Matthew 27: 32-44
1 Peter 4: 14
Hebrews 11: 23-28; 13: 10-15
AMcS I thought it would be helpful for us to speak together about the reproach of the Christ. We are living in days when there is great pressure on the saints to conform to the world. There is pressure upon children to go along with the current of what is proceeding at school. There is pressure upon our sisters to conform to the fashions of this world. Our brothers are also under pressure to go along with the social world that marks the workplace. Each one of us would feel these things. There is one thing that would keep us from being conformed to the world, and that is some sense in our spirits of the reproach of the Christ. He Himself has been here. He has walked the pathway before us and there is no one who has suffered to the extent that He has suffered. Psalm 69 helps us as to His inward feelings concerning His sufferings, and there is a depth to that Psalm perhaps few of us would be able to handle. Nevertheless, there are verses from that Psalm quoted in the New Testament that help us to see that Christ is in mind, at least in some of the verses. Our Lord came here to do the will of God. As a result He was reproached all through His life, and never more so than when He hung upon the cross. The fact that the Lord Jesus hung upon the cross was shameful in itself. He "endured the cross, having despised the shame", Heb 12: 2. Think of the end of our Lord's life, how they nailed Him to a cross and gambled for His clothes as He hung there. However, there was more than that. Men cast their reproaches upon our Lord as crucified in weakness, 2 Cor 13: 4.
Peter does not appear to have been near the cross. In his first epistle he speaks of being a witness of the Lord's sufferings (1 Pet 5: 1), but there is no mention in the gospels that he was present by the cross. Peter had not been able to bear the reproach of the Christ, Matt 26: 69-75. Yet, in his epistles, we see how Peter was recovered and how he would help us to accept the reproach of the Christ. It is clear that it is only as the Spirit is free within us that we can accept that it is a blessed thing to be reproached in the name of Christ. If the Spirit is not free within us, if we are marked by the self-confidence that Peter was marked by, then very soon we will be marked by the cowardice that was seen in him and we will not think reproach is a blessed thing. However, reproach is a blessed thing, and there is compensation for those who accept being reproached in the name of Christ, in that the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon them. We might get help as to what is involved in that.
In Hebrews 11, we see a man who had a good upbringing, at least for the first three months of his life, and received care from his sister in Pharaoh's palace. Moses was also skilled in all the wisdom of Egypt and had all its riches. There came a point in Moses's life where he had to make a decision. It may well be that many of us are at that crossroads today. There is a decision to be made. We would seek to encourage one another to make the right decision, because the recompense is far greater than the cost, the recompense is far greater than the reproach. Moses found, and will find in the day to come, that the recompense is far greater than anything that the treasure of Egypt could ever give.
Finally, in chapter 13 we find that our Lord was crucified “without the gate”. His death involves that we have a place in the holiest. We also have an altar, which involves the privileges of Christianity. How wonderful that is! But if we are in the gain of what it is to be inside the veil, and if we fully appreciate the blessings of all that is connected with the altar, our great desire will be to, "go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach".
ECB It is a matter on which we used to speak much more than we do now. The tendency to become accommodated to the general environment in which we are is something against which we need defence. It is interesting that in the case of Moses, in particular, the word of God and direction of God was enough for Him. We used to hear a lot more about it in the preaching of the gospel.
AMcS I trust that we will touch on that side of things because it is my conviction that recovery for us all, as individuals, will come as a full and true gospel is preached and accepted by us.
ECB The scriptures that you have read carry the idea that the reproach of the Christ is its own reward.
AMcS Yes. What makes it special is the fact that He suffered. That is what was in mind. There are many exercises that the brethren carry as to conformity to the world amongst us, but the answer is Christ. I thought we should start with Him and bring Him before our hearts that it might rally the saints to Him and then, as rallied to Him, we can accept the reproach that is connected with Him.
ECB It is of interest in the scripture in Matthew that it is the Son of God who suffered this. It is the Son of God, as if someone as great as that could endure all this for us.
AMcS The fact that He is the Son of God includes that He is able to help us with our infirmities. It might naturally go against the grain for us as to accept reproach but He is Son of God and He has passed this way before and He is able to intercede on our behalf that we might be maintained in relation to bearing His reproach.
DAB We had a word a few years back about the dream that Joseph's butler had relating to the pressing of the grapes. What was observed was that there are things about the Lord Jesus that we would not know if He had not suffered. They are among the things that we love Him for the most. What was coming out in Him we need to take on.
