The Risen Christ

 •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THOU shalt be near unto me." These words expressed the heart of Joseph towards his brethren. Yet their behavior to him long years before does not strike one as exhibiting either greatness of mind or soul. "Blood is thicker than water," they say, yet there must be a certain kindredness of spirit between relatives if great love is to exist. This was certainly lacking in the case before us.
Joseph, as a youth, had twice dreamed of his future eminence. This only aroused the jealousy of his narrow-minded brethren. Sent to them on a kindly errand by their father, they resolved to use the occasion to get rid of him. Twenty pieces of silver jingling in the pockets of ten men was the reward of their crime, and a many-colored coat stained with blood was the stratagem by which they hoped to conceal it. As they saw the caravan of the Midianitish merchants passing out of sight, they thought to have seen the last of the one against whom they had sinned.
But this was not to be. Their need, the raging famine, the knowledge of corn in Egypt, led them into the land of the Pharaohs, and so, by a chain of providential events, they were brought into the presence of Joseph again.
Then, step by step, their consciences were reached about their sin. They reaped what they had sown, and the work of repentance went on. At last Joseph made himself known, and, in telling them to make haste and bring his father to the fair land of Goshen, added touchingly: "Thou shalt be near unto me."
So it is, in a deeper and fuller way, with our risen Lord.
"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." Matthew, who depicts for us the Messiah, the King, presenting Himself to His people, is the only Evangelist who distinctly tells us that Jesus was betrayed by Judas for thirty pieces of silver. Mark says of the priests, they "promised to give him money." And in putting Jesus on the cross they thought to have done with Him.
Israel's sons believed they had seen the last of Joseph when they sold him for twenty pieces of silver. When next they saw him it was as savior (temporally) of the world-the administrator of the wealth of Pharaoh-the lord of all his house, and ruler throughout the land of Egypt.
So the world thought to have seen the last of Jesus when He was sold for thirty pieces of silver and crucified. But it is far otherwise. Peter winds up his Pentecostal sermon thus: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD and CHRIST."
The first sight of Jesus that the eye of faith gets is in the place of power and glory-the Administrator of all God's goodness to man-everything committed to His hand, alike the Dispenser of grace and judgment.
Reader, I pause here. Have you so beheld Jesus? Is the blessing that has come to you linked up with a Man in glory-much more than a man, yet a true, real Man-the Sustainer of God's glory, the Administrator of everything divine? To have made His acquaintance thus is to start a new life altogether; not of self, but of Christ; not of disappointment and defeat, but of satisfaction and victory.
Joseph gave instructions: "And ye shall tell... of all my glory in Egypt."
He committed such a task as that to his remorseful brethren-narrow-minded to the last, as their after-history proved. None other than a Divine Person-the Holy Ghost-is commissioned to tell us of the glories of Jesus, our risen Lord. By the Spirit's power we can see the face of Jesus, can gaze upon the glory of the Lord. The children of Israel could not look on the reflected glory in the face of the great lawgiver. We are privileged and empowered to see the face of Him to whom the glory belongs, not, indeed, a reflected glory, but the whole glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ. Blessed, precious privilege! Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone. Our faces will not shine if we look into the looking-glass of self-occupation, but gazing on Jesus we shall be self-forgetful, "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Would that it were more so!
Joseph next says to his brethren, "Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come."
Joseph not only desires his brethren to be near unto him, but he provides the means to bring them to himself. No toilsome march lay before Jacob in his feebleness and old age, no tedious journey for the little ones and their mothers. No; they were carried every step of the journey in the wagons. In other words, the power that carried them to Joseph came from Joseph.
There are two other examples of the same thing that readily come to mind. The camels that carried Rebekah to Isaac came from Isaac. The good Samaritan set the poor wounded man upon his own beast.
Does all this not teach us that the power by which we make the pilgrimage to our Joseph-our heavenly Isaac-comes from the place where He is? Did He not, consequent on His ascension, send us the Holy Ghost to indwell our bodies? It would be a great gain if we believed this simple, though deeply important fact, that all our power for life and journey comes from our risen Lord.
