How peculiarly appropriate were the words of encouragement and admonition addressed to the disciples in the most solemn and trying time ever experienced in all the history of the church. The hour was approaching when their dear Lord, in whom they trusted for life and immortality, and who was nearer and dearer to them than any earthly friend or relative, was to be arrested by an armed band, into whose hands he was to be betrayed by one who had been numbered with the apostles, and be led away to Pilate’s bar, and finally to be delivered up to die the ignominious death of the cross, amidst the insulting jeers and abusive execrations of an enraged and infatuated multitude.
Although the disciples had been told that for this cause came the Son of God into the world, yet they seemed to be quite unprepared to witness the terrible scene which was now about to be realized. If the Savior’s own soul was straitened till this baptism of suffering was accomplished, is it strange that the trial should be most crushing to his disciples? But they were not only to feel the dreadful shock of witnessing the sufferings of the holy, harmless Lamb of God, but in such a manner as would be calculated to severely try their faith in him as the true Messiah. This is implied in the admonition, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” They verily thought it was he that should redeem Israel; but when the powers of darkness had seemed to prevail, their confidence in him was shaken, and they were sad and desponding, until assured of his resurrection. Dark and gloomy as all things must have seemed to them when they had witnessed his painful death, and the consignment of his body to the tomb, and remembered that it was the third day since these things had transpired, yet not more firmly stood the eternal throne of the Father, than stood the perfect and complete success of the Mediatorial work of the dear Redeemer, and therefore notwithstanding all the darksome appearance of things, they are encouraged to believe as firmly in him as they believed in the Father.
The trial for which our Savior was now preparing his disciples was to be more peculiarly calculated to shake their confidence in him as the true Messiah that was to come and redeem Israel, than it was to diminish their faith in God, as the Creator and upholder of all things. Their firm belief in God is admitted. “Ye believe in God.” Not only were they believers in God, being rationally convinced by the evidence presented to their natural minds by the external demonstrations seen in his wonderful works in which are displayed his eternal power and Godhead; but, as the subjects of his saving grace they were taught by the Spirit, and did know him as the true and living God; and the same faith to which his being and perfections were manifested, is that which must also recognize in Christ, the “only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
His words seem to imply that he was just as assuredly the true Messiah, of whom Moses and the prophets had written, as the God in whom they believed was and is the supreme and eternal God. Therefore they were admonished to “let not their heart be troubled.”
We infer, that whatever confidence we may have in the existence of the eternal God, we can have no true comfort until we can find that God in whom we believe, revealed to us in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Watts has justly said,
“Till God revealed in flesh I see,
No comfort can I find;
The holy, just and sacred three,
Are terror to my mind.”
A knowledge of the true God as he is revealed to us in his holy law, in the absence of faith in his dear Son, as our Day’s Man, or Mediator, would fill us with terror and dismay; for how could we hope to stand before him with acceptance, if we did not believe also in Christ Jesus as the “one Mediator between God and men,” and as the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved? To secure the heart from trouble, we must believe in Christ as our Mediator, even as we believe in God, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of our spirits in Christ.
The despondence of the disciples when Jesus was taken by wicked men and crucified, and laid in the grave, was such as the disciples of Christ even to this day feel, when their faith loses the sight, or the sensible presence of their dear Redeemer; for in his absence how can we approach unto God and not be consumed? He is the way, and the truth, and the life; and no man cometh unto the Father but by him. As Christ and his Father are one, even so Christ and his church are one. As Christ is in the Father, and the Father is in him, even so Christ is in his church, and the church is in him. How then could we be saved from trouble in believing in the Father, if we believed not also in Christ?
This subject may afford comfort to our afflicted friend in North Carolina. He certainly believes in God who in his inscrutable providence has recently called from him his dearest earthly friend. What now can calm his troubled heart, or relieve the anguish of his spirit, and cause him to rejoice in his tribulation, and “midst changing scenes and dying friends,” short of faith in Jesus Christ his Lord? If we believe in him, that faith will assure us that although we as sinners as exposed to the judgments of a holy God, yet believing also in Jesus as our Advocate with the Father, we find him our very present help in every time of trouble.
October 15, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe