Look unto me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth

by Phillip Wareham

Download audio: MP3 format

I think there is a very great danger of Christians looking into the subject of Christ’s return in isolation from the rest of scripture, and almost in isolation from Christ himself, in a kind of abstract or intellectual form. It doesn’t work that way. We cannot look to our heavenly bridegroom if we haven’t first fallen in love with him, if we haven’t beheld him in all his wondrous ways. We cannot just switch our minds to behold his coming if we haven’t first learnt to behold him in everything we do in our daily lives. Paul put it quite simply to the Galatians: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)

Christ who is our life! Is Christ my life?

The whole bible points us to a person, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Paul knew the bible but did not know the Lord. It was only when he came to know the Lord did the scriptures really open up to him, because the author in the form of the Holy Spirit was now inside him. Jesus once challenged a group of religious men: “search the scriptures; for in them ye think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39-40) So that is the issue here -life. Do you have eternal life? Not just think you have, or hope you have, but are 100% sure you have, according to his unfailing word. Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, tells them: “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins”. (Ephesians 1:7) The verb ‘to have’ is present tense. He does not say they will have redemption, but they have (now) redemption. And he does not say they might have. No, they have it and they know they have it, and rejoice in that knowledge.

We can only have life by looking away from self and looking to, or beholding our Lord Jesus Christ.

Firstly, we are told to: “Behold your God”. (Isaiah 40:9) It is always good for us to remember our creator, in whose hand our breath is, to know that we are but dust, that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made, that “it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture”. (Psalm 100:3) It keeps things in proper perspective. It keeps us in that humility of mind that we can say with David, “when I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3-4) It is good for us to remember that this mighty and everlasting God has revealed himself to us in the person of His son, Jesus Christ, “who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7) We can then fall afresh at his feet and proclaim like Thomas, “My Lord and my God’. (John 20:28)

Secondly, we are told to: “Behold the man”. (John 19:5) Jesus is the perfect man, the last Adam, the man about whom God the Father could say “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) When we read through the gospel narratives, we are continually struck by his absolute devotion to the will of his Father, to defer to him in all things, to honour him, to do always those things that please him, and as he said: “that the world may know that I love the Father.” (John 14:31) “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”. (Hebrews 4:15) He is a greater than Solomon or Jonah, a greater than Moses or Elijah. He is not a disappointment; we can find no fault in him. “Never man spake like this man.”(John 7:40) “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely.” (Song Of Solomon 5:16)

Thirdly, we are told to: “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world”. (John 1:29) This perfect man, this Son of God, became our perfect saviour when he offered himself as that spotless passover lamb on the cross of Calvary. He died for the sins of the whole world. My sins, and your sins. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, and imputing not their trespasses unto them “. (2 Corinthians 5:19) Our sins had to be paid for and dealt with at the cross. Oh the blessedness to know his forgiveness, full and free. To be delivered from the guilt and shame of sin. To be delivered from the awful wages of sin, which is death, and to be delivered from the slavery to sin. And so, our fellowship with the Father and Son is only on the basis of life and light; that “as we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7)

Fourthly, we are told to: “Behold the man whose name is the branch”, (Zechariah 6:12) teaching us that all God’s purposes from eternity are bound up in his Son. That Christ didn’t just come out of nowhere, in a sort of vacuum, but was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophesies; that he was God’s anointed King, the son of David according to the flesh. (Jeremiah 33:15) In Isaiah we read, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, (David’s father), and a Branch shall grow out of his roots,” (Isaiah 11:1) and the angel Gabriel when appearing to Mary said “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord shall give him the throne of his father David:” (Luke 1:31-32)

