Coming to Jesus
Matthew 11:20-30; John 6:5-10, 65-69; John 7:37-39.
Just an impression, dear brethren, as to coming to Jesus. In these scriptures we have read, the Lord Jesus speaks to the cities in which most of His works of power had taken place, speaks to His disciples in John 6, and speaks to the individual in John 7 — "If any one thirst." At the beginning of chapter 6 He tests His disciples Philip and Andrew, and at the end of the chapter He says to them too: "Therefore said I unto you, that no one can come unto me unless it be given to him from the Father."
In the first scripture we read, He is speaking to persons in cities. "He began to reproach the cities in which most of his works of power had taken place, because they had not repented." And He goes on to speak of the contrast between the persons in these cities and babes. He says, "I praise thee, Father, Lord of the heaven and of the earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes." The apostle Paul writes similarly to the saints at Corinth. In chapter 1, he says, "For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us that are saved it is God's power." And he says, "Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom has not known God, God has been pleased by the foolishness of the preaching to save those that believe." Think of how God has chosen the foolish things of the world that he may put to shame the wise! And God has chosen the weak things of the world that he may put to shame the strong things! How God has confounded man in the glad tidings! How He has confounded the mind of man! All of the wisdom of men, all of the religiousness of the natural man is confounded by the preaching of the glad tidings - by the simple word of the Lord Jesus: "Come to me." Salvation thus is in the Person of the Lord Jesus, and salvation is available by coming to Jesus. How simple and attractive the glad tidings are!
Yet I believe the Lord's words in these scriptures are very solemn, firstly in Matthew, where He says, "Woe to thee, Chorazin! Woe to thee Bethsaida! for if the works of power which have taken place in you, had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they had long ago repented in sackcloth and ashes." That is how Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah! Jonah was a reluctant preacher, and yet they repented at the preaching of Jonah!
Here in Matthew 11, the Lord holds most responsible those who have had the most evidence of the working of God's power. How solemn it is if repentance does not take place in spite of the manifest power of God! It says, "He began to reproach the cities in which most of his works of power had taken place, because they had not repented." What a contrast to the men of Nineveh, who knew not their right hand from their left, but who repented at the preaching of Jonah! Oh, beloved brethren, the Lord has given much light to His people, to those with whom we gather, and the question is: Are we repenting sinners or are we like these persons in Chorazin and Bethsaida, or in Capernaum? "Thou, Capernaum, who hast been raised up to heaven, shall be brought down even to hades. For if the works of power which have taken place in thee, had taken place in Sodom, it had remained until this day." Think of the contrast between those two cities: Capernaum, where the Lord lived and did many of His works of power, and Sodom, where Lot lived and vexed his righteous soul daily because of their lawless works. But the Lord goes on to say as to these cities, "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in judgment-day than for thee."
So, I believe the question for each one of us is whether we are repenting persons, because that is what the Lord is speaking of here. It is a question of whether they are repenting: "... they had long ago repented in sackcloth and ashes." And the Lord Jesus is describing the character of persons that receive the glad tidings, to whom the glad tidings are revealed: "Thou hast hid these things from wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes." God has confounded men in the foolishness of the preaching. Well, is each one of us here ready to be a babe and to receive Jesus as He says, "Come to me"?
He says, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son but the Father" — there is mystery in this verse — "nor does any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son may be pleased to reveal him." Later in this gospel, when the Lord Jesus said, "Who do men say that I am?", they said that He was one of the prophets, or John the Baptist risen from among the dead, or some such thing. Men didn't understand who the Lord Jesus was. But when the Lord said, "But ye, who do ye say that I am?", Peter had this revelation from the Father: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
I believe heaven is pleased with simple persons. Peter was an unlettered man, as we see in the early Acts — "perceiving that they were unlettered men", and in the beginning of the gospel, he is a simple fisherman. You might wonder why the Lord would take up a simple fisherman? Why wouldn't He take up one of the doctors of the law? You might think that one who had a good knowledge of the scriptures to begin with would be a better starting point! But no — the Lord Jesus, in His ways, takes up a simple fisherman; He takes up a couple of brothers who were by the Sea of Galilee mending their nets. The Lord Jesus takes up these few simple persons, and He makes disciples out of them. How wonderful that they were material that the Lord Jesus could take up sovereignly, and make into disciples!
