Matthew 12: 13-21; 3: 13-17
1 Samuel 8: 5-7, 10-12, 19, 20; 16: 1, 6-8, 11-13
Luke 23: 13-18
1 Peter 2: 4, 5
I have an impression as to the Man of God’s choice. We have had it before us today already, the beauty of the Lord Jesus, the One of whom Jehovah could say typically, “I have provided me a king”. This stands in contrast to the man whom men would choose. The choice of the people was Saul; God’s choice was David. When the Lord was crucified, men would rather have Barabbas than Christ. Then we come in 1 Peter to what has been “cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious”. God's choice is the line that we need to be on. As away from God we have no ability to make a right choice. I am not presenting the Lord Jesus as a choice to you in the gospel; I am presenting Him to you for your acceptance. God is not holding out Christ in the gospel in order that you can make up your mind whether or not to choose Him as your Saviour; He is holding Him out for your acceptance. Scripture says, “by which we must be saved” (Acts 4: 12); that is the message in the glad tidings today. God has made His choice, He has provided Himself with a king, He has provided the Lord Jesus for His own affections and it is for us to come into line with that. There is no other Man before God, nor will there ever be. It is for us to align ourselves with the Man of God’s choice and there is opportunity to do that now. If you have not done it before you can do it now in faith, just where you are in your seat, and I would commend this One to you. God commends Him to you. God is not commending any other than the Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, the One of whom it could be said prophetically, “Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth!”, Isa 42: 1. That thought coalesces with the Lord Jesus coming out of the waters of baptism in Matthew 3, “thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness”. No one could say that except the Man of God’s choice, the Man whom God has appointed.
It was not an arbitrary choice, but it was as coming up out of the waters of baptism that this prophecy was fulfilled, “the Spirit descending as a dove from heaven, and it abode upon him”, John 1: 32. He was sent from the waters of baptism, but sent as One who was morally qualified to be sent. Think of these thirty years, of the Lord Jesus as a boy of twelve in the temple, hearing and asking questions, advancing in favour with God and men, Luke 2: 46, 52. What an object of satisfaction and delight for heaven! These thirty years underlie the time of public service, the time when the Lord Jesus would be sent. What is recorded of the Lord Jesus in these thirty years is sufficient to engage our hearts, to think of what these thirty years were for the heart of God as that blessed Man was here wholly for God’s pleasure. How blessed to have your heart engaged with that precious One, the One who Himself was God. We were reminded of that in the reading, “emptied himself … taking his place in the likeness of men; and having been found in figure as a man, humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross”, Phil 2: 7, 8. That is what lay at the end of that perfect pathway, “the death of the cross”. There was no outward glory from men; that is yet to come. There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus will be publicly vindicated. His was a pathway here of outward weakness, but I trust you know the secret of the One who was here, the One who was God, the One who had to do with men, the One who can still have to do with you if you will give Him your heart, if you will extend the hand of faith towards Him now. How ready He is to bless!
I was affected with the perfection of the pathway of the Lord Jesus. Think of Him coming to John in this way, “for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness”. No one else could have said that, “all righteousness”. That could only be said by the Lord Jesus or of the Lord Jesus. Then we have the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven and a voice out of heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight” - testimony to the delight that the Father had in Christ in these thirty years. This is the identification of heaven with this man, the man of God’s choice; the Father committing Himself fully. It is not to say that there was anything previously that He could not commit Himself to, but this was not an arbitrary choice, this was a choice which was proved to be the right choice as the Lord Jesus moved out in service. What an object He is for our hearts! How different He is to the kind of man that you or I may seek after the flesh. Saul was an imposing man, he was the one that the people wanted. They wanted to be as the other nations. That is always a problem: if we seek to be as the world, there is no blessing in that. God’s choice is not bound up with what the world is doing, God’s choice is in one Man and in one Man only.
In 1 Samuel 8 it says, “appoint us a king to judge us, like all the nations”'. There is something transpiring on earth among the people of God which is not approved by man; it has its approval from God. There is a danger in seeking to be like the nations, and so the gospel would change our tastes and change our desires away from what would please us naturally and bring us into accord with heaven’s view of things. This history is well known, but there is a stark contrast between what the people wanted and what God wanted. I wonder whether that struggle is going on in your heart? If there is a struggle there, if you are seeking to do what is right and you find that you do not have the power in you to do it, the power is available; it is available in the Holy Spirit. It is not typically spoken of in this chapter, but the divine resource is such that God would give you the means to walk here pleasurable to Him, and to be apart from all the nations and what men are going on with.
Samuel was obviously disturbed by what the people wanted, but Samuel himself had secret leanings towards Saul, because in chapter 16, it says, “How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?” There is what man would choose, what we would choose ourselves as away from God, and then there is what God has rejected. These two things coalesce, what man chooses and what God rejects eventuate in the same line. We need to be on the line that God has approved, that God has chosen, and that is the line of David, a type of the Lord Jesus. We have read of the anointing of this blessed One. I believe we do this every Lord’s day morning, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he”. There is no other. There is what is impressive to man, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him; for it is not as man seeth; for man looketh upon the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh upon the heart”. As away from God we are incapable of making correct choices; we need the Spirit’s help and we need the Lord Jesus set before us as an object in order that we can get direction and be guided aright. Samuel would have chosen any of these men, but Jehovah said, 'it is not this one or that one'; “Jehovah has not chosen these”, v 10. Then he says, “Are these all the young men? And he said, There is yet the youngest remaining, and behold, he is feeding the sheep”; what a qualification for the man of God’s choice, a lowly service feeding the sheep, not seeking recognition of men. I have been affected by the thought of shepherding this week, how it really underlies all service among God’s people. The feelings of care and protection are involved in shepherding. It is interesting how many men in the Old Testament who became prominent in God’s things had shepherd instincts and had an education in shepherding, and so it is with David. It says, “Jehovah has sought him a man after his own heart”, 1 Sam 13: 14. He is a man of God’s choice. I think more than anyone in the Old Testament he speaks to us of Christ in that way. “Arise, anoint him; for this is he”; there was no other person before God. “And Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren. And the Spirit of Jehovah came upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.”
