Alan A Croot

Genesis 3: 9

Matthew 8: 27

Acts 16: 30

         We have read three extremely important questions.  I would like to speak a little about who asks the questions, about why the question is asked, and what the answer is to each.

         We will begin in Genesis.  I have not read the scripture that surrounds these verses.  I do not wish to take them out of context at all, but, even the youngest will know and understand the setting in which these questions are raised.  The first one: Man, Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden, having sinned, having eaten of the tree that God said Man was not to have eaten of.  Man is there in the garden, that garden of Eden, planted with the very best that God could provide for His creature and. having set Man there in the midst of it, God comes to speak with Man and He asks him a question.  God Himself asks this question.  Now I believe God would still ask this question and He would ask it of every one of us and He is asking it now, “Where art thou?” 

         Why does God ask?  It is not that God did not know where Adam was.  We know that God knows where you are, where I am.  There is nothing hidden from God.  God asks this question, and He would ask it of you and me tonight, for each one of us to contemplate; where do we stand before God?  God says, “Where art thou?”  Adam does not explain where he was hiding; that was not the point.  God is asking this question to establish where you are in your relationship with Him.  How do you feel as God asks you the question?  Consider it.  There are two people alive in the world, only two, and God, the Creator of them, asks the question.  There are not many places you can hide.

It is not like sitting in a class of thirty children and the physics teacher says, ‘Who can tell me the law of …?’  You can often duck the question then, can you not?  But it is not like that.  You cannot avoid this question.  You may say, sitting in your chair, ‘I do not have to answer it’.  My friend, you have got to answer this question.  One day you will have to answer it, and I suggest you pay attention to it today.  It is very important.  This is the first question asked of Man after sin had come into this world, and sin is still here and sin will stay here until the Lord Jesus comes to claim His own and until eventually this world is rolled up and done away with.  “Where art thou?”  God asks this question that man’s conscience should be exercised and He would ask it tonight.  You may be able to tell me, ‘I am sheltering under the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is my Saviour’.  What a wonderful position to be in!  That is an answer which God loves to hear.  He would like all men to be able to answer this question in that way.  I wonder whether you can.  What would you answer to this question?  Adam does not answer it directly, does he?  But what he goes on to say, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I feared, because I am naked; and I hid myself”, is an answer.  Do you feel like that?  Where are you in your soul?  Where are you in your relationship with your Creator, the One who could say, “And God created Man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”, Gen 1: 27.  Who more important than God could ask you a personal question today?  Think about it.  What answer can you give to God?

         Now we will just touch on Matthew’s gospel.  In Matthew we have very different circumstances.  You may like to consider for a moment the four thousand years that have intervened between these two questions and what had happened.  Each of us is very privileged to know something of what has happened in between.  There may be those in this room who could recount all the Books, for instance, that come between Genesis and Matthew, and maybe some that could tell you much of the history from memory that goes through each.  Everybody here could tell me, ‘Well there was Abraham’, and it says of Abraham that he walked before God.  And there was David, a man who fought battles for God in a wonderful way.  There was Jonah.  He tried to get away from God when God asked him to do something, but God had His own way with him.  We could all say something, under God’s grace, that He has given us to teach us from the things that have intervened.  Now we have the disciples accompanying the Lord Jesus here in this very world in which we are.  They had been with Him for some time at this point and they are with Him, as you know, in a boat on the sea in Galilee.  They had seen very wonderful things which the Lord Jesus had done in His power which no other man had ever been able to do before or since.  These men had been wonderfully impressed by the influence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They knew it.  They accompanied the Lord Jesus because they had learned to love Him.  They accompanied Him because He had called them out of what they were doing to go with Him and they had gone.  Can you imagine One’s call so powerful that you leave behind what you are doing?  Some of the men were fishermen, and they just left behind their nets, their boats, their parents and they went and they followed the Lord Jesus Christ.  Think of the power of the call of the Lord Jesus.  He still calls today and He is calling you and me.