Then we have the Lord's invitation: "Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest." The Lord Jesus would give rest to our souls at a time like this. I believe we have a sense of "all ye who labour and are burdened." We are burdened about many exercises in the testimony. But the Lord Jesus would just invite us: "Come to me, ... and I will give you rest." How precious that invitation is! At the beginning of John's gospel, the disciples say, "Where abidest thou?" The Lord simply says, "Come and see." And they abode with Him that day.
Have we ever had an experience of abiding with Jesus that day? I trust each of us knows something of coming to Him, abiding with Him that day, and learning from Him, taking His yoke upon us. It is not a hard yoke: "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Well then, to go on to John's gospel. The Lord Jesus tests His disciples in this chapter which, from beginning to end, proceeds in a rather remarkable way. He starts out by bringing forward this little boy with five barley loaves and two small fishes, testing the disciples' faith, and testing them as to where the food supply is going to come from. But the Lord "knew what he was going to do." So He brings in this little boy, unexpectedly you might say, but that's the way the Lord did it. Then this chapter opens up, following this little boy with five barley loaves and two small fishes, and the thought of food is developed. As we get to verses 53, 54, 55, and 56, we find some of the most profound truths as to food in scripture. And the Lord's teaching in this chapter begins with a little boy with five barley loaves and two small fishes, and the Lord knowing "what he was going to do"!
Now the disciples, the ones who were hearing this teaching, are tested by it. They say, "This word is hard; who can hear it." But Peter, when tested, says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast words of life eternal; and we have believed and known that thou art the holy one of God." We heard of a brother in New Zealand speaking to a brother in Australia who wondered where to turn at a point in the testimony recently, and this verse came to him and he conveyed it to his brother: "To whom shall we go?" This is the answer, beloved brethren: "Thou hast words of life eternal." Coming to Jesus is the answer. Indeed, the Lord says in verse 65, "No one can come to me unless it be given to him from the Father." In a way, that is sovereign. How precious it is to have part among those to whom the Father has given that we should come to Jesus. How precious to have part in this!
We have spoken a fair bit recently about individual faithfulness and the Lord's dealings with the individual. Well, in chapter 7, that is what it is. "If any one thirst." Later in this gospel, the Lord says, "If any one love me", but here it is, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink." Then this great thought of the Holy Spirit comes in: "He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." This gospel is written for the last days, and here we have grounds to believe that the Holy Spirit is available in a very full and living way to the believer in these last days. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." How full and how quickening that would be to the believer! "This he said concerning the Spirit, which they that believed on him were about to receive." Think of the glorification of Jesus, how He ascended! Then, following His ascension, the Holy Spirit came and the saints were filled with the Holy Spirit. He sat "upon each one of them." And Peter ministered in power; he preached in power, and thousands of souls were saved. Well, that same power, the power of the Holy Spirit, is available to those who come to Jesus at the present time. That same power of the Holy Spirit can produce results in pricking hearts — in reaching persons' affections and saving souls, saving souls for eternity, because the soul is not mortal, it is immortal. Our bodies are mortal; they return to dust, but our souls go through. The great end in view in the glad tidings is the salvation of souls, and the enemy is against that, you know. When Abraham returned from the battle, the king of Sodom says, "Give me the souls." And in Revelation 18, it says that Babylon traded in the "souls of men." Well, the object in the glad tidings is the salvation of souls, and that is available to persons as they hear the glad tidings from persons who are filled with the Holy Spirit — out of whose belly flow rivers of living water.
I trust that we may be drawn to Jesus tonight — that we may come to Jesus and find rest to our souls, and be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that we might enjoy communion with divine Persons as a result of coming to Jesus. Salvation is available to us, even in our day. It is available to babes, to simple fishermen, to disciples, to a small boy who has five loaves and two fishes, and to any one. "If any one thirst" is someone who feels their need of salvation; someone who feels their need of Jesus — "let him come to me and drink."
For His name's sake.
S. E. Hesterman
Coming To Jesus