Archive for March, 2008


(Mark 5:21-43)

One of the difficulties which we meet in our Christian life, a difficulty which threatens sometimes to become a perplexity, is the so-called conflict of duties. When at the same moment different duties or different calls meet us, we cannot at once discern what God means, or discriminate as to what is most urgent–what must be done first and what can wait to be done later. Insofar as we have any choice of our own, preferring to go here rather than to go there–to have one service rather than another–we are not sanctified ones unto God, at His disposal for Him to use our moments and choose between duties and calls. As long as our wishes and our heart’s desires are not resting on the heart of the Father, even for our dearest ones, we are sure to go astray by going rather to help the one who is nearest to our heart than to help another–someone for whom the Lord would have our time and our help just now through ministering, it may be, in money or in counsel.

As long as we do not realize and carry out the attitude of consecrated ones, who cannot, and will no more, dispose of their life power, just so long God cannot lead us. Our will must be His even about our own children; we cannot save them, and sometimes we wrong them by helping them before the time. Many children have been wronged by their parents because they unwisely gave help in a certain period in the life of the child when he needed to be alone in order, perhaps, to profit by painful experience. To help another before the time is to anticipate God’s time, and everything is a failure. One distinctive feature of the consecrated one is that he can afford to leave his dearest ones in the hand of God.

At one point in the life of the Lord, there was a most solemn conflict of duties. He was by the sea, with a great multitude gathered around Him. Among this multitude was a ruler of the synagogue, a man of position among the Jews, named Jairus, who fell at His feet in deep anxiety of heart. He was in such perplexity because his own child was dying; he had to have help from the Master, the only One in the world who could help. He pled with Him, “My daughter is at the point of death; I pray Thee to come and lay Thy hands on her that she may be made whole and live.” Jesus went with the man, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him.

Now comes this word. There was in the region a dear woman who had suffered for twelve years from an issue of blood. She had done what she could–she had suffered many things from many physicians and had spent all her money–but “was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” This woman heard of that Man called Jesus, concerning whom strange things were reported.

The woman in her distress–not being able to get any help but rather growing worse–heard the strange things about Jesus’ healing, helping, and saving everyone, scattering help and salvation and health and hope and whatever was needed, and she took it to heart. It was not for her a mere sermon such as is customarily heard about the Bible; it touched her life. She was going down to the grave, growing worse and worse, but she took courage when she heard these things; and she came.

Picture the situation, please. He was thronged; it was not easy for a weak, feeble, sick woman to get into His presence, but she succeeded. The Heavenly Father had met her already when Jesus, only after the Life-power had gone out of Him, became conscious that someone had touched Him in a peculiar way. He knew not who it was, but as the Sanctified One, the Son in touch with His Father’s heart, He knew one thing–He knew that something had gone forth and that something had been done by the Father which must not be half done; He knew that He could not let this woman go. It was cruel, humanly speaking, to call her back before the whole town, after she had been secretly healed by faith. And furthermore, Jesus knew the gravity of the situation: here was the trembling father whose daughter was at the very point of death.

Jesus left this poor father, with a child in a dying condition, and dealt with a woman. People might have asked how Jesus could have been so hard. He could have dealt with that woman at another time; let Him go first to the most urgent case–to the father who pleads.

Our Saviour was the Sanctified One. Even before coming into the world, He had been sanctified by the Father–set aside, chosen from eternity–for the special work given Him to do; and even before He came to earth, He sanctified Himself to the Father, saying, “Father, here I am; send Me, and I will go down and become the Brother of the lowest ones to save them.”

The Sanctified One, the Man who exists for God and only for God, was led by God. I can always see in spirit my dear, holy, blessed Saviour looking up to His Father for direction in such circumstances. He was the Man of whom Isaiah speaks in his prophecy: “The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of them that are being taught”–not the tongue of a teacher but (the original language means) the tongue of a disciple–“that I may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” My God “wakeneth My ear to hear as a disciple”–as One who is being taught, listening to His Word, and does not go on through the day by His own program and His own wisdom, as He thinks best, but lives by God’s program the whole day, from morning until evening. He never said His own words; what He taught, He taught not from Himself but as He was led by the Father. It was thus that He lived on earth among people who were as sheep going astray, each one making the best of his time for his family and others. But He could afford to be understood by no one; in fact, He had to go up to the Cross contrary to the desires of the whole company of the apostles–they were all opposed to His taking the pathway of suffering.

