that His work has accomplished the redemption of His people.
(2) He is the representative of those for whom He is the Federal Head. Shall the representative live, and yet those represented die?
(3) He is the surety for His people, under bonds and pledges to bring His redeemed safely home.
(4) We who have spiritual life are one with Christ Jesus. Jesus is the head of the mystical body, they are the members. What were the head without the body?
3. An abiding reason — which has as much force at one time as another. From causes variable the effects are variable; but remaining causes produce permanent effects. Now Jesus always lives.
4. A most instructive reason. It instructs us to admire —
(1) The condescension of Christ.
(2) To be abundantly grateful.
(3) To keep up close communion with Christ.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.