. ................. Book Index ................
The Life of Christ
Workers for Christ
This volume is based on:-
Matthew 10:1-42; 14:1-2, 12-13; Mark 6:7-11; 30-32; Luke 9:1-10.
It is recommended that you read these verses before you read the book.
© You may freely copy this book as you desire.
The language of the Scripture quotes has been modernised for easier understanding.
And He gave some [as] apostles;
and some [as] prophets;
and some [as] evangelists;
and some [as] pastors and teachers;
for the perfecting of the saints [the people in the church],
for the work [training] of the ministry
[those leading out in the world],
[and] for the edifying [teaching] of the body of Christ:
we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
to [become] a perfect man [or woman],
to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
[the Son of man]:
that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro,
and carried about with every wind of doctrine.... Ephesians 4:11-14.
× × × × Ø Ø Ø Ø
Disciples are those who join a Teacher by their own choice:
Apostles are those who are sent out as ambassadors by the Teacher:
Prophets are those who speak Gods words to all:
Evangelists are those who tell the good news to the world:
Pastors and teachers are under-shepherds to the flock:
Helpers are all those who have enjoyed the love of Jesus.
[Any one of us may be all or some of these at the same time!]
And there are differences of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all. But the manifestation [gift] of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
to another faith by the same Spirit;
to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
to another the working of miracles;
to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits;
to another different kinds of tongues [languages];
to another the interpretation of tongues.
But all these [are] worked [by] that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally [individually] as He wills. For as the [human] body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christianity.
For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:6-13.
The First Evangelists
c. May 29AD
The apostles were members of the family of Jesus, and they had accompanied Him as He travelled on foot through Galilee. They had shared with Him the toils and hardships that overtook them. They had listened to His discourses, they had walked and talked with the Son of God, and from His daily instruction they had learned how to work for the elevation of humanity.
As Jesus ministered to the vast multitudes that gathered about Him, His disciples were in attendance, eager to do His bidding and to lighten His labour. They assisted in arranging the people, bringing the afflicted ones to the Saviour, and promoting the comfort of all. They watched for interested hearers, explained the Scriptures to them, and in various ways worked for their spiritual benefit.
They taught what they had learned of Jesus, and were every day obtaining a rich experience. But they needed also an experience in labouring alone.
They were still in need of much instruction, great patience and tenderness. Now, while He was personally with them, to point out their errors, and counsel and correct them, the Saviour sent them forth as His representatives.
Based on the word
While they had been with Him, the disciples had often been perplexed by the teaching of the priests and Pharisees, but they had brought their perplexities to Jesus. He had set before them the truths of Scripture in contrast with tradition. Thus He had strengthened their confidence in God's word, and in a great measure had set them free from their fear of the rabbis and their bondage to tradition.
But in the training of the disciples the example of the Saviour's life was far more effective than any mere doctrinal instruction. When they were separated from Him, every look and tone and word came back to them. Often when in conflict with the enemies of the gospel, they repeated His words, and as they saw their effect upon the people, they rejoiced greatly.
Two by two
Calling the twelve about Him, Jesus bade them go out two and two through the towns and villages. None were sent forth alone, but brother was associated with brother, friend with friend. Thus they could help and encourage each other, counselling and praying together, each one's strength supplementing the other's weakness. In the same manner He afterward sent forth the seventy.
It was the Saviour's purpose that the messengers of the gospel should be associated in this way. In our own time evangelistic work would be far more successful if this example were more closely followed.
Only one message
The disciples' message was the same as that of John the Baptist and of Christ Himself: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
They were to enter into no controversy with the people as to whether Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah; but in His name they were to do the same works of mercy as He had done. He bade them, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give."
During His ministry Jesus devoted more time to healing the sick than to preaching. His miracles testified to the truth of His words, that He came not to destroy but to save. His righteousness went before Him, and the glory of His Father was His rearward. Wherever He went, the tidings of His mercy preceded Him. Where He had passed, the objects of His compassion were rejoicing in health, and making trial of their new-found powers. Crowds were collecting around them to hear from their lips the works that the Lord had wrought.
His voice was the first sound that many had ever heard, His name the first word they had ever spoken, His face the first they had ever looked upon. Why should they not love Jesus, and sound His praise? As He passed through the towns and cities He was like a vital current, diffusing life and joy wherever He went.
