Then He said to the disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
is the kingdom. It is present in the Present One. But," he says to his disciples, "he is present in a very strict sense. The time will soon be here when you will greatly long for his fellowship, and you will not be able to possess it. Do not believe those who will tell you that the Son of man is still on earth; it will not be true. His life below will be of the very briefest; it will be but as a lightning-flash which passes through the darkened heavens in a moment, and is gone again; so brief will be his stay, so soon will he be gone. But before he goes he must suffer many things; much must be done, for much must be endured, before his short day is done."
I. THE BRIEF DAY OF OUR LORD'S OPPORTUNITY. When we think of the long centuries that preceded, and of those that have already succeeded, the day of Christ, we may well regard his short visit to our world as a mere flash of light for transitoriness. What were those few months of his short stay among men compared with all those dark ages, and to all those that have been illumined by the light which his truth has shed upon them! But, transient as it was, it sufficed. It does not take long to utter or to illustrate the most Divine and the most vital truths; it did not take long to undergo the most mysterious and the most availing sorrows - it took but a few agonizing hours to die the death of atonement. Into that short day of opportunity our Divine Redeemer compressed:
1. The utterance of all needful truth - all the truth we need for our guidance into the kingdom of God, and for our passage through life and death into the kingdom of glory.
2. The illustration of every human grace; the living of a human life in all its perfect loveliness and grandeur.
3. The endurance of sorrow such as constituted him for ever the Man of sorrows, and the High Priest of human nature, touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).
4. The dying of that death which is the all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. A few months of time sufficed to complete his work and make him the Divine Teacher, Leader, Friend, Saviour, of the whole race of man for all time to come.
II. OUR BRIEF DAY.
1. Measured by hours, our day is very brief. Human life is abort at the longest. We are "but of yesterday,' and to-morrow we shall not be. The rocks and even the trees look down on many generations. And in all the bustle and battle, in all the pursuits and pleasures of our lira, the little time we have hastens away and is gone far sooner than we thought it would go. It is not only our poetry that sings, but our experience that testifies of the swiftness of our course beneath the sun.
2. Yet it holds manifold and precious opportunities of regaining our position as the children and heirs of God; of doing "many things" that shall tell even in future years for truth and God; of "suffering many things" after Christ our Lord, and in holy and noble fellowship with him (Philippians 3:10).
3. Its transiency is an urgent reason for
(1) immediate decision, and
(2) constant and earnest action in the cause of righteousness,
Whilst we have the light that shines, let us walk and let us work in the light. - C.
One of the days of the Son of Man.I. JESUS FORESHADOWS A CHANGE OF FEELING ON THE PART OF HIS DISCIPLES IN REFERENCE TO HIS APPEARING. They will desire to see one day a visible appearance of the Son of Man. If you have the spirit of Jesus, if He has come to you so that you know Him to be your Saviour and Friend, you cannot be free from such changes of feeling in reference to Him. No. There come to you times in which you think, "Surely my life in Christ is not pouring on me so clearly and warmly as it might do." You are inclined to murmur out such plaints as, "I cannot see His face, though I have eagerly looked for it; waiting to catch some beams of the wondrous glory resting on it, and be able to say, 'It is the Lord.' I want to feel His strong hand holding me up; but I do not grasp it, though I stretch out mine before, behind, on each side. My prayer this morning was that I might find to-day to be a day for a personal and new contact with Jesus." So there is a sense in which your feeling in reference to Him is somewhat changed. The day has come "when ye desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man."
II. JESUS FORESHADOWS HERE THE FAILURE OF SUCH DESIRES FOR HIS APPEARING. "Ye shall not see it." He does not want His people to indulge in vain dreamy longings. He does not want to frustrate hopes that at the bottom might express loyalty to Him, but are mistaken as to the way in which their purport is to be achieved. He could not grant that which would not be for the honour of God; that which would be to the hurt of those who desired only one day of the Son of Man.
III. JESUS FORESHADOWS HERE THAT THERE WILL BE FALSE ANNOUNCEMENTS MADE IN REFERENCE TO HIS APPEARING. "They shall say to you, 'See here! or see there!'" From history we find that there has hardly ever been a time of special trouble in the world, hardly ever a time of formality and deadness in the Church, but men have risen up to declare that the Son of Man was just coming, and that plans should be adopted to meet Him. But that is not the kind of expectation I want to warn you against; it is not the one that you are most in danger of succumbing to. But is there not a tendency to gather religious meetings under the idea that because you thus gather together Jesus will manifest Himself? Is there not a tendency to believe that, if you can get up a great organization to carry out a Christian purpose, obtain plenty of money, and seem to succeed outwardly, Jesus is there? Is that not saying, "See here, see there"? Against all that sort of thing His words ate meant to bear. You may gather meetings; you don't necessarily gather with Christ. You may get wealth to support your efforts; that is not a proof that Christ approves them. You may find numbers to sustain certain plans; that is no pledge, on the part of those numbers, that they are moving under the leading of Christ. You must learn that there is no power of life in those things by themselves. I do not despise meetings, wealth, or numbers. There is a certain value to be attached to them; but that value is just equivalent to any number of cyphers, good for something when you put one, two, or other numeral before them. So gather all kinds of people, money, and meetings; but until you put Christ into them they are of no real value. It is the power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that is to be desired, not the power of external agencies. Pray that your heart may be brought more and more into sympathy with His, and that you may more and more clearly know that you are living on the Son of God by faith. Then you will not need anybody to point out the Son of Man to you when He comes. You do not need anybody to tell you that there is light in this place — you know it; and when Christ appears, His servants will know it without going by the reports of others, without following any one. We shall know it by the power He Himself will exert. Meantime we have to walk by faith, and not by sight.
(D. G. Watt, M. A.)
1. We are bad judges of our present experiences.
2. We seldom value our mercies till we lose them.
I. Consider THE IMMEDIATE INTERPRETATION of the text.
1. Our Lord meant that His disciples would look back regretfully upon the days when He was with them. In a short time His words were true enough, for sorrows came thick and threefold. At first they began to preach with uncommon vigour, and the Spirit of God was upon them. But by and by the love of many waxed cold, and their first zeal declined; persecution increased in its intensity, and the timid shrank away from them; evil doers and evil teachers came into the Church; heresies and schisms began to divide the body of Christ, and dark days of lukewarmness and half-heartedness covered them.
2. These disciples would look forward sometimes with anxious expectation. "If we cannot go back," they would say, "Oh that He would hurry on and quickly bring us the predicted era of triumph and joy. Oh for one of the days of the Son of Man."
II. AN ADAPTED INTERPRETATION SUITABLE TO BELIEVERS AT THIS PRESENT MOMENT.
1. Days of holy fellowship with Jesus may pass away to our deep sorrow. While the Beloved is with you, hold Him, and do not let Him go. He will abide if you are but eager for His company.
2. Days of delightful fellowship with one another. Let us labour in love, zeal, humility; for a continuance of these all our life long.
3. Days of abundant life and power in the Church.
III. A MEANING ADAPTED TO THE UNCONVERTED. When on your death-bed you will be willing to give all you possess to he able once again to hear the voice of God's minister proclaiming pardon through the blood of Jesus. Emotions formerly quenched will not come back; you resisted the Spirit, and He will leave you to yourself; and yet there will be enough, perhaps, of conscience left to make you wish you could again feel as when almost persuaded to be a Christian.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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