by T. Austin-Sparks
Reading: John 13:21-33; Ephes. 3:17-19; Col. 1:25-27.
We are to view the Lord Jesus in relation to the first Adam, and all that came in through that which happened with the first Adam in his fall, not only as this has reference to man and his condition, but to all that which Adam's act of disobedience let into this universe, and into this world. That act of disobedience opened the door at which the forces of evil were standing, waiting for access. Adam was that door. They could never have got in but for Adam, but he opened the door by his disobedience, and the forces of evil rushed into God's creation, and took up a position of great strength, to bring about in it a state of things contrary to God, and that in the most powerful and terrible way. To all of that, to the powers themselves, and the state brought about through their being let in, and all the consequences thereof, the Lord Jesus was, and is, God's answer. But there was a secret about Him, a secret which spiritual intelligences alone could really discern, and this was that God was in Him. He was a Man, but He was far more than that; He was God. In these meditations our concern has been with what the Lord Jesus is as Son of Man, God's Man, the Heavenly Man, in whom God was, and is. That secret, that mystery hidden from the ages, hidden from men, is the greatest factor to be reckoned with.
So far as the enemy was concerned, his main objective with the Lord Jesus was to seek to get in between Him as the Man and that Divine relationship; to drive a wedge in and in some way to get Him to move on a ground apart from that inner, deepest reality of the Father. The meaning of the temptations in the wilderness is that they were an attempt to drive that wedge in between, to get Him to act apart from the Father, to move on His own human ground. The enemy knew quite well that, if only he could succeed in getting Him to do that, he would accomplish with the last Adam what he had accomplished with the first, and would have reestablished his dominion and again gained the mastery. The secret of Christ's victory was that He was so one with the Father, that in everything He was governed by the Father within, dwelling in Him. The life of the Heavenly Man, the Son of Man, again and again bids us heed the question that once came from His own lips: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" (John 14:10,11). It was on that basis that He lived His life and met the enemy, and because He remained on that basis the enemy was incapable of destroying Him.
Many times attempts were made by the Devil to destroy Him, both directly and through men, but it was impossible while He remained on that basis, and this He did right to the end, and triumphed because of that inward relationship, that upon which He was living deliberately, consciously, persistently: the Father was in Him, and He and the Father were one; He dwelt in the Father, and the Father dwelt in Him.
But - and this is one of the main points that we want the Lord to show us at this time - that was the great secret, the wonderful secret which men could not read; for He Himself said, "...no one knoweth who the Son is, save the Father..." (Luke 10:22). John, writing his epistle long years after, said, "...the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (1 John 3:1). The world knew Him not. In His own prayer recorded by John, we have these words: "O righteous Father, the world knew thee not, but I knew thee..." (John 17:25). It was on the basis of that secret relationship that there was to be a glorifying of Him. The glorifying of the Lord Jesus was bound up with that secret.
Now we want to know what the glorifying of the Son is, the glorifying of the Heavenly Man. We will again first take up the question in relation to the Heavenly Man in person, and then see how the same thing applies to the corporate Heavenly Man.
We need not be concerned for the moment with the form of the statement. It sounds a little involved and difficult, but let us take the central comprehensive statement: "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him..." It is upon the word "now" that everything hangs, and the Lord Jesus put into that little word a tremendous meaning. To what does that word relate? "When therefore he (Judas) was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is the Son of Man glorified."
The Rejected Natural Man
I confess that Judas was a problem to me for many years, but I think I am getting near the truth about him, and this passage seems to give us the clue. The problem, of course, has its occasion in the statement of the Lord Jesus that He knew whom He had chosen: "Did not I choose you the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70). He chose Judas and brought him into association with Himself, in such a way that he had all the advantages of the others and all the facilities that were theirs; all the benefits of the others were open to him. There is no trace of partiality. He has placed Judas apparently upon exactly the same footing, excluding him from nothing which was open to the rest, all deliberately, consciously, knowing what He was doing, and knowing all the time what Judas was. Then all finally heads up to this statement, "Now is the Son of man glorified..."
I do not know how best to put it, and wish I had language and wisdom to express this, that would capture your hearts as it has captured mine; for I am inwardly glorying in what is brought to us here. To begin with, this represents the full development of man under the kindness of God: "...for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). God has shown no partiality amongst men. He has made it possible for all men to enjoy His benefits. He has shown unbelieving, Godless, rebellious men great kindness. He has not discriminated. All men may know His kindness and His goodness. Man is thus represented in Judas, who in this figurative way is here set in relation to the Lord, so that what is available to those who are really the Lord's is available to him; he can come into it, it is open to him. The Lord has not shown any partiality. Yet man, living under the beneficent, merciful and gracious will, purpose, thought, and desire of God, can develop to this.
