At the Feet of Jesus # 1
Holy Scripture abounds in promises to the humble. With such, Jehovah makes His dwelling place, "For this is what the high and lofty One says - He who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isaiah 57:15).
"He exalts the humble and meek."
"He who humbles himself shall be exalted."
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
To take the lowest place, to sit down in the lowest room - is the sure road to true peace on earth and a throne of glory hereafter. By this path our Master went before, and we must endeavor to walk in His footsteps.
For this purpose, let us keep close to the Saviour. For all that we need, let us abide "at His feet." And to assist us, let us consider the example of four who did so. Luke in his gospel tells us of each of them. And as we study the conduct of each, we shall find the same humility, though considerable variety in the other graces which they thus exercised.
1. Let us look at the feet of Jesus, as the place for the Learner. As Saul of Tarsus sat at the feet of Gamaliel and learned much of Jewish lore - the Christian must sit at the feet of Jesus, and he shall become an apt scholar in all the wisdom of the heavenly kingdom. We see this in the story of Mary of Bethany. We read that Martha "had a sister called Mary who seated herself at the Lord's feet and was listening to His teaching." (Luke 10:39). And was there ever a better student in divine knowledge? While her sister was hard at work, desiring to honor Christ by providing for His need - Mary sat quiet and still, calmly drinking in the words of grace and wisdom and love that flowed from His lips. His words sank very deep. She was filled with faith and love and reverence and holy joy and strength of soul. She was prepared for days of sorrow that lay before her. She learned well the lesson of His love, which led her in future days to bring her box of ointment and anoint Him for His burial.
Like Mary, come to the footstool of Jesus. Be a willing pupil in His school. Ever hearken to the voice that speaks to us from God. For the written word is to us, in place of the teachings of the Incarnate Word. In the four gospels we have the storehouse of that wisdom which fell from His lips when on earth. In the Old Testament we have the gospel in the bud, the grandeur of the divine character, and the source of many of His illustrations. In the Acts and the Epistles we have, in all their fullness, precepts and promises and truths revealed by the Spirit for the edification of the Church in all ages.
And in the study of the Word, nourish a quietness and stillness of spirit as in the very presence of Jesus. Believe it, that Christ is as near to you as to Mary as she sat at His feet. And in the consciousness of this, avoid all hurried, hasty reading. Watch against the mind being preoccupied with business or anything of earth. Realize Christ close beside you, and let this thought calm and refresh your spirit, and prepare you to receive whatever instructions you need.
And as you read be ever looking to Jesus for divine illumination. We can imagine Mary looking up again and again to the Saviour when anything seemed beyond her. Then He would open her understanding, give her some fresh word of explanation, and make it all plain.
And will He not do this for you? When you look up to Him will He not give you the anointing of the Spirit, so that by this heavenly unction you shall know all things needful? Will He not suggest some other passage of the Word, some new view of an old truth, which will remove your difficulty and make your way plain and clear? Only catch the humble, teachable spirit of Mary, and doubtless you shall have Mary's blessing and reward. "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." (Proverbs 8:34).
2. Let us look at the footstool of Jesus as the place of penitence. It is a blessed thing to be with Christ, as a lowly, teachable learner - drinking in the words of eternal life. It is no less blessed to be near to Him as a sinner- humbled for the past, confessing and acknowledging the evil of years gone by, and looking to Him for the free mercy that He loves to give. And have we not an instance of this kind presented to us in Luke 7:37-50? I love to see the spirit of this woman. Far, far away, has she been on the mountains of sin and vanity - but the Good Shepherd has drawn her back by the mighty attraction of His grace. And here is the outcast, the perishing one, at the footstool of the Redeemer of mankind. She "stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears and wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet and anointed them with ointment" (verse 38).
The scornful Pharisee may look on in bitter contempt - he may despise the woman and misjudge the loving Saviour. But the woman does not depart from Him who alone can whisper to her forgiveness, peace and hope. She has no words to utter. Her tears are both her confessions and her prayers. Sobs and sighs are heard, rivers of tears bathe the Saviour's feet, as she waits upon Him for the pardon she seeks.
Forever blessed is such a spirit. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Here we see sincere sorrow, and godly repentance. Here are those sacrifices of a broken and a contrite heart, which God will not despise.
Nourish the same mind. Your sin may have been as great as hers - or you may have been kept free from all open vice. Still you need a deep view of your own vileness as before God. You need a humbled, self-abasing spirit, pleading nothing but your own misery, and God's mercy.
But let us mark here, penitence in the Saviour's presence. It was not remorse hardening itself into unbelief and despair - but it was sorrow casting itself upon a merciful Saviour. It was the silver thread of repentance, intertwined with the golden thread of faith in Christ. She knew she was a great sinner, and she owned and lamented it - but she knew also that Christ was a great Saviour; and herein was her hope and consolation.
Let it be so with you. Open your eyes to see your sin in all its magnitude, in all its hatefulness - but also open your eyes to see your Saviour near to you, ready to heal every wound, ready to forgive every sin. More of His grace is known to you, than to this sinful woman. She knew of His heart of love, and of His words of kindness. But you know the marvels of His great atonement, and all the shame He endured for sinners. Then go by faith into His presence, and believe that you are welcome. Go to His footstool, and tarry there in humility and faith. Look on Him bruised for your iniquities, and wounded for your transgressions. Go near and kiss those feet once nailed to the Cross for your sins.
Go NOT to man; go NOT to human priests, expecting to gain peace and absolution from their lips - but go to Christ Himself. God and stand by Him, and hearken to His forgiving voice. Go and wait before Him until you hear His word of life, "Your sins are forgiven you, go in peace!"
But let us take another step:
(continued with # 2)