1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

The Sheepfold

The place where the sheep are collected and defended -- principally required at night. Paul says: "The night is far spent: the day is at hand." We are at no loss to recognise the night. It is now, while darkness prevails over all the earth in consequence of the hiding of the face of God (the glorious sun of the universe). During such a time, a fold for the sheep is necessary. If none had been provided, the sheep must have remained squandered and exposed to depredation and death.

Literally speaking, if God had made no arrangement for the spiritual development and nurture of men and women, barbarism must have prevailed for ever, as in the dark places of the African earth at the present day. The provision of sons and daughters must have remained an impossibility. But He has not left the earth in so hapless a state, His purpose being to fill the earth with His glory, in the sense of ultimately populating it with a race which should ascribe to Him the glory of His own works. He arranged for their development in the due measure required by that purpose at various times.

This arrangement, taking different forms at different times, according as His wisdom saw fit, took, in the days of Christ, the form of creating a community -- founding an ecclesia -- establishing a fold. This community by another figure is considered as a house or temple -- "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets; Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." By another figure, it is spoken of as a body of which Christ is the head. "There is one body," says Paul, "composed of many members."

Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.

The appearances, then, of the Messenger of the Covenant to the nation, are preceded by messengers sent by Yahweh to Israel-messengers, individually two, but officially and spiritually one.

The power and spirit of Elijah, viz., one spirit and power through whomsoever manifested, the operation of which in regard to Israel, prepares them for the appearance of the Messenger of the Covenant in their midst. This one spirit power is exhibited in the history of Elijah.

On comparing it with John's, their identity evidently consisted in both being possessed of the same spirit of prophecy and a like authority in Israel, which appears to have been "the power" referred to by the angel. The word of the Lord came to them both while sojourning by the Jordan, and thence their influence was felt among all ranks and classes of the nation. But "John did no miracle;" (Jhn x. 41) Elijah performed many of great magnitude: John's identity in power with Elijah was therefore not wonder-working.

"He that loseth his life shall find it." 

"Some other way."

The flesh always wants to do it "some other way" -- some way that pleases us. This is the whole basis and significance of the temptation of Christ: "Some other way."

There is only one way -- GOD'S Way: and we have to keep relentlessly bringing ourselves back to it. "Some other way" sums up the whole lesson of the chapter -- the whole story of salvation.

It is all comprised in the climactic, joyful agony of the Garden of Gethsemane --

"Not my will, but Thine, be done."

"He that loseth his life shall find it."

"A thief and a robber."

A thief is that which is devious and deceptive -- anything not perfectly honest and pure and in harmony with Truth --

"Thou desireth Truth in the inward parts."

A robber is that which is violent and aggressive -- anything that seeks its ends by force and pressure and self-assertion. These are the two basic ways of the flesh.

"He that entereth in by the Door is the Shepherd of the sheep."

This parable has a wide range of application. We see this by the fact that Jesus says (v. 7). "I am the Door," and in verse 11, "I am the Shepherd."

He is both. He is also the Sheep. He is everything. This is the first great lesson: HE IS EVERYTHING.

This is the ideal and conception to which we must gradually, painfully, stumblingly, but steadily shape our lives, so that we may, more and more peacefully, and truthfully, and understandingly, say with Paul --

"To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Until we have reached this point, we have not found peace. We are not, in the fullest sense, in the fold and of the sheep. We have not in the fullest sense, brought ourselves into a true, intimate, and saving relationship to the Good Shepherd --

"To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Bro Growcott - The shepherd of the sheep

3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

The Porter

If we are justified in giving a specific application to this, we might fix on Moses as the porter in the first degree, and John the Baptist in the second degree. Both acted in the porter capacity to Christ.

As regards Moses, this may not be apparent on the first suggestion, but it will be found to be true. First, Jesus says, "He (Moses) wrote of me." Paul says, "Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after, but Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we" (Heb. iii. 5). And again, "The law was our schoolmaster unto Christ" (Gal. iii. 24). Again, "To him gave all the prophets witness" (Acts x. 43), and again, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. x. 4).

Thus Moses, in whom the Jewish leaders made their boast, -- the great pioneer of the (shortly-to-be-finished) work of God with Israel, was the great opener of the way for Christ, whom they rejected. Moses expressly told Israel (Deut. xviii, 18) that God would raise them up such an one to whom they would listen (which they had not done to Moses); and in all the laws and institutions delivered by his hand there was a shadowing of the glorious realities connected with this greater "prophet like unto Moses."

In the case of John the Baptist, the analogy to the porter is still more obvious. He stood at the very threshold of the work of Christ, calling direct attention to him, and introducing him to all in Israel who feared God. He was sent to "prepare his way." "He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light" (Jno. i. 8), and, having done his work, he announced: "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease."

He declared to them: "There standeth one among you whom ye know not. He it is that coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose; -- that he might be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptising with water."

John's work attracted great attention and exercised a powerful influence with the whole nation, as we saw in the chapter devoted to the consideration of that matter. To him Jesus appealed in confirmation of his own claims as the good shepherd.

"Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness to truth.... He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have greater witness than that of John; the works that my Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me" (John v. 33-36).

To Jesus, the good shepherd, the porter-ministry of John the Baptist (which was known to the hearers of Christ's discourse), opened the door of the sheepfold, in which they might have recognised an incontestable evidence of his claims.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 29..

