April 28 PDF Print E-mail
"When Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father..." — John 13:1

"His hour" means the period of his death. In another place it is called the hour of his enemies: "This," said he, "is your hour and the power of darkness." It is called their hour because they seemed to have every thing their own way. They apprehended him, and mocked him, and scourged him, and nailed him to the cross. All their purposes and wishes succeeded, and they considered his cause as annihilated. But their triumph was short and foolish. What they had done was provided for, was admitted into his plan, and the very means of accomplishing his design.

It was "His hour." He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. There was nothing casual in his death. The time was appointed, and till this arrived the attempts of his adversaries were vain: "They could not lay hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." It was not only his hour by appointment, but by importance. No such hour had been witnessed since time had commenced. No hour of his own life would bear a comparison with it. It was infinitely unique, wonderful, and interesting in its design and effects. Now was the judgment of this world; now was the prince of this world cast out; now was the ceremonial law abolished; now was the moral law magnified and made honourable; now he was to finish transgression; now he was to bring in everlasting righteousness; now he was to open the kingdom of heaven to all believers; now he was to get himself a name above every name.

He knew that his hour was come. So perfect was his foresight of the event, that he knew not only the fact itself, but the incidents attending it. He knew the whole before there was any appearance of the thing, before his enemies had formed the design, before Judas had felt the thought of treason. And thus he evinced, not only his wisdom, but his devotedness to his work. He saw the hour was at hand, but he seeks no hiding place, nor attempts to escape, though he had so many means in his power. It does not affect this to say, that in another sense he was unable to have released himself, because he was bound by covenant engagement; and if he saved others, himself he could not save. For his engagement was made in the full prospect of all he was to endure; and as the tremendous suffering approached, so far was he from repenting of what he had brought upon himself, that he said, "How am I straitened till it be accomplished!"

But how is his passage through this dreadful scene expressed? "That he should depart out of this world unto the Father." Here let us think of his people as well as of himself. In all things he must have the pre-eminence, but they resemble him. What is here said of his death, will, in a pleasing degree, apply to their own. Their death is not, indeed, like his, mediatorial. Neither know they the hour when it will take place. But all their times are in God's hand. And the circumstances of their death, as well as of their life, fall under his arrangement. They know they have their hour, and are immortal till it arrives. They know that enemies cannot hasten it, that friends cannot retard it. They know also that it is approaching, that it cannot be far off, that it may be very near, and therefore that it requires a constant readiness.

But was his death a "departing out of this world?" So is theirs. He was in it for three-and-thirty years. Many of them are in it a shorter, and many a much longer period. It was a sad world to him. It knew him not, but despised and rejected him. It hated him without a cause. It persecuted him from his birth, refused him a place where to lay his head, and could not be satisfied till it had shed his blood. And they find it a vain and deceitful world, a vexing and injurious world, a vile and wicked world. Every thing in it cries, Arise, and depart hence: for this is not your rest, because it is polluted. And are we unwilling to go? Yes;

"Thankless for favours from on high,
Man thinks he fades too soon;
Though 'tis his privilege to die,
Would he improve the boon.

But he, not wise enough to scan
His best concerns aright,
Would gladly stretch life's little span To ages, if he might —

To ages, in a world of pain —
To ages, where he goes,
Gall'd by affliction's heavy chain,
And hopeless of repose.

Strange fondness of the human heart,
Enamour'd of its harm!
Strange world, that costs it so much smart,
And yet has pow'r to charm!"

We do not wonder, indeed, that this should be so much the case with "men of the world." They have "their portion in this life," and no hope of a better. Bad as it is, they know that it is the best world they will ever be in, and that, whatever be its troubles, to them they are only the beginnings of sorrow. But it is otherwise with Christians. They are here, like Israel in Egypt, and death is their departure for the Land of Promise. They are like strangers in an inhospitable country, and travellers at a cheerless inn, and death is their departing to their delightful home.

Was his death a "going to the Father?" So is theirs; that is, going to heaven; for the Father is there, and in his presence there is fulness of joy, and at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore. He went to the Father, to carry on their cause, and to possess his own reward. But he had been there before. Hence he said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father." Hence he speaks of heaven without wonder. He had been at court. He had resided there, and had only left it for a season. His return, with all the glories that should follow, was the joy set before him, for which he endured the Cross. And, as love delights in the welfare of its object, he expected that his disciples would rejoice, when he said, "I go unto the Father; for the Father is greater than I." But they were never there before; all will be new, and surprising to them. Yet they, also, will have their work, and will be still praising him. They, also, will drink of the rivers of his pleasure. They will have immediate and uninterrupted access to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God. And with Him is the fountain of life.

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

 
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