Surely I am with you always!
James Smith, 1859
almighty Promiser. He must be Divine, or he would not make or fulfill such a promise — and he would never make a promise which he could not make good. He promises to be with each of his people, in all parts of the world, through all time! This requires omnipresence, and immutability in the Promiser. Jesus is omnipresent, for on another occasion he said, "Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name — there I am." Wherever the saints assemble — Jesus assembles with them. Wherever believers meet — Jesus meets with them.
"Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20
As the traveler provides for his journey, and the mariner provides for his voyage — so should the believer provide for the unknown future. We know not what a day may bring forth. All that is before us is entirely hidden from us. But full provision is made for us in the covenant of grace, and the word of truth; and it is for us to use the word, and apply for all the blessings laid up for us in the everlasting covenant. Jesus presents himself to us this day, as possessing all power in Heaven and in earth. All the stores of the covenant are at his disposal, and he assures us of his presence with us; to encourage our application to him for all that we need. What he speaks to his disciples — he intended for us, and he says, "Surely I am with you always."
His work as the Substitute of his people was now complete. The righteousness necessary for their justification was wrought out, and brought in. The great atonement was made. The Holy Spirit was procured. Dominion over the whole world was obtained. Universal authority was given him. He was just about to ascend on the glory-cloud into his Father's presence, there to take his place on the right hand of the Father, until his enemies be made his footstool. His disciples, the representatives of his people, were around him, to whom he gave this commission, "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." To them for their encouragement, he made this promise, "Surely I am with you always!" This promise we may claim, we may trust, and we may plead before the throne of grace — and so doing, we shall derive strength, comfort, and grace from it.
Let us fix our eye for a moment on the
Blessed thought — we cannot be where Jesus is not! On the
land, or on the sea, at home or in foreign climates — Jesus is with us. And
he is unchangeably the same as his apostle testifies, he is, "Jesus Christ —
the same yesterday, today, and forever." In his nature, in his purposes, in
his love — he is unchangeable. He is in one mind; and none can turn him. As
Jesus must be Divine — or he could not make, or fulfill such a
promise; so he must he gracious — or he would not have made it. When
he came into the world, his disciples beheld his glory, and they testified,
that he was full of grace and truth. And his gracious nature and
disposition, was manifested — by all the truths he taught, by all the
miracles he wrought, and by all the promises he made. Full of
grace, he died for his people's sins. Full of grace, he arose for his
people's justification. Full of grace, he went up into Heaven to plead his
people's cause. Full of grace, and being the omnipresent God, he promises to
be with every one of his people, even unto the end of the world. Precious
Savior, how glorious is your nature, how wonderful ia your love!
But let us look at thepromise he made: "Surely I am with you always."
To whom was the promise at first made? To those who had ungratefully forsaken him, and left him in the hands of wicked men, without sympathy or support. One of them had denied him, and all were unworthy of him. Justly might he have abandoned them, and cast them off forever. But he loved them with an everlasting love. He knew their frame, and he remembered that they were but dust. He pitied their weakness, he forgave their sins, he restored them from their backslidings, he appointed them to be his witnesses and missionaries to the world, he gave them this promise — and left them in the very act of blessing them. It was therefore all of grace, for merit or desert, there could be none. Freely, out of his loving heart, flowed this precious promise, and faithfully has he kept it from that day to this.
To whom does the promise belong now? To the whole of his people, to each and every one who believes on his name. "Surely" he says, "I am with you." That is, with all his redeemed people. With all for whom he shed his blood. With all whom he has called by his grace. With all to whom his presence will be a blessing, and by whom his presence will be prized.
"I am with you — for you will need me; in consequence
of . . .
the circumstances in which you will be placed,
the trials through which you will have to pass,
the crosses you will have to carry,
the duties you will have to perform,
and the sorrows you will have to endure
— my presence will be needful for you, and my presence shall be with you. You will trust in me. You will believe my word. You will repair to my throne. You will confide in my faithfulness. You will depend on my veracity. As therefore you will honor me with your confidence — I shall honor you with my presence.
You will testify of me. Speaking of me publicly and privately. Bearing witness to the truth of my word, the merit of my blood, the power of my arm, and the love of my heart. You will testify of the glory of my person, the perfection of my work, the variety of my offices, and of my ability to save to the uttermost, all those who come unto God by me. While you testify of me, Surely I will be with you. You really love me. As weak as your love has been, it was sincere. As variable as your love may yet be, it is true. And "I love those who love me, and those who seek me early, shall find me." Where there is sincere love to me in the heart — my eye rests with complacency, and with such my presence shall be found."