Question; So who is the porter in Matt 13:35

I know my sheep...

'...He is calling US by name. It is not a formal, standard, chilling, impersonal, blanket, form-invitation, but the warm, living, personal, individual approach of intimacy and love.

He knows and addresses each one separately and affectionately, as a close and beloved friend. He knows each one of us if we are his. He knows all our problems and hopes, our sorrows and our joys, as no human being of our acquaintance, however intimate, can possibly know them.

The personal relationship between the Shepherd and each sheep is the key to all the living power of the Gospel of Salvation. Salvation is a matter of personal communion and unity with Christ. We MUST establish that personal unity: everything depends upon it.

Christ must be real and close to us -- more real and more close and more intimate than any human relationship.

We must live constantly in the atmosphere of this close companionship -- always pausing to renew it as we awake each morning; always closing the day with thankful meditation on its blessings.

Bro Growcott -The Shepherd of the sheep

"He calleth his own sheep by name; and leadeth them out."

There is a being kept safely in the fold, and there is also -- at the same time -- a being led out under the care and guidance of the Shepherd.

The first "leading out" is when we are called: when the Shepherd first calls our name, calls us unto him, invites us to be part of his flock -- to accept his love and care, to put our faith and dependence in him.

This is a leading from death to life, from bondage to freedom, from the loneliness and helplessness and purposelessness of a sad natural life to the joy and friendship and companionship of the glories and beauties of eternal things. He leads us out of the blind, wandering mass of shepherdless sheep, and gives our life a meaning and a purpose.

There is also a daily leading out of the fold. Each day as we arise to the day's activities, we must listen to the Shepherd's voice, and follow him. Only when we are consciously and faithfully doing this are we safe.

We are never on our own. We do not set our own course. We do not choose our own path and circumstances in this life. When we try to, we are lost, wandering, self-willed sheep.

It is a characteristic of sheep to tend to forget to listen to the shepherd, to wander thoughtlessly, and to go astray and get lost, and get into danger and harm. They must be watched over, and called, and reminded. Here the type is perfect.

Bro Growcott. The Shepherd of the sheep

4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

This is the mark of the True Shepherd, as hearing his voice is the mark of the true sheep. The True Shepherd "goes before" and leads the way. So Christ has experienced all things -- been

"tempted and tried in all points like his brethren."

He sets no path before them that he has not trod. The most secret and intimate of our personal struggles -- he has known them, and understands.

He does not direct or instruct; he demonstrates and leads. He is the model of beauty, the pattern of holiness, the great and perfect example of the dark, glorious bittersweet Way of Sorrow, Joy, and Peace.

He gave up all things in this life that are sought after and considered desirable, and he unswervingly followed the one straight course of doing the Father's will always, and thinking only of the welfare of the sheep.

He was given a life-long course of self-denial and submission and humility to follow, even to the cruelest and most exposed and shameful of deaths, and he unhesitatingly followed that path in perfect patience and love.

It is on the basis of this life of sacrifice for us that he asks our love, and offers his love to us.

Love, to be sound and true, must be based upon a mutual recognition of spiritual excellence. It is true we must love, and manifest love toward, all mankind. It must be a basic aspect of our character to dedicate our lives to the good of all. Jesus loved the rich young ruler, even as the young man rejected him for the sake of riches.

But this is a different thing from the love spoken of when it is said of Jesus --

"Having loved his own, he loved them unto the end."

This was the deep, personal, reciprocated affection of and for the true sheep. It is said specifically of John, as distinguished from the others, that he was "the disciple that Jesus loved."

Bro Growcott - The shepherd of the sheep

So many claim to be his sheep who refuse or neglect to "hear his voice" -- who ignore his testimony and instructions when they run counter to their own fleshly thoughts and desires.

But the true sheep are eager and anxious to learn and to conform to the holy spirit of his teachings. They freely recognize their helpless inability to direct their own steps unaided. Though the way he leads is narrow and hard, and many turn from it to the pleasant way of the flesh, the true sheep say with Peter --

"Where shall we go? Thou only hast the words of eternal life."

Bro Growcott.

5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

There are many, many voices calling to the sheep -- pleasant, and desirable, and wonderfully appealing voices. But there is one voice of the true Shepherd of Life, one gentle voice which says --

"Regardless of all your natural, animal feelings, THIS is the best, and highest, and most joyful way."

Bro Growcott

  Sheep-culture was a prominent occupation... It differed from modern sheep-raising as regards the domestic relations subsisting between the shepherd and the sheep. The sheep were provided with substantially-made folds, into which they were driven at night for safety from the wolves and other dangers. The fold had a solid entrance at which a porter waited, ready to deny entrance to those who were not entitled to it.

The sheep-stealer did not present himself at the door, but clambered over some unprotected part of the wall. The lawful owner had no object in using any but the proper entrance.

This owner also knew his own sheep as no western sheep-farmer knows his; anti so intimate were the relations between them that they knew his voice and went after him when he called them to go forth upon the hill sides for pasture -- not driving but leading them.

To the voice of a stranger they could not be made obedient. They scampered off at the unaccustomed tones.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 28

These are facts in which Jesus asks us to recognise a figure of himself and his people. It is profitable to trace the correspondence and its nature. The thing signified is, of course, much higher than the figure; but there is an analogy which helps the understanding of the matter. There is a variety of points, but all are beautiful and instructive. There is the shepherd, the fold, the door, the porter, the sheep, the wolf, the hireling shepherd, the shepherd's voice, the listening flock, the shepherd's death in defence of the sheep.

