Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"We are so dear to Him as His children that He feels both with & for us."

In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
Isaiah 63:9

Lord, Thou dost look and love is in Thine Eyes,
Thy heart is set upon me day and night,
Thou stoopest low to set me far above:
O Lord, that I may love Thee makes me wise;
That I may see and love Thee grant me sight;
And give me love that I may give Thee love.

         It is one Person all along the line, one character of patient loving-kindness and mercy that is revealed to us in both Testaments—more obscurely in the prophecies of the Old, more abundantly in the fulfillment of the New. “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” Wonderful are those words. The more carefully they are studied, the more surprising do they appear. It is only gradually that their meaning grows upon the mind, either filling it with increasing wonder or, where faith is strong enough to receive it, awakening overpowering feelings of gratitude and adoration. It must be understood at the outset that God’s suffering is sympathetic. He shares in our afflictions, inasmuch as He has sympathy with us therein. We are so dear to Him as His children that He feels both with and for us.
         Love is the glory of God, as it is the goodness of man, and love is essentially sympathetic. There was never a being on earth so deep in His peace and so essentially blessed as Jesus Christ. Even His agony itself is scarcely an exception. There is no joy so grand as that which has a form of tragedy. We are never so happy, so essentially blessed, as when we suffer well, wearing out our life in sympathies spent on the evil and undeserving, burdened heavily in our prayers, struggling on through secret Gethsemanes, and groaning before God, in groans audible to God alone, for those who have no mercy on themselves.
         When Jesus came and lived among us the heart of God was laid bare, and every one can see in the Gospel that patient wistful love which inhabits the secret place of the universe. As the father sits upon the housetop, and watches the crest of the hill, that he may catch the first glimpse of the returning prodigal…we learn the expectation of God. As Jesus takes into His arms little children whom superior people have despised, and casts His charity over penitent women whom Pharisees cannot forgive, and mourns at the tomb of Lazarus over a friend whom He cannot afford to lose, one learns the graciousness of God. The Cross is not only the heart of human life, it is also in the heart of God. He is the chief of all sufferers, because He is the chief of all lovers.
         “The Angel of His Presence”—This singularly beautiful expression carries with it associations which must be dear to every heart….how the mind loves to linger on the music of those words, and how near they seem to bring us to high and holy things, things unspeakably precious and helpful to our souls!  No one can stand in much doubt as to what they mean, strange and unaccustomed though the phrase may be. The “Angel of the Lord” is an expression often used in the Old Testament to denote a special manifestation of God Himself; it does not denote a messenger coming from God; it frequently signifies a coming of God into human affairs. The still stronger phrase, “the Angel of His Presence” certainly denotes any form under which God chooses to make His immediate presence felt by His children….it is always a means whereby God Himself comes right into human experience to help and heal and save.
      Our Lord Jesus Christ has become to the world in which we live the Angel of the Presence, the Presence that saves. In Him God has laid bare His own heart and shown us the Divine that indwells.  Never again can we think of God except in terms of Jesus.



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