Jesus is ever present with his people — the least, the feeblest, the most unworthy. He loves their persons with an infinite love, and he loves their society too. It is the privilege, therefore, of every one that receives his Word, relies on his merit, and hopes in his mercy, to realize at all times, and in all places: Jesus is with me! He has given me his Word, and he cannot break it. Let whoever will therefore leave me, turn against me, and forsake me — I will rejoice in this, that Jesus has said, "I will never, never, never, leave you, nor forsake you. For, Surely I am with you always!"
But for what PURPOSE is Jesus with his people?
He is with them, that out of his kindness, he may supply them. Their needs will be many, various, and painful. At times they will not know to what quarter to look, or from whom to expect supplies. But Jesus does not intend to leave them dependent on any creatures, or on anyone but himself. He has all that they need. He intends to supply all their needs. He takes notice of all the circumstances by which they are surrounded, and sympathizes with them in all their troubles and trials.
He is with them, that his presence may cheer
them. The realization and enjoyment of his presence, is their choicest
comfort. They esteem it more than all things besides. His presence is . . .
their light in darkness,
their joy in sorrow,
their solace in distress, and
their support in sickness and death.
His sensible presence they do not always enjoy — but his gracious presence is ever with them; and when by faith they realize it — it ministers to their joy and peace.
He is with them, that his power may protect
Their enemies are numerous — and their own courage is feeble.
Their dangers are many — and their own strength is small.
Jesus therefore promises to be with them to protect and preserve them, and in the greatest danger, in the most trying circumstances, he kindly whispers, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." The presence of the Shepherd — is the protection of the sheep; and in the presence of Jesus — stands the safety of his people.
He is with them — that his wisdom may guide and direct them. Their way is often dark and intricate. Every step is on untrodden ground, for they have never passed that way before. They are prone to turn aside and enter the wrong road, and are often so perplexed, that they cannot discern the right path! That they may not miss their way, and lose the path, therefore, Jesus says, "I will be with you. I will instruct you, and teach you in the way which you shall go; I will guide you with my eye."
He is with them, that his grace may be glorified in them. They are indebted to his grace for all that they have, for all that they are, and for all that they expect to be. The grace of Jesus, is the great source from which innumerable blessings flow. He glorifies his grace — in our poverty, dependence, and helplessness. He glorifies his grace — in our unworthiness, emptiness, and sinfulness. His grace is glorified — in pardoning our sins, in supplying our needs, in protecting our persons, in guiding our steps, and in introducing us to our Father's house. O how wonderful is the grace of Jesus! Beloved, "you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich — yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich."
"I am with you always." Every day, and all the day — is Jesus with us. Each day and all our days — is Jesus with us. "Always!" Blessed assurance, Jesus is always with us. In health and in sickness is Jesus with us — to sanctify the former, and to make the latter a blessing. In health, we do not so deeply feel our need of the presence of Jesus — but in sickness what could we do without him? When we have horrid noises in the head, and strong pains in the bones. When our nights are wearisome, and our days are dark and dreary. When our appetite is gone, and our ability to enjoy any earthly good is taken away. When a pall appears to be spread over every object, and every subject. What could we do in circumstances like these — but for the presence of Jesus?
Sick one, do you believe in the Son of God? Have you made Jesus your friend, while in health? If so, Jesus is with you in your sickness, and with you to comfort you, to bless you, and to do you good by every pain which you are called to suffer, and by the very weakness which tries you so much. Seek to realize the presence of Jesus, and tell him all your heart. Pour out your whole soul into his bosom, and seek from him the grace necessary to raise you above your sufferings, and to enable you to rejoice in your tribulations.
In plenty and poverty — is Jesus with us. To preserve us from the snares of the former, and the powerful temptations which attend the latter.
O what a blessing to have Jesus with us, when providence smiles upon us, and all things go well with us in this world! The presence of Jesus, sweetens our sweetest comforts, and makes every earthly blessing double.
But what a mercy to have the presence of God with us in poverty. When all things seem to go against us. When we know not where the next meal is to come from. When the claims upon us increase, and our ability to meet them decreases. When the hand of the Lord has gone out against us. These stripping times, are indeed trying times. Oh, who that has not experienced it, can tell the feelings of the mind — when the last handful of meal is taken from the barrel, and the last drop of oil is drained from the cruse. When the cupboard is empty, and the children are hungry. Poverty is indeed a great trial, and nothing can support us in it, or bring us honorably through it — like the presence of Jesus.
