took bread... brake...". The whole of that matter is
brought up again when He referred to the leaven of the
Pharisees. With a kind of association of ideas, in a superficial
way they linked that remark with the absence of bread amongst
them. Then He goes back to the feeding of multitudes on two
occasions - the five thousand and the four thousand - and
gathers it all up into this challenge: "Do you not yet
the movement in spiritual sequence, all of a piece, comes to
this point: "Whom do men say that
am?" It is a definite development of what is in
His own mind. 'Do you not see through this feeding of the
multitude? Do you not understand what this signifies? "Who do
de people say that
am?" "But who do you say that
am?" You are not dealing with an ordinary man,
but there is something more here: God is here. Have you no
there is just the smallest fragment, coming in and going out,
the religious leaders asking for a sign. "Why does this
generation seek after a sign? There shall no sign be given."
He opens the eyes of the blind man, with a double touch. The
first touch results in that incomplete, undefined, somewhat
foggy, certainly imperfect apprehension of things; perhaps the
shadows in which the disciples were moving. The man in his first
state of blindness was where the wicked of this generation were.
With the second touch the man saw all things perfectly. From the
place where the disciples were, in a foggy state, they caught a
glimpse of Christ, but then there was the need of an advance
upon that in another touch where all things were seen perfectly.
you notice the spiritual movement in connection with His
crucifixion. He began to say unto them, "...the Son of man
must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of
the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed...". The
Cross comes in for Him and for them. He tells them that except a
man deny himself, and take his cross and follow Him, he cannot
be His disciple, and he that shall lay down his life shall find
is a perfect sequence of things, and there you see that the
whole matter of knowing God in Christ with a perfect
apprehension, in clearness, with no shadows, and no partial
grasp, is bound up with the death and resurrection of the Lord
Jesus. First of all as to His completing the work, and then
applied to us and appropriated by us. To know God in Christ
demands that twofold thing; all that His Cross and resurrection
meant in Him, and now appropriated by us. In simple terms it is,
"Take up his cross". It is the appropriation of Calvary
by the disciple.
Everything of the teaching,
the works, the walk of Christ when here on earth was and is
gathered up into His Person. To understand the teaching, to
understand the works, to have the real meaning of His walk is
indispensable. Until you have that inner knowledge through the
eyes of the heart being enlightened, His teaching, His works, His
walk are but beautiful things
objective, historical, but powerless and without transforming
but to have the eyes upon the Person of the Lord Jesus, is to be
introduced to the inner side and to find its power, to know its
value; to see an inner meaning in His walk.
His walk we mean as to how His life was ordered in every
movement. There is meaning in it, there is virtue in it, there
is value in it. When Jesus moves there is some meaning in that
movement. When Jesus stops working there is some meaning in
that. There is not a movement in the sand but there is spiritual
power in that for you and for me. We have to know Him in the
reality of His Person before any of that becomes of practical
value in our lives. It is all bound up with His Person.
next thing is that the Person of the Lord Jesus can only be
known in resurrection. You cannot know the Lord Jesus in that
way as the historic Jesus, as the Jesus of history, as the Jesus
of the creeds, as the Jesus of Christian doctrine. It is only
when He appears unto us in a spiritual way after His
resurrection that we know Him. It is the risen Lord Whom we have
to know, in order to know all the meaning of His Person and what
is gathered up therein.
again that sevenfold "I am" of John's Gospel, which we
reviewed in a brief way in our previous chapter, and bring them
once more into review, and take perhaps one or two of them by
way of helping us towards this knowledge of God in Christ. See
how that sevenfold "I am" of John's Gospel was fulfilled
in resurrection. Remember that He appeared after His
resurrection by the space of forty days. Israel was in the
wilderness forty years. Every time "I am" is uttered in
John's Gospel it has Israel's history as its background, so that
what we have in the resurrection is a spiritual reproduction of
what Israel had in the forty years in the wilderness. The number
forty in the Scriptures is a period of probation, or specific
government. It was a probationary period, intending to lead out
into something more. That is perfectly clear in Israel's forty
years. It was intended by God to lead them into a place where
they should live according to all that they had been taught
during the forty years. Is that not true of the forty days after
His resurrection? Was He not laying the whole foundation for the
church's history? Surely that was so.
am the Bread of Life"
will remember, of course, that when He said that, in the same
part of the Word He referred to Israel. "It is not Moses who
has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father..."
