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THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
By T. Austin Sparks
THE GOVERNING LAW OF DIVINE LOVE
A ZERO POINT
ALL these passages which we have read are really a sequence. They are the outflow of the first. "In him was life; and the life was the light of men." And you will notice that they all represent a zero point. The mother of Jesus said unto Him, They have no wine: there is nothing to draw upon! The next chapter is only another way of saying the same thing.
Nicodemus came to Jesus and sought to commence at a point which he considered to be a good point from which to begin negotiations with the Lord Jesus, but it was a point far in advance of that which the Lord Jesus could accept: so He took him right back to zero, and said: Ye must be born again. We cannot start at any point beyond that. If you and I are going to come into any kind of living relationship, we must get right back there: we must come to zero and start from zero.
"Ye must be born again." For except a man be born anew, he cannot see. It is no use our starting at some point where, after all, we are incapacitated from seeing. Chapter 4 is but another way of setting forth the same truth. The woman after all is found to be bankrupt, at zero. Jesus gradually draws her out and the final expression from her side is, in effect, Well, I don't know anything about that, I have not anything of that; I have been coming here every day, day after day, but I know nothing about what you are talking of!
She is down to zero: and then He says, That is where we begin. The water that I shall give is not the drawing upon your own resources at all, not bringing something out of your well, it is not something that you can produce and I improve upon and make better. No, it is something which comes solely and only from Myself; it is a new act altogether apart from you; it is the water that I shall give. We begin all over again in this matter.
Then in chapter 5 the Holy Spirit is careful to make perfectly clear that this poor fellow was in a hopeless state, that every effort was abortive, every hope was disappointed. For thirty and eight years, a lifetime, the man had been in that state, and there is the note of despair in the man. The Lord Jesus does not say to him, Look here, you are a poor cripple; I am going to take you in hand, and after a course of treatment I will have you on your feet, I will make those old limbs over anew, I will improve on your condition. Not at all.
In an instant, in a moment, it is a start again. The effect of what He does is as though the man were born again. This is not curing the old man, this is making a new man, in principle. This is something that comes in that was not there before, and could not be produced before, the ground of which was not there, something which was uniquely and solely Christ's doing. It was zero, and He began at zero.
Chapter 6-a great multitude. Whence shall we buy bread enough for this multitude? Well, the situation is quite a hopeless one, but by His own act He meets the situation, and then follows on with His great teaching to interpret what He has done in feeding the multitude. He says, I am the Bread which came down from heaven. There is nothing here on this earth that can meet this need; it has to come out of heaven, Bread out of heaven for the life of the world: otherwise the world is dead. We begin at zero. (The loaves and fishes may represent our small measure of Christ which can be increased.)
Chapter 9-the man born blind. Not a man who has lost his sight and is having his sight recovered. That is not the point at all. The glory of God is not found in improving, the glory of God is found in resurrection. That is what is coming out here. The glory of God is not found in our being able to produce something or put something into God's hands, something of ours, that He can take up and make use of. The glory of God is something solely out from God Himself, and we can contribute nothing. The glory of God comes out of zero. The man was born blind. The Lord Jesus gives him sight; he never had sight before.
Then chapter 11 gathers it all up. If you like to sit down and look at Lazarus, you will find that Lazarus is the embodiment of "They have no wine". He is the embodiment of "Ye must be born again". He is the embodiment of "the water that I shall give shall be in him..." He is the embodiment of a bankrupt state; in the grave four days; but the Lord is coming to that. Lazarus is the embodiment of chapter 6: "I am the living bread which came down out of heaven... for the life of the world".
Lazarus is the embodiment of chapter 9, a man who is without sight, who is given sight by the Lord Jesus. Lazarus gathers it all up. But if you notice, in gathering up everything, the Holy Spirit is very careful to stress and emphasize one thing, namely, that the Lord Jesus will not touch the thing until it is far, far removed from any human remedy. He will not come on to the scene, or into association with it, until from all human standpoints it is bankrupt, it is at zero. And this is not a question of lack of interest, lack of sympathy, or lack of love, for here the Spirit again points out that love was there. But love is bound by a law.