LIFE IN EXILE
Was It Merely Cold & Hunger That He Suffered on Calvary?
The Lord Jesus said, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord." The Lord commanded His followers, "You shall drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with." I recalled that it was also in the winter when the Lord was nailed on the Cross. The night before His crucifixion, in the court of the high priest's house, "a fire of coals" was made "for it was cold" (John 18:18), and Peter and the servants and guards of the high priest were standing and warming themselves. As He was "brought as a lamb to the slaughter" to the hill of Calvary, it was cold and windy, yet the four cruel executioners stripped off and divided His garments. Well, if each of them took one, the Lord would have been wearing at least four garments! Moreover, the executioners went on to take off His tunic so that He was stripped to the waist as He was nailed to the Cross, "wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities." Nor had he eaten or drunk anything since eating the Passover the previous night up till His death, and in Gethsemane He had 'sweat,as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Right after that, He was brought to the high priest for questioning and humiliation. Early the next day, after a whole sleepless night of mistreatment, He was brought to the court of Pilate for further questioning and humiliation. He was later sent to Herod to be mocked and humiliated, and finally brought back to Pilate again. Oh, how the Lord of heaven and earth, the God of glory, was treated all for the sake of redeeming us! Those sinners, who deserved eternal death, beat Him, slapped Him, hit His head with a reed, ridiculed Him with a crown of thorns and a scarlet robe and made Him carry His own cross. On the cross, He was cold, starved, bruised and wounded, totally exhausted, forsaken and alone. His disciples had dispersed, except for John and several women who were distressed and perplexed. The entire principality of darkness expended all its power and rage to put Him to death. At this time, the holy and righteous God, in order to fulfill His eternal will and His plan of salvation, "caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him" (Isa. 53:6). He cried out loud, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!" No one could fully understand and comprehend the judgment of the righteous God as borne by the Lord for us sinners. Oh, dear pilgrims, as we recollect "Christ has suffered for us in the flesh," shouldn"t we likewise "arm ourselves with the same mind" (I Pet. 4:1)? How could we then pity and think so much of ourselves, and even complain, at times of affliction?
The above analogy is fine and essential, but not enough; and we should not stop there. Unfortunately, many Christians failed because they stopped right there. Analogy is not lasting, because it is mainly in the mind and feelings - still in the external realm of the soul rather than the inner spirit. For it to last, we need to be incessantly connected with God who is the "fountain of living waters" (Jer. 2:13), "for in Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). In other words, Jesus is the fountain for all men. Those of us who truly learn to follow the Lamb must abide in Him, constantly coming to Him for grace and for the strength and light required for self-denial. We need to see, beyond afflictions, the hand of God that rules over all. Such is what the decades of fiery trials has led me to realize as the most evident, the most fundamental and yet the most lacking essence among Christians. (Please read with reverence: Luke 10:42; I John 2:28; Jer. 17:7-8) I have watched with my own eyes and heard with my own ears the falling of numerous famous preachers and theologians amid fiery trials, as a tall tree withering and toppling "in the year of draught" - all for lacking this "only one good part" (Luke 10:42). Thank God for safeguarding the few who shone and were like trees planted by the waters with roots spread out by the river, and who therefore "will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit."
A Christian must abide in the Lord in order to be able to obey His Word, thereby building his house on the rock (Matt.7:24). One who does not build his house on the rock cannot have the kind of intimate fellowship that results from abiding in the Lord. Praying ceaselessly and abiding in the Lord; taking up the cross and abiding in the Word - like the two wings of a bird, they must go together.
To abide in the Lord is to abide in the "Word" (John 8:31), because the "Word is God" (John 1:1). To abide in the Lord is to abide in His love (John 15:9). Therefore, that kind of "abiding in the Lord" without the abiding in His Word or manifestation of the love of Christ is merely a form of doctrine, a form of idealism and/or a form of knowledge - not life. Oh Lord, how we need Your grace and mercy! More and more, I have come to realize that the bottom line is: all must depend on the grace and mercy of the Lord (Rom. 9:11-18; Eph. 2:8).