There would henceforth be no expecting from self. No; God has set aside "the first man" at the cross, and the Holy Ghost is too true to the One who sent Him ever to attach Himself in the smallest way to us, as men in the flesh. Now, do we believe this? Or is it only a fact to which we give a credence, more or less hearty, but which has not entered as a factor into our lives?
There are two ways of going towards heaven-drifting or journeying. Mark some Christians. They profess to be the Lord's. They are guilty of no outward irregularities, any more than a man sound asleep in a boat drifting down stream would be. You can discern no progress in the soul. The little life that remains seems growing feebler and feebler. In short, they are drifting. If they are children of God, sure are we that He is too loving to let things go on like that forever. He will upset their boat. If they will not listen to ministry, they may to circumstances-ill health, bereavements, or poverty. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
But there are those who journey. They pursue their way with vigor. Their soul thrills with delight as they press on to the goal-Himself. Yet their energy is not fleshly. It is of the Holy Ghost. In short, the power to journey to a risen Lord comes from a risen Lord. Young Christian, never, never forget this.
Next, Joseph says to his brethren, "Also regard not your stuff."
If the glories of our heavenly Joseph filled our souls, things here would not detain us. Our 'hearts are where our treasure is. I suppose the translators used the plain old-fashioned English word "stuff" in the usual way, but I cannot forbear imparting a tinge of irony to the word, "Also regard not your stuff." For after all it is but "stuff" that our hearts get occupied with down here. There is more room for the heart in a full purse than in an empty one. Whether it be money or lands, lineage or accomplishments, the word comes home in cutting power to our souls, "Also regard not your stuff."
When our souls get entangled in these things, we forget we are but stewards. The Jew, in giving one-tenth of his property to the Lord, counted the remaining nine-tenths his own. Not so the Christian. We are not our own, and all we have belongs to Him. Alas, grace works so feebly in our hearts that as a most general rule our actions in this respect are behind those of a godly Jew. It is a positive luxury to put all into His disposing hands. Then we are conscious of His love in providing for our every want, and in giving us the privilege of caring for His interests here.
Next we read:-
"Joseph ... gave them provision for the way."
If all our power comes from a risen Lord, so does also our food. It is not a question of natural food, of course, but spiritual. Hence the inquiry, What shall we read? And very often the storm of the discussion rages around the religious novel. The question would be simply answered if we asked ourselves, Does this food come from our risen, glorious Joseph? Will it make me more heavenly? For our mental pabulum, in its assimilating process, brings with it results like to itself. We know what the cow has been feeding on when the butter is yellow. What comes out of a man is what has gone into him. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." We are characterized by what we feed on. It is not what we mentally acquire, but what we spiritually assimilate, that can be called food. For the latter the Spirit of God must be our Teacher, so that it is not merely the letter of the Word that engages our attention, but the life-giving spirit of the Word becomes food to our souls. Oh, what an abundance of rich food the Christian has! What heavenly pastures in the Scriptures! We can say with the shepherd-psalmist, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." We know many often long to be more Christ-like. Let such remember character-building is a slow but sure process. We cannot expect to be like Him unless we are occupied with Him. If we are taken up with business, or frivolity, or light general reading, we shall become like to that we are occupied with. God's laws are inexorable.
When Moses spoke face to face with Jehovah on Mount Sinai he wist not his face shone. When Samson fell asleep on the lap of Delilah, after divulging the secret of his Nazariteship, he wist not that his strength was departed.
But someone will exclaim, "We are bound to be occupied with business. Are we not told in Scripture to do whatsoever our hand findeth to do with all our might?"
Certainly. This is but God-honoring. A lazy Christian is a disgrace to the coat he wears. But it is-one thing to do our business heartily, and another to be so occupied with it that Christ is shut out, and instead of feeding on the bread that cometh down from heaven-Himself-to be feeding on the dry husks of business. To start with, you should run your business as the Lord's steward, and for His glory primarily, not for your own profit. When this is the case the dull routine of business has a halo of glory around it, and commonplace actions are invested with a dignity before which the crown and scepter sink into utter insignificance.
