Glory of the Son, the Valley of Dry Bones, and the Mount of Olives: Part 2

John 6
(Concluded from page 76.)
Chapter 6 lays the groundwork for the exercise of such a life-giving power as this in the death of Christ; for how else could it be either bestowed by Him, or received by us? There is a beautiful correspondence here between the living bread come down from heaven, of which if a man eat he shall live forever; and the living water of which the Lord said to the woman of Samaria it should be in her a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Besides this, Jesus is presented in the glory of His person, as “the bread of God,” the incarnate One, who came down from heaven to give life to the world. This glory is manifested to us in that new order of manhood, by which He who thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Jehovah's fellow) made Himself of no reputation, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross that He might there connect Himself with the mighty ruin to overturn it—and then gain through redemption, resurrection, and finally by ascension (to “where he was before") the triple crown of glory, which lay before Him. By such a path did Jesus enter the dark valley, where “the dry bones of the whole house of Israel lay thick around Him” so very dry, and so many, nor would they be wakened up from their moral death in trespasses and sins, nor stand upon their feet, breathe He never so encouragingly upon them. Jesus said unto them, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven, if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever;” but if this presentation of Himself shook the dry bones of Israel, it was only to relapse into an alienation still deeper, and if it moved the broken sticks of Ephraim and Judah for a moment, it was but that they might sink back again into the stiffness of death.
The Word made flesh has dwelt among them so that it could be said, “behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” and by others “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” It was this glory in the person of the Son that now walked through this world, and cast its bright beams upon “every man coming into it;” if so be that men would respond to it, and take life, and walk in the light of life with this glory; “to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe on his name.” The glory finally in the person of the anointed Christ, the Messiah of Israel, re-entered the temple of Jerusalem, and rode into the royal city too; but only to be grieved afresh; as it was prophetically, when in type Ezekiel was the recorder of its visitations from place to place. The nation was familiar historically with the faithfulness of “the glory of the God of Israel,” together with the “pillar of cloud” which led them from Egypt, through the wilderness journey; till in the days of Solomon this glory found its rest in the temple which it filled, and where it made itself at home with that favored people. Protected they had been, in every step of their wondrous journey into Canaan by it, and blessed under its covering wings, when brought into the habitation and house which Jehovah had prepared for His delights with His people; and now the promised seed, the Messiah Himself, the Jehovah-Jesus, the Son of God, was come down into their midst to lead them back and establish them in all the covenanted blessings and promises which they had forfeited. Are they ready?
The result of Jerusalem's visitation by One greater than its temple, and greater than Solomon, is before us; but this inspection on the part of the glory must necessarily lead to the exposure of the moral state of the temple and its worshippers, which it detected, as well as of the city and its rulers, when tested by their readiness or unreadiness to welcome the presence of the God of Israel in the glory of “the Word made flesh.” Alas! the temple had become “a den of thieves:” a fitting but awful presage of the royal city itself, which shortly after gave forth the betrayers and murderers to shed the blood of Him who in pity and compassion “wept over her and said, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem how often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not; but now your house is left unto you desolate.” Entreated, and tested by the glory, though He spake as never man spake (as they themselves said), all was refused and lost by them in the rejection of Christ the Lord—and the glory retired from the city!
One only path remained in grace, and this lay among “the valley of dry bones.” The Lord took His place among the Jews when in this condition morally, as these chapters describe; but if they were in this state of death, He on that account was in their midst, as “the breath who had come from above the four winds” of heaven to breathe upon them. In this chapter He had gone in and out amongst them, as the quickener of the dead, the restorer to life, the recoverer of sight to the blind; and these living proofs of His power (who were made every whit whole) were walking about in their streets to convict and condemn the rebellious children. The promised glory came amongst them to lead them out into peace and blessing with Jehovah, if they would accept the hand stretched out to deliver; and the valley of dry bones, with the all-sufficient Savior of His people there in fullness of grace, characterized the ministry in love, which followed them, and which put them to the test, up to John 6. It is then that Jesus spoke to the disciples which followed Him, of the necessity of His death, in order to give life to them; and that they should have the real “bread of God” to sustain that life. Even they stumbled at these new ways, in the open valley—the four winds of heaven were inadequate to the moral ruin. Often had they heard the sound thereof, but as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “thou knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” The Holy Ghost must needs come into this valley, and do a greater work than He did in creation, when He moved upon the face of that mighty chaos to bring light out of darkness, and order out of confusion. Except a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God or stand in this new connection with the Son of man who came down from heaven and yet is the Son of man which is in heaven. “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him.” It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing—the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life—is what the Lord of glory proclaims in this valley of dry bones, when He was passing through it. Many said, this is a hard saying, who can hear it? but Jesus in spirit is carried yet further and asks, what and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? and from that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. With others “the bones came together, bone to his bone,” and the word which was spirit and life in Christ had caused them to live, and they confessed Jesus to be the life, saying, “to whom shall we go but unto thee? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Nationally the time of figs is not yet—these are but gleaning grapes, two or three from the uppermost boughs, four or five in the outmost branches thereof, who are thus gathered out into place and companionship with the rejected Son of man into another and far higher glory in the heavens.
Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand, and His brethren said, “If thou do these things, show thyself to the world, for neither did his brethren believe on him.” But the pathway of our Lord is determined on, and lies through the untrodden regions of death and resurrection, that He may give life to the world. His time for showing Himself to Israel at the feast of tabernacles and then to the world go together, and is not yet come. “I go not up yet to this feast;” the world and Israel are alike too, in their enmity; “the world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil.” “Your time is alway ready, but my time is not yet come, and when he had said these words he abode still in Galilee.” Instead of any contradiction in this action of Christ at the feast time, there is beautiful moral order; “about the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught” passing on into His own heights, when He said, My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me, if any man will do His will, He shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. They keep their feast as though all were right in Israel, and the glory still filling the temple of Jerusalem; not realizing the fact that the Lord of the temple had passed through it, only to make a scourge of small cords, and to justify that strange act, by saying, “the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” But a greater zeal than that now takes possession of the Lord, as He reveals Himself in the descending steps of His sufferings and death; for He cannot lead His people into promised blessing by any other path, than their redemption by blood; nor will He take any other road to His own glory, or to His kingdom, than through His sufferings. The glory will wait upon Him on the morning of the third day, at the door of the sepulcher!
In perfect keeping with this, Jesus says to the Pharisees, and chief priests and officers who were sent to take Him, “yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me; ye shall seek me and shall not find me, and whither I go ye cannot come.” One great necessity was declared to the man of the Pharisees, the ruler of Israel, at the feast of the passover; when Jesus deposited the secret to Nicodemus of the lifted up Son of man, in order to see and enter the kingdom of God; and now at the feast of tabernacles, He reveals another great necessity. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink, he that believeth on him as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; but this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that the Son of man was not yet glorified.” Precious Jesus, what grace hast Thou shown to Thy rebellious people—deeper than the depths of the humiliation that brought Thee down upon the level with man on earth, or into the valley of dry bones, must Thou needs descend to serve him. Into Thy sufferings and baptism of blood hast Thou gone on the cross, as “the lifted up Son of man,” to redeem them; yea down into the very dust of death hast Thou been brought, fast bound by the pains of death, that God Himself might loosen Thee from them. Thine agony and atoning blood as the Paschal Lamb have turned the relations between God and man into a feast of the passover, for Thy willing people, and as the basis for all the remaining feasts. Out of the depths of the grave, and the heart of the earth hast Thou been raised, having won all the glory for Thy Father and Thyself, and for us, which death and the eater would yield to none but Thee. By ascension to the right hand of God, as the glorified Son of man, the Spirit will yet come down and breathe upon the valley of dry bones at a future day, when the whole house of Israel shall stand up in the power of life, and the two sticks of Judah and Ephraim become one. “Behold they say, Our, bones are dried, and our hope is lost, we are out off from our parts; therefore prophecy and say unto them, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves.... and will put my Spirit in you and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land, then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it and performed it, saith the Lord.” In conclusion, we see in this group of chapters, the journey of the glory through the midst of Israel and the world, down into the dark valley, in order to grasp this mighty ruin as He alone could, and make Himself in grace responsible for lightening it up, and bringing “his own glory and the glory of his Father and of the holy angels” back into it, that all the world may be filled with the glory of God. The lifted-up Son of man on the cross, and the lifting up of the glorified Son of man to the heavens, were necessary, in order to the descent of the Holy Ghost, and for the gathering out of the church first.
This other company, brought out with Peter, upon a present confession of Jesus, as the Christ the Son of the living God, during His rejection by the Jews, and the judicial hiding of Himself from both houses of Israel, was now to be manifested upon the earth. The valley of Ezekiel's vision will be opened up, and bone come to its bone, a very great multitude, according to the Spirit of prophecy, when that same Spirit from on high is poured out upon the people to make good all their latter-day blessing. The offended glory, and the Lord Himself once rejected, will again return in the person of their crucified Messiah; holiness shall then be upon the bells of the horses, and the pots in the Lord's house be like the bowls before the altar. In the meanwhile, the new and heavenly family are distinct, and distinguished in these chapters, as brought out to the Lamb of God, the Word made flesh, and these can gay, “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” They dwell with Him, accompany Him in all His ways of patient love in the midst of His Israel according to the flesh, and are His associates in service and testimony after to the heavenly things themselves. God is gathering out through Christ a people for the heavens, into the Father's house, in contrast with the feast of tabernacles, which was the record and witness that God dwelt with Israel on the earth, and blessed them where they were with natural blessings in the earthly places. Peter and others make the confession which identifies them with Christ now and hereafter; for when Jesus said to them, Will ye also go away? they reply, “To whom shall we go but unto thee? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The “hard sayings” and tests of chapter 6 brought to light the secrets of all hearts, and put all to the proof. Peter and those with him witnessed at that time a good confession, and go on with their Lord, and continue with Him through His temptation; others (who are sifted) go back, and “from that time walk no more with him.” On the other hand, the refusal of Christ to accept the footing of the feast of tabernacles for Himself and Israel and Jehovah in chapter 7 as the present way to prosperity and blessing in Canaan, and a millennium on earth; and His refusal to show Himself there, or in the light of it to the surrounding nations and the world, became a test to the men of progress then, and religiously to the ritualists of that day, as well as now. “Every man went to his own home,” and thus they broke company with their Messiah, and refused Him; and the heavenly things; but “Jesus went unto the mount of Olives,” into the counsels of the Father concerning Him, and the hidden glories to which that death and His departure to the Father should introduce Him. Thus the One in whom the glory dwells has in spirit departed from the house, and the nation, and its temple, and the feast of tabernacles, to the mount of Olives; just as the typical glory did, in the prophetic times of Ezekiel. Moreover, it is by the way of the east (after the Lord's shout and the glory, in the twinkling of an eye, have caught no away to be forever with Him) that de and it alike return; for His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem. Like the disciples, we (in the meanwhile) follow Jesus into the place of rejection here, and by the way of the mount of Olives to the right hand of God, into oneness with Him and the Father, where He now is; as being identified with Him in grace, in every thought and purpose which the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory has counseled in Him for the everlasting ages.
United to Him, and members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, our suited prayer is that He “may give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
J. E. B.