"Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every
respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful
and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that
would take away the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17
To E. M., Good Friday Morning, 1857.
My tenderly-beloved friend,
This morning you are much on my mind in connection with
our precious suffering Head, and I must send you a few lines. Jesus has
showed Himself again to His poor worm. It was in Psalm 22, especially in the
first part, where He is described as suffering the anguish of experimental
forsaking, and also great conflict from unanswered prayer. This I never
realized so fully before. Oh how He has left His precious footprints in
every thorny path—"The footsteps of the flock" are thus so prepared, that
"No thorns can harm, for Jesus went before to tread them down."
We feel that He, having suffered before us, is able both
to sympathize and to support us. How touching to hear Him compare the
deliverances of His people with His own unsuccoured condition—"Our ancestors
trusted in you, and you rescued them. You heard their cries for help and
saved them. They put their trust in you and were never disappointed." (Psalm
22:4-5) Then stooping to the lowest place of abasement, as if less than any
of them, He says, "But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised
by all!" It was as though in that degraded position which He had taken for
His people, He must not expect to be dealt with so tenderly as they—
"O love of unexampled kind,
Which leaves all thought so far behind."
My soul was also deeply humbled in the depths of verse 2,
"O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer; by night, and am not
silent!" It was a night season indeed, even darkness which might be felt.
For what agony of soul did our Beloved not endure when He had no answer from
God. It is astonishing to see how "He was in all points tempted like as we
are;" not only tempted with evil by Satan—but tried by His friends, tried by
His Father, and tried in all the sensibilities of the nature which He had
taken; yet, in all He endured without sin.
His sorrowful utterances were to show that He had the
tenderest susceptibility of feeling in all His sufferings. But there was not
one murmur or rebellious feeling, or one hard thought. He pitied His
disciples—"the flesh is weak;" and though He knew they would all forsake Him
through fear. He even made a way for that escape in His matchless love: "If
you seek me, let these go their way." His Father He fully justified in all
His dealings with Him as the Surety; for while crying with anguish, "You
hear not," He directly adds, "But you are holy, O you who inhabits the
praises of Israel."
He was indeed a Lamb without blemish. His Father, His
enemies, and His Church, have to say, "I find no fault in Him." This
precious, spotless One gave Himself for us to the sorrows of death and the
pains of hell, which bitter cup of trembling He drained, even to the very
dregs; so that He could triumphantly say, "It is finished!" Ah! but never
will He say, either of the love or the glory, "It is finished." Oh, no!
while eternal ages roll on, love will be ever inflowing, and glory ever
unfolding, and all coming to us through that rich medium—His sufferings and
death. We read of "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should
follow." The sufferings are past; He has entered into the glory; but the
full revelation of it, in and to His Bride--is yet to come. O wonderful
Bridegroom, reveal to us more of Your wonderful love, in Your humiliation
and exaltation. Let us live in that undying flame, that in our joys and
sorrows we may be a sweet savor of You to Your loved ones—"Bruised
Bridegroom, take us wholly;
Take and make us what You will;" only continually draw us
out of self into You; and cause us to grow up in You in all things, while
many winds and storms and heart-achings cause us to root down in You also.
Oh, shine more and more brightly in us, to the perfect day.
It is blessed, dearest friend, to spend Good-Friday under
His shadow as the crucified One; there His fruits are sweet to our
taste. It is precious to be led on by His Spirit to His joy as the
glorified One, for then our joy is full. Those who "dwell in this secret
place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." It is
a secret place for the hidden ones, of which He says, "There is a place by
me; and I will put you in a cleft of the rock." This hallowed place is kept
secret for all His children--they lack not this blessed hiding-place. No
carnal eye never saw it; no carnal heart ever enjoyed the rest. It is the
secret chamber for the secret life, where He who is our life says, "There
will I give you my love." (Song 7:12) He gives all in Himself. At Calvary we
see how He the Living Rock was cleft, that His dove might be spared; and how
lovingly He says, "O My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places
on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your
voice is sweet, and your face is lovely." (Song 2:14)
My dear heavenly Boaz has made this a GOOD Friday to His
unworthy gleaner. I had feared I should not find Him whom my soul loves, and
have fellowship of love in His sufferings; but where my enemies dealt
proudly He has been above them. Praise to the worthy Lamb. "Praise is lovely
for the upright!" "I made you go upright."
This is not like a letter; but if the Spirit will breathe
of Jesus' fragrance through it, you will rejoice with me in Him.
With dear love, your own worthless—but in Him ever