Who art thou, Lord?
Just a simple impression, dear friends. We've read about questions — not just ordinary questions, but questions about Jesus! Who is this Person? Who is this unique and worthy Person? The Lord is looking for persons who ask questions — who ask Him this simple question, of which there are several forms in these passages: "Who is this King of glory?" "Who is He?" "Who art Thou?" "Of Whom does the prophet speak?" All these questions point to one Man — the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Acts 8, Philip approaches the chariot and finds a man reading that precious scripture in Isaiah, about the One who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, who was bruised for our iniquities, and was misunderstood by those to whom He came. "He came to His own, and His own received Him not." It says, "We did regard him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." That is, the Lord Jesus was misunderstood. He asked his disciples at one point, "Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" And men had all kinds of answers: "John the Baptist", "Elias", "Jeremias", "one of the prophets" — all these answers from the natural man as to the Person of Jesus, but the Lord desires that we should approach Him with a simple question: "Who art thou, Lord?" Think of the answer that Saul received to this question — asked in such simplicity by this learned Pharisee, a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He was smitten down on the Damascus road; he fell to the ground; he saw a light above the brightness of the noonday sun; and he was reduced to asking this simple question: "Who art thou, Lord?" And Jesus said to him, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." What an effect that had on Saul of Tarsus! What an effect it had on his life from that time forward! What a conversion resulted from that simple inquiry by Saul of Tarsus: "Who art thou, Lord?" May each one of us have such a transaction with Jesus. Just ask Him simply, "Who art thou, Lord?"
In the Psalm, David says prophetically, "Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle." Do we have this impression of Jesus, the One who has gone into battle, and has come forth triumphant over the power of death and the grave? "Love is strong as death", Song of Songs 8:6. So this reference, "Jehovah strong and mighty", bears on the fact that He went love's way. Natural man wouldn't have chosen that way to overcome, but it was love's way. There is a hymn that reads:
"He Satan's power laid low;
That is how He was strong and mighty, mighty in battle. He was prepared to suffer as our Substitute on the cross. He laid down His life. So David asks another question: "Who is he, this King of glory?" And the glorious answer — "Jehovah of hosts, he is the King of glory." Well, as having overcome in battle, He has hosts. He says to Mary of Magdala: "Go to my brethren." We read of ten thousands of ten thousands and thousands of thousands in Revelation 5. The hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel come in a bit later, and then "a great crowd, which no one could number." This King of glory, by going into death, has secured myriads from the power of sin and the power of the grave. The wages of sin is death, but the Lord Jesus has gone into death and met its power so that we can be saved from its power. He is the One of whom we speak in the glad tidings - Jehovah of hosts. May we be among the hosts of Psalm 24!
In John 4, this Samaritan woman asks three questions. She is not a Jewish woman; she is outside of those to whom the Lord came: "He came to his own." But this Samaritan woman comes in to the next part of that verse: "as many as received him." She is among those persons — "as many as received him, to them gave he the right to be children of God." She finally asks, "Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" She is from a distance, from those who are "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel", as Paul writes, but she asks all these questions, and the Lord Jesus delights to have her asking them — asking why He would speak to her and how He is going to give her living water because He doesn't have a bucket and it's a deep well. She asks in a guileless sort of way, not in a crafty way as the Pharisees and doctors of the law did. She asks in simplicity, and the Lord delights to answer her. Let us come to Him in our simplicity.
As a result of all these questions, she asks a question of others in the city: "Come see a man who told me all things I had ever done. Is not he the Christ?" She is now testifying - confessing with her mouth Jesus as Lord, as it were. And that is a great result in the glad tidings — not only that we believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord, but that we confess Him with our mouth. And what a result there was! The Lord speaks to the disciples here about the fields being white to harvest, and this woman's testimony resulted in many coming to Him. "They went out of the city and came to him." In our contacts with our fellow men, let us not hide our light under a bushel. Let us put our lamp on the lampstand, and speak of the One who has told us all things that we have ever done — One who answers and satisfies the desire of every living thing! That is the Saviour with whom we have to do.
