HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.–Mark 4:36
Without What Some Thought as Necessary Provisions
From the first verse of this chapter, we infer that Christ had been teaching the people from the boat. He was not particular about His pulpit. He had sat in the ship a little way from the land, and spoken so to the crowds upon the shore. Now the teaching was over; He was weary; He was craving for a period of rest. And so He bade His disciples cross the lake, and that is the moment to which our text refers–they took Him even as He was. Perhaps the sky was threatening a storm, and someone had suggested fetching cloaks. Or one had hinted at getting a store of victuals if they were going to camp out on the other side. And then Peter, who was dictating this, recalled a certain eagerness in Christ so that all the kindly hints had come to nothing. They had not waited until any cloaks were brought. They had not sent a messenger ashore. Weary, and probably hungry, they had taken Him even as He was. That is a great task for all of us, and I should like to consider for a little some of the many folks who fail to do it.
Don’t Take Jesus as You Think He Ought to Be
First, then, I speak of those who take Jesus as they think He ought to be. It is the temptation of many godly people, and that is the reason why I put it first. They never doubt that Jesus is divine. Their confessing cry is that of Thomas. Then they remember what they learned in childhood, that God sees everything and is omniscient. And so, quite independently of Scripture, and as an inference from the attributes of God, they conclude that it was so with Him. Then perhaps they open Scripture, and they find Him saying, “I do not know.” Or they read that He was astonished and surprised, and, of course, omniscience never is surprised. And it perplexes them, and gives them troublesome doubts, as if the writers were tampering with their Lord, and laying violent hands upon His glory. Then comes the temptation to wrest Scripture, and to make it mean what it could never mean, and to evade the sense that any child would gather if you put the Bible in his hand. And to all such, I would say quietly, and very gently (for I honour them), “Friend, you must take Him even as He was.” Never dream that you are honouring God by imposing your conceptions upon God. Never dream that any thoughts of yours can be worthier than those the Bible gives you. You are a child, a learner, a disciple, and as a child, you must come to Christ in Scripture. You must take Him even as He was.
You Can Learn from Nature Only as You Take It as It Is
That this is the only way to get to know Christ I might illustrate in a simple fashion. I might think of the knowledge we have gained from nature. For long centuries men came to nature with certain preconceptions in their minds. They had their theories about the world, and to these theories, nature must conform. And the result was ignorance, and rank empiricism, and a science that was falsely so-called, and the countless errors of the Middle Ages. Then came Bacon–and what did Bacon do? He took nature even as she was. He swept away that fog of preconception. He accepted facts as simply as a child. And the result was a real and growing insight into the mystery of God in nature, which has irradiated all the world for us. For us the wayside weed is wonderful, and the tiniest insect is compact of a miracle. For us, there is a glory in the heavens such as was never dreamed of by the Psalmist. And all the knowledge has been brought to us because these gallant toilers of the dawn had the courage to take nature as she was.
Take Him as He Is, Not as Others Present Him
Again, I think of those who take Him as they find Him in the books they read. Our modern literature is full of Christ even though His name is never mentioned. There is a Christ of Browning and of Tennyson. There is a Christ of Mr. Wells. There is a Christ of the novels of George Eliot, and of the sermons of Newman and of Spurgeon. Yet all these are but imperfect paintings and the yearning heart can never rest in them. To know Him and to trust Him and to love Him we must take Him even as He was. That was what the wise men from the East did. In their books, they had been told of Him. And then the star appeared and led them to the cradle–and the cradle was but a sorry manager. Many a scholar would have gone home again, preferring his scholarly dreams to this reality; but they took Him even as He was. Took Him in the manger, with the ox and ass as His companions–gave Him the gold and frankincense and myrrh–worshipped and adored. These students of all the learning of the Orient did what every student has to do–they took Him even as He was.
Don’t Take Him as You See Him in the Lives of Others
Lastly, I think of those who take Him as they see Him in the lives of others. Someone has very truly said that a Christian is the Bible of the street. There are multitudes who judge of Christ by what they see in His professing followers. And very often that is a noble witness, fraught with an influence incalculable, and rich in commendation of the Master. A godly and consecrated father is a noble argument for Christ. A Christlike mother, in a worrying home, is more convincing than any book of evidence. But the pity is that you and I who trust Him are often so very different from that. And to all who are watching us and judging Him by us, I say, “Friend, you are not dealing fairly with the Master. You must take Him even as He was.” You would never dream of judging Chopin by the schoolgirl’s rendering on her poor piano. Is it perfectly fair to judge of Christ by the imperfect rendering of His learners? What a difference it would make for multitudes if only, like the disciples on the lake, they would take Him even as He was.