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fear depart, and let hope spring up in our hearts. Has not Jesus said, “ No man can come unto me except the Father draw him," and is not the Father now drawing you? From whence is your anxiety, your fear that you are not coming to Jesus? Is it not, must it not be, that He is drawing you to himself ? If it were not so, you would have no anxiety on the matter; you would be still careless whether you belonged to Christ or not; you would be as unconcerned as the rest of the world; for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him.” (1 Cor. ii. 14.) Therefore this very fear, this anxiety, is a sign for good. Go on in hope, “ seek, and ye shall find : ask, and it shall be given you, for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth.” (Matt. vii.) You know these are the words of our Lord ; should you doubt them ? Has He not, from the strong love in our own hearts, brought a reason why we should never doubt his willingness to draw us to himself by his Holy Spirit ? Has He not said, “ If ye then who are evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him ?” (Luke ii. 13)
This discourse, in which Jesus offered himself to the people
“ the bread of life,” that had come down from heaven to give back to the sons of men the spiritual life which had been lost by Adam's sin, was spoken in the synagogue in Caper
It is written : Verse 59. “ These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. But his words perplexed those who heard him ; they could
not understand how He was to "give his flesh for the life of the world.”
Verses 60—62. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before.”
Does it seem impossible to believe that I am that bread, that food and strength which is needed for the souls of men, and that I came down from heaven? The time will soon be here when I shall rise up again into heaven, and some of you with your eyes shall see it.
Verses 63–65. “ It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth nothing : the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. ”
Jesus knew, from the first, who, among the crowds of people that followed him from place to place, cared to listen to him, to be taught by him—and who followed him only from curiosity.
He also knew which of them were his enemies, and who it was that in the end should give him up or betray him into the hands of those who longed to shed his blood. Those who listened to him with an earnest wish to learn, would think over his words and would find the meaning of them. They would soon cease to find any difficulty in them; and would see why it was He called himself “the bread of life !' why it was He said, that his “flesh was meat indeed, and his blood was drink indeed." They would find that faith in him, would, by the
quickening Spirit of God, have power to nourish and strengthen their souls in a way that no bread, no meat, no wine, bad ever yet nourished and strengthened their bodies.
To those who were not in earnest in their desire for heavenly teaching, the saying was hard—they could not receive it. Those who looked for an earthly prince in their Messiah were disgusted : and
Verses 66-71. “ From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, (apostles) Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil ?* He spake of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon : for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve." It is very
awful to think that one of the twelve, one of our Lord's own Apostles, who lived with him as his own familiar friends, should belong so completely to the Evil One, as to be called by Jesus “a devil." We shall see, as the history of the life of Christ goes on, what it was that made Judas a hypocrite and a traitor. We shall see that he nursed in his secret heart the love of money, the desire of unlawful gain, and that his following Christ was but a cloak to hide the sin of avarice, or at least that his love of money was too strong for the love of Christ ever to fill his heart.
Oh let us think well of this ! These two things, the greedy desire of gain, and the desire to be a Christian, can never live together in the same heart. And let us remember that the searching eye that was upon Judas is still upon us -we cannot deceive him-we may be accounted by men, as Judas was, one of the true disciples; we may seem, as he did, to be stumbled by no hard saying in religion, and to keep close to Christ when others fall away; and yet all the time the love of gain may possess our souls, and we may be traitors in our hearts. Let us take solemn heed to this; for we may be sure our sin will find us out.
* Olshausen gives the meaning of this, a slanderer of me, or a devil, that is, the Evil One amongst my disciples.”
The second year of our Lord's ministry on earth, it is thought, was ended about this time. St. John, just before he tells of the miracle by which Jesus fed the multitude in the desert with the five barley-loaves and two small fishes, says, as if to mark the time
John vi. 4. “And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh."
It is by the mention of these solemn feasts, which took place only once every year at a fixed season, that we are able at all to measure the time of our Lord's ministry on earth after his baptism in the river Jordan by John.
Let us, before we end this volume, fix in our minds the situation in which our blessed Lord is placed at the close of the second year of his ministry. He had now become known all over Judea and Galilee. The attention of the people had been every where fixed upon him. Their hopes and expectations had been raised to the highest pitch. Was He, or was He not, the long-looked for Messiah ? this was the question that filled men's minds. Now their hopes rose almost to certainty; now they fell again to the earth, and rage as well as disappointment took possession of them.
When they saw his deeds, they were ready to take him by force, and make him a king : when they heard his words, they left him in disgust. And so it was that, at one moment, He seemed to rule the crowd; at the next, He was forsaken by all but the few who felt the spiritual power of his teaching. They clung to him for the very cause for which the others left him. The value of eternal life was beginning to be felt by them; and, as this grew stronger and stronger within them, the desire for the honours of an earthly kingdom faded away.
This was a gradual work, and we shall find that very slowly were the hopes and wishes even of Christ's true disciples raised above the usual tone of other men's minds. But they were raised. The work was not left unfinished ; and, in the end they were enabled “to count all things but loss, so that they might win Christ and be found in him.” Then they understood those words of his, “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father ; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”
And so shall it be with each of us, if only we hold fast to that we do already know of Christ as the Son of God. Not all at once must we expect to understand the full glories of the Messiah's kingdom. Slowly the mists roll away, and often we have to wait long before we can see the Saviour in the full light of gospel truth. But we shall so see him, if amidst all the changes of other men's opinions, amidst all the doubts and misgivings of our own minds, we still hold fast by him. Many fall
away ; but oh, let us be faithful still! With Simon Peter, let us in every trial of our faith say, “Lord, to whom shall we go ? Thou hast the words of eternal life ; and we believe, and are sure, that thou art the Son of the living God.”
Prayer. Blessed be thy name, 0 eternal Lord, thou art the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. All things around us change ; but thou changest not. Thou art the life of our souls, and we have no hope but in thee. O give us grace to cling to thee, that as thou livest by the Father, so we may live by thee, and ever love thee more and more, as we understand thee better : give us power to serve thee with devoted hearts in sorrow and in joy.