George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Timeliness of Christ
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father--Mat 11:25
Thanksgiving in the Hour of Darkness and Seeming Failure
Matthew never could forget the time at which these words were uttered. The hour never vanished from his memory. Our Lord had been speaking of His rejection by cities like Bethsaida and Capernaum. There He had wrought His mighty works, and had found no tokens of repentance. And just then, when everything seemed dark, and the darkness was deepening into tragedy, our Lord had risen to exultant thanksgiving. It recalls another time of darkness--that night on which He was betrayed. Then, too, He had broken into thanksgiving, so wonderful that none ever could forget it. When others would have been plunged in sorrow, struggling to keep their faith from being quenched, our Lord was filled with an adoring gratitude. Such experiences of their common Master sank deep into the minds of the disciples. They began to watch the times of Jesus, as if in these very times there was a message for them. And for us, just as for them, there is a deal of spiritual profit in studying the timeliness of Christ.
Man's Extremity Was God's Opportunity
One notes, for instance, with ever-growing wonder, the timeliness of the hour of His coming. Enlightened men saw from the very first that He had come in the fulness of the time. Sometimes a gift, precious in itself, is robbed of half its sweetness by untimeliness. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, and there are gifts which are bestowed too late. But God was neither too early nor too late, as all our growing knowledge teaches us, when He gave His Son to be the Savior of the world. It was the fulness of the time, for need was greatest. The inspiring voice of prophecy was silent. Older faiths had lost their power to satisfy, and men were settling down into despair. And not only was it man's extremity; it was the hour of greatest opportunity, for there was peace abroad, and highways through the world, for carrying the news of the evangel. No one can study history, and then turn to the manger at the inn, without gaining a profound conviction of the perfect timeliness of Christ.
Christ Knew When It Was Time Not to Act
Then we turn to the earthly life of Christ, and the same feature is everywhere apparent. We take, for instance, the marriage feast of Cana. "Woman," said Jesus to His mother, "Mine hour is not yet come." He meant that she must not interfere; when the hour struck He would perform His part. And that reiterated insistence on His hour, when others sought to hasten or retard Him, is one of the indications in the Gospels of the perfect timeliness of Christ. The time of others might be always ready; His hour was not always ready. For the deed at Cana, as for the deed on Calvary, there was one perfect moment and one only. And nothing is more notable in Christ than how He refused to let Himself be hurried, or, when the hour struck, to be delayed. Even His mother must not interfere, however it pained Him to have to tell her so. Familiar with the timeliness of God, He must be faithful to His Father in this also. That is why, with such intense insistence, He silenced people by speaking of His hour. It is the perfect timeliness of Christ.
He Acted Always in Time
Again, one traces the same feature in the moments of His intervention. There is the story of the epileptic boy. The disciples were powerless with that boy--how they longed for the presence of the Lord! He could do what they had failed to do, but He was away on the Mount of Transfiguration. And just then, in their dire distress, they lifted up their eyes, and there was Jesus--and Mark tells us that the disciples marveled. Some have thought they marveled at His glory, as if traces of heaven still clung about His form. But if that were so, what would have been the use of telling the three that they were to be silent? I do not think it was at that they marveled; it was rather at the appearance of their Lord in the very moment when they needed Him. An hour before they had not learned their powerlessness. An hour after the boy would have been home. The marvelous thing was that the Lord appeared in the very nick of time. And I venture to think that there are multitudes who have found that this is just as true of them as it was of the disciples on that day.
Jesus Never Gave a Series of Lectures--He Spoke Freely to Meet Needs as He Saw Them
One feels, too, how true this is of the words which our Lord spake. One has only to read the Gospel narrative to discover that they were exquisitely timely. Our Lord never gave any course of lectures. He spoke freely, and for the moment's need. He answered questions, and met the scribes in argument, and gave His best to the solitary listener. And the marvel is that these free words of His, which have satisfied the needs of men, might seem to have had no one else in view than those who originally heard them. The words were timely, and yet they have proved timeless. They were occasional, and yet they are immortal. "Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words shall not pass away." They are so timely still, that many a man has felt as if they had been spoken to him alone, though centuries have gone since they were uttered.
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