My poor tried brother, or sister — are you stripped of your property, and pinched with poverty? Has the brook that supplied your needs dried up? Jesus is with you still. He is with you, and has all power in Heaven and in earth. He can provide for you, and he will. He may try your faith. He may put your confidence to a severe test. But he will not fail you, nor forsake you. He is never more really present, than when his children, judging from circumstances — conclude that he has forsaken them. Forsake his people in need! Impossible! It cannot be. Man, false, fickle, changeable man may — but Jesus never will. Oh, no, he is with them ALWAYS!
In triumph and trial he is with them. Yes, when they can sing, and exclaim, "We are more than conquerors, through him who has loved us." When they can say with Paul, "Thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ." Jesus is with them then.
Nor is he less with them, when they exclaim," I sink in deep waters, where there is no standing, all your waves and your billows are gone over me!" Or, when laboring under a mistake, they say with Jeremiah, "Surely he is turned against me — he turns his hand against me all the day!"
When Joseph was tried, and triumphed over the temptation; but was nevertheless unjustly condemned, and cast into prison, we read, "But the Lord was with Joseph." The presence of the Lord with Joseph, sweetened his long and dreary imprisonment, and at length brought him out. The Lord was with Gideon, when all seemed to say, that the Lord had forsaken the land.
Just so, my poor tried Christian friend — Jesus is with you, and not only with you — but under his superintendence and direction, all things work together for your good; even when all things seem to work together against you.
In life and in death — he is with you. Yes, through the whole of life, be it long or short. Amidst all its changes and variations, Jesus never changes — but is invariably the same. He will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord, to make them his people. He will be with them in six troubles; and in seven — he will not forsake them. Every day and every night, at home and abroad — Jesus is with his people! And when we come to life's last hour; when the last scenes of time crowd upon us; when heart and flesh are failing us — then, then Jesus will be especially with us. He who gave us grace to live — will give us grace to die. He who has ever stood by us, and defended, supplied, and delivered us — will stand by us then. The passage may be dark — but the Lord will be a light unto us. The river may appear deep, wide, and cold — but when we pass through the waters, he will be with us; and through the river — it shall not overflow us.
Nature may be alarmed — but grace will rise with the occasion. The flesh may tremble — but the spirit shall be strong and vigorous. Earthly friends may accompany us to the brink of the river, there they must leave us — but Jesus will go with us quite across ths stream. They must bid us farewell — but Jesus will never say, Adieu. They know not what it is to die — but Jesus does. He knows all that is necessary in order that we may die safely, and what would be required to make us die happily. He has, and has for us — all that we shall need in the dying hour; nor will he fail to impart it.
O believer, is it not blessed to think, that our beloved Savior, who died for us — will be with us when we are dying, and with us on purpose to glorify his grace in us, in the last trying moments of life. He will, he will be with us, for he has said, "Surely I am with you always."
"Surely I am with you always." Mark this as certain. Observe it, for it is a fact. Note it down, for it is of great importance.
Jesus says, "Many and painful changes may be witnessed by you — but there shall be no change in my Word. My mind is made up. My determination is fixed. I know what you are. I know what you will be. And it is with a perfect knowledge of all that is in you, of all that will happen to you, and of all that will be done by you — that I give you my Word: I will be with you always! Expect me therefore according to my promise. In every season of darkness, when your faith is put to the test; in every hour of temptation, when your love is tried; in every hour of suffering, when your patience is severely exercised — believe that I am with you, that I will support you, and that I will give you a happy outcome from all your afflictions. Yes, I am with you — let Satan suggest what he may. I am with you — let unbelief misrepresent me as it will. I am with you — though everything around, and within you, seems to conspire to give my promise the lie. I will on no account, at any time, under any circumstances — leave you!"
If Christ is with us — we may be tried, unusually tried, unexpectedly tried; but by virtue of his presence — we shall be holy, and useful, and happy. Let us then daily realize our need of his presence; for we shall daily need it, and never more than when we imagine that we can get on without it. Let us seek to enjoy his presence, for he is with us, that we may have fellowship and communion with him. He loves to see us on our knees before him, and to hear our prayers and praises ascending to him. His loving heart is touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and he wishes us to pour our wants, woes, and desires into his bosom.
If Christ is with us — let us go forward with confidence and courage. We know not what a day may introduce us to, or what it may be commissioned to bring us; but we do know that Jesus will be with us, and that his grace is sufficient for us, and that his strength will be made perfect in our weakness.
Precious Lord Jesus, let us ever go forward on our journey homeward, believing your promise, assured of your love, and expecting your presence! O be with us every day, as each day's needs may require! Keep up our hearts in communion with your blessed self, and let us have to say with your servant John, "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another!" Glorify yourself in us, day by day, and let our last day prove our best! O for grace to live as Jesus lived, to walk as Jesus walked, and thus to glorify God in our bodies and spirits!