Christ Lost and Found
“And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple. Luke 2:43–46
There are many wonderful truths and precious lessons of grace under the surface meaning of the Word of God. I do not say with some that there is a natural, spiritual and celestial meaning to every verse; but I do say there are many blessed facts in the Word of God that will never be seen by the hasty reader. It pays to tarry over Bible paragraphs. Blessed is the man that reads meditatively and prayerfully. The text is an illustration of these hidden lessons of grace. I present you what I have drawn from it. And first
1. THE REMARKABLE TARRYINGS OF THE LORD.
The text says “the child Jesus tarried behind.”
There are many mysterious things about the Divine Being. One of them is the very fact hinted at in the passage, viz., the Lord’s passing by or out of the life at certain times. Again and again it seems to the regenerated soul as if He was about to leave it finally. It has occurred so frequently as an experience, and comes up so strikingly in certain cases in the Scripture that it is enough to arouse thought and diligent search for the reason.
We see it in the case of Abraham when sitting before his tent he beheld three celestial beings passing by, one of whom was the Lord. And it is true that they were going by and would not have turned aside had not Abraham ran after them and begged them to stop. In the instance of Jacob we find that just before he received the great blessing at Peniel and while wrestling with the stranger, the Lord said, “Let me go.” If Jacob had loosed his hold He would have gone. With the Syrophenician woman we see the same treatment. Christ turned to her and said He was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Suppose her faith had failed here, and she had accepted that movement away from her as final; then would the world have been denied one of the most heart-thrilling instances of victorious faith and prayer that is on record. At Emmaus the identical course is repeated, when Christ who had been walking by the side of the two disciples made as if He would have gone on and by. And He would have done so if they had not pressed him to stay.
And here is the same thing in principle occurring in Jerusalem, where it is said the child Jesus tarried behind, allowing those who had been with Him to go on without him. Who has not felt a similar experience in the spiritual life? Christ seems to go by the tent still. He has a way of withdrawing right in the midst of prayer, and of passing by when you thought He would remain. Such an inexplicable feeling as if he was going to leave you has come over you at times. What does it all mean? It is not that Christ has a fluctuating love, nor is fitful in His treatment of us. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and could not be capricious. What He does is in highest wisdom and in obedience to laws that most Christians do not take time to study and understand.
It must be remembered that there is a jealousy in love. God announces himself as a jealous God. He is worthy of being followed and sought after. Again there is the fact of free moral agency which can never be compelled, but has to be won over by a different treatment altogether. Again there is the fact of spiritual effort being required to develop the soul. The mother moves off from the child to make it walk to her. The Lord withdraws and is silent to make us pursue him and call after him. The victories that follow, the fresh discoveries made of God in these ardent pursuits after His vanishing presence enlarge and bless the soul beyond language to describe. Still again there are grades of salvation on earth and of reward in heaven. It is evident at a glance that under the same gospel and surroundings of all kinds that some Christians drag out a poor existence while others develop into moral stalwarts and become kings and priests unto God. The explanation is that the instant that God in harmony with the law s hinted at withdraws from the heart or life, the first class sit down at once in gloom or despair and let Him go; while the other class rise up at once and follow the retreating Lord, and with importunate prayer and patient waiting constrain him to return and remain. Like Abram they run after the angels. Like Jacob they say I will never let you go. Like the disciples at Emmaus they urge the retiring Christ to stay, and like the Syrophenician woman they with tears say, True, Lord, I am not worthy of the bread, but give me the crumbs. This was why Fletcher’s face shone so. This was why Payson and Brainard can never be forgotten in the religious world. They were men who had a way of wrestling with God and would take no denial. They had a way of looking and calling into the silent heavens until the answer and the King himself would come. In a word they ran after the angels, and if Jesus tarried they would at once seek and find Him.
2. CHRIST CAN BE LOST.
He was lost here according to this Scripture. And he was lost by those who loved him. And lost in Jerusalem and in the Temple! Each successive statement I make increases the wonder. And yet why be astonished when the same thing is happening today. Christ is still lost by his friends, and in Jerusalem and in the Temple.
