by Maurice M. Johnson

A good name is rather to be chosen
than great riches.
Proverbs 22:1

Have you a good name ? How good is it with the police ? How good is it at the bank—"good" for how much ? How good is it in heaven ? The name of Jesus Christ is "good" for all the riches and glory of heaven; and yet something very strange took place once when He prayed. It seemed that He had "no account", was "overdrawn" and "wanted" by Heaven's "Bank."


"As the hart (the deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God . . . my tears have been my meat day and night while they continually say unto me, 'Where is thy God?'. . . My God, why hast thou forsaken me? . . . And straightway one of them ran and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink."—Psa. 42:1-3; Matt. 27:46-48.

What's wrong here? Why didn't Christ address God as "Father ?" For no other reason than that He, the only begotten and well beloved Son of the Father was at that time coming before the infinitely Holy and Just God in my name, in my stead. He, the Sinless and Spotless Lamb of God was appearing "without the camp", outside the gates of Jerusalem, clothed with my besmirched name and all my sinful shame (and yours.) What did He receive in answer to that agonizing prayer uttered in my name ? We shall see presently.

God "laid on Him the iniquities of us all." Christ, "his own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." "For God made Him sin for us." Yes, wonder of wonders, He "loved me and gave Himself for me." With mighty arms of infinite love He gathered all our uncleanness and filthy rags to His Own sinless bosom as He "gave Himself for us" who were "all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness as filthy rags."

We were strangers to heaven, "having no hope, and without God (atheos—atheists) in the world:' We were fatally sick with the disease of sin though we actually felt but little of the horrible fevers of a gnawing conscience and a doomed and finally damned soul. For we all, yes ALL, would soon have been tracked and terrorized by the baying hounds of a guilty conscience and, fleeing half crazed in the awful heat and light of God's withering wrath, would have been uttering tragically late cries toward a heaven of judgment brass, screaming through parched lips: "As the deer (hart "—hounded and weary and dying—"panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, 0 God . . . My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God."

But . . . listen! Oh listen, unsaved friend! The Lord of Glory came down into this wilderness of sin; took our guilt upon Himself; drew all the hounds of hell away from their furious pursuit of us; took the long, lonely, trackless trail; fell three times "with soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," then continued, staggering under the world's cross until He was completely cornered (voluntarily) and trapped by all the hounds and horses and fiends of hell, and . . . there . . . there . . . with "His visage so marred that he didn't look like a man"—in the midst of the dry dust of death and the scorching heat of hate and sin — He cried between parched and bleeding lips: "I THIRST!" "As the hart panteth after the water brooks so panteth my soul after thee, 0 God. MY SOUL THIRSTETH FOR GOD, FOR THE LIVING GOD." Close your eyes, dear reader, and see yourself there, for that was your place and my place that our Blessed Lord was taking. "Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners!"


The world, then, "gave Him vinegar to drink." Not refreshing wine but vinegar, sour wine. Already they had "platted a crown of thorns, put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' And they spit upon Him, and took the reed and smote Him on the head. And after that they mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His. own robe on Him, and led Him away to be crucified . . . And they that passed by reviled Him . . . wagging their heads and saying . . .'If thou be the Son of God come down from the cross.' Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, 'He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, 'I am the Son of God '.' The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth."

"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And . . . Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ?' that is to say, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me ?"

"We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But 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. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Matt. 27 and Isa. 53 )


What did God give Him in answer to the pitiful beseechings of His bleeding body and thirsty soul ? God gave Him what was due me. For, remember, He was praying in my name. He was dying in my place and stead. God gave Him NO ANSWER! Silence. Loneliness. In that hour of unutterable need he was not heeded by His Own Holy Father.

He was ignored. FORGOTTEN! FORSAKEN!