It is interesting how the Spirit is linked with these things. I say again how essential the Spirit is if we are to be found here in any measure pleasing to God. The Spirit is given to those who obey and also to those who ask, so there is no reason for anyone here not to have the Spirit. It is a question of being submissive to what the Lord would have you to do; and also you can ask the Father; how readily He bestows the Spirit.
Regarding our scripture in Luke’s gospel, I used to wonder why these men chose Barabbas, but it is in our hearts as away from God without the light as to who Christ is and what He has done. We have to come to it that naturally we would not have Christ. As it says, “We will not that this man should reign over us”, Luke 19: 14. Crucifixion was a terrible death, but that was the death that was appointed to Jesus, the Man of God’s choice. Death lay at the end of that pathway of perfection, but it was all in the foreknowledge of God that it should be so. It speaks in Peter of “the blood of Christ, foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world”, 1 Pet 1: 19, 20. So, while men did this in hatred and cruelty, it served God’s purpose and it is a blessed fact that that is so. Man chose Barabbas who was a murderer, after the line of Cain; they chose him rather than Christ, the Man who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners”, Heb 7: 26. There was nothing in this Man, the Man of God’s choice, to arouse hatred or enmity. Always pleasing to the Father, every step of His pathway in entire accordance with the Father’s will, never a motive, never a thought emanated from the Lord Jesus that was not wholly in keeping with the will of God. What an object for our appreciation and our contemplation! We read typically of Him, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he”, there is no other man. There is no other man being presented in the glad tidings today, and God has no other man in mind, but God has you in mind for blessing, if you will accept this Man for yourself and the work that He has done. The divine choice was publicly stated at the Jordan, anticipative of the Lord Jesus going through what we read of here, suffering at the hands of men, ultimately suffering at the hands of God, when “Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us”, 2 Cor 5: 21. It was not on account of anything He had done, for He was ever perfect before a holy and righteous God, but if we were to come into blessing, and if God’s purpose and thoughts were to be answered to, then it required that this perfect life had to be given up in death. That is what this book goes on to bring out. The Lord Jesus was crucified, men did that to Him, but far more awful than the suffering at the hands of man at the cross were the sufferings at the hands of God when He was made sin. There was darkness over the land for three hours. Think of the awfulness when He was made sin. He bore my sins in His body upon the tree; thanks be to God that He did that. He has removed them. As we had in the gospel last week, He has put them behind His back forever (Is 38: 17), they are never to be raised again, they are gone. The blood of Jesus, and the Father’s satisfaction in the work that has been done, has ensured that. The Lord Jesus is no longer in death. He was in death, He went into death, He died on the cross, and then His blood was shed. The soldier came and pierced His side with the spear, “and immediately there came out blood and water”, John 19: 34. What an answer to the hatred of man:
Though man in hatred pierced Thy side,
Thy blood, love’s answer gave.
Have you proved that? Have you some appreciation that the blood of Jesus was shed for you?
Shed for rebels, shed for sinners,
Shed for me.
I trust everyone in the room can put their name there, and say that the blood of the Lord Jesus was shed on the tree 'for me'. What a work has been done! A basis has been laid that man should be before God eternally. It did not end there; He was taken from the cross and put in the grave, “in the heart of the earth three days and three nights”, Matt 12: 40. These women went to the tomb very early in the morning, they found the stone rolled away and the angel sitting on it, testimony to the fact that the tomb was empty. The Lord Jesus was no longer in death, He had been raised, Matt 28: 2. What a proof of the Father’s full satisfaction in the work that had been completed; that there was nothing left to be done:
O the peace for ever flowing
From God’s thoughts of His own Son
That relates to His thoughts when He was here as a Man, it relates to what transpired on the cross, and it relates to the place that He now has. God’s thoughts as to His Son are not changed, but your thoughts need to change from the way that man views Him, to the way that God views Him.
I read in 1 Peter 2, “To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men” - I trust there is nothing in the Lord Jesus that you consider to be worthless, dear friend. How precious He is, precious to God, precious to those whom God has worked with, “but with God chosen, precious”. That relates to Christ, but, “yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood”, it goes on to cover the fact that that “the stone which the builders cast away as worthless, this is become head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence”, v 7, 8. Man after the flesh has not changed his thoughts as to Christ, but the opportunity is available for your thoughts to change, for your thoughts to come into accord with God’s thoughts as to Christ. There is blessing to be proved in doing so. Once that is so you can look back and see that, in the sovereignty of God’s ways, you have been marked out for blessing, but it requires that you come in faith and on the basis that the glad tidings are freely available to whosoever will. This is not outside the scope of any man. Indeed the Lord Jesus, the Man of God’s choice, is being presented in the gospel today for your acceptance, and for the acceptance of all mankind. I trust you will avail yourself of Him. God is not presenting any other man; there is one Man before God and that Man will be before God eternally. All our blessings are bound up with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We read last weekend as to the “the bundle of the living” (1 Sam 25: 29), and we read today as to the “Sustainer of life”, Gen 41: 45, note. He is the One who will sustain us in life and ensure that there is a living response for the heart of God, “living stones, are being built up a spiritual house”. May we be fully in these things!
For His Name’s sake.
3rd March 2008