Wollen and Linen - Following the path of Christ - Introduction

WOOLLEN AND LINEN
 
by J.G. Bellett
 
"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together", Deuteronomy 22:11 KJV.
 
The path of the church of God is a narrow path, such a one that the mere moral sense will continually mistake it. But this should be welcome to us, because it tells us that the Lord looks that His saints be exercised in His truth and ways, unlearning the mere right and wrong of human thoughts that they may be filled with the mind of Christ.
 
Elijah (Luke 9:52 -56)
 
The case of Elijah judging the captains of the king of Israel , referred to as it is in the course of the gospels, brings these thoughts to mind. The Lord had steadily set His face toward Jerusalem under the sense of this, that “he should be received up”. Something of the thought of glory and of the kingdom was stirring in His soul.
 
I believe the consciousness of His personal dignity and of His high destiny, as we speak among men, was filling Him as He began His journey toward Jerusalem . “It came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem , and sent messengers before his face”.
The expression of conscious dignity breaks forth from this and gives character to the moment, and the disciples feel it. They appear to catch the tone of His mind, and therefore, when the very first village, through which the path of their ascending Lord lay, refused Him entrance they resent it, and would fain, like Elijah in other days, destroy these insulting captains of Israel .
 
This was nature, the natural sense also of right and wrong. Why then did the Lord rebuke it? It was not wanting in either righteousness or affection. The day will come when the enemies of Christ, who would not that He should reign over them, shall be slain before Him. There was nothing unrighteous in the demand, “Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?”, if we but think for a moment of the person and rights of Him who was thus wronged and insulted.
 
Nor was there a wrong affection in this motion of the heart. Jealousy for their divine Master stirred it; this motion may be honoured, the moral sense may justify it fully; but Christ rebukes it: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of”, said the Lord to them.
 
But why, again I ask, this rebuke? Was it because they were exacting beyond the claims of Him whom they sought to avenge?
No, as we have said, for such claims will have their day; but the disciples were not in the spiritual intelligence of the moment through which they were passing.
 
They had not “the mind of Christ”; they did not discern the time so as to know what Israel ought to do, 1 Chronicles 12:32 ; they were not distinguishing things that differ; they were not rightly dividing the word of truth.
 
This was their error: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”. It was not a wrong principle of moral action which the Lord discovers in their souls, but ignorance of the real or divine character of the moment through which they were passing.
They did not perceive – what thousands (disciples of this day, as they were of that day) do not yet perceive – that the path of Christ to glory does not lie through the judgment of the world, but through the surrender of it; not through self-vindication, but through self-renunciation.
 
This was their mistake, and this is what the Lord rebuked.
They naturally thought that this indignity must be recognised; that, if the prospect of glory was filling the mind of their Master, and if they themselves, in the spirit of such a moment, had gone before His face to prepare His way, whatever stands in the way must surely be set aside. Nature judged thus; and nature thus judging would be justified by the moral sense of man.
 
But the mind of Christ has its peculiar way, and nothing guides the saint fully but that: analogy will not do, there must be the spiritual mind to try and challenge even analogies.
 
Certain correspondences were remarkable here: Elijah was but a stage or two from the glory, just going onward to be “received up”, when he smote again and again the captains and their fifties.
He was on a hill, full of great anticipations, we may say, and the chariots and horsemen of Israel and his heavenly journey were lying but a little before him in vision.
 
The soul of their Master appeared to the disciples on this occasion to be much in company with that of Elijah. But analogies will not do, and the use of them here was confounding everything, taking the Lord Jesus out of His day of grace into the time of His judgments; inviting Him or urging Him to act in the spirit of the times of Revelation 11 when He was in the hour of Luke 4.
 
The witnesses of Revelation 11 may go to heaven through the destruction of their enemies, fire going out of their mouth to consume them that hurt them, as after the pattern of Elijah; but analogies are not the rule.
 
They must be challenged by that “mind of Christ” which distinguishes things that differ, and which teaches in the light of the word that Jesus goes to heaven through a path which procures the salvation and not the destruction of men; through His renunciation of the world and not His judgment of it.
 
Elijah avenged himself on the insulting captains and then went to heaven; the witnesses will ascend to heaven, and their enemies shall behold them, Revelation 11:3-11. But Jesus takes the form of a servant, and is obedient unto death, and then God highly exalts Him. And so the saint: so the church. “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed me”.
 
Here was the mistake: here was the not knowing what manner of spirit they were of. Analogy strongly favoured the motion of their minds. The moral sense, which judges according to man’s thoughts and not in the light of God’s mysteries, justified it.
But He who divinely distinguishes things that differ rebuked it: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of”. The way of the disciples here would have disturbed everything, counteracting all the purpose of God.