”COME, SEE A MAN”

Peter S Barlow

John 4: 29

This verse came to me, beloved hearers, as I awoke this morning, “Come, see a man”. The gospel presents a wondrous living Man; it is an invitation, an invitation to each and every one of us; and the wonder of this invitation is that there is no limitation. We know what the world’s invitations are; they are often very limited. The invitations for the recent coronation were very limited due to the king’s desire for economy. But the invitation in the gospel has no limitations and it is available to all. I remember a dear preacher, known by all here, who stood up to preach where I was at the time, and he just said ‘“Come”: that means children, older persons, middle-aged, everyone’. And that is what the gospel offers tonight; it is an invitation to everyone to come and know this Man that this woman in John 4 found.

I did not read the whole passage as it was this particular verse that struck me, and I believe that is what has been given. But we know the story of this woman, and that the Man she was referring to was the One found sitting “wearied with the way he had come” (v 6), sitting “just as he was” at the well which she frequented. There He was, sitting there, and after a transaction with that glorious One what does she do? She goes back into the city and says, “Come, see a man … is not he the Christ?”. That is what the gospel presents to you; One who came in “a bondman’s form … in figure as a man”, Phil 2: 7-8.

Jesus came into this scene, the very One who was God Himself, drawing near to His creature man, as He is drawing near to you tonight in the gospel preaching. This is the Man which we preach; He was not one that came with great majesty, pomp and glory, but One who came into this scene as a lowly babe, who came into a condition of restriction; He who is the almighty creator God, the One who spoke and creation came about. That One who so spoke here as Man that it was said, “even the wind and sea obey him”, Mark 4: 41. That is the might and glory of this One.

But did He come in worldly majesty, pomp and glory? Oh, how we love that sort of thing naturally; we love much ceremony. I suppose we take a certain amount of pride in this country in the ceremony it is able to set on. That was not the way the Lord Jesus came. No, He came in a lowly way; He came near to men. It has often been said that, if you want an audience with the king of this country, you would be very fortunate to get it, and if you did he probably would not know you. But the King of glory who came into this scene as a lowly Man, who knows the very inmost thoughts of your heart, who knows where you are in your soul, is drawing near to you tonight, and His appeal is, “Come”. I suppose you could say this woman was in her measure a preacher, what she had found she could not contain in herself, she had to leave everything at the well to which she had come and go back into the city to say, “Come, see a man who told me all things I had ever done: is not he the Christ?”.

He knows all the things you have ever done. Is it in rebuke that He looks upon you? Is it with a sorrowful face? Is He shaking His head in concern? No! What beams forth from that glorious One is divine love as He draws near to you. He wants to touch your heart; He knows the ins and outs of your life. Is He condemning you? No beloved, He is saying, ‘I can answer that; I have met all that for you’. Another has said of this woman, and it stuck with me - because we are often a bit negative about this woman’s history, for she had had five husbands and might not really be the type of company you would keep - that what she sought was affection. That is what she was seeking, affection. Ah beloved, there is a Saviour who is full of love towards you and me tonight and He is available to satisfy your every need. He is reaching out to you tonight; He has drawn near with a heart filled with love.

You might ask, if He is drawing near to you with a heart full of love, what is left for me? But it is so great; it is God’s love. It is what God is; God is love. That love is towards each one of us tonight and it is more than sufficient to fill and satisfy the heart of every man, woman and child in this world. God in love is proclaiming this in the glad tidings tonight and proclaiming a lowly Saviour, One that came in such a lowly way, reaching out to men everywhere. He was in what is now called Palestine then, here on earth; but He is as near to you tonight as He was to those souls in Palestine then. In fact, if you had been in England then and the Lord in Palestine, there was a greater distance in a way when He came here in manhood on the earth. He came into a constraint, available to those in the land of Palestine. But everyone He had to do with, He met their need, those who would receive Him.

Are you one of those that would receive Him, one of those who would take hold of His invitation? It is not an invitation on a gilt embossed card. It is a personal invitation from the Lord Jesus Himself tonight as He stands by you. “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened, and will give you rest” (Matt 11: 28), He says. It is the same tonight as when He pronounced those words two thousand years ago. Your every need that glorious One will meet and satisfy, and He has secured a basis in which the heart of God can be made fully known, God’s love. It is not something He has become: He is love. You look through the Old Testament scriptures and wonder if you can see it there, but look deeper! What you find speaks of Christ and He is the One who has fully made known the heart of God. He would make it known tonight, make it available to you.