When the question is put, how was it done; the answers are various, but the solemn fact of a Saviour parted from cannot be denied by certain heavy hearts. The language of the soldier to Ahab is in substance what they say in explanation: “As thy servant was busy here and there, lo! he was gone.” Many say, I cannot tell how it happened, but one day I woke up to the fact that the Saviour was no longer with me.
Some lose Him in the bustle of life.
Joseph and Mary were so busy buying, and selling and getting ready for travel that their eyes got off Jesus and they drifted apart. Many have done just the same since. They never intended the thing to happen, but they became so absorbed that it did. In some of these cases there was no flagrant sin, but strange to say while attending to a business or occupation that was legitimate and proper they gradually let go of Christ. They were busy buying and selling, taking care of the children, attending to the husband and running around generally, when lo the loss was discovered. There were hours of laughing and talking, days were consumed in entertaining company, contact with many people distracted and diverted the mind so that one night in going to bed there was no Christ in the heart. They were fairly jostled out of the divine companionship by the multitude; and as a good man once said: “I was bustled out of my spirituality.”
Again some people lose Christ in the church.
It is a fearful thought to think that Jesus is parted with in the service of God. But just as Joseph and Mary got separated from him in Jerusalem, it has often been and still is the case. It was what happened to Eli’s sons who became corrupt in the priesthood. It was what took place with Judas who retrograded from an apostle to a thief, betrayer and self-murderer. It is what is happening in a number of pulpits today. Preachers are losing Christ; the dark sad face, hard tone, and unctionless sermon are unmistakable. It is what is taking place in Boards of Stewards, Ladies’ Aid and Missionary Societies, and the pew as well. Numbers of souls are losing Jesus in Jerusalem and in the Temple.
In a great revival God gave me, among many persons at the altar was a preacher from a distant city. The people thought he was seeking sanctification, but he was groaning after a departed Christ and lost salvation. He took me into his confidence and I never have nor will reveal his name.
At another meeting the superintendent of the Sunday-school was on his face before the altar. I never saw a man weep so in my life; he shook with great sobs. I bent over him thinking that he wanted sanctification, when he groaned under his breath to me that he had lost Christ. Here was a backslider in charge of a Sunday-school of eight hundred children.
In the same meeting I was talking with a steward at the altar. The man’s tears wet the rail on which he leaned. He groaned and sobbed so that it was some time before I could understand him. Being a prominent member of the church I thought he was at the altar consecrating himself with a view to receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, when between his groans he told me this. He said, “My wife has been at your meetings and is deeply moved. Last night she could not sleep, and woke me up at twelve o’clock crying out, ‘Oh Will, I have lost Christ; tell me how to find him. ‘ and “Oh, Doctor,” groaned the man, “I was speechless. She thought I had Christ, but I, too, have lost him.”
Suppose every man in the church who passes the collection basket, and every usher who seats the audience, and every singer in the choir, and every prominent man or woman in the pew were compelled to stand up and publicly confess their spiritual condition today, what a shock would be occasioned on earth, and what an uproar of merriment would be heard in hell. You little know how many Christians have lost Jesus in Jerusalem, and more still in the Temple.
3. HOW CHRIST IS LOST.
The first answer suggested by the circumstances in the passage before us is that it is done through carelessness. What but heedlessness could have allowed Joseph and Mary to be separated from the Saviour. And the same thing today is the explanation when such a trouble befalls the soul. The Scripture expressly urges to watchfulness. It is while the virgins slumbered the midnight cry was raised; it was while the man slept that his enemy sowed tares in his field. And what I say unto one I say unto all, “Watch.”
But how does the thing itself happen? What are the steps of this departure?