Let us seek to explain that. Man has been tried under every condition from the beginning. First of all he was tried under innocence. How did he behave? He failed. Then in his fallen state he was tried again, without law. How did he get on? He failed again. Then he was tried under law, but failed as before. Man has failed under every condition. He has been tried by God in every state and appointment, and has utterly failed. The end has always been a tragedy. No matter what attitude God takes toward man, in himself he is a failure and will work out to the most dreadful tragedy.
Look at Israel. What is the attitude of the Lord toward Israel? How marvellous is the way the Lord dealt with Israel. Look at the patience of God with Israel, the kindness of God with Israel, the ground upon which Israel was set before Him. In effect, God said: You have only to show something of faithfulness to Me and you will immediately receive blessing. Some of us have wished we could get blessing as instantly as Israel did when they were true to the Lord. They were subjects of such special care, but they failed. Their condition and treatment is figuratively set forth in the unprofitable fig tree, that bore no fruit in spite of years of care. Justice demanded that it be cut down without delay, but still further opportunity is given: "Let us dig about it and dung it this year also." Let us show kindness for another year! But it is just as big a failure. So man, tried under every condition, brought into touch with the beneficent will of God, is yet a failure.
Judas gathers up man, man to whom is open all that God has, man who is brought into touch with all the good and perfect will of God, and yet in himself the most awful failure; for this man, when he comes to his fulness, will betray his Lord, he is so hopeless. Man in himself, even though the mercies of God may go out to him, will arrive at this. This is a fearful end. "Yea, mine own familiar friend... which did eat of my bread," says the Psalmist, "hath lifted up his heel against me" (Ps. 41:9). Thus will this man do amidst the very wealth of the grace of God.
Here is Judas representing one who has been brought into touch with the Lord, and to whom all the blessings are open that are open to the rest of the Lord's own, and this is how he turns out. It is a picture of man in himself. Is it not true? The full development of old Adam, of the first Adam, in whom God does not dwell, is here shown to us. Just at the point where this man is surrounded with all the advantages, all the facilities, all the blessings, all the opportunity, all that could have been his, just at that point he goes out to betray his Lord: "...and it was night" (John 13:30). There is a world of meaning in that.
The Heavenly Man of God's Election
Instantly that man has gone out the Lord Jesus says, "Now is the Son of man glorified..." What does this mean? This is God's answer to all that. God has another Man, whose path is to be wholly different from that tragedy, that dark calamity, a Son of Man who can be glorified. God has prepared His own Man to take the place of this other man, as soon as he has reached his end: and what an evil end it is! Do you see what is signified in the end of Judas? When he goes out God brings in His Man who can be glorified.Do you see why the Lord Jesus chose Judas? Do you see why it is that, when he was gone out Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified"? There is the one who represents the Adam man and what he comes to in spite of all God's grace and mercy which is at his command. Until there is something in him other than himself, that is what he comes to. And just when that nature, that man, that race is seen in its full awfulness, its full outworking, lifting its heel in treachery against the God of all grace; just when that man reaching fulness goes out into the dark, the eternal night, God begins His new day by bringing in His new Man to take his place.
What is the secret? What kind of man will be glorified? We have seen the man who cannot be glorified, who goes out into the darkness. What kind of man is he who can be glorified? What is the principle and secret of His glorifying? It is that God is in Him. What is the glorifying of the Lord Jesus? It is the breaking forth and manifesting of the Father in Him, of that secret which makes Him other than the type represented by Judas. The hope of glory in His case, the certainty of glory, was the Father dwelling in Him. "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him..." That is a full-orbed statement about the glorifying of the Son of Man. It is remarkable that this statement should be found in the Gospel by John, in which the Lord Jesus is pre-eminently set forth as the Son of God.
The Glorifying of the Corporate Heavenly Man
Now, of course, we come to feel the benefit and the power of this, when it is transferred from the personal Heavenly Man to the corporate Heavenly Man. So the Apostle says: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (Ephes. 3:17); "...Christ in you, the hope of glory..." (Col. 1:27). We read at the beginning of the letter to the Ephesians that we are "...a habitation of God in the Spirit" (2:22). What does that mean in its value and out-working? This Body, so created and living upon that fact, is as indestructible as Christ Himself, is as certain of victory as was Christ. On the principle that Christ dwells in the heart by faith, this Body can enter into wrestling with principalities and powers, world rulers of this darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies, and come out victor on the field.
