CONSOLATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE
By Samuel Rutherford
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Our tender, loving, and gracious Lord well knew what feeble ones He had to deal with. He knew from painful experience what tribulation was, for He was a “Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief,” reproached and despised by the very rabble, set at nought by the rulers, and put to the most shameful and painful death that malice then knew. He, therefore, tells His disciples, in the most gentle manner, what they must expect. But He prefaces it with consolation – “In Me ye might have peace.”
Were we not of the earth earthy, we should not want anything besides the first declaration to keep the mind stayed and calm under the most severe trials; and, when trials are at a distance, we are ready to think this is alone sufficient. But our dear Captain well knew how much we should want to keep our head above water when the enemy comes in like a flood, therefore He kindly provides all necessary consolation.
Our kind and tender Redeemer held a long discourse with His poor, disconsolate disciples just before He was betrayed into the hands of sinners, the scope of which seems to be to establish their minds in the belief of His Godhead (or equality and oneness with the Father), as is explained by the context. He well knew the accursed death He was about to die would shake their confidence, and that, when His body was entombed, they would be ready to think all was over, as is plain some of them did, notwithstanding all His instructions. “But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel;” and, when they heard of His resurrection, instead of receiving the tidings with glad expectation, they could scarcely credit what they heard, but were astonished at the report the women gave of not finding His body, etc., as you may read in Luke 24:21, and the following verses. But, though they did not understand His doctrine until He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scripture, then the belief of this glorious mystery greatly strengthened them for future trials. In Him, as the incarnate God, they then had peace.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Jesus is emphatically styled “our peace” in Ephesians 2:14,15: “For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace.” Faith, appropriating faith, brings that peace into the conscience that all the tumults of the world cannot disturb when it is in lively exercise; but, if it is at a low ebb, and billow after billow rise, fear sometimes makes headway against the soul, and the child of God finds it hard work to hold up his head with any degree of cheerfulness. But we must remember that we are in an enemy’s country, and, therefore, must expect molestation.
“In the world ye shall have tribulation.” Our Captain met with as much tribulation from the world as any private soldier – yea, as much as all put together ever met with, for “in all their afflictions He was afflicted;” and the cruel treatment any of His members now meet with touches Him. This appears plain from Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
I do not think this refers merely to those who nailed Him to the cross literally, and thrust the spear into His side, but to those who have pieced or wounded the members of His mystical body. There is not a scoff, a jeer, or a reproach, that is thrown at a member of His, but Jesus feels it as the Head. He looks with pity and tenderness upon His suffering family, and will cause every trial to work for good. If tribulation were not better, infinitely better, than ease, our gracious God would not suffer us to be exercised therewith.
When our first parents sinned, and exposed themselves and all their posterity to the everlasting wrath and fiery indignation of a holy God, though our most merciful and gracious God found a Ransom, that a certain number should be delivered from going down into the pit, yet He thus declares, “I will put enmity… between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This has ever been the case since the fall of Adam.
To multiply Scripture proofs would be endless and altogether needless, as no attentive reader of the Scriptures can be ignorant that this has ever been the case. This is a cross every renewed soul must carry. “If any man will be My disciple, let him take up his cross and follow Me.” Shall mortal man complain at this? “We are by nature children of wrath, even as others.” We can give no reason why the Lord set His love upon us more than others; and if we suffer from the fall only in this life, shall we complain? Do not our daily offences call for the rod of affliction? And if our Father only deals with us as a wise and tender parent, shall we complain? Did we not once feel enmity in our hearts against God and the ways of God? And is this slain, and love put in its place? Oh, what reason have we to be thankful that we were not left in the ruins of the fall to be persecutors, instead of being persecuted! Seeing it is declared with a yea that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” and in the text under consideration, that “in the world ye shall have tribulation,” it is but striving against the immutable decrees of God to strive to avoid it.
We should indeed be careful that we give our adversaries no just occasion to speak reproachfully, for if we take this patiently, it is but reasonable, as we are then only buffeted for our faults, and can by no means repair the injury we do to the cause of truth. But if we be wrongfully reproached, we may rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, and the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon us (I Peter 4:14). We have not only the promise of peace in Christ to bear up our minds under the tribulations of the way, but we have also an assurance that our enemies are already conquered: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Though a troop may for a little season overcome us, yet we shall at last overcome through the Captain of our salvation – yea and be more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Victory! Victory!
Old Sampford, April 13th, 1819