Matthew 11: 28-30
Colossians 2: 20, 21
Colossians 3: 1-4
1 Thessalonians 4: 18
In reading these scriptures, I was thinking of the impact that Christ is intended to have on us. I feel challenged, beloved, as to what impact Christ has had on me and on my life. Where we read in chapter 11 of Matthew, a very well known chapter, very well known verses, is often used in the gospel preaching - I have often used it myself. And it is often used in occasions like these because the Lord Jesus in this section is not exactly speaking to sinners; He is speaking to saints. He is speaking to believers, persons who believe on Him, persons who have a relationship with Him, and He says, "Come to me". This is Christ in His life on earth. Now, we cannot come to a Christ who is on earth. We know but little of how He was here in His life on earth, but I believe we have been given enough to realise the character of Man who was here, a Man who was unique, a Man who was beyond compare. There was never anyone like Him. And He says in His life here, "Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest". Is that not a wonderful invitation, beloved? And, you know, that can have its application to us every day of our lives. We can come to Jesus. We can know the blessed reality of what it is to come to a Man who is tender-hearted, a Man who expresses all that God is, and does so in love. He expresses the love of God. It has been found in expression in a blessed and glorious Man, and that Man would say, day by day, to each one of us, "Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest". His desire, beloved, in the tenderness of His heart is that we should come into rest. The prophet Isaiah says, "This is the rest: cause the weary to rest", chap 28: 12. We find it in Christ. We find it in that one blessed and glorious Man who was so unique, so different from every other man, and He would say to us, "Come to me".
Then He says, "I am meek and lowly in heart". Who knew meekness the way Jesus knew meekness? Meekness is related to affliction. Who knew affliction the way Jesus knew affliction? "In all their affliction he was afflicted", Is 63: 9. He endured it, beloved. He "endured so great contradiction from sinners against himself", Heb 12: 3. How wonderful was the pathway of Jesus! He says, "for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light". He has a yoke, beloved, and the Lord Jesus in His ways with us would put a yoke upon us. He would put responsibility upon us. He would put His yoke upon us, but He says, "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light". He would never put upon us anything which we could not bear. He gives us the grace, He gives us the power to go through anything which He Himself would lay upon us. Well, this is the life of Christ.
In Colossians we have the death of Christ and the impact that it is intended to have upon us. It says, "If ye have died with Christ from the elements of the world, why as if alive in the world do ye subject yourselves to ordinances?" It seems as though, in spite of the fact that these Colossian saints had come under the sway of the death of Christ, they were allowing other things to divert them. They were allowing things like philosophy and vain deceit to allure them out of the way of subjection to Christ, v 8. So he says, why do you do it? And we may well ask ourselves the question: why do we allow other things to come in to divert us from the blessed Lord Jesus Christ? We have to reject certain things. There are things which are out of keeping with the Christian faith. There are certain things which are out of keeping with the Christian life, and I believe it is incumbent upon each one of us to reject these things, to be firm in our rejection of them. He is very strong in his language here, but it involves that we have died with Christ. If we have died with Christ these things which may appeal to us naturally lose their appeal for us. That is a very testing thing to say because these things do still appeal to each one of us, I am sure. They certainly appeal to me, but I believe the divine intention is that we should appreciated that we have died with Christ.
But then he says, "If therefore ye have been raised with the Christ". We have been "raised with the Christ", certain things, certain features, certain characteristics have been left in the grave. As we come to a judgment of these things, beloved, we leave them in the grave. We identify ourselves with the death of Christ. Now I just wonder often what impact the death of Jesus has had on me. What impact has the death of Jesus had on you, beloved brother and sister? I often think of these words in Deuteronomy where Moses says, "Jehovah was angry with me on your account", Deut 1: 37. As we think of Moses as a type of Christ, we realise that He has borne the wrath and judgment of a holy God in order that we may be set free, in order that we may come into liberty. It says, "if therefore ye have been raised with the Christ", we have left these things in the grave and we have been raised with Christ.
So Paul says, "seek the things which are above, where the Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God". If the life of Christ here has its impact on us, and if the death of Christ has its impact on us, the current life of Christ where He is in glory is intended to have a tremendous impact upon our lives: “seek the things which are above, where the Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God”. That is the area from which the blessed Holy Spirit has come in order that our hearts might be free as related to that blessed Man where He is in glory. “Have your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth”. So not only do we seek the things that are above but we have our minds on the things that are above. I believe that if Christ has His full impact upon us, we will indeed have our minds on heavenly things. This would be the main bent of our lives, not the puny things of this world, not these weak and feeble things that clearly had diverted these Colossian saints, but things related to a blessed Man where He is in glory. “Have your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth; for ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God”. Then he says, "When the Christ is manifested who is our life". Oh, is Christ our life, beloved brethren? That is a great challenge to the heart of each on of us, but the divine intention is that Christ should practically be our life. Paul could say in Philippians, “For for me to live is Christ", chap 1: 21. I believe, beloved, that is normal Christianity: "For for me to live is Christ". "When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with him in glory". These references we have had this evening to the coming of the Lord Jesus are intended to give us a thrill in our hearts. Very soon He is coming, beloved, as our brother said at the preaching we had on Lord's day. The rapture is ahead but also the public appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful time that will be! It is intended, I believe, to have its present impact upon us. Very soon He is coming. As another has said, 'He is on His way'. Very soon He will be here to take us to be with Himself. Let us be constantly on the lookout! Let us be as the prudent virgins who have oil in their vessels for the light so that the light is shining for Christ, Matt 25: 8, 9.
Beloved, let the life of Christ have its full impact upon us! Let His life as it was here, let His death, let His life where He is now in glory each have its full impact upon us so that we are ready for that great and glorious day when He Himself will come. Indeed we can hasten that day. When it takes place is in the Father’s hand, as we know. Even the Son knows not the hour (Mark 13: 32), but, oh beloved, let us hasten that day by being ready, ready for that great and glorious meeting in the air, wonderfully encouraging words, as we read in Thessalonians: "encourage one another with these words". May we just be occupied with Christ more and more, beloved, for His Name’s sake!
2nd August 2007