15. Like Christ: In His Dependence On The Father.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing: for what things soever He doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth: and greater works than these will He show Him, that ye may marvel."óJohn 5:19, 20.
"I know mine own, and mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me and I know the Father."óJohn 10:15 (R.V.)
Our relation to Jesus is the exact counterpart of His to the Father. And so the words in which He sets forth His intercourse with the Father have their truth in us too. And as the words of Jesus in John 5 describe the natural relation between every father and son, whether on earth or in heaven, they are applicable not only to the Only-begotten, but to every one who in and like Jesus is called a son of God.
We cannot better catch the simple truth and force of the illustration than by thinking of Jesus with His earthly father in the carpenterís shop learning his trade. The first thing you notice is the entire dependence: "The son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the father doing." Then you are struck by the implicit obedience, that just seeks to imitate the father: "for whatsoever things the father doeth, these doeth the son in like manner." You then notice the loving intimacy to which the father admits him, keeping back none of his secrets: "for the father loveth the son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth." And in this dependent obedience on his sonís part, and the loving teaching on the fatherís part, you have the pledge of an ever-growing advance to greater works: step by step the son will be led up to all that the father himself can do: "Greater works than these will he show him, that ye may marvel."
In this picture we have the reflection of the relationship between God the Father and the Son in His blessed humanity. If His human nature is to be something real and true, and if we are to understand how Christ is in very deed to be our example, we must believe fully in what our blessed Lord here reveals to us of the secrets of His inner life. The words He speaks are literal truth. His dependence on the Father for each moment of His life was absolutely and intensely real: "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing." He counted it no humiliation to wait on Him for His commands: He rather considered it His highest blessedness to let Himself be led and guided of the Father as a child. And accordingly He held Himself bound in strictest obedience to say and do only what the Father showed Him: "Whatsoever things the Father doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner."
The proof of this is the exceeding carefulness with which in everything He seeks to keep to Holy Scripture. In His sufferings He will endure all in order that the Scriptures may be fulfilled. For this He remained the whole night in prayer. In such continued prayer He presents His thoughts to the Father, and waits for the answer, that He may know the Fatherís will. No child in his ignorance, no slave in his bondage, was ever so anxious to keep to what the father or master had said, as the Lord Jesus was to follow the teaching and guidance of His Heavenly Father. On this account the Father kept nothing hid from Him: the entire dependence and willingness always to learn were rewarded with the most perfect communication of all the Fatherís secrets. "For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things, and will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel." The Father had formed a glorious life plan for the Son, that in Him the Divine life might be shown forth in the conditions of human existence: this plan was shown to the Son piece by piece until at last all was gloriously accomplished.
Child of God, it is not only for the only-begotten Son that a life plan has been arranged, but for each one of His children. Just in proportion as we live in more or less entire dependence on the Father will this life plan be more or less perfectly worked out in our lives. The nearer the believer comes to this entire dependence of the Son, "doing nothing but what He sees the Father do," and then to His implicit obedience, "whatsoever He doeth, doing these in like manner," so much more will the promise be fulfilled to us: "The Father showeth Him all things that He Himself doeth, and will show Him greater works than these." LIKE CHRIST! that word calls us to a life of conformity to the Son in His blessed dependence on the Father. Each one of us is invited thus to live.
To such a life in dependence on the Father, the first thing that is necessary is a firm faith that He will make known His will to us. I think this is something that keeps many back: they cannot believe that the Lord cares for them so much that He will indeed give Himself the trouble every day to teach them and to make known to them His will, just as He did to Jesus. Christian, thou art of more value to the Father than thou knowest. Thou art as much worth as the price He paid for thee, that is, the blood of His Son; He therefore attaches the highest value to the least thing that concerns thee, and will guide thee even in what is most insignificant. He longs more for close and constant intercourse with thee than thou canst conceive. He can use thee for His glory, and make something of thee, higher than thou canst understand. The Father loves His child, and shows him what He does. That He proved in Jesus; and He will prove it in us too. There must only be the surrender to expect His teaching. Through His Holy Spirit He gives this most tenderly. Without removing us from our circle, the Father can so conform us to Christís image, that we can be a blessing and joy to all. Do not let unbelief of Godís compassionate love prevent us from expecting the Fatherís guidance in all things.
Let the unwillingness to submit yourself as little keep you back. This is the second great hindrance. The desire for independence was the temptation in paradise, is the temptation in each human heart. It seems hard to be nothing, to know nothing, to will nothing. And yet it is so blessed. This dependence brings us into most blessed communion with God: of us it becomes true as of Jesus, "The Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things whatsoever He doeth." This dependence takes frora us all care and responsibility: we have only to obey orders. It gives real power and strength of will, because we know that He works in us to will and to do. It gives us the blessed assurance that our work will succeed, because we have allowed God alone to take charge of it.
My brother, if you have hitherto known but little of this life of conscious dependence and simple obedience, begin to-day. Let your Saviour be your example in this. It is His blessed will to live in you, and in you to be again what He was here on earth. He only longs for your acquiescence: He will work it in you. Offer yourself to the Father this day, after the example of the First-begotten, to do nothing of yourself but only what the Father shows you. Fix your gaze on Jesus as also did this the Example and Promise of what you shall be. Adore Him who, for your sake, humbled Himself, and showed how blessed the dependent life can be.
Blessed dependence! it is indeed the disposition which becomes us towards such a God. It gives Him the glory which belongs to Him as God. It keeps the soul in peace and rest, for it allows God to care for all. It keeps the mind quiet and prepared to receive and use the Fatherís teaching. And it is so gloriously rewarded in the deeper experience of holy intercourse, and the continued ever-advancing discoveries of His will and work with which the Father crowns it. Blessed dependence! in which the Son lived on earth, thou art the desire of my soul.
Blessed dependence! it was because Jesus knew that He was a Son that He thus loved to be dependent on the Father. Of all the teaching in regard to the likeness to Christ this is the centre and sum: I must live as a Son with my Father. If I stand clear in this relationship, as a son realizing that the Father is everything to me, a son-like life, living through the Father, living for the Father, will be its natural and spontaneous outcome.
O my Father, the longer I fix my gaze upon the image of the Son, the more I discover the fearful ruin of my nature, and how far sin has estranged me from Thee. To be dependent upon Thee: there can be no higher blessedness than this; to trust in all things in a God such as Thou art, so wise and good, so rich and powerful. And lo! it has become the most difficult thing there can be; we would rather be dependent on our own folly than the God of all glory. Even Thine own children, O most blessed Father! often think it so hard to give up their own thoughts and will, and to believe that absolute dependence on God, to the very least things, is alone true blessedness.
Lord! I come to Thee with the humble prayer: teach me this. He who purchased with His own blood for me the everlasting, blessedness, hath shown me in His own life wherein that blessedness consists. And I know He will now lead and keep me in it. O my Father! in Thy Son I yield myself to Thee, to be made like Him, like Him to do nothing of myself, but what I see the Father doing. Father! Thou wilt take even me too, like the Firstborn, and for His sake, into Thy training, and show me what Thou doest. O my God! be Thou a Father unto me as unto Christ, and let me be Thy son, as He was. Amen.