Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
Christ ever with us must be, in some way, effectively apprehended by us, or it will be but vague, helpless sentiment. We must be able to see him who is thus "with us always." What, then, is seeing the living Christ?
I. THE WORLD'S WAY OF SEEING CHRIST. The "world" is our Lord's term for men who are outside his special renewal, who are left to the guidance of the senses and the mind in their "feeling after God, if haply they might find him." The man in Christ is the man to whom God is the inspiration and the life. The man of the world is the man who is satisfied to be his own inspiration and his own life. The "world" represents such a seeing of Christ as is possible to the senses; and even to the senses God "manifest in the flesh" has been shown. The "world," on its own terms, and in its own ways, has seen the Christ. He has been looked upon, handled, and listened to. He has made his impressions on lawyer and Pharisee, Sadducee and scribe, priest and princely governor, as well as on the common people. The senses could see Christ, but they could not see much. And so to the "world," Christ is really lost, gone away. "He is not," says the world; "for I cannot see him." And with this it thinks to settle the question. But exactly what we have to contend with is the world's incapacity to see the unseen. It is not best to have our Lord in the sphere of our senses. Once having had, for a while, the sense manifestation of Christ, it is better, every way better, that the sense limits should be removed. Want we want now, and what we have, is an "unlocalized, invisible, spiritually present, everywhere-present Saviour."
II. THE DISCIPLES' WAY OF SEEING CHRIST. For their good, their Master often puzzled those disciples. As they sat at table with him in the upper room, they were in a most bewildered state of mind. They could not get at their Lord's meaning. He was going away. He was coming again. He was going away in order that he might come again. Others would not be able to see him, but they would be able. Perhaps they lighted on this explanation. He means that the memory of his life and character, and the influence of his wise teachings, will abide with us, and that will be, in some sense, like having him present with us. And that would be a wonderful advance on the "world's" way of seeing Christ. And yet even that way is too limited. For those first disciples it put Christ into the limits of their personal knowledge and experience of him, and that could not have been his meaning when he said, "But ye see me." For us it limits the apprehension of Christ to the Gospel records. He would have us reach something altogether higher than that. He himself is "with us all the days."
III. CHRIST'S WAY OF SHOWING HIMSELF TO US. Jesus, in the upper room, talked much to his disciples about the Spirit. They could not at first think of their Lord as Spirit, because they had him with them in the flesh. But he tried to make them feel that this Spirit would do for them permanently just what he had done for them temporarily. He would comfort them, watch over them, teach them, sanctify them. And at last he ventured to say, "When your eyes are fully opened, you will see that the Comforter, who 'abides with you alway,' will really be me come back to you again." "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." It is as if he had said," I pass from the region of bodily senses. I shall not be only a mental memory. To the opened, trusting, loving heart I shall come, to be the spirit and life of his spirit; to be a new and nobler self in him." In their measure the great apostles seem to have caught their Lord's meaning. St. Peter, standing beside the sick AEneas, spoke as if he actually saw the Lord there present, and said, "AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." St. John seems to be always with Christ. You never see him but you seem to see also his Master. You never listen to a word from his lips, or read a word from his pen, but you feel that, behind the words, is the inspiration of the Master himself. St. Paul seems to gain a twofold sight of the ever-present Christ. Sometimes he sees himself, as it were, ensphered in Christ: "I knew a man in Christ. Sometimes he realizes Christ as a mysterious other One, Divine One, who dwells within us. He speaks of Christ in us," and says, with the most surprising spiritual insight, "I live: yet not I; Christ liveth in me." Christ is with us all the days, and we may know that he is; we may even see him. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.