Christ is lost gradually. God loves us too much to leave us at once. Just as the light of day dies out of the west, so the divine light leaves the soul. There have been tender, gentle warnings enough, but the man absorbed in other things has not regarded them. There were looks and calls with each retiring step of heaven, but they were not noticed or obeyed. The angle of divergence was made in some neglected duty or some persisted-in questionable thing. It was so small a matter that as a moral angle it would have been called very acute indeed, but it was a divergence for all that from the straight Christ-like life, and meant that in time the man and his Saviour were certain to be parted. It would be a long period before ships thus sailing would disappear from each other, but that day would come at last, and sweeping the wide sea with a glass the companion vessel could not be found; she had dipped finally beneath the horizon. Thus gradually the soul loses Christ. The instant we cease moving on the parallel o f a perfectly consecrated life, the fact of spiritual distance and the additional fact of an ever widening distance between us and Him, and the final disappearance of Christ out of the heart and life become as veritable a reality and as patent to other eyes as the spectacle of the parted ships on this ocean.
It seems that not by one great evil act are men parted from the Lord, but it is by a number of little acts, none of which are very grave and alarming. Just as a person does not get off of a high tower by jumping down from the top, but descends by hundreds of steps to the ground; so the Christian rarely ever brings himself down and away from the presence of Christ by one gross sin; but it is by a long line of little things said and done which were unspiritual, objectionable and reprehensible in an increasing degree that the calamity of a lost Christ takes place. One of the alarm signals hung out in the soul is a protracted spiritual coldness. Instead of going at once into a faithful self-examination and prayerful waiting upon God for help, this signal is made to mean nothing by the statement that the Christian life is a faith life and not one of feeling. It is true the life is one of faith, but it is also one of feeling. The Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” and Christ said, “These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full.” In the Book of Revelation the fault that the Saviour found with a certain church was that it had lost its first love, and in another verse he said he would spew a lukewarm church out of his mouth. A protracted spiritual coldness means that Christ is leaving, and we should at once fly to Him and wait on Him until the clear assurance of His presence is restored.
Another way that Christ is lost by the Christian is by getting the eye off Christ and resting it on church work. This is what happened to the Jews. With all their boasted love of the Lord they let the Temple and Temple work come in between them and the Holy One. Devoted to the Temple, they killed the Lord of the Temple. How busy they were when Jesus stood in their midst silently contemplating them! There was no end to religious ceremonies, the victims were being slain by thousands, the smoke of incense was rising, the priests and Levites were regular in their duties, the Scribes and Pharisees were fasting twice a week and saying long prayers; and yet in the midst of it all Jesus saw spiritual death, and said that the outside was as fair as a glistening marble sepulchre, but inside was corruption and dead men’s bones.
The thought is fearful that we can get the eye off of Christ while abounding in His work. That we can lose Him at the altars of Jerusalem and in the Temple. That loaded down with church work, writing business letters, attending Board and committee meetings, keeping the church books and passing around the collection basket, we can become so absorbed is these things as to utterly lose Christ.
The most immovable people spiritually I have ever known have been men and women who belonged to a dozen different church Boards and Societies. They had got their eyes off the Saviour and on their work and become spiritually petrified. This was what had happened to the steward and his wife of whom I spoke. He was the president of the board of Stewards, and his wife was the President of the Ladies Aid Society and prominent in other church work, and yet both had lost Christ. While running around in the name of Jesus they lost Him, and they lost Him in the Temple.
This was what had occurred to the preacher I told you about. He said to me with a countenance full of pain, “I cannot tell you how it happened; but I was preaching, visiting and attending to all my work when suddenly I woke up to the fact that I had lost the Saviour.” The explanation was that the eyes insensibly were taken from Jesus and placed on his work.
In a certain large religious denomination there was a preacher greatly gifted in intellect and administrative power. He was chosen at once to preside over church assemblies, and he was speedily thrust to the front as a leader in all church business of great moment. He soon became absorbed in the multifarious duties of his position. He began to think he could not be spared from the world and church, when in the midst of it all he was laid upon his deathbed. A preacher in speaking to him about his spiritual condition was first surprised and then alarmed at his evasive replies. Becoming still more concerned as he saw the state of the dying man, he took a second preacher into his confidence and together they visited and prayed with him. To their amazement they found that the man before them while busied in the Temple had lost Christ. “While thy servant was busy here and there, lo he was gone.” Day after day these two servants of God conversed, prayed and labored with this man who had become so great in church affairs and so little in grace divine. After a week’s faithful work with him the man said a little while before death that he was reconciled to go. He was saved but saved as by fire.