But to return. Our food is heavenly, for it is Christ Himself. Our Lord, speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, says of them: "They are they which testify of ME." Types and symbols and shadows spoke so touchingly of Christ that the hearts of the two Emmaus-bound disciples burned within them whilst "He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things CONCERNING HIMSELF." Yet their eyes were holden that they did not recognize the risen Lord. How must it be then with us when we know Him, our risen Joseph, when the types have given place to the glorious antitype-the symbol to the reality-the shadow to the substance-when the stars of a Jewish night have paled before the full-orbed splendor of that central Sun of Christianity-Jesus, our Moses, our Aaron, our Melchisedec, the mighty Son of God, our great High Priest, the Son over His own house, our Minister of the Sanctuary? Yet some exclaim, as did the Israelites concerning the manna which dropped from heaven morning by morning, "Our souls loathe this light food." Who can measure the extent of their backsliding?
Next we read, "He gave each man changes of raiment."
The clothing, too, comes from heaven-heavenly clothing. The Christian is looked upon as having put off the old man and put on the new. Having put on the new, we are to be characterized by "bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness."
This is the sample of the clothing provided for us from the risen Joseph. It takes all of Adam's race to bring out in their hideous repulsiveness the characteristics of the old man. But the Lord Jesus Christ expressed fully and completely in His own peerless Person what man should be for God. He was the Second Man-the Lord from heaven.
And now the Church upon earth should be the expression of Christ-the Second Man. It is thus the privilege of each believer, as being a part of the whole, to exhibit the graces of Christ-each in his measure to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
It is only as the Spirit of God engages our hearts with Christ in glory, that we shall be seen in these heavenly garments, only by being engaged with Christ where He is, that we can be like Him where He was.
The outward should be the index of the inward. When this is not so, we are leavened with Pharisaism-hypocrisy. The monk in his cowl and the nun in her black robes would fain persuade us that they had done with the world and its ambitions and lusts. Yet history judges them by their actions; and a more awful exposure than the judicial pen of the historian has made could not well be conceived. Let us be honest with God and ourselves.
For instance, the women are exhorted in Scripture to adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array, but with good works (1 Tim. 2:1010But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. (1 Timothy 2:10)). The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is to be theirs, which is, in the sight of God, of great price (1 Peter 3:44But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. (1 Peter 3:4)).
This ornament of a meek and quiet spirit-this ornament of great price-is not to be bought across the jeweler’s counter, but gained, as Mary found, by sitting at His feet and learning of Him. Such ornaments suit us all.
A servant of the Lord said to me one day, "So-and-so in the best-dressed man in S
"How is that?" I inquired.
"He is clothed with humility," was the ready response. Alas, we know these garments more by admiring them on others than in wearing them ourselves.
And now Joseph, in sending his brethren off, gives them a needed piece of advice: "See that ye fall not out by the way."
One would think with abundance of carrying capacity in the wagons, plenty of food and clothing, there would be no room for quarreling, but that Joseph's grandeur and grace would prove the engrossing theme of their conversation, especially as every turn of the wagon-wheels brought them nearer and nearer to their brother. And has this no voice for us? Is not the Holy Ghost given to each believer alike? Are not the Scriptures the common heritage of all believers? Is not Christ in glory and His heavenly resources the undivided portion of all? To ask the questions is but to answer them.
And yet look abroad. Have we not fallen out by the way? The Church history of well-nigh nineteen centuries is too sad an evidence of this. The clamor of voices, the clashing of shibboleths, have not died out yet.
Oh, let us in our measure be so occupied with Christ that the flesh may be kept in the place of judgment and death, our evil hearts not being allowed to act. It is only as we are occupied with Christ, and walking in the power of the Spirit, that we are in a state of practical deliverance. And an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory.
And, lastly, we read so touchingly of Jacob, that "when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: and Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die."
Our journey to Christ in glory is an impossibility to nature. But when the young believer knows the mission, purpose, and power of the Holy Ghost, he reads the whole secret at a glance. Jacob's spirit revived when he saw the wagons. We, too, can go forward with confidence as we are conscious of the presence and power of the Holy Ghost. Well-fed and well-clothed Christians we should be, pressing on in all this mighty energy of God till we see His face, and journeyings are no more. May God grant it increasingly for His name's sake. Amen.
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