The All-Sufficiency Of Christ
By F. B. Meyer
When the disciple whom Jesus loved fell at His feet as one dead; when the church at Smyrna needed encouragement to remain faithful unto death; when spirits athirst for God cry out for the living water; when the way has to be opened through the gates of the city to the Tree of Life, Jesus quotes, in part or as a whole, these majestic words, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13).
The very pressing question of this hour is to ascertain whether each of us is making enough of personal contact with Christ. We hear about Him, read of Him, talk about Him, but how far do we really know Him? Might He not say rather sadly to some of us, as to Philip: “Have I been so long a time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?” (John 14:9). On the other hand, Paul said: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord…that I may know Him…” (Phil. 3:8-10).
The Complement of Our Need
We may sometimes question whether we should ever have known Jesus Christ had it not been for the urgent needs forced on us by this human life. We may go further, and say that very often God allows our helplessness and failure to become extraordinarily acute in order that His grace may have a larger opportunity. It is only when we have reached our greatest extremity that we begin to realize what Jesus is prepared to be and do.
It was only when Sennacherib came against Jerusalem with scaling ladders and the full equipment for capturing a fortified city that Isaiah and Hezekiah discovered that God was prepared to be a “place of broad rivers and streams” (Isa. 33:21), and that there was a river – the river of His protecting care – which could make glad the city of God. Of course, there was no literal river; but God made good that lack, and Himself became all that a river could have been. He was thus the complement of their need!
It was only when Ezra, on the return of the Jews to their own land, halted at the river Ahava, that he awoke to the peril of crossing the great wilderness, inhabited by robber tribes. But in answer to united prayer, God promised to go before the procession, and become its rear-guard. Jehovah Himself became the complement of their need! They would not have realized what He could do for them in this direction had they been fully defended by bands of soldiers.
The sisters of Bethany would never have known the Master’s imperial glory as the Resurrection and the Life, had mortal sickness not overtaken Lazarus and carried him to his grave. In their dire sorrow and distress, Jesus became their complement as the Resurrection and the Life. In after years they were glad to have had such a sorrow, which left them enriched forever with that unexpected revelation.
Paul himself would never have known what Jesus could be unless he had been beset by that thorn in his flesh. There was a phase in the Savior’s grace which he would have never known unless that infirmity had befallen him. Then he realized that his sufferings had provided a new angle of vision, a better platform for God’s saving help. Therefore he was willing rather to suffer, that the power of Christ might compensate for his deficiency; for when he was weak the strength of the Son of God was more than enough.
In Times of Loneliness
Loneliness is an opportunity for Jesus to make Himself known. The beloved apostle was alone on the Isle of Patmos, but at the same moment he was “in the Spirit,” and the Spirit revealed the Lord. There ensued that fellowship which began in what seemed at first a revelation almost too great to be borne by human flesh and blood. “…I fell at His feet as one dead…” (Rev. 1:17). Then Christ laid His hand upon him and lifted him up, and revealed to him the mystery of His own eternal life. The ancient mystics went to the deserts in order to obtain that vision; but in quiet lonely hours, as we walk beside the ocean, or climb the mountain, or sit in our own room, He will come and manifest Himself as He does not to the world. But you must let the silt fall to the bottom; you must allow time for the glare of the world to die out from your eyes. There must also be the spirit’s steadfast attention turned toward the unseen, the unwearied and loving meditation and prayer, and the atmosphere of Christian love. The failure of any of these will make it impossible to see or feel Jesus nigh.
Thomas à Kempis says: “Shut thy door upon thee and call unto Jesus, thy Love. When Jesus is nigh all goodness is nigh and nothing seemeth hard; but when He is not nigh all things are hard. If Jesus speaks one word, there is great comfort. To be without Jesus is a grievous hell, and to be with Jesus is a sweet Paradise.”
