The Nearness of God
Ephesians 2:13
But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.

I. A RECONCILED GOD. We are all naturally far from God, not as being out of His reach, or out of His sight, or out of His presence, but as differing from Him, as being out of sympathy with Him — as forgetting or not thinking about Him — as disobeying Him, and disliking Him, and thus having incurred His displeasure. Such things as these create a distance between one and another. They need to he brought near, or, as our text puts it, "made nigh" to each other. And how is that to be done? By their being in some way reconciled; by some one coming between them and making them friends — making them one. That might he done in various ways. I might appeal to them, as a friend of both of them, to lay aside their enmity for my sake, and be friends. I might put the hand of the one in that of the other, and take both in my own; and so they might be said to be "made nigh" by me. Or if one had wronged the other, I might offer to be responsible for the wrong, and to put it right. If the one had taken money that belonged to the other, and had spent it or lost it, and could not make it good, I might offer to replace it. And so they might be "made nigh" through me. I have heard of a devoted Christian minister, who lay on his deathbed, getting two friends who were visiting him, and who had quarrelled with each other, to shake hands over his body, as they stood at opposite sides of his bed; and so they were "made nigh" through him. They did not need to move from where they were standing before in order to be thus "made nigh." Or I might illustrate it in another way. In Shetland, between the mainland and a small island rising up into a lofty rock, there is a deep and awful-looking gorge. Looking over the edge you see and hear the sea rushing and foaming below. It makes one dizzy to look down. Two people standing on each side of that gorge, though they could almost join hands across it, might be far enough apart from each other. For many years there was a kind of basket bridge. A basket was swung across by means of a rope, The people got into the basket and slid across in it. They were "made nigh" by means of it. Two of you wish to meet each other at a canal. You stand one on each side. The drawbridge is up, and though the water is only a few yards in breadth, you cannot get to each other except by going nearly a quarter of a mile round about, which makes it all one as if the canal were a quarter of a mile broad. You may be said to be all that distance apart from each other. But the bridge comes down, and at once makes you "nigh." Little more than a step brings you together. Now, as I have said, the sinner and God are thus apart from each other — separated from each other, wide, wide apart. The sinner is "without God." His sins have hid God's face from him. "God is not in all his thoughts." How shall they be "made nigh"? The sinner cannot make himself nigh. He can only get farther away from God. And so the Lord Jesus comes in as the Mediator.

II. God able to SEE us. That is implied in His being "near" us — His being "not far from every one of us." When we are very far away, we cannot see things at all. If some one were holding out a book to you at a distance, you could not see the letters, you could not read them even though the print were pretty large. You would say, "It is too far off; I must have it nearer." And when you get near to it, you can read, without difficulty, even the smallest print. When we are at sea, the land in the distance is seen very dimly. But for being told, we should not know it to be land at all. It is more like cloud. But as we come nearer we can distinguish mountains, and fields, and houses, and as we enter into the harbour we can see everything and everybody. Our being near enables us to see. You cannot distinguish people's faces at a distance, you cannot tell what people are doing. But when you come near — when you are standing beside them — you see all. Now just so it is with God. He is near. He is "a God at hand." He sees your thoughts. He sees your acts — every one of them. He sees every letter you write — every line you write. He can see everything about you, for He is near you wherever you are. Think what it would be if a person were constantly beside you, all through the night and day, never sleeping, his wakeful eye ever upon you. What a knowledge of you he would have! When travelling in the country, I saw a policeman and another man keeping very close together. They went into the railway carriage together and came out together. They sat together, they walked on the platform together. And then I noticed that the one was chained to the other. The handcuff round the wrist of each told how it was. The prisoner could do nothing which the policeman could not see. So it was with Paul when he was chained to the soldier during his imprisonment at Rome. What a knowledge of the great apostle that soldier must have had! So near — so constantly near you is God.

III. As He sees all, as we should with the microscope, so He HEARS all, as we should with the microphone or telephone — every sound we utter, every word we speak. I saw a very curious thing one day. An old lady whom I knew was very deaf. I could not make her hear a word. But when I was calling at her house, her daughter spoke to her, and though she did not hear a word, she was able to understand the movement of the lips so thoroughly that it was as if she had heard every word, which indeed she repeated exactly as it was spoken. In this way some people do not need to hear in order to know what is being said or done. But, as I have said, it is nearness that is the great help to hearing. People in church who cannot hear well, wish to get as near the pulpit as possible. Deaf people in a room bring their chair close to you, or draw you close to them, and so, if at all possible, they hear. If anything is certain, it is that God hears — hears every one — hears everything, for "He is not far from every one of us." If you knew that some one whom you stand in awe of were near, would it not influence you in all that you said? I was one day travelling in a railway carriage, when the conversation of my fellow travellers turned on a particular friend of mine. Suddenly there was silence. One of the party had recognized me, and, with a look and a shrug, indicated that they had better take care what they said. How often that might be done in a different way! If I were at your elbow, might I not often gently whisper, "Hush! He is here!" Who? God. Or I might point upward — as much as to say, "He is listening! — take care what you say."

IV. God able to HELP us. One reason why friends cannot help us, even when they would, is that they are too far away. This can never happen with God. He is always close at hand, always within reach. The doors of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh are never locked. Above the principal entrance there are two panels. On the one are inscribed the words, "I was sick and ye visited Me": and on the other, "I was a stranger and ye took me in"; and between the panels is the crest of the infirmary, "Patet omnibus," which may be rendered, "Open to all." And at any hour, night or day, if any accident occurs, there is instant admittance. Might I not say, God's door is never locked, and it is close to every one of us. At any hour of the day or of the night, He is near — able and willing to help.

(J. H. Wilson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

WEB: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ.

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