The moment we no longer have a will of our own and desire only to do the will of our Father, we will be His seed, bearing His character; we will be His people, living for Him, His seed springing up; a people of whose time and money God is able to dispose, and a people, it may be, understood by no one.

On earth Jesus could not do two things at the same time; He could not at the same time deal with that woman and be in the house of Jairus. Today it is all changed; it is as if each one of us were the only one in the universe to be helped by Him. Every time one of us truly cries out from his heart to the Lord, it will be as if He had nothing to do except help him, as if He were in the world only for him, and as if He were forgetting Jairus and everything else just because he came to Him; take this in!

The woman hesitated at first to come. The disciples said, “The multitude thronged Thee.” Thronged, and yet only one touch of faith! But this woman, out of all the throng, had got a portion–half her portion–and she was to have the whole portion, as the Father said to His Son. She must confess; she must stand forth! Poor woman, we would have said. But she had to stand forth and give glory to God in order that the Lord Jesus might put His seal upon this healing. At last she came; she could not help it–she had to come to receive the seal of her healing. The plague might have come back afterward, but it is another thing when one stands forth and gives God the glory. Blushing and trembling, knowing what had been done for her, she came, fell down before Him, told Him all, and gave Him glory; and He was thus enabled to put the Divine seal upon His Father’s work: “Thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” That is the secret–not only healed but made whole.

Each one has his own trial. The woman had her trial until she could touch Him. Jairus had to go through the deep trial occasioned by this woman’s interruption. Never get angry with anyone who cries for help for himself. The Lord hears the cry of the one and hears the cry of the other, and there is time for help for each one in His time.
Indeed, “while He yet spake,” the deputation from the synagogue ruler’s house came, “saying, Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Teacher any further?” Such are not easy moments, friends. Some of us–perhaps myself–might have asked, “Father, was I mistaken, now that she has died?” “Was I mistaken to give all this time to the woman instead of coming back afterward from Jairus’ house to seek her out?” “But Jesus”–not noting and not moved by the word spoken by the deputation, because through His Father’s command He had given His time and heart to the woman–“saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Fear not; only believe.”

That is the attitude and the majesty of a sanctified one, led by his Father in the directions and into situations which at the moment nobody can understand but which–when really the work of God–will afterward, in due time, be owned, by all that have correct knowledge of the situation, as the only true thing that could be done at the time. That is the glory of a purchased one–purchased and saved from the power of human opinion. In this situation with the woman and Jairus, Jesus was not only thronged in a bodily way, but had He not been standing before God alone, He would have been pressed in spirit by the thought: What will the people say if the daughter dies and I keep the poor father waiting?

Leave it with God to justify you before the universe in His own time, at the coming of our Saviour, when He will manifest the secrets of hearts and the reasons and circumstances by which you have been acting in human life. Only in this way could Jesus Christ live a life in which no minute was wasted nor applied in a false direction, a life in which those with eyes to see could see God in everything. “He who sees Me, sees the Father,” He said Himself. He acted not by Himself, but by the Father’s direction.

And that is our heritage: to have been purchased not to act by the pressure of human opinion, human love, or human ideas of duty–even of our dearest ones–the moment the Father gives contrary directions; to show that we are really standing before God and that nothing–not even the dying daughter–can throw us out of line of the direction of the Spirit of God and of being led and guided by the Father’s eyes.

Moments such as this moment in which Jesus found Himself with Jairus on one side and the woman on the other come into the life of every Christian. That is what I mean by conflict of duties: inability to do two things at the same moment. How much such moments can become to us! At these times, let us trust the heart of the Father in Heaven, who lifts the current of the clouds and storm, who sends the sunshine and rain; who, while one would have sunshine and another, rain–one person needing one thing and another, some other thing–sends what is needed for each one in His own time.

Learn to look to your Heavenly Father when you do not know what to do, and do not obey the impulse of your own heart; you might wrong yourself and those whom you run to help. We must be able to go through moments in which we are forbidden to help others until the situation ripens and it is His hour to come in; we would have spoiled the situation if we had tried to help before the time. Others must first go through certain inward experiences in order that God may find them out and in order that the trial through which they go may bring forth fruit in their lives; then He uses you or me or another–no matter whom. But He needs people who understand their God, who can wait, and who can go away from everyone at His bidding. He needs people who are sanctified unto Himself, at His disposal, whose eyes and ears and mind are turned toward Him–people who are learning from Him Divine wisdom, even through the conflicts of human life, and learning by the very conflicts to go deeper into eternal silence and into the rest of soul which believes in God’s love even when things seem hard.