The Way
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - The Meaning of Christ's Walk

We now come to the fourth of the five major features of Christ as the Way - His walk.

There are two fragments to which I would like to refer - one in the Gospel by John, the other in the first letter of John. "Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life'" (John 8:12). Here is a walking in the Way, and the Way is Christ. "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6). We can just look at that last clause - "as He walked".

When we quietly consider and meditate upon the life of the Lord Jesus during the three and a half years of His walk in the midst of men, there are certain things about Him which are quite evident and quite impressive. Those things are the things which must be carried over into our own lives if others are to have indicated to them the way to God.

Christ's Consciousness

We will begin by noting one thing that is so very evident and always present and noticeable about the Lord Jesus in His earthly life, and that is His consciousness. In a greater or lesser way every life that is really alive is marked by a consciousness, and in a very marked way this was true of the Lord Jesus. His consciousness was that of His relationship to heaven. You just cannot fail to recognize that. He is constantly speaking about it, and His speaking of it so frequently and so much is because that is the ever-present and uppermost consciousness with Him, His relationship to heaven. Just as a man's native country is in his blood, so heaven was in the spirit of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps you know what that is. You of course do not know very much what that means unless you have been away from your native country, and then you know after a time that that country is not so far away after all, it is in your very blood. There is a pull and a call and a remembrance, the consciousness of where you belong, where you came from, which rises up and asserts itself. I think some of you know what I mean. If I may make a personal reference, there was a time years ago when I spent years in London and was not able, neither was there the demand then, for going to Scotland so often as there has been in recent years. At a certain time in the year Scotland made such an appeal that I just had to go, that is all. If it were only for a weekend, not with any object at all, not for any work, but I just had to go and come back again. Something would not let me rest until I had just gone and come. The pull was there.

Now what is true in the natural was true in the spiritual with the Lord Jesus. "I am come down from heaven" (John 6:38). And He even said that He was still in heaven while He was here (John 3:13). Strange, strange speaking! The Son that came from heaven and is in heaven! It was this strong deep consciousness of His relatedness to heaven, and that had various meanings for Him.

It meant that heaven was the source of His life. His life came out from heaven, and He was all the time living out from heaven by that heavenly life. He could find nothing here to answer to the life that was in Him. Everything here just failed to give what that life in Him demanded and required. He just could not live here except in so far as life was constantly ministered to Him from heaven. Heaven was the place of all His resources. For every demand He went back to heaven to have it met. That is, He got away in spirit, He got away in prayer, to draw what was required for the situation, the need, the next move, for every crisis and for His whole life. Heaven was His source of supply.

Heaven was the seat of His government. In everything He went to heaven for direction. You know what I mean, He got His Life from heaven, He refused to be governed by things here, He refused to be governed by the world, what the world expected, what the world demanded. He did not allow the world and its mind and its way to influence or affect Him at all. He refused to be governed by religious tradition, by the established religious order. He refused to be governed by religious expectation and religious precedent. Often they tried to impinge that upon Him and tell Him that was the thing expected, that was the thing done, that was how it was usually and He refused it all. He stood back and got His direction from heaven. The oft-repeated phrase indicated this heavenly life - "My hour has not yet come" - the phrase which He used in so many different connections, at so many different times, not meaning as He used it that final hour, His hour, but meaning, 'The time has not come just at this moment for Me to do that, I have not got it from heaven; it may be your hour, it may be the hour of circumstance, it may be the hour of seeming demand, but that does not weigh with Me; My hour is the hour when heaven says, "Now!"' Heaven was the place, the seat, of His government.

Now let us pass this over as we go along, that is, in that threefold way: the essential consciousness of the true Christian and of true spiritual Christianity and of the only Christianity which, as we have repeatedly said, will go through the ordeal of fire. That is something which is implanted in us at our spiritual birth and if we are not able to sense that, we ought to attend to it, for it is an essential feature of being born from above that immediately - not in its fulness - but immediately we are aware that we are related to another world, we are related to heaven. To put that round the other way, immediately we have become strangers here. The true Christian from very birth has a stranger-consciousness in this world. It may be a simple beginning, but what is true of every Christian going on in the way of Christ is that that strangerhood grows and grows and deepens all the way along until it becomes, on the spiritual side, almost impossible to live in this world. We have got to do it, it is no use trying to get out until the Lord takes you out, but you know spiritually it is becoming more and more difficult to accommodate yourself to this world, to find anything that you can call home here.

Forgive the simplicity of this, but it is an important factor. It is the very witness of the truth of our Christian life, but the fact is so apparent that a vast amount of what is called Christianity has no such consciousness. It can accommodate itself to this world, and it is doing so, and moreover, it thinks hardly of those people who do not do it. The 'Christianity' that really does not understand Christians who cannot accommodate themselves to this world is a false and an illegitimate Christianity. If ever there was a stranger here, He was that stranger. His consciousness was altogether other and we "ought to walk as He walked".