I believe if we knew how many men and women prominent in the church, how many ushers who are smilingly seating the congregation every Sabbath, how many Sunday-school teachers and members of the choir and preachers in the pulpit have lost Christ out of their hearts, the world would be horrified. We do not mean that they are living immoral lives, but they have been more loyal to church work than to Jesus, and the jealous God is grieved and gone. The dark and sad countenances we often see in the pew, choir and pulpit confirm what I say.
It is never to be forgotten that it is easier to attend windy Board and Society meetings in the name of the Lord than to spend the same hour alone on the knees with Christ. There is much pastoral visiting called the work of the Lord that amounts to nothing. It is easier to pay a social visit than to wait with groanings on the Lord. The jealous God sees how much work undertaken in His name deserves not the name and is simply a sop thrown out to ease conscience.
It is happening today as much as in the times of the Scribes and Pharisees that the Temple is put in the place of the Lord; the House and its services are exalted and the Lord of the House is set aside. Today some of the most active church workers have the most superficial experience; and some have none, having lost it all by placing the work above Christ, and the Temple above the Lord of the Temple.
4. THE MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE ON DISCOVERING THE LOSS OF CHRIST.
The first mistake appears in the sentence “they went a day’s journey” without Him. They were separated from Him, did not see Him, and yet pushed on a whole day’s journey. It is what many are doing today. They lose Christ and go on their way. Here is the first mistake, and it not infrequently ends fatally. The thing to do when we miss the Saviour is to stop everything until we find Him. Let no one think it a loss of time, for when He is in the heart you can speak, write, work and live a thousand times more effectively.
A second mistake comes out in the words, “They supposed He was in the company.” What if He was, He was not with them. A man to be happy must have Christ in his heart as a conscious, personal possession. It is and should be a poor comfort to one to feel that Christ is in the congregation or household and not in himself. There is neither joy nor salvation in this fact. Some husbands shelter themselves with the thought that their wives are religious, but a child could tell them that this alone will never save them. Some children seek a strange consolation in lives of sin with the reflection that their fathers and mothers are prominent in the church and preeminent for piety. But this will never save them, and if they do not repent and possess Christ themselves they are as certainly damned as the ungodly sons of the godly Eli were overthrown by the Divine judgments and lost forever.
A third mistake is seen in the sentence, “they sought Him among their kinsfolk.”
This is what Joseph and Mary did, and the result was that they did not find Him. Doubtless they were much shocked. And I doubt not if you did the same thing you would also be shocked. My brother, suppose you try it, and tonight when you go home ask your wife if Christ is dwelling in her heart. And my sister, do you ask your husband a like question, and I tell you now that many of you will be astonished and made to mourn.
[Transcriber Note: Unfortunately, there were badly blotted words on pages 116-120 of the borrowed book from which this chapter was copied. In some cases, therefore, it was necessary to supply a word, or words, which seemed to fit the context. Such supplied words are indicated in following paragraphs of this chapter by brackets.]
When I commenced seeking religion as a young man, I was living in a country filled with ungodliness. There was no man I could talk with. A lady relative of about fifty was in the neighborhood. I knew she belonged to the Episcopal Church and saw her reading her Prayer Book on the Sabbath. In my great agony of soul seeking light and the Saviour, I went to her and asked her if she could direct me to Christ. I had thought she knew Him and had Him in her life, when to my amazement she told me with a troubled voice and face that she did not have Christ; that she did a [long] time ago, twenty years before, but she had lost [Him.] I turned from her with a groan. I wanted a person who had seen Christ lately, and lo, she had not looked upon Him for twenty years. Like Joseph, I [sought] Jesus among my kinsfolk and He was not there. You think that because your husband or wife are on the church roll that they are all right. You suppose because your son sings in the choir, and your daughter teaches a Sunday-school class that they are safe and religious. Do you ask them the plain question if they love Christ, and their answer will trouble you.
