BY JAYESS PEARSON
First off, he wasn’t much to look at: black, bald-headed, of indeterminate build, and he had also lost his two upper front teeth somewhere along the way. And then, he was called on to preach to an all-white congregation in the Deep South before several name-brand, United Pentecostal ministers. Not an imposing figure to begin with, he was now thrust into inauspicious circumstances, of which no one could envy him.
So, did he wilt and wither? Oh, no. He took for a text the familiar passage of Matthew 28:18-20 and proceeded to preach a powerful, anointed message, the topic of which was picked up and used all across North America as the theme for many Deeper Life Conferences: “The Power Behind Us Is Greater Than the Task Before Us.” Simple, yes, but profoundly so. Especially in light of our Lord’s promise of His presence and constant availability “even to the end of the world ”
Those who would ration our Lord’s availability to His church, His people, are way off base. To suggest that only a select, inner circle, an elite, can qualify for Ms power and attention is not only false but sounds exactly like something Satan would want to plant in every heart and mind possible. Anything to keep the church from realizing its full and God-ordained potential. This has to be Satan’s #1 priority. He wants to cause us to believe that we must somehow ‘earn’ access to God’s presence and grace.
Nothing could be further from the truth. All Scripture consistently says otherwise. “Not of works, lest any man should boast,” is only one example, of many which could be given.
Mercy was confined behind the veil only under the Old Testament set-up. Imagine her desire to go to a lost world that needed her. But no. If any, outside of Israel, wished to avail themselves of Mercy, they had to come, be a proselyte to Judaism, and join the multitude whose sins were rolled ahead yearly when the high priest went behind the veil into the Holiest of All to offer the prescribed ritual of sacrifice. Mercy available, yes, but strictly limited.
Get the picture: The Holiest of All was a place to which only one person, the high priest, once each year, under threat of death and only after strict adherence to the prescribed ritual and ceremony, could come to procure just enough mercy in order to roll the sins of the people ahead for another year. Mercy rationed; Mercy confined. No way out of her prison.
Father Abraham re-enforced the narrow availability of Mercy under the law when he told the rich man, in so many words, that his brothers had both all they needed for salvation and all they were ever going to receive, by having Moses and the prophets available to them. Only through the narrow constraints of the Old Testament law, with its
ritual of sacrifices, was Mercy available.
However, God’s ultimate desire and plan was for Mercy to be freely available to all, at all times. Hosea, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, said it first and best, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”
[We still yet have not obeyed the first “Go Ye” of Jesus: “…go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice: (Why, Lord?) for I am not come to call the righteous. but sinners to repentance.”
Like the astute, aggressive salesman He is, He’s “looking for new business,” for which only Mercy can come into play and suffice. ‘Men too, this first “Go Ye” must be obeyed before the last “Go Ye” of Matthew 28:19 will be.]
Mercy’s stirrings behind the veil began for sure when Jesus was brought to the Temple the eighth day and she heard old Simeon say, with the babe in his arms, while blessing God, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Mercy rushes to the veil, only to finally go back and be seated on the Mercy seat in lonely contemplation of her plight.
Again, at twelve years of age, He comes and Mercy hears His tender, adolescent voice say to Mary, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? ” Mercy could have said, “My whose business?” and, “What is there about that voice that sets me tingling? Is that Him?” She runs her hand along the veil, but can only return to the confinement of the Mercy seat.
Years pass until one day she hears His strong, masculine voice thunder, after cleansing the Temple, “My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Mercy could have responded, “Whose house?” and, “I believe that’s Him! I’d know that voice anywhere!” She flits once again along the veil, only to return to her lonely place of solitude on the Mercy seat.
Still more time passes and now she hears the tumult of the jeering, mocking crowd, the grunts of the Roman soldier as he lashes that innocent, unresisting back-thus securing healing for all God’s people-followed by the pronouncement of the sentence of death by Pilate.
Finally, as the whole creation groans and travails in pain from the events of that fateful day, there comes wafting in to her on the supercharged molecules of the air, the words of His agonized cry, “It is finished!” She could have said, “That’s Him again and He’s in distress! Whenever can I go to Him whom I love?”
She rushes to the veil, just in time, as that massive, tightly-woven fabric which two yoke of oxen struggling against each other could not begin to tear-is rent in twain from top to bottom.
Escape from confinement! Now; out through the inner court, out through the outer court, she picks up the trail of bloodstains in Pilate’s judgment hall, follows them in darkness through the narrow, quake-smitten streets of Jerusalem, from one drop of blood to another, like a bloodhound searching for its prey, the sound of rending rocks echoing in the background. She rushes past many resurrected saints, just beginning to converge on the holy city, follows the blood-marked trail on up the hill of Golgotha until her head comes against the foot of that old, rugged cross and there the Scripture is fulfilled; “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
Mercy unrestrained! Mercy and pardon, full and free, to a world that needed it so desperately! The Sin Question answered! No more the weight and guilt of unremitted sins hanging over our heads, but cast now into the sea of God’s forgetfulness-therefore [as a result of the rending of the veil and the liberation of Mercy] come boldly unto the
throne of grace, that we may obtain merry, and find grace to help in time of need.” Ever available, totally unrestricted mercy and grace; that unmerited, unearned favor of God!
Do we dare try to re-confine Mercy? Do we dare say that only certain, select individuals can have access to His holy presence? Or that He will only make Himself available to us if we are super-careful and super-attentive to every little nuance of the moving of His Spirit? Oh, no!
After His last letter to the seven churches was completed in Revelation chapter three, He carefully let us know, in a separate statement to whoever would receive it, that for the remainder of the church age He would be standing, knocking calling, at the door of every heart. The French Bible uses a reflexive verb here, which we don’t have in
English, thus making it literally, “Behold I stand [I hold myself-, I position myself] at the door.”
Notice, particularly, that it is something He has done on His own, not anything we could ever cause Him to do, unless it were His desire. But it is! That’s the whole point! He has positioned Himself at the door of every believer’s heart, thus making Himself constantly available to His people. If we do not heed His call, He’s still there. If we allow other things to intrude and interfere, He doesn’t leave; He’s still there.
The only limitations are those we set for ourselves-not listening, not hearing, not opening the door. For His part, He has positioned Himself there, and I fail to find any place in Scripture where it states He has changed His stance in the least.
It is not like the Song of Solomon, where the beloved (the bridegroom) came, put in his hand by the hole of the door, and then withdrew because the fairest among women (the bride) was slow and slothful in her response and she was left to seek him wherever.
Not in the New Testament church, my friend! He, the great God of glory, has positioned Himself where He is constantly and continuously available to His people. Ignore Him-as we all have done – but He’s still there. Do whatever, but He will not remove Himself from where He has positioned Himself.
And finally, wonder of all wonders, when the door is opened and He is allowed entrance, He promises that the communion will be a two-way exchange. (‘I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”)
This is beyond my comprehension. I know I need to receive so much from Hun. I also know there is nothing I have to impart to Him that will add one iota to Ms stature as the God of all eternity Yet He says the communion will be two-way. Why.
The only answer I can come up with is: Just because He wants it to be thus! He, the God of all eternity. wants it that way. So, we’ll have it His way and be ever so thankful for the marvelous opportunity to come into His presence and have that wonderful, glorious exchange of fellowship and communion with Him, while obtaining mercy.
“And, lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world. ” To which scripture Brother Matt Holland, a pioneer preacher now deceased, would invariably respond, “That’s long enough for me.” (Me, too.)
How sweet it is! The Constantly Available Christ.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY LOUISIANA CHALLENGER, MAY 1995, PAGES 2,10. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.