Mark 8:27,29; John 17:3.
who say ye that I am?"
is a word addressed to disciples in immediate personal touch
with Christ, who have listened to Him, who have followed Him,
who have moved from place to place with Him, who have seen His
works; and yet He felt it necessary and evidently important to
interrogate and challenge them. They had heard expressions of
the popular mind about Him. He knew that they were moving
amongst men who would not give expression of their
thoughts audibly in His own presence, but who talked about Him
as people always do of certain individuals in their absence, and
say what they think.
disciples were in touch with the public mind to some extent, and
answered Him according to what they had heard men saying
about Him. Then He turned directly upon them, and said, "But".
Catch the full force of the word. He might have said, 'Yes, and
I suppose you agree with them? Do you agree with these opinions,
these ideas? Which of them is your own mind?' The putting in of
that "but" seems to demand a different position on their part.
It is as though He said, 'That is all very well, but I expect
something else from you.' "But who say ye that
I am?" 'Who do you
say that I am, you who have the greater privilege and
opportunity of closer contacts, more intimate association?' Upon
the answer to His interrogation of the disciples - not only the
verbal answer, the theoretical reply, but the nature, the
meaning, the depth, the strength of that answer - so much hangs
for the disciples, we might even say everything depends on it.
is the entire question of our knowledge of Christ. It is more
than that: it is the knowledge of God in Christ. That is the
Lord's word to disciples. It is a question of knowing God in
Christ. Too much, and too often, even we who are the Lord's have
mentally kept a gap between God and Christ, between Christ and
God. The removal of that gap makes a tremendous difference when
it is done in a spiritual way.
Lord Jesus said on this whole matter: "This is life eternal,
that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom You have sent". Here we have the answer to every
enquiry and quest of the human heart. Let the need be what it
may, the meeting of that need is in these words: "...that
they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ".
must not divide that statement into two. There is no such thing
as knowing "Thee, the only true God" apart and alone or
separate from Jesus Christ. There is no possibility of knowing
Jesus Christ in a true way without knowing the only true God.
These two are one. This is one thing. It is not new doctrine,
but there is a meaning there for all of us which perhaps we have
not grasped. God in Christ is the end of all human heart need.
It is the perfection of satisfaction, it is
the heart gratifying knowledge. It is our need.
would your answer be if you were asked simply to state what you
conceive your deepest, your greatest need to be? Think for a
moment what you would answer, what you would set down on a slip
of paper as being your deepest need. The answers, no doubt,
would be various, and perhaps numerous. Many answers would have
to do with victory in this way or in that, light in this way or
in that. All the answers would be different things. Now let us
say, with considered emphasis, that the need of every one of us,
deepest and greatest, is of the knowledge of God in Christ.
Given that every need is met, every desire and quest of the
human heart is answered in Him. That may not sound very helpful,
but we have not got very far yet. If you were to stay with that,
and go to the Lord with that and in earnest seeking of Him ask
Him to explain that to you, if you made this prayer to the Lord
sincerely: "Lord, show me how the knowledge of Thyself, Eternal,
Infinite, Almighty God in Jesus Christ, answers my deepest and
greatest need", you would be on the right road, and would be in
the way of making a new discovery. This is our need, if we did
but know it, and it covers the whole ground; the knowledge, not
of God, not of Christ only, but of God in Christ.
only is this our need, but this is God's aim with us. God's aim
with us is to bring us into the knowledge of Himself in Christ.
