Occupation With Christ: Part 1

John 6:53-58
The subject on which I would meditate a little is wider than is suggested by the scripture read. Here we have eating "the flesh of the Son of man, and drink[ing] His blood," and "eat[ing]" Christ Himself; but I desire to consider the whole subject of feeding upon or occupation with Christ. Combining, then, other scriptures with this, we are said to feed upon Christ in three characters: as the passover Lamb, as the manna, and as the old corn of the land; for I need scarcely say that all these three things are types of Christ. In the chapter before us we have especially Christ as the manna (vv. 32, 33, 48-50, etc.); and a reference to Him also as the pass over Lamb (compare verse 4 with verse 53, etc.); but we shall have to turn to the epistles to find Him in the character which answers to the old corn of the land (Josh. 5:1111And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. (Joshua 5:11)).
1) We will first take Christ as the passover Lamb, as the food of His people. If we go back to the history of Israel, we shall find that they kept the Passover in Egypt (Ex. 12); in the wilderness (Num. 9); and in the land (Josh. 5). The question then arises, When do we feed upon Christ as the passover Lamb? It is sometimes said that we only do this at the outset, when, convicted of sin, we fear the approach of God as a judge; and that, as soon as we have deliverance, we thereafter cease to feed upon Him in this character. If this be so, why does Israel keep the Passover both in the wilderness and in the land? I think, therefore, that it will be seen that we never cease to keep the Passover; and, moreover, that the place in which we thus feed upon Christ depends upon our states of soul.
Every believer knows what it is (has known what it is) to feed upon the roast Lamb in Egypt. Awakened by the Spirit of God, alarmed by the impending judgment, brought under the shelter of the precious blood, how eagerly we fed upon the Lamb that had passed through the fires of God's holiness, when bearing our sins on the tree! True, it was with bitter herbs that we ate it, for we then had a sight of our sins—in measure according to God—and with girded loins and shoes on our feet, and our staff in our hand, for already Egypt had become morally a desert, and we were only waiting for the word of the Lord to commence our pilgrim journey. It was a time much to be remembered, for it was the beginning of months -the first month of the year of our spiritual life.
But while every believer has passed through this experience, it is to be feared that many feed upon the roast lamb in Egypt all their lives. Not knowing deliverance through the death and resurrection of Christ, or even peace with God as the result of the sheltering blood, they feed upon Christ only as the One who by His death bars the way to God as a judge; and consequently they do not know God as their God and Father in Christ Jesus. Such a state of soul is both to be deprecated and deplored; for it is the result either of bad teaching, or of the unbelief of the heart in the fullness of the grace of God.
Passing now from Egypt, the next place in which Israel kept the Passover was the wilderness; and they were told to keep it there "according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof" (Numb. 9:33In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. (Numbers 9:3)). The wilderness is the place of every believer when viewed as a pilgrim. The world has become a desert to him, and he is passing through (as not of) it, because he is waiting for the return of his Lord. How then does he feed upon Christ as the slain Lamb in the wilderness? "It is participation by grace in the power of the death an d resurrection of Christ," by which we have been brought out of the enemy's territory—delivered from the power of Satan and redeemed unto God.
In the wilderness we feed upon the Passover as the memorial of our deliverance from Egypt; and in it we see Christ going down into death, and not only bearing all the judgment that was our due- going through and exhausting it—but also as meeting and conquering all the power of the enemy—destroying him that had the power of death, and thereby bringing us out from the house of bondage, and setting us free as the children, and for the service, of God. In the wilderness, therefore, we feed upon the passover Lamb as pilgrims and strangers—knowing deliverance, but not as yet come to the land of which the Lord has spoken. Hence in this character we not only value (according to our faith) the precious blood, and delight to contemplate its wondrous efficacy as clearing us forever from every charge and claim of the enemy, but we also feed upon the death of Christ as such because of our death (and resurrection) in Him, by which we have been brought out into a new place, where we can look back upon death and judgment as being forever behind us.
In the land the Passover assumed another character still, and one too which should also find its correspondence with the believer now. It is very evident that to the Israelite it would have a much fuller significance when he was across the Jordan than when he was in the desert. It would be to him now the memorial—not simply of deliverance from Egypt and Egypt's thralldom and power, but of accomplished salvation. For in truth his position in the land, while it was to the glory of God's faithfulness and grace in the performance of all that He had promised (for "there failed not aught of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass" [Josh. 21:4545There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:45)]), was the consequence of the shed blood. In other words, the blood of the passover lamb laid the foundation for the accomplishment of God's purposes; and hence to those whose eyes were opened, the blood would have a far greater value when over the Jordan than when in the waste, howling wilderness.
So now, for we have a position which agrees entirely with being in the land. Not only have we been quickened together with Christ, but we are also raised up together, and made to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)). This is the place before God of every believer; but whether we are occupying it depends upon whether we know death and resurrection with, as well as in and through, Christ—whether we have crossed the Jordan as well as the Red Sea. It is our privilege to do so; indeed we ought never to be content until, by the grace of God, we do know what it is to be seated in spirit in the heavenly places. But if we are there, we cannot dispense with the Passover.
On the other hand, the more fully we apprehend the character of the place into which we are brought, the more the riches of the grace of God are unfolded to us, the more delightedly, and with enlarged apprehensions, we shall look back to the cross, and feast upon the death of Him whose precious blood alone has made our place in the heavenlies possible for us. But our feeding upon Him now will partake more of the character of communion with God in the death of His Son. Our eyes will then be opened to discover, not so much the blessings which have thereby been secured to us, as that God in every attribute of His character has been fully glorified in that death. We shall thus (if we may so speak) feast with God when we keep the Passover in the heavenly places; and the effect on our souls will be adoration and praise; in a word, worship of the highest character will be the result of our feeding upon the slain Lamb when seated in the heavenlies. For we are seated there in peace before God—already in possession of our place in His presence. And it is only then that we can have communion with His own thoughts, and with His own joy in the death of His Son.
We see, therefore, that we feed upon Christ as the passover Lamb in every stage of our experience; but the place in which we do so—Egypt, the wilderness, or the land- will depend upon our states of soul. And, no doubt, when we are gathered together to show the Lord's death until He come, there are often side-by-side those who are in the wilderness, and those who are in the land. Still they feed alike upon the death of Christ, remember Him as dead, whatever the difference in their apprehensions, or in their experiences or attainments. In heaven itself, indeed, we shall contemplate that death with ever increasing adoration; for the blood of the Lamb will be the theme of glorified saints throughout eternity.