[A] fourth mistake is seen committed by the Caravan or large company with whom Joseph and Mary were traveling. Although Christ had been left behind they never turned back! Jesus was missing, but they went on. I can see the long winding line as they threaded the ravines and pushed across the plain. They camp that night without Jesus, and next morning start out again without Jesus, and so pass away out of Judea and Galilee into the great world beyond and Jesus has been left behind.
With the deepest compassion I see the crowds of this world doing the same thing! They toil and travel all day without Christ; they go home and get [rest] without Him, and push on the next day, and the next, and the next and always without Jesus. They have music, papers, books, pleasures, travel and business, but they do not have Jesus. They do not [seem to realize] the dreadfulness of their loss, and so push [on with] life’s Caravan talking, laughing, singing, loving, hating, camping, sleeping, arising again, pushing further and further until we see them go out from [us], and beyond the horizon of our lives and disappear from our view forever. How we feel like calling them [to] come back; telling that they can never meet the [dangers], nor stand the toils, nor live right nor die victoriously without Jesus. And we do call to them; but few seem to turn back. The great mass push on [without] the Saviour whom they have left far behind [forever].
5. THE TRUE WAY TO DO WHEN CHRIST IS LOST.
Here again we are indebted to this wonderful text; the true way is shown in the conduct of Joseph and Mary, — “they turned back again seeking Him.” There is nothing else to do if we would find Christ. If we went away from Him we must return to Him.
Necessarily it is a sorrowful seeking. The thought is quite a bitter one that through our own carelessness and neglect of duty the separation was brought about, [that] we let trifles come in between us; yes, that we [let] anything thrust itself between the soul and its [highest] joy. Some of the saddest utterances I ever [heard] fall from human lips are those that proceed from [seekers] after a lost Christ. It is a melancholy band, [and] even where God is willing to forgive them, it seems [almost] impossible for them to forgive themselves.
[I] have noticed also in many instances that it takes [longer] to recover the Saviour than to lose him. Joseph and Mary lost Him in a few minutes or hours, [but] it was three days before they got him back. This [is not] compelled to be the case, but through the [heart-sadness] and mental bewilderment arising from the [separation], the soul loses much time in finding the [way] of return.
[It] will be a glad seeking, for with all the pain of [recollected] unfaithfulness and all the sorrow of the separation, the thought that he now is going back to Christ [can] of itself be an inspiring and glad thought to the [wanderer]. Sad as his heart may be, his case is unspeakably better than the man who remains wallowing in his sins far from the Saviour. Better far to turn back with tears, like Joseph and Mary, than to go on with laughter and chatter like the Caravan.
Moreover it is to be remembered that Christ is not far away. The Scripture is authority for saying he is not far from any one of us. And in the [case] before us, when Joseph and Mary turned back [from] Beeroth to Jerusalem to seek Christ they were separated then from him just eight miles. This is [the] exact distance between the two places. In other [words], they were about two hours’ journey from the Lord, [and] I cannot help but think that most people are [even less] widely separated from Jesus than this. [I believe] that two hours spent on the face [before] God [in repentance], faith and prayer, would in the [case of the] majority of spiritual wanderers restore them [to the loving] embrace of the Son of God.
Christ is not far off from the saddest, hardest, [and] worst. He walked in the midst of publicans and [sinners] while on earth, and is near them today in [His] great mercy. He is oftentimes much closer than [some] dream. He walked by the side of two heartsick disciples for several hours before, they knew Him, [and He] stood before the weeping Mary in the garden [before] she recognized His voice and form. The very [burden] on the heart is His own begun work. The heart [sadness] that so discourages is the result of the light [that] He has poured in, while the pain of soul shows life and godly sorrow. The dead do not grieve nor feel pain. The living do that. The very shadow that you feel may come from His blessed form bending over you.