The Shepherd. -- "I," says Jesus, "am the good shepherd." Here is the key of the parable. How simple, yet how much there is in it. For who is the "I?" "Who art thou, Lord?" "I am Jesus of Nazareth." But who is he? The Son of Mary (and therefore of Joseph, David, Abraham, Adam), but, which is of much more consequence (for there were plenty of that sort of no benefit to themselves or their kind) -- Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God -- begotten of the Holy Spirit, and therefore one with the Eternal Father, who sent him forth to be "righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption" to all who should receive him.

The Good Shepherd is God thus manifest in the flesh. It was not the first time the character had been so associated. It had been written (Isaiah xl. 10), "Behold the Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him ... He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, &c." The Creator in Shepherd-manifestation by the Spirit: this is the glorious idea before us in the parable put forth by the son of David, in the hearing of an undiscerning audience in the Temple. Here are power and kindness in combination. You may have power without kindness, and kindness without power: and either or both without wisdom. But when the Creator of the ends of the earth steps into the arena, we have all in combination.

The wonderful phenomenon presented to view of a kind, strong, wise, unerring, Shepherd-man, in whom the Father dwells. When, in the history of heads and leaders was ever leader like this? Misguided indeed are the men who seek a head or leader among men. There is no master but Christ -- no shepherd but the good Shepherd. All before him, or after him (claiming the same position) are but thieves and robbers -- seeking their own advantage on the pretext of serving the sheep. This shepherd truly loves the sheep, and is able to save them, and will at last show his power and his kindness in gathering them from the dark mountains into his safe and loving fold, where they will hear his voice and live and rejoice in his presence for evermore.

Nazareth Revisited - Ch 28

7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

The Porter is the Guardian of the Door: the Rejector of the Unfit: the Examiner and Approver of all who enter in. Basically, it is the Spirit of God, the Word, the Truth: but it takes various forms and manifestations.

Bro Growcott.

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

The Door

Men who work apart from Christ work without hope; that is, any hope they indulge must prove illusory. Men are naturally without hope, as Paul testifies in Eph. ii. 12. They are straying on the inhospitable mountains of sin-caused evil and death. Remaining there, they must perish. There is a fold in the mountains, entering which, there is safety. The door of this fold is Christ: and how we enter in was expounded by the apostles. It was their work to do so. The mode is too simple for most men.

It was defined by Christ himself in the memorable words about the Gospel which he addressed to the apostles before he sent them forth: "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved" (Mar. xvi. 16). What this double process of faith and baptism does for the believer is stated by Paul, in terms which can only be read with one meaning;

"As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. iii. 27).

When a man believes the Gospel apostolically delivered, and submits to the baptism apostolically enjoined, he enters in by the door of the sheep-fold.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.

The good shepherd 

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

We see this by the fact that Jesus says (v. 7). "I am the Door," and in verse 11, "I am the Shepherd."

He is both. He is also the Sheep. He is everything. This is the first great lesson: HE IS EVERYTHING.

This is the ideal and conception to which we must gradually, painfully, stumblingly, but steadily shape our lives, so that we may, more and more peacefully, and truthfully, and understandingly, say with Paul --

"To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Until we have reached this point, we have not found peace. We are not, in the fullest sense, in the fold and of the sheep. We have not in the fullest sense, brought ourselves into a true, intimate, and saving relationship to the Good Shepherd --

"To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Bro Growcott - The Shepherd of the sheep.

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The Wolf.

-- The nature of this animal is well known. He will stop at nothing in the gratification of his hunger, provided he runs no risk. He attacks the weak and shies at the strong.

In contrast to the sheep, he represents the rapacious character which is common in the world -- headstrong, unscrupulous, merciless men who will sacrifice everything but their own skins in the accomplishment of personal ends. They prefer the weak for their prey. Therefore, the sheep are their especial victims, because the true sheep are not given to fighting. "The wolf catcheth the sheep and scattereth them."

The wolf may be taken to represent any danger that arises to the sheep, but more particularly the one danger with which the name of the wolf is particularly associated in the sayings of Christ and the apostles -- the spiritual wolf. This wolf is given to disguises. If he came in his open character, the sheep would flee. So he puts on the fleece. He professes to be a true and humble sheep, and above all, tending sheep, a bell wether, a kind of shepherd sheep.

With holy tone and pious grimace, he gets on the weak side of his victims, and has them in his maw before they are aware, and feeds and feasts on them without them knowing it, for he has the art of magnetising his subjects so that they feel no pain in the process of deglutition, and see not that their bones and flesh are slowly disappearing down his gullet.

These are false teachers, clever men of shallow intellect and no conviction, who live by their wits in the religious realm. They have always been a numerous tribe, as at this day. Jesus foresaw their activity, and forewarned his disciples. "Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits."

Paul also foretold their advent and success when the restraint of his presence should be removed: --

"I know this, that after my departing shall grevious wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Even of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts xx. 29, 30).

Elsewhere, he speaks of them as "evil men and seducers," who should "wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. iii. 13). By their ravages, the sheepfold of the apostolic age became emptied and desolate soon after the apostles' death. The fleece-clothed wolves "caught the sheep and scattered them,".

Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

The Hireling.

The apostles were not hirelings, nor the men who came immediately after them. They were men in earnest love with the work for Christ's sake, at the peril not only of their living, but of their lives, serving in the spirit enjoined by Peter, who said to them, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Pet. v. 2).

A hireling is a man who is paid for his job, and who works because he is paid, and ceases to work when he is not paid. This class of worker has been numerously developed by the clerical system. Paid work in spiritual things is liable to become poor Work and mercenary. Paul, who had a right to be maintained, refused on this ground, "lest the gospel of Christ should be hindered" (1 Cor. ix. 12).

He did not refuse occasional help, prompted by love and the appreciation of his labours (Phil. iv. 10-17). But he declined a set maintenance, as all wise men have done since his day. The hirelings have no objection to a set maintenance.

On the contrary, it is what they most particularly appreciate and aim to secure. The consequence is seen in what Jesus says happens in times of peril: "The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling and careth not for the sheep." When he sees the wolf coming in the shape of any danger, "he leaveth the sheep and fleeth." 

How little he cares for the interests he professes to have in charge becomes apparent when he cannot turn them to his personal advantage. To be out of pocket or put up with disgrace is quite out of the line of what he feels himself called upon to submit to. This is quite beyond his calculations of prudence. The least smell of danger in this shape makes him look round for a decent pretext to get away.

My sheep

We know that none are His that do not do His will, and that all are His that do; but in discriminating between the one and the other, we may make mistakes. We need not seek particularly to perform this discrimination, except as regards ourselves. As regards others, it is our duty to "judge not"; as regards ourselves, it is a matter of command and a matter of common wisdom to "prove our own selves." In a sense, like Paul, we cannot judge ourselves:

"He that judgeth us is the Lord:"

But we can stand guard over ourselves; we can subject ourselves to a continual self-scrutiny on the question whether we walk in accordance with the revealed will of the Father. In this sense:

"If we judge ourselves we shall not be judged:"

The Lord will have no censure for those who correct themselves continually by the word. If by this process we bring ourselves into harmony with the Father's mind, having the answer of a good conscience, we need not distress ourselves on the question that has plagued some-whether we are among the Father's chosen.

This destination is not decided arbitrarily. It is true the Father's purpose is the foundation of it, and that those are all foreknown to Him who are to be the subjects of it. It is nevertheless equally true that the mode of realising that purpose is by the gospel preached and proposed for the willing faith and obedience of all who hear it. There can be no clash between the one thing and the other.

The Father's counsels are inscrutable to us, but what He has revealed with regard to them is our property. His revelation in this matter is that He willeth not the death of a sinner, but would rather that he should turn and live; that "every one that thirsteth" is invited, and will be made welcome to the living waters; that "whatsoever will" may come.

If, then, we thirst and drink, if we hear and come, we may dismiss the question of whether we are included among those who are foreknown, for the one fact is the form and guarantee of the other. The two things cannot be separated. Our whole anxiety should be directed to our side of the question. Listen to the divine invitation and all is well. Jesus truly says,

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me," but he adds, "and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

Consequently, the fact of coming to Christ is proof of our inclusion among those given to him. There can be no such thing as a man coming to Christ and being excluded from those given to him in the Father's plan. The one is an evidence and a means of the other. The whole question of importance for us is in the "coming." Do we "come"? If so, all is well, and cannot but be well. We need not trouble about anything else. Nothing, in that case, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

Only let us be sure about the "coming." It means much. It means the knowledge of Christ, of course, for this is the first step; but it means much more. A man who knows, but does not love, has not come. A man who knows and loves, but does not obey, deceives himself in thinking he loves. A man who knows, loves, and obeys; that is, who continues in "all things" prescribed for disciples to do and continue doing, has come, and will in no wise be cast out.

There may be mistakes, shortcomings and offences on the part of such, but these are foreign to the main current of their lives, and there is forgiveness for them. Christ's priesthood has no other meaning. He is High Priest over hi s own house. He ever liveth to make intercession for them. He makes requests for brethren whom he loves, and the Father hears him, and is faithful and just to forgive all of whom the appointed High Priest thus makes mention.

"If we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin."

Seasons 1.74

The hireling

Christmas-boxes are said to have originated with the Romish priests,‭ ‬who had masses for almost everything:‭ ‬If a ship went to the Indies a priest had a‭ ‬box in her,‭ ‬under the protection of some saint,‭ ‬in which money was collected for mass to be said to that saint on the ship's return,‭ ‬which was called Christmass.

‭ ‬Servants also had the privilege of asking for‭ ‬box money,‭ ‬that they might be enabled to pay the priest for his masses.‭ ‬Other modes also of obtaining money,‭ ‬under the pretence of relieving the people of their sins,‭ ‬were resorted to by the priests,‭ ‬which forcibly illustrated the proverb,‭

"‬No penny,‭ ‬no Paternoster.‭"

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1851

15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

In What Respect was the Death of Christ Voluntary?

Much stress is laid by the upholders of the "life" heresy, on the statement of Christ,

"I lay down my life . . . no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself."