Again, it should be true of Christians that all their resources are in heaven, not as a fact but as an experience, that they really are being supported and sustained out from heaven, and further, that their seat of government is in heaven. We put it before in this way, that the church has no headquarters on earth, its headquarters are in heaven, and all government is to come from heaven by the Holy Spirit. That is how He walked, and unless that is true in our case and in the case of Christians, there is something fundamentally weak and wrong and lacking, and only in so far as that is true shall we be able to stand up against the world. We have got to settle that. Is it strange to you that the world knows you not and the world is against you? Is it strange to you that you have no place here? Well, if it is, you have missed the point. It should not be strange. It is native, it is natural, it is just a part of a true position, and it is quite false to be otherwise.

Then a second thing about the Lord in His life here is what we will call His balance. What a balanced life was His, what a balanced walk! He was marked by a total absence of fear. He was utterly fearless and what we may call self-possessed; so steady, so rock-like, so unmoved. All the forces which ought to have broken Him broke upon Him. There is a calm serenity and tranquillity about Him that is very marked.

Then again there was no civil war inside of Him. He was a unity not a duality. There was no conflict in Himself, no internal conflict; a very important thing, a tremendously powerful thing that is spiritually.

And then, His universality; how comprehensive He was. He had no partialities, no biases, no prejudices. Everyone was at home with Him except hypocrites. All nations, all temperaments, all dispositions, all languages and all the ages found in Him an answer. He belonged to no one particular age. You cannot say that of other men. They were men of their own age. Sometimes they lived before their time, but the Lord Jesus has compassed all time. So it does not matter in what age you live, whatever may be the characteristic of that age - and how different are the ages! How different, for instance, in this part of the world, is the present century or part of the century from what we call the Victorian era. In the Victorian era, things were of a certain character, and now that has practically gone. It is all so different that people today, if they want to use some kind of phrase to indicate that you are out-of-date they say, 'You are Victorian.' And so the ages change their nature, their constitution, their manner of life, their complexes, but strangely and wonderfully the Lord Jesus meets every age; He just fits in to every situation. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8).

And then remarkably, while some religions and teachings are very suitable to certain kinds of people and they cannot get on very well with something that does not fit into their own nationality, their own national constitution; they must have it of a national kind. For example, the Eastern cannot get on very well with the Western in the matter of religion, they must have an Eastern religion with an Eastern complex; or the Westerner cannot get on very well with the Eastern, we have our Western complex in religion. In the case of the Lord Jesus it is not at all like that. It just fits right in, whether it is China or India or Timbuktu or America - or even Britain! He fits in. He is of no specific nationality but of all. He is universal.

Then, you see, we make our gods after our own likeness, and one of the great problems of religious life is this problem of temperament, that our religion is so very largely made by our own temperament. We think God is what we think He is. We think God is what we feel He is. Other people do not feel as we do about God and they, therefore, have a different kind of God from ours. Our God is this one. He is made after our likeness, and so it is everywhere. Temperament is a very big factor, and it does really divide into watertight compartments and give particular and peculiar complexes. The Lord Jesus just fits into every temperament. Whether you are phlegmatic or practical or artistic or sanguine or whatever you are in temperament, He just meets your need. He comes, so to speak, to you just where you are.

He is not the Christ of the rich or the poor exclusively; He is not the Christ of the learned or the illiterate exclusively. He can meet the greatest intelligence, the highest intellectuality and beat it; and He can meet us right down there in our ignorance, in all our lack of such things. Somehow He fits in everywhere, in all classes, and so we could go on.

How comprehensive and universal He is. He is not really a Jew. He was born in Israel and a great deal has been made of the fact that He was of Jewish birth. Yes, that for specific purposes, but you cannot tie Him down to that. It does not matter what nationality it is, He just fits in. He is just as good for us in the West as He is for those in the East. That is true. That is a mark of His life here when He was on the earth. These are true things about Christ.

Oh, does not Christianity need to take on that truth about Christ, to get rid of its prejudices, preferences, distinctions, complexes and partialities; to get rid of all its denominationalisms, all its sectarianisms, and find Christ comprehensive, gathering all, meeting all? Oh, for a church that really is after the nature of Christ in that way!

It becomes a very personal matter. We have got to be like that, we have to have a heart large enough to embrace all. We have to be much bigger than all these things of this earth - national, denominational, and all the rest -we have to be enlarged to the dimensions of Christ.

The Secret of Christ's Walk

Now, what were the secrets of Christ's walk? Can we put our finger upon any one particular thing that gives us the secret to this life of His? I think we can, and if you will think about it even more than I am saying, take it away and dwell upon it, I think you will see that there is a very great deal more in this than I have pointed out. The secret of Christ's walk in the sense in which we have spoken of it was His utter selflessness, His utter self-unconsciousness. Think about it.