And then we have the man in John 9. He was an outcast, whom the rulers of the synagogue, the Pharisees, were unable to deal with. They couldn't explain what had happened. In verse 16, some of the Pharisees said one thing; others said something else, and there was a division among them. Well, the way this man testifies is remarkable. They asked him how he received his sight, and he said to them: "He put mud upon mine eyes, and I washed, and I see." Just a simple statement! Yet it divided those who opposed the Lord Jesus. And the end result is that "they cast him out", because they were not prepared to accept this simple, wonderful news: "He put mud upon mine eyes, and I washed, and I see." They weren't prepared to accept the glad tidings. But thankfully that's not the end of the story. Jesus "heard that they had cast him out, and having found him, he said to him, Thou, dost thou believe on the Son of God?" Well, when God has begun a work in us, He won't let go of us. It says Jesus found him! The Lord continues His work in this man. The man had given a simple testimony to the Pharisees and he had been cast out for it. But the Lord Jesus doesn't let go of him. It says, "having found him, he said to him, Thou, dost thou believe on the Son of God?" And now this man asks a simple question. It is not like the Pharisees' questions — "How can a sinful man perform such signs?" and "What dost thou say of him, that he has opened thine eyes?" and "How then does he now see?" They asked all these things, but they didn't go to Jesus to ask the questions. They circled all around the issue, and didn't go to the "He" of verse 15: "He put mud upon mine eyes, and I washed, and I see." Well, the great thing in the glad tidings is to get to the He of that verse — the One who has accomplished this work, and begun His work in this man. This blind man who had been healed asks Jesus directly, "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?" And Jesus said to him, "Thou has both seen him, and he that speaks with thee is he." Thus, this man comes to appreciate the He of verse 15, and to acknowledge Him as the Son of God. That's the great objective of the glad tidings in John's gospel, you know. These things "are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life in His name", John 20:31. I would judge that this man came to that, because he says, "I believe, Lord", and he did Him homage.
Now in the wonderful book of the Acts, the Holy Spirit is working and engendering questions in persons.
In Acts 10, Cornelius, "having fixed his eyes upon him, and become full of fear, said, What is it, Lord?" That isn't exactly "Who art thou?", but it's very close to it. The Lord used Peter to open up the glad tidings to Cornelius; the angel doesn't fully answer Cornelius' question immediately. But he says, "now send men to Joppa and fetch Simon, who is surnamed Peter." The angel doesn't explain what Peter is going to do or what Peter is going to tell him, but Cornelius responds to the angel's answer. He is on the way to understanding and appreciating the glad tidings. In verse 33, he says to Peter, "Immediately therefore I sent to thee, and thou hast done well in coming. Now therefore we are all present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." Cornelius' question, "What is it, Lord?" lays the groundwork for what he says in verse 33. He shows interest and responds to the angel's directions. Think of Moses seeing the burning bush and saying, "Let me now turn aside and see this great sight, why the thorn-bush is not burnt" (Exodus 3:3). God is pleased with persons who ask questions and who turn to Him in simplicity and express interest in the Man of His delight.
This Philippian jailor in chapter 16 was greatly and wonderfully changed. Earlier in the chapter, in verses 23 and 24, we read of how he had treated Paul and Silas: "And having laid many stripes upon them they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely; who, having received such a charge, cast them into the inner prison, and secured their feet to the stocks." See, this jailor was under the influence of the crowd here, under the influence of the magistrates, and he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet to the stocks. Yet, when the earthquake occurred and he realized that the prisoners had not fled, the jailor could hardly believe it. They were all there — "Paul called out with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here." A jailor is responsible to keep the prisoners, and if he were to allow the prisoners to escape, he would doubtless lose his job, and very likely receive severe discipline and punishment from the authorities. But Paul says, "Do thyself no harm, for we are all here." He had never experienced prisoners having such an influence before — Paul and Silas having such an influence on the other prisoners that, in spite of this earthquake, with all the doors immediately opened, and the bonds of all loosed, the prisoners just remain, ready to speak to this jailor. The jailor was so affected by it, that he says, "Sirs, what must I do that I may be saved?" And they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house." Well, Paul and Silas, praying and praising God with singing, really attracted their fellow prisoners to the service of praise, and kept them from escaping at the time of the earthquake. And I wonder if there can be any of this in our own lives. As feeling the prison conditions, can we attract one another, can we attract persons in this way: "in praying, were praising God with singing, and the prisoners listened to them?" In our testimony among our brethren and among men, can persons look at us, in the inner prison, our feet secured to the stocks, but praying and praising God with singing? Can we have this testimony among our brethren whom we love?