AMcS It is the fact that our Lord has suffered that is particularly in Peter's mind in his first epistle. In the way the Lord responded to reproach, He has left us a model as to how to suffer, 1 Pet 2: 21. The Lord Jesus would therefore be the lever in our souls to help us to be prepared to accept reproach.
DAB What Peter goes on to refer to as to what He suffered we cannot enter into: He bore our sins. I like what you say, it is how He suffered.
AMcS Peter himself was full of self-confidence. That can mark any of us. When they came to take the Lord Jesus in the garden Peter took the sword and cut off the ear of the bondman of the high priest. That kind of bravado is not what is in mind at all. Peter then went from one extreme to the other. He denied Christ. The great thing is to have our eye not on ourselves but upon our Lord.
In Matthew 27 a person who was apparently thought to be disreputable was pressed to carry the cross. Simon of Cyrene was the kind of person whom they would compel to carry the cross of Christ. We know from Mark's Gospel that there was a result from that. Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus, apparently believers; so the worst plans of men come to nothing, Mark 15: 21. That is the character of the first part of the section that we have read. Everything was done to shame the Lord Jesus to the point of stripping Him and putting Him on a cross and casting lots for His garments. Think of the indignity of that. Had they said nothing to Him the whole scene, in itself, was marked by shame which the Lord despised. However, there was more than that; men actively reproached the Lord Jesus at His weakest moment.
ECB Does it not say prophetically, "Reproach hath broken my heart" (Ps 69: 20); and yet He went on?
AMcS The Psalms help us as to the inward feelings of Christ as He passed through sufferings. I would have liked to have read Psalm 69, but you feel you need to go carefully with these Psalms because even part of a verse might refer to Christ, and the other part to the Jewish remnant. There are parts of Psalm 69 that are quoted in the New Testament. It was the zeal of God's house that devoured Christ, Ps 69: 9; John 2: 17. It is because of that, that our Lord Jesus was reproached, but He did not feel it in a stoical way. He felt it in His heart that persons were reproaching God, and those reproaches were falling upon Him. He knows how we feel about these things. He understands.
ECB I often think of the verse in John, "as the Father has commanded me, thus I do. Rise up, let us go hence" (John 14: 31), and He was going to the cross.
AMcS He was. He knew what He was going to bear when He got there, and the reality of His manhood was such that He would feel it, and feel it as none other could feel it. The sufferings of Christ involved the delicacy of His humanity: He would feel suffering in a way that we could not quite feel it.
EFW Would something of the depth of His feelings be seen in Gethsemane because He knew exactly what He had to go through? No one else knew, and His tears are very moving.
AMcS At Gethsemane, our Lord had the totality of all that the cross would involve before Him, including the forsaking of God. From that point onwards, things change as to the history of our Lord Jesus, if we can say that in a reverent way, because now it was man's hour and the power of darkness, Luke 22: 53. We do not find Him now passing through the midst of the people as He did in Luke 4: 30. We find Him being delivered up to the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus was mocked. Think of what He suffered from the soldiers in the praetorium, the spitting and mocking and beating. After that, He went to the cross and hung there as a spectacle to the whole world. Think of the shame of it. That is what our Lord went through.
QP I wondered whether it links on with your line that in Paul's epistle to the Corinthians, where we see in particular the influence of the world on the saints, he speaks of "the word of the cross" (1 Cor 1: 18), and then, "For I did not judge it well to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified", 1 Cor 2: 2.
AMcS The word of the cross involved what was expressed in the apostle as he went to Corinth. Paul was well able to take the Corinthians on their own ground intellectually, but he determined not to do that. He was not going to use in Corinth what he had learnt at the feet of Gamaliel, Acts 22: 3. Paul was determined to bring in the reality of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
DAB What you have read and what you have suggested shows that the hours from the third to the sixth have a glory of their own. It has very much laid hold of me that I trust the perfection of what was seen in those three hours, because if there had been any doubt then, how could the darkness that followed possibly have been contemplated?
AMcS The first three hours involved the height of what the Lord suffered at the hands of men.
DAB It impressed me that Satan's object was to taint His offering, to cast some shadow on His spirit.