It is wonderful how utterly unable one is to judge and understand these phases of feeling and all the phenomena of the soul’s return to God, while personally separated from Jesus. The sinner who is convicted [does] not know what is the matter, and the backslider [returning] to God fails to realize that the sorrow which [weighs] him down is one of the drawings of heaven, is [a direct] work of the Holy Ghost, and is no occasion [of despair, but] of confidence and gladness.
[I recall a hymn] which shows this very darkness and despair of the soul just before its salvation or recovery. In one verse are the lines,
“I cried I’m the chief of sinners, There’s no hope for a sinner like me.”
In the next verse the Divine voice is heard speaking; [while] in the third, salvation bursts on the penitent, and [rapturous] joy overflows his lips in the words,
“No longer in darkness I’m walking, For the light is now shining on me.”
Just so I saw a man sink with a groan on the carpet [before] the altar, saying, “there is no hope” — when [the] very next instant with face blazing, hands clapping and body flying around the room he was shouting the praises of God over the full and blessed salvation that had come. Remember that according to David his “rejoicing” followed a “broken bones” experience. The breaking comes first, the gladness next.
Still another feature of the recovery of Christ is that you will find Him where you left him. It was in Jerusalem they became separated from Jesus, and it was in Jerusalem they recovered him. It is right where you left Christ you will find Him. Certain things were done or left undone, and right there today you must return. You dropped certain duties, and there is Christ waiting for you to resume them. The burden laid upon you by the Providence of God you cast off; the cross of Christ you laid aside for [awhile] and so the glory faded out of your life. The thing to do is to go back where you threw off the cross and burden, and patiently take them up again. You will find Christ there at that place and at that moment. He is waiting for you.
Still again, I notice that the text says that the sorrowing parents found “Jesus in the Temple.” So it will be with you. The house of God is the best of places to find Christ. Many hearts that listen to me today grow warm and tender as they recall the city cathedral or plain country church at whose altars you found Christ. Dear to us all is the house of God from the recollection of many spiritual refreshings and uplifts and from the loving and holy associations of the place. But above all is it precious to a great number because there they first found or recovered Christ.
A lady friend of mine was riding in a buggy with her husband when they passed the old country church where she had been converted as a girl. Requesting him to stop and wait on her awhile, she went up to the old weather-stained house in the clump of trees, pushed open the door and knelt down at the altar where when a girl her heart had opened to receive Jesus as her Saviour. It was an humble looking building, with plain pulpit and altar. The dust was on the floor and the spider web on the window, but a spiritual beauty and glory invested all because of Him whom she had found there. For an half hour she knelt alone the shadowy old church weeping and rejoicing. Finally she arose and went back to her husband who been patiently awaiting her in the buggy. No word passed, for he saw from the tear-stained cheek and the holy light in her face that she had met the Lord in the old meeting house by the road.
Once my presiding elder and myself were entertained by a devoted Methodist lady at her home, and sent in her carriage to the country church where the first quarterly meeting service on Saturday morning was to be held. The lady accompanied us in the carriage.
Twenty years before she had been converted in the church we were going to; but after a few years of church service had lost Christ. She had become both bitter and melancholy. Her determination to go with us that morning was sudden, and on the way out I observed that she dropped her veil and scarcely uttered a word. The old church stood in a grassy plot, surrounded by a rustic graveyard, and with a few old trees sighing solemnly about it. The presiding elder was one of the godliest men I ever knew, and that morning he preached with great tenderness and unction. At the conclusion of the sermon he invited penitents to the altar, and our lady entertainer who had sat through the entire sermon with her veil down was the first to respond. I noticed that instead of kneeling at the part of the altar which was nearest to her, she crossed over to the other side and knelt at a certain corner. It was the spot where she had found Christ twenty years before. She had come back to the Temple with a sorrowing heart to recover Him whom her soul loved and had lost. It was a most pathetic spectacle, the lonely black-robed figure, the long sweeping veil, the bowed head and form. In less than ten minutes she found him. I felt the fact before she with a gush of tears announced it. When she dropped the veil over her face two hours before we saw a sad-faced woman, when she swept it aside now with trembling and beautiful joy what a face of holy light and love she turned upon us. She only lived two years after this, and is today sleeping in the old graveyard by the side of the church where she first found, and then afterwards refound her Saviour.
