April 26 PDF Print E-mail
"Sitting at the feet of Jesus." — Luke 8:35

This was a place of nearness. Love longs to be near its attraction, and this man now loves his benefactor, and feels his obligations to his pity and power.

It was a place of safety. He naturally dreaded the return of the malady, and the devils gaining possession of him again; he therefore keeps close to his Deliverer.

It was the place of instruction. The two former purposes might have been answered by his sitting at the side of Jesus. But sitting at his feet was the position and posture of a learner. "They sat down at his feet," says Moses, when God was on the top of Horeb, and the people at the bottom, "and received of his words." Isaiah, speaking of Abraham, says, "God called him to his feet," Martha had a sister, "who also sat at Jesus' feet." Saul of Tarsus "was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel." In all these instances there is a reference to the ancient and Eastern custom, when the master occupied a higher seat, and the scholars were sitting at his feet, as hereby he had them in view, and they were reminded, by their very place, of the reverence and submission which became them, as learners.

This is the place we should all be found in. But how is it possible for us to sit at his feet now? He said, I am no more in the world: and the heavens have received him till the restitution of all things. It is true, he is no longer here, corporeally, but he is here spiritually. He is not visible, but he is accessible.

We have his Throne, and his House, and his Word, and his ministers, and his ordinances. We have himself; for he has said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." "Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them." We can, therefore, sit at his feet. And, in recommendation of this place, let us observe the excellences of the Master, and the advantages of his disciples; for the one involves the other.

And here we must not overlook the dignity of his character. A tutor seems to shed lustre over his pupils, and scholars have always prided themselves in the name of an illustrious preceptor. A young Israelitish prophet would have boasted in having been in the school of Samuel, or Elijah. How far did the Queen of Sheba come to hear the wisdom of Solomon! "But, behold, a greater than Solomon is here;" one fairer than the children of men: he is Lord of all. See the poor, despised Christian. He is debarred every seat of learning among men; but he is under a Divine instructor, and such honour have all his saints. For so highly are they related; so peculiar is their destination; so sublime are the stations they are to fill, and the functions they are to discharge, as kings and priests unto God for ever; that their education is not entrusted to a creature. "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord."

There is, also, the perfection of his ability. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Other teachers may be mistaken, and they may deceive us. They cannot, therefore, deserve our implicit and absolute confidence. But he knows every thing, and every thing perfectly. We cannot, therefore, rely too much on his decisions. Heaven and earth may pass away; but His word shall not pass away.

There is the kindness of his manner. Men often discourage, and intimidate learners, by their distance, hastiness, and austerity. They have not long-suffering, and gentleness, and tenderness enough, to attract and attach the very soul of the pupil; to soften and shame him, if perverse; to fix him, if roving and volatile; to inspire him with confidence, if timid; and to produce in him at once, that freedom and application of mind, so essential to improvement, and so incompatible with agitation and confusion of spirit. For something besides talent — and may we not say something beyond talent? — is required in a teacher. In proportion to the greatness of his knowledge, and the quickness and facility of his apprehension, a master will be tried by the imperfections of his scholars; and the scholars will be the more liable to be abashed, and depressed. Conscious of their ignorance, and inability, and slowness, they will be reluctant, and afraid to give up themselves to such a superior tutor, unless he has other qualities: and such a tutor will not be very likely to waste, as he would suppose, his time and talents, upon such unpromising subjects. But we sit at the feet of One, whose condescension equals his greatness. He will stoop to teach me, even where I must begin. He will accommodate himself to my wants, and weakness. He will repeat his lessons. He will give me line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, and upbraid not. Thus he taught his immediate disciples, as they were able to bear it, and loved them to the end, notwithstanding their mistakes and infirmities. And thus he said to his hearers, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." Does he not refer to himself in these attributes as a motive, as well as an example? As much as to say, "You need not be afraid to place yourselves under my care; I will deal tenderly with you."

There is also the efficiency of his tuition. None teaches like him. Other masters teach, but they cannot make their pupils learn. They can improve, but they cannot impart ability; and without some aptitude for an art or science, little progress will be made under the best efforts. What could Handel or Haydn have done with a clown, without any taste or ear for music? But Jesus gives the capacity and the disposition he requires. He furnishes, not only the medium, but the faculty of vision. He makes the blind to see. And though, like the morning, we set off with a few rays only, our path is like that of the "shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."

But what are the instructions He gives? What is all other knowledge compared with this? Ask Paul; he was a man of genius and learning; he did not despise science; yet he exclaims, "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Of other knowledge we may be destitute, and yet safe. But this is life eternal. Other knowledge leaves us as it finds us; yea, it often injures the possessor, and talent caters for depravity. But a man at his feet feels his words to be spirit and life. He is taught to "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world." In other cases, "in much wisdom there is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow;" but, "Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound." The burden of guilt is removed, and they enter into rest. They cast all their care on Him, who careth for them. Their minds are kept in perfect peace. They can not only bear, but enjoy solitude. Even in the midst of trouble they are revived, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. How sweet are his words unto their taste; yea, sweeter than honey to their mouth.

No wonder, therefore, the disciple prizes his privilege, and cannot be seduced from his Master's feet. He has been taught the truth as it is in Jesus. He knows the truth, and the truth has made him free. And, therefore, upon the question, when others are offended, "Will ye also go away?" he answers, with Peter, Where can we do so well? "Lord, to whom shall we go?" To sin? That hath ruined us. To the world? That has deceived us. To the Heathen philosophers? Their foolish hearts are darkened. To the Chief Priests and Pharisees? They are the blind leading the blind. To the Law? That roars, and flames despair. To Moses? He wrote of thee. To thee gave all the Prophets witness. Lord, to whom should we go, but unto thee? "Thou hast the words of eternal life."

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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