AMcS We see particularly in Luke the way that our Lord dealt with reproach when He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do", Luke 23: 34. That is the line that ought to lay hold of us, not the self-confident bravado that takes some kind of joy in being reproached in a natural sense. We have to be careful as to what we say, but there are professing Christians who seem to take some pride in acting like that. That is not the thought at all. The thought is that the Lord felt it and felt it keenly, but in His spirit He was able to react as only He in its fulness could react.
HAH Mr Gardiner used to tell us about Elijah's offering, 1 Kings 18: 33, 34. They were to put the water on, and do it the second time, and the third time. He said that the Lord felt the power of what He suffered in the Sanhedrim, and then before Pilate and the soldiers, and then the reproaches of the cross itself - “Do it the third time”.
AMcS There is something in the forsaking that is beyond us (while we will be eternally thankful for it). It is something that we cannot comprehend, although as accepting it by faith we owe our very being to it. Yet we can take full account of what led up to that point. Paul could say, “I fill up that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ in his flesh”, Col 1: 24. Our love ebbs and flows. Perhaps we were able to bear reproach last year, perhaps not this year. The only thing that will help us is the fact that our Lord went that way first, and He will support us in it.
JW Men sought to humiliate the Lord here but He "humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross", Phil 2: 8. The Lord deliberately went this way, knowing what was coming upon Him.
AMcS es; particularly from the Mount of Transfiguration. “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9: 51), knowing all that would befall Him there. There was nothing that took our Lord by surprise. He knew what man would do to Him, but He went forward. Thank God for that!
RMB In connection with the verse you quoted in Psalm 69, I notice that the first part of it, "the zeal of thy house hath devoured me" (v 9), is something that the disciples remembered at the time when the Lord Jesus claims the temple; but the second part, "the reproaches of them that reproach thee have fallen upon me", is not quoted until much later by the apostle Paul in Romans 15: 3.
AMcS What the Lord did in John 2, which impressed the disciples in connection with Psalm 69, is really the reason why man awarded to Him the cross. It was because the Lord “published righteousness in the great congregation” (Psalm 40: 9), that man awarded Him the cross. In Romans 15: 3, Paul mentions in connection with not pleasing ourselves, the other part of Psalm 69 which you quote. No ordinary man accepted the cross like Paul accepted it. It is seen particularly in 1 Corinthians 4 where Paul refers to the apostles being set forth as “a spectacle to the world”, 1 Cor 4: 9. We also see in the second epistle all that Paul went through as he bore “about in his body the dying of Jesus”, 2 Cor 4: 5-12. I feel tested in saying these things but Paul was qualified to mention that verse in Psalm 69.
RMB I wondered whether that thought, that the reproaches of them that reproach God should fall upon Christ, was something which the apostles came into the understanding of later through thinking about the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. Do you think the understanding of that was the fruit of their prayerful reflections afterwards?
AMcS Yes. There was no one quite like the apostle Paul who followed the Lord in that pathway. When he was converted it was said of him that he would be shown the things that he would suffer for the Lord's name, Acts 9: 16. As reflecting upon that, Paul never became bitter or introspective. He just accepted that if a man is going to be here for the will of God, reproach will be connected with that. We also need to accept it. If we are going to be true Christians, as we are identified with a Man who has been reproached on the cross, we will also be reproached.
RMB In Matthew 27, the suggestion is that the Lord was there because He was not in the pathway of the will of God. The implication is that God would not have Him, because in some way He had offended or departed from God; but that verse in Psalm 69 shows us that, because Jesus was so much in the place of God here, all the venom which men directed at God Himself fell upon Him.
AMcS That is why Peter says, "take not as strange the fire of persecution which has taken place amongst you", 1 Pet 4: 12. It is the common lot of a Christian to suffer reproach. We want to encourage one another just to accept that because we all take the ground of being Christians.
DJH I was thinking of the number of times it comes in in the Galatians, "I am crucified with Christ", Gal 2: 20. If we were taken account of in that way in the world we would suffer the reproach of the Christ. Then he says, "the world is crucified to me, and I to the world", Gal 6: 14. It is in that setting there in Galatians where the religious flesh was coming in. It is something which would bear upon us.
AMcS Paul could say, "I am crucified with Christ". It did not matter what anyone said to Paul in Galatia or at Antioch in the way of reproach because he knew the reality of the cross of Christ in his life. We get upset when we suffer reproach because we really have not judged ourselves entirely. If we had judged ourselves we would accept reproach as the common lot of a Christian.