That goes further than you may realise at the moment. The trials
and difficulties of spiritual life are countless, and we seek to
get through these trials by asking the Lord for certain things:
that He will act and work, that He will do something or He will
show something. It may be as to our spiritual life, and we have
conceived that if only we can have such-and-such a blessing, or
such-and-such a revelation or enlightenment, we can go through
our trial, we shall triumph in our trial or escape from it. Or
it may be to do with our service: if only the Lord would do this
or that in relation to His work and our place in it, that would
be the solution of our problem.
that is not the case. The fact is this, that what God is after
is not to do things for you and for me, not to impart things to
you and to me, not to show things to you and to me, but to bring
us to some fresh apprehension of God in Christ. The whole matter
is a divinely personal matter. It is the realisation of the
Person which is going to result, firstly, primarily, and for
evermore, not in doing things, not in activities, not in
rejoicing in truth, but in worship. Worship is the first, the
continuous and the final factor in the knowledge of God in
Christ, and is basic to everything else in our relation to Him.
True worship only springs from a heart discovery of Himself.
your Bible, especially the New Testament, and especially the
forty days after the resurrection (if you want that narrowed
down to something that you can grasp), and see if that is not
true. It was not because He did or said certain things that they
worshipped, but because they discovered Him in a way in which
they had never known Him before.
dealings with us are governed by this supreme aim: that He might
make known to us Himself in Christ; but this comes by
illumination, and that illumination is by the touch of Christ.
8 of Mark's Gospel is a wonderful chapter. You will find few
richer chapters. It begins with the feeding of the multitude.
That resolves itself into something in the nature of a dialogue,
an altercation. "We have no bread." 'Have you forgotten
the feeding of the five thousand, the feeding of the four
thousand? Do you not understand? Why did I feed the five
thousand, and why did I feed the four thousand? It all hangs
upon that question. Have you not seen through yet?' Then a blind
man comes out of the city. That touch of the Lord Jesus upon his
eyes causes him finally to see all things clearly. 'Do you not
understand? Are you not getting through to the meaning
of this? Who do men say that I am? But who do you
say that I am?' It is all of a piece. What is the feeding for?
To convey something.
You are not dealing with
ordinary men here. You are dealing with God in Christ. What you
need is your eyes to be touched, the finger of the Anointed upon
you to see all things. 'Who do you say that I am? One day you will
see all things clearly. You are only seeing men as trees walking
now, seeing with imperfect vision, but one day you will see all
things clearly, and you will understand, you will see God in
Christ, you will know Who I am, but before ever that can be, the
Son of Man must be rejected and slain and the third day rise
again.' Then, as demonstrating that he was only seeing men as
trees walking, Peter said: "No Lord, never!" and to him the Lord
said, "For you are not setting your mind on God's interest's,
but man's". 'You are not seeing, Peter, although you made
the declaration, "You are the Christ"; but one day Peter,
you will see all things clearly, Who I am - God in Christ. You
will have to have the touch of the hand of the risen Lord, and
this is life eternal (deathless life, on that side of the grave),
to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ... as One.'
it not impressive that Mark 8, with all that it contains in
knowledge of God in Christ, full, clear knowledge, hangs upon
the Son of Man being crucified and raised? John 17 is the
chapter of the High Priestly prayer in the presence of the
Altar, the Cross. To know is by way of the Cross. In Mark 8 He
said, "Except a man take up his cross and follow Me, he
cannot be my disciple". He might have said (for this is
the meaning), "He cannot know Me", for what is the object of a
disciple but to be taught to know his Master? You have to let go
your own life to have this knowledge.
whole need is in this direction. Is it heart satisfaction?
Surely that is the need of every one of us. Then the Lord
Jesus will say to us, "I
the bread of life." 'This is life eternal: to
know Me, in the fulness of My Being, God in Christ, with full
satisfaction of heart. It is not something that I am going to
give, not something that I am going to do with you or for you,
it is your heart apprehension of Me. Your discovery of Me is
going to answer all your craving:
I am the bread of life.'
it illumination? So we go on praying, Lord give me light; Lord
show me this, show me that. He will answer, 'I am the light
of the world. When you have come to see Me, to know Me
truly, in a heart way, you have illumination.' You may not have
a verbal answer to all your enquiries, but you have got a heart
answer, you are settled on your problems, you know the Lord.