         But let us come to our question.  These men are there in the midst of a storm in the sea in a tiny boat and they think they are going to die, and they call upon the Lord Jesus in their need.  It says that He awoke and He says to them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?  Then, having arisen, he rebuked the winds and they sea, and there was a great calm”.  How wonderful, but what does this rouse in these people’s hearts?  What does it do?  The question comes, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”  These men had seen lepers cleansed - an incurable disease healed, you may say, in a moment.  They had seen blind people given sight, they had seen demons cast out, they had seen water turned into wine.  These men know of the power of the Lord Jesus already; so this question is asked by people who knew Him well, who have been with Him, but still they ask it.  It is wonderful to contemplate and I would encourage you to think about all three of these questions for as long as you can remember them.  “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”  He is a Man like no other man.  What does the hymn-writer say?

         The mighty God, a Man become!

                   (Hymn 34)

This was none other than God here in a little boat on the sea of Galilee in the country of Israel; there was a Man asleep in a boat.  How close God has come to you and me!  How could He have come closer than to come as a Man, a perfect, holy Man?  These men knew He was different.  They had learnt that in the Lord Jesus there was something they had never seen before.  Have you seen it?  Have you been brought to marvel and ask a question like this, “What sort of man is this?”  Think about it, contemplate it.  It is worth contemplation till the day you die and you will never regret minutes, hours, days, maybe years spent in contemplation of the answer to this question, “What sort of man is this?”  Why did they ask the question?  They ask out of sheer wonder!  They have come to know something of Jesus.  You may say they thought they knew Him, and then they find that the very universe is obedient to His word.  What about you, dear friend?  What about me?  He could address the clouds, He could address the sea and in a moment there was calm.

         We read at the beginning, we just referred to the scripture, of God creating us in His image.  How much rather, do you think, we should be obedient to the Lord Jesus?  What does He desire us to do?  He desires us to come to know Him, to contemplate Him, to put our trust in Him.  These men put their trust in Him.  Would you not put your trust in a Man like this?  Is He not attractive to you, One who has so much in His grasp, so much in His hand, and He wants to give you the very best of what He has got?  He wants to share it with you.  He wants you to enjoy it as well.  You can be a co-heir along with the Lord Jesus.  How wonderful is that!  What more could God do for the an that is created in His image than to give him to share in what the Lord Jesus enjoys in sonship before Him? 

         The answer to the question, “What sort of man is this?” is that it is God Himself who was there, but it is not an answer which, in a sense, finished there.  That is absolute fact, but you could go on thinking many, many things that are answers to this question.  Here is a Man who is holy, untouched by sin, untouched by the ravages of this world, here in flesh and blood conditions, but not a sinner.  Here is a Man of whom it says that no guile was found in His mouth, 1 Pet 2: 22.  Here is a Man who in every step and moment of His life fulfilled God’s will in perfection, a wonderful, holy Man.

         Let us move on to the scripture in Acts.  Here we have very different circumstances.  Again we know the scripture.  We have two men, who both love the Lord Jesus.  We see them taken, beaten, their backs are bleeding from stripes which had been inflicted upon them, they are cast into a jail in very horrible circumstances, and their feet chained to the stocks.  What was the result?  There were two men singing praise to God.  I do not know whether that prison had ever heard anything like that before, whether those walls had ever taken account of anything like that before.  I suggest probably not.  Here were men, men who had committed themselves to the Lord Jesus, men who could give you an answer far better than I could as to “What sort of man is this?”.  They knew very well what sort of Man the Lord Jesus was.  Their faith and trust was in Him, and we know that as they were there undaunted by all that man had tried to inflict upon them it did not manage to stop their enjoyment of the Lord Jesus and His love, of speaking of Him and of His greatness, of their trust in Him.

