After Christ was baptized of John in Jordan,
He came up out of the water, and bowing upon the bank of the river, He prayed
fervently to his Heavenly Father. The heavens were opened to his prayer, and
the light of the glory of God, brighter than the sun at noonday, shone from the
eternal throne. The form of a dove encircled the Son of God, while the voice
from the excellent glory was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased” [Matthew 3:17].
Christ was the representative of humanity. He
had laid aside his glory, stepped down from his throne, clothed his divinity
with humanity, that with his human arm He might encircle the race, and with his
divine arm reach the throne of the Infinite. He took upon Him the nature of
man, and was tempted in all points like as we are. As a man He supplicated at
the throne of God, beseeching his Father to accept his prayer in behalf of
humanity; and to his earnest petition the heavens were opened. Never before had
angels listened to such a prayer, and the glory of the Majesty of heaven shone
upon Him, and words of love and approval assured Him of the acceptance of his
petition as man’s representative. God accepted the fallen race through the
merits of Christ.
Communication between heaven and earth,
between God and man, had been broken by the fall of Adam; but through Christ
man could again commune with God. He who knew no sin became sin for the race,
that his righteousness might be imputed to man. Through the perfection of
Christ’s character, humanity was elevated in the scale of moral value with God;
finite man was linked with the infinite God. Thus the gulf which sin had made
was bridged by the world’s Redeemer.
How grateful should we be for the privileges
which Christ has gained for us in opening heaven before us.
What hope does it give to man that the Father said to Christ, who represented
humanity, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [Matthew 3:17,
17:5]. In the Father’s acceptance of Christ in man’s behalf, we are assured
that through the merits of his Son, we may find access to God. We may be
accepted in the Beloved. Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, has opened the way so
that the most sinful, the most needy, the most oppressed and despised, may find
access to God, may have a home in the mansions that Jesus has gone to prepare
for those who love Him.
In a vision Jacob beheld a mystic ladder
reaching from earth to heaven, on which were angels ascending and descending,
and from the throne of God the glory of heaven streamed down. This ladder
represented Jesus, the appointed medium of communication between man and God.
Had He not by his humanity bridged the gulf of separation that sin had made
between God and his people, the angels could never have been ministering
spirits to communicate with fallen man; but through Christ man in his weakness
and helplessness is connected with the source of infinite power.
Jesus lived a life of prayer; after toiling
all day, preaching to the ignorant, healing the sick, giving sight to the
blind, raising the dead, feeding the multitudes, evening after evening He went
away from the confusion of the city, and in some retired place, poured forth
supplication to his Father with strong crying and tears. At times the bright
beams of the moon shone upon his bowed form, and again clouds and darkness shut
away all light. While bowed in the attitude of a suppliant, the dew and the
frost of night rested upon Him. He frequently continued his petitions through
the entire night. If the Saviour of men felt the need
of prayer in our behalf, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the
necessity of prayer—fervent, constant prayer—on their own account!
“It is enough for the disciple that he be as
his master, and the servant as his lord” [Matthew 10:25]. Jesus sought earnestly
for strength from his Father. He regarded communication with God more essential
than his daily food. He has given us evidence that in order to contend
successfully with the powers of darkness, and to do the work allotted to us to
perform, we must live in communion with God. Our own strength is weakness, but
that which God gives will make every one who attains
it more than conquerors. The continued, earnest prayer of faith will bring us
light and strength to withstand the fierce assaults of the enemy. The light and
strength of one day will not be sufficient for the trials and conflicts of the
next. Satan is now constantly changing his temptations, as he did with Christ.
Every day we may be placed in new positions, and may have to meet new and
unexpected temptations. It is as consistent to expect to be sustained today by
food we ate yesterday as to depend upon present light and present blessings for
tomorrow’s success. Weak and sinful man cannot be safe unless God shall daily
manifest his light and impart to him his strength.
It is of the highest importance that God
manifests his will to us in the daily concerns of life; for the most important
results frequently depend upon the smallest occurrences. The more we become
acquainted with God through his divine light, the more we shall realize our
weakness, knowing that without Him we can do nothing. We should ever feel that
we need a sure guide to direct our faltering footsteps.
A living Christian is one who lives a life of
continual prayer. “The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” [Proverbs
4:18]. The Christian’s life is one of progression. He goes forward from
strength to strength, from grace to grace, and from glory to glory, receiving
from Heaven the light which Christ, at infinite cost to Himself,
made it possible for man to obtain. The Christian cannot let his light shine
before men, unless he is ever receiving divine illumination. He must ever
receive strength and glory from the accessible heavens, that he may be able to
meet new temptations and bear heavier responsibilities. Untried events await
the Christian, new dangers even surround him, and unexpected temptations
continually assail him. Our great Leader points to the open heaven, bidding us
apply there for light and strength to enable us to overcome.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He
directed them to present their daily needs before God. As we realize our
dependence upon God for both temporal and spiritual blessings, we may offer up
fervent and effectual prayer. Our great need is in itself an argument that
pleads most eloquently in our behalf. Your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your
cares, your fears, you may present before God. You cannot weary Him, you cannot
burden his heart. Nothing is too great for Him to bear; for He upholds the
worlds and rules the universe. Nothing is too small for his notice; for He
marks the sparrow’s fall, and numbers the hairs of your head. He is not
indifferent to the wants of his people. The Lord is very pitiful and of tender
mercy. He is touched by our sorrows, and even the utterance of them moves his
great heart of infinite love. There is no chapter in our experience too dark
for Him to read, no perplexity too complicated for Him to unravel. Our Heavenly
Father is not unobserving; He sees our tears, He marks our sighs, He notes our
joys and sorrows. “He healeth the broken in heart,
and bindeth up their wounds” [Psalm 147:3].
The relation between God and each soul is
distinct. His care to you is as minute as though there were no other soul to
claim his attention. The psalmist says, “Thou understandest
my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my
lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. There is not a word in my
tongue, but lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine
hand upon me” [Psalm 139:2–5]. “Thou tellest my
wanderings; put Thou my tears in thy bottle; are they not in thy book” [Psalm
56:8]? In the words of the psalmist is expressed the intimacy and tenderness
with which God cares for his creatures. “For we have not an High Priest which
cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points
tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the
throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of
need” [Hebrews 4:15, 16].
February 1, 1893.