It is argued from this that Christ need not have died. In this the bearing of his words is misapplied, as will appear at a glance. It is the relation of human possibility to his death that Christ has in view. He seems to say, that as a matter of power no man could do anything against him if he chose to resist. As he said to Pilate,

"thou couldst have no power against me, except it were given thee from above."

He voluntarily submitted to their violence, which it was in his power to escape. In this, no man took his life: he laid it down.

But the case appears in a different light when we come to consider the Father's will. This submission was not voluntary in the same sense on this side of the question. The Father required it of him; as he says,

"commandment have I received of my Father."

This fact comes out strikingly at the crisis of his agony. He prayed earnestly that the cup might pass from him; "nevertheless" added he

"not my will but Thine be done."

Compliance with that will required his submission to a violent death, even the death of the cross; for by this, it had been divinely arranged he might come under, and so bear away the curse of the law of Moses, and redeem them that were under the curse of the law. By this also, it was required that his obedience should be brought to a perfect test. As saith Paul

"he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him."—(Phil. 2:8.)

When he said

"I lay down my life, no man taketh it from me,"

he only intimated beforehand that his crucifixion was no mere triumph of violence, but the submission of his own will to what the Father required. The declaration is not inconsistent with the truth that he was born under the curse of Adam, that he might in death bear it away.

The Christadelphian, Sept 1873

18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I [the logos] have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

No man took it from him; it was a matter of the Father's arrangement and requirement.

Why was the Lord called upon to suffer?

Why was the Holy One commanded to allow himself to be put to death by sinners? -This commandment" he said, he had -received of the Father," and he prayed unavailingly in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup might pass from him. 

It has to do with the greatness of God and the smallness of man. He has said -I will be exalted." He has said -I will be sanctified" (held in holy reverence and deepest and highest honour) -in them that approach unto Me." 

He has invited man to approach. He has said -Come unto me." -Look unto me." -Draw nigh to me." -Come out from among the unclean, and I will receive you." But between these two points - the point at which man is invited, and the point at which his compliance is accepted lies this awful ceremony of holiness, the condemnation of sin in the public crucifixion of one who bore the sin nature, but who was himself obedient in all things. 

A condemnation with which we are required to identify ourselves in the ceremony appointed for the purpose - baptism into his death. We do not -show forth the Lord's death" to any effectual purpose if we do not see the terrible majesty of God which was vindicated in it. The principle is illustrated to us in the vision of the seraphim covering head and body in the presence of God, and saying -Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts."

If the angels of His presence humble themselves thus before God, what attitude becomes mortal man but the very one provided in this institution: -crucified with Christ," yet saying with Paul, -Nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Bro Roberts - Present Rest

19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.

20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?

Though the Pharisees were unimpressed by his words, many who heard them were powerfully exercised. "These," said they, "are not the words of a madman." There was a strong division of opinion among them, just as there has been in all the world ever since, with regard to the whole claims and character of Christ.

The division was not so sharply drawn in the crowd who daily heard Christ in the precincts of the temple, nor was it so stable as it has since become. This is not to be wondered at. A man seeing and hearing Christ with his own eyes and ears was in a different position from the mere controversial reader of subsequent centuries. However adverse his judgment might be to Christ, what he saw and heard was liable at any moment to cause him to doubt his own unfriendly views. The listeners frequently wavered. Many of them were in a quandary.

Nazareth Revisisted Ch 42

24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

His communications had been plain enough for the sincere type which he alone sought to attach to himself -- the type, namely, described in the words, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." But they were not plain enough to suit the tastes or enter the understandings of those who had no concern for the will of God, but who were mere time and self-servers of the politician class. Such were these who now clamoured for something unequivocal in their sense. Their clamour, literally interpreted, meant that all Christ's previous declarations went for nothing, and that the evidences he had exhibited before their eyes had no meaning.

What answer, therefore, could be more suitable than the one he made them: "I told you, and ye believed not. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me." As much as to say, "If ye sincerely wish to know me, consider what I have done." But they had no such wish. It was that their own purposes might be served -- their own headstrong whims gratified -- perhaps that their animosity to him might get a more legal ground of action than his words had yet afforded them, that they called upon him to make a definite avowal.

Nazareth Revisisted Ch 42

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

My sheep.

The typical characteristics of sheep are: helplessness, defenselessness, non-resistance, submission, complete dependence on the care of the Shepherd, and the need of leadership and guidance.

These characteristics are not what the world considers desirable, but they are the characteristics of wisdom and life for man in his weak, mortal state.

Sheep seem to be the animal most closely associated with man from the beginning, both practically and symbolically the one particularly and providentially provided to supply his needs in food and clothing, and also symbolically to fill his spiritual needs.

Although we are not specifically told at the time, from every consideration, and from the reference in Revelation to the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," it would seem clear that it was a lamb whose skin God used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, in token of the Great Sacrifice later to be made in the fulness of the times.

Bro Growcott.

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

One Shepherd - My Sheep.

Apostolic succession, then, especially through such a channel [the clergy], is a mere figment of the carnal mind. The only succession of which any Scriptural idea can be formed is, the following in the steps of the apostles' faith, which no one, who understands the word of the kingdom, would affirm of the ecclesiastical guides of the people.

The power and the authority of the apostles died with them. Those who succeed to their faith are their successors only in this sense. Their word, which is also the Lord's word, dwells in such richly in all wisdom; and where the word of the Lord is found, there, by the belief of it, He dwells in the hearts of men.