But it must be remembered that fellowship like this is full of inspiration. The revelation given to John was instantly followed by the command to write. The soul, therefore, that is illumined by fellowship with Christ becomes, to use an ancient illustration, like the cherubim who went and came as the Lord directed. Thus holy souls, invigorated and renewed by communion with Jesus, while they wait upon Him, receive direction and instruction as to the errands they are to undertake, and they go forth to minister as He may direct.
When, therefore, you are lonely; when, like John on the Lord’s day in Patmos, you seem to hear the hymns and prayers which you can join only in spirit, turn to the Lord Himself and ask Him to bear you company. That loneliness constitutes a claim on Him. If you had not experienced it, you would not have learned what He can be and do when He draws near, saying, “Fear not.” He will not leave you orphaned, He will come to you. Though lover and friend forsake, and you are passing through a dark valley unattended, the Good Shepherd will accompany you, armed with a crook to help you out of pitfalls, and a club for your foes.
In Times of Suffering
Hours of suffering give opportunities for Jesus to become known. Like the church at Smyrna, on which the first sparks of fiery trial were falling (Rev. 2:8-11), the child of God is often called to take the way of the Cross. With its suffering, its injustice, its humiliation, its bitterness, it has been trodden by millions, and has been called “the King’s highway.” One holy soul says: “There is none other way to life and inward peace but the way of the Cross.” But nothing has brought out so much of the love and help of Jesus!
This is especially marked in the life of the Apostle Paul. Few men have come anywhere near him in the ordeal of anguish and pain. “…We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things…” (1 Cor. 4:13). He was always bearing about the dying of Jesus. Poverty, persecution, ill health, the hatred of the Jewish party, these were the deep waters he was called to cross and recross. But in it all, he was more than conqueror through Him that loved him. Jesus was nearer him than the chill waters. True, he suffered for Christ, but Christ suffered with him. His Lord stood by him, then who could stand against him? His spirit seems to have become full of a divine optimism as he challenges life and death, height and depth, to separate him from the love of God.
Do not let us fear suffering or pain. Do not allow yourself to shrink back when Jesus leads you into the dark chamber. He walks the furnace kindled to seven times its ordinary heat.
There are also experiences of suffering which are worse than most of those endured in the physical sphere, but Jesus is always standing there with the crown of life to place on the head of the overcomer. Let us not complain of our sufferings, or the lack of human sympathy, or allow people to criticize the Divine Lover; let us rather rejoice that He has trusted us with pain and disability that His power may more richly rest on us. “Be thou faithful unto death, sentry, at thy post.” The First and the Last is with thee. He passed through death to a fuller life; so shalt thou!
The thousands of sick folk who were brought from every part of Galilee revealed healing qualities in Jesus that would have remained unknown had they not thronged around Him. The leper revealed His purity; the paralyzed His energy; the dying His power of life. So each trial and sorrow which He comes into our lives to share reveals to us, and to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies, some new phase of that wonderful Being who is the complement of our infirmities.
In Times of Thirst
Hours of thirst give opportunities for a more intimate knowledge of Jesus (Rev. 21:6-7). If the woman of Sychar had not been driven by thirst, she would not have visited the well at the noon of that memorable day; and if it were not for the thirst of their souls for satisfaction, men would never say with David: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God” (Psa. 42:1). If we were perfectly supplied from ourselves, we should never know what Christ can be. We are suffered to hunger and thirst that we should not trust in ourselves, but in the living God, who gives us all things richly to enjoy.
Oh, blessed absence of self-sufficiency! We shall never be self-contained, never able to dispense with Christ! But, as our nature expands, as new yearnings arise, as fresh deeps call to deeps, we shall only learn more and more of His all-sufficiency, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
– Condensed from the book F. B. Meyer by F. B. Meyer. Copyright 1950 by Fleming H. Revell Company. Published by Baker Book House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.
F. B. Meyer (1847 – 1929) was a Baptist pastor and evangelist in England, and contemporary and friend of D. L. Moody. He authored over 40 books.