What is the secret of the glorifying of the Church, His Body, the corporate Man, and what is the nature of the glorifying? It is the same thing. It is the manifestation of the secret, the coming out from secrecy into open display of that which is true, of Christ within. During the course of this dispensation, the secret is in the Church, in the members of Christ, but "...the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (1 John 3:1). Looked at from the outside we are very little different from any other people in the world. Yet the secret is there, and this secret means that if you touch that one, or that church, you touch God. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" said the Lord, when Saul was touching His members. He is in His members. You have to reckon with Him. They are indestructible, they cannot be destroyed. We are not talking about the destroying of the body. The true Church is an indestructible entity. When Satan has done his worst, that Church will still stand triumphant, and will abide forever, when he and all his shall have been banished from the universe.
At the end of this dispensation which has held this hidden secret, there will be an unveiling of the Christ in His Church, when it appears with Him in glory, and it will be glorified on the same principle as that on which He was glorified.
The Essential Basis of the Believer's Every-day Life
Now, there is something that we have to take to our own hearts out of these inclusive factors. We have to live all the time on this basis that we have set forth, and as we do so the enemy's power is absolutely rendered nil. Our trouble is that we do not live upon this basis. We live so much upon ourselves. We live upon our own feelings, our own conditions, our own state, anything and everything that is ourselves, and because we do that we are simply played with by the Devil. When we get into our own mood, what a mess he makes of us. When we get into our own feelings, or our own thoughts, what havoc there is. Anything that is ourselves, if we get into that, and live on that, will give the enemy an opportunity to do as he likes. Whenever believers get down into themselves, on to the ground of what they are, if it is only for a moment, they begin to lose their balance, their poise, their rest, their peace, their joy, and they are tossed about of the Devil at his will. They may come to the place where they even wonder whether they are saved. Let us remember that the part of us which still belongs to the fallen creation, and will not survive, is the playground of the enemy, and it is of no use our trying to make it survive.
We have, for instance, a physical life. Within the compass of this natural, physical life as a part of the old creation, anything is possible. Mental darkness is possible. The upsetting of our nervous system can be of such a kind as to make us feel that hell rages in our very being. Anything is possible of moods, and feelings, and sensations or of utter deadness and numbness, and if we live in that realm the Devil plays havoc. He encamps upon such things at once, if we take our natural condition as the criterion. There is no hope of glory in that natural realm.
How is the enemy to be defeated, to be nullified, to be robbed of his power? On the same principle as in the life of the Lord Jesus, by our living on the Father. We must live on the indwelling Christ. Our attitude will have to be continually toward the Lord: Lord, in me Thou art other than I am; Thou art not what I am; Thou art other than this mood, than this feeling, than this absence of feeling; Thou art other than all these thoughts, other than I am! I am dead, so far as my feelings are concerned, but Thou art other than that, Thou art living! I am feeling dark, Thou art the light, and Thou art in me! This is me, this is not the Lord! If only you and I will learn steadily (it will take time, it will be progressive) to live on Christ, on what He is, on the fact that He is other than we are - not upon our experience of this, but the naked fact that He is within us - if we will steadily learn to live on that basis, by that great Divine reality, then the enemy has nothing in us. The Lord Jesus was able to say, "...the prince of the world cometh; and he hath nothing in me..." (John 14:30). What was the adversary looking for? He was looking for the Lord Jesus to be living somewhere in Himself, consulting His own feelings, leaning to His own understanding, following His own judgments, His own will. If he could have caught Him there, he would have had something in Him and disturbed the balance of His life. The Lord Jesus was able to say, "...I live because of the Father..." (John 6:57); I live by the Father, not on what I am. He could say that as a perfect, sinless being, living none the less in dependence upon the Father all the time. Of this we have His own testimony: "The Son can do nothing of himself..." (John 5:19); "...the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works" (John 14:10). He lived all the time on the basis of the Father dwelling within, and because of that the enemy had no ground whatever.
This is the lesson of life for us. For any glory within
now, or for any hope of glory in the great day of the
manifestation, the sole ground of expectation must be
Christ in us; because the glory is simply the
manifestation of the Christ within, as His glorifying was
the manifestation of the Father within.
