•  3 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The nearness to Himself to which the Lord invites the soul—the intimacy with which He invests the heart of a believing sinner-it is most blessed for us to know. He does not deal with us in the style of a patron or benefactor; the world is full of that principle. "They that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors." Luke 22:2525And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. (Luke 22:25). Man will be ready enough to confer benefits in the character of a benefactor or patron, occupying all the while the distant place of both conscious and confessed superiority; but this is not Jesus. He can say, "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." He brings His dependent one very near to Him; He lets him know and feel that He is dealing with him as a kinsman rather than as a patron. Is it the condescending of a great one that we see in Christ? "I am among you as He that serveth," says He. Is it the distant and courtly benevolence of a superior that we receive from Him? "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them" is not of that kind. He is, it is eternally true, "Master and Lord," and He would have us know Him as such; but He sits at our table with us. As of old, He could command Moses to take off his shoes in His presence, but speak to him face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
And was it not thus to perfection in the days of His flesh on earth? Every case, I may say, tells us so; it was never the style of a mere benefactor, the distance and elevation of a patron. He "bare our sicknesses" and "carried our sorrows." Just look at Him at Jacob's well. A woman was there who had the most exalted thoughts of Him. "I know that Messias cometh, who is called Christ; when He is come, He will tell us all things." This was her high and just sense of the Messiah, not knowing that He to whom she was thus speaking face to face could say immediately in answer to her, "I that speak unto thee am He." But where was He, the exalted Christ, all this time? Talking with her as they had met together by the side of the well; and in order to give her entire ease in His presence, He had asked her for a drink of water. Was this patronage after the manner of men? Was this the distance and condescension of a superior? Was this heaven or the world, man or God? Condescension, or the world, will confer what favor you please, but will have the elevation of a superior, and the reserve of a dependent kept and honored. But heaven, or love, acts not thus. Blessed, blessed be God, Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, was kinsman to them He befriended; and as a kinsman He acted, and not as a patron. He seeks to bring us near—to invest our hearts with ease and confidence. He visits us, nay, He comes to us upon our invitation, as He went and dwelt two days with the Samaritans who came out and sought His company at the report of the woman of the well. He asks a favor from our hand, that we may take a favor from His without reserve; He will drink out of our pitcher while opening His eternal fountains for us, and eat of our kid at the tent door while revealing eternal secrets to us. (Gen. 18; John 4.)
And so it was (as another once observed) after He rose from the dead; He meets His disciples again, gets the dinner ready for them, but tells them to help Him to load the board (John 21). All this is still the way of love and of heaven. He has now done with His sorrow and His humiliation in the world, it is true; but He has not done with this essential way of love; He is still the kinsman, and not the patron.