Blessed Temples of God all over the land! How I love to see them with uplifted spires in the city, with belfry peeping above the trees of the village, or with plain modest front turned to the high road. Thank God for the churches with their open doors, and solemn bells, and voices of hymn and prayer. Thank God for the shining-faced preachers in the pulpit, and the godly old brethren in the Amen Corner. And thank God for the altar, where kneeling down in the loneliness and bitterness of repentance, we listened to the cries and shouts around us while the battle was pressed, and struggled on in the darkness after Christ. Thank God for the loving hands laid on the bowed head, and the words of cheer and direction whispered or spoken into the attentive ear. And above all thank God that at last suddenly through the gloom and storm Jesus appeared to our souls the fairest among ten thousand, and the one altogether lovely. Some of you may have shouted, others laughed, others of you wept as if your heart would break, and still others simply sat motionless and voiceless with the great peace that had come to you. Nevertheless in spite of these different manifestations you all knew this, that you had found Jesus and found Him in the Temple. This was the glorious crowning fact that changed this world to you, and made the house of God the fairest of buildings to your eyes.
I love thy kingdom, Lord, The house of thine abode, The church our blessed Redeemer bought With his own precious blood.
Beyond my highest joy I prize her heavenly ways, Her sweet communion, solemn vows, Her hymns of love and praise. For her my tears shall fall, For her my prayers ascend; To her my cares and toils be given Till toils and cares shall end.
6. THE WAY TO KEEP FROM LOSING JESUS.
First, keep the eye fixed steadily upon Him. Suppose Joseph and Mary had done this, then the separation which cost them such solicitude and pain would never have occurred. The thing to do is to allow no object come between us and Christ. Keep the eye on Jesus, not occasionally, but fixedly and continually. It can be done, thank God, in the busiest life. So Paul says, “Looking unto Jesus.” Not looking to the Temple, but to Jesus. There are some people who are absorbed in the church rather than Christ. And there is no question that if they paid as much attention to Jesus as they do the church they would be saints of the highest order.
Second, keep talking to Jesus. How are we going to lose Him if we preserve an unbroken communion. When silence is realized in the soul, there is reason for alarm, and we should at once re-establish the heavenly intercourse. We read in Genesis that when Abraham ceased communing with God, then the Lord went up from him. It is so still. If we would retain Christ by our side we must see to the unbroken communion of our soul with His Spirit.
Third, get Christ as an indweller. Many of God’s people know him as a visitor, as one who comes and goes, visiting the heart and then leaving it. It is in these conscious absences that so much spiritual hurt is realized, and Satan gets in his work. There is an experience which greatly increases our religious strength and so lessons the likelihood and peril of backsliding. This experience is spoken of by the Saviour in the fourteenth chapter of John where He says if we love Him and keep His commandments He will come unto us and take up His abode with us. In a word, He will cease to be a visitor and become an indweller. He who would keep Christ near all the time should seek this blessing. The wonder with me is how a man can lose the Saviour when he obtains this grace. Finally, keep claiming “the blood.” If the slightest shadow and spiritual trouble arises, if there has been any neglect of duty, any word spoken or act done that brings a shadow or feeling of unrest, then fly at once to the blood that cleanses from all sin, and claim its present merit and power. There is such a thing as staying under the blood all the time. He that does that will hardly lose Christ. Thousands have lived this life; ten thousands are living it today; and countless millions will yet do so. God grant that you who have Christ today will never lose Him. It would be better to part with friends, the whole world and life itself, than to give up Jesus. May we hold on to Him at every cost, and by so doing will be gainers both in this world and the world to come.