it access to the place where the Lord is with His own, from
which place all who do not know Him in this way are excluded? Do
you want to be in fellowship with His own? Shall we pray, O
Lord, bring me in? He will answer, "I am the door." 'When
you know personally who I am, God in Christ, you are in. There
is no way in except by the knowledge of Me. This is the place of
we seeking leadership, protection, that the Lord shall assume
responsibility for us and for all our future, and protect us,
look after us? Shall we ask to be led? Shall we ask for
protection? He will answer, "I
Do we want to know the Life
which overcomes death and is victorious? Shall we pray for
victorious Life? He will answer, "I am the resurrection and
shall not stay with these sevenfold occurrences of the words, "I
am"; we just mention them, but only seek to indicate the point.
"I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the
last day", said Martha (John 11:24). That is making the
resurrection a matter of time. "I am..." 'When I am
here, time goes; is dismissed for ever. Have Me, and the last
day is here.' It is the knowledge of the Person that means
it that we are seeking fulness of attainment, reaching out to
attain to the fullest, to the whole thought of God? Oh, how many
ways we have of seeking to realise that heart desire for full
attainment. We pray this way and that, and for many things which
we think will bring us into fulness. The Lord will answer, "I
am the way, the truth and the life." 'Have Me and you have
we want to escape from barrenness and fruitlessness of life, to
come to the place where life will have something to show for
God's satisfaction; not emptiness and barrenness but
fruitfulness of that kind which will give Him pleasure? How are
you seeking to be fruitful, by what means? You ask the Lord in
many ways about fruit-bearing, He will answer, "I am the
Vine." You cannot bear fruit unless you are in the
fruit-bearing Vine, and if you abide in Him, you will bear
fruit. It is as natural and spontaneous as anything can be; it
is a question of knowing abiding union with Him. It is a matter
of knowing Him.
these things should bring to us heart rest. I have not been the
least of those who have striven, and agonised, and strained, and
pressed and reached out for all that the Lord would have, all
that is possible. It is possible to wear yourself right out, and
kill yourself in a spiritual quest, and the Lord at last says to
our hearts: "If you only know Me, things will happen; it
will all come to pass without any of your strain, struggle and
agony. I am going to bear this fruit. I will bear it
through you by way of union and fellowship. Remember that the
holy, blessed secret of fellowship is just resting in Me,
abiding in Me."
you saw all the branches of the vine every day groaning and
agonising, and writhing in order to bear their fruit, you would
see something which is altogether unnatural. As a matter of fact
you will see nothing of the kind. You will see them abiding
there and bearing fruit. It is what we often speak of as the
rest of faith.
is behind the rest of faith? It is not bringing yourself to a
passive state, when you inwardly sink down and say, I am just
going to rest. It is knowing the Lord,
God in Christ; for the way in which God has joined Himself
to us is in Christ, not apart, and the way in which we have been
joined to God is in Christ, not apart. The answer to every need
is knowing Him in this way.
answer is comprehensive. The Lord's ability to crowd vast ranges
into small phrases is amazing. He compasses the whole range of
human need, and answers every heart cry in a simple sentence of
two words: "I am".
cry for resurrection, for Life, for something to happen, for a
filling, a consciousness, a sensation, a movement, an energy, a
"something". The Lord's answer is, "I am the resurrection and
the Life at any moment, in My will, anywhere." Oh that we
might live on that "any moment - anywhere", because of Him! He
would woo us away from subjects, experiences, teachings to
propagate. Such a course has done much harm. The people of God
are divided into groups, larger or smaller, around some thing,
some experience, some truth, and the all-embracing and
all-uniting reality is lost. Away, then, with things,
experiences, truths, to Him. "This is life eternal, that they
may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You
have sent". 'Do you not understand? Who do you say
that I am?' With a touch of divine illumination in your
heart you see the thing that you have known so long. Only the
Lord can do that. That is the direction of inquiry. The Lord set
our hearts on that.