We have to do with a holy and righteous God. Man at the beginning was put in the most propitious of circumstances, and he fell. Why? Because the enemy of your soul subtly came in and tempted man. This same one tempted this glorious Man of whom we are speaking when He was here, but he found nothing in that glorious One: “In him sin is not” (1 John 3: 5); He “knew not sin” (2 Cor 5: 21); “who did no sin”, 1 Peter 2: 22. He could not sin, because He was God Himself come down to draw near to man; that glorious holy righteous One. The holiness and righteousness of God means that on account of what I am as a sinner, as from the race of Adam, I could have no place in His presence. That was not good enough for God; His heart of love was so great that He desires to have me and He desires to have you. He wants you for Himself. In order to do that He has provided the answer in this glorious, beloved One, His Son. “Come, see a man”. We behold that Man by faith now and if we believe, we are going to behold Him face to face. We are going to see Him soon.

Have you got that hope, that joy, in your heart? If not, why not? You have heard the gospel many times before; why not? He is available to you; He is reaching out to you tonight, beloved. Can I promise tomorrow? No! Do not put it off. One of the kings to whom the apostle Paul spoke, king Agrippa, said in answer to Paul, “In a little thou persuadest me to become a Christian”, Acts 26: 28. Almost is not good enough! You must place your faith and trust in this Man, the Man that this woman had come to know. It was a very short transaction with Him, “told me all things I had ever done: is not he the Christ?”. He would have that transaction with you, tell you all the things you had ever done and He would say, ‘I have taken it all, I have borne God’s just and righteous judgment on that. I have borne that for you, and I have borne that for everyone that places their faith and trust in me’. Beloved, that is how far God went, that which is most precious to Him, His own glorious Son, this Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, He spared Him not. Why? Because of His “great love wherewith he loved us” (Eph 2: 4), and He desires to have us for Himself. His love is towards all men, not just a select few, not just specific persons who think they are good and have not got much to judge, but, no, even to the vilest and most wretched sinner, God’s love is towards them.

The apostle Paul writes of being the first of sinners, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first”, 1 Tim.1: 15. He knew what he was, one who had persecuted the assembly of God, persecuted that which was precious to the Lord Jesus Christ, “an insolent overbearing man”, 1 Tim 1: 13. Had he put himself too far away from salvation? No, the Lord Jesus drew nigh to him on that Damascus road, beloved; all that Christ has done met his every need. He has met my every need, and He has met your every need if you place your faith and trust in Him. How did He do that? He did it by perfect obedience to the will of His God and Father. We touched that this morning, the way He went, the sorrowful pathway that that glorious One took in this scene - in it but never of it - and feeling every condition of man on every hand. We know that He felt the weight and power of death that came in upon that family that He loved in John 11. He loves you and He feels everything that is weighing upon your spirit and heart now. He would say, ‘I am enough; I can more than meet that’. Listen to what this woman said, “Come, see a man”, and this is the Man God is presenting in the glad tidings tonight, a Man who moved here in lowliness amongst men. He met contradiction on every hand, rebuke, hatred; at one moment they are seeking to make Him a king; at another minute they are seeking to throw Him off a cliff. They sought to stone Him, everything was set against Him, and in His lowly pathway of love here, He moved here in the way that wended to the cross.

The penalty of sin is death, the judgment upon me the sinner. But Christ has taken away that penalty for me; He has met it on my behalf. He went to the cross, He allowed the hands of wicked men to take Him. You think of that in the garden, when they came to Him whom they sought, and as He said, “I am he, they went away backward and fell to the ground”, John 18: 6. There before them was this Man; One who is God Himself stood before them. What did He do? Did he call upon twelve legions of angels? No, He said as to those who were with Him there in the garden, “let these go away”, v 8. They took Him, the Lord of glory; they had come out with swords and sticks to take Him as a common criminal. That was man’s impression of that One, the lowly, meek and gentle Jesus. They took Him before the Romans; Pilate who could only say, “I find no fault whatever in Him” (John 18: 38), in this glorious Man. The greatest travesty and injustice took place because Pilate hearkened to the crowd. We know what crowds mean today, seeking to persuade others to their own will. Even Pilate’s wife said, “Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man” (Matt 27: 19), but Pilate was swayed by what surrounded him. The Lord of glory was given over into the hands of those who should have been pleading His cause, the ones He came to, but they would not receive Him. They said, “crucify him”, the only One in whom there was no fault, no sin; there was nothing contrary to God at all; He was perfect in all His ways.

