"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up: and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel: which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11).
I want you to notice especially those precious words, "This same Jesus." Men often talk of needing a new Christ for a new age. In a recent book, which has been widely read, the writer states that a changing order demands a fresh revelation of God, that we cannot think of any past revelation as "the faith once for all delivered to the saints." He declares that inasmuch as times change, people change, and our viewpoints change, it is not to be supposed that the Christ of nineteen hundred years ago will meet the needs of men today. God reveals Himself in different ways and He may have another revelation of Himself which will soon break upon us making all previous ones obsolete!
It is very common to hear people using that kind of language today but when we turn to the blessed Book of God, we find that our Lord Jesus Christ is God's last word to men. In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, verses 1 and 2, we read, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners—in many ways—spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds." The word translated, "worlds" there is the customary word for "ages," and that verse may be translated, "By whom also He fitted the ages together." Christ is the beginning, Christ is the end, and Christ is the center of all the ages. "Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and Upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself accomplished a purification for sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3). And there He sits today, the same blessed Saviour that He was when here on earth.
In the last chapter of this epistle we have those wonderful words, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8). "Jesus Christ the same yesterday"—that carries us back to the long ages before He became incarnate. You and I began to be when we were born into this world. It was otherwise with our Lord Jesus Christ. He did not begin to live when He was born of the blessed virgin Mary, He simply changed His clothing as it were. He who had been in the form of God, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, divested Himself of the garments of glory that had been His from all eternity, clothed Himself in a body of flesh and blood, stooped in grace to become a servant, as servant became not an angel but a Man, and as Man humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. And such a death, that of the cross! He was the same in the past eternity. In the sixteenth chapter of John's Gospel, verse twenty-eight, we hear Him say, "I came forth from the Father and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." There you have Him in the past. He came forth from the Father; He dwelt in the Father's bosom throughout the interminable ages of the past.
"In the beginning was the Word." That is, when everything that ever had beginning began, "the Word was." Not, "the Word began." This was an unbeginning beginning. "The Word was with God, and the Word Was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men." Notice the seven things that are predicated of Him in regard to the past, that yesterday of Hebrews 13. First, His eternal existence—"In the beginning was the Word." Second, His distinct personality—"The Word was with God." Third, His true and perfect Deity—"The Word was God." Fourth, the unchangeableness of His personal relationship to the Father—"The same was in the beginning with God." Fifth, His full creatorial glory—"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." Sixth, all life had its source in Him—"In Him was life." Seventh, all light comes from Him—"The life was the light of men." This is the One who came in grace into this world, assumed a servant's form, passed angels by, and became a Man for our redemption.
Do we need a different Christ? Where will we find Him? God Himself has already come down to us and there is none higher than He to come.
"No angel could our place have taken,
Highest of the high though he;
The loved One, on the cross forsaken,
Was one of the Godhead Three!"
We look for no other Christ; there can be none other. God has been fully told out in Him. I believed that is involved in the expression: "In the beginning was the Word"—"The Logos." I wonder sometimes whether the Spirit of God did not intend this message given through John, to be the answer to the yearning cry of Plato and his followers throughout the Greek-speaking world. You remember that Plato, dazed, amazed, as he thought of the great mysteries of life, death and eternity, said on one occasion to that little group in Athens discussing these questions: "It may be that some day there will come forth from God a Word, a Logos, who will reveal all mysteries and make everything plain." And the Spirit of God, through the Apostle John, says, "Yes, and He has come, the Logos was made flesh, became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Jesus Christ the same yesterday and Jesus Christ the same today;—for having by Himself made purification for sins He has been raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. I wonder if you have ever noticed that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is attributed to every Person of the Holy Trinity. We read in one instance that the Father raised Him from the dead; we read again that He was quickened by the Spirit; and then we hear Him saying, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Father raised Him from the dead, the Spirit raised Him from the dead, and the Son raised Himself from the dead. He says, "I have power to lay down My life and I have power to take it again." So intimate is the relationship subsisting between the three Persons of the adorable Trinity that the one Person does not act apart from the other. As Christ walked here on earth, the Father walked here also, and now that He has gone back to the Father He says, "I will send the Comforter;" but He also says, "If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him." By the reception of the Holy Spirit we now receive the Father and the Son. How wonderfully are we blessed! When our Saviour comes again, God is coming to take control of things in this world and the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh. Father, Son and Holy Spirit in council in the past eternity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working out our salvation here on earth; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bringing in the glory by and by when the long period of man's trial is over, when the kingdom is fully established, and the Lord Jesus Christ abides forevermore the One in whom the Father and Spirit as well as the Son are fully displayed,—for He is the image of the invisible God.