That brings us on to our next scripture. Peter in his epistles gives the experience of a man who had been adjusted. All of us can identify with Peter in the gospels. Reading his experience is like looking in a mirror. No one can look down on Peter. We look at his experience and see our own experience. We have been like Peter. We have let the Lord down. We have been hasty and impetuous. There have been times when we have been self-confident. There have been times when we have been cowardly. It is wonderful to see the way Peter got the gain of all that he passed through. The Lord appeared to him and adjusted him. Therefore, when Peter received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he was able to bear reproach when he and the apostles were accused of being filled with new wine, Acts 2: 13. Peter never became bitter as to that. He responded in the light of “the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God” resting upon him, and with a new covenant ministry was able to present Christ to those who listened. I wondered whether there was a lesson for us in 1 Peter 4.
DAB Do you think he got the gain of what the Lord had said to him John 21, "Follow thou me", v 22? I am impressed that his following became more and more exact. He speaks here about following in His steps. The more exactly you follow the more you learn about the way that Jesus went.
AMcS We need to keep close to the Lord and not allow any distance to come in. We also need to ensure that our relationships with the Holy Spirit are right. Peter had been marked earlier by self-confidence (Matt 26: 35), and if we are marked by self-confidence then the Spirit will not be free within us. Peter then went from one extreme to the other in associating himself with persons in the world, Matt 26: 58. We all know from experience that the Spirit will be grieved if we associate ourselves with worldly persons and we will not be able to accept being reproached in the name of Christ. That is what they did to Peter; they said, "thou wast with Jesus the Galilean" (Matt 26: 69), "thou wast with the Nazarene, Jesus", Mark 14: 67. They were really reproaching Peter in the name of Christ and he could not accept that.
DAB He had missed a blessing by the company he chose to keep.
ECB Would you see a connection between what Peter is saying and what has already been referred to in Psalm 69 which is a Psalm almost entirely about reproach? It says, "the reproaches of them that reproach thee have fallen upon me", Ps 69: 9. Now Peter says, “If ye are reproached ... the Spirit of God rest upon you”.
AMcS If the Spirit is free within you and persons reproach you, you feel a real sense of blessing in your soul. However, we all how many times we have been reproached and we have felt very sad or hurt. Maybe we think too much about ourselves. If the Spirit is free within us then we would feel as Peter states here.
ECB Being what we are, it is very difficult for us to understand that reproach is a glorifying process, but there is power from God's side as we seek to be here for Him, as Jesus was entirely. There is power from God's side to sustain us through every aspect of reproach because God is greater than man.
AMcS xactly. You stand in the open air and as persons mock you for your preaching, you feel a certain blessing in your soul because they are only mocking you because you are preaching Christ.
ECB If I can refer to personal experience, when I was in the army we preached in the open air in Africa twice a week in uniform, week after a week. You never felt that you were at risk, in a sense, from man.
AMcS I know we need to be careful in the days we are in, in open air preaching. We need to be careful in this city. It is a violent city, but sometimes perhaps it is not so much the danger that worries us, but rather the reproach connected with open air preaching.
ECB Perhaps it would help if you said a word as to what you understand by reproach.
AMcS I thought that the shame which the Lord despised as He endured the cross was the fact that He hung there as a spectacle. Had nobody done anything more or said anything more to Him, it was a shame in itself. But when a person reproaches you it is an active thing. Persons actively seek to say or do things to you that might tend to hurt you. The reason that they are doing it is because you are naming the Name of Christ as a Christian.
ECB “If as a Christian ...”, v 16. The need to be willing to be identified as a Christian is something very much called for in the present day, with clarity as to what being a Christian is.
AMcS There are two sides we need to stress. We know what it is not to confess the Lord's name and then find ourselves in difficult circumstances like Peter. On the other hand, one might say, 'I am a Christian', and in the next breath say he is going to the football stadium, or some other worldly place of amusement. There needs to be consistency with the name of Christ.
ECB Nowadays, the newspapers do not favour Christianity, but sometimes they say of a man or a woman, that he or she was a committed Christian; they are people that are exposed to reproach.
AMcS That is the way it ought to be with all of us.
JW Does the reproach of the Christ and the Spirit go together? The Spirit is the answer to all our weaknesses which we find in ourselves. “The Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you.”