That glorious One was taken and nailed to a cross of wood. He was nailed there for me! It is often said it was not those nails that kept Him on that cross, it was His love for His God and Father and His love for me that kept that glorious One on that cross, to bear my sins; and He bore every one of them. There were three awful hours of darkness when the whole land was dark. What passed between a holy and righteous God and the Lord Jesus there, is forever hidden from the eyes of men. No one can pry into that, but what I do know is that in those three hours of darkness, every one of my sins was borne by Christ, and He fully satisfied the righteous judgment of God as to them. Not only that, but the whole question of sin was met. The whole world is held in provisional reconciliation because Christ has met the whole question of sin, and God’s judgment of it.

So now the invitation is to “Come, see a man”; have you found that Man? Have you seen by faith your own glorious Saviour? That is what the invitation is; are you going to accept it? When the day comes when Christ comes to gather His own together and take us to be with Himself, He is not going to send an angel to us, no, beloved; “with archangel’s voice and with trump of God” (1 Thess 4: 16), the Lord Himself shall descend; that is His heart of love. His love is so great that He awaits the Father’s word, He will come with no delay, He will come and take His own. At that point, there is something set that can never be changed; those that have not received God’s invitation in the gospel will no more ever have a chance. Why? You say we are talking of a God of love? Yes, but if you do not accept this free invitation available to all now, what can God do? He is holy and righteous. If you reject this glorious invitation, your portion will be in eternal judgment. The Lord Jesus is available and ready for you tonight; He wants you for Himself. Do not put it off; do not delay: receive God’s invitation.

This woman found it. She says, “Come, see a man”. This is what is presented in the gospel tonight; “Come, see a man”. Come and see my glorious Saviour, come and find Him as your own. Come and find that everything is there for the full satisfaction of the heart and soul. You may have seen me sad and downcast; sadly I am like that, but what I do know is that the Holy Spirit, the precious gift that God gives to indwell the believer, works in me that it should be otherwise. Have you received that gift of the Spirit? Is He yours? Do you know the indwelling Spirit of God within you? What does He do? The hymn says -

Come! for the Spirit speaks of Christ in glory; (Hymn 409).

The Lord Jesus is no longer on the cross. He is no longer in the grave, where He was put by gentle hands that took Him off the cross. It was cruel hands that nailed Him to the cross, it was cruel hands that took that spear and pierced His side, so that His blood flowed forth. But what did the blood show? It gave witness to God that a life had been given up, and God now has a basis to come out in blessing towards you and towards me. But Christ is risen; how could the grave hold the Creator? Gentle hands took Him from the cross, gentle hands laid Him in the tomb, and that glorious One came forth triumphant from that tomb and is crowned with glory. The Jews cannot deny the tomb was empty; they may have spread dreadful stories after He had risen, but I know truly that resurrection has taken place and Christ is up in glory. The Spirit speaks to the believer of Him there, in glory.

The Spirit speaks to the believer all the time of that One. We do need to move through this world, but He speaks to us in our hearts of Christ in glory. That is what this woman had found; think of what her life was now! Do you think she needed more husbands? Do you think she needed to go to that well for water? Do you think she needed to find other things? She says, “Come, see a man who told me all things I had ever done: is not he the Christ?”. She needed none other. There is a poem by Mary Jane Walker that speaks of a woman who was sick and dying on a garret floor, her words were, ‘I have Christ, what want I more?’.

This is what is offered, that glorious Name; Christ is more than enough. The One whose name it is, the Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is He yours? Beloved, do not miss out on this glorious invitation but receive it for yourself; “Come, see a man” make Him your own.

May it be so for His Name’s sake.

 

Colchester

13th August 2023