So the jailor is affected. "Sirs" is not what a jailor would ordinarily say to his prisoners, is it? "Sirs, what must I do that I may be saved?" No longer the rough and tough jail warden, he fell down before Paul and Silas, as Paul himself had done when the Lord Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus road. Well, the result is that the glad tidings are preached and affect not only the jailor, but also his whole house, and this locality is formed in Philippi, the beginning of the testimony westward into Europe. Paul had seen in a vision "a certain Macedonian man, standing and beseeching him, and saying, Pass over into Macedonia and help us." Perhaps this Philippian jailor was the Macedonian man. He was certainly one whom God intended for blessing in Macedonia. So the testimony commences in Philippi. In verse 40, we read: "And having gone out of the prison, they came to Lydia; and having seen the brethren, they exhorted them and went away." What a wonderful effect, a wonderful result from this experience in Acts 16! May we affect persons in the way Paul and Silas did!
In chapter 22, we have the case of Saul of Tarsus himself. I read there because Saul asks two questions: "Who art thou, Lord?" and "What shall I do, Lord?" Surely, the first question we ask when we come to Jesus is: "Who art thou, Lord?." But then we have the second question: "What shall I do, Lord?" And what an answer came to him! You know, the glad tidings is not only that we come to Jesus and recognise Him for who He is. Luke writes of two going to Emmaus, and how their eyes were opened and they recognised Him in their house. The first result of the glad tidings is that we recognise who Jesus is, and His uniqueness and worthiness as the One who died as the blessed Substitute from God for our sins. But then there's another question: "What shall I do, Lord?" As having come into the good of the glad tidings, into the good of His finished work, He has something for us to do. In Isaiah 6, the coal touches Isaiah's lips, and the Lord asks: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"; then Isaiah says, "Here am I, send me." The coal has touched his lips, and now he can go. He is ready to go in the service that the Lord has for him.
So the Lord says to Saul, "Rise up, and go to Damascus, and there it shall be told thee of all things which it is appointed thee to do." He was in Damascus several days without seeing and he spent time in Arabia. We read in Galatians 1:16-17, "I took not counsel with flesh and blood, nor went I up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia." I believe these times in our lives are necessary, when we don't take counsel with anyone else. That was Nehemiah's experience. He told no man what God had put into his heart to do for Jerusalem. There are times when we need to know the answer, in our link with the Lord Jesus, to this question: "What shall I do?", apart from the influence of men. May we each have that experience. We value those who serve among the Lord's people, but "the bottom line" is: What is our link with the Lord Jesus Himself?
Finally, in Acts 8, we have an Ethiopian eunuch. This man was not going to fill out a part in the testimony where Paul would serve later. He went down to Africa, back to Ethiopia, to be a testimony in the place where he lived, and the foundation of that testimony is his experience in this chariot, reading the book of Isaiah, and the Spirit tells Philip to approach and join this chariot. "And Philip, running up, heard him reading the prophet Esaias, and said, Dost thou then know what thou art reading of?" He doesn't know! He doesn't even know Who it's about! He says, "Concerning whom does the prophet says this? of himself or of some other?" He lacks understanding, but he's reading; he's interested, and he asks this question. And "Philip, opening his mouth and beginning from that scripture, announced the glad tidings of Jesus to him." Well, the Lord uses whom He will. Maybe He will speak to us in a word from scripture or through one of His servants, like Philip the evangelist here. The Lord has His own way of reaching our hearts in response to this simple question from a true heart: "Who art thou, Lord?"
I thought we might be encouraged to ask Jesus, "Who art thou?" and then just let Him answer us. All of us here may believe on the Lord Jesus, but our conversions sometimes flag or grow dim in our experience. As the years roll by and we grow older, we may decline. And maybe we need a fresh conversion — a fresh transaction with Jesus — to ask Him once again, "Who art thou?" and "What shall I do?", and then enjoy all the blessed experience with Him that flows out of these simple questions.
May we have these transactions with Him, not asking all kinds of questions like the lawyers and the Pharisees did, to try to trip Him up, but simply coming to Jesus and asking who He is, and He will give us a wonderful impression of His glory. The angels and living creatures and elders speak of Him in Revelation 5: "Worthy is the Lamb that has been slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." He would give us precious impressions of Himself in response to this simple question from our hearts: "Who art thou, Lord?"
May our hearts be expanded to love and appreciate more fully our blessed Saviour and Lord. For His name's sake.
S. E. Hesterman
Who Art Thou Lord?