The followers of Christ are to labour as He did. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the suffering and afflicted. We are to minister to the despairing, and inspire hope in the hopeless. And to us also the promise will be fulfilled, "Your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rearward." Isaiah 58:8.
The love of Christ, shown forth in unselfish ministry, will be more effective in reforming the evildoer than will the sword or the court of justice. These are necessary to strike terror to the lawbreaker, but the loving missionary can do more than this. Often the heart will harden under reproof; but it will melt under the love of Christ.
The missionary can not only relieve physical maladies, but he or she can lead the sinner to the Great Physician, who can cleanse the soul from the leprosy of sin. Through His servants, God designs that the sick, the unfortunate, those possessed of evil spirits, shall hear His voice. Through His human agencies He desires to be a Comforter such as the world knows not.
A limited tour
The disciples on their first missionary tour were to go only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." If they had now preached the gospel to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, they would have lost their influence with the Jews. By exciting the prejudice of the Pharisees they would have involved themselves in controversy which would have discouraged them at the outset of their labours.
Even the apostles were slow to understand that the gospel was to be carried to all nations. Until they themselves could grasp this truth they were not prepared to labour for the Gentiles. And, if the Jews would receive the gospel, God purposed to make them His messengers to the Gentiles. Therefore they were first to hear the message.
All over the field of Christ's labour there were souls awakened to their need, and hungering and thirsting for the truth. The time had come to send the tidings of His love to these longing hearts. To all these the disciples were to go as His representatives. The believers would thus be led to look upon them as divinely appointed teachers, and when the Saviour should be taken from them they would not be left without instructors.
On this first tour the disciples were to go only where Jesus had been before them, and had made friends. Their preparation for the journey was to be of the simplest kind. Nothing must be allowed to divert their minds from their great work, or in any way excite opposition and close the door for further labour.
They were not to adopt the dress of the religious teachers, nor use any article of clothing to distinguish them from the ordinary people. They were not to enter into the synagogues and call the people together for public service; their efforts were to be put forth in house-to-house labour. They were not to waste time in needless salutations, or in going from house to house for entertainment.
But in every place they were to accept the hospitality of those who were worthy, that is, those who would welcome them heartily as if entertaining Christ Himself. They were to enter the dwelling with the beautiful salutation, "Peace be to this house." Luke 10:5. That home would be blessed by their prayers, their songs of praise, and the opening of the Scriptures in the family circle.
A solemn work
These disciples were to be heralds of the truth, to prepare the way for the coming of their Master.
The message they had to bear was the word of eternal life, and the destiny of men and women depended upon their reception or rejection of it.
To impress the people with its solemnity, Jesus bade His disciples, "Whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city."
It is a war
Now the Saviour's eye penetrates the future;
He beholds the broader fields in which, after His death, the disciples are to be witnesses for Him.
His prophetic glance takes in the experience of His servants through all the ages till He shall come the second time. He shows His followers the conflicts they must meet; He reveals the character and plan of the battle. He lays open before them the perils they must encounter, the self-denial that will be required.
He desires them to count the cost, that they may not be taken unawares by the enemy. Their warfare is not to be waged against flesh and blood, but "against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12. R. V. They are to contend with supernatural forces, but they are assured of supernatural help. All the intelligent beings of heaven are in this army.
The power behind the missionary
And more than angels are in the ranks.
The Holy Spirit, the representative of the Captain of the Lord's host, comes down to direct the battle. Our infirmities may be many, our sins and mistakes grievous; but the grace of God is for all who seek it with contrition. The power of Omnipotence is enlisted in behalf of those who trust in God.
The way of the work
"Behold," said Jesus, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
Christ Himself did not suppress one word of truth, but He spoke it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact, and thoughtful, kind attention in His interaction with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness.
He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, that refused to receive Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Matthew 23:37.
They rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness, and sorrow so deep that it broke His heart. Every soul was precious in His eyes. While He always bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all mankind He saw fallen souls whom it was His mission to save.
The servants of Christ are not to act out the dictates of the natural heart. They need to have close communion with God, lest, under provocation, self rise up, and they pour forth a torrent of words that are unbefitting, that are not as dew or the still showers that refresh the withering plants.