Fifthly, we are told to: “Behold the stone that I have laid”, (Zechariah 3:9) and Peter takes this up in his first epistle: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore it is also contained in the scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” (1 Peter 2:4-6) When Jesus Christ becomes our Saviour and Lord, we also begin to experience some of his rejection and sorrow, and the world’s indifference and hatred. And that only makes us love him more. Not only him, but all his dear people whoever and wherever they may be. We are part of a large and wonderful family of whom Christ is the head. We are to be built up alongside our brothers and sisters, with Christ as the foundation of all that I do, to be his house or his church. (1 Timothy 3:15) We learn to recognize the gifts in our brothers and sisters, to function together, to submit one to another, to pray one for another, and to serve one another. In this way we are built up together a spiritual house and as a priesthood of believers resting on him. Sadly, many Christians remain spiritual babes, often bound by earthly traditions and customs, and never being able to take their proper share in the building of God’s spiritual house. Jesus said: “I will build my church”. (Matthew 16:18) It is his church, and we must follow the plan he has given in his word to be his effective co-workers.

Sixthly, we are told to: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth”. (Isaiah 42:1) We learn that he is the servant King. He is the one who washed his disciples’ feet, he is the meek and lowly one, and he is the one who said: “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:27-28) It is perhaps more difficult for us in western society to understand the mind of a servant (or bond slave). Naturally, we neither like to serve or be served. It’s ‘serve yourself.’ I remember when I first came to know the Lord, I felt decidedly uncomfortable when other saints came to serve me. It is something we have to learn, this serving and allowing the saints to serve us in return. Paul wrote to the church in Galatia: “By love serve one another “. (Galatians 5:13) A servant (or a bond slave) has no rights, no set hours of service, no set wage, and no retirement age. Yet the happiest saints are those who have learnt to serve.

Seventhly, and last of all, we are told to: “Behold the bridegroom”. (Matthew 25:6) As we earlier saw, our Lord Jesus Christ is our heavenly bridegroom. We have fallen in love with him. None can be compared to him. He it is who has sought us and bought us, and he says to us: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee”. (Jeremiah 31:3) Marriage between a man and a woman should be the most intimate of all relationships. They are to be joined together, spirit, soul, and body. They are one flesh. They are to share everything as one, and should no longer live independent lives. Husbands are told to love their wives as their own selves. Wives are told to reverence their husbands and submit to them. Unfortunately, we all too often see the breakdown of even Christian marriages. Husbands begin to love their jobs, or their sport, or simply themselves before their wives. Wives forget the order given by God, and think that their husbands have been given to them as a ‘help meet’, rather than the other way round, and begin to want to rule their husbands. And so the enemy gets a foothold. But the relationship between Christ and his church, his bride, shall have no such ‘spots or wrinkles’. He is our heavenly lover, our provider, our source of strength and comfort, and he is utterly faithful. And as we behold him we become like him, as those living creatures in Revelation around the throne in heaven (Revelation 4:7) – one as a lion (the king), the next as a calf (the servant), the next as a man (the Son of man) and the fourth as an eagle (the Lord from heaven). And John did just that-he beheld. “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts (living creatures), and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” (Revelation 5:6)

The Lamb is mentioned twenty eight times in the book of Revelation, teaching us that by constantly beholding the Lord Jesus we can overcome all of Satan’s devices against us. He is reigning in the midst of the throne. He is surrounded by worship. He has the seven horns, or the fullness of power in heaven and in earth, (Matthew 28:18) and the seven eyes, or the fullness of the Spirit. (See Isaiah 11:2 for the seven fold working of the Spirit of God) We begin to realise now that this so great salvation is not just one way. It is far beyond just an escape out of hell and a ticket into heaven (though it includes that). It is not just enjoying all his many blessings (though it includes that too). We begin to realise that, chiefly this so great salvation is for the Lord himself: “thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created”. (Revelation 4:11) Instead of being self centered in everything, and focusing on getting from the Lord, we begin to realise that, by faith and ever looking to him, we can bring joy and satisfaction to his heart. That, then, is perfect rest and freedom.

So, as we behold the Lord Jesus as our creator, as the perfect man, as the Lamb of God, as the anointed King, as the rejected stone, and as the humble servant, we are prepared to behold him as our heavenly bridegroom. I think only then can we begin to look at the promises of his coming.