         The earthquake comes and it says the doors were opened and the foundations of the prison shook, and it was open for all of them to go out.  The jailor comes, the jailor who had been charged with the responsibility of keeping of these men safely, and it says, “And having asked for lights, he rushed in, and, trembling, fell down before Paul and Silas.  And leading them out said, Sirs, what must I do that I may be saved?”  This is asked by a sinner.  It is asked by a man who becomes conscious of his own state of soul.  It is as if God asked him, “Where art thou?”  Ah, we do not know how God had spoken to him.  He must have thought to himself, ‘These prisoners are very different to every other prisoner I have ever had’.  He must have been thinking about that.  We do not know how God had spoken to him, how He had prepared him for this, but this question is asked by a man who is a sinner, and I would urge you, dear friend, to think about this question too because each one of us in our natural state and away from God are sinners.  This is a question which is very, very pertinent to every one of us, “what must I do that I may be saved?”  Why did this man ask?  Because he recognised his need; he could see it.  He wanted a share, something of the joy and life that he saw in Paul and Silas.  There was something there in these men which he had never seen before, something that he wanted a part of.  As you see someone who has their faith and trust in Jesus, what do you see?  You see somebody who has peace, somebody who has joy.  Maybe you know what it is like to have it in your own heart.  I wonder what others see when they see you.  Do they see something like this jailor saw in Paul and Silas?  If you were unjustly treated and taken and put alongside other men and locked up, would they see in you something that was seen in these men, Paul and Silas?  Would it be such that others in that prison would say to you, “what must I do that I may be saved?”  What a testimony there is here to the Lord Jesus and to His work in these two men!  He asks because he too wants to share what it is like to be a forgiven sinner.  I trust, dear friend, that you would like also to know what it is to be a forgiven sinner.  I hope every one of us would have been able to give the answer, from experience, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house”.

         Now we know that that does not mean that just because the jailor believed all his house would be saved, but it is for the jailor to believe and all his house to believe individually and then they would all be saved.  That applies today.  It is not sufficient just that mother and father believe.  You need to believe yourself.  Now, you may say, it is not that I do not believe.  This is worth again a lot of contemplation, what is meant by “believe on the Lord Jesus”?  There is more to this, dear friend, than simply saying, ‘Yes, I believe that Jesus was here and He suffered for me’.  There is again the rest of your life’s contemplation worth thinking about believing, believing on.  It is just not ‘Believe’, it is “Believe on”.  I think we need to take on the gospel, take it on.  One has said that we need to search it out, and these things are worth searching about, search into the glad tidings, search into the Lord Jesus, “What sort of man is this?”  Think about Him, search after salvation and see how much there is in “believe on the Lord Jesus”.  Make it your own and nurture it, and you will find as you believe on the Lord Jesus that everything He has done becomes important to you, and every aspect of it is vital to your salvation because this is the Man who has given His life for you, taken up that perfect, holy life, laid it down upon the cross when He was made sin for you and for me, the Just for the unjust.  It has only happened once.  It only needed to happen once.  Scripture says, “even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death … so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous”, Rom 5: 12,19.  The Lord Jesus having taken your case and my case upon Himself, having been made sin for you and for me, has borne God’s judgment - God’s wrath upon all that we have done - that you and I should go free.  Well may we ask the question: “What sort of man is this?” ’The mighty God, a Man become’ to take up your case and mine in love that you and I should go free.       

         Think of those women who came to the tomb in which the Lord Jesus was laid.  What did they find?  They found the stone was rolled away.  They found the tomb empty.  You may ask the question again, “What sort of man is this?”; One of whom it says in the Old Testament that God would not “allow thy Holy One to see corruption”, Ps 16: 10.  He would not allow the Lord Jesus to remain there in that grave.  The hymn-writer says:

         Up from the grave He arose.

He has risen out of that grave never to go that way again, taken up from this world, taken up to be crowned at God’s right hand with glory and honour, a place that no other man could take, no other man could access, but the Lord Jesus is there at God’s right hand for you and me.  He would like you to have a portion with Him in that place of glory and you share in it, something of the greatness of the place that He has as God’s beloved Son as we enter into the privilege of sonship, having put out faith and trust in Him, having been taken up by Him like we were this morning, taken in the enjoyment of sonship into God’s own presence.  What a wonderful Man He is!  ’Believe on Him’ is a very deep thing, it is a detailed thing in one way.  In another way it is very simple and links very much with what we sang in our hymn,

         Simply trust Him, that is all.

                      (Hymn 439)

         Well, I have not more to say, but I would trust that we will remember these three questions, that we will think about them, we will think about who asked them.  We maybe put ourselves in some of those questions, we will think about why they were asked and think about the answer.  “Where art thou?”  Let us never forget that this is a question God asks of each one of us.  And then the men that accompanied the Lord Jesus; “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”  Then a man whose need becomes so apparent to him that he simply says, “Sirs, what must I do that I may be saved?”  May we all be able to answer these questions!  May we take them to ourselves and may we think about them, and may we each be found as those that have put our faith and trust in this wonderful Man, One who has shed His precious blood to save us, the One who is now seated at God’s right hand.  May it be so, for His Name’s sake. 


23rd November 2008