2. Like Christ: He Himself Calls Us To It.
"I have given you an example, that ye also should do even as I have done to you."óJohn 13:15.
It is Jesus Christ, the beloved Redeemer of our souls, who speaks thus. He had just, humbling Himself to do the work of the slave washed His disciplesí feet. In doing so His love had rendered to the body the service of which it stood in need at the supper table. At the same time He had shown, in a striking symbol, what He had done for their souls in cleansing them from sin. In this twofold work of love He had thus set before them, just before parting, in one significant act, the whole work of His life as a ministry of blessing to body and to soul And as He sits down He says: "I have given you an example, that YE ALSO should do, EVEN AS I have done to you." All that they had seen in Him, and experienced from Him, is thus made the rule of their life: "EVEN As I have done, do YE ALSO."
The word of the blessed Saviour is for us too. To each one who knows that the Lord has washed away his sin the command comes with all the touching force of one of the last words of Him who is going out to die for us: "EVEN AS I have done to you, SO DO YE ALSO." Jesus Christ does indeed ask every one of us in everything to act just as we have seen Him do. What He has done to ourselves, and still does each day, we are to do over again to others. In His condescending, pardoning, saving love, He is our example; each of us is to be the copy and image of the Master.
The thought comes at once: Alas! how little have I lived thus; how little have I even known that I was expected thus to live! And yet, He is my lord; He loves me, and I love Him; I dare not entertain the thought of living otherwise than He would have me. What can I do but open my heart to His word, and fix my gaze on His example, until it exercises its divine power upon me, and draws me with irresistible force to cry: Lord, even as Thou hast done, so will I do also.
The power of an example depends chiefly on two things. The one is the attractiveness of what it gives us to see, the other the personal relation and influence of him in whom it is seen. In both aspects, what power there is in our Lordís example!
Or, is there really anything very attractive in our Lordís example? I ask it in all earnest, because, to judge by the conduct of many of His disciples, it would really seem as if it were not so. O that the Spirit of God would open our eyes to see the heavenly beauty of the likeness of the only-begotten Son!
We know who the Lord Jesus is. He is the Son of the all-glorious God, one with the Father in nature and glory and perfection. When He had been on earth it could be said of Him, "We show you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." In Him we see God. In Him we see how God would act were He here in our place on earth. In Him all that is beautiful and lovely and perfect in the heavenly world is revealed to us in the form of an earthly life. If we want to see what is really counted noble and glorious in the heavenly world, if we would see what is really Divine, we have only to look at Jesus; in all He does the glory of God is shown forth.
But oh, the blindness of Godís children: this heavenly beauty has to many of them no attraction; there is no form or comeliness that they should desire it.
The manners and the way of livino, in the court of an earthly king exercise influence throughout the empire. The example it gives is imitated by all who belong to the nobility or the higher classes. But the example of the King of heaven, who came and dwelt in the flesh, that we might see how we might here on earth live a God-like life, alas! with how few of His followers does it really find imitation. When we look upon Jesus, His obedience to the will of the Father, His humiliation to be a servant of the most unworthy, Hia love as manifested in the entire giving up and sacrifice of Himself, we see the most wondrous and glorious thing heaven has to show; in heaven itself we shall see nothing greater or brighter. Surely such an example, given of God on very purpose to make the imitation attractive and possible, ought to win us. Is it not enough to stir all that is within us with a holy jealousy and with joy unutterable as we hear the message, "I have given you an example, that even as I have done, ye should also do"?
This is not all. The power of an example consists not only in its own intrinsic excellence, but also in the personal relation to him who gives it. Jesus had not washed the feet of others in presence of His disciples; it was when He had washed their feet that He said: "Even as I have done to you, ye should also do." It is the consciousness of a personal relationship to Christ that enforces the command: Do as I have done. It is the experience of what Jesus has done to me that is the strength in which I can go and do the same to others. He does not ask that I shall do more than has been done to me. But not less either: EVEN AS I have done to you. He does not ask that I shall humble myself as servant deeper than He has done. It would not have been strange if He had asked this of such a worm. But this is not His wish: He only demands that I shall just do and be what He, the King, has done and been. He humbled Himself as low as humiliation could go, to love and to bless me. He counted this His highest honour and blessedness. And now He invites me to partake of the same honour and blessedness, in loving and serving as He did. Truly, if I indeed know the love that rests on me, and the humiliation through which alone that love could reach me, and the power of the cleansing which has washed me, nothing can keep me back from saying: "Yes, blessed Lord, even as Thou hast done to me, I will also do." The heavenly loveliness of the great Example, and the Divine lovingness of the great Exemplar, combine to make the example above everything attractive.
Only there is one thing I must not forget. It is not the remembrance of what Jesus has once done to me, but the living experience of what He is now to me, that will give me the power to act like Him. His love must be a present reality, the inflowing of a life and a power in which I can love like Him. It is only as by the Holy Spirit I realize WHAT Jesus is doing for me, and HOW He does it, and that it is HE who does it, that it is possible for me to do to others what He is doing to me.
"EVEN AS I have done to you, do YE ALSO!" What a precious word! What a glorious prospect! Jesus is going to show forth in me the Divine power of His love, that I may show it forth to others. He blesses me, that I may bless others. He loves me that I may love others. He becomes servant to me that I may become a servant to others. He saves and cleanses me that I may save and cleanse others. He gives Himself wholly for and to me, that I may wholly give myself for and to others. I have only to be doing over to others what He is doing to meónothing more. I can do it, just because He is doing it to me. What I do is nothing but the repeating, the showing forth of what I am receiving from Him.
Wondrous grace! which thus calls us to be like our Lord in that which constitutes His highest glory. Wondrous grace! which fits us for this calling by Himself first being to us and in us what we are to be to others. Shall not our whole heart joyously respond to His command? Yes, blessed Lord I even as Thou doest to me will I also do to others.
Gracious Lord! what can I now do but praise and pray? My heart feels overwhelmed with this wondrous offer, that Thou wilt reveal all Thy love and power in me, if I will yield myself to let it flow through me to others. Though with fear and trembling, yet in deep and grateful adoration, with joy and confidence, I would accept the offer and say: Here I am; show me how much Thou lovest me, and I will show it to others by loving them even so.
And that I may be able to do this, blessed Lord, grant me these two things. Grant me, by Thy Holy Spirit, a clear insight into Thy love to me, that I may know how Thou lovest me, how Thy love to me is Thy delight and blessedness, how in that love Thou givest Thyself so completely to me, that Thou art indeed mine to do for me all I need. Grant this, Lord, and I shall know how to love and how to live for others, even as Thou lovest and livest for me.
And then grant me to see, as often as I feel how little love I have, that it is not with the love of my little heart, but with Thy love shed abroad in me, that I have to fulfil the command of loving like Thee. Am I not Thy branch, O my heavenly Vine? it is the fulness of Thy life and love that flows through me in love and blessing to those around. It is Thy Spirit that, at the same moment, reveals what Thou art to me, and strengthens me for what I am to be to others in Thy name. In this faith I dare to say, Amen, Lord, even as Thou doest to me, I also do. Yea, Amen.