When they work according to this word they and their Lord work together. But this is not peculiar to a ministerial class, but is common to all the Lord's people; for He is no respecter of persons. A successor to the faith of the apostles delights to feel he is a layman, that he is one of the flock, and the best of the sheep it contains, because his sole anxiety is to know and obey the Great Shepherd's voice (Heb. 13:20; John 10:27).

He is not a wolf, nor a dog, rending, and devouring, the flock, and investing himself with its wool; but one who would be the servant of the least, that he may be exalted to an unfading crown of glory, when the Good Shepherd shall appear to give life to all His sheep for evermore.

Elpis Israel - Ch2.1

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

How emphatic-how beautiful-are these words! They are an important item in the comfort which the Scriptures give. Who, at times, has not felt uneasiness and misgiving lest the power of diabolos should separate us from Christ?

We need not fear: we are quite safe. If we are Christ's sheep (and we are his sheep if we are following him) we shall not fail in attaining eternal life. The tempter is mighty, influential, and very cunning, but as impotent as a babe to cope with Christ. Why? Because

-"My Father, which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my father's hand. I and my Father are one."

The words of Christ should inspire us with courage. Timidity is a curse. Let us foster godly fear, but let us away with the thought that Christ is unequal to the task of preserving his brethren from becoming prey to diabolos. Nothing but our unfaithfulness can sever us from Christ.

Let us meditate daily upon the Word-be ceaseless in prayer-avoid temptation-embrace all opportunity to obey the voice that speaks from heaven, and

"neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Bro AT Jannaway

The Christadelphian, 1888

30 I and my Father are one.

This is generally brought forward as an infallible proof of the Trinity,‭ ‬but,‭ ‬when examined,‭ ‬it is found to destroy the Trinity.‭ ‬With Trinitarians,‭ ‬the texts which throw light upon and explain it are,‭ ‬as usual,‭ ‬overlooked or ignored.‭ ‬That this oneness with the Father did not consist of personal identity,‭ ‬is evident from the fact that Jesus himself declares‭ "‬My Father is greater than I.‭"-(xiv. ‬28.‭) ‬What the text really does mean is also shown by Jesus,‭ ‬when he prayed that his disciples might be‭ ‬one in him‭ ‬as he is one in the Father,‭-(‬xvii. 20‭-‬3‭)-‬that is,‭ ‬one in mind,‭ ‬in purpose,‭ ‬in perfect righteousness.

Ambassador of the Coming Age, Aug 1868

True doctrine of Deity manifestation

...the logos was clothed with our defiled nature.

I admit the equality of Jesus in the same sense in which he affirmed it. All he said and all he claimed was true and only true, for he was "the truth" incarnate...The Spirit speaking through Jesus said, "I and the Father are one;" "He that seeth me seeth him that sent me;" "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;" but when Jesus speaks as of himself alone he says, "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works"-"My Father is greater than I."

That which was born of Mary is styled in the Psalms, "a body prepared;" and the Spirit of God there says through David to the Father, "A body hast thou prepared me." This prepared body was the medium of God-manifestation, and divinely named "Jesus" or "Joshua." It was the Cherub in which the Father took up his temporary abode when he anointed it at its baptism in the Jordan.

At its crucifixion the Father forsook it, as was foretold. It was laid in a cave. The Father was not entombed in death; for he is deathless. The Father did not suffer, but the prepared body, which the Father forsook while it was expiring.

On the third day the Spirit of God returned to the body, and in filling it formed an indissoluble union with it; and at that crisis it became "the Son of God with power according to the holy spiritual nature by its resurrection from the dead."

Herald of the Kingdom and Age To Come, June 1854

The prophets, as the vehicles of occasional inspiration, communicating what they did not understand, were in a very different position from Jesus, on whom the Spirit abode without measure, and whose mentality was so merged in the power that gave him being in a supernatural begettal, that he was "one" with it, whom to see was to see the Father in manifestation.

The Father gave the Son "life in himself;" he was the word made flesh; "he dwelt in the bosom of the Father," none of which facts could be affirmed of the prophets. "To him gave all the prophets witness." They are all humble worshippers, so to speak. It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.

To affirm his equality with them is, therefore, to speak blasphemy.

The Christadelphian, Oct 1871

(As is any form of mere manism)

32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

This was a powerful appeal, looking back upon all that Christ had done in their midst. But the anger of animosity cannot be pacified. A strong argument only angers it the more.

Nazareth Revisisted Ch 42

33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Oh, dear, no; malice always works with such virtuous pleas. It never confessed to its true character yet. It is not in its nature to be able to do so. A man requires to be accessible to the motions of righteousness before he can detect the prevalence of the evil within himself.

"Because that thou being a man makest thyself God."

The accusation was not true in the Trinitarian sense; for Jesus had said just before (Jno. x. 29), "My Father is greater than all;" and afterwards, "My Father is Greater than I" (xiv. 28). "I can of my own self do nothing" (ver. 30).

Nazareth Revisisted Ch 42

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

In what sense, then, did Jesus, being a man, make himself God? Christ's own answer on this occasion shews. "Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods? If he called them gods to whom the Word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?"

The argument of this may seem obscure at first. It will become clear with a little looking into.