AMcS It is only through the power of the Spirit that we are able to bear reproach. Otherwise we will be like Peter, either self-confident or cowardly. It is the Spirit's power that comes in, particularly in Romans 8, to help us to suffer with Christ. When we are reproached in the name of Christ and the Spirit is free within you, there is something added that comes out in expression, the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God. It is like Paul and Silas saying to the Philippian jailor, "Do thyself no harm" (Acts 16: 28). We need to be prepared to suffer for the name of Christ, but not to be bitter as a result. We need to be able to act like Christ in such circumstances.
JMW In relation to what has been said, I notice that immediately after the Lord Himself quotes Psalm 69, "They hated me without a cause" (John 15: 25), He brings in the Spirit. He says, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes forth from with the Father, he shall bear witness concerning me” v 26. Does that confirm what is being said?
AMcS It does. The Spirit is here. He is here to maintain what is due to Christ, and for that He uses persons. If the Spirit is free within me, then I will maintain what is due to Christ in the way of testimony in the scene of reproach.
JMW I was wondering as to reproach, whether the element of hatred enters into it. The Lord Jesus Himself says, "If the world hate you, know that it has hated me before you", John 15: 18. I wondered whether the element of hatred is something that we feel very keenly in our spirits. There is active hatred against Christians, but at the same time the Spirit has come as a Comforter.
AMcS There is hatred, and as time goes on, hatred may increase, but the response to that is unconditional love, if the Spirit is free in the Christian. The Christian's love for men in their sins is not dependent on those persons’ love for the Christian; it is entirely unconditional. There is forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit for men. That is what comes out in what we have in Acts 2: 13, Peter was being mocked. They were virtually saying that he was just a drunkard. Peter does not act in the same spirit in which he was treated. The Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God was resting upon him and he had a wonderful gospel message to touch those who were listening.
DJW I wondered whether Peter shows us that not only was an indelible impression of the sufferings of Christ left upon us, but the spirit in which He bore those sufferings, "who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not; but gave himself over into the hands of him who judges righteously", 1 Pet 2: 23. Would that expression bear upon us in the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resting upon us?
AMcS It must be so. Men tried to humiliate Christ, but He had already humbled Himself, Phil 2: 8. When men did their worst to Him He never treated them in the same way. He never reviled again. There was nothing of that character with the Lord at all. He responded in unconditional love. That is what is expected of the Christian. When a Christian is reproached in the workplace or anywhere else, he does not respond in the same spirit. He meets it on the ground of the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resting upon him.
DJW I am sure that is right. Do you think it brings out the value of the Holy Spirit that He would produce those same features in us?
AMcS Yes. We need to have the sense in our souls that if we have suffered reproach it has been for Christ. There is a tremendous blessing in our souls when that takes place that we would never have received had we not trodden that way.
DJH It is a wonderful expression, "for the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you". It seems that in this world where we are, the Holy Spirit would find somewhere where He can be complacent in that way. It is not only what it is for us, but what it is for the Holy Spirit. Is that another side of it?
AMcS I am sure of that. Peter in the gospels was a restless person. That can mark any of us. We need to be honest about that. We are often quite restless and anxious about what is happening here and there. It is good to see the gain Peter received through the work of Christ and gift of the Spirit because after that there is something very restful in Peter. Look at him in Acts 12. His life is in danger but he is fast asleep. The Spirit could complacently rest upon such a person. The test is, is it so with us?
DH Regarding Moses and Hebrews, it speaks about the treasures of Egypt which he could have had. That test does not apply perhaps to most of us, but do we see supremely in the Lord Jesus all that He laid by to come here and suffer the reproach of the cross?
AMcS Our Lord “emptied Himself, taking a bondman's form”, Phil 2: 7. When He “became a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises” (Rom 15: 8), He could say, "for also the things concerning me have an end", Luke 22: 37. The Messiah would be cut off and have nothing, Dan 9: 26. And yet on resurrection and ascension ground, in a day soon to come, the whole universe will be seen to be His.
That takes us on to Hebrews, because it is very much in line with what motivated Moses to make the decision that he made. I wondered whether Moses might be a help to us. I think, if I could say it with the greatest of respect, many of us might find ourselves in the same position as Moses was. He had a very favourable upbringing with parents who prayed over him and cared for him as long as they possibly could. It was in God's providence that his mother was placed in Pharaoh's palace to continue the care that Moses needed. Yet at the same time he was being built up in all the wisdom of Egypt and really had everything at his disposal. You might say simply, the world was at his feet, yet there came a point in Moses life when God revealed Christ to him. That made the difference.