It is this self-consciousness that is the root of nearly all our trouble. It is self-consciousness that makes life unbalanced. Some way or other, self-consciousness produces a state that is unbalanced. If you are not very careful and become too occupied with yourself, always drawing attention to yourself, you develop a neurosis which will make you a nuisance. Your life is unbalanced and a burden not only to yourself, but to everybody else, and Christ was never that. There was nothing neurotic about the Lord Jesus. Yes, here is a strange paradox. No one perhaps ever spoke more about Himself, no one used the personal pronoun more than He did, and yet alongside of that there is this total selflessness. How utterly selfless! What a lot of ground there is for us to move in when we think of that. Oh yes, you cannot find self-interest there, you cannot find self-occupation there, you cannot find self-protection there, you cannot find self-assertiveness there, you cannot find self-importance there, you cannot find self-sufficiency there, and least of all can you find self-pity. In the day when He is passing to His cross, knowing exactly what was immediately before Him, the women of Jerusalem bewailed Him, and He said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me" (Luke 23:28), 'you need not pity Me'. He was not drawing attention to Himself, He was not seeking pity, sympathy. No, this was the key to His balance. And this was the key to His helpfulness to all classes and all conditions, this complete absence of self-consciousness in the sense of being occupied with Himself and how things would affect Him. Oh, it is a great secret! That is how He walked.

And do you not feel that if the Cross really does lie at the very root of a life, if it is true that we have come by the way of Jordan, by the way of the meaning of His baptism, then we ought to be crucified to ourselves, we ought to be dead to ourselves, we ought really to be saved from this accursed self? It is the bane, it is the root, it is the trouble, it is the core of everything. Take it to heart.

I take it to heart because we are all so cursed with a self, a selfhood. It springs in in so many ways. It does affect us, this self, it really does. Let us ask the Lord about this, because it is the only way of serenity. If we are going to be affected by ourselves, we are not going to be very serene for long. It is the only way of steadiness, it is the only way of that mighty calm in the midst of storm, it is the only way of meeting situations and people who naturally have it in their power to do us a lot of harm, and to meet them, and for them to be rather under our power than we under theirs - I mean spiritually. If fear is rising, fear being a betrayal of some self-interest, some self-concern, then it spoils everything and weakens us.

So I could go round this whole thing, touching numerous points, but here it is. The secret of our Lord's walk, His mighty, influential, useful, serviceable life, was very largely because in that Jordan He had entered into the real meaning of the Cross, and was able to say, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38); "not My will" (Luke 22:42). That of the personal was set aside. If it is true, it will be with us as it was with Him - we will have a wonderful ability to help everybody, to go through all situations. "The one who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6). This is the way of the Master, this is the way for His servants, for His people.

How untouched was the Lord Jesus by such things as policy, expediency, diplomacy. The dictionary deals in a hard way with people who hold those names. It says of policy that it is statecraft. Craft indeed! The Lord Jesus was untouched by policy, what was politic. That never touched Him, never entered for an instant into His consideration - what is the political thing to do? The dictionary says of a diplomat that he is an adroit negotiator. The Lord Jesus does not fit in there. Oh, how foreign to Him was anything like - as we say - wire-pulling, manoeuvring. Expediency - the dictionary says contriving, and this I find in my Oxford dictionary against that word 'expediency' - 'more politic than principle'. That is hard on the people in that realm, but how untrue of the Lord Jesus that would be. He never resorted to expedients. He always was governed by principle. Sometimes it looks as though He was compromising, but He was not. It was a mark of the greatness of our Lord that He paid His taxes. That is, the Lord Jesus never gave unnecessary offence. Principle governed Him, not policy, not expediency, not diplomacy, not anything that would turn out for His own personal advantage, never!

I think that is something very searching for Christianity as we know it. We have to say there is a very great deal of expediency and policy and diplomacy in the Christianity that we know - manoeuvring, contriving, and doing everything it can in spiritual politics to gain position, favour and support in this world. Such considerations never came into the heart or mind of our Lord, and that is the way. God is not in the other way. You try policy and see if you find the Lord with you. You never will. Try any of these things, and you have got to get on with it, the Lord is not going with you that way. You have got to come back to this way of utter heart transparency, the transparency of heaven, nothing at all that is shady or questionable or doubtful, not even in the interests of Christian work. That is why so much of what we know by the name of 'Christianity' is going up in smoke in the day of the fiery ordeal. It will just vanish, it will not stand, and what we are concerned with in this message is that which will abide. We do not want to be swept away and our Christianity with us in some great testing or trial. We want to go through, to abide. Well, "the one who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked", and these were the things that constituted His walk. The Lord make us walk in His ways!


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