The argument is founded on Psalm lxxxii. Recognising the character attributed by Christ to "the Scripture" of which it forms a part ("the Scripture cannot be broken"), we may feel encouraged in attempting to dive as deeply as possible into it, and to rest as implicitly as we may on all we may discover in it. The scope and bearing of the psalm seem evident at a glance. It is an address to the judges of Israel -- those who sat in Moses' seat, dispensing justice to the people.

They are adjured to "defend the poor and fatherless: to do justice to the afflicted and needy" (verse 3) on the ground that God is among them, as set forth in the first verse: "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty: he judgeth among the gods," that is, among the magistrates (rulers, powerful ones). As Jehoshaphat told them,

"Ye judge not for man but for Yahweh, who is with you in the judgment" ( 2 Chron. xix. 6).

Instead, however, of judging justly, they judged for reward (i.e., in favour of those who could bribe them -- Micah iii. 11)

...Was it to be then that justice should perish from the earth in the death of the unjust judges of Israel? This were a gloomy climax to God's work in the earth. Oh, no.

"Arise, O God: judge thou the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations."

Nazareth Revisisted Ch 42

35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

The gospel teaches, that a people to whom the Word of the Deity is sent, and who receive it, become Sons of God; and are, in this sense, gods. This Word was first sent to Israel, and then to the Gentiles. And who obeyed it in the love of it, became Sons of God by adoption through Jesus Christ. This is the Scriptural status of all true Christadelphians, or Brethren of Christ.

This is a great honour, and an extraordinary manifestation of love on the part of the Father, the contemplation of which caused John to exclaim,

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God;"

and lest any should say, that this sonship pertained exclusively to a future state of existence, he adds concerning the faithful,

"beloved, we are Now the Sons of God;"

which was equivalent to saying, "we are now gods upon the earth;" and he continued,

"it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him AS HE IS " (1 John 3:1-3).

Eureka 13.13.

They were gods by deputy; they stood for God to Israel, as the angels stood for God to them. Even Moses stood for God by God's own appointment in his dealings with Pharaoh.

"See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet" (Ex. vii. 1).

He (Aaron) shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God" (Ex. iv. 16). On this principle, the occupants of the judgment-seat in Israel were "called gods." To them "the word (or commandment or appointment) of God came" to this very effect, and, therefore, though they were men, it was no blasphemy to call them "gods."

Nazareth Revisisted Ch 42


Consider who he was that said them - a quiet private carpenter, repudiated as a demented person by the influential people of his country. If he had been a king - if he had been such as David was - God's accepted captain of the tribes, with all wealth in his control, and willing scribes and servants ready to preserve his words; if he had even been such as Herod was, or the high priest of his own day - with power and popularity on his side, there might have seemed a chance that his words would last.

Men in such a position have it somewhat in their power to command the hearing of posterity. But Jesus had none of these things. He was a poor man of no social standing - man hated of the people's leaders - a man whose friends were illiterate fishermen: a man who had no schemes of human ambition: who looked to early death as the finish of his work, and who lacked, in a word, every human power or opportunity to secure the perpetuity of his words.

And yet here they are in our hands and hearts this morning. The words of the great people around him are all lost in oblivion in connection with the narrative of this man. But the words of the "despised and rejected of men" are among the indestructible records of the earth and among the most powerful influences that move mankind.

How is this? There is an answer which most powerfully strengthens our faith. The answer is furnished by the history of the case. The enemies of Christ crucified him; and had he remained dead, is it possible that his words could have survived? Would not his disciples in that case have been scattered to the winds, and his work forgotten like a thousand other personal episodes of history which have come as bubbles on the surface of the stream of time and burst?

On the contrary, his disciples presented a bold front to the nation that killed him. They asserted that he had risen from the dead: that they had often seen and eaten with him since his resurrection: that they had had his company for six weeks: that he had taken formal leave of them: that he had commissioned them to preach his name to the faith of men for the remission of their sins and the attainment of everlasting salvation at his coming again; and that he had vouchsafed to them, since his departure, in fulfilment of the promise made before his departure, the power to work miracles as God's confirmation of the truth of their testimony to his resurrection.

They could have no object in asserting such things except the truth of them, especially as the authorities made it a penal offense to preach the name of Jesus. Thousands believed them, and "took joyfully the spoiling of their goods" at the hands of the authorities... and thus it came to pass that the words of Christ, instead of passing away, became one of the abiding institutions of the earth, and have come down to us with the power they exercise in every heart that opens to them.

...had he not risen, there could have been no apostolic testimony; and were he not alive, there could not have occurred that shedding forth of power on the day of Pentecost, that qualified the apostles to perform miracles in attestation of their work. And had there been no apostolic testimony, and no miraculous confirmation of their word, there could have been none of that faith produced in the Roman Empire, which, at the close of the first century, extended to the farthest provinces and embraced many thousands of believers.

There would and could have been no New Testament such as has been in the hands of all believers from that day to this, and which forms the foundation of our faith. In a word, the words of Christ must have passed away. But they have not passed away: and it is because they are divine, as he said, "the words that I speak unto you are not my words but His that sent me."

"Heaven and earth may pass away, but his words will not, cannot pass away".