This is what Satan wants them to do; for these are his methods. It is the dragon that is wroth; it is the spirit of Satan that is revealed in anger and accusing. Revelation 12:10.
But God's servants are to be representatives of Him. He desires them to deal only in the currency of heaven, the truth that bears His own image and superscription.
The power by which they are to overcome evil is the power of Christ.
The glory of Christ is their strength.
They are to fix their eyes upon His loveliness. Then they can present the gospel with divine tact and gentleness. And the spirit that is kept gentle under provocation will speak more effectively in favour of the truth than will any argument, however forcible.
Keep up the Sabbath rest
Those who are brought into
controversy with the enemies of truth have to meet, not only men,
but Satan and his agents. Let them remember the Saviour's words,
"Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves."
Luke 10:3. Let them rest in the love of God, and their spirit
will be kept calm, even under personal abuse. The Lord will
clothe them with a divine covering. His Holy Spirit will
influence their minds and hearts,
so that their voices shall not hold the sound of the baying of the wolves.
Build according to the pattern
Continuing His instruction to His disciples, Jesus said, "Beware of men." They were not to put implicit confidence in those who knew not God, and open to them their counsels; for this would give Satan's agents an advantage.
Man's ideas often counterwork God's plans.
Those who build the temple of the Lord are to build according to the pattern shown in the mount - the divine likeness. God is dishonoured and the gospel is betrayed when His servants depend on the counsel of men who are not under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Worldly wisdom is foolishness with God. Those who rely upon it will surely err.
Expect public trials
"They will deliver you up to councils,... yes and before governors and kings shall you be brought for My sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles." Matthew 10:17, 18, R. V.
Persecution will spread the light.
The servants of Christ will be brought before the great men of the world, who, but for this, might never hear the gospel. The truth has been misrepresented to these men. They have listened to false charges concerning the faith of Christ's disciples. Often their only means of learning its real character is the testimony of those who are brought to trial for their faith. Under examination these are required to answer, and their judges to listen to the testimony borne.
God's grace will be dispensed to His servants to meet the emergency. "It shall be given you," says Jesus, "in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you." As the Spirit of God illuminates the minds of His servants, the truth will be presented in its divine power and preciousness. Those who reject the truth will stand to accuse and oppress the disciples.
But under loss and suffering, even to death, the Lord's children are to reveal the meekness of their divine Example. Thus will be seen the contrast between Satan's agents and the representatives of Christ. The Saviour will be lifted up before the rulers and the people.
Sufficient unto the day
The disciples were not endowed with the courage and fortitude of the martyrs until such grace was needed. Then the Saviour's promise was fulfilled. When Peter and John testified before the Sanhedrin council, men "marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13.
Of Stephen it is written that "all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." Men "were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke." Acts 6:15, 10.
And Paul, writing of his own trial at the court of the Caesars, says, "At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me.... But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." 2 Timothy 4:16, 17, R. V.
No preparation needed
The servants of Christ are to prepare no set speech to present when brought to trial. Our preparation is to be made day by day in treasuring up the precious truths of God's word, and through prayer strengthening our faith. When we are brought into trial, the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance the very truths that will be needed.
A daily, earnest striving to know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, will bring power and efficiency to us. The knowledge obtained by diligent searching of the Scriptures will be flashed into our memory at the right time. But if any have neglected to acquaint themselves with the words of Christ, if they have never tested the power of His grace in trial, they can not expect that the Holy Spirit will bring His words to their remembrance.
We are to serve God daily with undivided affection, and then trust Him.
Family members will be against us
So bitter will be the enmity to the gospel that even the tenderest earthly ties will be disregarded. The disciples of Christ will be betrayed to death by the members of their own households. "You shall be hated of all men for My name's sake," He added; "but he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved." Mark 13:13.
But He bids us not to expose ourselves unnecessarily to persecution. He Himself often left one field of labour for another, in order to escape from those who were seeking His life. When He was rejected at Nazareth, and His own townsmen tried to kill Him, He went down to Capernaum, and there the people were astonished at His teaching; "for His word was with power." Luke 4:32. So His servants are not to be discouraged by persecution, but to seek a place where they can still labour for the salvation of men and women.
