This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
"And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see." — Matt, ii : 2-4.
AS the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." To me, this was the utterance of John the Baptist's innermost soul while he lay bound in the gloomy prison of Herod. In my earlier years I thought this message of John to Jesus disclosed something of doubting sadness, the fruit so natural to such a hard trial as that to which John was being subjected — the trial of inaction, injustice, oppression, and seeming neglect. But now I cannot hold the idea. The whole tone of the Baptist's life, the shape of his message, and especially the shape of our Lord's answer, all lead me to conclude that it
> l MORE THAN A PROPHET." 183
was simply the gratifying of his deep, sympathetic love for Jesus and the work. John's soul was hungry for a word from his Beloved, and he pined for love's communings. He was cut off from much that was sympathetic, and forced to live on heart resources. He might truly say, " He hath hedged me about that I cannot get out," and he wanted one soul-touch from the Spirit of the King ; so he called two of his disciples and sent them to Jesus, saying, " Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ?" I do not pretend to fathom these words, nor all that beat and burned in the great soul behind them ; but some rays of light flash out from them, clear and grand, in which my soul rejoices.
What a spirit of unselfishness ! Not one word as to his lone, hard sufferings. No, no ! This was not the side of his nature that needed sympathy. Long, long ago, in those stern wilderness battles, had he made conquest of this side of life, and came forth with his hairy mantle and wild food, meet robe and food of the
great self-conquest. It is just here many people lose their hold on those they would help,
1 84 "MORE THAN A PROPHET."
and wound where they would heal, deepen where they would cure loneliness. When our friends so misunderstand us as to conceive that we are depressed and cast down, owing to the burdens and clouds or some lower elements of our natures, their very mistakes add bitterness to our cup of anguish, as when the disciples so often interpreted the words of Jesus, as if He were dragging through the lower plains of life instead of His great soul-struggles. They said, " It is because we have brought no bread" ; when he said, " Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." And when, rejoicing in the glory of His work at the well of Samaria, He exclaimed, " I have meat to eat ye know not of," they, thinking Him engrossed with thoughts of the body, asked, " Hath any man brought Him aught to eat ?" Thus, time and again, was His heart pierced by the low con-
ceptions of His nearest and best friends. Those who would comfort us must rise to our outlook in trouble, or at least not form a lowering estimate of our characters, lest, like Job's comforters, they weigh down our overburdened hearts with their creed miscompre-
"MORE THAN A PROPHET." 185
hensions, and compel us to cry out with Job, " Miserable comforters are ye all." They who would make life's path fragrant with the richness of grateful hearts must learn to know and respect this law.
The message of John showed where his heart was yearning, and for what he longed ; and for us to imagine for one instant that this great soul had ceased to care for Zion's work, and descended into the narrow dungeon of mere selfish sorrow, would be to insult and outrage the truest feelings of God's noble prisoner. No, no ; the soul of John was cast in a mould too grand for such treachery, and
he had made life too true to desert its principles because he was captured by its enemies. Would God the legions of His followers were stronger ! He wanted to know of the battle, and the fate of the world's vast millions of prisoners fast bound in misery and iron. He wanted to hear if the time at last had come, " the acceptable year of the Lord," to set at liberty those who were bound. The burdens God called him to bear he could and would bear without a murmur ; but he was too true
186 "MORE THAN A PROPHET."
to his King to be unconcerned as to the great battle going on without, too loyal to the standard to wear the semblance of indifference, as he heard the trumpets sound the onset. No, no ; this was the side of his nature he longed to bathe again in the heroic atmosphere of the forefront. This was a part of him Herod, nay, all the legions of hell could not imprison. He wanted to clasp hearts if he could not clasp hands with the hero of his God ; and so he
sent a message, which to us may seem written in cipher ; but He to whom it was sent, and who knows the secrets of all hearts, reads it for us with the clearness of noonday splendor and the voice of the Son of God.
Jesus received the messengers and their message, and that " same hour He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits, and unto many that were blind he gave sight ;" then Jesus, answering, said unto them, "Go your way ; tell John what things ye have seen and heard." This was the answer of Jesus to the strong, deep yearnings of John's soul. As we said in a previous chapter, He sent a page of His own grand life, the
"MORE THAN A PROPHET." 1 87
record of one of the richest hours of action, so far as the eye of flesh and blood could followthat action, He clasped the burning, brimming heart of energy John held out to Him, and enfolded it deep in the intense activity of His
own life. This was no fawning nor effeminate compassionating over John's lot, but they met like the great and brave meet who press on side by side to crush the heart of some great enemy's power. It was a full pouring of the purposes and plans of Jesus into the heart of John. There was fulness of sympathy and oneness of soul undergirding all the words and signs of this wonderful scene, filling the whole atmosphere with a lofty, rare fragrance of love and joy, with which a stranger cannot intermeddle, but which comes to the saint like morning breezes fresh from the gardens of the Lord. Jesus Himself was marching steadily on in the same grand path of holy self-sacrifice which He couples so closely with His glory. This is touchingly set forth when, coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration, He said, " Elias is come already, and they knew Him not, but have done unto Him what-
188 ''MORE THAN A PROPHET."
soever they listed ; likewise shall also the Son
of Man suffer of them." There is something inexpressibly grand, heroic, strong, tender, and radiant in this greeting and parting on life's battle-field between John and Jesus, as they pass on, one to the martyr's block and the other to Calvary's height. Here the souls of the heroic, good, and true may well pause in hushed adoration, for a grander soul-meeting is not recorded on history's page.
The whole field of this scene is rich with food for your and my soul — heaven's own manna in our wilderness pilgrimage. Let us eat that we faint not. If God found it necessary to send John to prison to calm, deepen, and steady his faith ; if He must thus say to that great soul, " Be still, and know that I am God," must we not heed such love-provings and faith-deepenings ? Active Christians are so apt to defile their faith in God by throwing too much stress on their own work, so God has ofttimes by affliction's hand to lead them to the mount of contemplation, or deep down in the valley of Achor, to show them their weak-
"MORE THAN A PROPHET." 189
ness and His strength, until the hushed soul nestles in sweet confidence and rest on His own bosom. Joseph was thus calmed in Pharaoh's prison, Moses in Jethro's employ, Samson in the days of his blindness and shorn locks, Elijah in Mount Horeb, Jeremiah through life, Daniel in Belshazzar's reign, John the Baptist in Herod's dungeon, Paul with Nero's bonds on him. Here God shows Christians His power to advance without them, and weans their faith from mere human plans to perfect trust in Jehovah. Yes, go and tell John, and, through John, every spirit-bound child of my love who shall bow in faithfulness beneath the cross, what things ye see and hear. Tell them the word of God is not bound, the arm of the Lord is not shortened, the heart of their Saviour has not grown cold. Tell them the kingdom moves steadily, strongly on. Tell them legions of Herod nor the combined powers of hell cannot bind it. Rest in your God. It is He, and not you, who is to win the victory.
You have borne your testimony, and done
your part, now stand still and see What glorious things your God will do, and thus deepen into eternal confidence and boundless rest on the bosom of Omnipotence.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.