The Church, a Mystery of a Divine Indwelling
Now concerning the corporate expression of this Heavenly Man, in the letter to the Ephesians the Apostle tells us that something is going on in the unseen, the purpose of which is stated thus: "...that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God..." I wonder what that means? I do not know altogether, but I think I can see something of what it means. I believe the unseen intelligences are watching to see how they can get an advantage. They are watching with all their cunning, their diabolical wit and wisdom and ingenuity, with all their super-human intelligence, to see how they can get an advantage, how they can make a stroke, if by any means they can get the upper hand of this baffling creation, the Church. Unto the principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God is being made known by the Church. How is this being accomplished? A clause from a verse in the first letter to Timothy will, I think, help us towards the answer. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory." A part of the mystery here spoken of is this somewhat obscure statement that He was "seen of angels". I cannot be satisfied with the thought that this just means that the heavenly angels saw Him, either when He was in the flesh, or after His resurrection. This seems to say to my heart (of course I cannot prove it, but I am comparing scripture with scripture, and taking into account that it is the Holy Spirit who has disclosed this fact and brought it to our knowledge) that these other angels, these spiritual intelligences who had watched for a chance against His life, seeking an advantage, using their cunning, saw now who He was, saw the full meaning of His being, and why they had never succeeded in compassing their design, but had been compelled to learn their impotence regarding Him. They know now, because the secret is out. This Man is other than the first Adam; He is different from the first Adam! They got their chance with the first Adam and they took it, and into that race they brought the diabolical wisdom of which the Apostle says, "This wisdom is... devilish (demoniacal)." James 3:15.
These intelligences had been waiting for an opportunity to bring in their wisdom in this other Adam, this last Adam, and they could not get it. They were beaten and defeated at every point, and now the secret is out, and they see One over whom they could gain no advantage. Why was this? Because of the Father dwelling in Him. It is to this same truth that Paul refers when He says that Christ crucified, so far from being the wisdom of this world, is the wisdom of God. His wisdom far transcends the wisdom of this world, which in its nature is demoniacal. God is still further displaying His manifold wisdom to principalities and powers through the Church, the Body of Christ, the corporate Heavenly Man. How is this being accomplished? By this mystery of Christ within, defeating their every plan, their every scheme, by the great reality of the indwelling Lord whose wisdom is so much greater than theirs.
Oh that we could live upon the great reality, the great essential, the great secret of the very being of the Church according to God's mind, that basic secret of Christ within; not upon what we are at any time, but what Christ is. If you take that position you will be in a position of wisdom that outwits all the cunning of the Devil, and outmatches all his power.
Put it to the test; for it is open to practical proof at any time. If when you are next feeling desperately bad and hopeless and full of evil in yourself, as though all that you had believed in no longer held water and everything had gone to pieces, and all the sensations are upon you that it is possible for one to have, till you could well believe that you are lost; if, when this is so, you will take the position that it is all to do with your poor, broken down creation, and that Christ in you is other than that, and by faith stand on Him, the Devil's power is destroyed, his wisdom is outwitted, and there is glory. That is the lesson we have to learn. Christ in you, and in the Church as the habitation of God through the Spirit, is the symbol of glory, of victory, of power and wisdom. Blessed be God, there are seasons when this reaches out to our feelings and we enjoy the realisation that the Lord is in us, but it is not always so. An attack of indigestion can have the strangest effect upon our spiritual life, so far as our consciousness is concerned. The slightest little thing can come along and change the whole situation if we allow ourselves to go out into things. What things the enemy puts up, to draw us out into them! He is busy setting traps everywhere, contriving situations all round us, always ready with something to upset us. How cleverly arranged it is, just at the time when we are least wanting to be upset. Go home from a time with the Lord amongst His people, feeling gloriously uplifted, and probably when you get across the doorstep there is something waiting for you!
How are you going to outwit the Devil, out-maneuver him, defeat him? By not going out into things. It is not easy; but not to go out into things, not to be drawn into the realm of the old creation so as to become involved in it, but to stand upon the ground that the adversary has to meet the perfection of Christ, is the sure way of his defeat, though we may have to bear with the difficult situation, and endure the pain and pang of it for quite a considerable time. But our position is that Christ is more than that, Christ in us is stronger than that, and falling back upon faith within, reaching out to Christ within as equal to this situation, we must repudiate it. David comes to our rescue so much in this realm. You will remember that on one occasion he was saying all sorts of depressing, hopeless things because the situation looked so utterly impossible; and then he recollected himself and said, "This is my infirmity; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High" (Ps. 76:10). Today I have blue spectacles on! This is my way of viewing things! This is how things affect me! This is me, it is not the Lord! Let us attribute things to their right quarter, and give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.
I am certain that here is the key to everything; the key to everything is Christ in you, Christ in me, Christ in His Body, and that to be lived upon by faith. It is the key to the superior wisdom, to outwit and outmatch the enemy. He will be defeated if we live on Christ and refuse to live on our own ground. The Lord make it clear to us.