There are four short sentences in the closing chapters of John’s gospel that are full of blessing when looked at in their proper order, but are totally destructive if the order is reversed.
“It is finished” (John 19:30). The promise of God fulfilled. The cup of judgment drained. The heart of God toward man expressed.
“Peace be unto you” (John 20:19). The result of “It is finished” made known in resurrection by Him who finished it.
“Lovest thou Me?” (John 21:15). An expected response to the love expressed. As though He had said to Peter, After all I have done and suffered for you, all My love to you, do you see anything in Me to draw out your love? If so, then
“Follow thou Me” (John 21:22). An easy task when the heart’s affections are engaged. This is God’s order.
These golden sentences flow so easily after each other. Go over them and let your heart drink in their blessedness. Pity the man who is trying hard to reverse this order, saying, I must
Begin to follow Him,
Try to love Him, and
Hope to get peace when
It is finished.
The sinner imagines that something is necessary on his part to draw the heart of God toward him, whereas the real truth is the very reverse of this. Therefore we read, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
everlasting life” (John 3:16). Of His own gracious sovereign will He has approached man for his blessing. The very presence of His Son in this world was God’s great “Fear Not” for sinful men. His presence in glory, now that the work of the cross has been accomplished, is God’s proclamation that there is NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR for hearts that believe on Him.
The cross did not originate the love of God. It was the means, not the source of our blessing. By the grace of God He tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). So that instead of God’s love being drawn out by man’s goodness, it was really expressed in meeting his badness, when man had not the least power for goodness. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
There are two kinds of fear, defined as servile—a fear lest God should hurt me, and filial—a fear lest I should grieve Him. They are utterly opposed. Servile fear dreads God, and issues in hatred, deceit and ultimate ruin. But note Proverbs 8:13 and 16:6: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” and “By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” To fear Him is to hate evil and depart from it. —G. Campbell Morgan
The fear I felt before I met the Saviour
Has vanished since I’ve come to know His peace.
What now I fear is that some misbehavior
Should cause Him grief who purchased my release. —F.W.S.
We must learn to trust instead of to fear, not simply to trust when we fear. D.L. Moody used to say there are two ways to go to heaven: first class and coach. Coach is Psalm 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” First class is Isaiah 12:2, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.” How are you traveling?