Picture Him there. The weary, dusty, bloody, thirsty, hounded Hart of Heaven as He turns His eyes pleadingly toward God and cries: "Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me. Strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gape upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and roaring lion . . . My heart is like wax! it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws . . . Dogs have compassed me . . . the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me . . . I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God." 0 sinner friend, listen now as He pierces all heaven, hell and earth with the cry of the doomed and the utterly damned.

"My God! My God!  Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?"

Let your sins answer that awful question. They, your sins and my sins, are the answer. He had our sins on His body, prayed in our name (that is, as unregenerate children of Adam who could not call God "father") and got just exactly what our sins deserved from the Holy and Just God. Then He said "It is finished." Sin had done its awful work and was punished. (Read Psa. 22, 69 and Matt. 26; Mk. 14; Lu. 23 and John 19.)


Now, since He has finished that glorious work of "dying for our sins according to the Scriptures," since He thirsted for the Living God (in my place) and was turned away empty—God-forsaken—I may be a blessed man in my thirst, for "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." He died (voluntarily) of thirst and now (that He is risen) says to all of us guilty, thirsty sinners: "Let him that's athirst come. And whosoever will, LET HIM TAKE OF THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY!" "Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." DRINK, my thirsty sinner friend, DRINK!


Yes, blessed be God, Christ prayed in my name and received what I deserved and now tells me to pray in His name and receive just what He deserves. Glory to God! Hear this and never forget just how it can be so wondrously true, that "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you." "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, HOW SHALL HE NOT with Him ALSO FREELY GIVE US ALL THINGS? John 16:23 and Romans 8:32.

Let us read again, and heed as never before, this loving request: "I beseech you, therefore brethren BY THE MERCIES OF GOD, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, WHICH IS YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable ,and perfect will of God :' —Romans 12:1, 2.


Paul, as "the Apostle to the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:6-9; Eph. 3:1-12; Col. 1:24-29) was given, by the Head of the church, those truths which define and describe the people of God for this present, church dispensation, "the dispensation of the grace of God." To see this clearly revealed fact is not in any way to belittle the blessed fact stated by this same Apostle in 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.

When we humbly and diligently obey the divine command to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) we learn that no sincere believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is expected to follow or imitate any part of the earthly religious life of Jesus of Nazareth Who, during His first thirty years (Lu. 3:23) on earth was then living "under the law" as an "Israelite". See Gal. 4:4, 5; Rom. 9:4, 5; 15:8; Matt. 5:17. Every Christian has in Christ all that the law pictured and demanded. See Rom. 8:1-4; 10:1-4; Col. 2:10.

"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."—Gal. 2:19, 20.

In other words, "for me to live is Christ."—Phil. 1:21.

After it was revealed that God was through with the Jews as a nation, The Lord Jesus revealed through Paul that He "would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: Which is Christ in you the hope of glory."—Col. 1:27. And thus it is that to pray in Christ's name means to ask the Father for those things that our Lord tells us we need in order to more surely and effectively "show forth Christ in us."


The Christian's presence and purpose on earth is to represent or re-present the Lord Jesus Christ to a poor, Christ-less and peace-less world. Therefore whatsoever is needed for this glorious new life (Christ in us) the Heavenly Father is ever ready to give. "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you (Christ said), ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you."—John 15:7. "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."—Phil. 4:19.


If your heart is not moved to gratefully surrender to this Wonderful One, the Lord Jesus Christ, you are a hard-hearted, lost soul. What you do with Him Who voluntarily bore your sin and its death penalty will determine your eternal destiny, my friends. What you think of Abraham Lincoln or your own mother is relatively unimportant.

"What think ye of Christ" is God's all-inclusive and decisive question. When He was born into this world Christ was referred to as the ONE test, or standard, by which men's very hearts would be revealed and judged. Listen: "This child is set for a sign . . . that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."—Luke 2:34, 35. In other words, we can never know what kind of hearts we have until we come face to face with this question, "What think ye of Christ ?" He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not on Him is condemned already."—John 3:18.

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