Never give up
The servant is not above his master. The Prince of heaven was called Beelzebub, and His disciples will be misrepresented in like manner. But whatever the danger, Christ's followers must acknowledge their principles. We should scorn concealment. We cannot remain uncommitted until assured of safety in confessing the truth. We are set as watchmen, to warn men and women of their peril. The truth received from Christ must be imparted to all, freely and openly. Jesus said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light: and what you hear in the ear, that preach you upon the housetops."
Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise. His heart overflowed with love for the whole human race, but He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls, - the souls He had purchased with His own blood.
He laboured that men and women should be true to themselves, true to his higher and eternal interest. The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and we should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, we surrender the truth. We are to "follow after the things which make for peace" (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle.
Opposition will come
And no one can be true to principle without exciting opposition. A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus bade His disciples, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan. In Christ our eternal life is secure.
Our only fear should be lest we surrender the truth, and thus betray the trust with which God has honoured us.
It is Satan's work to fill men's hearts with doubt. He leads them to look upon God as a stern judge. He tempts them to sin, and then to regard themselves as too vile to approach their heavenly Father or to excite His pity.
The Lord understands all this.
Jesus assures His disciples of God's sympathy for them in their needs and weaknesses. Not a sigh is breathed, not a pain felt, not a grief pierces the soul, but the throb vibrates to the Father's heart.
The Bible shows us God in His high and holy place, not in a state of inactivity, not in silence and solitude, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy intelligences, all waiting to do His will. Through channels which we cannot discern He is in active communication with every part of His dominion. But it is in this speck of a world, in the souls that He gave His only-begotten Son to save, that His interest and the interest of all heaven is centred.
God is bending from His throne to hear the cry of the oppressed. To every sincere prayer He answers, "Here am I." He uplifts the distressed and downtrodden. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. In every temptation and every trial the angel of His presence is near to deliver.
Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father's notice. Satan's hatred against God leads him to hate every object of the Saviour's care. He seeks to mar the handiwork of God, and he delights in destroying even the dumb creatures. It is only through God's protecting care that the birds are preserved to gladden us with their songs of joy. But He does not forget even the sparrows. "Fear you not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows."
Our sure protection
Jesus continues: As you confess Me before men, so I will confess you before God and the holy angels. You are to be My witnesses upon earth, channels through which My grace can flow for the healing of the world. So I will be your representative in heaven. The Father beholds not your faulty character, but He sees you as clothed in My perfection. I am the medium through which Heaven's blessings shall come to you. And everyone who confesses Me by sharing My sacrifice for the lost shall be confessed as a sharer in the glory and joy of the redeemed.
But he or she who would confess Christ must have Christ abiding in them for they cannot communicate that which they have not received.
We may speak fluently on doctrines, we might repeat the words of Christ Himself; but unless we possess Christlike meekness and love, we are not confessing Him. A spirit contrary to the spirit of Christ will deny Him, whatever the profession.
We may deny Christ by evilspeaking, by foolish talking, by words that are untruthful or unkind. We may deny Him by shunning life's burdens, by the pursuit of sinful pleasure. We may deny Him by conforming to the world, by uncourteous behavior, by the love of our own opinions, by justifying self, by cherishing doubt, borrowing trouble, and dwelling in darkness.
In all these ways we declare that Christ is not in us.
And "whoever shall deny Me before men," He says, "him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven."
Dont look for peace
The Saviour bade His disciples not to hope that the world's enmity to the gospel would be overcome, and that after a time its opposition would cease. He said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword." This creating of strife is not the effect of the gospel, but the result of opposition to it.
Of all persecution the hardest to bear is variance in the home and the estrangement of dearest earthly friends. But Jesus declares, "He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me."
The mission of Christ's servants is a high honour, and a sacred trust. "He that receives you," He says, "receives Me, and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me." No act of kindness shown to them in His name will fail to be recognised and rewarded. And in the same tender recognition He includes the feeblest and lowliest of the family of God: "Whoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones" - those who are as children in their faith and their knowledge of Christ - "a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say to you, he shall in nowise lose his reward."
Thus the Saviour ended His instruction.
Then, in the name of Christ the chosen twelve went out, as He had gone, "to preach the gospel to the poor,... to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18, 19.
