"And He led them as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God" (Luke 24:50-53). Something else is reported in the first chapter in the book of Acts in connection with the Return of our blessed Lord to the Father. "And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:10-11) This blessed message must have been the reason why they returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
Instead of tears and sorrow at that parting there was joy, because they knew and believed that He who had said "I will come again and receive you unto myself," this same Jesus would come for them. What a blessed truth it is that the same Jesus, the same Lord who walked on earth, who spoke such words of infinite love and tenderness, who wept, healed the sick, raised the dead and commanded the demons, who calmed the storm, who had gone to the cross to die that awful death in our stead—that this same Jesus, raised from the dead, is now in the presence of God for us and our Advocate with the Father. It is the same loving, tender, caring, mighty Lord and Saviour, who is there and this same Jesus, not another, will come again.
The reality of this filled the disciples with joy. They knew He had left them, they knew He lived and that He would come again. This knowledge gave them power to witness and to walk in holiness. The reality of this fills still the believing heart with joy and leads as well as keeps, in the blessed faith life of fellowship with Himself, into which we have been called by the Grace of God. The heart of the believer under the control of the Holy Spirit has but one desire. It is to know Him and know Him better. Other desires for blessings may come up, but that life which is in the believer ever reaches out after Himself who is our life. "That I may know Him" was the passion of that wonderful man, who knew Him so well (Phil. 3:10). And it is just heart knowledge of this same Jesus in His loveliness, His patience, His power, His glory, in all His blessed fullness, which we need the most, and through this all other needs are met.
Look up then in faith, child of God, He who is altogether lovely, whose perfect ways of love and grace, were so blessedly made known in His life down here, this same Jesus, with all the tenderness of infinite love, the love that never grows cold, is with the Father. Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, to-day and forever.
The disciples heard Him pray His great prayer before He went to the cross (John 17). As they listened to His words addressed to the Father, they learned as never before, how dear they all were to Him. How He loved them, cared for them, what He had done for them, would continue to do and what their future would be. And whenever we read these words in His high priestly prayer, we can hear Him still pray. We know that love for us cannot change; that prayer to keep does not fail; that concern, so deep and gracious, in all who belong to Him is unchanged, for it is "this same Jesus," who intercedes for us, whose loving eyes watch our going in and our going out, our walk down here.
Oh! for the reality of this! This same blessed Lord is with us, for us, above us. We can count on His unchanging love. We can count on His power. The reality of the Person of our exalted Lord keeps us down here. Oh, draw near, beloved reader, for it is your privilege, your calling, to know Him and to enjoy Him. His heart is never satisfied unless you drink deep of His love and you lie in blessed dependence at His feet. Have you failed Him? Are days, weeks, perhaps months of wandering your past, days in which you grieved Him? Return, oh return! it is "this same Jesus" who at the lake of Tiberias so tenderly restored Peter and who waits for thy return.
And "this same Jesus" comes again. If the joy was so great when He left, because the heavenly messengers gave the good news that this same Jesus is coming again, what will be the joy when he does come! He comes as Saviour, which is the meaning of His blessed name. "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body" (Phil. 3:20-21).
The glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, will some day take place. And when He comes into the air and gives the shout, He will be "this same Jesus." When we are caught up in clouds to meet Him in the air we shall meet Him, the same blessed Person, who walked on this earth, who died on the cross, who in His unchanging love kept and carried us and called us home. We shall see Him as He is. He comes, this same Jesus, to take us to be with Him. What will be His joy then when all His blood-washed, redeemed people are at last with Him! Then this same Jesus who bore our sins in His own body on the tree will bestow upon us His glory, the glory the Father has given Him.
Reader! Is it even now before you such a living reality, this same Jesus—is coming again; coming to take us all into the Father's house with its many mansions, to the place whose portals were opened with His own blood! And how soon it may be that we shall see Him and be with Him!
If an angelic message were brought to-day to all Christians, we said recently in a meeting, and that message would state in terms unmistakably, one week more and the Lord Jesus Christ comes, one week more and we shall see Him; what would be the result? We can imagine the eagerness with which all would begin to serve and reach out after the unsaved; what self-denials and boldness we would behold! How all the earthly things, the childish things, the playthings of the dust, would lose their attractiveness. Then heaven's glory would break upon us. But such a message is not promised to us. It is nowhere said that it will take place. No angel will come to announce the time when "this same Jesus" comes to call us home. The fact is God has told us in His Word, that His ever blessed Son will come and that He will come suddenly. He may come to-day. He may call us home before another morning comes. And if we believe it we shall walk in expectation and in separation. The Lord graciously revive the blessed Hope in our hearts and through it make us holy in our lives, zealous for the Gospel, untiring in service and loving towards all the Saints.
From The Lord of Glory... by A. C. Gaebelein. New York: Publication Office "Our Hope", ©1910.
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