MRC You said earlier that this could mark a turning point in the lives of any one of us. We are challenged that there is something before us that is attractive, but what makes us hold back? How do we overcome?
AMcS The responsibility of the servant is to place before the saints an object of attraction. God Himself also shows to us the bitterness of the world. In Deuteronomy 8, the Israelites looked back over the wilderness, and they would remember how God suffered them to hunger, v 3. They had no sustenance. They found out what the world truly was, and at that point they were ready to receive the manna, they were ready to receive what speaks of Christ. That may well be what is happening to the people of God at the present time. God is passing many of us of us through deep waters in many ways, but I think the result He is looking for is that we might choose Christ.
DJR Do you think too that accepting the reproach often means that we need to have some patience? Moses accepted the reproach but it was forty years before he was taken up for service.
AMcS Patience is a prime feature in the life of the Christian. If the Christian is not patient then he is not in communion with Christ. That speaks to a lot of our hearts. The service came forty years later but the recompense, I judge, still awaits him.
DJR That is good because he did not actually go into the land except when he appeared with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration, Matt 17: 3.
RHB Is the recompense wholly future?
AMcS I think there was something revealed to Moses in the way of the knowledge of God that was very blessed, but as to the fulness of the recompense, I wondered whether it awaited a coming day.
RHB I was thinking of what Moses said in the Psalm, "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations", Ps 90: 1. Then he had the privilege of association with Christ in glory on the mount. I thought there was for him, and for us, a present recompense. The Lord speaks of receiving in the present time, “and in the coming age, life eternal”, Luke 18: 30.
AMcS I think in its fulness it awaits a coming day, but there is something that Moses proved no doubt in God's company and God's presence after he made the right choice. All through the forty years that Moses spent in the wilderness God would have been very near and dear to him. In addition, what Moses saw when he went up the mountain in Exodus is almost unparalleled. The whole unveiling of the divine system that was communicated to him was surely greater than all that Egypt could give. But, I wondered whether the fulness was seen partially in the Mount of Transfiguration and then will be finally seen in the part Moses will have in the world to come.
RHB I wondered whether there is an order in the passage you have read. It says "refused to be called son of Pharaoh's daughter", and then "he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king". I wondered if there has to be, with purpose of heart, an inward refusal before there is a willingness to leave. It is the leaving that draws the reproach.
AMcS I am sure of that.
ECB The context of this section in Hebrews is that the resource was in faith. I suppose there is that aspect of faith which assures one that God will see you through, but faith in what is yet to come, respect to the recompense, is future. What is the resource that would enable us to face reproach?
AMcS I am glad you bring that up because it was in my mind. In 1 Peter 4, it is the Spirit; in Hebrews 11, it is faith; and in Hebrews 13, it is affection for Jesus. They would all help us to accept reproach.
AGS Is it remarkable with the malefactor that there comes a time when he refuses to accept the reproach of his colleague? He chooses not to deny the Lord's name. He says, "Remember me, Lord" (Luke 23: 42), and then he has the recompense in what the Lord says to him. Assurance.
AMcS In saying "Remember me, Lord," the malefactor was looking forward, but the answer was, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise", v 43.
AGS You feel very much for the dear young people because there comes a point when you have to make a stand. This man did, and you might say it was the last sentence of his life, but he makes a statement. It says of those in Philadelphia, "hast not denied my name", Rev 3: 8. Do you think affection links with a love for the Person, love for the Name?
AMcS That is what I think is the key to it all. What we are seeking to do in this meeting is to encourage one another. We all have concerns, we all carry exercises, but the best way to face them is to encourage one another by presenting Christ.
DAB Do you think that the temptations in the beginning of the gospels show that the Lord Jesus understands the choices He expects us to make? Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Moses had said, 'No, the reproach is greater'. Mr Gardiner used to say that it was as well it was only a moment of time, or all the suffering and evil would have come out. I exhort the young people; ask yourself, 'Why does Satan not show you that side of the world as part of his offer?' Also remember that the one who is making that offer is the same one who inspired the reproach against Christ at the cross. His offer is not worthy to be entertained.
AMcS It is a sugar coated pill, but really it is poison that will lead to moral and spiritual death. We would seek to encourage one another that there is something greater in connecting ourselves with Christ presently than going on with the course of this world.
QP I wonder whether it bears on our enquiry as to the recompense that at the end of Revelation the Lord Jesus says, "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward with me, to render to every one as his work shall be", Rev 22: 12. Do we need to be careful not to put the coming of the Lord as merely future, but as a present living hope? His reward is with Him.