Seasons 2. 56


36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

The argument of Christ from these facts was irresistible. Why should they think it blasphemy in him to claim to be God who had been "sanctified and sent forth into the world" as the very bearer of the Father's name, the manifestor of the Father's presence, and the instrument of the Father's reconciliation, since the mortal representatives of God's justice in Israel's midst were "called God?" "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor. v. 19). The Father dwelt in him bodily (Jno. xiv. 10; Col. ii. 9). Where was the blasphemy in those circumstances in that "being a man, he made himself God?" There was none except such as was created by a narrow and fossilized superstition on the subject.

Nazareth Revisisted Ch 42

 '...they objected to the idea of Yahweh having a son; and that son being a man; and that man consequently EIoahh or God. Hence, when Jesus asked them: "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?" They did not answer: "He is the Son of God" -- to have done so would have been to admit that he would be equal to God, which they considered blasphemy.

They, therefore, adhered to the fleshly view of the matter, and replied: "He is the Son of David." This was equivalent to saying that he was equal with David only; and consequently, not equal with Deity. But this position was pregnable, and easily turned.

Jesus saw their weakness, and immediately exposed it by inquiring: "How then doth David in spirit call him Adon (lord, superior, ruler, &c.,) saying: Yahweh said unto my Adon, Sit thou at my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Adon, how is he his son?" They could not answer this; "no man," says Matthew, "was able to answer him a word" (Chapter 22:41-46).

The point in this argument is a question of equality; and therefore of Deity, or of mere humanity. If Messiah were to have been simply son of David, then he would be equal in natural descent, and inferior in rank. If equal in natural descent he would have been no more than a son of Jesse; and if simply David's son, he would have been socially inferior, inasmuch as in society, and especially in Hebrew society, fathers take precedence of sons. This being admitted as contained in their premiss, upon what known principle could David speak of such a Messiah as his Adon or Sovereign Lord?

Here is a notably weak point in the Jewish understanding of the doctrine concerning the Messiah. As in the days of their fathers, so to the present time, "They judge after the flesh." They can only see in Christ a son of David, having no higher origin than blood, or the impulse of the flesh, or the will of man. They have no conception of a Christ, who should be formed by the Eternal Spirit from the substance descended from David, as Adam was formed by the same Spirit from the dust; and therefore generated by the will and power of Ail, still less did they see that such a Son of Power should become a son of a spirit-generation from among the dead.

The Jewish mind cannot penetrate "the veil of the covering"; so that all his reasonings begin and end in flesh, "which profits nothing." It is not to be wondered at, then, that the Jews, as Dr. de Lara says, "reject with scorn and ridicule the idea of God having a son; of coming down from heaven and enacting with the Virgin Mary the scene related by Luke." Their minds are so sensual and earthly that they cannot ascend to the contemplation of "heavenly things." What they know naturally, as brute beasts, of these things they can speak; but higher than flesh they cannot rise until the Lord shall come and take away the veil.

Phanerosis - Yahweh Manifested in a Son.

38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

There can be no true resistance to this appeal... They are facts in earth's history which yield but one meaning to the ear of reason, and that is the one that Jesus put upon them -- that the things he did, and the things he said, could emanate from God only... especially of the personality of Christ, which stands invincibly written and engraved in the records of men. It cannot be removed; it cannot be blotted out...

The facts are in fundamental contradiction to every theory that would deny God in Christ. The theories come and go with every age, like the changing clouds that sometimes hide the sun; but Christ, like the sun, remains, and imparts, even to the obscuring clouds the only bit of radiance they ever display. All modern beauty of character or intellect is borrowed from Christ if the development is only skilfully traced.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 42

In addition to miracles,‭ ‬Christ appealed to superhuman traits in his character, e.g., "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory:‭ ‬but he that seeketh his glory that sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."

How forcible is it when the Bible is made to argue in this manner.‭ ‬Imagine (and it requires no great effort) the Bible reasoning:‭ "‬If you will not believe my claim to be divine, if I appear simply human, if my narratives and revelations seem to you improbable,‭ ‬my teaching questionable, my prognostications unlikely, believe that I am true for my work's sake.‭ ‬Could unaided man have wrought what you see in me? Think of my fulfilled prophecy, as directly given‭; ‬also as sets forth in my types; the examples and warnings contained in my records; the blessedness of my doctrine‭; ‬my simplicity and sublimity; my purity and unity; my peerlessness‭!‬

If in the face of all this you still doubt,‭ ‬I am constrained to say that you would not believe though one rose from the dead."

‭The Christadelphian, March 1887. p105

Christ was ... a specially-created manifestation of the one true ever-existing God, upon whom God placed His Name, and through whom He spoke in self-manifestation to a fuller degree than ever before in angels.

Bro Growcott - Yahweh Elohim.

40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.

Ascending by the Mount of Olives, he passed by the descending pathway on the other side towards the Dead Sea, and came to the Jordan, near where Elijah and Elisha crossed a thousand years before. In Elijah's day there were no bridges, and the ferry that took David across some generations previously was either not working, or was not at that part of the river bank where they arrived, for he made a way across by smiting the waters with his mantle. In the days of Christ, the Jordan had been bridged by the Romans in more than one place....

...It is probable that Christ crossed by one of these Roman bridges.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 42

41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

Jesus did many miracles, and John had virtually foretold he would. So there was a double ground of belief which weighed with those who were capable of yielding to conviction. Their allusion to the "all things that John said of this man," gives a passing insight into the fact that John had said much more concerning Christ than is recorded.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 42

42 And many believed on him there.