"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Love That Passes Knowledge

"The whole of our Lord’s conduct towards His disciples on earth deserves close consideration; it throws a beautiful light on the compassion and longsuffering that this is in Him. No master surely ever had scholars so slow to learn their lessons as Jesus had in the Apostles. No scholars surely ever had so patient and forbearing a teacher as the Apostles had in Christ.  Gather up all the evidence on this subject that lies scattered through the Gospels, and see the truth of what I say.

At no time of our Lord’s ministry did the disciples seem to comprehend fully the object of His coming into the world.  The humiliation, the atonement, the crucifixion were hidden things to them. The plainest words and clearest warnings from their Master of what was going to befall Him seemed to have had no effect on their minds.  They understood not.  They perceived not.  It was hid from their eyes.  Once Peter even tried to dissuade our Lord from suffering.  “Be it far from thee, Lord,” he said, “this shall not be unto thee” (Matt. 16:22; Luke 18:34; 9:45).

Frequently you will see things in their spirit and demeanor that are not at all to be commended.  One day we are told they disputed among themselves who should be greatest (Mark 9:34). Another day they considered not His miracles and their hearts were hardened (Mark 6:52). Once, two of them wished to call down fire from heaven upon a village, because it did not receive them (Luke 9:54).  In the garden of Gethsemane the three best of them slept when they should have watched and prayed.  In the hour of His betrayal they all forsook Him and fled, and worst of all, Peter, the most forward of the twelve, denied his Master three times with an oath.

Even after the resurrection, you see the same unbelief and hardness of heart cling to them; though they saw their Lord with their eyes, and touched Him with their hands, even then some doubted.  So weak were they in faith!  So slow of heart were they “to believe all that the prophets had spoken” (Luke 24:25). So backward were they in understanding the meaning of our Lord’s words and actions, and life and death.

But what do you see in our Lord’s behavior towards these disciples all through His ministry?  You see nothing but unchanging piety, compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, and love. He does not cast them off for their stupidity. He does not reject them for their unbelief.  He does not dismiss them forever for cowardice. He teaches them as they are able to bear.  He leads them on step by step, as a nurse does an infant when it first begins to walk. He sends them kind messages as soon as He is risen from the dead.  “Go,” He said to the woman. “Go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there they shall see me” (Matt 28:10).  He gathers them round Himself once more.  He restores Peter to his place, and bids him “feed my sheep” (John 21:17). He condescends to sojourn with them forty days before He finally ascends. He commissions them to go forth as His messengers, and preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. He blesses them in parting, and encourages them with that gracious promise, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt.28:20). Truly this was a love that passes knowledge. This is not the manner of man."

~J.C. Ryle from Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots

1 comment:

  1. Wow...thanks for sharing!! Might have to share it on Facebook, myself ;)

    We are to be Christ-like and follow the example He left behind. If He can do all that, what makes us think we don't have to when things like hate, betrayal, and persecution are thrown at us? I'm pretty sure whatever happens to us can't be compared to what He had to, and still has to, feel.