AMcS We all need to live our lives in the light that our Lord could come at any time. It would help us morally, and also it would give us a sense of joy, that the One who has loved us is coming for us. Just to see His face will be enough.
JSH You have spoken about the love for the Person, the Person Himself. I was reading this week as to David and Jonathan where it says that Jonathan loved David, 1 Sam 18: 1. He was not occupied with all that was around and all that had happened, but there was the person himself whom he loved.
AMcS There comes a point in our lives when it is not only what our Lord has done for us, wonderful as that is, but it is Himself that lays hold upon us. It is really the sense of the glory of who He is that eclipses everything else in this world.
GCB Do you think if we are prepared for the reproach of the Christ we have Himself? Those standing by the cross, they would not have chosen any other, they had Himself and His word, and His love.
AMcS That is what I feel. It is the reproach of the Christ; it is such a person that God has committed Himself to because he brings pleasure to His heart. Only the Lord can bring true satisfaction to our hearts. God has not given us a difficult choice. It is such a Person as the Lord Jesus He is asking us to commit ourselves to. If there is reproach with that, it is only because it is connected with our Lord.
DJH It is the reproach of the Christ, not the reproach of Christ. It is more than what is personal. It is what is personal, but it is the Man that God has chosen.
AMcS My impression is that right from the time of Adam, in relation to the promise that was given as to the seed of the woman, persons who had faith had the light of the world to come. Moses' parents had faith; Miriam, although she had her ups and downs, had faith as well. The light of that would be communicated to Moses so that he would know that even if there was going to be suffering now, finally he would be associated with that blessed Man in the world to come.
DAB Did you suggest that God had given Moses a revelation as to Christ?
AMcS I think there must have been some impression laid upon Moses as to the greatness of the One who would become Man, and suffer, and then reign publicly in the world to come.
DAB I wondered if then we could say to the young people who feel challenged by the offers the world is making, that they could pray for a revelation, something very personal that they could regard as their own, as a gift from the Father.
AMcS The servant needs to ask God to show him Christ, that it might colour his ministry amongst God's people. Young persons need to see that God is not a hard God, but a Saviour God and His great interest is that we “should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”, 1 Tim 2: 4. So, if we set ourselves in the way of that then God will not be our debtor. There is no doubt as to that.
PJW Peter had a revelation from the Father "But ye, who do ye say that I am? And Simon Peter answering said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God ... flesh and blood has not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in the heavens", Matt 16: 15-17.
AMcS That is fine. Peter was not morally up to that at the end of that chapter. The Lord had to say to him, "Get away behind me, Satan" (v 23) because he was not prepared to accept the cross, but in his epistle he is up to it. That has been our experience. We need to be honest with one another. There is nobody here who can take high ground. We have all had our failures, we have all made mistakes, but God in His grace has given us another opportunity to commit ourselves to Christ. That is what we are looking for.
EOPM The tenses are interesting in this passage in Hebrews 11: “he refused”; that is definite and final, he came to a point in his life. For many of us, that was an experience we had like Saul of Tarsus. But, the other two, “choosing” and “esteeming” are continuous. We have been speaking about the young people, but I think some of us who are older need to maintain this because it may not be features of the world as we get them in the slippery paths of youth. Some of the temptations are worldly principles, and earthly things continue with us. If we are continuing to choose and esteem we will be a good example to those following on.
AMcS And persevering too. That is why I read the next section, "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he persevered, as seeing him who is invisible", v 27. As you know, it is harder to maintain a position once you have arrived at it than to arrive at it in the first place.
EOPM That is certainly my experience, but we have to do with One who can remember for us the day of our espousals (Jer 2: 2), can remember the day when we refused certain things. We may be able to look back on a brighter day with regard to some temptation or the other, but God remembers that for us. We need to go on choosing and esteeming. I have been impressed recently, in the last three or four fellowship meetings I have been at, that line has been quoted, 'And the things of earth will grow strangely dim'. It is because we are looking on Christ. That is the way round. If I am looking at the world and expecting it to grow dim it probably will not, but if I am looking at Christ, it will.
AMcS That is why, "repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20: 21) is the moral order, but it is not the chronological order. Chronologically, faith comes before repentance.