After the work
On returning from their missionary tour, "the apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And He said to them, Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat."
The disciples came to Jesus and told Him all things. Their intimate relationship with Him encouraged them to lay before Him their favourable and unfavourable experiences, their joy at seeing results from their labours, and their sorrow at their failures, their faults, and their weaknesses. They had committed errors in their first work as evangelists, and as they frankly told Christ of their experiences, He saw that they needed much instruction. He saw, too, that they had become weary in their labours, and that they needed to rest.
But where they then were they could not obtain the needed privacy; "for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." The people were thronging after Christ, anxious to be healed, and eager to listen to His words.
Many felt drawn to Him; for He seemed to them to be the fountain of all blessings. Many of those who then thronged about Christ to receive the precious boon of health accepted Him as their Saviour. Many others, afraid then to confess Him, because of the Pharisees, were converted at the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and, before the angry priests and rulers, acknowledged Him as the Son of God.
Time to rest
But now Christ longed for retirement, that He might be with His disciples; for He had much to say to them. In their work they had passed through the test of conflict, and had encountered opposition in various forms. Hitherto they had consulted Christ in everything; but for some time they had been alone, and at times they had been much troubled to know what to do. They had found much encouragement in their work; for Christ did not send them away without His Spirit, and by faith in Him they worked many miracles; but they needed now to feed on the Bread of Life.
They needed to go to a place of retirement, where they could hold communion with Jesus and receive instruction for future work.
"And He said to them, Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile." Christ is full of tenderness and compassion for all in His service. He would show His disciples that God does not require sacrifice, but mercy.
They had been putting their whole souls into labour for the people, and this was exhausting their physical and mental strength. It was their duty to rest.
We all need spiritual infilling
Also, as the disciples had seen the success of their labours, they were in danger of taking credit to themselves, in danger of cherishing spiritual pride, and thus falling under Satan's temptations. A great work was before them, and first of all they must learn that their strength was not in self, but in God.
Like Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, like David among the hills of Judea, or Elijah by the brook Cherith, the disciples needed to come apart from the scenes of their busy activity, to commune with Christ, with nature, and with their own hearts.
While the disciples had been absent on their missionary tour, Jesus had visited other towns and villages, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. It was about this time that He received tidings of the Baptist's death.
This event brought vividly before Him the end to which His own steps were tending. The shadows were gathering thickly about His path. Priests and rabbis were watching to compass His death, spies hung upon His steps, and on every hand plots for His ruin were multiplying. News of the preaching of the apostles throughout Galilee reached Herod, calling his attention to Jesus and His work. "This is John the Baptist," he said; "he is risen from the dead;" and he expressed a desire to see Jesus.
Herod was in constant fear lest a revolution might be secretly carried forward, with the object of unseating him from the throne, and breaking the Roman yoke from the Jewish nation. Among the people the spirit of discontent and insurrection was rife. It was evident that Christ's public labours in Galilee could not be long continued. The scenes of His suffering were drawing near, and He longed to be apart for a season from the confusion of the multitude.
An opportunity to unite
With saddened hearts the disciples of John had borne his mutilated body to its burial. Then they "went and told Jesus." These disciples had been envious of Christ when He seemed to be drawing the people away from John They had sided with the Pharisees in accusing Him when He sat with the publicans at Matthew's feast. They had doubted His divine mission because He did not set the Baptist at liberty.
But now that their teacher was dead, and they longed for consolation in their great sorrow, and for guidance as to their future work, they came to Jesus, and united their interest with His.
They too needed a season of quiet for communion with the Saviour.
A training school
Near Bethsaida, at the northern end of the lake, was a lonely region, now beautiful with the fresh green of spring, that offered a welcome retreat to Jesus and His disciples. For this place they set out, going in their boat across the water. Here they would be away from the thoroughfares of travel, and the bustle and agitation of the city.
The scenes of nature were in themselves a rest, a change grateful to the senses. Here they could listen to the words of Christ without hearing the angry interruptions, the retorts and accusations of the scribes and Pharisees. Here they could enjoy a short season of precious fellowship in the society of their Lord.
The rest which Christ and His disciples took was not self-indulgent rest.