In the seventeenth chapter of John the Lord Jesus Christ is addressing the Father in His great High Priestly prayer, and He says, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." He came from that glory into the degradation and humiliation of that which resulted in the cross, and now He has gone back to that glory but He remains a Man in glory still. Does your soul get hold of that? Some Christians have lost the blessedness of it; they think Christ is no longer the Man Christ Jesus that He was when here on earth, but Scripture says, "There is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). And as the Man in glory He is seated on the Father's throne, waiting until the day of His triumph when His enemies shall be made His footstool.
"When He comes, the glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we'll sing,
'Hallelujah! What a Saviour!' "
For the One who is coming back is Jesus Christ who is "the same yesterday and today and forever."
"This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Away with the ridiculous errorists who tell us that Christ will never come back again as a Man, that He only exists now as a part of the all-pervading spirit of the universe! He who walked on earth as the lowly Man of Galilee, knelt in agony in Gethsemane's garden, cried in anguish from the cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" later surrendered His spirit in peace to the Father as He exclaimed, "It is finished!" He who was raised from the dead, walked for forty wonderful days among His disciples and then led them out one day to the Mount of Olives, as far as Bethany, was suddenly parted from them and ascended up and up until a cloud, the royal chariot of heaven, came down and received Him out of their sight and wafted Him away to the Father's house from which He had come,—this same Jesus will be unchanged when He comes back.
I remember when a boy they used to sing in the Sunday School:
"I think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How He called little children as lambs to His fold,
I should like to have been with them then.
"I wish that His hands had been placed on my head,
That His arms had been thrown around me,
And that I might have seen His kind look when He said,
'Let the little ones come unto Me.' "
I can remember as well as though it were yesterday how I would say to myself, "My! I wish I had been born eighteen hundred or more years sooner. I wish I had lived when Jesus was here. Those boys in Galilee and Judea had something I will never have. He is so changed now, I will never hear His voice as they did; I will never see those kind eyes as they did; I have been born altogether too late." But after I was saved and began to understand this blessed Book of God, I learned that the same precious, adorable Saviour, unchanged and unchangeable, is the One I shall see when He returns. The only difference is that He will come in His kingly robes. He was here on earth in lowly garb, but it is just the outward semblance that is changed. He will be in royal apparel when He returns. How gladly we will greet Him and bow at His feet when we adore Him as King of kings and Lord of lords.
I am wondering if any of you has never trusted this wonderful Saviour. He came the first time to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself and on yonder cross He, the Lord of glory, died. There He bore the judgment that your sins and mine deserved; there as our Surety He took our place. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). Today He lives in glory, the exalted One, mighty to save, for "God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified," Peter says, "to be both Lord and Christ." And He is the risen One. He is inviting sinners to come to Him, inviting weary burdened souls to find rest at His feet.
"Millions have fled to His spear-pierced side,
Welcomed they all have been, none were denied."
If I am speaking to one soul who has never trusted in Him, it is not yet too late; you may come now and may know Him as your own personal Saviour.
I close by repeating three stanzas of Madge Rae's poem "This Same Jesus."
" 'This same Jesus,' not another,
Not a stranger never known—
But the One who went to Calvary,
Died to make me all His own.
Nineteen hundred years in glory
Have not changed Him in the least—
He, the same who raised a Lazarus,
Deigned to sit at Martha's feast I
"He it is who cleansed the leper,
Healed the sick and raised the dead—
Stilled the raging storm-tossed billows,
And the hungry thousands fed.
HE—I met Him first at Calvary,
Saw Him standing in my place—
Dying there for me the sinner,
Oh what matchless, sovereign grace I
"May I earthly things hold loosely,
Counting all but dross for Him—
With my eyes beholding Jesus,
All beside grows faint and dim.
He is coming, 'this same Jesus';
Sweet the thought that soon the day,
With its beams of light shall banish
Earth's dark shadows far away."