EOPM We were reminded recently that there is a great need for conversion among us. I do not mean that the saints are unconverted, but the exercise and conviction of conversion among our young people coming into things for the first time, maybe. It needs to be maintained. Paul had such great light and was given such great entrance into things because of the fact that he had gone so deep in his personal exercises. Philippians 3 mirrors Philippians 2 - he went down and down, step by step, in no way in the depths that the Lord went, and then he came up. We need conversion and need to maintain a depth of conversion.
AMcS And it needs to be maintained in repentance as repenting sinners, Luke 15: 7, 10. In Hebrews 13, we, as Christians, have an altar. That is a very wonderful thing. It involves the privileges that are connected with Christian fellowship. The Christian also has a place inside the veil. That is tremendous. It was not open to an ordinary Jew in the past dispensation, nor will it be open to a Jew in the coming dispensation, but the Christian has that place inside the veil, Heb 6: 19. If we have these privileges there is a further thing that we need to accept, and that is, "go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach".
ECB We need to give the camp a wider bearing than other religious bodies. I wondered whether the camp does not imply the whole of the world's system. We frequently use it in regard to the Christian profession, but it really has a bearing on the place that the believer takes in the present world.
AMcS There is a profession of Christianity in the world.
ECB Yes, but the believer has to have a judgment of the whole system of things that marks the present age. In the past, we have seen the way in which politics entered into the meetings. That is part of the camp which we are to leave. I remarked in the beginning when you said we preach about reproach, that we very rarely hear of it.
AMcS I would expect that any person who seeks fellowship should do so on the basis that they are converted. I will say more as to what I mean by that in the address. The fact is that there was no place for the Lord Jesus in the camp. The camp is an amalgamation between what is religious and what is political. It includes an ordered earthly service of worship. The cathedrals might seem to represent it in the most flagrant forms, but every religious system that is amalgamated with what is political practically denies Christ His place.
DAB Would it be overstating the matter to say that He is the only Person for whom the world has no place? That is the challenge because it has a place for me and the problem we are talking about is my reluctance to give it up for One whose right place is denied?.
AMcS The fact is that in many circles profess to know the Lord, but they hold error as to His Person. Some popular places in Christendom hold error as to the Person of the Lord Jesus. The kind of error we are referring to is not new. It was refuted by Mr Darby in the early 1800s when he insisted that the Lord as to His Person is sui generis - of His own kind. You cannot regard our Lord's humanity as equivalent to sinful humanity. The Lord Jesus was and is pure and holy in every way and yet you will find that prominent systems in Christendom blasphemously say that He could have sinned. That is blasphemy and we can have no part in that. Such doctrine is an attack on the sinless humanity of Christ. Persons who hold such doctrine have their eyes blinded and our place is to be with the Lord outside of all that. It is because it is the Lord, it is Him that we love and we want to be with Him where He is.
RMB We have spoken about the bearing this has on our position in relation to the world and in relation to Christendom generally. Does this have any bearing on believers with whom we may have once walked in fellowship?
AMcS If the saints sadly divide, the Lord does not go with sides. It is for us to find where the Lord is, and seek to be with Him.
DAB Our obligation is to ensure that in any sense in which we have a position it is congenial to the presence of Christ because we could leave the camp and bring its habits and pastimes with us, and even have them in our homes. That seems to me to confound the whole exercise that you have brought before us.
AMcS That line of things is a concern because we might well be outside of everything that is religious (although still part of the great house, 1 Tim 2: 20), and then go on with what is worldly. The exercise in suggesting these scriptures is to encourage us to make the right decisions in life. In this scripture, it is Jesus. The personal name of our Lord is used on its own in this epistle more than seven times . It is calculated to draw our affections to Him. We have to determine for ourselves where the Lord is. We have to speak to Him personally about that and ask Him, 'Where art Thou, Lord'? We need then to ask Him for the grace to help us to go to Him. If there are any others with the Lord, we can thank God for that, but our responsibility as individual Christians is to be where Christ is.
RMB Do we not find that involves a certain amount of reproach? The departure that has come into the recovery of the truth is very painful in practice at times, but to find Him is all the recompense.
CJRB Does Hebrews 3 make it clear, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession" (v 1) and it goes on to say, "if indeed we hold fast the boldness and the boast of hope firm to the end" (v 6). Does that strengthen your desire in this reproach?
AMcS We do not want to go back to what we have left. What we want is to be where the Lord is because He is there. That is my exercise.
15th September 2007