The Fundamental Importance of An Adequate Apprehension of Christ (continued)
c. The Prophetic Aspect
The third sub-section, the prophetical, falls into two periods: that before the captivity and that after the captivity. Now the prophetic ministry was intended to represent the full mind of God as to His Son and His people, and through them to the nations. The prophets were the bulwark against the incorrigible downgrade tendency of the people of God. It is always there, this downgrade tendency, even in the Lord's people, and the prophets were the bulwark against that tendency. They either encouraged or combated priests and kings in relation to this matter, and in so doing they stood for the Divine meaning both in the priesthood and in kingship: that is, holiness, incorruptibility, righteousness and truth. But they were oppressed by the hopelessness of their own immediate times, and so spoke much of a coming day, and a coming Person. The day of that Person was the strength, the hope, and the inspiration of the prophets. For them salvation and glory were in the Coming One.
When Jesus put this question to His disciples "Who do you say that I am?" - they gave answers from public opinion which brought forward the prophetic hope; but to Him this was insufficient. He was the answer to that hope, and so He pressed them for their answer in order to see whether they had arrived at that point.
They had been with Him for some three very full years, in which time they had seen His works, heard His words, known Him in person, in the flesh. The time is finished, and there away up in the North, as He turns His face towards Jerusalem (to be the scene of the last moments of His life here on earth) He probes, He probes with this question: "Who do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matthew 16:13). Getting a variety of answers as to what men were saying, He brings the question straight home: "Who do you say that I am?" He is asking, "What does it all amount to, for you? After all, what does it amount to? You have heard it all, you have seen it all, you have been in touch with it all: now, what does it amount to? What is your apprehension of Me? What is you conclusion? How much have you really seen, after all?"
Now, although Peter gave an answer which in itself satisfied the Lord Jesus, it was a transient, fleeting illumination, for so soon afterwards the man who said it denied his Lord. From the Gospels we are led to one sad conclusion: that, although they had companied with Him in close association, heard all that He had to say and seen all that He had to do, though they had listened to Him and watched Him, they had not really seen Him. Are you thinking, 'That is a terrible thing to say!' Ah, but there is all the evidence and proof of it. This was not the only time that He exposed their failure to recognize. Just look what happens afterwards, after He has gone and He comes back and visits them here and there, and speaks to them. See their profound and utter ignorance. They had not seen. They knew their Bibles - they knew Moses, they knew the Psalms, they knew the prophets - but they had not seen Him. That is the thing that He makes perfectly clear. And - this is what I am coming to - because they had not really seen, disaster overtook their lives as disciples. That is why they all forsook Him and fled; that is why the leader among them denied Him thrice, passionately and vehemently; that is why they are found, after the Cross, scattered and disillusioned and hopeless. They had not really apprehended Him.
I come back then to our main question: the fundamental importance of an adequate apprehension and knowledge of Christ, as born in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We could sum up by saying that the Bible has but one object from beginning to end, and this is to reveal the mind of God concerning man, with a view to bringing glory to God in man's eternal good. But the one means of that revelation is God's Son. He not only brings God's mind to us - He is God's mind for us. He is not only the Word as an utterance - He is the Word as a Person. Therefore the whole Bible is comprehended and governed by Christ. He answers the one purpose of it all - past, present, future and eternity. Christ is central, Christ is supreme, Christ is universal, Christ is dominant in all. The Christian life will be greater or smaller according to our spiritual apprehension and knowledge of Christ, through what Paul calls the eyes of our hearts enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18). Christ is the sum of all things; and the kind of Christians we are and the measure of His fullness to which we shall attain will be determined exclusively by our knowledge of Him.
(continued with # 8 - (The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life)