What an astonishing thing that we can know Jesus! And yet nothing
is more clearly taught in Scripture or more joyously testified to in
experience by godly people than this fact.
This is an age of specialists, when men devote their lives to the
pursuit of special departments of knowledge. One learned professor
will give fourteen hours a day for forty years to the study of
fishes, another to the study of birds, another to that of bugs, and
yet another to that of old bones. Another, more ambitious, devotes
his life to the study of history, the rise and fall of nations, and
yet another to astronomy, the origin and history of worlds. But to
know Jesus Christ is infinitely better than to know all that has
been learned or dreamed of by these professors, for He it was that
'made the worlds,' and 'without Him was not any thing made that was
made' (John i. 3).
Personally, I am inclined to think that to know Edison would be
worth more than knowing one or all of his works, and so to know
Jesus Christ is the first and best of all knowledge. Amen!
The knowledge of the naturalist, the astronomer, the historian, may
be of passing value, but in due time it will be antedated and fail.
But the knowledge of Jesus Christ is of infinite value, and will
never pass away. It is profitable for this world, and for that which
is to come, and only by it does a man come to the knowledge of
himself; without which it would be better never to have been born.
I. In this knowledge of Jesus is hidden the germ of all knowledge,
for Paul tells us that in Him 'are hid all the treasures of wisdom
and knowledge' (Col. ii. 3). Am I eager for learning and knowledge?
Let me then constantly seek to know Him, and in due time, in this
world or in the next, I shall know all that is of value for me to
II. In this knowledge lies true culture of both head and heart;
especially of the heart. In the words of one of the greatest living
Christian philosophers, 'it enlarges the individual life with
universal ideas, lifts time into the stream of an eternal purpose,
and fills it with eternal issues; and makes the simplest moral act
great as a real factor in the evolution of a higher order and an
immortal character.' It makes a man patient with the ignorant and
erring and wayward, courteous to his equals and superiors, kindly
and generous to his inferiors, gentle and considerate in his own
home, and to the woman who is now his wife -- as he was to her when
she was his sweetheart. It makes him loving and forbearing with
children, thoughtful and tender with the aged -- in fact, the
knowledge of Jesus (not simply scraps of knowledge about Jesus)
makes the possessor in his measure like Jesus. Glory to God!
The essence of this knowledge is love. John says, 'Every one that
loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth
not God; for God is love' (I John iv. 7-8). This love is a heavenly
thing. The sinner, farthest away -- from God -- loves his own, loves
those who love him and do him good. But this love is that which
pours itself out upon strangers, upon enemies, and upon those that
despitefully use us and say all manner of evil against us. Thus we
come to see that to know Jesus, we must be like Jesus, must have an
affinity with Him, must be transformed into His image. In other
words, we must be born again and sanctified by His indwelling
Judas lived with Jesus in the intimacy of a disciple for three
years, but if he ever knew Jesus he must have lost that knowledge
before he could have gone out to betray Him with a kiss. So we may
profess the knowledge of Jesus, but when by wicked tempers and
unholy conduct, and deceitful and sinful character, we manifest a
spirit contrary to His, we give the lie to our profession. In so far
as we are unlike Him, to that extent we are ignorant of Him.
How then shall we come to the knowledge of Jesus?
I. We must utterly and for ever renounce sin, and seek forgiveness
for past bad conduct trusting in the merits of His atonement for
acceptance with God, singing from our hearts, 'Oh, the Blood, the
Blood, is all my plea.' When we do this, we shall come into an
initial knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
II. But we must not only renounce our sins; we must also renounce
self. In an all-night of prayer, several years ago, I looked at the
great audience and queried of the Lord in my heart, 'How can all
these people get to Heaven?' and in the depths of my soul sounded
back the words, 'He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.'
And I saw how men get to Heaven, and how they gain the knowledge of
Jesus. He gave Himself for us, and we must give ourselves for Him,
and trust and obey, and wait expectantly until He comes to our
hearts and reveals Himself to our wondering souls; for we only know
Him as He reveals Himself to us, and this will He do when we seek
Him with all the heart. He surely will.
Paul said, 'But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss
for Christ' (Phil. iii. 7), by which he referred to his lineage from
Abraham, his exact fulfillment of the law, and his zeal for his
church and adds, 'Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I
have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung,
that I may win Christ, and be found in Him . . that I may know Him .
. ' (Phil. iii. 8-10).
People who seek this knowledge without this sacrifice of self may
flatter themselves that they know Him, but when the testing time
comes, the hours of loneliness and loss, and sickness and pain, and
disappointment and perplexity, and thwarted hopes and desolation,
they will find their sad mistake. The fire will reveal their dross
and sin. But to those who make and abide in this sacrifice, and,
fighting the good fight of faith, steadfastly and joyously believe,
furnace fires and lions' dens and dungeon cells but disclose more
fully the loveliness of His face, the certainty of His presence, the
unfailing strength and comforts of His love.
III. This knowledge, to be maintained, must be cultivated, which is
done by communion with Him. It is possible for a husband and wife to
live together for many years, and instead of increasing, except in
the most superficial way, in the knowledge of each other, to grow
apart, until after many years they are heart strangers to each
other, with separate interests, conflicting desires and tempers and
alien affinities. To really know each other they must be bound
together by stronger ties than mere legal forms; they must commune
with each other, live in each other's hearts, enter into each
other's joys, and share each other's sorrows, counsel each other in
perplexity, seek the same ends and cultivate the same spirit.
And so to know Jesus, there must be sympathy, fellowship,
friendship, constantly cultivated. The heart must turn to Him, pour
itself out before Him, share its hopes, its joys, its fears with
Him, draw its consolations, its strength, its courage, its
sufficiency, its life from Him, trust and obey Him and delight
itself in Him as its everlasting portion.
Secret prayer must often bring the soul face to face with Him, and
the Bible, God's record of Him, must be daily, diligently and
lovingly searched, and faithfully applied to the daily life. Thus
shall we know Him, and be 'changed into the same image from glory to
glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord' (2 Cor. iii. 18), and
people shall see and feel Christ in us, 'the hope of glory.'
O Jesus, Saviour, how I bless Thee that Thou didst seek me when lost
and far from Thee and altogether unlike Thee, and didst woo me, and
win me, and lead me to Thyself; and reveal Thyself to me, and make
me to know Thee, and ravish my heart, and humble my pride with the
joy and love and glory that that best of all knowledge brings! Still
reveal Thyself; O Lord, to Thy people, that they may know Thee, and
glorify Thee and be satisfied with Thy loving-kindness, and fill the
earth with Thy fame!