What a guest! What a companion they had on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus! As the two journeyed together, they communed one with another and were sad. Much of the communion among the dear people of God in these days is of like nature. They unbosom their sorrows, tell of what seems to them blessed hopes of bright anticipations clouded, opening buds of promise have been nipped by the frost, and winter again seems to have returned. While thus believers in Jesus talk one to another, Jesus appears. Their eyes are holden; they do not know it is their beloved Savior, but he opens up in their experiences the Scriptures, and their hearts burn within them. Have you not, my brother, my sister, when you have told of your heart’s troubles to some of the dear kindred in Christ, and in return they have told of their sorrows, felt your poor heart kindle within you? And you have felt it was indeed good to have companions in tribulation (Rev. 1:9; Isa. 63:9). It is when we feel bereaved of the presence of the Redeemer, and in our sadness, with tardy steps, we wander in the vale of humiliation, that we are instructed and the precious Scriptures are unfolded in our experience. Jesus is near us all the time, “in another form,” though unrecognized, yet we are learning of him, and our heart is all a flame of love to our suffering, bleeding, dying, risen Redeemer. In our own sorrows we are brought into the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, and to us it is also most preciously given, in faith in Christ, to taste in some measure the power of his resurrection.
When they came to Emmaus, Jesus “made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” How could they part with such a fellow-traveler? Had they ever known a more companionable companion than Jesus? “Abide with us.”
‘Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide:
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
Not a brief glance, I beg, a passing word,
But as thou dwellest with thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free,
Come, not to sojourn, but abide with me.
“And he went in to tarry with them.” The visits of Emmanuel to the souls of his own blood-bought people are highly prized. To them he manifests himself, as he does not unto the world. The believer cannot long do without the presence of the dear Savior. The world with its cares and its pleasures interferes with their peace and comfort as they sojourn in the world. They long, therefore, for frequent visits from the One altogether lovely; and when he comes, revealing himself as our Lord and Redeemer, he says, “I will sup with him, and he with me.”We commune with our Savior and everlasting Friend; we tell him our fears, how we are plagued with sin, how we are harassed by the enemy; we show before him our troubles; we express our delight in his person, and wonderful acts done to redeem, to justify and glorify such poor sinners as we feel ourselves to be; we tell him how we want to praise, yearn to love him, to cleave to him, and we crave his mercy and grace to be our portion while here below,and sometimes, like the queen of Sheba, we tell him all that is in our heart, and prove him with hard questions that often perplex us, which we and no creatures can solve, but which we feel assured, if it be the will of our beloved Lord Jesus, he can answer and comfort and calm and satisfy our disquieted heart.
Is it thus we entertain our Beloved? Are these the things with which we spread the table and of which Jesus partakes? “I will sup with him, and he with me.” The Lord Jesus communes with us, entertains our souls with his own mercy and grace. He reveals his everlasting love, manifested in his being made flesh, in his living, suffering, bleeding, dying and rising again from the dead to save us from our sins; he cheers us with his smile, tells us that all shall end well; that in his unchanging love to our souls he will bring us through all our sorrows, through the waters, through the fires, through the wilderness of tribulation; that we shall be more than conquerors, for he loveth his own with an everlasting love, and will bring them all home to his eternal glory.
Was there ever such a feast of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined (Isa. 25:6)? When we sup with him, he is indeed made known to us. “They knew him,” (Luke 24:31). Of some we read that they “besought Jesus to depart from them,” (Luke 8:37); but of others it is recorded, “They besought him that he would tarry with them,” (John 4:40). To which do we belong? Oh, is it not that we exclaim, like the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Sometimes we complain of the shortness of his visits; sometimes Jesus appears, lifts the gloom, shows his reconciling face, tells us of his cleansing blood and justifying righteousness, and oh, the blessedness of the man whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Then he vanishes out of our sight, and like Abraham, we return to our own place (Gen. 18:33). Read how Jeremiah speaks: “O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?” (Jer. 14:7-8). Such is the condition of Israel at times. The Lord as a stranger in the land, journeying through the tribes, as having no permanent abode, but as a wayfaring man turning aside to tarry for a night. Happy the household where the Hope of Israel tarried. But Oh, how the prophet longed, not for a transient visit only, but that the Holy One of Israel, the hope and salvation of the church, might make his abode among his people.
So sacredly blessed are the moments when Jesus comes in to tarry with us, we long for these visits to be more frequent, and that they would last longer. When Christ is our guest, like the spouse of old we say, “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please”(Song. 3:5). But the time of love will come when freed from earth, when in the resurrection we shall see him as he is, and this mortal shall put on immortality. We shall be like Jesus Christ, our ascended and glorified Head, and so forever we shall be with the Lord, the Lamb. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name,”(Rev. 3:12).
“No farther go tonight, but stay
Dear Savior, ‘till the break of day.
Turn in, dear Lord, with me,
And in the morning when I wake,
Me in Thy arms, dear Jesus, take,
And I will go with Thee.
Now, Lord, be with us on our way;
Unveil Thy face, Thy arm display,
Thy glory let us prove.
Do Thou, dear Saviour, with us walk,
And while with Thee we sweetly talk,
Our hearts may burn with love.
May we, in faith, still journey on
‘Till we arrive where Thou art gone,
And see Thy face in heaven.
Then, when in glory we shall meet,
In what sweet concert shall we sit
And sing of sins forgiven.”
Your brother in Jesus,
(Elder) Frederick W. Keene, 1922