(John 6:32). So that here we have something in John's Gospel
which is the spiritual counterpart of the feeding of Israel in
the wilderness. Carry that over to the forty days after the
resurrection, and it is perfectly clear when you look at the
two quotations from the Psalms: Psalm 78:25: "Man did eat
Psalm 105:40: "...satisfied them with the bread of heaven".
takes resurrection ground to fulfil those Scriptures
spiritually. You can clearly see what they indicate. Angels'
food! The bread of heaven! That quite clearly means that it is
not something of earth. It is something of heaven that the
Lord's people are to be fed upon, with which they are to be
nourished, preserved, built up, satisfied; with that which is
heavenly in the Person of the Lord Jesus or to put that round
another way: that which is in the heavenly Person of the Lord
Jesus. But "Are they not all ministering spirits...". How
can spirits feed on bread? It is the spiritual enjoyment of
Christ, it is for the spiritual life. You get that in
resurrection, not before. It required the resurrection to fulfil
The risen Lord is the Bread of Life to His people. What does
that mean? If it is of heaven, if it is angels' food, then it is
most certainly on the ground of our separation from this whole
world system. Come back to Mark 8. These people who were
supplied with bread had come out to Christ. The man who had his
eyes opened had come out of the village, and the Lord said, "Do
not even enter the village".
that principle, and you will find that in all of the occurrences
am" in John's Gospel it
am the Light"
did that come in? When they had excommunicated the man from the
am the Door"
was said at the same time. When they had excommunicated that
man, and he had come out and found the Lord outside as the
rejected One, without the camp, then in the next phrase the Lord
Jesus begins to speak of Himself as the Door and the Shepherd,
and He leads them out. It is out to Christ.
in every case you find that the governing thing for the benefit,
the blessing, the discovery of Christ, is His separation from
this entire world system even as a religious thing. Everything
is bound up with Him. Its association, its union, its fellowship
is with Christ. It is God in Christ. "I am the Bread."
You know quite well that you will not find the bread of complete
satisfaction in any system as a system. It is only God in
Christ. It is a wonderful thing to think that it is not Christ
only, but God in Christ. It is a wonderful thing to
realise God Himself has assumed the responsibility for the
maintenance, the preservation, the sustenance, the nourishment,
the building up of the life of His own, and He has come in the
Person of His Son to be into His own in a spiritual way. What
our very bread is to us in a natural way, God has taken that
responsibility for us upon Himself.
the Lord Jesus directs our hearts through Himself in this way, "Our
Father... give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11).
God has assumed the responsibility of a Father, and has taken up
those responsibilities to meet them in and through His Son. The
enlargement of that in Christian utterance is found in
means Christ recognised, Christ known, God in Christ, and that
on the ground of our utter separation unto Him. But note: it is
God's gift. He says that it was not Moses that gave the manna in
the wilderness, but His Father. Then it is not the result of
man's labours, it is the issue of God's grace. Are you labouring
for spiritual growth? How we have striven and strained to
increase our spiritual measure and our spiritual stature. What a
burden we have taken upon us in relation to the maintenance of
our own spiritual life! We have almost assumed the whole
responsibility for our spiritual life, and made it as though it
depended upon our labours in prayer, our labours in the Word of
God, our labours in the Lord's service, our effort, our stress.
one will think that we have made little of prayer or the Word.
No one will think that we have said you must have no care
whatever for your spiritual life, but there is such a difference
between assuming responsibility for ourselves and recognising
that God has assumed that responsibility. And because God has
assumed the responsibility we should cooperate with God. There
is all the difference between trying to work for our
justification, and working because we are justified; between
trying to work for our perfection, and working because our
perfection is secured in Christ. The difference is not merely
technical, it is practical, and of immense value. Sometimes it
is necessary for the Lord to say to us: "Look here, you are
making far too much of your own praying, far too much of your
own business in the Scriptures, you are unconsciously coming to
think that everything depends upon how much and how fervently
you pray." And then you go out and talk to other people about
your prayer life as a kind of setting up against their own. You
do not mean it, but the implication is that this is what
accounts for your growth, and it is going to count for other
people's growth. That must not be a cause but a result.
'The cause, the secret, the spring of everything is Myself, and
sometimes you will just have to cease straining, and rest back
in Me, in loving trust. Learn to do that a little more, and then
you will pray better, and I shall be able to do something more!'
is the gift of God, not the result of our labours or man's toil.
It is a miracle all the time, and you and I are not able to work
miracles. The manna was a miracle, and the resurrection of the
Lord Jesus was a miracle. There is a miracle going on all the
time in our spiritual sustenance. We are maintained and
sustained and kept and carried on. We know well enough that
there is nothing here to account for it, and there is nothing
but starvation in this world order, but is it not marvellous
that, having perhaps to live the life in the very atmosphere of
this world, its worldliness, its godlessness, its vulgarity, its
artificiality, the Lord, Who knows that it is necessary for some
to live their life there not by choice but of necessity,
maintains their spiritual life and keeps them alive in famine.