The time they spent in retirement was not devoted to pleasure seeking. They talked together regarding the work of God, and the possibility of bringing greater efficiency to the work. The disciples had been with Christ, and could understand Him; to them He need not talk in parables. He corrected their errors, and made plain to them the right way of approaching the people. He opened more fully to them the precious treasures of divine truth.
They were vitalised by divine power, and inspired with hope and courage.
Share the work
Though Jesus could work miracles, and had empowered His disciples to work miracles, He directed His worn servants to go apart into the country and rest. When He said that the harvest was great, and the labourers were few, He did not urge upon His disciples the necessity of ceaseless toil, but said, "Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest." Matthew 9:38.
God has appointed to every one their work, according to their ability (See pages 5-6), and He would not have a few weighted with responsibilities while others have no burden, no travail of soul.
The place of sacrifice
Christ's words of compassion are spoken to His workers today just as surely as they were spoken to His disciples. "Come you yourselves apart,... and rest awhile," He says to those who are worn and weary. It is not wise to be always under the strain of work and excitement, even in ministering to men's spiritual needs; for in this way personal piety is neglected, and the powers of mind and soul and body are overtaxed.
Self-denial is required of the disciples of Christ, and sacrifices must be made; but care must also be exercised lest through their overzeal Satan take advantage of the weakness of humanity, and the work of God be marred.
In the estimation of the rabbis it was the sum of religion to be always in a bustle of activity. They depended upon some outward performance to show their superior piety. Thus they separated their souls from God, and built themselves up in self-sufficiency.
The same dangers still exist.
As activity increases and men and women become successful in doing any work for God, there is danger of trusting to human plans and methods. There is a tendency to pray less, and to have less faith.
Like the disciples, we are in danger of losing sight of our dependence on God, and seeking to make a saviour of our activity. We need to look constantly to Jesus, realising that it is His power which does the work.
While we are to labour earnestly for the salvation of the lost, we must also take time for meditation, for prayer, and for the study of the word of God. Only the work accomplished with much prayer, and sanctified by the merit of Christ, will in the end prove to have been efficient for good.
This is how He worked
No other life was ever so crowded with labour and responsibility as was that of Jesus; yet how often He was found in prayer! How constant was His communion with God!
Again and again in the history of His earthly life are found records such as these: "Rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Mark 1:35.
"Great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed." Luke 5:15, 16.
"And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." Luke 6:12.
In a life wholly devoted to the good of others, the Saviour found it necessary to withdraw from the thoroughfares of travel and from the throng that followed Him day after day. He must turn aside from a life of ceaseless activity and contact with human needs, to seek retirement and unbroken communion with His Father. As one with us, a sharer in our needs and weaknesses, He was wholly dependent upon God, and in the secret place of prayer He sought divine strength, that He might go forth braced for duty and trial.
In a world of sin Jesus endured struggles and torture of soul. In communion with God He could unburden the sorrows that were crushing Him. Here He found comfort and joy.
The Son of God/man
In Christ the cry of humanity reached the Father of infinite pity. As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world.
His experience is to be ours.
"Come you yourselves apart," He bids us. If we would give heed to His word, we should be stronger and more useful. The disciples sought Jesus, and told Him all things; and He encouraged and instructed them. If today we would take time to go to Jesus and tell Him our needs, we should not be disappointed; He would be at our right hand to help us. We need more simplicity, more trust and confidence in our Saviour.
He whose name is called "The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace;" He of whom it is written, "The government shall be upon His shoulder," (Isaiah 9:6); is the Wonderful Counsellor. We are invited to ask wisdom of Him, for He "gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not." James 1:5.
An individual work
In all who are under the training of God is to be revealed a life that is not in harmony with the world, its customs, or its practices; and everyone needs to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God.
We must individually hear Him speaking to our heart.
When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of our mind makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, "Be still, and know that I am God," for He has given us the Sabbath rest. Psalm 46:10.
Here alone can true rest be found.
And this is the effectual preparation for all who labour for God. Amid the hurrying throng, and the strain of life's intense activities, the one that is thus refreshed will be surrounded with an atmosphere of light and peace.
Such a life will breathe out fragrance, and will reveal a divine power that will reach men's hearts.
................... Text only ................... "Word" version