It is a miracle, and that makes it all of God. The inclusive
miracle of all miracles is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
in which He is given to us in risen life.
is a mystery as well as a miracle. When the Israelites saw the
manna they called it that name which means, What is it? It is
something which always has a question mark after it, and which
abiding question mark represents the end of man's understanding
and the beginning of God's. "I
the bread of life". That is something beyond us
in all our wit and wisdom, but God knows the mystery. The risen
life of the Lord Jesus is inexplicable but it is very real, very
true. Resurrection is a mystery.
this makes it perfectly clear that we are dealing with another
Christ than the Christ of doctrine, of creed, of history; we are
dealing with a heavenly Christ, we are dealing with a
The point which arises for
us is this: that much teaching does not necessarily mean much
spiritual stature or spiritual health. There are many of us whose
spiritual healthiness is far, far behind our doctrine and
knowledge. The teaching we have received, and have got in our
minds we have not come up to, and yet there is always the peril of
thinking that much spiritual knowledge represents much spiritual
attainment. Not at all. Not necessarily so. It is not the
doctrine, it is the living Lord that makes for stature, spiritual
health and strength.
a wilderness is necessary in order to discover Christ in this
way. Israel had forty years in the wilderness in order to learn
the secrets of God in Christ in a typical way, and so we see
that the forty days after His resurrection from the side of the
disciples were in a wilderness. Have a look at those two who
went that same day to Emmaus, and ask whether they were not in a
waste and howling wilderness. They walked and were sad. They
asked if He were a stranger in Jerusalem and had not heard the
things which had come to pass there concerning Jesus of
Nazareth. They said, "But we were hoping
that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides
all this, it is the third day since these things happened."
Here are men in a wilderness. Everything was desolation. And
they discovered Christ in that wilderness.
was true of those two was undoubtedly true of the rest. The
indication is that they had lost everything. It was desolation.
Poor Mary in the garden said: "Sir, if you have carried Him
away, tell me where you have laid Him..." (John 20:15). It
was all a wilderness. But what a discovery they made in that
this not be true in the Lord's dealings with you and with me?
Ah, it has proved true many times. The Lord has found it
necessary to put us in a wilderness to make a new discovery of
Himself, and He is doing it all the time. All, or most, of our
fresh, glorious discoveries of the Lord have come in
wildernesses. What is a wilderness? It is the place where man's
effort is unavailing, all his labours can produce nothing, he is
at the mercy of heaven, he is dependent entirely upon resources
outside of this world. He is shut in and now it is a matter of
Life or death, and Life by an intervention, Life by a discovery.
Poor Hagar knew life by a discovery. The Lord has to shut us off
from ourselves and our own labours (even religious labours
sometimes) to helplessness and dependence, where we are at His
mercy. It is a matter of Life and death, and Life only if we
make a discovery, otherwise it is death. But that is why He
takes us into the wilderness, in order that we might know God in
Christ as the Bread, the miracle of spiritual preservation, in
order that God may put Himself in Christ between us and death.
It is not that we discover something, some pool of water, some
fading resource, but we discover Himself. When there is nothing
between us and death, He steps into the breach, and becomes our
Life. It is then that we know the Lord.
for Israel, so for the disciples in the forty days, there was a
table prepared in the wilderness. What was the table? This is
the whole point: It was the Lord Himself. "The Lord is my
portion, says my soul..." (Lam. 3:24).
With all that we have said
we realise the impossibility of making clear and living the
difference between things and the Lord Himself. You have to make
that discovery for yourself in your own heart; no one can explain
that. But let the truth be stated, let the fact be emphasised. Our
need, whatever that need, is not to find fresh truth, fresh things
in a spiritual way, it is a new discovery of God in Christ. Now
that may be merely something said, but if that breaks upon you,
you will know why it has been said, you will know something that
no man can convey to you. This is one of those things which make
for such (almost foolish) exclamations which the man who has
received his sight says:
I see". We had some idea in a mental way before, but there
is all the difference between an idea and the thing seen and
known in reality. The only thing for you and for me to do
is to turn to prayer, and ask the Lord to make that difference
clear to our own hearts.
has chosen to be approached, to be touched, to be known in Jesus
Christ. God is not somewhere else, God is in Christ, and you and
I shall have to learn our lesson anew perhaps, and think and
speak of Jesus Christ as God. The whole weight of the Word, of
the Scripture, warrants that. This Jehovah of the Old Testament
is Jesus of the New Testament. This Jesus of the New Testament
is Jehovah of the Old Testament. They are one, and the man side
is but the gracious method of making Himself available to us and
making it possible for us to come near.
for a fresh apprehension of this Person of Christ... And then we
have got the Creator, the Sustainer, the Perfecter, the
Consummator as our Father, and we have personal fellowship with
Him through His Son. What more need have we? Let us never think
that we have to persuade Jesus Christ to get the Father to be
kind to us. If Jesus Christ is regarded by us as good and kind,
ready to help, going about doing good, always kindly to the
needy, then that is God also. God has not to be entreated by His
Son to be kind to us. "He who has seen Me has seen the Father"
(John 14:9). 'You have seen Me all the time, therefore you have
seen the Father all the time.' If you have Jesus Christ you have
Infinite, Almighty, Eternal God. All that you know to be the
truth about the Eternal God is true of Jesus Christ, and if you
have Him, you have got God, and there is no other.